Thursday, December 31, 2009

Last post of 2009

Here's a link to the Springville Museum of Art in Utah. I came across the site while searching for some lesson plan ideas. They have a huge selection of downloadable lessons in pdf format on everything from the elements and principles to feminist art. It's definitely worth taking the time to check out. They don't mail the lesson packets out, so your stuck with what they offer in digital form, but its still a pretty good amount of resources.
The link from the homepage in under 'education' then 'lesson packets'

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Spring Cleaning in December

I spent a ton of time cleaning up all my watercolor palettes from school. Most of them weren't so bad which I was happy about, espeically because I drill my students about treating the supplies with respect. While cleaning, my paper towels ended up looking like tie-dyed handkerchiefs so I decided to save them. I'm not sure for what exactly, but I figure at the very least I can use them as extra materials for collage projects. We art teachers are so thrifty! :)

Saturday, December 26, 2009

3rd grade fall landscapes

Sometimes I feel like not matter how early I start the lesson I always end up being late. I began these landscapes about 8 weeks ago and between class cancellations, which I feel like happen way too frequently
, I just finished the lesson on Wednesday, the last day before break! I suppose my fall landscapes are going to be hung for winter, but oh well, I suppose better late than never, and besides their way too good to not get hung.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

1st Grade Faith Ringgold 'Tar Beach' Quilts

I love love love the book 'Tar Beach' by Faith Ringgold, it's such a good story with serious and important messages woven very effectively into the story. My first graders absolutely loved it. We discussed imagination and dreams, we also discussed segregation and prejudice. For the art project I bought a book of patterned scrapbook papers and cut a few of them into 3x3" squares. I then used light blue paper off the jumbo roll I had for the background. Students worked in groups of 4-5 and were each responsible for creating a building and a person (themselves) that they would cut and paste onto the background. I reminded them that whatever building they were going to draw had to be something they wanted, similar to the way in the story that the character Cassie Louise Lightfoot would fly over and the buildings she wanted to own. They then worked as a team to draw a bridge which I then helped each group individually glitter. The lesson went really well, the only difficulties I had were the students not being able to effectively communicate with one another in their group and as a result some bickering and complaining ensued. I tried to model how to share and cooperatively use the materials as well as how to discuss who would do what parts of the image, but they have such a small amount of experience really working collaboratively that it was a real challenge. Also, I spent an entire period modeling, discussing, and brainstorming ideas with them on how to add 'detail' to their work so that the buildings would have sidewalks, grass, flowers, trees, etc. but I still didn't really get as much detail as I would have liked from them. It was funny because the day before I finished the project with them I was talking about drawing with one of our kindergarten teachers and she was saying how she really tries to push the students to include details and characteristics of the objects they are drawing, and that developmentally at those ages, its hard for them to do so. So by pushing for details in their artwork, your really trying to get them to improve and surpass their normal ability range, which is always a good thing. So next time, details, details, details!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Such an easy, cute idea. I had to share it.

I'm subscribed to a website called Photojojo. They have all kinds of neat ideas for photographs, and every once in a while I get sent something that I actually take the time to do! Here's a very cute (and easy) idea for photo coasters. Of course, I don't use coasters, but I suppose I'm going to have to start!
Here's the link:

Photojojo=DIY Photo Coasters

Friday, December 18, 2009

5th Grade Romare Bearden-'My Block'

I love the artwork of Romare Bearden. I also firmly believe that no one artist or type of art is too 'hard' or complicated to teach elementary school aged children. In my opinion its all a matter of being selective in the works you chose to show and the range of information you chose to focus on. The majority of my students are minority, inner city children, so its important for me to expose them to not only styles and artists from different periods and various places around the world to show them artists inspirations are derived from experiences/ideas similar to theirs. To me, Romare Bearden is a great example of this. His inspirations are pulled from New York urban life, the African American diaspora, jazz, country life, spirituality, and personal views. In studying his work we examined 'The Dove' and 'My Block' and I had the students create a rendering of their block from this. They used oil pastels to color and add texture, then collaged in elements over their drawings. Lastly, the collaged in a title to represent the spirit/theme/idea/message of the block they live on. While working we listened to the jazz music of the Harlem Renaissance and discussed the idea of improvisation in music and in art. I told them, "don't look for the collage elements that you want in your artwork, you'll go crazy trying to find that 'just right' piece. Instead, improvise, think of ways you can incorporate those found pieces into your work instead." It was a very challenging lesson for them, but I think it was a great lesson to start the year off with and they really loved Bearden's work.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

4th grade rose windows

In 4th grade at some point in the year students study the Medieval Ages. In accordance with that, I did a lesson on stained glass 'rose' windows. To begin with, we brainstormed as a class all the things we knew about the Medieval Ages, then I introduced the vocabulary that went along with the lesson including transparent, opaque, radial symmetry, symmetry. pattern, design, and the use of stained glass during medieval times. I gave each student a 14 x 14" square of white paper and a pre-made 'slice' to trace to create their circles. I would have used a compass, but the classes didn't have them. After their circle was made we discussed ideas for designs which they then drew on their slice and traced over it on both sides with a black marker. They then flipped and traced their designs till their circle was complete. Lastly we added watercolor paints and outlined the design with a mixture of tempera and glue (home-made puffy paint) to create the leaded outline effect of stained glass windows. The lesson was very challenging for the 4th grade but was worth it!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

3rd grade native american petroglyphs

Petroglyph- a carving or line drawing on rock (especially one made by prehistoric people)
Pictograph- (also called pictogram or pictogramme) is a pictorial representation of an object. Earliest examples of pictographs include ancient or prehistoric drawings or paintings found on rock walls.

3rd grade studied the early settlers of America, so I immediately thought the Anasazi or ancient Indian tribes. I had seen a variation of this lesson for kindergarten but never understood how the art teacher pulled off having kindergarten students create such complex stencils (she didn't say in the lesson that she had pre-made them). So I decided to try this lesson with my 3rd graders. I had done a variation of the lesson before with a mixed age grouping of children and instead of painting the stencils on, as I had my students do this time, I had them cut out the stencils and glue them on the paper, the results of which I wasn't too crazy about. had each student create a symbol, something that represented them, and demonstrated how to cut out things from the center by folding and 'nipping' the inside first. Some students picked it up right away and some had a hard time with it. All in all the lesson went well. I found a few good resources for teaching Native American rock art, here are some links below:

This is a good contemporary artist link for the lesson:

'Talking Rocks' A lesson plan by Nancy Ratzloff- a great resource for introduction activities for the lesson (you can also link to this site from the link above)

The original lesson idea:

Monday, December 14, 2009

Sand Animation

As usual, I found this on the Getty Listserv, one of the regular contributors posted this about a video he had seen and which I just checked out:

"This is well worth the 8 1/2 minutes to watch.

Don't miss this amazing Video Clip . . first read it properly..This video shows the winner of "Ukraine s Got Talent", Kseniya Simonova, 24, drawing a series of pictures on an illuminated sand table showing how ordinary people were affected by the German invasion during World War II. Her talent, which admittedly is a strange one, is mesmeric to watch. The images, projected onto a large screen, moved many in the audience to tears and she won the top prize of about $130,000.00 She begins by creating a scene showing a couple sitting holding hands on a bench under a starry sky, but then warplanes appear and the happy scene is obliterated.

It is replaced by a woman s face crying, but then a baby arrives and the woman smiles again. Once again war returns and Miss Simonova throws the sand into chaos from which a young woman s face appears. She quickly becomes an old widow, her face wrinkled and sad, before the image turns into a monument to an Unknown Soldier.
This outdoor scene becomes framed by a window as if the viewer is looking out on the monument from within a house.

In the final scene, a mother and child appear inside and a man standing outside, with his hands pressed against the glass, saying goodbye. The Great Patriotic War, as it is called in Ukraine, resulted in one in four of the population being killed with eight to 11 million deaths out of a population of 42 million.

Kseniya Simonova says: "I find it difficult enough to create art using paper and pencils or paintbrushes, but using sand and fingers is beyond me. The art, especially when the war is used as the subject matter, even brings some audience members to tears. And there s surely no biggercompliment."

Please take time out to see this amazing piece of art"

Believe me, it is well worth your time!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

2nd Grade Picasso Face Monsters

This lesson was originally adapted from pictures I had seen on the 'Artsonia' website from a school I can't remember the name of. In the original lesson the teacher uses construction paper to create the face and details, along with glitter and iridescent paper. I decided it would work better for me to use oil pastels. Plus the students had prior experience with that medium from doing their Chagall pieces. I used guided practice, drawing the faces on the board as they drew along with me on practice paper first. Each student then got two pieces of construction paper that they glued together to make a 9" x 15" long piece of paper. They had a really fun time turning their Picasso inspired cubist faces into monsters! Plus I used gold paper to add embellishments instead of glitter, which they also really liked.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

2nd Grade "I and the Village-after Marc Chagall

I got this lesson off of the incredible art department website (love it!) In the original lesson the teacher did it on 18x24" paper which I thought would be way too big for my students, especially because this was the first lesson of the year I did with them. Instead I had them work on 14x17" paper which was just challenging enough for them. They needed a lot of encouragement to cover the entire paper with color, many times proclaiming they were done when they weren't. I also found they need a pretty thorough exploration of a 'dreamscape' and why they had to turn their paper multiple times throughout their drawing. Intrinsically they wanted to keep the paper the 'right' way, so I had to work to break them of their conventions. Next time I"m going to show them other images besides Chagall's 'I and the Village' to help reinforce some concepts. I'm also going to use the images as the lesson opener and closer, which will also help reinforce concepts. In the incredible art department website the teacher says that her 'students jumped right in, and loved it' but my students are a bit more skeptical so, it all depends on the needs and dynamic of your kids. Overall thought the lesson went well. Like all lessons, it'll be even better the second time around.

Here's the link to the original lesson:

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

1st Grade Solar Systems

In first grade students start to learn about planets in the solar system. I would have loved to do something 3D for it, but I don't have any 3D materials so I decided to go with chalk pastels on black paper. I've done a lesson like this before, but it was on 11x14" paper and this time I did it on 9x12" paper. I definately recommend the larger of the 2 sizes. Although the students had a good time doing this lesson I found the standard size to be too restrictive a space for such a fun and exploratory medium. I had them begin by using circle templates of various sizes. We discussed scale and the way objects are larger in the front and get smaller as they go back or recede, in space. I reviewed the acronym 'My Very Excellent Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizza's to help them remember the planets order. I also showed them how to blend charcoal. Each planet had to have 3 colors in it. At least 1 planet had to be cropped, and they needed a minimum of 4 planets in their picture, with one of them being rendered realistically.

To tie in with the solar system lesson I read the students 'Postcards From Pluto' and had them create their own postcards. I gave the students who needed extra support sentence starters and/or a structured paragraph. I had them write "I went to __________. It was ___________. I saw _____________. See you back on Earth! Love/From/Your Friend/Sincerely ___________. This was the first grades first project of the year so I wasn't sure of their ability range. The students that were more autonomous were able to write their own paragraphs, but most needed some supports. All and all it went well. Best of all, they loved the medium, which I knew they would because anything messy is par for the course in the early childhood grades!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Aboriginal Art-Warm Colored Dot & Symbol Paintings-Kindergarten

In an attempt (notice how I saw attempt) to have kindergarten create something fall/November themed, using warm colors, and integrating their '7-Continents' Social Studies Unit. I found an image of these aboriginal inspired dot paintings while searching google. The 'attempting' part, wasn't that I didn't get the lesson right, it was just that between everything that goes on I ended up finishing them this week. I suppose a week or so after November isn't so bad.

To begin with I showed them a book about Australia and Aborigines. We discussed dessert climates and what colors go with them. We then segued into 'warm' colors and I made a chart to show them which colors they were for reference. I had them work with a partner to trace and then cut their hands, showing them (repeatedly) how to handle and cut scissors. I can't tell you how many times I said "Don't get out of your seats with the scissors!!" :) Some were able to cut out their hands really well and others struggled. After they glued it on their paper (Thumbs facing one another. I had them make paint dots with Q-tips around the boarder. The second to last day we practiced creating 'dot' symbols, I did the swirl and and arrow on an erasable whiteboard. When I saw they got a feel for it. I had them go back and paint them in using white paint. They also had to do their initials in dots on their hands. Here's some finished examples.

Here's the site I got the original art idea from: It was originally taught by Mr. Webb (credit to him) but did it for 2nd grade.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

kindergarten 'Pattern Snakes'

As an extension to the kindergarten curriculum I had students create pattern snakes. They had previously learned AB and ABC patterns and I took that as an opportunity to do something with it. I traced and pre-cut pattern blocks using the same colors (I got a pack of card stock which had all the same colors in it except for beige which I bought separately by the sheet for like 20 cents a piece at A.C.Moore) As a class we discussed wavy lines vs. straight lines. I showed them the book Snakes; Long, Longer, Longest' by scholastic and had them draw a wavy line across a 12" x 24" piece of white paper as a guide. We then spent 1 session practicing pattern making with our pattern block cut-outs and 1 session gluing them down making sure the pieces were touching and following the wavy line. They used to shapes for the head and tail that were not part of their pattern and then we discussed what kinds of setting you would draw a snake in. The lesson was also a good opportunity to review shapes with the students.

Next time I could also have the students trace and color snakes instead of pre-cutting them out. I had a blister on my thumb for 2 weeks after all that cutting! Also, this lesson makes it really easy to differentiate because for those students who are advanced you could have them create their own pattern and for those who need more reinforcement, they could write out their pattern before doing it.

All in all the lesson went really well and I'm very pleased with the results!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Kindergarten 'Spooktacular Haunted Houses'

For Halloween I used the theme of haunted houses (which every child loves to talk about regardless of age!) to teach primary and secondary colors. To initiate the lesson I taught them the two songs. The primary color song is sung to the theme of '3 Blind Mice' and goes as follows:

Red, yellow, and blue
Red, yellow, and blue
They are the pri-mary colors
They make up all the other colors
Red, yellow, and blue
Red, yellow, and blue

The secondary color song is sung to the 'Cha-Cha' and goes:
Or-ange, green, and pur-ple
Or-ange, green, and pur-ple
They're the secondaries!
They're the secondaries!

For the secondary song I even have them form a train and cha-cha around the room. It's very cute and it really helps the information stick. I'll ask them weeks later what the primary colors are and they'll remember!
Following that introduction I give them shapes I've previously cut out and let them arrange the house. Despite the uniformity in the pre-cuts, its amazing to see how varied the results come out. The next time we met, we reviewed the colors and I read them the book 'In the Haunted House' by Eve Bunting, this sparked a ton of ideas for what they could draw or add to their house. After making a list of their ideas and drawing a few examples (of shutters, ghosts, bats, smoke, brick, ghouls, etc) I let them have at it with crayons and they had a ball! The picture I'm posting is a mini-display I did for my office. (I share an office with the PE teacher, technology teacher, and Spanish teacher because we all push in to classrooms)

Note: the shabby sign the tech teacher put up on the bulletin board exclaiming 'all about me haunted houses' is incorrect and only got put there at the behest of my principal. :)

Monday, November 30, 2009

Kindergarten 'Season Tree's'

Here is the first lesson I did with my two kindergarten classes. I had them color 4 strips of paper using the side of a blue crayon for a background. I then had them use glue sticks to glue on the trunk and branches. We had to discuss where the branches go on tress, on the top like a hand, because surprisingly many of them tried to make two arms, two legs, and a head! I used Eric Carle's 'The Tiny Seed' to discuss the colors and characteristics that are associated with each season and then finished by sponge painting the colors for each using our 4 pieces of blue sky as a guide. Overall the lesson went well, although I will say, looking back I'm not sure I'd do sponge painting as a first lesson of the year with kindergartners, boy did they make a mess!

A word...or a few

Where to start! My last post was too long ago. I've been so busy getting acclimated to my new school that I've really haven't had time to write, but now that I feel like I've got a better hold on things I'm going to start to try and post regularly again. SO I'll start from the beginning.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Quilts of Gee's Bend

While reading some posts from the Getty listerv I came across a comment made by a fellow art teacher based on, as she put it, 'the quilts of Gee's Bend'. Immediately my interest was peaked because I am currently planning a lesson based on Faith Ringgold's 'Tar Beach' so I've been thinking of different ways of creating a patchwork quilt effect with my first graders. After reading the post, I googled 'Gees Bend', thinking it was a person. As a matter of fact it isn't a person at all, but a group of women from southern Alabama who create beautiful abstract quilt designs. They have a pretty interesting history as well. Here's an image from their site:
1.) Allie Pettway | Housetop, 1970-1975 2.) Annie Mae Young | Bars, 2003 3.) Annie Mae Young | Blocks, 2003 4.) Annie Mae Young | Housetop, 2002 5.) Annie Mae Young | Housetop Center Medalion, 1970-1979 6.) Katie Mae Pettway | Housetop Variation, 2002 7.) Linda Pettway | Blocks and Strips, 2003 8.) Lola Pettway | Housetop Variation, 2002 9.) Louisiana Bendolph | Blocks and Strips Medallion, 2003 10.) Lucy Witherspoon | Housetop, 1985 11.) Mary Lee Bendolph | Bars and Blocks, 2003 12.) Mary Lee Bendolph and Ruth P. Mosely | Bricklayer

Here's the site itself:

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Yes, another site to visit

A fellow blogger's site with loads of information and lesson plan ideas for elementary grade art projects

Friday, October 2, 2009

2 sites to share

The first site is one that I originally wanted to post in conjunction with a sculpture lesson I was planning on doing, but the lesson never materialized (due to various time constraints and materials) but here's the link anyways. It basically discusses the importance of clay and children. It isn' t scholarly material, but it's interesting nonetheless.

The second is a great site for art lesson ideas when you are on a budget. It gives a huge list of projects you can create from recycled materials (a.k.a garbage) it has everything from tinfoil, to toilet paper roles. I LOVE IT!

Thursday, September 24, 2009


According to the requirements of my principal we have to include a rubric next to our bulletin board for the project we've shown. It's not a pretty bad idea, and lucky for me I do some form of rubric with every lesson I create, so the request isn't such a big one. However one of my colleagues told me about rubistar which is a free website specifically for making rubrics. Pretty handy, especially if your in a quick pinch for a a basic rubric.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

1, 2, 3 Magic

The first two hours of school on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday of last week and this week were spent doing beginning of the year assessments for most of the grades. While proctoring for the tests I happened to come upon a book by our behavior intervention specialist called 123 Magic for Teachers: Effective Classroom Discipline Pre-k-8th grade by Dr. Thomas W Phelan and Sarah Jane Schonour. Being that I had the time, and it was very quiet I started to thumb through the book. I've been having some serious behavior issues in most of my classes including physical attacks by students on their peers, curing, crying, students chasing one another around the room, not sharing, arguing, and name calling. All of which make the fact that they hardly settle down long enough for me to get a sentence out pretty minor. Needless to say maybe this book will help, because frankly, I think I'm going to need all the help I can get!

The book is based on the idea of two types of behavior, 'start' behavior and 'stop' behavior. Start being doing your work, cleaning up, putting things away, transitioning, etc. Stop being, talking, yelling, fighting, getting out of your seat, etc. Both of these behaviors are handled slightly differently with 'stop' behaviors using a 1,2,3 couting method to redirect and make student take responsiblity for their actions. This counting coupled with what the authora call a 'no talking, no emotions' approach on the part of the teacher should, in theory, work. So, instead of disucssing matters with students (most matters, but of course, some matters will need to be addressed and discussed) that you simply do not get emotional, launch into a verbal tyrade, and just be fair, unbiased, and consistent. Easy right? Sure...25 yelling kids, art supplies, 45 mintes, nooo problem!

In addition to that in chapter 3 the six types of manipulation and testing behaviors exhibited by students which include badgering, tempertantrums, threats, martyrdom, buttering up, and physical tactics. Many of these are used in conjunction with one another and will happen in the span of 1 encounter. Unlike most books I've read, the examples given in this book are pretty true to form and as I read I was thinking to myself, 'yup, that's happened to me', or 'that reminds me of student x in so and so's class'.

Don't get me wrong I"m by no means plugging this book, I haven't even given its approach a test run yet, but I figure its as good a place to start as any, and after reading it, it gave me a glimmer of hope that I might tryp a managment strategy with a chance of it actually working. I'm going to try it tomorrow on one of my first and third grade classes. We shall see....

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Back in the saddle again

I suppose you could say I took the summer off, (even though I taught summer school). Now that we're already 3 weeks into September, I am fully back into the swing of things again. Working at a new school in a new place is stressful to say the least, but so far I think given the challenges facing me, I'm adjusting pretty well. This year I'm teaching art to grades k-5, in an urban school. I don't have an artroom, have about 400 bucks in supplies, and have a small closet and cart (which I have since labeled with a large bright 'The Art Cart' sign. I have a pretty large task ahead of me, instructing students who have never had the opportunity to have art in their curriculum before. The biggest obastacle? Classroom management. Not only do the students not know how to handle materials, but set up and clean up is pretty new to them as well, coupling that with their rambunxious behavior and short tempers, its a pretty tall order to get them to even listen to me.
Alright, I know I'm kvetching, but I've got some pretty good lessons lined up and am not going to take anything less than success as an outcome. Up till now I haven't completed any projects with the students so for now I'll show you some images from my summer cartooning class. This was a 6 week course taught to 6-9th graders in cartooning. My main focus was to have them create a large storyboard size finished project of either a comic strip, series of comic panels, cover art, or one large panel cartoon. Here are some of the finished results:

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Seeing Songs

No, not 'singing songs', SEEING songs. What a great idea for an exhibit! Below is a link to the website and to the MFA (Museum of Fine Arts) in Boston MA. They have an exhibit up and running in the museums Foster Gallery from July 1st to February 21, 2010. After reading the exhibits review I was reminded of my college days. I'm pretty sure the assignment to draw a picture based on a song that your art professor gives you is a staple of the undergraduate fine arts curriculum, despite its commonality, its teaches a pretty damn good lesson! Bring the idea of art to music, or music to art, at the high school or lower school levels, art teachers repeatedly see and use music tied into art throughout their teaching. Lessons based on Kandinsky or Matisse and jazz, Pollock's action paintings and painting to emotion (what better and motivator, or should I say companion to action paitning than music?), Keith Harings break dancing inspired sculptures, and lest we forget Greg Percy's 'Songs in the Key of Art'. Even 'body sculpture' where students move their bodies into groups of living sculpture based on the rythm and tempo of the music being played is a popluar mainstay of a cross curriculum between art and music. I think some of the best artworks come from musical inspirations, and I'm sure if you asked musicians, some of their best songs were probably inspired by some form of visual art. The author of the review put it well by saying that the visual artists turn "something arbuably intangible into a visual form". What's a better way to study and learn about the artistic process than that?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

It's been awhile

It's been awhile since my last post. Actually its been 2 1/2 months! I've been busy lately. In addition to working for the Boys & Girls club at nights, I've been lucky enough to land a great leave replacement position in an absolutely FANTASTIC school district teaching middle school art. What's even better is that I teach 2 classes of advanced level 8th great art and the kids are superb artists! What's ironic is that I started this blog to post all the wonderful art related things I've been doing and to share my ideas with those who view the blog, but I've been so swamped with art that I haven't had time to post! Needless to say I think after 2 1/2 months I have enough materials to make at least 20 entries or so. Even better I'm teaching a cartooning course this summer, something I've never taught before, so I'll be able to post a whole new crop of interesting items once I get going with them. For today I"m going to share with you a great quote I happened to come across as I was cleaning out a desk at work today. It's pretty long but its awesome.

Sol Lewitt's advice to Eva Hesse in a letter dated April 14, 1965:

" Just stop thinking, worrying, looking over your shoulder, wondering, doubting, fearing, hurting, hoping for some easy way out, struggling, gasping, confusing, itching, scratching, mumbling, bumbling, grumbling, humbling, stumbling, rumbling, rambling, gambling, tumbling, scumbling, scrambling, hitching, hatching, bitching, moaning, groaning, honing, boning...searching, perching, besmirching, grinding grinding grinding away at yourself. stop it and just and tickle something inside you, your "weird humor." you belong in the most secret part of you. don't worry about cool, make your own uncool...if you fear, make it work for you -- draw and paint your fear and anxiety. and stop worrying about big, deep things such as "to decide on a purpose and way of life..." you must practice being stupid, dumb, unthinking, empty. then you will be able to DO! i have much confidence in you and even though you are tormenting yourself, the work you do is very good. try and do some BAD work. the worst you can think of and see what happens but mainly relax and let everything go to hell."

Thursday, March 26, 2009

O'Keefe's a winner everytime

Ah, the incomparable, Georgia O'Keefe. Always a favorite of the mild mannered art hobbiest and practical mainstay in art education. I've seen this lesson done many times before, its various permutations including watercolor and oil pastel renderings, , on square paper, round paper, as self portrait, as decoative motif, and even as collage. And no matter how many times I've seen the lesson it always seems to come out great.
I think part of the success of it is its vivid use of color and its archetypical subject matter. (Most of my students were able to draw pretty good flowers just from their imagination, but they lacked the formality and sophistication that drawing from observation gives) I wasn't really planning on this lesson, it jsut kind of happened. My supervisor asked me to do some Spring themed activities with the kids and use the artwork to help decorate the junior room. (The junior room is a giant rec room where pretty much all the 1-5 graders hang out). That request coupled with the fact that I had made tentative plans with a local bank to showcase some of the students work in their front window wayyy longer ago than I would have liked it to be. This seemed like a perfect opportunity to kill two birds with one stone. We spent all week making our flowers and these are some of the results. I had some pretty stiff requirements for the kids to follow, but they stuck through it, some of them even working for over an hour straight, which is pretty impressive for early childhood aged children.
The requirements were that the composition had to touch 3 sides of the page, the flower/s had to be as large as their hands and if more than one was draw, it had to overlap. The composition had to have an off-center focal point (no 'bulls-eye' flowers, I'd say), and they had to use a light, medium, and dark color scheme on each petal of the entire flower. I know this is a 'been there, done that' kind of lesson, but I have to admit, I loved it!