Wednesday, December 13, 2017

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.

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 Three: Hybrid Mythical Creatures

Third graders were first shown a slide of the Assyrian sculpture pictured above, and asked to look at it carefully. After a few moments, students were asked to identify the different animals comprising the creature depicted. Students were quick to notice there is a lion body, eagle wings and a human head. This combination of animals can only be the famous, mythical sphinx! Many students are familiar with the sphinx, and were led through a discussion of its history within several ancient civilizations. Students were also led to notice that unlike lions, this sphinx has five legs instead of the physiological four. This is because, depending on where the viewer stands in relation to the sculpture, either from the side or from the front, the sculpture will appear to have not only the correct number of legs, but also appear to be walking from profile view.

Students were then shown examples of ancient sculptures of the Sphinx from Egypt and Greece, and compared the similarities and differences in how other cultures have depicted this creature. Contemporary illustrator's renderings of other famous mythical creatures were also shown, including: the Chimera, the Minotaur and the Pegasus. These creatures have famous stories told about them and continue to fascinate people. Students were then instructed to sketch an idea of a hybrid animal of their own design. Later, using their sketches as a reference point, students were instructed in carving their creatures from a block of clay using the subtractive method of hand-building as a starting point. Pieces were later kiln-fired and painted with watercolors.

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.