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.

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.