Wednesday, February 21, 2018

looking into the eye of the beast.

During this rotation, my 5ths are exploring paint, color value, and symmetry. We have been looking at the work of Australian artist Brad Eastman for inspiration for this experience. Brad is a very prolific artist who draws much inspiration from the patterns that are found within the natural world. I really love his play of geometric and natural shapes, his use of contour line, and his wonderful sense of composition as he pulls everything together in works that range in scale from intimately small digital works to immense wall murals.

I start the activity by sharing two murals that Brad has done that are similar in subject, symmetry, and use of color value gradations. We spend a few minutes identifying these elements and talking about what these works remind us of- what the students see in them.

To start the hands on activity, the students and I create a small sketch inspired by these two paintings. I want them to see how they can break up the picture plane to create a design that emphasizes symmetry and repetition. We start with the eye form and then add matching lines to the top, bottom, left, and right of the eye. The point of this is for them to see how they can start with simple large shapes to set up the compositional framework. Then, I encourage them to add more lines to give their sketch more detail.

Once that sketch is complete, students create a second sketch that starts with a shape of their choosing. They break up the picture plane in a similar fashion to the first one.

With both sketches done, students choose one and enlarge it softly onto a large (12x15") sheet of watercolor paper. They hold off putting their name on the paper until the drawing is complete. They do this, so that they can use the back of the paper to restart their drawing if the need arises.

To create the bold contour lines, students may trace their pencil lines with a crayon, chisel tip sharpie, or fine tip sharpie- or a combo a couple/all of them, depending on the detail present in their drawing.

When students move on to the painting step, I demo creating light and dark values by adjusting the amount of water used with the tempera cakes that we are using. Each student gets a scrap of watercolor paper to test out colors while they are working. Students choose a brush to start with- large, medium, or small. If they need to change brush size, they are responsible for cleaning the brush in the sink, putting it back if the right bin, and getting a different size brush. They are also responsible for changing the water in the cups that they are sharing with their paint tray team.

Most students have needed about 2 hours to complete this activity. Some more, some less. I meet with my 5ths for 90 minutes, so this activity has been completed over 2 sessions. When they complete their painting, students reflect on their process by answering 3 questions on an exit slip.

I am really emphasizing question 2- What was the hardest part of this activity? How did you deal with it.

I want them to really think about that. How did they solve that problem?

I really have been digging the variety in approaches to this activity. The students have been thoroughly engaged during the painting experience.


  1. Hi, I've been reading your blog and following you on pinterest for years. Today I realized that your school is only a mile away from a school I taught at years ago - Valley Vista. I had no idea there was a school right there! Now I am the art teacher at Finney Elementary School in the CVESD district. I would love to meet you and visit the art rooms at your school if possible. My name is Stacy. stacy.clemetson@cvesd. org

    1. Hi there! You're more than welcome to come by for a visit. We are just getting back in the swing. Next week, I'll be starting the 2018 collaborative quilt. Reach me at :)

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  7. What a fantastic exploration of art concepts! I appreciate how you've seamlessly integrated inspiration from Brad Eastman's work into your teaching. Penalty Driving On Suspended License New Jersey The hands-on activity sounds engaging, allowing students to grasp symmetry and composition through their creative process. Your detailed guidance demonstrates a thoughtful approach to fostering artistic understanding in your students. Well done!
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