Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Grade Three: Architectural Facades

Students in grade three have been learning about architecture and how architects plan buildings. For this lesson, students learned that the front exterior wall of a building is called a facade and requires specific elements to be considered. Students noticed that architects, like all artists, often borrow design ideas from existing buildings and adapt them to their own ideas. For example, students discussed how The Parthenon in Athens, Greece has inspired buildings all over the world, past and present, in both symbolism and design. Students discussed some important architectural elements such as columns and arches, and how they have been used. In addition to structural and functional elements, students were led to also notice decorative elements, as well. The facade of the Church of Santa Maria Novella in Florence, Italy was discussed and examined. 

From these ideas, students were instructed to create a styrofoam block print of a building facade of their own design while paying special attention to the details and a various structural elements such as arches, columns, balconies and towers. Once the prints were dry and complete, students created a background setting for their building using a variety of media.

Observational Drawing: Nature Studies

Fourth graders began this drawing activity with a brief discussion of the artistic, historical and educational benefits of drawing natural objects from observation in what are referred to as, nature studies. Such drawings require a strong attention to detail and strengthen one's ability to replicate color, texture and shape within a drawing in order to be scientifically accurate. Students were given many objects from nature to choose from, including sea shells, seed pods and bone specimens. Students were then instructed to draw the objects, playing close attention to all necessary details and colors.

Grade Two: Gyotaku Fish Printing, Old and New

Students in the second grade took their previous printmaking experience from earlier grades to new levels with the introduction of this lesson. Gyotaku printing was traditionally practiced in Japan several centuries ago as a way for Japanese fisherman to record particularly memorable catches before it influenced artists and developed into an artform. Students discussed this technique and its history before examining several examples of gyotaku prints by contemporary artists who have stretched the boundaries of this traditional technique in new creative directions.

Students were then told that they would be combining traditional and new techniques of gyotaku printing in an artwork of their own. First, students were shown a demonstration of printing in the traditional method using black tempera paint and rubber fish models. Thin paper was placed on the rubber fish and gently rubbed to create a print. Then, students were ready to try the technique on their own.

Once completed, the second step was to create a backgroud with which to mount their fish print. Students were given a variety of materials, including watercolor and collage and encouraged to combine materials and utilize previously learned techniques, such as watercolor resist and wet on wet painting, to create interesting and vibrant effects to highlight their fish print.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Observational Drawing: Ring, Ring!

Students in grade five were given their second sketchbooks activity of the year using old telephones as still life objects. Unlike the previous still life drawing, these drawings relied less on placement and overlapping to objects to convey space and depth, and more upon viewpoint perspective and attention to detail. 

Thursday, November 03, 2016

Grade One: Printing A Stencil

First graders continued their exploration of shapes and patterns by examining the minimalist painting, The Gift by Kenneth Noland. Students were led through a discussion and series of questions to help them decipher and understand how Noland created this carefully planned painting in order to repeat the shapes of the circles.

Once the process of stencil-making was explained, students were instructed in making their own stencils and how to print them using tempera paint in a variety of combinations to make repetitive patterns and designs.

Grade Five: Industrial Design: Designing Better Products

Students in grade five were introduced to industrial design and discussed several examples of the kinds of factory-made consumer products industrial designer help conceptualize and construct. Students were led through the multi-step process in which an idea must be carried before a product can be sold in stores to potential customers.

Students were then assigned into "design teams" consisting of groups of 4-5 students. Each team was given a design assignment in which to either improve an existing product or invent a new product for potential purchase. Students had to arrive at a common agreement with their team mates on what the final product would be, and were encouraged to discuss possible features and improvements, and well as functional requirements for their products. Whimsy was allowed, as well as creative exploration, but students were also encouraged to consider practical application of their ideas. After preliminary ideas were drawn out, conceptual sketches when drawn on graph paper and students were required to show a minimum of two views of their product including front view. Labeling of product features, characteristics and special selling points were also required.

Design assignment: Invent something to make everyday tasks easier. 
Product: robot

Design assignment: Improve the design of something used for entertainment.
Product: virtual reality glasses

Design assignment: Improve the design of a method of transportation.
Product: airplane, two views 

Design assignment: Improve the design of something you use in school.
Product: backpack

Design assignment: Improve the design of something you use everyday.
Product: armchair

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

November Masterpiece of the Month: The Oath of the Horatii by Jacques-Louis David

Who Made It?
A French painter named Jacques-Louis David created this painting in 1784.

Where is the REAL One?
The real painting can be seen at The Louvre Museum in Paris, France.

Why Is This Artwork Important?
The Oath of the Horatii was a huge, immediate success for David, making him a famous painter upon its completion. It illustrates a scene from a legend set in ancient Rome which told the story of two cities at war with each other: Rome and Alba Longa. According to the legend, the two cities decided to choose three men from each city to fight each other instead of sending their armies to war. From Rome, three brothers from a Roman family, the Horatii, agree to end the war by fighting three brothers from a family of Alba Longa, the Curiatii. Aside from the three brothers depicted, David also shows two women crying in the corner. They are Camilla, a sister of the Horatii brothers, who is also engaged to marry to one of the Curiatii fighters, and Sabina, a sister to the Curiatii, who is married to one of the Horatii. David shows the father of the three brothers holding their swords while his sons pledge their loyalty. The father holds the swords not by the handles, but by the blades. This is a symbol for a situation that will have no clear victory because it will be painful and have loss for both sides.
David was very interested in the politics of his home country of France and he often used his paintings to influence public opinion with his ideas about patriotism and civic duty. And it worked! Oath of the Horatii was recognized for spreading the message of loyalty to one’s country at a time when France was changing and people were thinking differently. David, and many people, felt is was important to put personal feelings aside in order to do was they felt was right for their country.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Grade Four: Unity and Transformation in Sculpture

Fourth graders were introduced to the design element of Unity, in which an artist employs something which visually holds the artwork together. Students also discussed how an artist can utilize the idea or process of transformation in a work of art. Students were then shown several examples of the artwork by Tara Donovan, an artist who uses common, disposable materials such as paper plates and styrofoam cups and transforms their appearance by arranging large amounts of the same material in unexpected ways in site-specific gallery installations. 

Students were then instructed to choose one particular disposable material, in any amount, and create a sculpture which transforms the material in an unexpected and interesting arrangement. Sculptures of this nature often tend to be abstract and organic in style and content and students were encouraged to explore this idea while also creating a stable, secure structure with balance and support.