Friday, October 25, 2013

Fall Leaf Prints and Art Education Musings...

Around this time of year, I have a project I like to keep on hand for early finishers. I've posted about it before and it is originally from Deep Space Sparkle. When I first saw this project, I thought "WOW! How striking and different!" I love the contrast between the white leaves and the black paper. The colors in the negative space really pop!

The project is easy-to-do and once you give a quick-demo, students from first grade through fourth are good to go and can do the project themselves (my kind of early-finisher project!). Here are some of the results from my "Fall Into Art" Class....

I super-love these! They look so nice!

But...I noticed something after this last class did this project. Maybe it is because I'm going for my Master's and have been reading all sorts of articles about creativity in children and revamping arts programs and all that (that stuff will mess you up! ;-) ), but I think I may need to alter the way I present this lesson...
  • Children always ask: "Why are we painting the leaves white? They aren't white--they are beautiful colors!"
  • And I think, "Hmm. You're right, children. But trust me, the project is awesome and the white leaves look so great with the black can put all those beautiful colors in the background..."
  • And then a few always say, "But do we HAVE to do it this way?"
So, I did an experiment...I reversed the colors and changed the papers and tried it in a way that would seem more real to the students and allow them to observe and connect with the colors outside the window and represent that in their's what I got:

So above you'll see my test of different colors of construction papers with the revised color combinations. I think the light blue works well, BUT, I *absolutely HATE* the new temperas I bought from Michael's--they no longer carry the brand I like there and these are seriously the worst (and the only choice at our local store). So, I'm sure that when you all do your versions with quality temperas you'll be much happier.

The revised version isn't as striking as the Deep Space Sparkle original, I truly do love her version more, but this version above might be one to keep in mind when working with with younger students and getting them to really look at the world around them. Just some food for thought...

BTW: The image above was marked up using Skitch, an APP for the iPad. I love it! Although this isn't the best representation of what you can do with it.

"Drawing With Light" at the NHAEA Fall Conference 2013

It's that time of the year again! Fall colors and the NH Art Educator's Assoc. Fall Conference!

I love going to the conference and connecting with art teachers from all over the state! It's truly inspiring! And this year was no exception!

My morning session was "Using Photography in the Elementary Classroom." This session was led by Katie Poor, a teaching artist currently working at the Providence Children's Museum. She began by describing a lesson on cyanotypes that she teaches. Then she walked us through a very interesting lesson where she teaches children to "Draw With Light" using flashlights and digital cameras. She brought in some digital cameras of her own and we spent the remainder of the session experimenting with the technique.

She showed us a few examples--the most famous, I guess, would be Picasso from LIFE magazine in 1949. Check out the link to see all of the inspiring images...

We experimented by making shapes, squiggles, letters, drawing images (which are actually harder than it looks), and entire words...while we played, I think we all started thinking of ways this could be used across the curriculum.

My session partner and I experimented with using the white board and a dry erase marker to draw the idea first (either an image or a word) and then use the flashlight in our hand to "trace" the dry erase marker lines we had made on the board. You can see an example of this further in this post (the "art rocks" image) and a few more of our experiments on Katie's blog (link below). We were MUCH more successful doing our "drawings" this way versus trying to imagine an image and draw it freehand in front of us like Picasso did. After trying to draw freehand, I REALLY appreciated Picasso's drawing with light images!

To check out the photos from the session and see what we did, click on Katie's link:
And just look for the most recent posts (there are two that contain our examples).

I was fortunate to bring my camera from home to the session (it was in my mobile art closet/minivan so I was able to grab it). I had Katie advise me on setting my aperture and shutter speed and, although my camera isn't as fancy as the ones she brought (her cameras allow for 30 seconds of exposure, but mine allows only 16 seconds), I was able to go home and have my children "Draw With Light" a bit.

This is such a fun lesson, I really think I'll need to get into a classroom and teach this soon!

Thanks, Katie, for the great idea!

This should say "art rocks" but my my camera only allows for
a shutter speed of 16 seconds--I bet I could have traced the whole
word if I had tried again (the more successful attempt is on Katie's blog).

3-year-old draws a circle

6-year-old tries for a square
(it's harder than it looks!)

6-year-old tries for a star

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Fall Compositions With Elmer's & Pastels

Fall is my favorite season and I have been LOVING driving my hour-an-a-half drive up to my Grad School twice (sometimes three times) a week...I pop in a book on tape and enjoy the beautiful fall folliage that New Hampshire has to offer! Ahhhh!

The focus of my after school art class for my 1st-4th graders is "Fall Into Art"--fall-themed art activities...last week, we drew apple still lifes inspired by Cezanne, and this week we took advantage of the nice weather and beautiful fall displays outside the school that had been donated by the Amherst Garden Center in Amherst, NH. The Garden Center had flanked the entrance of the school with pumpkins and gourds, hay bales, scarecrows, and beautiful mums! I couldn't ignore all of the visual stimuli out there ready to draw!

We spent some time looking and touching the displays, then we sketched them. We moved inside and selected one the things from our sketches to "draw" on black paper with Elmer's glue. The students were VERY skeptical when I told them we'd be drawing with Elmer's and you should have seen the surprised looks when I did my demo and piped glue along the lines of my drawing!

I had seen this Elmer's glue/pastel combination online before but had never tried it. I think it would be great for winter snowmen as well...

Anyway, we let the Elmer's glue dry (they rode around for a week in the back of my minivan--the mobile art studio.

The next week, I showed the students how to color in the non-Elmer's areas--the negative space--with the chalk pastels, encouraging them to add highlights and shadows to make their pictures really "pop" and look more realistic. I suggested using my "use at least three colors in each section" rule...

The students were VERY pleased with this new "technique" and, at the end of class, we discussed some other compositions they could use this technique on. The fourth-graders were very specific with their questions about materials: where I purchased the materials, what they are called, how much they cost. They want to make sure the next time they go to Michael's Crafts Store they purchase the proper things so they can do this technique again--THAT (to me) is a sign of a successful art lesson--my students wanted to take something they learned in class and go with it.


Saturday, October 12, 2013

Cezanne's Apples and Composition

We are all into fall over here and I thought this week would be a nice time to do a still life with apples with my after school art class. This is the first time we've met this school year, and the group has 1st-4th graders in it. I had an idea of what I wanted to do, it's actually a combination of two lessons I saw out there:
My 1st grader's example with Cezanne's reproduction.
I can't show you the still life--he ate it!

"Still Life With Oil Pastels and Baby Oil" (2 posts) from Fine Lines

That was pretty much the lesson I used, but I modified my talk in the beginning to be about Paul Cezanne's work showing them "Still Life With Apples."

I then used the talk I found on That Artist Women: "Open vs. Closed Composition"

I really like how she shows real art examples in her post. I showed those to my kiddos as well.

Then I gave them time to experiment with arranging the apples (and one girl's donated pear) into closed and open compositions. There were three students to a table and the table needed to agree on a composition they liked best.

And then we were off! I walked them through drawing, demoed how to use the oil pastels and baby oil, and gave a quick watercolor demo.

These are their creations! Beautiful! They are so proud (me too!).


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