Friday, December 10, 2010

UE: Winter Trees

Okay, so it's not Winter yet, but it sure feels like it! I love bare trees and whenever I see them, I think of Harry Callahan's Chicago Lake Front photograph. This was a fun project that I also did last year with LE. You can learn the technique from Crayola's website here. Students painted a gray background first and left the bottom of the paper unpainted for the snow. Then they took black tempera paint and blew it into multiple branches through a straw. They were required to place trees in the foreground, middle ground and background.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

MS: African Masks






Middle school students were learning about Africa in their class so I thought it would be perfect to introduce them to the art of African masks. I felt very inadequate to teach them such a diverse and rich legacy because of how much it's been misunderstood by Western standards in the past, not to mention the variations of aesthetic criteria between each culture in Africa. The most important points that I tried to explain was that African art is intimately connected with religion and spiritual world. Traditionally, art objects, such as sculptures and masks, are used to celebrate and assist in rites of passage or other important events through ceremonies and performances. Whoever wears the mask transcends their identity and is transformed into powerful medium for spiritual communication. Traditional African art is both functional and beautiful. The assignment was for students to create a mask that will celebrate or assist in
a significant event/period in their life. It didn't necessarily have to be personal, but must serve a function. Some students used symbolic animals, like the buffalo, which stands for strength, while others made theirs about important values that they wanted assistance with. Masks were made out of a cardboard base with balls of newspaper that were coated with paper mache and tempera paint. The project was only a tiny glimpse into African masks, but I hope that students will remember the powerful meaning behind them.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Butterflies and Weaves

Here are some beautiful pieces for you to enjoy! UE made weaves using colored paper and LE learned about butterfly anatomy and created butterflies out of clay and tempera paint. Key terms were symmetry, hind wings, fore wings, abdomen and thorax.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Getting to know our ABC's

Yay, the Letter Project has officially been posted on the playground! Go to this link and click on "new" for each letter. If you click on Quest Montessori, you'll find all of our letters. A few (J,O,P,Q,U,) are still in the making, but will be up very soon! Thanks for taking a look:-)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

UE: Starting The Letter Project

Students in the middle of a critique




As you may know from a couple of posts ago, I started a project with my UE students on letters. Kids are so imaginative and clever that I knew they would flourish with this assignment. I treated this project like a real illustration job where students had to sketch multiple designs, present their strongest sketches to the art director (in this case, the class and me) and receive feedback. In real life, the AD would choose their favorite, but I had the artist be the final judge. Students loved the critique, especially after I assured them that constructive criticism was positive and helpful feedback. After the critique, students started working on their final designs, which are on 8x8" watercolor paper. I can't wait until they're all finished so I can contribute each student's letter to the playground.


one-eyed monster by Logan

one-eyed monster by David

make-your-own invention by Remy

For almost every project, there are always a few students who finish early. Since I can't start a new lesson, I usually have them do "free art", a time where they can draw/paint whatever they like. However, this is only enjoyable for students who are naturally imaginative and limiting for those who flourish within guidelines (like myself!). It also makes the rest of the class feel behind. As a way to keep finished students occupied, I had everyone make their own sketchbooks. Students selected different types of paper that I had cut down, designed their cover, and I bound them all together. It's funny because I required all the students to buy their own sketchbooks last year, but they weren't nearly as excited as they are about their handmade ones. That personal touch goes a lot way. Using a wonderful resource called The Drawing Lab, a book with quick and fun drawing ideas, I give the class specific activities to work on when they're done with their project, leaving no student struggling with artist's block.

LE: Van Gogh's Sunflowers

It was so difficult narrowing down the beautiful sunflower drawings that LE did so I'm showing twice as many as I usually do! These were based off of Van Gogh's sunflower paintings and actual sunflowers in a vase that I set up for the students to look at. We talked a lot about texture, paint strokes, and how Van Gogh layered his colors to achieve his signature thickness. We drew together as a class, but I love how each student produced very different drawings. I required students to draw large, overlap some of their shapes (I remember I got big kudos from my art teacher when I overlapped these balloons I had painted-she freaked out), create texture on their flowers, and color their whole paper. I love it when some of the "canvas" peeks out.

Friday, November 5, 2010

LE: Coil Cups

Maeve and Eleni forming coils for their cups




LE learned how to make pots out of air dry clay. The first step was to roll a clump of clay into a ball and rub it between two hands to form a long snake-like cylinder. Students formed these into multiple spiral shapes and held them together with a coil on the top and bottom. Then they filled in the gaps with smaller balls of clay, attached the ends together and added a base. When the cups were dry students painted the inside and outside with acrylic.

Monday, November 1, 2010

LE: Animal Collage




Zac W.

As a continuation of our zoo trip, students made a painting of an animal they saw using collaged pieces. Of course, I referenced Eric Carle's beautifully textured paintings. Students first painted separate sheets (one for the background, a few for their animal) with acrylic and experimented making texture with forks, q-tips and sponges. Once the painted paper were dry, they drew their animals, cut them out and glued them. If I were to do this lesson again, I would use a more liquid paint like tempera instead of acrylic. These are the last animal-based projects for LE, I promise!

UE: Apples Still-Life



Today we did a one-day lesson on drawing round shapes three-dimensionally and used apples as our reference. I demonstrated on a large paper while they followed along, making sure to teach what all the different parts were called. Some of these terms included: deep shadow, core shadow, highlight spot and half-tone shadow. I only do step-by-step lessons for projects that are very technique-based and therefore require a thorough demonstration. After we drew one apple together, they completed the set on their own. I love how they turned out!

The Letter Project

I heard about this website from the artsy grapevine a while ago where anyone can design a letter and post it online. I found it recently and thought what a fun idea it would be for all students to design a letter and get it out there. It's very imaginative and makes you think outside the box, which I think will come naturally to many students. I can't wait to see what they come up with! They're so much more creative than I am:-) Stay tuned...

Friday, October 29, 2010

Brilliant solution!

I was super excited when I read artprojectgirl's post on using Comic Life as a way to teach and assess her students' learning. How much more fun would learning be if your notes were presented in comic strips? And why did I never discover this on my mac until now? I am definitely going to apply this tool to my own teaching! Thanks artprojectgirl! :-)