Friday, June 06, 2014

June Masterpiece of the Month: Sunday Afternoon On the Island of La Grande Jaffe by Georges Seurat

Who Made It?
A French painter named, Georges Seurat, created this painting in the years 1884-1886.

Where Is the REAL One?
The real painting can be seen at The Art Institute of Chicago in Chicago, IL.

Why Is This Artwork Important?
Seurat is considered an Impressionist, which is a style of art that deals with painting scenes of everyday life very quickly and colorfully. However, the Impressionist painters before Seurat always created small paintings, which helped them capture their main idea even faster. But Sunday Afternoon is a HUGE painting (6ft. x 10ft.) done in a very time consuming technique. It caught everyone's attention when he exhibited it for the first time at a show with other Impressionist paintings.

Seurat used  a special method of painting which he has made famous, called POINTILLISM. He was very interested in the science of color and the principle of separating color into small touches of paint dabbed side-by-side and meant to become blended together in the eyes of the viewer. He felt the colors would have a more brilliant and harmonious effect.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Grade Four: Symbolic Monoprints

Fourth graders were introduced to the printmaking method of monoprinting, a method of printing very different from other printmaking forms in that there is no permanent plate created from which to create more replicas. In order to help students better understand the complicated process of monoprinting, they were shown a demonstration of the many possibilities for creating visual effects, including scraping ink off the plate, using stencils to block out desired shapes and drawing unto the ink surface. Later, students were then guided through a discussion and shown various examples of monoprints by contemporary printmakers. Having some idea how a monoprint is created, students were now able to guess the steps each artist employed in each of the examples in order to create their final results.

Students were then instructed to create stencils to represent at least one symbol to be used in a final monoprint. Students were also required to include other printing effects in their print, along with their stencils. Prints were then numbered and signed.

Grade One: Understanding Warm and Cool Colors

To introduce a unit on color, first graders discussed the difference between "warm" colors (red, yellow, orange) and "cool" colors (blue, green, purple). Students were able to see how an artist depicting a warm place such as Georgia O'Keeffe's, Red Hills and Bones, and cool places such as Claude Monet's, Waterlilies, can be emphasized using these groups of colors. They also noticed that we associate certain warm or cool things, such as fire and water, with their colors, which help us to distinguish these colors even more.

Students were then asked to create an oil pastel drawing using their own subject matter in either warm or cool colors. While it was fine to use other colors as well, students had to decide whether to use mostly warm or cool colors.

Grade One: Beginner Painting Techniques


This first grade lesson was instructed in two phases, allowing students to experience two different methods of painting. First, students discussed how artists such as Helen Frankenthaler can use paint in different ways, such as allowing colors to run together as seen in her painting, Pistachio.
Week one involved painting in a technique called "wet-on-wet", meaning wet paint on wet paper. Students learned to moisten paper before painting and to dilute colors to force them to "bleed", run and drip. This created a colorful background wash for the second phase of this lesson.

Returning to find their background paintings dry, students discussed how artists use different types of brushes to make many kinds of marks, such as Georges Braque in his painting, Still Life with Grapes and Clarinet. Examining for differences, students were shown a flat brush and a round brush. Looking at Braques' painting, students were asked to find marks that each of these brushes might have made.

Students were told they would need to use their imaginations while carefully examining their wet-on-wet background and think of a what kind of picture this "painting" would be a good background for. Rather than covering up their interesting bleeding paint effects, students were told to add new things to make their pictures more complete. They were then each given both a flat and round brush and instructed to paint "wet-on-dry" (wet paint on dry paper) using each of these brushes on top of the wash painting from the previous week.

Grade One: Drawing From the Model

Starting as early as Kindergarten, students are given the opportunity to draw from the model at least once every school year. These opportunities really help young children gain invaluable practice in seeing the human form more accurately, which ultimately strengthens their confidence in drawing any subject.

In first grade, students begin this lesson by looking at a charcoal self-portrait drawing by Pablo Picasso and comparing it to a portrait he did of his son, Paul, when Paul was about four years old in a work entitled, Paul As Harlequin. Students were asked to explain the difference between a portrait and a self-portrait and how an artist could more easily render a likeness of themselves or another person. Here, students discussed that in order for Picasso to create a portrait of Paul, Paul needed to model for his father by posing in a very still position.

Students were told that they would be drawing from posing models and were delighted to find out that the models would be their fellow classmates! Students were given the opportunity to volunteer to model for the class in relaxed five minute poses, while the rest of the class was encouraged to focus only on drawing the pose as it appeared from their vantage point.

Kindergarten: Clay Animals

Kindergarten students recently began a unit on clay and its sculptural properties. Students were first given oil-based clay to experiment with the many ways clay can be manipulated. This was done as a class, in a succession of steps guided by the teacher.

The following week, students looked at an example of animal sculpture carved from wood. Students were asked to compare the differences and look for how the artists used texture to convey a greater likeness to the animals featured in their works. Students were then introduced to earthen clay and instructed to “pinch” a form of an animal of their choosing from the clay. They were also encouraged to use pottery tools for creating texture in the surface of their sculptures. All sculptures were required to support their own balance.

Grade Three: Monochromatic Paintings about Feelings

Third graders began this lesson by viewing several selections of reproductions taken from Pablo Picasso's blue period and were asked if they noticed anything similar about the pictures depicted. Students were quick to notice that the dominant color in each of the pictures was the color blue, although students also noticed that the people in each image appeared very sad, lonely and poor. As students were led through a discussion of these observations, they were informed of that fact that all these pictures were also painted by the same artist, and were given a brief background on how Picasso came to enter a "blue period" in his work due to a personal tragedy and difficult turning point in the artist's life. Students were led to notice how Picasso used a monochromatic color scheme to capture the feeling of these subjects.

Students were then asked about events or memories which made them feel a particular way: "What makes you feel excited? happy? angry? afraid?" Students were told to choose something which generated a strong feeling for them and depict it in a monochromatic painting in the color which would best communicate the feeling of their idea. Students were instructed to use and mix different values of the same color in order to depict their image most effectively.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Grade Five: Images of Arlington, 2014, "Elements"

This year marked the ninth annual Images of Arlington art exhibition at the Arlington Center for the Arts (ACA). Each year, all fifth grade students from each of the seven elementary schools choose a subject that represents the town of Arlington to them. The theme for 2014 is "Elements". In preparation for Kids Images of Arlington 2014, the elementary visual art staff of Arlington Public Schools met with the education staff of the Arlington Center for the Arts and discussed possible ways to utilize and integrate this year’s theme of “Elements”  into a dynamic student exhibit. Looking at possible ways to display the collected art works of over 400 fifth grade students, staff agreed on the idea of hanging a unified collection of small works to resemble the scientific Periodic Table of the Elements. 

To introduce this lesson, 5th grade students were informed that they would be creating a work of art in Art class to be included in this annual exhibit. Students were then asked to describe what an element is and what came to mind when thinking of the concept of “elements”. Being a small unit of a larger whole, students were led to consider the many composing “elements” of their town, and what came to their mind when thinking of what makes Arlington the special community in which they live. Students were then shown a copy of the Periodic Table of the Elements as a means of organizing the components of our planet. Students to directed to notice the significance of the atomic weights and symbols as a means of measuring each element.

Students were then asked to define a statistic and consider how an element can be measured, similar to the atomic weight of a metal or liquid on the periodic table. Taking this idea further, students were asked to consider how facts, or statistics, about Arlington can be quantified, such as the number of fire stations or libraries within the Arlington community.

Students were instructed to create a work of art featuring an aspect of Arlington of particular importance and/or interest to them. All works were required to include a specific number reflecting a fact about their selection, as well as a letter(s) which would symbolize the subject appropriately. 
After weeks of hard work, the results are exhibited together at the ACA, along with the adult artist division of the show, and a few choice selections are made from each school to especially represent this diverse and interesting community. The ACA jurors look for a variety of key elements when judging the pieces, such as originality, technique and creative process. This year, two artworks were chosen from each class for special recognition. In addition, several student's work which also caught the juror's eyes were selected for a special Honorable Mention category. The exhibit can be viewed at the ACA until May 27, 2014. The students chosen from Peirce School are featured below: