Saturday, February 26, 2011

Even MORE Underwater Watercolors!

Kindergarten drew warm-colored fish (at least that was the plan) in crayon and then painted a cool-colored watercolor wash over their entire paper. Paper size is 6"x9". Great experience in watercolor techniques for these young artists!

Alex - Kindergarten

Samantha - Kindergarten

Tylah - Kindergarten

Yoandri - Kindergarten

Expressionist Self-Portraits (K-2)

Another K-2 color project this year is the following Expressionist self-portrait series. I had to rethink the self-portrait project for this age because of the time required to do the van Gogh-inspired self-portraits. This one takes only three class periods (as opposed to six).

For this project, K and 1st used crayons and tempera paint, and 2nd used oil pastels and tempera, all on manila drawing paper. The resist technique is basically the same as the watercolor resist underwater paintings we do, but tempera is thicker and more opaque than watercolor, so students have the opportunity to experiment with and compare both types of paint.

Art topics and elements discussed: Expressionism, color use in expressing emotion and mood, proportions of the human face

Brescia - Kindergarten

Samantha - Kindergarten ("Look, Ms. Renn! I'm a RAINBOW!")

Since I can't give first and last names, I prefer to tell you that this young artist's last name is Blue. :) - 1st grade

Chris - 1st grade

Emily - 1st grade

Kalani - 1st grade

Louie - 1st grade

Jozette - 2nd grade

Conrad - 2nd grade

(My classes are 45 minutes, and K-2 meets with me every day for 35 consecutive school days (rather than once a week for the entire year). I much prefer this schedule, as it allows for greater continuity in the classroom (kids don't forget from day to day, but they forget A LOT from week to week). This schedule also allows me to better control supplies.)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

A taste for art...

Conversation today with 3rd grade:
Me (After showing a short film about various artists and their portraiture styles): Think about the different styles of the artists we just saw. Which artist would you like to paint your portrait?

Student 1: I didn't really like any of them. I'd rather have a painting of an ocean than a painting of a person.

Me: That's okay. We all have different taste.

Student 2: You mean you TASTE the paintings???

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A nice surprise for a Tuesday...

Early Morning in Innisfail - 2010/2011
I got an email earlier today announcing the awards for the Broward Art Educators Association Juried Exhibition that is currently showing at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale. What a nice surprise to learn that my colored pencil drawing Early Morning in Innisfail was awarded Honorable Mention!

I retitled it for the show. The title comes from stories Anthony has told me about being awakened each morning by peacock calls ringing through rural Innisfail when he lived in Queensland, Australia.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Take a look at what's happening in Room 203!

I've been adding photos and editing for a large portion of the day, and there's still more to do! There are a couple of posts that need text added, and I've got to reorganize my labels/tags, too, to make them more user-friendly. I'm still putting this all together, so the shape of things will probably change as I achieve a more focused direction, but for now please browse around to see what's been going on in my classroom this year!

Abstract Shape Drawings (K-2)

Students are surprised to discover how much they love this project, and the only tools needed are paper and crayons!  (My 2nd grade also uses markers.) It's a terrific introduction to abstract art.

After discussing the various line types and line directions, students create their own abstract drawings using only marker and crayon (K uses crayon only in my classroom). I give them directions such as, "Draw a horizontal zig-zag line from one side of your paper to the other" (stressing that both ends of the line MUST touch an edge). After they've drawn four or five different lines with ONE marker color, I give them geometric shapes to draw (circle, rectangle, triangle, etc...sometimes we change marker color for the shapes). I also change up the instructions by having them overlap some shapes. Students then use crayons to color the new organic shapes that are created when the lines cross one another. The rule at this point is that every time you come to line you must stop and change colors so that no two side-by-side shapes are the same color.

The result is a class filled with unique and very colorful abstract drawings!

Below are 2nd grade examples. I do this with K-2 and simply adjust the difficulty and number of instructions depending on the age of the children.

Piet Mondrian Collages (K-2)

Students are introduced to the work of Piet Mondrian as we discuss balance, shape, composition and primary colors. Students are given six 12" black strips of construction paper to arrange on white paper (9x12). Three must be horizontal and three must be vertical. I encourage them to vary the space between their strips/lines so that there is variety of size in the squares and rectangles that are created when the lines overlap. (So many students want to arrange their lines in a perfect grid. A number of them want to put the lines right on the edge of the paper, too, so watch out for that.)

Then students use only red, yellow and blue crayons to fill in only six of the shapes in an effort to create a balanced composition.

The examples below are from first grade.

Elmer Collages

Elmer, by David McKee is quite popular with my kindergarten students! After reading the story, we create our own parade of patterned elephants. This is a great opportunity to talk about using shapes to draw (we start with a circle or oval and add legs, trunk, tail, etc.), as well as discussing patterns and repetition. Students also get excellent practice with fine motor skills as they create their detailed patterns and cut, paste and tear to create their collage. I talk about foreground and background, as well, as students cut out their colorful elephant and glue him/her to a construction paper background.

For the background:
  • 9x12 blue construction paper (though McKee's scenes have pink, purple and even orange skies!)
  • 6x12 green construction paper (students tear across the stop horizontally to create the illusion of hills/grass/etc.)

More Underwater Scenes: Watercolor Resist (K-2)

The student work below was painted on 90# watercolor paper  (as opposed to 140# paper used on the other works on the lesson plan). Quality does make a difference, but these colorful underwater landscapes are still beautiful and successful, and the young artists who created them are rightfully so proud of their work!
(Salt yielded little or no results on the thinner paper, so was omitted from these works.)


Upper Elementary Hall Display

Below are a few photos of our hall display for grades 3-5. This case is right outside my classroom door. I wish I had room to put out more work!

On the top shelf are four relief prints. I need to get better shots of them and others that are in students' portfolios.

Paper sculpture is our introduction to form and 3-dimensional media. I was subjected to a sea of groans when I announced that we'd have to integrate a bit of math into our art room during this lesson. Students must measure, estimate, and visualize the outcome of their sculpture. Happy accidents are welcome, but the more a student is able to predict the final pop-up the more complex and successful the end result becomes. While it's a little tricky in the beginning, once students catch on they love it! 

This pop-up technique, called "Generations," was quite a hit. The idea for this lesson came from The Pop-Up Book, which I bought for myself a few years ago, but which has become quite useful in the classroom, as well. There are projects of varying skill levels, but most of them can adapted for use with 3rd-5th grade artists.

Following this project, I've kept paper and scissors for practice and experimentation in the "Inspiration Station" art center.

Vocabulary: form, sculpture, 2D/3D, shape, positive/negative space/shapes, gutter, crease

Guiding questions: 
  • What is form?
  • What is the difference between shape and form?
Here are only three examples. I'll try to get more photos up (there are tons still in the classroom).

Also in our display:

After studying gesture in pencil, students create one-line gesture sculptures in wire. This is another one that can be tricky, but once students get it they have a lot of fun with their wire sculptures.

Vocabulary: form, line, movement, gesture, coil, wrap, twist, proportion, balance

Self-Portraits (1st and 2nd)

The following self-portrait images were created using tempera paint on white poster board.  This project can be found in How to Teach Art to Children. (I bought the book years ago when I first started teaching art in schools and needed someplace to begin! I still love these self-portraits. This project helps students understand that art is a process that can't always be whipped out in ten minutes - or even one class period - and young artists are always delighted with the results and glad they didn't rush it.)

After studying two or three of van Gogh's paintings and discussing his painting technique and use of color, students draw their self-portrait in pencil, paint it with tempera (a little white glue mixed in thickens the paint nicely), then outline the portrait in black marker to create the dark outlines. The background is prepared separately by cutting tissue paper and creating a collage of analogous colors on another piece of poster board (or any other combination of three colors: warm, cool, primaries, secondaries, monochromatic, complementary values, etc). The portrait is then cut out and glued on top of the background.
This technique is intended to loosely mimic van Gogh's use of bold colors, broad brush strokes (impasto), and bold contour lines in his paintings. Depending on how long a class period is, this project can take 5-7 days.

  • Two pieces of poster/tag board per student, cut to be the same size (I usually cut a standard size poster board in half, so one poster board per student will do it. However, for the portraits below I used donated tag board that was pre-cut to about 18"x18".)
  • Pencils
  • Tempera paint
  • Brushes (large and small)
  • Black markers
  • Tissue paper in a variety of colors (I cut it into 1" strips and let them cut shorter lengths)
  • Scissors (or students can tear the tissue paper instead)
  • White school glue (Glue sticks work, as well, but I like to have students paint over the tissue paper once it's on the board so there's a nice flat finish and there are no loose ends flopping about.)

  • Day 1: Show examples of van Gogh's work; discuss the artist, impasto, use of color, etc.
  • Day 2: Discuss facial proportions, "bust"; Draw self-portrait in pencil on one piece of poster board
  • Day 3: Paint self-portrait; be sure to allow paint to be thick...there should be raised texture, just as in van Gogh's paintings
  • Day 4: Trace drawing with black marker (I tell students to trace anything was drawn in pencil.)
  • Days 5 & 6: Create background collage with tissue paper (This may take 2 days because of the time it takes to let children choose their three colors - plus, we review the color wheel and talk about analogous colors. It also just takes time to get all of that paper glued down! I recommend having paper clips on hand, or sandwich bags, to keep loose tissue paper together for day 2 of gluing. I have the kids clip their tissue together and lay it on top of their background so we know whose is whose.)
  • Day 7: Cut out self-portrait and glue to background; Trim any "hanging" tissue paper from edges of background (I encourage students not to place their self-portrait smack in the middle of the it to one side or even let it fall off of one side and trim it!)
(I adapt this project for kindergarten by having them work much smaller (9"x12" at the largest) and having them color their portrait in crayon and outline in marker. For kinder artists, the project takes three days: 1 - Look at van Gogh's work/Draw self-portrait in pencil/Color with crayon; 2 - Create background collage; 3 - Trace self-portrait pencil lines in marker/Cut out and glue to background.)

    Artist: Dyanna, 1st grade

    Artist: John, 2nd grade

    Artist: Kevin, 2nd grade

    Artist: Lara, 2nd grade

    Artist: Leandro, 2nd grade

    Artist: Parker, 2nd grade

    Artist: Stephanie, 2nd grade

    Artist: Tyler, 2nd grade