Thursday, January 11, 2018

Kindergarten: Fabulous Feasts!

Many artists use food as subject matter for their work, and food is often present at celebrations of all kinds. Kindergarten students have spent the past few months focused on the many aspects of celebration: masks and costumes, party drawings and now feast collages! After identifying what a “feast” is, students discussed the selected food-related artworks before listing their own favorite foods they would enjoy.

Students were then instructed to create a feast by cutting out appropriate shapes and colors to represent various foods, imagining the colored paper background as their placemat. Small details and texture could be added using markers, and students were encouraged to include and think about other table-setting objects such as dishes, flatware and drinking glasses.

Grade One: Drawing Animal Textures

Students in the first grade have been learning how artists use the element of texture in their work. For this lesson, students examined how artists use pattern and line to give the illusion of texture in a drawing, painting or print that is actually smooth in surface texture. Students first looked at several photography examples which depicted many kinds of different textures and were asked to use their eyes to indentify and describe the textures they saw. Then, first graders were shown two examples of artworks featuring animals: Rhinoceros by Albrecht Durer and Hen by Saul Steinberg. Students were led to notice that line variations, shapes and patterns must be made to convey differences in hair length, scale size or bumpy skin.

Students were then asked to choose a photograph of an animal to draw using colored pencils and crayons and were required to draw the texture of that particular animal as they saw it in the photograph. Students were also instructed to give consideration to coloring, scale and proportion.

Grade Four: Analogous Landscape Painting

After a previous discussion and exploration of the style and techniques of Impressionist painting, fourth graders looked at Meadow of Giverny by Claude Monet, which depicts the artist’s understanding of using the full spectrum of the color wheel. Students were guided to notice the use of analogous colors, which are the colors next to one another on the color wheel. When colors are planned in this way in a painting, they create a more noticeable impact upon the viewer’s eyes when looking at the painting. Students were also led to notice that all colors can be changed to make a stronger visual impact when painting.

Students were then given photographs of various colorful landscapes to use as reference for their own paintings. Students were given a full spectrum of colors, but were instructed to mix and modify their colors in order to use colors more inventively. They were also encouraged to use analogous colors to make their painting sparkle with light.

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

January Masterpiece of the Month: Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose by John Singer Sargent

Who Made It?
An American artist named, John Singer Sargent, created this painting in 1885.

Where Is the REAL One?
The real painting can be seen at The Tate Gallery in London, England.

Why Is This Artwork Important?
This painting is named after a famous song from the year it was painted and it takes place just after sunset in the evening. Sargent felt the glowing light he captured in this painting was completed after two months of autumn evenings. Sargent felt the glowing light he captured in this painting was “the sight of paradise”. In fact, this painting was completed after two months of autumn evenings. The two girls, named Polly and Dolly, were the young daughters of friends with whom Sargent was staying for a visit. Every afternoon he would play tennis until twilight, when the light was absolutely perfect, and the games would stop. The girls would take their positions and Sargent would paint as quickly as possible for a few minutes, until the light changed, and the tennis game would continue. This painting is from a small person’s viewpoint, so the flowers are oversized as if seeing them from a child’s perspective.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Observational Drawing: Everyday Tools, Up Close

Students in the second grade had a chance to examine everyday objects up close and notice small features about them they might not otherwise notice. A variety of hardware tools, cooking utensils, office supplies and art-making equipment was placed at each table, allowing students to explore them via touch and sight. Students were instructed to draw from these available objects and encouraged to try shading and texture techniques. Some chose to focus on one particular object, while others drew from several.

Kindergarten: Stick Puppets

Kindergarteners wrapped up their costuming unit with a lesson on constructing stick puppets. This was also a good segway into our next lessons which will be about celebrations. Students were first shown reproductions of the above artworks and led through a discussion with a series of questions:

“What are the people doing?”
“What are the people wearing?”
“What have the artists repeated in these artworks?” (lines, shapes, colors, patterns, positions of figures, costumes and uniforms)

Children were especially guided to notice the interesting clothing worn by the performers depicted in each of these artworks, and were then told they would be constructing stick puppets of people wearing interesting costumes. Students were first instructed to draw the shape of the person onto a piece of oak tag, then cut out the person using scissors, and finally decorating their puppets using a variety of collage materials made available at their table.

Grade Three: Hybrid Mythical Creatures

Third graders were first shown a slide of the Assyrian sculpture pictured above, and asked to look at it carefully. After a few moments, students were asked to identify the different animals comprising the creature depicted. Students were quick to notice there is a lion body, eagle wings and a human head. This combination of animals can only be the famous, mythical sphinx! Many students are familiar with the sphinx, and were led through a discussion of its history within several ancient civilizations. Students were also led to notice that unlike lions, this sphinx has five legs instead of the physiological four. This is because, depending on where the viewer stands in relation to the sculpture, either from the side or from the front, the sculpture will appear to have not only the correct number of legs, but also appear to be walking from profile view.

Students were then shown examples of ancient sculptures of the Sphinx from Egypt and Greece, and compared the similarities and differences in how other cultures have depicted this creature. Contemporary illustrator's renderings of other famous mythical creatures were also shown, including: the Chimera, the Minotaur and the Pegasus. These creatures have famous stories told about them and continue to fascinate people. Students were then instructed to sketch an idea of a hybrid animal of their own design. Later, using their sketches as a reference point, students were instructed in carving their creatures from a block of clay using the subtractive method of hand-building as a starting point. Pieces were later kiln-fired and painted with watercolors.