Friday, December 23, 2016

Grade Three: Tiny Treasure Boxes

Third graders discussed the use and decoration of container design. They discussed how this wooden box created by a Japanese artist, held the special purpose of storing incense. Noting the planning and execution of design upon a three-dimensional cube and its possible function and purpose allowed students to realize that everyday objects can be made beautiful by artistic skills.

Students were given a template of a box which they were then instructed to decorate using pencils and/or markers, giving special attention to how one side would of the box could impact another side, as well as the top and bottom, in a wrap-around design. Once finished, the boxes were cut from the template, glued together and as an option, embellishments could be added to the interior and exterior of the box.

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.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

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 Two: Mock Stained Glass

For this lesson, second graders examined several examples of historical and contemporary stained glass art works. The art of stained glass originated in the form of windows. Students discussed places and buildings were they have seen or might expect to find stained glass windows. Homes, churches, temples, restaurants and public buildings are among the most common buildings to find stained glass. Students were informed that stained glass windows were originally intended to give medieval cathedrals the feeling of being a special place during the dark Middle Ages.

Students were instructed in how to make their own "mock" stained glass using plastic transparency sheets and black construction paper. Once students cut symmetrical shapes and designs into the black paper, the transparency was coated with a layer of glued tissue paper on the back, allowing the sunlight to illuminate the colors when held up to the light.

December Masterpiece of the Month: American Gothic by Grant Wood

Who Made It?
An American artist named, Grant Wood, created this painting in 1930.

Where Is the REAL One?
The real painting can be seen at The Art Institute of Chicago in Chicago, Illinois.

Why Is This Artwork Important?
The idea for American Gothic first came to Mr. Wood when he saw a small cottage house in Iowa which had been built in the architectural style known as Gothic Revival. Wood decided to paint the house along with the kind of people he imagined might live there. The painting shows a farmer and his grown-up daughter. They are not meant to represent any particular people, but rather ALL Americans. The man's pitchfork is intended to be symbol of hard labor and the flowers over the woman's shoulder are a symbol of homelife.
When people first saw this painting, they thought that Mr. Wood was making a joke about small town farming life and the people who lived in such rural places. However, Wood never intended for this painting to make fun of or criticize anyone. Soon after American Gothic was painted, a very difficult and poverty-stricken time came to America called The Great Depression. Suddenly, people looked at this painting differently and it was seen as a depiction of the hardworking, ever-strong pioneer spirit of the American people.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Observational Drawing: Drawing Our Shoes

This month's drawing challenge consisted of having third graders remove one of their shoes and draw it from observation by placing it on the table before them, much to student's delight! Students were informed that shoes, particularly sneakers, contain many intricate details in the form of lines, shapes, patterns and textures which would require their attention for this drawing. Students had the option of including shading in this drawing or keeping it as a line drawing, which would allow them to focus on the beauty of the many interior details. Some students chose to opt for the additional challenge of placing BOTH shoes on the table and arranging them into a small still-life, while others drew their shoe(s) from unusual and/or multiple viewpoints.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Kindergarten: Expressive Masks

Kindergarten students are now beginning their first extensive unit of the school year. This unit deals with various forms of costuming and celebrations. As we think about art which is worn on the body, masks usually come readily to mind. Discussion begins with asking students about the many uses of masks and listing them on the board: disguise, theatrics, festivities, ceremony, protection, etc.

Students are then shown two examples of African masks and are asked for what purpose they think these masks may have been used for. They are also asked to find various shapes, either geometric or free form, within the design and structure of the masks. Kindergarteners are asked about facial expressions and what they are. After making several different facial expressions of their own, students are shown two more examples of African masks and asked to identify their expressions.

This lesson takes several weeks to complete, as even paper masks are very time-consuming to construct. Each week consists of new teacher demonstrations and students are shown two teacher examples which convey strong facial expressions. Students are then instructed to think about what kind of shapes can be used to help convey the expression they will choose to depict on their mask, i.e. how will sharp triangular eyes differ in expression from large, circular eyes? What kind of shapes can be used for eyebrows in a shocked expression, or an angry face? Once the facial expression was completed, students were instructed on embellishing the mask with hair.

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.