Thursday, February 21, 2013

Peace, Love & Keith Haring!

Right around Valentine's Day, I was having one of my Modern Art after school classes and I thought it would be a great time to have a Keith Haring-inspired lesson. When I look at some of Haring's work, I see social activism and I think he was also encouraging people to get along and join together to change the world. 

Peace, Love and ART!
(Although this artist is frustrated!)

I showed the children some of Haring's work and they had lots to say about the colors, style and message of the images. I then gave each of them a little articulated paper figure that was cut from card stock that they could use in case they needed help drawing the figures. I got the little figure here, on Christy Hale's website. I told the children that they didn't HAVE to use the figure, it was there if they needed help. I encouraged them to complete the sentence "Peace, Love, and..." We brainstormed a bit on how we could finish that sentence and they came up with some great ideas such as:

  • Peace, Love, and Minecraft (of course!)
  • Peace, Love, and Cheeseburgers
  • Peace, Love, and Art
So, I set them loose. I had stacks of different colors of construction paper available for them to trace the figures onto and then cut out. After they had cut their figures out, they glued them onto a background paper and then traced around them with Sharpie. For the backgrounds, I had long strips of paper or squares they could use, depending on their composition. I encouraged them to add motion and voice lines, etc. with the Sharpie.

I kept this project VERY open-ended because I wanted to see what he students would do. I think I would maybe stress next time that the viewer would need to be able to SEE (ie. figure out) how they are completing the sentence "Peace, Love, and..." that might help them with the imagery a bit. I'll have another opportunity to try the project out with my homeschool kids in a couple of weeks so we'll see how they interpret the lesson.

Peace, Love and Dancing!

When the children were done their projects, I had black paper and chalk for them to create graffiti like Haring did in the subways in NYC. I wish I had had some black paper on a roll and I could have had them work really large, but this worked (and they could take their graffiti home with them afterwards!).

Other Keith Haring Lessons to check out:
  • Again, this is Christy Hale's Lesson that was published in the Jan/Feb 2006 issue of "Instructor." This link has the instructions for her project to make a frieze as well as a printable template for a little figure that can have either a dog, cat, or mouse head. 
  • Dali's Moustache has a great lesson where students drawing and painting to create four figures per page with bright-colored backgrounds. Then she has them turn create 3D foam sculptures inspired y their drawings-WOW! I absolutely LOVE her bulletin board display!
  • Sarah Ellis Traci has a great Haring lesson where children paint full size Haring figures and make a HUGE mural in the lunch room or down a hallway.
  • Once Upon An Art Room uses pastels on black construction paper to create multi-colored gradient backgrounds (great negative space lesson!).
Stop by the above links, tell them Mrs. P sent you and give them some LOVE!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Process vs. Product Igloos

I recently have been reading about Process vs. Product in art education. I have long been against cookie-cutter type art and assembly-line creation. So, while I understood the concept of Process vs. Product, I decided to test out a couple of my lessons with the following criteria:

• Little or no finished teacher example (so no copying my work)
• Options for students to customize their work in their own way
• Templates available but not relied upon

So I returned to Clark School in Amherst, NH to teach my Igloo Landscapes With Northern Lights project (original post here), this time to the morning Kinders. In my prep work, I cut out MANY extra yellow squares and rectangles so that children could add as many windows and doors as they wanted. Last time, I suggested one window for each igloo and some students weren't happy with that.

Once there, I welcomed the children with fiddle music softly playing on the CD player and kept it playing throughout the lesson. My presentation of the project was pretty much the same, and I did show them an example of the finished project, but when they moved to the work areas, it was not in plain view (just like last time). The children knew that I was asking them to fill up the sky with lines that looked like the Northern Lights (but they decided which colors and how many lines of color to use), then I showed them the elements of the collage table and we discussed what they could use them for:

• White paper strips (snow covered ground)
• Paper plates cut in half (they could trace if they needed help making a semi-circle igloo shape)
• White squares (snow blocks)
• Yellow squares and rectangles (doors, windows, stars, moons)

Then I let the children begin. As I moved around, I made suggestions on the process ("Make sure to use your helper hand to hold that steady" or, "what is your next step?"). I just made sure that the students understood the WAY to use the tools and materials, but I never said where a piece had to go within their work or that they HAD to add a door or a moon--I was giving them options and letting them decide.

How'd it work? Great! I had discussed the idea of Product vs. Process with one of the Kindergarden teachers beforehand and she assured me that this project, as I had done it last month, was full of "process," so I was already feeling pretty good about it. Being mindful about "Process" this time, I learned the following things:

1. Kinders are pretty capable people. Show them techniques and they'll take off running! They can make all sorts of great choices about using techniques, tools, composition, etc.

2. Always cut more bits than you need--sometimes a student will want more than one window or door or moon. That's cool. I'm not making kits to sell, I'm offering supplies up for creativity.

3. Templates aren't always needed. These Kinders were more than capable of making a semi-circle without tracing a plate. And they did it with glue--and not too much glue, I might add. Bravo!

4. When children make creative choices about their artwork, they are taking ownership of the piece--and will even be able to tell you stories about their work. I bet you many of these children can tell you all about their landscapes and who lives in the igloo and what's going on in that colorful sky. This is probably not the case if they are cutting and pasting with strict guidelines--this active vs. passive involvement in the creative process is exactly what I am striving for. We aren't just creating pretty art--we're learning something here!

So, enjoy these igloos and enjoy the process!

More Giacometti Figures

Last fall I did a foil project with my homeschool kiddos where they learned about Giacommetti, figure drawing and sculpture and they created figures out of aluminum foil. Here's the original post.

"I'm thinking...I'm thinking..."
They came out great! So, I thought my after school Modern Art kiddos would also enjoy making the project. I was really surprised when most of the kids DID NOT dig this project. I presented the same way, but that day, my after school kids had a case of spring fever and this project wasn't able to hold their attention (even with a bit of charades, gesture drawing and squishing foil). One longtime student said, "I hate this project, can I throw it away?"

Despite the bad reviews, the children created some really interesting pieces. One student worked and reworked his figure and finally got the idea to recreate Rodin's "The Thinker." WOW!

Here are the results, enjoy!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Mmmmmmm....Tasty Thiebaud Cakes!

I've had this project on the agenda for a couple of years since I saw it at my first NH Art Educator's Association State Conference. This project is from the Art History-inspired Lesson Planning Session I took with Claire Provencher, who is this year's President of the NHAEA.

Some of the tasty cakes in progress. This also shows the handout
I gave each student to make sure they knew all the elements I was expecting:
cake, cake stand, shadow on table.
I had originally planned one one-hour class for this project, but even my speediest student needed the project to continue into another session, so if you are limited on time, you can reduce the number of cakes from 9-ish to 5-ish, to make the project more manageable.

I started class by showing the students a slideshow about Wayne Thiebaud I had found online and I gave each table a handout which had an image of Thiebaud's cakes for reference as well as an example of the elements I was expecting them to have on their papers: cake made from construction paper, cake stand that had been traced on the background paper, then colored, and the shadow from the cake stand that had also been traced on the background paper and colored in.

I also implemented my "AT LEAST TWO COLORS" rule for every piece of this project. Students have to use at least two colors in their cakes, on the cake stand and on the shadows that fall onto the table. Oh, and no black in the shadows. This gets the children thinking about using richer color choices that are more natural and slows them down a bit. I really didn't want them to spend two minutes decorating cakes and throw some black shadows everywhere and call it a day.

I had the children use a combination of crayons (the regular kind) and craypas or oil pastels to decorated their cakes (Claire suggested using construction paper crayons originally, but I didn't have those). The children really enjoyed decorating their cakes, and I was pleasantly surprised by all of the different kinds of cakes they were able to create! I also showed some of the students how to make a half cake and a cake with a slice taken out of it.

Enjoy these tasty cakes!

Tasty Thiebaud Cakes

Supplies Needed:
  • One 9"x12" piece of neutral-colored construction paper for a background (cream, white, light blue)
  • About ten 3"x 4 1/2" pieces of construction paper, various colors
  • Cake template cut from card stock
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Oil Pastels
  • Crayons
  • Glue stick
  • Cake stand template cut from card stock, optional, children could just freehand it

1. Trace and cut the cakes from the small pieces of construction paper. If you stack a couple pieces of construction paper, you can cut a couple cakes at once. Don't try to cut all 10 cakes at once with child scissors--your cakes will be messed up!

2. Decorate your cakes with the crayons and oil pastels. Add glazes, sprinkles, nuts, fruit, stripes, polka dots, hearts, etc. The sky's the limit! Use at least two colors on each cake to make them interesting. If you decide to add shadows to your cakes, make sure all of your shadows are going the same way (in the same direction). You can also make some of your cakes missing a slice or even make a half cake just like Thiebaud would do.

3. Once all of your cakes are done, glue them to the background paper.

4. Draw the cake stands below each of your cakes. I suggest drawing all the cake stands at once since they will probably overlap and you'll need to make some decision about which ones are on front and which are behind and that is much easier to do in the pencil phase.

5. Color in the cake stands and add shadows going in the same direction they appear on your cakes.

6. Add shadows from the cake stands onto the table. Again, make sure the shadows are going the same direction as all of your other shadows.


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Tints Landscape With Charcoal

I love working one-on-one with students! It's just the break I need in my week. I get to focus on art and one person and really enjoy both!

Today, my 3rd grade private art student finished this beauty. I am so proud of her! I had originally seen this post called "Winter White Landscape Paintings" at the blog A Faithful Attempt and loved them! The landscapes are done in tints of blues (in tempera!) and then the details added with charcoal pencils. LOVE IT! Honestly, I didn't think of temperas as a serious art paint, but I am so glad we tried this. I have completed my own piece and have another in the works--they are pretty addicting to create!

So, enjoy my student's work and hop on over to A Faithful Attempt to see how her students did it--and try one for yourself! You'll be glad you did!

With this project, my student learned:

• Color that are mixed with white are called "tints" and there can be many tints of a color!
• How to select a composition to paint (visual interest, balance, value range, etc.)
• How to use opaque water-based paint (tempera) to paint a landscape in layers and in multiple steps that require planning
• How to add details and value to a piece using charcoal pencils and the different ways of applying them as well as grades of softness
• One point perspective (fence) and direction of light and its effects on the shadows in a composition

Monday, February 4, 2013

Creeped Out in NH

I have realized two things this morning:

1. It is very disturbing to have a life size plaster model of your child lying on your dining room table.
2. I have a SERIOUSLY messed-up sense of humor. So much so, that this morning I sent two of my kids off to school a wee bit disturbed...

Model Son wearing Real Son's favorite hat...

My son, who is 10, loves to do projects for school--it is where he truly shines. He loves to come up with very elaborate ways to express his ideas and this creative thinking has caused us to explore all sorts of techniques that I probably wouldn't have thought to do with him: papier mache, carving styrofoam, soldering, cutting marshmallow Peeps (that's another story). Allowing creative freedom has its drawbacks, too. His model of the ocean floor cost about $50 to make even with coupons and discounts and some creative scrounging on mom's part. But, I want to encourage that creativity--it's great for him to craft something himself and make something he is proud of (and, who knows, he might become a model maker for George Lucas someday!).

Anyhoo, on to freaking out my I was worried when he came home the other day and said he said he had to create a 3D model of the human respiratory system. He had ideas. He wanted to sculpt the entire torso. He wanted it full size. He wanted it to be Model Magic (YIKES! My wallet just has a heart attack!!). I tried to use my powers of persuasion to get him to make it smaller (read: cheaper), but he said "no." He realized that creating a full size human form and then "cutting it in half and scooping out the insides" was going to be wasteful. I finally suggested paster tape--the stuff they used to use to make casts for broken arms in the "olden days." I explained the process and he was intrigued. I was worried.

We did some research on the how-to's and while he watched the Super Bowl last night, I layered the strips on him (I wanted him to do ALL the work originally and use a sibling as a model, but my little ones weren't into it and it was probably for the best--1st son says it was cold and freaky being in the plaster. However he did layer on the 2nd layer of strips and do all the art direction (which is hard to do when your face is covered in plaster strips).

But, I have to tell you, I was completely unprepared for the feelings I felt seeing my child in a full body I layered the strips up his torso and onto his head and face I felt so sad. We were laughing and giggling, but inside I was conflicted. So strange. The strange feelings were even more pronounced when we removed the cast. I cannot begin to describe the weirdness of seeing a life-size model of your child lying on the floor, or, as it is now, lying on the dining room table. Very strange.

It wasn't until this morning, when my son and I were discussing the weirdness of it all, that I revealed my creepy side. I told him that I should have taken his iPod and snapped pictures of the model doing all sorts of things around the house: watching TV, wearing my son's mohawk winter hat, driving the car--I just couldn't stop myself--I rattled off a list of things that Model Son and I would do while Real Son was at school. I realized the creepiness when Real Son looked at me with one eyebrow raised...he was laughing, but in that "if-I-humor-her-maybe-she'll-stop" kind of way.

I later related the story to son #2 and he also was a little wary. Especially when I told him I thought it would be funny to paint the model with glow in the dark paint and hang it upside down in his closet to scare to bejeebies out of him at night. Seriously, that would be AWESOME!!

So, when I get the calls from the school counselors today I will know why, but I think I'll let my husband talk with them. I think I might make the situation even worse!

Model Son, do you want to watch Downton Abbey? Hmmm?
I'll take your silence for a "yes."

More Miros

Last Fall I posted a Roll-a-Miro project. I just did this project again with my after school Modern Art class and here are the results--ENJOY!

P.S. If you have been thinking about doing this project but haven't yet, please do! The children really have fun with it!

P.P.S. The link to the Roll-a-Miro chart on Pinterest is here (I haven't been able to find the original source for this):

Creatures From Smoo 57

The Angels of the Ocean

The Angel of the Sky

The Amazing World of Squiggle

The Animal World
The Evil Squidwards

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