Saturday, November 21, 2015

2nd Grade Ceramic Leaves


Second graders created these ceramic leaves, learning about using the shape and texture of natural objects to inspire art.  Our native dogwood leaves, as well as a few viburnum and oak leaf hydrangea leaves, chosen for their easier (than oak and maple) shape and strong veins, were pressed, vein side down, onto clay slabs. Then the leaf shape was carefully cut away from the slab with a plastic knife.  Wet fingers were used to smooth the edges of the clay leaf, and the leaves were gently set into styrofoam bowls to give them a natural-looking curve before hardening.  After bisque firing, students applied glaze lightly to preserve the vein details.

5th Grade Land Art

This is always one of the students' favorite units of the year. They love getting outside to create, and I purposely plan the lesson for the fall when the weather is (mostly) cooperative, and the changing leaves provide more opportunities for the students to incorporate color into their artworks.
As usual, we began the unit by reviewing some ancient examples of land art that was likely created for religious reasons (Great Serpent Mound in Ohio and the Nazca Lines of Peru, for example) long before the medium was used to create art for art's sake (or to raise awareness of environmental problems). Then we reviewed the work of our biggest inspiration, famous land artist Andy Goldsworthy.  Students focused on how Goldsworthy often uses only one material and emphasizes only one or two primary elements or principles of art (for example, line, form, or contrast).  Students were challenged to emulate this method and encouraged to create on a small scale so that their works could be completed in just one class period.  Given the short amount of time and the relatively limited materials afforded by our small Nature Trail area, students responded with very strong artworks! Personally, I get a big kick out of revisiting their works to take these photographs -- there's something special about coming upon these creations in the quiet of the woods after a boisterous school day.

(Happy Thanksgiving!)

Saturday, November 14, 2015

3rd Grade Silly Sentences

Artwork by Amber
("The rich horse jumped over the hairy carrot.")

This quick lesson is a great way to have some drawing fun while reinforcing parts of speech and sentence construction.  It's also especially appropriate given this year's school-wide writing focus.  

After reviewing the definitions of various parts of speech, students randomly select two adjectives, two nouns, and a verb phrase from three different bags.  I have the three parts of speech on strips of paper in three different colors for help in constructing the sentences.  (If students are not as sure about which part of speech is which, they can still put them in the right color order to construct a proper sentence.  Either way, the order for our silly sentences is "adjective-noun-verb phrase-adjective-noun."  The different colors also help make clean-up go much faster.  Usually students are able to construct at least two sentences and create drawings to illustrate them in one 45-minute period. 

Students quickly see that the random selection of their parts of speech makes for some funny sentences.  For example, the student who created the drawing above picked "rich" and "hairy" for her adjectives, "jumped over" as her verb phrase, and "horse" and "carrot" as her nouns.  From these, she constructed the following sentence to draw: "The rich horse jumped over the hairy carrot."  Of course, the challenge is in how to draw a horse that looks rich or a hairy carrot.  The students always get very creative finding solutions to these drawing challenges!   

Artwork by Lily
("The big-eared scuba diver swam with the skinny snake.")

Artwork by Cameron
("The romantic book broke up with the gigantic dragon.")

2nd Grade "Starry Night in the Pumpkin Patch" Mixed Media Works

Artwork by Lauren

I like this lesson very much because it's rich in methods and media, as well as art elements and principles.  It also presents the perfect opportunity to learn about Vincent Van Gogh!  

Students learn about creating a sense of space through overlapping, how movement can be conveyed with certain line types, and how 2D shapes can be turned into 3D forms simply by emphasizing those forms through specific lines.  They also are challenged to paint their pumpkins without using any pre-made orange -- i.e. they have to know how to make their own colors by mixing.  

We began our lesson by viewing and discussing The Starry Night and learning a little about the life of Vincent Van Gogh.  Students first drew three pumpkins (small, medium, and large) with pencil on white drawing paper, making sure to use curved lines to make the forms of their pumpkins appear more rounded (or more "3D"). After going over their pencil lines with black oil pastels, they painted their pumpkins with a watercolor orange they created themselves by mixing red and yellow as they painted. (Some even added shading on one side of their pumpkins with a darker value of orange or with red).  In a second session, after cutting out the pumpkins and composing them on black construction paper to show space through overlapping, the students went to work on their "Starry Night"- inspired skies with oil pastels in blue, white, yellow, and other colors.  They added swirling or spiraling lines, as well as short dashes around their stars and moons, to lend a sense of movement and energy.  

As usual, our second graders did a great job on these!

Artwork by Ava

Kindergarten Four Season Trees

Artwork by Landon

Since Kindergartners spend some time learning about the four seasons in their first year of school, I use this lesson both to teach them about drawing trees and to reinforce their season lessons.  After a quick review of the number and names of the seasons, I teach them how to think of the letter "Y" when constructing a tree.  (I show them how a tree can be a big "Y" with lots of little "Y"s attached to to it,  Using a piece of 12 x 18 drawing paper that has been folded into fourths, the kinders take a crack at drawing four of these trees, one in each rectangle.  Then we have a great discussion about what one tree might look like as it goes through all of the seasons, and I color my trees accordingly on the Smartboard.  Starting in one corner, the students then color a spring, summer, fall, and winter tree using oil pastels, and finish off their works by painting the background of each "season" a different color of their choosing.   

Sunday, November 8, 2015

5th Grade Land Art Time!

5th graders have been dodging the rain this past week to create Andy Goldsworthy-inspired land art works in the HES Nature Trail area. I'll have plenty of pics of their creations next week after all classes have completed this lesson.

3rd Grade Haunted House Silhouettes

Artwork by Maggie

I think silhouettes are a great way to illustrate the importance of negative spaces in some artworks, and what better subject to show in silhouette this time of year than haunted houses.  I leave a page worth of Google images showing these kinds of silhouettes on the Smartboard for ideas and inspiration while students draw their houses on a 9x12 sheet of drawing paper.  They are encouraged to add other details like tombstones, trees, fences, ghosts, etc., remembering that anything they add must be recognizable from its shape alone.  Once drawn, they fill in everything on their page except their windows and sky with Sharpie.  (I have a supersized black marker that I use on parts of some students' drawings in order to speed up this part of the work, especially if they've drawn their house particularly large.)  After the silhouettes are completed, students color in their windows with yellow or orange marker.  Then they paint their sky with our liquid watercolors in a spooky mix of blue, green, and purple.  I love how these turned out, and the students had a lot of fun creating them, especially with the details.

Artwork by Amber

Artwork by Bryce

Artwork by Cyrus

Artwork by Tayla

4th Grade Glue and Pastel Sea Turtles

Artwork by Sadye

This lesson introduced the 4th graders to soft pastels and the technique of tracing their drawings with white glue to keep their pastel sections separated (both physically and visually).  The works were finished off with a cool-colored wash of the liquid watercolors we make from our dried out Crayola markers.  

We also learned a little about the amazing, ocean-spanning migrations of the sea turtles that nest on our North Carolina beaches.

Artwork by Erin

Artwork by Maya

Artwork by Samiya