Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas!

From our house to yours...have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
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Saturday, November 16, 2013

Loved it so much I had to share it

"Never let anyone define what you are capable of by using parameters that don't apply to you."
-Chuck Close

I found this video from the blog Art is Basic in her post "5 Fabulous Things".  The video is part of a series of entitled "Notes to Self" featured on the news show 'CBS This Morning'. The person they were featuring was artist Chuck Close.  If you are familiar with Chuck Close then you already know what an amazing and inspiring artist he is and how his love of art has given him the strength to overcome obstacles in his life that could easily stop most people in their tracks.  I had originally learned about Chuck Close from my high school art teacher in 12th grade.  Two years ago (12 years after graduating high school) I had the good fortune of attending the NAEA conference in NYC where he was a keynote speaker (along with another of my favorite artists Janine Antoni).  His words and philosophy on art-making are profound and honest.  This short video is chock-full of quote worthy mantras to not only use as artists and art teachers, but also as words to live by.  I love Chuck Close! "CBS This Morning: Artist Chuck Close Writes Note to Younger Self"

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Roll a Monster-A Halloween Activity

Three of my classes had finished their projects early and had a little extra time.  Being that it was Halloween, I thought it would be nice to do something easy and fun.  I used the template above that I had found online and borrowed some dice from our schools math teacher.  The kids really liked the activity, but I noticed, as they played that the heads of the monsters were drawn on roll 4, which was silly because the eyes, and mouths were supposed to be drawn on the rolls before.  If I do this activity again, I'll probably make my own handout, but nonetheless, it was a cute 15 minute time filler for Halloween.

Sunday, October 27, 2013


 (Above: 1st Grade Chalk Pastel Pumpkins)

Here are a few pumpkin themed lessons I've come across online. I've lost most of the source sites for them so if one of these is your lessons, leave me a post and I'll add a link to your site. 
. Enjoy!

Deep Space Sparkle

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Third Graders Are Outa This World!

Third graders started the year off by taking a journey into outer space.  My student teacher used a guided imagery activity where you use sound effects and create a story while students sit with their eyes closed.  You use a lot of descriptive imagery and encourage the students to use their imagination and visualization to picture the story you tell them.  Afterwards you create a mind map with the class of the different things they "saw" while on their journey.  This is a great hook activity that generates many different ideas that the children can later use in their artwork.   To create the planets we used liquid watercolors, the foreground, or the planet that they were standing on, needed to be either warm or cool, but the paper that they would later trace, cut, and glue circles out of to create planets could have been painted any color they wanted.  For a variation on the lesson,  you can use paint scrapers and tempera paint to create texture and then use that paper instead of, or in combination with, watercolored paper.
For the background.  we gave students short, flat bristled brushes with slightly watered down white tempera paint and the students splattered stars onto their paper. It was messy but it looks great!  For a variation on the background, oil pastel stars work really well too, plus, if you use the oils you don't need to have everyone wash their hands at the end of class, which increases the work time a bit. 
Lastly, I took photo's of the kids, and they cut and traced a helmet template and then collaged their faces with the helmet onto the foreground.  I particularly like the details they added with oil pastels, they really helped to add personality and individuality to their pieces. 
(The faces are blurred to protect student privacy)


Monday, October 21, 2013

4th Grade Cubist Collages Inspired by Picasso

This is probably one of my favorite lesson from my student teacher.  The results of the lesson were great, the students were really enthusiastic and engaged while doing it, and they took a lot of information away with them by the end of it.
The lesson took about 6 sessions.  Here is how it broke down:

Day 1-The lesson began by giving out an index card to each table of 4 students.  Each table had a different question with an image or two to support it.  The questions acted as a pre-assessment and a jumping off point for the project.  The questions included:
What is abstract art?
What is cubism?
Who was Pablo Picasso?
What inspired Pablo Picasso?
What is the difference between representation art and non-representational art?
What is a self portrait?
Students had a few minutes to discuss the questions to their questions and then gathered around the classroom carpet to view and discuss a Powerpoint about Picasso and cubism.  The Powerpoint touched on all the questions that were initially given out.  After that, my student teacher gave out a head/shoulder template and the students traced, cut, and glued, a front facing silhouette out of construction paper.

Day 2- We discussed and demonstrated how to use geometric and organic shape to collage the head-shape, keeping in mind NOT to create any facial features, but simply covering the surface area.  We then gave out a side-view silhouette template and the students, cut, traced, and glued the silhouette on.

 Day 3-4- We began by discussing how and why Picasso combined frontal and side views in his cubist portraits.  It was important for students to understand the idea of these flattened views in order to help them make sense of the shapes and silhouettes in their artwork..  The facial features were then demonstrated and the students added their own. For hair, students had the option of cutting and collaging construction paper OR drawing the hair on later with oil pastels.
Day 5- We discussed patterns for the background and the students "shattered" their image into at least 6 pieces with white oil pastel.  They then filled in the pieces with the colors and patterns of their choosing.

Day 6- The last day of the lesson was a review day.  We discussed some of the concepts that we learned throughout the project, any unfinished/absent students finished up their work and we spent some time viewing and discussing each others project.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Second Grade Mondrian Inspired Compositions

Piet Mondrian was a Dutch artist who began his career committed to representational art which included landscapes native to his home.  As his art progressed, it became more and more abstract, the style that Mondrian later coined as Neo-Plasticism.  Now my student teacher and I didn't talk about neo-plasticism with our second graders, but we did discuss the way that Mondrian created abstract art based on lines, shapes, and colors as a way to help him organize the disorganization he may have felt in his life at the time. The cut and then re-assembled pieces represent the way that art can help us make sense of our lives and bring us a sense of peace, harmony, and organization. The most amazing thing about the project was that many students really understood that concept and were prompted to discuss events or circumstances in their life that made them feel overwhelmed or sad and then share why or how creating art has helped, or could help them in the future, to deal with those feelings.

Here's how the lesson broke down:
Day 1- My student teacher showed the class a PowerPoint on the life and work of Mondrian with a few slides showing how his work progressed from representation to abstract.  The class examined the painting "The Style" and analyzed its lines, shapes, and colors.  The students then used 2 foot rulers (with a guided demonstration first) to draw 3 vertical and 3 horizontal lines on a piece of 12x18" watercolor paper.
  Day 2-3 We demonstrated how to paint each box neatly using watercolor paints with the criteria being that the students could choose any colors they want as a long as they had 2 white and 2 black shapes.
 Day 4- To begin the lesson we demonstrated how to use a wide flat paintbrush and black tempera paint to outline each shape.  My student teacher introduced a great technique that I had never heard of called "stopping points" for painting.  Stopping points are basically points at which you stop when painting straight lines to check your work. This concept worked really well because instead of the students thinking they had to try and long lines from end to end in one single swipe, they were encouraged to stop after short strokes which really helped them to create straight, even lines.

 Day 5-On the last day of the lesson the students were shown how to cut their artwork up into 5 pieces, three pieces vertically, creating a straight, curvy, and zig-zag cut, and then 2 more cuts horizontally.  The artwork was then re-assembled and glued down to add interesting negative shapes.


Friday, October 18, 2013

Silly Wassily Kandinsky in First Grade

Finally, the first round of projects from all my grades are coming to a close!  This week my first graders finished their Kandinsky inspired abstract shape and line composition.  My amazing student teacher created this lesson and the results came out fantastic.  Here's how the lesson broke down:

Day 1- We used a PowerPoint to examine and discuss the artwork below.  Particular attention was paid to line, shape, and color.
  Then, the students viewed a few slides on Kandinsky's life.  After that my student teacher demonstrated how to use water,  liquid watercolors, and sponge brushes on 16x20" sized watercolor paper to create a wash for the background. 
 We gave the students yellow first, and then added red, green, blue, and purple after that.  We encouraged them to paint large flat areas of color with a little overlapping here and there in order to get bold bright backgrounds. While painting the children listened to classical music, much like Kandinsky did while he worked.
Day 2-3 During sessions 2 and 3 students worked on cutting and gluing their shapes.  Students were challenged to make 3-5 of each of the following shapes: large circles (by tracing large plastic lids) small circles (by tracing small plastic lids), triangles, and squares or rectangles.  My student teacher and I needed to reinforce how to trace the circles and how to hold a scissors, always "thumbs-up" for the students, as some needed some extra support with it.  
 Day 4-5- These 2 sessions were devoted to line.  Students used the Smartboard to draw a variety of line types that included zig-zag, diagonal, horizontal, vertical, and dotted.  They then used this review to create different types of lines using 1/2" strips of black construction paper and string.  

 Day 6- On the last day the students shared their ideas as to why Kandinsky included checkerboard-like patterns in much of his art.  Some of their responses included: " because he played the piano and the black and white checkerboard reminded him of the keys",  "because he liked patterns", "because the checkerboard has squares in it and he liked shapes".  First grade is so cute! I particularly liked the piano answer! After sharing their thoughts they created their own checkerboard pattern on a 4x4" piece of white paper and then cut the paper into a trapezoid to make it a little more interesting.  Students then erased any pencil marks that were showing and spot checked any pieces that needed to be re-glued.