Saturday, March 1, 2014

Claes Olden"burgers"

I've always taken a liking to the artist Claes Oldenburg. What's not to like? He makes giant sculptures of everyday things like hamburgers, shuttlecocks, and cherries on a spoon. I appreciate that it's not overly-conceptual, just fun. And kids love it! I showed them a quick presentation about him, mainly with pictures of his art that is at the Nelson in Kansas City like "Soft Switch" and the shuttlecocks on the lawn. We talked a little bit about fast food in general and when it came about and how and why Claes incorporated it into his work. 

In response, we created these fun Olden"burger" collages. I loved how simple and doable the steps were for the kids and the fact that every kid was able to be successful if they just followed the directions. A lot of kids are held back by their fear of drawing, but this project was all cutting, folding, crumpling, fringing, etc. There wasn't a single burger that didn't look great. 

I loved the pickles in this one above. One of my girls asked me if she could use the markers and I shrugged and said "sure." I LOVED how these turned out. The next class all did theirs this way (I gave her the credit for the idea...) I think the onions made them look extra colorful and delicious. 

On the back of their projects I had them write out Claes Oldenburg and "Giant Hanburger" and told them to explain this to their parents when they take these home so their parents weren't confused why Mrs. Byrd made them make fast food. One girl made the disclaimed that hers was a veggie burger, so we added that detail to the back. So if you have any vegans, fear not. It is adaptable. 

This took them two class periods with very few minutes to spare. I'll definitely be doing this one again in years to come. 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Radial Symmetry

A fellow art teacher in the district showed me this awesome project! I love that it looks really complicated but really isn't. I think many grades could handle this, but I stuck with 5th grade because I felt like they deserved a relaxing project to ease them back into the swing of things after winter break. We discussed a few concepts such as radial symmetry and folding techniques, but more than anything, I just told them that I wanted them to experiment and see what they could come up with. 

Below are the steps of the most basic design. I pre-cut hundreds and hundreds of 2" x 2" construction paper squares. They were able to choose their own color scheme, but we all worked on a black 9" x 9" square for the background. First step was the fold the square in half.

Next, you fold the corners in from the "open" edges. 

It should look similar to a paper football when it's done.

The other technique involved a cone shape. Some students took on that one, but it required more drying time where you have to squeeze it together in place. We drew an "x" and "t" on the black background paper with a ruler then glued these inside of each other on the lines. 

Again, really simple, but it kept them focused on making their squares uniform, keeping the pattern in tact. 

Everyone gawked at these in the hall, and the kids seemed really proud of their work. I'm brainstorming ways to make the project more complex, but these took them nearly three weeks as it was, and some were still not able to finish on time. There was an entire movement in art that was founded on "less is more," so why fix something that is already awesome? One thing we could try is making them into a value scale that began with the shades in the middle and "bursted" into tints as they radiated out. That is what I love about art projects- there will always be endless possibilities keeping things new and refreshed every year. 

Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Northern Lights

I have been seeing tons of cute winter-related projects, and ran across this one centered on The Northern Lights. Kids are fascinated by bright colors, and they seem to still have a love for science at this point. I tried to do my own research on the Lights, but it's a hard phenomenon to explain. Basically what I gathered was that the poles attract energy, causing these brilliant colors in places like Alaska and Russia. 

I found the title below, and it reminds me of mythology, painting these stories behind why the Lights are there. There are dancing natives, swans flapping their wings, warriors shooting arrows, etc. I asked the kids if they could explain this, and they all seemed to have a better grasp on it than I did!

We started by making 4 diagonal lines with black paint for the trees. I showed them how to brush down and away to form the actual tree with their paint. We let them dry for a few minutes before adding the chalk pastel lights in the sky. Blending the chalk into the construction paper was very helpful so that the loose dust didn't smear everywhere later. 

We drew a simple polar bear using mostly circles and half circles. They outlined him in black marker before smudging some grey chalk around his neck and eyes to show some value. They cut him and pasted him into the Alaskan environment. Simple as that!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Christmas time

I decided to just make a compilation of all of the different Christmas projects that went on during the month of December across multiple grades. 

To start, Kindergarten made these lovely trees! I read them a Christmas book, then asked them to think of a shape that looks like it would fit inside a tree. They came up with a triangle, so they drew a triangle on their red paper. Then I laid out a bunch of skinny strips of paper (about 1/2 inch). I asked them to cut them so that they gradually get larger to fill their triangle. After they were done, they got some gray paper to make into presents under the tree. 

The next week, we read a book about Santa's elves, so they made elf feet. I showed them how to draw the skirt and booties, but I ended up drawing most of the booties for them... I think they will be getting a template next year... It was so cute to see them connect the booties to the skirts with the legs in stockings. They all looked like noodle legs. They seemed confused why we would only draw the elves' bottom halves. I told them it was an artistic approach. 

First grade watched a digital version of the Dr Seuss book "How the Grinch Stole Christmas." That took quite a while, so the next day, they watched the music video to "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch." They seemed to like that even better! I let them go to town making Whoville with topsy-turvy architectural features. Afterwards, I walked through drawing the Grinch on green construction paper. They turned out really well! I told them to not worry if their grinch wasn't very pretty, because he is just an ugly dude.

Another week with first grade, we read a book about the reindeer, so we drew this cute reindeer/moose with ornaments adorning his antlers. They used markers for the contour and filled him in with various shades of brown crayons. 

I found the cutest book online and ordered it from the public library. It was called "The Snow Globe Family," and it was about a family that lived inside a snow globe. Realistic? No. But what a fun idea! So the kids drew their own snow globes and cut out a tree and a gingerbread house to go inside. The second day, they drizzled some white paint and topped it with glitter. Kids love glitter! They left looking like little fairies. Some classes had the time to use hole punches to add lights to the gingerbread houses and other scrap paper to make snowmen and stars on their trees, etc. 

Unfortunately, third and fourth grade were busy with nesting dolls and weaving, so they didn't have a Christmas project. Fifth grade, however, had a little extra time to make these candy canes. They used Crayola color sticks. This was a very simple drawing, but what made them look so great is their use of highlights and shadows. I showed them how to blend white into the center to make that highlight that runs down the middle. They also did some highlights on the light bulbs. Some had the time to work in shadows, as well.