Saturday, June 30, 2018

Live From the Eagle Cam

Plein air painting is a near impossibility with the 45 minute art classes that run at our school, so live video streaming from an eagle cam was a great alternative that allowed first graders to paint on "location."

When I projected the video stream from Decorah, Iowa on the whiteboard and turned up the speaker, the students immediately noticed that the weather conditions at the nest were the same as we were experiencing in Arcadia.  It was almost like we were perched on the edge of the eagles' nest! We could hear the scratching of the eaglets in the nest, and as the tree swayed in the wind, it seemed as if we were moving too.

For a while, nothing much happened, but then were fortunate to see a parent feed the babies. Oh, and then, one of the eaglet's pooped!

Wosene Inspired Alphabet Art by Kindergarten Students

Mixing Colors    Each year kindergarten students learn about primary colors and color mixing. Usually we use paint to experiment with blending colors, but this year I wanted to introduce the students to pastels.

I was worried that managing the dust of a soft drawing medium would be too challenging for kindergarten, but I decided to give it a go after reading art teacher Don Masse's lesson featuring the paintings of Wosene Worke Kosrof. (See Don Masse's blog here, and Wosene Worke Kosrof's art here) The students did great and the absolutely loved Wosene's colorful alphabet paintings.  They were so excited to get to work.

Working with Pastels    The students learned to place paper towels underneath the hands that they use to keep their papers still. They also learned to apply color one stroke at at a time before blending the pastels carefully. Students created colorful spaces by blending primary and white pastels. Then they added letters of the alphabet with black oil pastels.

Wosene's Art    During this unit we looked at several examples of Wosene Worke Kosrof's compositions featured on his website and this YouTube video. Kosrof's colorful abstract paintings are filled with letters of the Amharic language native to Ethiopia. Since Amharic symbols are similar in appearance to the letters and numbers that the students are learning in kindergarten, the students were very intentional with their compositions. They noticed the varieties of sizes and directions of the letters. They liked how white created contrast and they were inspired to add some dotted patterns too.  I showed them the Amharic symbols for the numbers five, six, and seven so some of the student drew their ages on their compositions.

As I layed the finished pictures out on the floor to spray them with fixative, I was struck by their collective beauty. The learning this year far surpassed the learning of primary color activities of past years. Literacy skills were reinforced. The challenge of working with pastels was embraced by the students as they mixed and blended colors. I was surprised by the students' conscientious decision making as they composed their pictures. Best of all, the students and I learned about the work of an artist new to us, contemporary painter, Wosene Worke Kosrof.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Active Figures

First grade students worked very intently on their figure drawings inspired by Keith Haring.

After a lesson about the human skeleton and the ways that bodies bend and move, students got to work drawing active figures. They especially enjoyed the archived cartoon animations of Keith Haring that we watched. The cartoons were made for Sesame Street many years ago, but you can watch them yourself on YouTube. Here is one

First graders composed the space of their drawings much like Keith Haring. They added motion lines to show movement. They added patterns and bright colors. The first graders' drawings were filled with figures that seem to spin and jump, dance and kick. The finished works were displayed for our school's Jump for Heart event to encourage everyone to be active.

Amazing Mixed Media Self Portraits

 The mixed media self portraits that the second grade students made are absolutely stunning.  And boy, oh boy did the second graders work hard. I am so proud of them.

They practiced drawing faces with the correct facial proportions before they drew their self portraits on construction paper. After concentrating so hard on that tricky skill, they needed to loosen up a bit so they went wild with the oil pastels and then painted designs on what would become the backgrounds of their portraits.

As the students were working on these self portraits they learned about Pablo Picasso. The students were very interested in the portraits that he made throughout his career.  Some students elected to use an unrealistic color for their flesh tones.

Other students chose to work with more realistic coloring, but developed their backgrounds abstractly.

The portraits were finished off with a collage technique, gluing torn and cut papers to make their hair styles and clothing.  

A Portrait is a Picture of a Person!

This year kindergarten students created some colorful portraits. These young artists needed very careful brush skills as they painted their figures. To design the backgrounds they drew different line variations with oil pastels and and painted the spaces.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Digital Dabbling

Fourth Grade Digital Drawings

Fourth graders read the magazine Scholastic Art from time to time in art classes. A very short article about Phil Robson's shoe art caught the students' attention, so we dabbled a bit at photo editing and digital collage. While Phil Robson's art is sleek and edgy, our digital creations lean toward the whimsical and sweet. Here are a few of the more monstrous for you to enjoy. Many of the students created insects. You might recognize the colorful patterns and textures of the athletic shoes in their designs.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

And the WINNER is...

Final mARTch Madness Match Up

Here it is at last, the chance to determine which work of art will be the winner of mARTch Madness 2016.  Cast your vote here
Curious about the results of the final four and how we ended up with this pairing?  
Here the pie graphs to study.  Interesting!