Thursday, December 12, 2013

Fourth and Fifth: Chinese Bamboo Paintings

I love doing this lesson as it forces students to work sloooowly, methodically, and of course, learn about a different culture. In the Chinese culture, because bamboos can bend during storms, but are not easily broken, they symbolize strength and integrity.  Students first mixed black sumi ink and green paint to create a dark green color for their bamboo. Beginning from the bottom of the paper, they painted upward in calm, confident strokes, lifting up their brush to make thin gaps for the bamboo nodes. For the delicate stems, students used just the tips of their round brush to create the thinnest lines possible. I told them this part needed to be fast or else their lines will be bumpy and "nervous". One of the funnest steps to this project was making a chop of their names. After coming up with an interesting  signature that fit inside a tiny square, they carved it in reverse on a styrofoam square. Then they glued the styrofoam onto a wooden block and stamped it on their painting. Finished!

Second and Third: Saguaro Paintings

As I drove home a little later than usual from work, I noticed the gorgeous sunset and the striking contrast made by the shadowed trees in the foreground. I had to make a lesson out of this as it is a picture that students see everyday.  Students learned the wet-on-wet technique in which they sprayed their paper with water and painted on the paper with watercolor.  This created really cool effects and the students loved watching the colors branch out and move around. Once their sky dried, they painted their foreground black and the middle ground a lighter color since it's farther away. Since we're living in a desert, I thought it was appropriate that students painted saguaros and palm trees! 

Friday, October 18, 2013

Eighth grade: Exploring Color

I don't remember how I came upon Leslie DeRose's  Etsy site, but her cropped bicycle paintings reminded me of a portfolio requirement when I applied to RISD undergrad. I think we had to draw a bicycle in any composition of our choice with pencil and it had to meet certain dimensions. It was a huge drawing and I definitely struggled drawing those spokes, but anyway! I digress. This year, I have a unique privilege to tutor one middle school student and she said she wanted to expand her knowledge of color. We looked at Leslie's paintings as a jumping off point to explore with tints and shades. She first printed out a photo of a whole bicycle, used a viewfinder to find an interesting composition, and sketched it on her final paper. As you can see when she was ready to paint, she made a value chart for the blue negative space. For the positive space, which is the bicycle, she painted it in the complementary color for blue- orange. 

Kindergarten: Mushroom resist paintings

I saw this lesson at Leon, pas sur les murs, a darling blog that you should definitely check out! It was super fun and easy. Students first drew a mushroom and colored it in with crayons. The only rule was not to use brown since the background would be brown. While I demonstrated painting over the crayon resist, we discussed why the watercolor wasn't covering the mushroom. This is where science kicks in! I simply explained that water and wax don't mix and crayon is colored wax.  "What's in watercolor?", I asked. "Water!" So with brown liquid watercolor, they painted a border and then gently painted over their mushroom and the background. The students loved seeing the mushroom appear and practically glow off the page!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

First grade: Sky above Clouds III


Sky above Clouds III, 1963

I saw a great lesson at Painted Paper on this beautiful cloudscape painting by Georgia O'Keeffe and thought it would be a good example on perspective, tinting, and shading color. I first showed students other examples of her artwork, including her famous flowers, and then had students guess what this painting was capturing. I heard very interesting interpretations (icebergs on water, lily pads, rocks, etc) until a student finally guessed they were clouds. Then I had them think about how it was even possible for Georgia to see a cloudscape from that high and it didn't take long before they guessed a plane.  It's always fun pulling students into the artwork, to relate to them, and to the artist. They also remember the paintings much better this way as opposed to just telling them facts and dates, although that is very important also! 

For the execution part, students first sketched a horizon line at the top and painted the background starting from shades of blue by mixing with black. As they painted towards the top, they mixed tints of blue by adding white. The key was to blend the colors so they didn't just look like stripes. Once the background dried, we talked about how objects that are closest to you are big and objects that are farther back are small.  Students sketched their clouds with white chalk pastel (so if they need to change something, they can just rub it off or use an eraser) and gradually made their clouds smaller. This was challenging as they also had to retain the same shape for the clouds so the whole image would look organized. Overall, I thought they did a successful job! 

Friday, October 11, 2013

Kindergarten: Cat and Bird

Cat and Bird, 1928

Kindergarten students learned about Paul Klee's Cat and Bird painting and broke it down into basic shapes and intersecting lines. They first drew their cat in brown oil pastel and then colored it entirely in orange pastel to get a solid base color. The next step was to layer certain areas, like the ears, under the eyes, and mouth with white. Students used whatever colors they wanted for the eyes and background. Even though this was mostly a guided lesson in that I demonstrated each step as students followed along, I love that each cat is unique and has so much personality.

Kindergarten: My Wild Thing and I


I adore these drawings! We read Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak and drew one of the wild things simply using shapes and patterns. 

Third and Fourth grade: Meshon Maps

Aaron Meshon is one of my favorite illustrators whose maps delight the senses! Every time I look at them, I discover something new. As a preliminary step, students imagined and sketched out their own world filled with fantastical structures. The problem they had to solve was how to fill their drawing with information, but design the composition so that the eye moved around the space. They did a great job using size, color, and streets to create a breathable, yet engaging drawing. My students loved looking at Aaron Meshon's maps and made sure to fill their own maps with quirky characters, bright colors, and wonderful personal details.

Third-Fifth: Dali's Melting Clocks

The Persistence of Memory, 1931

My summer school students learned all about Salvador Dali during Art week and had so much fun interpreting his surreal paintings. Out of white model magic, they used the table to bend and warp their clocks into a "melting" shape. They painted the outer rim with gold paint and made their numbers with black model magic. The hour and minute hands were made with black cardstock pinned down with a brass pin that was held in place with a drop of hot glue in the back.

Kindergarten: Olivia

I adore how these drawings of Olivia came out! With some minimal charcoal smudges and red  pastel, students drew their own version of our lovable pig.

First-Second grade: Mary Blair's Giraffes

Mary Blair designed the concept art for It's a Small World ride at Disneyland, including many classic Disney animations and children books. We had a lot of fun drawing this one!

Kindergarten: Vessels and Arteries

Where art meets science! This was a project from summer camp during Science Week. Students learned about the heart, vessels, and arteries, that I tried to explain by describing our veins and arteries as subway trains.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Kindergarten: Charcoal Still Life

First grade: Drawings of Flowers

This was a rigorous lesson on color mixing using colored pencils.  Unlike mixing paint, colored pencils are mixed by adding multiple, even, layers. The preliminary step was to fill out a tertiary color wheel making sure to color inside the lines, mix colors evenly throughout a section, and layer their colors so they can produce a wide range of colors, not to mention bright saturated colors. Are you tired of the word "color" yet? ;)

Students chose a reference photo and sketched it out on drawing paper. I did multiple demonstrations on how to blend colors, layer colors, and emphasized how important it was that they really look closely at all the subtle color gradations. I tell students they can color in multiple directions (sometimes you have to!) as long as they blend them together in the end.  The drawings came out beautifully!

Second grade: Notre Dame Cathedral


Even something as complex as a Gothic cathedral can be learned by young children! We looked at David Macaulay's Cathedral drawing as well as a photograph of Notre Dame and simplified it into lines, arches, and patterns. I had them guess how many steps you had to climb to get to the top (387!) since Gothic architecture is characterized by its height and narrow structure. Students also learned basic architectural terms such as spire, rose window, and pointed arches.