Thursday, October 27, 2011

Clay Week!

All classes, K-5, are working on clay projects this week. I have decided that the mess that accompanies the fun of working with clay is better made all at once. Since day one of school, students have been asking, "When are we working with clay?" It is by far, students' favorite medium. It's also interesting to see students who typically struggle a bit with two-dimensional artwork really excelling in 3-D. And just the opposite: some students who are really good at drawing have to work a bit harder to be successful with clay. Each class is working on different projects...

FIFTH GRADE is working on a cross-curricular project with social studies.  In social studies, students are researching and writing about a hero of theirs. In art, we are creating hero sculptures out of clay. We have made generic, "blank" people this week using the slab method of clay building. We used toilet paper tube armatures to temporarily help our heroes stand up.  Next week we will be turning our clay people into heroes like Ghandi, Einstein, Steve Jobs and even Oprah by studying our photos of these people very closely and sculpting faces, hair and later painting and using fabric scraps to make clothes. This photo is 5M's people standing very crowded in a box to keep the clay workable until next week's class.

FOURTH GRADE studied the slab building method when working with clay. We used rolling pins to roll out slabs of clay. We then used rulers, incorporating math into our project, and measured twice and cut once to make our clay slabs 4"x10". We rolled our slabs into a cylinder, added a bottom and created geometric designs and textures on the sides of our mugs. Some students added handles to their mugs.

THIRD GRADE students learned about the coil method and pinch pot methods of building functional clay projects. We talked about the difference between art and functional art.  We began with a pinch pot as the base of our functional piece and attached clay coils/ropes/snakes to build our pots.  Students were challenged to build their coil pot so that it got wider or narrower as it got taller.

SECOND GRADE students learned that the pinch pot method of building with clay is a technique that was used since the beginning of time by ancient humans. We learned that by looking at the pictures on ancient greek ceramics we can learn about what their lives were like. We made three pinch pots of varying sizes, changed the shapes from circles into squares, hearts and triangles and then use the slip and score method to attach the pots together. We also added feet to the bottom of our projects and decorated the lips of our functional art.

FIRST GRADE students just recently finished our Rainbow Fish projects and this week we revisited the fish theme when we read Swimmy by Leo Leoni. We then created clay pinch pots, turned them on their side and learned about slip and scoring (scratch attach) to attach eyes, fins, teeth, tails, tongues and other parts to make 3-D clay fish.

KINDERGartEN students looked at all the things humans make out of clay: plates, cups, containers, vases, and sculptures. We talked about the things in our homes that are made from clay.  We read the book The Empty Pot  and talked about honesty and courage. We then made clay pinch pots and created patterns on them using found objects like marker caps, plastic forks, and pencils.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Still life drawings

2n, 3rd and 4th graders got to go outside into the courtyard with pencils, paper and clip boards in hand. We found interesting looking leaves. We learned about the various parts of a leaf including the petiole, the midrib and the blade. We talked about how artists draw still-lives to get better at drawing and most importantly to learn how to see. We tried to see a line or a shape in the leaf first, and then try and draw that particular line or shape. We looked for, and drew all the little details-- like a curved petiole (stem) or a hole in the leaf. To make our leaves look really real we, lastly, added a drop shadow on the same side of all the leaves. Some classes had to do this inside because of the weather, but we all drew real leaves--no tracing or leaf rubbings allowed. We finished our leaves by blending and layering warm colors of watercolor pencils.
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KindergARTen leaf rubbings

Kindergartners read the book "Fletcher and the Falling Leaves." In this book,
Fletcher (a fox) tries his best to take care of his favorite tree. But no matter what he does, it's leaves keep falling off. We learned about autumn and talked about why the leaves change colors and fall off the trees. We also learned about warm colors--red, yellow and orange. For out art project we used real leaves from a variety of trees to make crayon rubbings using the texture of the leaves. Our rubbings were made using black crayons, and after we filled our papers with leaves we used watercolor paints to give the leaves some warm color.
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Wednesday, October 12, 2011


First grade artists read the book Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister. We discussed how Mr. Pfister is both the author and the illustrator of his book. We looked carefully at the artwork in the book and noticed soft and fuzzy the water looked. We learned that the materials an artist uses are called media. And that each media has a different look to it. We used water color paints and watercolor pencils to try and replicate the look of the book. We used a watercolor technique called 'wet-on-wet' to get the soft fuzzy edges and lights and darks in the water.
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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Kindergarten Self-portraits

Kindergarten artists learned about portraits and self-portraits. We looked at several portraits--Grant Wood's American Gothic for one. We talked about being art detectives and seeing how many details we could find. We then talked about those details. Why did the artist put them in the painting? Do they tell us something about the people in the portrait? We decided that we could learn alot about the person (or people) in a portrait by looking at their clothes, their facial expression, and the background.
We then created self-portraits and included details about our lives, including a background or the place we are standing in our portrait.
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3rd Grade Collages

Third grade artists looked at the artwork of Romare Bearden (1911-1988). Bearden lived in Harlem, New York city and was friends with Duke Ellington, Langston Hughes, and other well-known artists, writers, and musicians. Bearden's collage artwork often features images from his past where he spent many enjoyable summers on his grandparents farm in Pennsylvania. Bearden used many different collage materials in his works, including cuttings from newspapers, magazines, sample catalogues, painted papers, colored paper, foil, wallpaper, wrapping paper, and art reproductions.
We used magazines, construction paper, and scrapbooking paper to create our city collages. Our cities have a sky with stars or clouds, buildings made of shapes in the middle ground, and a street with cars and people in the foreground.
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