Tuesday, November 29, 2011

2nd Grade Shading

In my work with the wide age range of Kindergartners to Seniors in High School, I've decided that my older students need more basic skills.  So I've made a strong attempt to find some "big ideas" and find a way to bring them down to the elementary level.  While some of these skills come with big concepts, I feel like younger students can "get it" to a certain degree.  They may not understand completely, but I believe that exposing them to these ideas will help them as they get older and are able to apply their skills with a higher level of thinking based on the natural maturity process.

With that said, I decided to expose my 2nd graders to the concept of shading and values. 
I got out my "big kid" shading pencils and demonstrated how if you pushed really hard you could get really dark and that if you didn't push much at all it would be much lighter...a very 2nd grade approach to shading techniques.
We drew masks inspired by Africa with simple shape designs.  The masks turned out to be pretty generic looking but they are still cool.  After the students finished shading, they chose from a variety of colored paper to glue their masks on.
Some students "got it" while others didn't, but that's ok.  They were willing to try!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

This time of year makes us aware of the blessings we have and what we are thankful for.  I find it interesting that many status updates in my newsfeed on Facebook this month have had a "daily update" of thankfulness...shouldn't we be thankful and appreciate our thankfulness all the time? 

I am always thankful for my friends and family, even if they drive me crazy...I wouldn't be where I am today without their love and support.
I am thankful that I have always had the basic needs of life (food, shelter, etc.)...
I am thankful for my job.  In these tough times, having a job is a blessing and as a "recent" college graduate I do feel the blessings of having a job.  Not only do I love my job as being an art teacher, but I feel blessed to be a role model and someone for my students to look up to.  I am also thankful for my many wonderful co-workers and administration.  Without their support and guidance, I would be lost.

And in honor of my thankfulness, here are some turkey drawings done by my 3rd graders:

Happy Thanksgiving! :)

Monday, November 21, 2011

JH Famous Portraits

Seems like I've got a lot to say about my JH students these days.  I'm not sure why, but perhaps it is because I feel like I'm finally getting into my groove with this age level.  Behavior-wise they are probably my more difficult group (they are just so squirrely), and project wise I think I've missed the mark several times with things that are too hard or too easy.
If my JH students have a buy-in with a project they work really hard and want to do well.  If they don't, it is a struggle with most of them. 
Because this is only my 2nd year teaching in this school, I am still building my program.  I am definitely making up for the lack of skills my students have due to the 5 art teachers in 5 years previous to me.  My mid-level students (5-12) seem to be lacking in the skills and confidence I'd hoped they would have, so we're working on it.  Sometimes we have to go back to the basics...like way basic, but that's ok.  Every year my plan is to do a portrait projects with as many grades as possible.  This year, I decided to take on famous portraits with my JH students to practice before we get into self-portraits.

I had each student choose any person they wanted as long as they were famous.  They were excited about this idea!  To make it even better we explored the grid technique for drawing these portraits.  For some of them, this was a new concept.  For some it helped, others not so much.  People are hard to draw!  And I find it difficult to teach as well.  I started by having them separately copy photos of eyes, noses, mouths that I found in magazines by focusing on shape and shading.  This broke it down and helped them to focus on one thing at a time.  I think this worked out ok, but by the time they got to these features on their portraits I think some of them completely forgot about these practices that we did.  In the end, the best way I could come up with was to show them how I do would do it, so I did chose a famous person too.  Perhaps there are some better ways to teach values/shading and portrait work.

 I believe after the hard work we did on this project, I may wait to do self-portraits until next semester.

I pulled out my fancy tips/tricks for this project: the grid, blending stumps, and kneaded erasers...how cool! LOL!

I believe this is "Triple H" - perhaps a UFC fighter or something...this goes beyond me

Arnold Schwarzenegger - or as this student said "He looks more like Johnny Cash"

Avril Lavigne


Kasey Kane

Carrie Underwood

Selena Gomez
Now granted, I realize many of these famous people don't resemble or look close to the original photos we referenced.  Some of them are pretty close while others are very hard to tell.  However, they do look like people and that is a bonus!  And my students stuck to it, bought into it, and tried so hard!  I think they have something to be really proud of!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

JH Cubism

I've seen many posts and lessons on using Cubism and decided to attempt to do a project on it as well.  I was inspired by several blog posts on Cubism projects from A Faithful Attempt Blog.

I decided to give my students a subject theme to choose from and thought food would be a good one.  As a bell work activity, I had my students draw 5 different food items that they may use for our project.  At this time, I did not explain what we would be doing so they weren't thinking too much about the end result.  I then had them choose the one they felt looked the best/was their favorite and then they did a re-draw of this item making sure it had all of the necessary details. 
We then moved onto some 12X18 newsprint scratch paper where they drew their food item 3 times fairly large.  We discussed a balance of positive and negative space on the paper.  After this step, they traced all pencil lines with sharpie.  At this point we stopped and looked at the characteristics of Cubism and focused on Picasso.  I showed a variety of his works but focused on his "3's", 3 Dancers, 3 Musicians, etc.
I had the students break up their drawing into 5-6 pieces using lines, making what I called puzzle pieces.  I stressed that the pieces should be fairly large and limited the number because I knew some of my students would go crazy on this step which would make the rest of the project rather difficult.  Students cut apart their puzzle pieces and created a new composition, considering a balance of positive and negative space, overlapping, and going off of the page.
Students then went to the windows and traced their composition onto new paper, making sure to not only copy the food images, but also the outlines of each puzzle piece.

Our final step was to add color.  We discussed an analogous color scheme, choosing 3-4 colors next to each other on the color wheel to use for the objects.  I had my students use oil pastels because they haven't used them much and they are fairly easy to blend, so I had them explore the concept of gradation.   For the background we used the complement of the main color used for the objects, and added in a smaller analogous color scheme using that color.

Three Cherries
Three Hamburgers

Three Apples

Three Cantaloupe Slices

Three Hot Dogs

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Halloween and Day of the Dead

I already posted about the bat masks I made with my 1st graders.  I also made spider hats with my Kindergarten which is a great lesson that involves counting, use of line, and the accordion fold which is great for using/improving motor skills.  Here are my classes:

My Around the World theme lead me to incorporate the Mexican holiday, Day of the Dead, into my Halloween-ish projects. 
My 3rd graders did a drawing of a skull and colored/decorated them with oil pastels to make them look like Mexican sugar skulls.

My 5th graders did a drawing of "The Skeleton's Party".  This was quite the challenge to draw skeletons as people, but I think my 5th graders did a pretty good job!  I had a pictures of a skeletons for them to look at, but didn't tell them how to do anything.  I wanted them to figure it out on their own.  I did allow them to put clothes on their skeletons if they chose to.  Some of them were really fun!

And to finish off, my JH students made pinatas!  We used balloons for our form and added a few layers of paper mache and finished it off by decorating with tissue paper.  I had them hanging in the hallway and they looked pretty neat.  I forgot to photograph them as they were hanging so I quickly took a few shots before I sent them home.

I enjoyed incorporating the Mexican Day of the Dead into Halloween and celebrating the fall :)