Thursday, November 29, 2018

Fifth Grade Maccabees

The fifth grade Maccabee project is one of my favorite projects of the year.  The Maccabees were a family of Jews who lived approximately 2000 years ago, who restored a temple destroyed by the Assyrians under the leader Antiochus. In restoring the temple, they found enough oil to light the ceremonial lamp for what they thought was one day- but it burned for eight days, hence the origin of Hanukah.

The unit begins with an intensive figure drawing unit, where students use wooden manikins as models, focusing on form, proportion, angle, shape, and negative space. They also do blind contour drawings, where they cannot look at the page while drawing, and gesture drawings, which are fast, loose sketches designed to capture the essence of the form.

To design their Maccabees, we discussed the time period (around 160 BCE) and what life was like. We also consulted illustrated books about the Hanukah story to observe the style of dress and the manner of weaponry that existed at the time.

Students used wire to build an armature for the body. Then, they covered it with plaster bandages. The heads are model magic and the clothing and accessories are mixed media- including cloth, foil, wood, yarn, and leather. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Seventh Grade Shattered Value

Seventh graders have been working on a unit on value, an element of art which describes the use of light and dark for emphasis, dimensionality, and perspective. To practice their shading skills, they created these compositions made of contour drawings and dividing lines. Within each shape, they used pencil to shade from darkest to lightest, resulting in these mesmerizing drawings.

Kindergarten Expressionist Animals

Kindergarteners observed and compared two paintings of cows, Yellow cow by Expressionist artist Franz Marc (1911), and Children and a Cow by Albert Cuyp (1635). I asked them which painting they thought was older, and they figured it out. We discussed why Cuyp's painting looks older- the style of clothing, and the duller colors. I told them that was only within the last 150 years (which is a small amount of time in art, which has been around 10,000 years) that artists really started to "break the rules" and create things that did not look realistic. I explained that Expressionism was a kind of art where artists changed how things looked in order to express themselves, and we brainstormed other different ways people express themselves, such as through their words and their clothes. 

They drafted their Expressionist animals in pencil on big 18x24 papers. Then, they outlined the animals in black paint. Finally, they used bright colors of their choice to create their beautiful paintings.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Fourth Grade Kanga Cloth

Fourth graders learned about Kanga cloth from Tanzania. Kanga cloths have geometric patterns and include a message or a blessing in Swahili. They are gifted, traded, and worn as clothing. 

The fourth graders designed their own Kanga cloth by creating an abstract design that communicated their message or blessing. They carved the design into styrofoam, then used printmaking techniques to create a series of prints, resulting in a pattern. Finally, they wrote out their blessing and created an additional border design with another geometric pattern.