Friday, February 28, 2014

color and community.

I was watching the snowboarding events of the Olympics a couple weeks ago and I was really taken by the designs and banners along the course. I loved the variety of patterns and colors. I did a little poking around on google and found out they were inspired by various arts and crafts created in Russia. The patterns also represented the different communities of Russia. How cool!

So, this week I had my 4th graders play with this visual and conceptual idea as I introduced them to analogous colors. We started out by talking about color families and students picked a set of colored paper of one family to work with. We then used a stencil to divide 2 pieces of paper into 6 equal units. Once these were cut we talked about how you would write the total number of pieces they had as a fraction. I told them that they wouldn't end up using all of the pieces and asked if they were to use 8 of the pieces, how would they express that as a fraction? We looked if we could simplify this number by finding a common multiple. 8/12 = 4/6, but we could simplify this even further to 2/3.

I got a lot of "Hey Mr. Masse, I didn't think this was a math class" sort of thing, but they rolled with it. The 4th graders are working with fractions in math right now, so it was a pretty cool way to tie in with their math curriculum.

Once all the pieces were cut, we assembled them into a diamond pattern. How they arranged the colors was up to them. I asked them to take one of their leftover pieces and half it to use in their design in some way and I asked them to quarter another and use it too. They did not have to use all their shapes in the design.

It was at this point that I shared the inspiration for the project and that since we didn't live in Russia we would use cultural patterns from our Zamorano community. So, I shared with them patterns from Mexico, Japan, the Philippines, Somali, Korea, and Africa. We have a wonderfully diverse student population at Zamo, so it was great to do a project that incorporated many of them. Their job was to use elements of these patterns to enrich their quilt design. At this point they did not have to stick with the color family they had originally selected.

I'm thinking of doing an install similar to the Olympic banners for our annual art show in June.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

wavy faces

Last week the 5th graders looked a the work of California artist Erik Abel. I have used Erik's work to teach students about different elements in a few projects before. In this one, we used Erik's work as the focus for an exercise in color value and relief sculpture.

Erik's work is all about the water. We looked at numerous images from his website and looked at the wide variety of work he has done that ties into this theme. The image we focused on was called "Neptune's Crown of Coral". I pointed out that Erik and created variety in color by adding white or black to mainly one color.

The 5th graders have been working with tints and shades for a few lessons, but not with the limitation of using only one color to make a monochrome image, so I thought this would make for an interesting visual challenge for them.

Erik's painting is flat, but I thought it would be cool to add a relief element to the project, so after students drew out and colored their abstract portraits they cut them into several pieces and reassembled them on black paper. I showed them how they could have each section pop up once or twice, depending on how many places they added glue to. These pop outs tied in well with the water theme of the portraits too:)

We did draw out the basic shapes together- nose, eyes, mouth line, but I offered variations at each step. If students wanted to do something different at each point, they could go for it.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

looping and pinching

The 2nd grade classes have been creating paper sculptures this week. I wanted to show them how they could take something flat and manipulate it into something 3d. The project was inspired by the work of the Ave Studio in Uruguay and a project the Texas Art Teacher did a couple years ago with her students.

 Ave Studio

Texas Art Teacher project
I shared a few pieces that were done by the Ave Studio and talked about how they repeated one shape, a water drop, and created something that was much bigger and that had a 3d quality to it.

Students started out the project by making a medium and large flower shape and glued one on top of the other. We then made the cylinder center, followed by the "petals" or water drop shapes, and then put the whole thing together.

When making the cylinder I emphasized making a loop with the paper and making sure they overlapped one end of the paper with the other. In order to connect the cylinder to the flower, students cut slits into the bottom to make a series of tabs that could then get glued in place.

After the drop shapes were glued, I showed the kids how to attach them to the cylinder, other drops, and the flower. As the week has gone on, we have gotten more adventurous with how they can attach pieces to each other. One of the cool things about this project is the wide variety of finished pieces kids have been coming up with.

One thing that is very important is for the kids not to rush the gluing and pinching of their parts. Pieces can easily come unglued and pop off. I have them count a slow, quiet 10 while pinching pieces together. I also stress that they need to pinch from 2 sides. If they just press something together from one side, the glue will not hold and frustration can set in.

 I have been doing different color combos with each class, so when I save a few from each class the final install will have more variety. (You know how I roll with my installs;)