Tuesday, December 05, 2017

December Masterpiece of the Month: The Old Guitarist by Pablo Picasso

Who Made It?
A Spanish artist named Pablo Picasso created this painting in 1903.

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

Why Is This Artwork Important?
This painting is one of several paintings created during a difficult time in Picasso's life. During this time, there were many different art styles which developed and became popular, such as Modernism, Impressionism, Post-Impressionism and Expressionism, which greatly influenced Picasso. Expressionism refers to art that is an expression of an artist’s individual feelings and personal experience. Poverty, death of a friend and personal struggles caused Picasso to feel deep sadness at the beginning of his career. Because of this, he chose color and symbolism to represent his feelings of sadness, particularly the color blue, which more strongly and effectively convey these emotions. We call this Picasso's "blue period", which lasted three years. Every single element in The Old Guitarist was carefully chosen to create a stronger reaction. The monochromatic color scheme (based on one color) creates flat, two-dimensional forms. Also, the overall dull blue palette creates a general tone of sorrow and tragedy.

The guitarist shows no sign of life and appears to be close to death, implying misery and discomfort. Details are eliminated and his body proportions are manipulated to be elongated and scrawny. This blind and poor musician depends on his guitar and his music for survival and also uses them for expressing emotions. Here, everything seems to be a symbol of loneliness, and a reflection on what Picasso was feeling and experiencing during this time.

Grade Two: Paper Pendants

Why do people wear jewelry? Students in grade two learned that people everywhere have decorated themselves with jewelry since ancient times, often for many different reasons. Students examined and discussed several different artisan pendants, some of which incorporated necklace structure, as well. The examples ranged in time period and materials, and students were asked to look for clues to help them determine how each pendant was created. They enjoyed seeing how different cultures have varying styles, how different artists use the same materials differently and how styles have changed over time. Despite the differences, however, some jewelry-making techniques have remained similar over the centuries.

Students were instructed to design and create there own pendant from paper and aluminum foil. They were encouraged to include additional decorations with markers and pencils.

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.

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.

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. 

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

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 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 used for safety or protection when playing sports or outdoor activities. Product: footwear

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

Design assignment: Improve the design of a method of transportation.

Product: car 

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

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

Design assignment: Improve the design of something used for entertainment.

Product: stereo

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

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.