Friday, October 25, 2013

Thiebaud Pies

One of the prints in our first grade curriculum is Wayne Thiebaud's "Lemon Merengue Pie." The kids were hooked from the second they walked in the room. I had the painting projected on the smart board, and they all "ooohed and ahhhhed" as they sat on the floor with me. I asked them a bunch of questions like "What do you see? Well, what kind of pie? Why would he paint a piece of pie?" They rambled on and on. I love it! After our discussion I shared a very special book with them, "A Daily Dose of Delicious." This is a book I wrote and illustrated in college. It's about a special garden that grows desserts. 


I had so much fun sharing my work with them. I also have a secret dream of being a children's book author/illustrator someday, so this was a good way to get feedback! They were so complimentary it about made me melt. 


After reading the book, I had them head to their seats and we talked about how to go about drawing our own piece of pie. I asked them what shapes they saw in Thiebaud's pie that they knew how to draw already. The pointed out that the top looked like a triangle sitting on two rectangles. So that's what we drew! Then, I set them free to turn their pie into any kind they wanted. We had apple, cherry, chocolate, candy corn, rainbow, etc.

I have learned that you can control how long the lesson goes by the size of paper you give them. So, we kept the pies small and turned them into postcards. That way we got to talk about mail and letters a little bit. They drew stamps and addressed it to themselves at our school. Then i had them write "Wayne Thiebaud Pies" on the letter side so they could explain to someone why they drew a pie. 


Who doesn't like talking about something so yummy? I think they left the room on a pseudo sugar high. I've found that kids love to draw when they are drawing something relevant to them. And let's be honest, dessert is relevant to all of us. 


I Am Poems

 I really liked how this fourth grade project turned out. It didn't take a whole lot of explanation- the kids just dove right in and succeeded. We started by dividing our paper into six "curvy" sections. The first section was reserved for the "I AM." In the following four sections, I had them write adjectives to describe themselves. Speaking nicely of themselves was encouraged, although, pre-teens can't help but be fascinated by the words like awkward and weird. Especially awkward. They love it. They use it any chance they get, which is really ironic. And lastly, the last section had their name. I had them make sure to make the letters stretch from the top to the bottom of each section to make new shapes in between each letter.


After laying out their poem in pencil, I had them use crayons to outline everything nice and thick. These thick crayon like would make nice barriers for the watercolor. In between each letter (new shapes) they used watercolors. I love how it ended up looking. It reminded me of the artist Paul Klee. And not to mention, they loved being able to relax and visit with their friends while they painted. And that's okay with me. I think they should associate art with having a good time. 


Most of them were able to complete the project in two or three class periods. But, because it didn't require a lot of my help, it was a good one to start kind of in between projects. Thus far, I have tried really hard to keep everyone at the same pace and on the same page, but with the older kids, I'm slowly letting that go when possible. As long as they are progressing and willing to stop and have a whole-group discussion in the middle of things, I'm okay with neighbors working on different projects. Engagement and exploration is my main focus!


Starry Night

It seemed a little obvious to me to have the second graders do Van Gogh's Starry Night, but it is a part of their print curriculum, so I went with it anyway. And the more I thought about it- I realized that skipping this one just because it's "overdone" would be like skipping subtraction in math or not mentioning George Washington in social studies. I've decided that if the kids learn nothing else during their time with me, I want them to know enough to at least answer the art questions on Jeopardy. My husband tells me we should know enough about any subject to hold a five minute conversation with anyone. So there you go... if someone mentions Van Gogh in their future, they can rattle off all they know about Starry Night and sound intelligent! 


We started off our time together by watching a short video. This is the only video I have shown any of them over five minutes, but when I mentioned Vincent Van Gogh, the kids looked at me like I was speaking a different language. I found a cartoon that put the characters into Van Gogh's paintings. It was very informative and pretty funny, too. Unfortunately, though, the kids weren't having it! They squirmed around the whole time and showed no interest. I was really bummed, but now I know. I think the problem is that they come to art class ready to do something hands on and use materials and tools they haven't used all day (doesn't help, either, that second grade is at the very end of the day). 

So after the video I held up some Van Gogh's and I asked them to tell me some recurring things they saw in all of his work. They came up with certain colors like blue and yellow, most of his stuff was of the outdoors, and his paintings didn't look smooth, but bumpy because of his brushstrokes. 

To start out project, I gave them a piece of dark blue construction and a white crayon to sketch things out first. I went to the white board and walked through each part of the painting, starting with the horizon line and ending with the village. The village gave them good practice with geometric forms, too. 


For the second day, I gave them oil pastels and showed them how to use them to create the same texture as Van Gogh's paintings, emphasizing blending, but not smoothing. Lastly, I wanted to add just a little something original, so we used yarn to create the infamous cypress tree. We drew it with glue then placed the brown yarn on top. This was especially good for my one student that is visually impaired. She struggles to see 2-D media, so having something she could FEEL was really cool for her. 


I can't wait to come up with a new way to do this painting each year. I saw some really cool 3D representations after we did this one. Always next year to get it right... Or more right!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Color Wheel Eyes

Twelve-step color wheels are a part of the fifth grade curriculum, but how boring is a circle? I plan to do portraits with them later in the year, so I went ahead and started introducing realistic facial features. I showed them a YouTube video of a super-realistic drawing. It was a fast-forwarded version with captions. It blew their minds to say the least. They were adamant that they could never draw something like that, but I think they surprised themselves! 

We started out by talking about the different parts of an eye and all the wrong ways to draw it. I'm slowly trying to remove all the cartoony symbols we pick up early on. I emphasized over and over that eyelashes do not shoot straight out of eyeballs like arrows, and eyes are not shaped like perfect footballs. 


Inside the iris of the eye is where we created our color wheel. Our fifth graders are in the midst of fractions in math, so I tried to be math-minded when teaching them how to divide their circle into twelfths. I had them outline everything in black colored pencil, then we tackled the coloring. I reviewed primary and secondary colors, then introduced tertiary colors. 

I told them several times that I better not see violet and orange next to each other (still saw it...) or red and green... I suggested they start with yellow, skip 3 spaces, blue, skip 3 spaces, red. Then, fill in the secondary colors between each primary. Lastly, layer each primary and its neighboring secondary. It seems pretty straight-forward to copy the color wheel we have on our wall, but you would be surprised. One of the biggest challenges I've uncovered with elementary schoolers is getting them to follow specific directions. I usually make it a point to get all of their eyes and repeat things one more time than I think is necessary. Then I ask several of them to repeat the directions back to me. Sometimes it's overkill, but most of the time it's completely necessary! 

I was so impressed with our results, though! I encouraged them to shade each slice of their iris to add a cool effect. Hopefully this will be a good stepping stone for when we draw an entire face. 

The Mixed Up Chameleon

I will probably end up reading all of Eric Carle's books by the time May rolls around. They are just perfect for an elementary art class. First grade got to listen to "The Mixed-Up Chameleon" last week. I loved how the pages were color-coded, so it was the perfect way to lead into the color wheel. They have been learning about primary and secondary colors, so we arranged them into the wheel this week. 


After we read the story, we talked about why the colors are arranged in a certain order on the color wheel. Then, we drew the basic chameleon shape together. It definitely wasn't a realistic depiction, but they looked just like Eric Carle's, and it was simple to draw for them. 


I had them draw stripes on their chameleon to fill with the color wheel. Instead of using a 2-D medium, I had them crumple up tissue paper and glue it down with little dots. They had an absolute blast with all the tissue paper. It was kind of a mess, but they did a great job picking up after themselves. So, I was able to tolerate the mess for a brief period! 


They were allowed to start with any color they wanted, as long as they went in order. If they had more than 6 stripes, I had them just start over and repeat the pattern. This little guy below belongs to a very gifted first grader. (She paints landscapes at home in her free time.) She very systematically glued each piece inside the stripe. 


I think in the future, I would have them cut them out so they wouldn't be all on green paper. Nevertheless, I was so pleased with how this lesson turned out. It was perfect for a 50 minute class!


Sunday, October 6, 2013

Op Art Cubes

This one was quite the endeavor, but fourth grade was up for the challenge! I've been using the white board a lot lately so the kids can draw along with me, rather than demonstrating a couple steps at one table them releasing them. That's just way too much transitioning for me. We started this project by mapping out the six squares with a ruler. We made 3 inch boxes, so I had them start with the three cross-section squares. They lined their ruler up with the left edge of their paper and made marks at 1, 4, 7, and 10, then went built the cube from there. It was crucial to do a scan of the room after each step to make sure they were using their ruler, otherwise the cube doesn't fit together well at all. 
Once we got the cube laid out, I walked through how to draw each optical illusion in pencil. I made photocopy handouts they could refer to while we were drawing, too. I reminded them that any with a "bullseye" center started with "an X and a T." Those steps took up the whole first class, so they didn't begin coloring until the following period. Although many of them could clearly see form the handout how to color the boxes to look like an illusion, I made them watch any way. The trick is that each illusion in a checkerboard, never solid stripes. A lot of them slopped through it pretty quickly, so I had them go back and outline each individual piece so there were no fuzzy lines, only sharp. 

For the third and final class, they drew the tabs on their cube (the handout had the correct one, the one above had waaay too many, but too many can be fixed, unlike no enough). I showed them how to cut it out and fold on every edge, including the tabs. Gluing it together was really tough for a good majority of them, so I gave them the option of taping along the edges. Prior to gluing, though, they punched two hole in two corners adjacent to each other. Once the cube was constructed, they strung string through them and attached a name tag. 


I hung a class string from my coat hooks so I could gradually tie them all together in layers. Once i got the class strung together, I pinned them from the ceiling right outside of my door. A few kids were really bent out of shape about the collaboration thing, so they chose not to hang theirs with the class. That was a battle I just didn't have the energy to fight, especially on Grandparent's Day! 

I kind of like that they were hung above eye level, because any flaws were not noticed when they were combined as a group. And, let's be honest! They look awesome together!

Folk Landscapes

I found a really cute, simple project for third grade that they are absolutely loving! It's one of those projects that they go "WHOOAAAA!!!" when you first show them the end goal, then they are surprised at how well they achieve the objective. I started by picking their brains about the term "folk art." They came up with folk tales, so we connected the dots saying it's a "stretch of the imagination." Then I asked them about landscapes and how those could be "folk." They got the idea that folk landscapes used unrealistic colors and patterns at times to convey real life. (Below is my example.)

To begin the project, I drew my paper on the white board so they could follow along. We discussed how important horizon lines are in any landscape. (I'm trying to connect the dots between the word "horizontal" and "horizon" for all of the grades so they are vertical/horizontal knowledgeable. (Also a Common Core item.) They did a great job following along with me, drawing a horizon line, "V" trees, a sunset, and a barn. I gave them some freedom to make variations in their own work. I asked them to fill in the landscape lines with unrealistic colors and patterns. This step took them a long time, so they finished up their drawings in the second class period. Below I have some finished products, but many of them are taking forrreevvvverrrrr with all the details!:) They got really creative with their patterns!

Broadway Boogie Woogie

First grade continues to be one of my biggest challenges each day. I'm surprised at how little we have covered so far because I have to be on top of them at all times. But, of any grade- they know their art and artists the best because their projects have been so thoroughly planned! I have been so blown away by their imagination and retention of information I throw at them!

I started off this unit by showing them a picture of Piet Mondrian's "Broadway Boogie Woogie." (It's basically just primary colors and squares.) I asked them things like "What do you guys think this is? What does it remind you of? Describe it to me." That conversation itself lasted at least 10 minutes!  They agreed with me that they saw streets and cars. Then I told them who painted it and the name of the painting. I asked them if that changed what they saw at all and what they thought of when they heard Broadway or Boogie Woogie. So, we got into a conversation of music and dancing. 

I had them brainstorm about what "inspiration" means in art, and we decided it means you like something enough to imitate it or do something that reminds you of it. I asked them what they thought Piet Mondrian was inspired by, and luckily someone in each class drew the conclusion that he was inspired by music. So I pulled in the last detail that it was jazz music. I read them the book "Lookin for Bird in the Big City" on the first day- it required me to sing things like "be-bop do-wa de-doo"- so that was a fun challenge! The second day when we were reviewing, I read them the book below. Both books did a great job tying in connections to the city.
On the first day, I just had them lay out the yellow "streets" on their white square. I told them they needed two going up and down and two side to side. They got to choose where the other two went, and they were allowed to cut those, as well. 
Once they got this part glued down, I went ahead and had them return to the floor with me and I went over primary colors with them since Mondrian only used red, yellow, and blue. I have a book called "A Book About Color" by Mark Gonyea. I would highly recommend it. It's broken up into chapters, so we just read the first chapter about primary colors and mixing them. 
The next class period, they got to cut up red and blue strips to make the "cars" for their streets. I helped them pre-cut the layered "buildings" so they could stack them small, medium, large. To remind them how Piet Mondrian was inspired by jazz, I showed them how to draw music elements in the white spaces. The piano keys and music notes were very successful. others drew trumpets and complicated instruments. I thought of this step last minute, but I'm glad I went with it! It's always good to change up a piece of art so you don't just copy the original exactly! 


Eric Carle Ladders

Eric Carle's books art absolutely perfect for the art room. The stories are really made by their illustrations. I read this to Kindergarten and they were just blown away by his pages that fold up and down and out and under. After reading the story, I gave each of them a blue piece of construction paper and white crayons. I had them press down super hard and create a moon, then they drew texture lines with blue markers in the sky. We spent the rest of the first class period building our ladders out of popsicle sticks. I worried they wouldn't be able to figure this out, but as soon as I got done demonstrating, they got to work and were successful. A couple of them had trouble getting the cross bars to reach all the way across, but I just had them scoot them into place while the glue was still wet. Obviously, they tend to use too much glue no matter how many times you say "raindrops, not puddles," so after we got this step done, they placed them in the drying rack to dry until next time. 

Once they got done, I gave them a coloring sheet I made that had a person (in climbing position) and stars. (I didn't want to throw star and figure drawing at them quite this early...) Some of them had the cutest outfits!

To begin our next class, I read them a story about art supplies in order to introduce scissors. They have used them a little bit with their classroom teacher, so that is helpful. But, I went ahead and had them do a warm-up before they cut out their person. I admitted to them that I sometimes struggle cutting out hard shapes like people. A few of them let their guard down and admitted they struggled sometimes too. I made the sheet below in Word and showed them some helpful tips. (It helps to take small bites and keep your scissors facing forward at all times so you turn the paper and not your scissors.)

They did really well with their warm-up, so I gave them their coloring sheet with the person and stars from the previous week to start cutting. They were so cute... "Mrs. Byrd! These scissors aren't doing what I ask them to do!" "Mrs. Byrd, these scissors are making it difficult for me. I need a new pair!" I would take them and show them how to use them correctly to prove they were not broken. :) So, once they got their stars and person cut out, they glued them into place on their ladder. Everyone at school was extremely complimentary of them! And man, they were so proud of themselves!