Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Grade One: Organic and Geometric Shape Collage

Students in the first grade begin the year by building upon the basics of art they learned about in kindergarten, focusing primarily on the elements of design. In order to understand the element of shape, students were informed that our world is composed of two different types of shapes: geometric and organic (also known by young students as "free form" shapes). We then examined The Flight of Icarus by Henri Matisse by looking for examples of these two kinds of shapes, how the piece was created and how Matisse used the shapes to tell the story of Icarus.

Students were then instructed to cut examples of both geometric and organic shapes from colored paper to use in a collage, and to consider various ways to arrange these shapes to make their collage visually interesting.

Grade Two: Colorful Places

Students in grade two began the year with a painting project that focused on mixing light and dark tints and shades of color. After a discussion of how artists use and mix color for different uses, such as in Houses at Chatou by Maurice de Vlaminck, students were instructed to think of a colorful place to depict in a painting of their own.

Students were shown a demonstration on how to add white to lighten colors into tints and how to add black to darken colors into shades. They were also required to include both tints as well as shades in their painting, with the emphasis on tints so as to produce a more colorful result filled with light. Abstract designs were also permitted.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

October Masterpiece of the Month: Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci

Who Made It?
This painting was created by an Italian artist named, Leonardo da Vinci, in the years 1503-1506.

Where Is the REAL One?
The real painting can be seen at the Musee du Louvre (Louvre Museum) in Paris, France.

Why Is This Artwork Important?
Mona Lisa is, without a doubt, the most famous and recognizable painting in the world. It is currently displayed under the title, Portrait of Lisa Gherardini, wife of Francesco del Giacondo. Many feel this painting is very mysterious and scholars tried for many years to discover the identity of the woman in the painting. Lisa del Giacondo was the wife of a wealthy silk merchant and Leonardo was hired to paint this picture for their new home and to celebrate the birth of the del Giacondo's second son. However, Leonardo never really considered Mona Lisa to be finished and worked on it little by little over several years before finally selling it to the King of France in 1516.

However, this is what makes Mona Lisa so important. Mona Lisa set the standard for Renaissance painting because:
  • of its use of proportion
  • its triangular composition created the importance of geometry in painting
  • it shows a natural, relaxed pose instead of the stiff profile portraits that were typically done
  • it's excellent understanding of the human body, especially the hands
  • it was the first easel painting meant to hang on a wall and used oil paint to its best potential
  • instead of starting with drawing an outline, Leonardo used light and shadow (shading) to build up three-dimensional forms with layers of thin, translucent paint called, "glazes"
  • its use of perspective and vanishing point

Observational Drawing: Still-Life

This month's observational drawing activity for students in grades two through five fourth consisted of a still life composed of many different types of objects and textures. Many students have been using their newly acquired shading skills, and while this activity did not focus on value and light differences, many students did attempt to convey such value differences. Students were required to think about overlapping objects to depict space, as well as scale, texture and detail.

Grade One: Using Line Constructively: Tree Line Drawings

For their first lesson of the year, first graders revisited the element of Line and discussed how lines can be found everywhere in our world and that artists can use different kinds of lines to express their ideas more fully. Students examined and discussed several examples of drawings by various artists, explaining how each artist used Line. Next, students were shown several paintings of trees done by different artists and explored how each tree was represented differently using various and often unexpected types of lines. Students were led to notice how using a particular type of line changes the way we expect a tree to look.

Finally, students were instructed to draw a tree of their own using lines. They were also allowed to include other items in their drawings, if they choose and were encouraged to think about how lines can be used to represent the many parts of a tree and different species of trees. Students were given artworks created by Asian artists which depicted different species of trees during different seasons to help them think about the many ways line can be used.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

September Masterpiece of the Month: Christina's World by Andrew Wyeth

Who Made It?
An American artist named, Andrew Wyeth, created this painting in 1948.

Where Is the REAL One?
The real painting can be viewed at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, NY

Why Is It Important?
The woman in this painting was a woman named, Christina Olsen, and she was a friend and neighbor of Wyeth in Cushing, Maine. Christina had a disease which paralyzed her lower body. One day, Wyeth was looking out a window of his home and he saw Christina crawling across the field. This inspired him to create this painting. He was determined to show Christina's spiritual strength and perseverance, which was not held back by her physical limitations. This painting is done in a style known as REALISM because it shows us something from real life, in a very realistic and detailed way. Wyeth painted the tiny blades of grass, the delicate strands of hair and the slight difference of light and shadow. Although Christina was the inspiration and subject of this painting, she did not pose for Wyeth and was actually much older than she looks here, when Wyeth created this painting.

Welcome Back!

I hope the new school year is off to a great start for everyone. Classes have begun smoothly in the Art Room. As I have been meeting with all the classes for the first time this year, it has been interesting to hear of the student's summer art adventures. I have been impressed and pleased with the number of students who have traveled the globe this summer and included a trip to the art museums in the cities and countries in which they were visiting. Students were also eager to share the stories of the artworks they created on their own and at local art camps. In addition to catching up with students on their first art class of the year, students in grades 1-5 have been creating their art folders for the year, in which they will store all the artwork created this year. These folders will go home in June. In their second class, students in grades 2-5 will be creating their own sketchbooks for use during observational drawing and painting activities throughout the year. Last week, I have also met with Kindergarten students for the first time, beginning with the start of a series of drawing activities to ease them into the art class curriculum while getting to know this new group of youngsters.

Please be sure to check back soon as new posts and projects will be posted here in the near future. Thanks for your ongoing support!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Announcing the Arlington Friends of the Visual Art!

The Arlington Public Schools K-12 Visual Arts Department would like to announce the formation of the Arlington Friends of the Visual Art. The mission of the Friends is outlined below. If you are interested in joining or if you are interested in helping the K-12 art department in some of the ways outlined below, please contact Interim Director of Visual Art, David Ardito at ydpaa@yahoo.com or by contacting me at dchisholm@arlington.k12.ma.us

Mission of the Arlington Friends of the Visual Art

The Arlington Friends of the Visual Art supports the K-12 Visual Art Department in Arlington's nine public schools by advocating for art education, fundraising, providing
publicity and by helping with events such as student and staff art exhibits.

The Arlington Friends of the Visual Art promotes the belief that art education is essential to the full intellectual and emotional development of all children.

Arlington Friends of the Visual Art will:

  • Increase public awareness of the Art program

  • Support K-12 Art teachers

  • Raise funds for professional development for teachers, art events, field trips, scholarships and equipment

Funds raised by the Friends of the Visual Art will not supplant school budget funds and will provide special opportunities for visiting artists, professional development for teachers, arts events, special field trips, scholarships and equipment that would otherwise be impossible.

Members can opt to attend monthly Friends of the Visual Art meetings, to help with specific projects and/or to become officers who will set meeting agendas and who will be the liaisons between FOVA members and the K-12 art teaching staff and the K-12 Director of Visual Arts.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Why Art Education?

Throughout my years of teaching, I have encountered several different philosophies about what the role of art education should be within our schools, both by administrators and parents. In the last fifteen years, huge strides have been made to reform our society’s ideas about why art education is so important to everyone’s education. We know that art education in schools improves test scores. We know art education enhances critical thinking and problem solving. We know art education fosters a well-rounded student. But there is more.

My philosophy mirrors that of my training at the Rhode Island School of Design art education department and the National Association of Art Education, which is that in addition to providing the above-mentioned qualities, art education must be taught in a way that will address those issues AND provide a vehicle for students to learn about art, talk about art, make informed opinions and decisions about art as they get older and have the confidence in their own abilities to do so.

The mere presence of art class in schools will NOT increase test scores. Nor will it make your child more creative or better at solving complex problems. The content must be presented by a trained professional in a manner which is stimulating and challenging, which has a goal and meaningful purpose, and which will teach students skills they can and may apply later in various ways.

I want my students to understand that art is something they CAN do. I want them to have the confidence and motivation to view works of art and design and make informed decisions about it without intellectual intimidation or ignorance. I want my students to understand that art is not limited to a talented few, nor does it come easily to anyone, but rather it is part of the human experience, something to be learned, cultivated and practiced.

Recently, the National Association of Art Education (NAEA) published an advocacy pamphlet for parents to help communicate the goals and services of arts education in schools. One of their key statements was as follows:

Art Means Work.

Beyond the qualities of creativity, self-expression, and communication, art is a type of work. This is what art has been from the beginning. This is what art is from childhood to old age. Through art, our students learn the meaning of joy of work—work done to the best of one’s ability, for it’s own sake, for the satisfaction of a job well done. There is a desperate need in out society for a revival of the idea of good work: work for personal fulfillment; work for social recognition; work for economic development. Work is one of the noblest expressions of the human spirit, and art is the visible evidence of work carried to the highest possible level. Today we hear much about productivity and workmanship. Both of these ideals are strengthened each time we commit ourselves to the endeavor of art. We are dedicated to the idea that art is the best way for every young person to learn the value of work.

I completely agree with this statement, both as an artist and as an art educator. I try to help my students realize that creating artwork is a challenging process for artists, myself included. As students grow older, their confidence often begins to diminish and uninformed, negatively biased opinions about art and their own abilities, begin to take hold unless a system has been previously put in place that will help them rise above such misconceptions. Accompanying these feelings is also often a notion that art should be simple, easy, and solely recreational. This attitude only serves to eventually diminish the importance of art and art education in the adult minds of our society, who then try to deem it as irrelevant. One of my prime objectives, and one shared by millions of art educators nation-wide, is to eliminate this attitude towards the purpose and function of art education in our schools. To be sure, art education serves a unique role in school, but it must not be confused with recreation, therapy or “busywork”.