Friday, October 28, 2016

being positive with adrian.

For their 2nd rotation of the year (2 classes), the 4ths explored positive and negative shapes in art. The first project was inspired by illustrations British designer and illustrator Adrian Johnson did for an article titled "You Don't Need to Shout". I have been a fan of Adrian's work for some time. I love his use of shape and color in his engaging compositions. The way I have been spinning the content of the article is that it is an anti-bully piece. You don't need to be aggressive or hostile to get people to like you or to be loyal to you. You can go about it in ways that are much more kind.

After discussing how Adrian has subverted military vehicles or weapons in these illustrations by having them fire items much more cheerful and happy in nature, we address his use of positive and negative shapes in them. We look at the balance between the space the shapes take up compared with the background shape.

Students were then tasked with creating images that were inspired by Adrian's message and use of shapes, but not direct copies of them. To assist students, I provided a handout with some vehicles on it. That way they had more info about the actual shapes and details of these things instead of relying on memory. If they wanted, they could use a different weapon shape and those students could pull up a photo on my computer if they needed more detailed reference images.

Students were to complete at least 2 sketches and then write a sentence that explained why they were choosing one of them for their final design. I asked students to include 2 elements- their vehicle and at least 7 items being shot out of that thing.

Once they were done with this part, they drew out their weapon/vehicle on another piece of white paper. They were to draw it as big as possible and cut it out so they could glue it on a gray piece of background paper.

Students then selected colored pieces of paper to create the objects being fired or launched in their designs. I encouraged them to use a variety of sizes to reinforce a sense of 3d space in their relatively flat collages. We also talked about having the shapes expand outward- going from small to large in a triangle or wedge shape. When they finished cutting and gluing, they could go in with colorsticks to add details to their weapons or happy shapes to make parts more interesting.

Students wrapped up this project by identifying the specific pos/neg shapes in their designs and to think of something they would do differently if they could and why.

The Adrian Johnson project took roughly one class and an additional 20 minutes in the second class to complete. With the extra time (about 40 minutes), we did another collage project that continued to focus on positive and negative shapes. For this I introduced them to a collage done by cut paper artist Eiko Ojala.

Students selected 3 sheets of paper- black, gray, and one color. I demonstrated how to draw a light post, how to measure the light beam, and how to assemble them all together. The choice of character, light post shape, sky details were entirely up to the kids.

Friday, October 21, 2016

getting 3d with ricky.

My first rotation with the 5th graders focused on using line to create an abstract design using overlapping shapes and to use color value to make those elements look more 3d and real. The inspiration for this project was the work of Ricky Watts, a super cool painter based up in the Bay area of California.

To start  the lesson, we looked at several of the murals Ricky has done around the country. Kids noticed that he repeats lines and shapes a lot in his work. They also saw how he used overlapping and color value changes to add a 3d quality to his compositions. They were able to figure out that he was adding white and black to his colors to make them darker or lighter. The kids loved checking out Ricky's work. The vibrant colors, the glow, and the scale really stood out to them.

Since we would be working on paper with color sticks (basically short colored pencils without the wood), I asked the kids how they would create a similar effect in their work. The answer- adjusting hand pressure.

As kids started to brainstorm and sketch, I emphasized that they are attempting to create an image inspired by Ricky's work and not copies or replicas of it. Once they did at least 2 sketches, they were to choose one for their final design and explain their reasoning with a a detailed because statement. They could then move on to white or black paper to draw out their design softly.

Students tried to capture light, medium, and dark color values in their design by adjusting how hard they pressed when coloring.

When their drawing was complete, I encouraged them to go back and take a closer look at it to see if they needed to revise any areas that could be improved. When that step was done, they could move on to the reflection piece of the process and complete their exit slip. Again, trying to add specific reasoning and details in their responses.

This project went over one session (80 minutes) and into the 2nd session for about 20 more. For the 2nd session, I gave them about 15 minutes to reflect/revise, and then I introduced them to a new project.

This project applied the color value skills they practiced in the Ricky Watts drawing to a video gane character design project. We discussed some old school and not so old school video games that use pixelated characters. We also revisited a pixelated print project from 4th grade. The kids noticed that these characters looked flat because of the lack of value contrast.

Their new role was to be a character designer for a video game and to also make parts of the character look more 3d by using light, medium, and dark color values. They sketched a couple ideas, picked one, explained their choice, and then drew it and added color to it on a larger sheet of paper.

The bonus... students that finished early and who had executed them properly, could build their character on a Bloxels board (a peg baord that goes with the Bloxels Builder app) and then take a photo of it with the app and actually drop it into a video game!

This was a BIG hook. I have been piloting game design with a small group of 4ths an a weekly basis and this was a great way to introduce the 5ths to the process as well. It provided an engaging and fun extension of the content of the first lesson too:)

Check this one out! She followed the project rules of just horizontals & verticals and using light and dark. Way to push the envelope!

Thursday, October 6, 2016

nico, skye, and line.

A couple of weeks ago, our 3rds and kinders both set out to explore and experiment with line. The 3rds focused on bold contour lines to define shapes in a composition inspired by the work of Australian artist  Nico. The kinders used different kinds of lines to make a San Diego composition inspired by artist Skye Walker, who lives right here in San Diego.

The 3rds first. I introduced them to Nico's work with a few images. We noticed that he tends to use bold, thick contour lines in a lot of his work. We also noticed that he also uses lines, shapes, and colors to add pattern elements to most parts of his compositions. Finally, we picked up that while his images look somewhat flat, he does, in fact, create some 3d space by overlapping shapes a lot in his images. The openness of his figurative abstract images allows kids to read combinations of geometric and natural shapes differently from each other.

After discussing Nico's work, we set of to make images that were inspired by his work, but did not copy it. We started by doing at least 2 sketches. The types of shapes, arrangement, etc., was open. The only 2 rules were to include at least 10 shapes and to overlap at least 3 times.

When we were done sketching, we picked one to use for our final drawing and created a sentence that explained our reasoning for that choice. "I chose sketch 2 because it is cool" was not an option. We need to give a more detailed reason why the image is cool.

We then drew out the sketch on a larger sheet of paper, keeping in mind that the image could change a bit going from small to big and that we could add more details or elements if we felt like we needed to.

We then traced our pencil lines with a thick sharpie marker, added pattern elements to each shape with colored markers, and finished the drawing by adding fill colors to the shapes with crayola color sticks.

I really like the wide variety of approaches that students took to this activity,

The kinders, meanwhile, looked at a couple of paintings by Skye Walker. We looked at how he used horizontal and vertical lines to split up his paintings into smaller squares and rectangles. We also noticed that he used elements in those shapes that were found right here in San Diego.

We started the hands on activity by adding 2 horizontal and 2 vertical lines to split up our paper. We then drew San Diego elements in each of those sections- water pattern, palm trees, mountains, sun, and cactus. We switched over to markers to add bold color to each part and used color sticks at the end to add light background colors. For this last step, we used the side of a color stick so we could see the difference between using the point of a drawing tool and the side of one.

The kinders have done a great job with their first art rotation and I can't wait to learn more about them as the year goes on!