Musings about the importance and impact of art and art education in the 21st century.

Musings about the importance of art and art education

Fabulous Lil' Froggies

♠ Posted by ArtMuse
My second graders just wrapped up their clay frog project. not one of my favorites, I'll admit....Some frogs ended up looking a little road-kill-ish, all bumpy and squished and such.  There were also quite a few that had excessively long legs and arms which were consequently, broken at some point during the drying/firing/glazing/firing process.  There were enough lost limbs that I couldn't quite keep track! (eek) Thankfully though, the kiddies didn't seem to mind their humorous and somewhat abstract froggies and their excitement stayed pretty consistent despite some setbacks.  Here are a few of the more recognizable ones..

 For the glaze I used Mayco Stroke and Coat in Cottontail (white) and Amaco Lead Free "CTL" or Crystaltex glazes in Fantasia (green), Peacock eyes (white with blue speckles), firecracker (red), and Amaco 'AA-24: Exotic Blue" which by the way, looks much more multi-dimensional in the picture than on the clay. All glaze fired on cone 06 (fast)

1st grade Paul Klee 2d and 3D Fish

♠ Posted by ArtMuse in

I just finished a unit on Paul Klee with my first graders.  Both projects were based on the artwork The Golden Fish. 

The first project was a 2-dimensional one.  I had the kids begin with 12x12' white paper folding in half two times to create four rows.  The kids filled in each row with a different pattern in oil pastel and then painted watercolor over the top.  I was hoping the patterns would be a little more dynamic and a little less straightforward, but since I don't teach kindergarten, this was the first project I'd ever done with this group of children.and wasn't sure where they were at developmentally.

After that I used guided drawing at our class carpet to demonstrate how to draw a fish.  Each child got a whiteboard and dry erase marker and followed along with me.  When they felt comfortable enough, they returned to their seat and drew their fish on 9x12" white paper, and again, used oil pastel and then watercolor to fill it in.

The fish and patterned background alone didn't look like it was enough for me. You know when you look at the outcome of a project and it just doesn't look "done"?  That's what I was feeling, and so,  I used 18x18" construction paper, and created some fish stencils from oak tag using the dye cut machine we have on our main office.  The kids first traced the fish with a marker (no pencil), and could overlap or crop the fish as they saw fit. After that, they used chalk pastel to trace and then gently smudge the outline to give a decorative effect. Overall, the border really helped make the project look complete, and gave it some "oomph".

The second project were ceramic pinch pot fish.  I gave the kids large balls of clay and some how they wittled their fish down to the petite size you see below.  They still look adorable, but I kept saying to the kids, "it's o.k. you can use the whole piece of clay!" lol!

I used amaco"crystaltex glaze in Milky Way (the speckled dark blue) and Mayco ''Stroke & Coat" and 'Candy Apple Red, Dandelion, and Blue yonder.  I've also done a few other lessons on Klee:
4th grade Klee Heads

1st Grade Around the Fish

1st Grade Mixed Media Klee Trees

4th Grade Painted Klee Heads

3rd grade Sinbad the Sailor

Square 1 Art Fundraiser

♠ Posted by ArtMuse in

Every other year I work with the PTO (parent teacher organization) to do a school-wide fundraiser along with the company Square 1 Art.  If you're not familiar with the company, click the link HeRe

They basically put your students work on all different types of objects and a portion of the money comes back to the school. Two years ago I had the students create different animals, fishes, birds, cats, etc, and then fill them in with different patterns. This year I had about 3 weeks to get over 600 forms completed, so I decided to create painted landscapes with everyone.  At first I had a few classes use tissue paper to create a collage and then add a marker landscape over it, but there was too much room for error and I had to be a drill sergeant to make sure the kiddo's really glued the tissue paper flat. Here are a few of the tissue paper samples.  These are the brighter ones, unfortunately some of them ended up coming out really dark

After trying a few classes without the tissue paper, using only paint and then marker over that, I found the results to be pretty much fool proof.  Here's a few samples....I always marvel at the variety of results I get even though I'm teaching the same things to every class!


4th Grade Paul Klee Heads

♠ Posted by ArtMuse in


I've taught variations of this lesson before, but this variation is my favorite.  In the past I've had the kids use tempera paints and create tints and shades to fill in their drawings, but I was finding that the opacity of the tempera was causing them to cover over or accidentally fill in all the great details they had originally drawn in.  Thinking on that, this year I decided to scrap the focus on tints and shades and focus on warm and cool color families using watercolors.  I got a little of the value in with the watercolors, reviewing with them how adding water to the watercolor paints lightens the value and would be the equivalent of adding a white to a tempera paint.

These were the original projects:
 These are this years projects:

They have A LOT more personality than their predecessors, lol! The kids really got into this project.  They liked the fact that the head didn't have to look realistic but was simply comprised of implied shapes.

For the project each table got a water bucket, small brushes, white oil pastels and 2 sets of regular watercolor paints and 2 sets of Crayola "mixing color" sets (thank you Cassie Stephens).  The mixing set has 2 yellows, a cyan, blue-violet, and a white, the white is pretty useless but the kids loved the blue-violet and cyan colors. The oil pastels were used to replicate the texture found in Klee's painting.

Overall, the lesson took 4, 40 minute periods.  I HIGHLY suggest investing in some inexpensive hand towels to use when painting instead of paper towels.  If your school is anything like mine, the paper towels are really flimsy and don't absorb anything..I bought the rags seen in the pictures below from amazon. They came in a set of 24 for about 25 bucks. Or you could always send out an email and get some donated.  I don't recommend cutting larger towels down because the loose unbound edges won't hold up.
 The first we examined the work and discussed its features.  I then demonstrated how to use a ruler and gave out a bunch of various sized lids for them to trace circles and draw straight lines.  They used black Sharpie first, so if they made a mistake, we discussed ways to make it become part of the art.  On a side note, one of my favorite things of all time that kids say to me is, "ya know Ms. C.  I had made a mistake but then I fixed it and it turned into something that I really like about my work."  I feel like if I've given them the confidence and opportunity to make mistakes and then "fix them" that I've taught them an important life lesson. I mean, let's face it, life is about what we do with the mistakes and wrong turns we make!

Day 2 was devoted to learning and then painting warm and cool colors. I had a smartboard slide with a diagram showing both color families for the kids to use as reference.
Day  3 reviewed and discussed a Powerpoint on Klee's life and work and then the kids continued painting adding the white oil pastel.

 Day 4 we finished painting.  For their background they had the option of using the same color family, using both, or using the opposite one.  I think the next time I teach this lesson I'll have the students just continue with the same color family. I discussed with them that they didn't want the background to be so busy it competed with their heads, but I think impulsiveness won out. Keeping it all the same may help keep the face the focal point.  Maybe I'll even have them cut the heads out and mount on a solid piece of contrasting paper like I did with the first lesson examples.