Friday, January 28, 2011

My Favorite Project

You just have to love Monet's paintings.

The color...the quick it love it! So of course this is one of my favorite lessons to do with my students. I started it long ago - probably within the first couple of years of teaching. There has been a few years along the way that I have skipped it to try something new. Last year was one of those years...and I so missed it. So I knew that I needed to make sure and get it in this school year.

I usually target 3rd grade with this lesson. I love 3rd graders...they still have that sense of inhibition with their artwork but are more capable of understanding a bit more complex directions. They are also still very curious.

Here's a finished 3rd grade acrylic painting inspired by Monet-

I start the lesson out by showing the Getting to Know Monet dvd by Mike Venezia. I also have a PowerPoint of photos of Monet and the different paintings he did of the Japanese bridge that I go through with the students. This introduction and discussion takes up a whole class period but gives students a good introduction to Claude Monet.

The next class I show students how to use cotton swabs(q-tips) and sometimes stencil brushes to make quick marks to create the "impression" of trees in the background. Using cotton swabs instead of paintbrushes helps the students create quick marks instead of painting smooth areas. I encourage them to dab colors into colors to change the look of different areas of the trees in the background. We usually have time to also complete the water. The water is usually the only area that I have students use paintbrushes on. Large brushes allow for a base coat of blue to go on quickly. I remind student to still try and use quick impressionistic marks. Switching to cotton swabs, students are then encouraged to add other colors into the water like greens and white. I provide lots of Monet images to remind them of the impressionistic marks that they want to use as they paint.

The next class students finish the painting by adding bushes, the bridge, waterlilies, and any extras they wish to include. All of this painting is again done with cotton swabs. I demonstrate an area of my painting then allow them time to work on theirs. The demonstration is not for them to copy what I'm painting - but to learn how to use the tools to create different types of marks. When I show students how to do the bridge I use black first to paint the bridge lines then use a cool color to go over some of these lines. I finish the bridge off by adding some white onto the lines while the paint is still wet. We discuss how this addition of a little white makes the bridge "pop".

When they work on the waterlilies they need to be reminded to use impressionistic dabs and marks and not try to paint a flower shape. If students have time they might add extra bushes or other plants into the painting.

The results of this project are always wonderful!

This year I incorporated a bit of tech into this lesson. While students were working on finishing their paintings I took a picture of them standing in front of a green screen (a big piece of green bulletin paper tacked to a wall) posing as if they are standing on the bridge of their painting. I used Keynote's alpha tool to cut out the green so that I could place the student in a digital image of their painting. This will then be printed out and students will use paint to touch up the bridge in front of them to give the illusion that they are on the bridge in their painting. Students really loved this idea of being able to be a part of their own painting. We are still working on this part of the project - I will post a picture of a finished one as soon as I can.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Cardboard Creations

What do you do with a whole bunch of cardboard boxes from all the food we eat?

You start to cut them up...and glue them together...

A Cardboard Creature emerges...A Lucky Ladybug!
This is an example for a project I will be doing with some of my 3rd grade classes as part of my Reuse-Recycle-Recreate unit. When I was gathering up ideas for this unit I came across some great projects done by other wonderful art teachers around the world. This project is inspired by Katie Gonzalez from Briargrove Elementary. Here's a link to her blog She has a lot of great ideas!

Stay tune for more Reuse-Recycle-Recreate projects!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

What a Creatively Messy Morning!

Have you ever looked at your lesson plans and exclaim "What was I thinking?!" When you are planning to try and give your students, that you only see once a week, the best possible art education - you are not always thinking of your own sanity. That was the case with this morning's classes. I had scheduled three messy (two of them very messy) projects all before lunch! But in the end we all survived, had a pretty good time, and saw a lot of creative results.

The first class of the day was a 6th grade class who are working on an Andy Warhol inspired printmaking project. Today was printing day! They had created their styrofoam printing plate the past class - focusing on an animal or "creature". Today's goal was to have each student print at least 4 prints using 4 different colors. Did I mention their were 33 students in this class? The thought of that many students moving about from table to table to print the different colors they needed made me regret not having that second cup of coffee before school. But they did a really great job. All students made at least 4 prints and many even had time to do some extra prints experimenting with mixing colors. They even did an excellent job of cleaning the tables and room up before leaving. Though I was left to clean off 7 trays of printing ink and brayers and I told the students I would rinse off their printing plates for them.

The next class was a 3rd grade class who had been introduced to Grant Wood in the previous class. They are going to create a landscape collage inspired by Wood's paintings. Today we were painting papers to use for this collage. I gave the students construction paper in various earth tones. I place a large variety of brushes, sponges, and painting tools to create interesting textures in their painted papers. Trays of paint were filled and the painting began! Each of these students painted at least 3 papers - some more. The movement around the room was a bit chaotic as students tried out different painting tools and made trips back and forth between their tables and the drying rack.

They also did a really good job cleaning up the tables and their hands but left me a really big bucket of dirty brushes and a sink full of painting tools to wash up.

Two very full drying racks!

The last class before lunch was a 2nd grade class who was glazing their clay monsters. This was the least messy class this morning. The monsters all received a very colorful array of glazes. Getting this class to clean up as good as the first two was a bit of a challenge. I was left with a container full of glaze-coated brushes, a few splats of glaze here and there, and a few monster bottoms to wipe clean before they could be fired.

After cleaning up all that creative mess I had 15 minutes left to eat lunch before my afternoon classes began. Yay!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

2nd Grade Clay Monsters

I try to allow all my students Kindergarten through 6th grade the chance to work with clay at least once every year. Some years it's harder than others because of time or lack of supplies. So far this year I have done a clay project with most of my students - still have a few grade levels to go.

I decided to do clay monsters with my Second Grade classes. The monster is based on a pinch pot - and most of my students by 2nd grade have created a pinch pot before - so it seemed like a good idea. They responded to the project very enthusiastically.

On clay construction day we quickly reviewed how to create a simple pinch pot. Then turned it on it's side so that the opening became a mouth. I showed students how to change the shape to reflect what they wanted their monster's mouth to look like. Then the additions of other details began to happen. We reviewed needing to slip and score to attach clay to clay. We used a toothbrush dipped in water to accomplish this.

After the first firing, we glazed our monsters with lots of color. Students we loving being able to add color to their creations. As they worked on glazing I encouraged them to come up with a story about their monster. What was the monster's name? Where did it live? What did it like to do?
When monsters were glazed fired we created a paper diorama to give our monsters an environment to reside in.
I think this project was a success and will definitely do it again!