Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Sixth Grade Perspective Drawing

Sixth graders learned how to draw in one-point perspective. In one-point perspective, all diagonal lines lead to the same point, called the vanishing point. Students designed and created their dream rooms, including furniture, skylights, and home decor. This is a super creative and quirky class, and the room themes ranged from candy to ocean to outer space!

Click here for a great tutorial on one-point perspective by art educator Harold Olejarz!

Here are some wonderful examples of the rooms:

Seventh Grade Shading

Seventh graders spend the first trimester learning about how to use value, or variations of light and darkness, to create special effects in their artwork.  Click here to see some of the prep work they did and some of the images they viewed and discussed!

Here are some samples of their shading work:

The Maccabees are Here!

Fifth grade just finished their awesome Maccabee sculptures. We have been working on these since October, and we've gone through processes such as life drawing, wire work, plastering, sewing, carving, and more.  I am proud to say that the sculptures are particularly epic this year- the students went to town on the accessories, including sophisticated tools and weapons, and even clay dogs and livestock.  Here are some of the amazing results!

Winter Splatter-paint Snowstorm!

As it happens during many days in New England, the weather forecasters were incorrect.  The light, fluffy snow predicted was, as it turned out, icy rain. Yuck!  I decided to do a wishful thinking weather project with the first graders. I read them the classic The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats, then demonstrated how to draw a snowy scene with oil pastels. Finally, I showed them how to gently splatter paint with white "snow" (tempera paint) to create snowflakes and snow blusters. They had a wonderful time- though I did have to explain to one student that if you can taste the paint, you're probably splattering too hard.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Sketchbook Makeover!

In fifth grade, the students receive sketchbooks that they use throughout eighth grade. Through the years, I emphasize that the sketchbook is a great place to experiment, take risks, and even make mistakes. Many students enjoy taking their sketchbooks out to recess or on vacations. Every year, students do a "Sketchbook Makeover" activity where they personalize the covers. Here are some of this year's unique examples!

Kindergarten Collage

Kindergarteners created self-portrait collages during the second week of school. We looked at self portraits by Van Gogh and Andy Warhol, and then explored collages by Matisse. We discussed shapes, cutting techniques, and color choices. Here are some of the adorable results! I am really admiring the great level of detail they used.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Moodle is Launched!

This week, fourth graders will begin using the Art Room Moodle, an interactive online forum where they can look at works of art and make comments and observations. The works of art that they discuss connect to curriculum activities. Currently, they are creating prints in the spirit of African cloths. Here are some of the cloths they have explored on the Moodle!

This is a kanga cloth from Tanzania. The language is Swahili. Traditionally, the kangas have a blessing or a message. The Swahili text on this Tanzanian kanga reads, "Hongera (Congratulations) Barack Obama" and "Upendo Na Amani Ametujalia Mungu" (God has blessed us with peace and love).

This week in our discussion forum, fourth graders will answer the following question: 
If you were to make a kanga about an important event in your life, who would be in the picture and what would the message say?
In a previous Moodle assignment, fourth graders compared two cloths, one from the Ndebele people of South Africa and one from the Shoowa people of the Democratic Republic of Congo.  They noticed that both had geometric patterns, but that they had very different color schemes and shapes.

Women create these distinctive and beautiful fabrics with beadwork and mural paintings. Beadwork is used primarily for women's ceremonial garments, including dramatic garments like this ceremonial beaded blanket. The Ndebele only choose striped or red patterned blankets for beading. New strips are added for special occasions. In the late 1800s the artists used mostly white beads, but by the 1970s the Ndebele showed an increasing preference for darker colors--blue, green, purple and black--and larger beads.
The fourth graders compared and contrasted this with a Shoowa cloth:

This is a cloth made of raffia fiber. Men soften grass fibers for weaving by kneading, rubbing, and beating. The decorative patterns are embroidered, or sewn on by women. According to the Smithsonian Museum of African Art, where this weaving is found, it was probably made in the 1980's. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Estie the Mensch: The Movie!

This fall, we were so lucky to have local children's book author Jane Kohuth visit the school. Jane's books include "Ducks Go Vroom," "Estie the Mensch," and her latest, "Duck Sock Hop." Jane shared details of her writing process, including how she gets ideas, edits, and works with an illustrator.  The students were excited to see her childhood writing journals. Following her visit, the students created an animated movie of "Estie the Mensch." Each group of four students used stop-motion animation techniques to create the movie. They followed the plot of the book, but used their imaginations to add details and movements.  Here it is!

Estie the Mensch from Erica Smiley on Vimeo.

Eighth Grade Hand Drawings

Eighth graders learned how to use the skills of proportion, angle, and perspective in their hand drawings. We began with blind contour drawings, where students look only at their hand and do not look at the page.  Blind contour drawings help students focus on observation, and their drawings are more realistic when they draw from observation rather than imagination.  The students chose from three assignments: A Surreal "Hand"scape, Illustrated Hands, and Sign Language Hands. Here are some examples of the eighth graders' drawings!

Kindergarten Expressionist Animals

Kindergarteners compared two very different pictures of cows by Franz Marc and Albert Cuyp. The students noticed that Franz Marc's painting (1911) features bright colors and that it is not very realistic. I introduced them to the term Expressionism and asked them what the painting expresses. They interpreted it as a happy painting because of the colors and the leaping cow.

We also looked at Albert Cuyp's Children and a Cow (1635). In contrast, the kindergarteners noticed that this was a more realistic painting, and that the artist seemed more interested in showing what was there and less interested in expressing feelings or experimenting with color. I explained to them that a long time ago, people expected paintings to look realistic, and this is the way that most artists painted. While there were artists who eventually started breaking the rules and experimenting to create art that was not realistic, for many artists, it was a tough path to choose.  Today, we learn to draw and paint in a realistic way, but we also value imagination and experimentation much more highly.

The kindergarteners chose their favorite animals and painted them with tempera paints in the Expressionist style. Here are some examples!

First Grade Color Theory


First graders learn about color by studying the color wheel, mixing colors, and creating various art projects. First, they learned about primary colors and noticed that they form a triangle on the color wheel. I challenged them to create a collage using ONLY primary colored paper (red, yellow, and blue), but then offered them tricky "gifts" such as purple glitter and green yarn. They politely declined. Next, they learned about the secondary colors (purple, green, orange), which are made of two primaries. I challenged them to make a picture with all six colors we had discussed, but when they got to their tables they were surprised to find only yellow, blue, and red paint. They mixed the paint colors together to create the secondary colors.

Finally, they learned about complementary colors, which brighten each other when they are put together. The pairings are blue and orange, purple and yellow, and red and green. We discussed several artists' use of complementary colors, such as Van Gogh (orange beard with a blue-toned background) and Sonia Delaunay, who juxtaposed complementary colors in her geometric abstract work. First graders created drawings using concentric circles in complementary colors. They loved the feel of oil pastels, though it made for a challenging cleanup!

Here is the Van Gogh self-portrait:

Here is a painting by Sonia Delaunay with concentric circles and some juxtaposed complementary colors:

Here are some samples of first grade complementary color oil pastels: