Monday, February 20, 2012

It's Kindergarten Mona Lisa Time!

 Mona Lisa...Mona Lisa...we adore you...
Now I know some of you out there feel that this painting is overrated and perhaps it is. But we cannot deny that it is one of the most famous and recognized images in all the world. Because of that, I feel it necessary to expose my students to her early. In fact - she plays a major role in my art classrooms. I use her as a quiet signal to let students know I need their attention. I say "MONA!" and they respond "LISA!" and stop, look, and listen for directions.

This year - thank you Pinterest - I found a sign used by Scott Russell that uses the Mona Lisa as a guide to how they show they are ready to begin class or to be a good listener - and it works! You can see Mr. Russell's sign here and my adaptation below.

In one of my Art rooms I even have a section of a wall dedicated to Mona Lisa parodies. I'm always on the lookout for new ones!

But - on to the project! At the beginning of the school year, I introduce Mona to my Kindergarten students and any new to me students. I simply tell them that it is a very famous painting and that we will talk about it later in the school year.  Usually the beginning of third quarter I concentrate on teaching portraits to many of my grade levels. As part of the portrait unit for my Kindergarten, we use the Mona Lisa to learn about proper placement of features on the face and begin to learn how to draw the basic shapes.

I'm always so impressed with how these simple drawings turn out. Many of my older students look at them and think the Kindergarten students can draw better than they can!

These drawings always bring a smile to my face - a simple quiet smile just like Mona Lisa.

Here are some of my favorites from this year - 

Friday, February 3, 2012

One Clay Project - 3 Ways! Cantrell Inspired Clay Faces

Kimmy Cantrell Inspired Clay Faces - Finished 3 Ways - Which is the best method? 

Last quarter I was lucky to have a wonderful student teacher. As part of her practice teaching she created a project unit for 3rd grade dealing with shapes and colors. One of the projects was a clay project inspired by artist Kimmy Cantrell.  She came up with a great clay face project that combined shape and texture. We brainstormed different ways of finishing the pieces - using glazes or painting with acrylic.  Because I'm in three different buildings there were 5 classes that were going to be doing this project. She would be doing the project with the 3rd graders in two of my schools and because of the timing I would be doing it with the 3rd grade class in my third school after her time with me was done. We decided to experiment with how to finish the clay faces to see which was the better method. She used glazes in one school and acrylic paint coated with wax in the other school. I decided to use acrylic paint with the class I did - but had students base coat with black first.

I think there were great successes in all of the classes. The students enjoyed the project. They learned about asymmetrical design, texture, and a new artist all while having fun!

Here are the results of the three different methods....which do you prefer?

These pieces were finished using glazes - 

These pieces were finished using "earthy" colors of acrylic paint coated 
with some floor wax for shine - 

These pieces were finished with a base coat of black acrylic - when that dried students chose lots of different colors of acrylic to it. No wax coating seemed to be needed - 

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Oh the Faces iMake with 3rd Graders!

Today I introduced the iPad to my 3rd graders at one of my schools. I've been attempting to get funding for iPads to use with my Art students - so far no luck. There are a couple of grants coming up that may help me out - but until then I will use my own iPad with as many students as I can.

I tend to do a lot of portraits with my students this time of year. Each grade usually does a portrait or self-portrait in a different style or medium. I thought the Faces iMake app would be great to use with my third grade classes. I showed the students the app using the document camera so they would know how to use it. I also gave some basic instructions on how to use the iPad. I was surprised at the number of my students who had never had the opportunity to use an iPad - but I was happy to be able to give them that opportunity. I explained that each group of students would be creating a portrait together using the app. Kagan cooperative learning is a big initiative in our district so this fit right in!

After showing them the Faces iMake app, we discussed how we could use the same collage technique in a traditional way. I gave them instructions on choosing a paper for a face shape of their choice. This could be cut out in a realistic style or an abstract style. They then had access to a bunch of magazines that they could cut from to create the features on the face.

Students started on these works of art and I chose one table of students to begin with using the iPad. The entire class was very motivated during the art time. I made it very clear that only students that showed they were responsible and respectful would be able to use the iPad.

Because I had a lot of demonstrating to do during this class period, not too many groups got a chance to use the iPad today. They were all excited with the project and were not happy when I called clean up time!

Here are a couple of the paper face collages in progress -