Tuesday, May 17, 2016


Since the 4th graders worked collaboratively to create digital luchadors that showed symmetry and movement last week, I thought it would be interesting for them to continue, but with a partner process that was a lot different than those, yet shared certain commonalities.

We started by reviewing our process from last week and then I shared a video of Heather Hansen at work. She uses her whole body to create gorgeous large scale drawings that show symmetry. While viewing it, we looked at how her hands/arms create the same types of marks on both sides of her body as she works. We looked at the physical nature of her work and how it was both a physical and visual dance on her drawing support.

We then looked at part of a short video about students at the Shekou International School in China, who have created works inspired by Heather's process. (their amazing teacher, Miss Morgan is on instagram- @morganstudentart) I wanted my kids to see how other kids their age of worked within Heather's framework and I wanted them to hear Heather speak about her work.

Finally, I shared a video of my son and I doing what they would be doing in class. Breaking down the work one more time, so they could see it done by one of their peers and a teacher.

I emphasized that this process is an experiment with symmetry and centering their body and mind. The communication between partners should be as nonverbal as possible. (This was a big shift from their previous collab process, where I encouraged them to talk and discuss through the making of their luchadors as they navigated a couple apps for the first time.) This was an experiment in close looking (reading) and responding or mirroring the actions of your partner. Partners would take turns leading each other- if they noticed their partner was confused with a movement, they could repeat it in the drawing to reinforce it. On the opposite side, if they were the one not understanding, they should take the time to think and visualize their partner's movement. They do not need to feel rushed.

When all the teams got in place, were kneeling across from each other, and the music came on, they could begin. As they drew, I emphasized drawing with both hands at the same time. (I think that was the most common deviation from the activity and it is totally understandable. How many times do we encourage kids or adults for that matter, to use both limbs simultaneously?) After about 5 minutes, I gave the groups a second color, followed by a 3rd after another 5 minutes. The final drawing step was to use a finger from each hand and make marks by smearing chalk that had already been applied.

When the drawings are done, we wash up, and come back together to reflect on the processes of the past 2 projects. They answer 4 questions for me, and then we take a few minutes to share out.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

moving in Manila.

As part of their movement unit, the 1st graders are getting a chance to experience stop motion and green screen film making this week.

I'm introducing them to contemporary Filipino artist Robert Alejandro with this project. We are looking at a short interview he did last year to start things off. He talks about the role of art in his childhood.

We then look at a few illustrations he has done of Filipino jeepneys. We notice the patterning of shape, line, and color on these and we contrast them with the buses we see around San Diego.
Our role for the day is that of a jeepney designer. We draw and decorate our own jeepney that will then be part of a traffic jam in Manila.

We watch a jeepney how-to in chunks, so that our jeepneys get drawn, patterned, traced, colored, and cut. After that I work with small groups of kids to move their vehicles across our table top green screen, being careful not to crash into each other in the process;)

As a few kids are working with me, others can go to centers and build with a variety of supplies. The filming takes about 10 minutes. Then we regroup, look at the movie with green background, add our city sounds, and then combine the movie with a photograph of a street in Manila as the background.

The kids have gotten a big kick out of seeing their drawings come alive!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

luchadors looking around!

This week the 4th graders are experimenting with facial proportion and symmetry. To make this a bit more engaging, we are looking at the art of luchadors and superheros and trying out a couple apps on our ipads.

To start off, we talk about proportion and how I would look pretty unusual if one of my ears suddenly grew 5 times larger than the other one. We look at how the parts of the human face fit into the whole in regular and symmetrical ways. We practice drawing a face on a small sheet to get a feel for eye size and location, nose and mouth placement and width.

Then the fun begins...

I share a few examples of luchador masks and art inspired by them and talk about how these characters are similar to superheros in that their masks keep the person's identity a secret. We notice that in these examples, the facial elements we just practiced are present.

When I explain that the kids will be using ipads to create there is quite a bit of excitement. This activity is a collaborative experience because I want them to be able to teach each other as they go.

Once each team has an ipad, I share my video tutorial with them in chunks. We are using th Autodesk Sketchbook app to create a 3 layer drawing. We build the basic mask first, followed by a detail/pattern layer, and wrap it up with the eye, nose, and mouth details for the 3rd layer. With the video, I can rewind it and repeat to emphasize steps and I can assist some while others are watching the video. When their drawing is complete and saved to their camera roll, we open up the MotionPortrait app and add the drawing from their camera roll. We can then play with mouth and eyes locations in the app. This allows our characters to blink, talk, and move around.

sketchbook tutorial

motionportrait tutorial

When done, they save them to the camera roll and I then download to my mac, so I can email to their teachers later this week.

This foray into digital art and animation has been a whole lot of fun for the kids and I alike.