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.

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.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Grade One: Geometric and Organic Shape Collage

Students in the first grade begin the year by building upon the basics of art they learned about in kindergarten, focusing primarily on the elements of design. In order to understand the element of shape, students were informed that our world is composed of two different types of shapes: geometric and organic (also known by young students as "free form" shapes). We then examined The Flight of Icarus by Henri Matisse by looking for examples of these two kinds of shapes, how the piece was created and how Matisse used the shapes to tell the story of Icarus.

Students were then instructed to cut examples of both geometric and organic shapes from colored paper to use in a collage, and to consider various ways to arrange these shapes to make their collage visually interesting.

Kindergarten: How Artists Use Shapes

This project marks the first of activities which will span longer than one week to complete, throughout the year. It is important for students at this age to strengthen their fine motor skills. Learning to control and manipulate scissors and drawing utensils is challenging and takes time and practice. What better time in the year to introduce kindergarteners to the element of shape?

Week One: Students were first shown flash cards of some easy (and some not-so-easy) to recognize geometric shapes. Their attention was then brought to Mondrian’s painting, Tableau 1, and asked if he used any of those shapes in his painting. Students were then given an envelope to store up to five geometric shapes they had chosen from a selection pre-cut by the art teacher. Once their shapes were selected, they were allowed to embellish the shapes with markers to make their selections even more special. They were also allowed to decorate their envelopes and then store their shapes for safe-keeping until the following week, when they would use these shapes in a creation of their own.

 Week Two: Students reviewed the geometric shape flash cards. This week, however, they are delighted to find some new surprises: organic, or free form, shapes amid the geometric ones. Students were introduced to both groups of shapes and how they differ from each other. They were then instructed to take their previewly chosen geometric shapes from last week and arrange them into a creative composition. What can be made from your shapes? How can they be turned into something other than a square or triangle?
Once shapes are glued into place, students were instructed to cut and add an organic shape to their composition. Markers were used to help further clarify their idea.

Grade Two: Colorful Places

Students in grade two began the year with a painting project that focused on mixing light and dark tints and shades of color. After a discussion of how artists use and mix color for different uses, such as in Houses at Chatou by Maurice de Vlaminck, students were instructed to think of a colorful place to depict in a painting of their own.

Students were shown a demonstration on how to add white to lighten colors into tints and how to add black to darken colors into shades. They were also required to include both tints as well as shades in their painting, with the emphasis on tints so as to produce a more colorful result filled with light. Abstract designs were also permitted.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

October Masterpiece of the Month: Two Dancers On A Stage by Edgar Degas

Who made it?
This painting was created by a French artist named, Edgar Degas, in 1874.

Where is the REAL one?
The real painting can be seen at The Courtauld Gallery in London, England.

Why is this artwork important?
Throughout his career, Degas loved to create artwork that depicted moving subjects, such as people and animals in motion. Of the many artworks Degas created, many of them were of ballet dancers, for which he has now become famous. Degas admired the dancer's ability to function like a graceful machine that could crouch, turn, twist and stretch. He saw them as creatures of muscle and bone whose grace and lightness were the result of incredibly hard work. Degas observed dancers backstage at classes and rehearsals, as well as performances. His pictures of dancers appear as though they were created right on the spot. In fact, they were created in his studio, from memory and from quick sketches. Using pastels or thick brushstrokes, Degas could re-create the glow of stagelights upon the dancers, such as the bright light in the Two Dancer's skirts. In every sense, Two Dancers is a typical Impressionist painting, a style that Degas is recognized as working within. Its use of light and its effect on color, its depiction of a scene taken from everyday life and rendered in heavy, quick brushstrokes to capture the movement are all important signs of an Impressionist picture.