Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Grade One: Vertical and Horizontal Composition

Students in grade one examined two artworks featuring buildings as their primary subject: Rooftops by Hughie Lee-Smith and Radiator Building by Georgia O'Keeffe. Each painting was planned very carefully to fit either a horizontal or vertical composition, in order to allow each of the artists to focus on different elements of the buildings depicted. Students were led to notice how each building would appear very differently if the paintings were planned otherwise. 

Students were then informed that they would create a cityscape from an assortment of pre-cut rectangles and squares and were shown how to overlap the pieces of paper to suggest and indicate space and distance between the buildings in their picture. Students were told to consider which direction to plan their composition, depending on their idea. Some students preferred to emphasis the height or width of one large building, rather than several. Other urban elements, such as bridges and towers, were also included by some students.

Friday, May 08, 2015

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.

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Grade Three: Hybrid Mythical Creatures

Third graders were first shown a slide of the Assyrian sculpture pictured above, and asked to look at it carefully. After a few moments, students were asked to identify the different animals comprising the creature depicted. Students were quick to notice there is a lion body, eagle wings and a human head. This combination of animals can only be the famous, mythical sphinx!

Many students are familiar with the sphinx, and were led through a discussion of its history within several ancient civilizations. Students were also led to notice that unlike lions, this sphinx has five legs instead of the physiological four. This is because, depending on where the viewer stands in relation to the sculpture, either from the side or from the front, the sculpture will appear to have not only the correct number of legs, but also appear to be walking from profile view.

Students were then shown three contemporary illustrator's renderings of other famous mythical creatures, all of which were a hybrid combination of other animals: the Chimera, the Minotaur and the Pegasus. These creatures have famous stories told about them and continue to fascinate people. Students were then instructed to sketch an idea of a hybrid animal of their own design, and to give the creature a name. Later, using their sketches as a reference point, students sculpted their creatures from pottery clay. Some who finished early also wrote a short "myth" about their creature.

Friday, May 01, 2015

Grade One: People In Motion, Near and Far

First graders began this lesson by discussing their favorite parks and playgrounds and the kinds of outdoor activities they enjoy doing. Then, students examined several artworks which depict people who are moving and engaging in outdoor activities such as playing, dancing and beach wading. Students described how the artist of each painting was able to show us what the people were supposed to be doing in the various actions, i.e. arms bent, legs in striding positions, etc.Students were then led to notice how the artists showed people and objects which were close to the viewer and those which were far, and discussed how objects appear smaller and higher in a composition to indicate distance, and how the horizon line helps to place those objects within the picture.

Students were then instructed to draw an outdoor scene of people engaged in an activity, such as dance, sports or play. They were also required to use scale to depict items within the picture which were near and far from the viewer.

Observational Drawing: Nature Studies

Fourth graders began this drawing activity with a brief discussion of the artistic, historical and educational benefits of drawing natural objects from observation in what are referred to as, nature studies. Such drawings require a strong attention to detail and strengthen one's ability to replicate color, texture and shape within a drawing in order to be scientifically accurate. Students were given many objects from nature to choose from, including sea shells, seed pods and bone specimens. Students were then instructed to draw the objects, playing close attention to all necessary details and colors.

Observational Drawing: Grade Two, Drawing from the Model

Students in all grades practice drawing from people from observation each year, as people can be very challenging and an important subject within works of art. Drawing from complicated poses help students to understand how shapes and forms within the human body relate to each other in a drawing, as well as in reality. The most thrilling part for most students is the opportunity to pose voluntarily for their fellow classmates. This is also an important part of understanding the artist's process and a chance to experience the other side of life drawing, from the model's perspective. 
Before beginning, students are reminded to approach the drawing in the same manner as drawing anything else from observation, particularly inanimate objects which students find infinitely easier to examine. Students were reminded to draw only what they saw in the pose from their specific viewpoint, giving careful consideration to shapes, lines and textures as they appeared.

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.

Grade Three: Using Color to Depict Emotion

Students in the third grade began this lesson by viewing four examples of painting done in the abstract expressionist style. Students were instructed to consider how color and brushstrokes can be used to represent non-concrete concepts such as emotional feelings. Students discussed the emotions they felt were best represented in each painting, or any emotions the colors in each painting evoked within them.

Students were then shown a demo for using watercolor paint in different techniques so as to effectively convey different color qualities, such as bleeding colors together or painting with minimal water to achieve crisp brushstrokes. Students were also allowed to incorporate oil pastels into their paintings for added effect. These techniques would be necessary to consider when students had to make their own color decisions when depicting a specific emotion in their own painting. Each individual student was assigned an emotion to depict, from four possibilities: joy, fear, anger and sadness. Students were encouraged to make thoughtful decisions, and to also consider shape, line and paint quality, in addition to making color choices, to best represent their assigned emotion.





Grade Four: Unity and Transformation in Sculpture

Fourth graders were introduced to the design element of Unity, in which an artist employs something which visually holds the artwork together. Students also discussed how an artist can utilize the idea or process of transformation in a work of art. Students were then shown several examples of the artwork by Tara Donovan, an artist who uses common, disposable materials such as paper plates and styrofoam cups and transforms their appearance by arranging large amounts of the same material in unexpected ways in site-specific gallery installations. Students were then instructed to choose one particular disposable material, in any amount, and create a sculpture which transforms the material in an unexpected and interesting arrangement. Sculptures of this nature often tend to be abstract and organic in style and content and students were encouraged to explore this idea while also creating a stable, secure structure with balance and support.

Grade Two: Using Collage To Tell Stories

 Students in the second grade began this lesson with a visualization exercise to help them picture images in their minds with their eyes closed while listening to a reading of "Aladdin and the African Magician" from the ancient collection, A Thousand and One Arabian Nights. After the story was read aloud, students were shown a collage inspired by the same story by artist, Henri Matisse entitled, The Thousand and One Nights.

Students were then asked to find shapes which depicted some of the key elements of the story, including two magic lamps, lightning and a cave. Students were led to notice how Matisse chose only a few shapes to represent what he felt were some of the important parts of the story, while also incorporating other shapes and cutting techniques to create an visually interesting composition. Students were then instructed to create a collage based on a favorite story of their choosing. Fairy tales, ghost stories, myths, folklore and chapter books were all among the many ideas selected for this lesson.

Star Wars

Peter Pan

Song of the Sea

Pirates of the Caribbean

The Ugly Duckling