Wednesday, November 19, 2014
First graders continued their exploration of shapes and patterns by examining the minimalist painting, The Gift by Kenneth Noland. Students were led through a discussion and series of questions to help them decipher and understand how Noland created this carefully planned painting in order to repeat the shapes of the circles. Once the process of stencil-making was explained, students were instructed in making their own stencils and how to print them using tempera paint in a variety of combinations to make repetitive patterns and designs.
Students were then told that they would be combining traditional and new techniques of gyotaku printing in an artwork of their own. First, students were show a demonstration of printing in the traditional method using black tempera paint and rubber fish models. Thin paper was placed on the rubber fish and gently rubbed to create a print. Then, students were ready to try the technique on their own.
Once completed, the second step was to create a backgroud with which to mount their fish print. Students were given a variety of materials, including watercolor and collage and encouraged to combine materials and utilize previously learned techniques such as watercolor resist and wet on wet painting to create interesting and vibrant effects to highlight their fish print.
For the past few weeks, first graders have been studying shape and how it differs from the natural to the man-made world. Most students can identify and cut basic shapes, but using them in a meaningful way and using them to represent various subjects is something which takes some focus and practice.
Kindergarten students are now beginning their first extensive unit of the school year. This unit deals with various forms of costuming and celebrations. As we think about art which is worn on the body, masks usually come readily to mind. Discussion begins with asking students about the many uses of masks and listing them on the board: disguise, theatrics, festivities, ceremony, protection, etc.
Students are then shown two examples of African masks and are asked for what purpose they think these masks may have been used for. They are also asked to find various shapes, either geometric or free form, within the design and structure of the masks. Kindergarteners are asked about facial expressions and what they are. After making several different facial expressions of their own, students are shown two more examples of African masks and asked to identify their expressions.
This lesson takes several weeks to complete, as even paper masks are very time-consuming to construct. Each week consists of new teacher demonstrations and students are shown two teacher examples which convey strong facial expressions. Students are then instructed to think about what kind of shapes can be used to help convey the expression they will choose to depict on their mask, i.e. how will sharp triangular eyes differ in expression from large, circular eyes? What kind of shapes can be used for eyebrows in a shocked expression, or an angry face? Once the facial expression was completed, students were instructed on embellishing the mask with hair.
Who Made It?
This painting was created by an American artist named, Mary Cassatt, in the years 1893-1894.
Where Is the REAL One?
The real painting can be seen at The National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C.
Why Is This Artwork Important?
The Boating Party is considered one of Cassatt's best works because of its bold colors. large size and off-center arrangement of people and objects. In the late 1880's, Cassatt saw an art show exhibition of Japanese block prints, which influenced her so much that her style of painting changed. Cassatt showed using her earlier, softer Impressionist style and now used bold colors, patterns of flat colors and solid form, and the horizon line near the very top of the picture-just as Japanese artists would use!
The Boating Party is set off the coast of France, where Cassatt lived most of her life, on the Mediterranean Sea. Cassatt uses the colors of blue and yellow repeatedly, giving the painting a strong burst of color. She planned her picture so that several objects in the painting seem to point toward the baby. The baby is the FOCAL POINT of this picture.
Thursday, October 23, 2014
Week One: Students were first shown flash cards of some easy (and some not-so-easy) to recognize geometric shapes. Their attention was then brought to Mondrian’s painting, Tableau 1, and asked if he used any of those shapes in his painting. Students were then given an envelope to store up to five geometric shapes they had chosen from a selection pre-cut by the art teacher. Once their shapes were selected, they were allowed to embellish the shapes with markers to make their selections even more special. They were also allowed to decorate their envelopes and then store their shapes for safe-keeping until the following week, when they would use these shapes in a creation of their own.
Week Two: Students reviewed the geometric shape flash cards. This week, however, they are delighted to find some new surprises: organic, or free form, shapes amid the geometric ones. Students were introduced to both groups of shapes and how they differ from each other. They were then instructed to take their previewly chosen geometric shapes from last week and arrange them into a creative composition. What can be made from your shapes? How can they be turned into something other than a square or triangle?
Once shapes are glued into place, students were instructed to cut and add an organic shape to their composition. Markers were used to help further clarify their idea.
Students in the second grade had a chance to examine everyday objects up close and notice small features about them they might not otherwise notice. A variety of hardware tools, cooking utensils, office supplies and art-making equipment was placed at each table, allowing students to explore them via touch and sight. Students were instructed to draw from these available objects and encouraged to try shading and texture techniques. Some chose to focus on one particular object, while others drew from several.
Fourth graders were given the opportunity to revisit a drawing practice they had originally learned in second grade. Contour drawing is a style of drawing which focuses exclusively on the contour outline of any given shape or object. Skills are often forgotten when not practiced regularly, so it was an exciting venture to rediscover this activity two years later! However, now that the students are older, a new twist was added with the addition of blind contour drawing, an exercise which required the person drawing to NOT look at the object they are drawing and allowing their hand to to be guided only by their sight. This exercise helps to train and co-ordinate the hands and eyes for better observational drawing.
Students were given simple tools and everyday objects, which they also used in second grade for a different drawing activity, and instructed to "warm up" with 10 minutes of blind contour drawing. Then, students were instructed to draw regular contour drawings for the remainder of class time. Students were only allowed to use pen for their drawings, as contour drawings are traditionally done in ink to force the artist to concentrate without the safety of using an eraser to correct mistakes.