Friday, September 16, 2016

lots of lines.

The 4th graders have spent the first 2 weeks looking at 2 artists who have a similar vocabulary of line, yet their work looks very different from each other.

During week 1, we looked at the work of Oakland based painter Brendan Monroe and attempted to create landscapes inspired by his work that used line to create pattern and the illusion of 3d space.

 Brendan created this one for the kaboo festival, right here in San Diego.

When looking at a couple of his pieces we talked about the type of landscape or place they remind the kids of, as well as how he is using a pattern based on the bottom edge of a shape to give the side of a form that 3d look.

We practiced a few approaches (wavy canyons, angular canyons, and an oval plateaus) together that were based on techniques the artist used and then the students chose the sketch that they could be most successful with on a larger scale. They wrote an explanation of their choice under their sketch, shared their reasoning with a neighbor, and then got to work on the larger version. After they drew their landscape larger in pencil, students traced their landscape with thick lines in the front, medium in the middle, and thin in the back, to emphasize the 3d space of the image.

There were some very interesting results with this project. It was a bit challenging for some, but we talked about growth mindset and strategies to use if they felt like they were getting frustrated with the project.

This week, we have been looking at some murals done by Daniel Anguilu, who is a Mexican American painter based in Houston, Texas. At the beginning of this lesson we quickly revisited the elements present in our first project. I emphasized that there would be similarities and differences between the 2 artists' works and that the kids should be thinking about those as we worked.

Daniel creates large scale murals that are much more abstract than Brendan's work, yet they are both line and pattern heavy. We discussed how the space that Daniel creates is more decorative and 2d than the work of Brendan. We also revisited the concept of contour lines and how Daniel outlines almost everything in his work, and we don't really see that in Brendan's large scale landscapes.

I shared a brief video from 2014 of Daniel talking about one of the murals he was working on at the time, so the kids could see him in action.

With this project, we started out by sketching 2 different composition concepts that were inspired by Daniel's use of line and pattern. I asked students to break up their frame with at least 9 lines and to include at least 7 patterns. Students then chose their most interesting concept, discussed their reasoning with a neighbor, wrote a reasoning sentence about their choice, and then got to drawing their final design.

As they worked on their larger drawing, I encouraged them to add more patterns and details if the large spaces looked like they needed it. When tracing their pencil lines, we talked about making both thick and thin lines to create more variety in their contour lines and patterns. When it came to coloring their designs, how they did it was up to them. I did talk about and model modifying hand pressure to create light and dark version of the same color.

When students finished their drawings, they reflected on the project in writing by identifying how the 2 projects were similar, how they were different, and which one they had more success with. 

There was a great amount of visual variety with this project across the 4th grade classes. A load of interesting, engaging results that addressed the project emphasis of brainstorming and using line to create different visual constructs.

Friday, September 2, 2016

the superduper zamo quilt mashup of 2016.

Back to business at Zamo! I had a wonderful summer break drawing outside, camping, beaching, doing honeydos, and spending time with the fam. It's hard to believe that my last post was about our end of the year 5th grade legacy mural. But, in a way, it's a perfect segway... from a large scale permanent public art install to a large scale temporary one.

Every year I kick things things off with a week of 30 minute mini-lessons that allow me to review my classroom expectations with students and to create an artwork that celebrates both the unity and diversity present in our school population. 

This year I found inspiration in work by two different quiltmakers. Latifah Saafir is an LA based quiltmaker and Sylvia Sutters is a quiltmaker working in Saint Louis. Last year I used Latifah's work as inspo for a kinder drawing project, but Sylvia is new to me. I found both by going through the Modern Quilt Guild's website, FB, and instagram galleries. There is so much visual goodness at all of those platforms!

I first introduce Latifah's Glam Clam quilt and we look at how she repeats one shape over and over- same size, same direction. This is similar to the unity found at a school site- the kids are all in the same class, same grade, etc. Then I ask them how the shapes are different from each other- patterns and colors and we relate this to the fact that none of the kids are exactly the same, that they all have unique qualities that make them special.

We then look at Sylvia's Current Wave quilt and I ask the kids how is this similar to Latifah's piece and then how it is different. A lot of kids noticed that she used the same shape as Latifah, but rotated that shape freely to create a different composition.

Finally, we looked at one more from Latifah, her hexie glam clam pattern and noticed that she introduced a new shape into the pattern.

At this point, I explain that they will be doing a mashup of the 2 quiltmakers' work. Each student will create a hexie glam clam piece and then we will put them together, rotating them in different directions to create a composition influenced by Sylvia's quilt.

Then it is time to create. It goes by superfast. My review of rules and intro to the quilters work takes 10 minutes, which leaves 20 to trace, cut, glue, draw, and glue again.

This is what my tables look like before the kids come in.  Each student has a 5" clam stencil and a smaller hexie stencil. They have a large piece to trace the clam and a smaller one to trace the hexie. Depending on what colors we are at on the collaborative quilt, the colors on the table change. We started with light yellows and oranges on Tuesday and finished with yellow greens on Friday afternoon. I gradually work in new colors and transition out of old ones to create the spectrum effect in the final install. I transitioned the hexie colors between white, light gray, dark gray, and black a bit quicker than the colors. This gives the final install more of an undulating look.

I prepared about 50 stencils of each shape because, inevitably, some get glued together, crumpled up, or thrown away.

Kids trace both shapes first.

They then cut out both shapes.

After gluing the hexie on, they create a pattern that tells us a little bit about themselves.

They could use lines, shapes, colors, or words to build their personal patterns.

They put glue on the back of their clam when finished with their patterns
and place it on the quilt, responding to the ones previously set in place.

This was our progress after 3 days. 

This is the final install in our auditorium. It will serve as a backdrop for assemblies.
The final size is 21' x 4'. About 600 kids in 3rd-5th grades participated.
The individual pieces are glued onto a series of 24x36" white sheets.

Something like this takes a bit of preplanning (what doesn't;), but it gives you a relatively quick way to get some color and beauty up at your school for the beginning of the year. The hands on portion is pretty low stress for the kids because it is fast and their piece becomes part of a much larger whole, so if they are concerned about making mistakes I encourage them to work through it and with it. When the pieces are installed, nobody will notice errors in cutting or drawing. 

Our Zamo kids did a great job with this! I'm looking forward to a most excellent school year!