Tuesday, May 29, 2018

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. Because block printing requires carving with sharp tools, young students are given a soft material such as styrofoam, which easily yields to forming the impression of images through the gentle pressure of a pencil. Students were given a demonstration of the block printing process using brayers, inking plates and ink, which remain the same as other forms of block printing. After completing sketches and transferring designs, students were then ready to print their designs onto paper. Once the prints were dry and complete, students created a background setting for their building using a variety of media.

Kindergarten: Pinch Pots

Kindergarten students recently began a unit on clay and its sculptural properties. Students were first given oil-based clay to experiment with the many ways clay can be manipulated. This was done as a class, in a succession of steps guided by the teacher.

The following week, students looked at Animal Vessel, a piece of pottery from ancient Mexico that is carved in the shape of a magical animal. Students were then asked a series of questions while carefully looking at the selected work:

What do you notice about this artwork?
What is it made from?
How do you think this vessel might have be used?

Students were then introduced to earthen clay and instructed in the required steps to construct a simple vessel using the most basic of hand-building techniques. They were also encouraged to use pottery tools for creating texture in the surface of their pots.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Grade One: Places We Live Cityscapes

Students in grade one were shown two examples of how artists plan their pictures to fit within vertical and horizontal compositions, depending on their ideas. After much discussion, first graders were guided to see that the height of the tall skyscraper in Radiator Building by Georgia O'Keeffe, could best be emphasized in a vertical rectangle, while a horizontal rectangle can help focus our attention on the person on the rooftop of a building in Rooftops by Hugh Lee Smith.

Students were then given many rectangles cut from neutral colors in various sizes. They were instructed to use these simple rectangles to form buildings and cityscapes of their own design within either a vertical composition or a horizontal composition. This would require planning ahead of time, as their building(s) should be emphasized by the direction with which they held their paper.

Grade Four: Pop Art Animal Portraits

Starting as early as kindergarten, students experiment with many different methods of printmaking, both as an art form and as a tool in art making. As students graduate from year to year, the techniques become more complex and strategic in approach. Fourth grade students have had previous experience creating block print with styrofoam sheets in grade three, but this year have tackled the more complicated challenge of using multiple colors.

Students were given a brief history into the origins of color woodblock, as invented by the Japanese in the 19th century, and were led through a discussion on the design principle of emphasis, noting how artists drew attention to specific features and focal points in their prints. Students were then introduced to a few silkscreen prints of particular note by Andy Warhol, including Campbell's Soup I:  Tomato and a series of portraits of Marilyn Monroe. The principal objectives of Pop Art were also discussed, as well as which elements of Monroe's face are being emphasized and the reasons why.

Instead of celebrity portraits, students were instructed to draw an animal portrait from wildlife photos. These drawings were transferred to styrofoam sheets, printed in a series of steps in various colors, and culminating with students selecting a feature to emphasis in a differing color.

Friday, May 04, 2018

Grade One: Paper Sculptures About Nature

First grade students began this lesson by discussing and comparing two contemporary artworks, Floralis Generica by Eduardo Catalano, 2002 and Untitled (Seven Mountains) by Ursula von Rydingsvard, 1987. Students were quick to notice similarities to nature in both sculptures, as well as identifying how each sculpture differed from being an exact replica of anything actually found in nature.
Students were then instructed to create a sculpture inspired by nature in some manner. Works could be realistic or abstract, but materials were limited to being constructed largely from paper. Students were then given a brief demonstration on the basics of paper craft manipulation, but were also encouraged to try their own approach in transforming flat paper into a three-dimensional sculpture.