Friday, September 25, 2015

continuing contrast

This week the 4th graders finished up their Rodney Alan Greenblat drawings. They also completed exit slips that had them reflecting on how they created contrast and what was the most successful part of their drawing... and WHY:)

That left each class with about 45 minutes to do a quick line drawing activity that reinforced the same concepts while creating something that looked a lot different than their RAG compositions.

For this activity , I shared a couple illustrations done by Mexican designer and illustrator Victor Melendez. He uses variety in line to create contrast in his work. He also heavily relies on contour line to define his shapes and add pattern elements that enrich his work further. We also looked at how one of his final designs was different than the sketch he did. We talked about how this type of revising is an important part of the artistic process. Changes, improvements, and risks are still taken when preliminary work is translated to finished pieces:)

"Tell Me Jaguar"
Inspired by a song of that name from the Mexican rock band Jaguares.
After introducing his work and how it compared and contrasted with Rodney's, students were tasked with creating 2 different animal designs that showed symmetry while also used line to create pattern and shape. They picked one of those designs to do slightly larger (6x9) and drew it out softly. They used thick and thin markers to create contrast again and then added color to the background to add contrast that way as well. Now, these drawings aren't as refined as their first projects, but I wanted to give them a chance to explore similar concepts with a different look in a shorter amount of time.


There was a lot of variety in the individual approaches to this activity, just as there was with the RAG drawings. I'm looking forward to the ideas these kids explore for the rest of the year!

Below, are a few more RAG inspired drawings that were completed this week. Cool stuff!

Friday, September 18, 2015

making patterns and pizza;)

It's true. My kinders from last year are all grown up and are my neighbors on our south campus:) We jumped right in with a line lesson that had them making patterns, pizzas, and other shapes too!

I used the work of Kim McCarthy as the inspiration for this one. Her multi-faceted creative company is called UrbanSoule. I love her use of pattern on many different surfaces and how she often juxtaposes these patterns with figurative elements.

We started the lesson by identifying examples of what and what isn't a pattern made with line. We talked about the importance of repeating for a pattern to be a pattern. Then we looked at how lines, and contour lines specifically, can create all sorts of shapes. We wrapped up the intro by looking at how Kim used both functions of line in several pieces found on her website.

We started by adding 3 lines to our paper. One from top to bottom, one from some point on the first, and one from some point on the 2nd. We then added line patterns to each shape we made on the paper. We added color stick color to each section with the same color that our patterns were.

For the shape step, we all got smaller white squares to draw any shape. 2 requirements for this step- draw as big as possible and to be aware that you will have to cut out the shape when done. We traced our shapes in black sharpie and added pencil gray to parts if we wanted. Then we cut them out and glued them on. To wrap things up, we wrote a sentence together that described the 2 ways we used line in our project. Boom!
1st grade is off to a great start!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

learning line with rodney.

My official art rotations have begun and this week the 1st and 4th graders are exploring line in their lessons. The 4ths are doing a project that is inspired by the abstractions of Rodney Alan Greenblat. Rodney has been making illustrations, paintings, and designs for a good while now. He actually designed the cover for the first They Might Be Giants album back in 1986 (not that this matters to the kids, but I loved that album... and Lincoln after that one:). His style ranges from figurative to non-objective abstract, but it all has a good degree of funk in it. It is his more abstract work that I am focusing on with the kids.

When I share a few of Rodney's pieces with my classes, we talk about how he uses contour lines to define most of the shapes in them. We then look at how he uses different thickness of line to create contrast. Certain shapes stand out because their outlines are more bold than others.

We also talk about how his work and abstraction in general, allows people to see different things in an image. I like this because it breaks down the stress involved for students in the project, especially for their first drawing of the year. They can include the shapes they want and if they don't draw them perfectly, the image can still work... as long as their shapes and arrangement of those shapes is interesting.

I've been sharing this quote from Rodney's website about abstraction-
"Stop making sense. When you have abstract paintings in your house, you can read a language without words. You can see forms that have are non-representational. You can enjoy freedom from meaning. You can appreciate line and color for what they are. You can make up your own associations and stories about the works if you want. You can easily ignore them. You can easily enjoy them. Your guests will be impressed, and might imagine you know something about art. If you want, you can say they are influenced by Kandinsky and Calder, or you can say they remind you of a child’s birthday party. Either one is Ok. They are abstract."

For this project, students create 2 small sketches before moving on to their final drawing. Each of these must include a minimum of 3 main shapes, a minimum of 7 supporting shapes, and a use of line or shape to make a minimum of 2 patterns. When doing this I emphasize that the types of shapes and placement of them is up to the students. I don't want copies of Rodney's work. We are using his work as a springboard for their own investigations of line, shape, and abstraction.

 Pulling focus words from the word wall.

Breaking things down.

When their sketches are done, the kids are sharing with a neighbor why they are picking one over the other. Then they draw the chosen design on a larger sheet of paper.

Then comes the contrast part of the project. Students need to trace most of their pencil lines with a thin sharpie and they go over a 2-3 of those with a thick sharpie. This way they have 3 different thicknesses of line in their final drawing.

They can color the shapes in their final drawing any way they see fit, as long as they leave the background white, so that they contrast against each other.

Most kids have finished, but we haven't had enough time for their written reflections. Next class, they will come back and identify how they made shapes contrast from each other and identify what the most successful part of their project is and why.