I like to link what I do with the students in art class with what they are studying in class. I went on a wonderful field trip with the 4th graders to San Juan Bautista Mission, the fifteenth and largest of the Spanish missions established in present-day California. All the Missions offer very interesting architectural features.
So for the art class I used available photos of the missions on internet (each student gets a photo randomly assigned). This exercise proposes to identify the principal elements of architecture of the different missions and their proportions.
If they wish, the students can draw the most important lines with a pencil. They use the dry pastels to make their drawing and experiment with the powdery texture of the medium. When finished, they can use a black oil pastel to enhance a few lines or more.
I fixed the drawings myself with a pastel fixative.
12×18″ black Canson paper
color dry pastels
black oil pastel
This exercise is about using limited material and only cutting circles. The students start cutting (without tracing) and then grow a cluster of different circles, adding by proximity. They can glue right away or wait and see what happens with the composition. Some students are more comfortable with gluing right away “and not loosing any circles”. The table becomes pretty messy so yes, the circles can disappear!
Some students, very quickly cut other shapes than circles, which is fine, although I am asking them to try to “only” use circles and to see what happens. It is about finding out that a lot of things are possible with very simple means. They can play with the size of the circles, they can cut the center and leave a thick or thin contour, they can make concentric circles. The possibilities are endless. In the process I am asking the students to pay attention to the paper, and to avoid discarding paper which is still usable.
The exercise which follows is: Wonders with small means – circles (color).
12×18″ black paper, white paper, scissors, glue.
This exercise follows the previous one: Wonders with small Means – circles (B&W), but this time with colors. It is all about circles again: small, large, full or just the outline, concentric: the possibilities are endless. It is also about rhythm: how do the colors play together, how do they play with the different sizes of circles and with the space of the background. The students start cutting (without tracing) a circle and grow a cluster of circles. And see what happens.
They can glue the circles as they cut them, or wait until they think their composition is done.
Colored paper is available on a separate desk and students are welcome to pick the colors they want. I am asking them to pay attention to the way they cut the sheets, to share if possible.
12×18″ colored paper, good quality colored construction paper, scissors, glue.
This is the third exercise with “small means” the students worked on and it is also about finding rhythms, using only one shape. This time using paper scraps that I always keep when I cut paper for the art classes. The paper scraps/strips come in many colors and different length and width. The students are welcome to take all the colors they want or only one or two, to cut the strips and to compose any combination.
Some of the students worked on two different propositions for this exercise.
Do More With less: Wonders with small Means – circles (B&W)
Do More With less: Wonders with small Means – circles (color)
12×18″ colored Canson paper, stripes of colored paper, scissors, glue.
I had collected different types of leaves in my street and put them to dry for a while. Each student had at least one of each leaf to work with. During the first session we took some time to look at the different leaves: their shapes and sizes. The proportions between the different parts and between them. We also talked about color temperature, cool and warm. I projected a color-wheel on the screen so that we could discuss easily. The students drew different leaves and then colored them with watercolor inks. the proposition was to use warm colors for the leaves, cool colors for the background. But all options were possible.
The idea was to try as much as possible, to see how the watercolors ink “react” between them, with or without water added, with or without wetting the paper before.
I always ask the students to take their time when they work on a project (and 2 sessions of 45 mn is not very long). But the students of course do not work at the same pace, so for those who finished their project before the end of the second session there was more paper available (square Rives paper, as much as needed) to make individual leaves if they wanted to.
Not all the projects are shown in the gallery in this post, as there were lots of them.
2 x 45mn sessions
black oil pastel
12×18″ Watercolor paper
and more paper!
We started the session by taking some time to look at photos of humanoid robots (a short PowerPoint presentation) and talking about their structure and the main elements of their design: the head, the torso, the arms and the legs, the way they are articulated. We also look at the details, like bolts, lamps, antennas, buttons… The photos are just there at the beginning of the session, they are not models for the students.
This time of observation is important. It is about taking the time to LOOK and to identify different shapes and proportions. Do the robots look round or are their shapes very sharp, pointy? Do they have lots of details or not? Do they have a big head with very short arms or a very small head and a big torso with long arms? All the combinations are possible.
Each student drew her/his own robot.
They painted it with shades of a mix of blue, white and black tempera paint and drew the lines and all the details with the sharpie.
- pencil, eraser
- tempera paint (white, blue, black)
- sharpie marker
- tinted Canson paper 12″x18″
in October 2012, after participating in MSA 14: Modernism and Spectacle Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, I spent a few days by myself in Death Valley, one of my favorite places on Earth. An amazing place, where one can really experience space and silence and where day time in winter is very bearable. I stayed at the Stovepipe Wells hotel and took photos and video footage. This series of photos was taken with my phone.
The 4th graders were asked to make some decoration for the Walkathon at school. The PTA provided nice paper guitars (the theme of the Walkathon this year is “Walk the Rock’).
Time: two 45mn sessions
The first session was painting. I showed them some photos of guitars with the technical elements, if they wanted to use those elements in their painting. The second session was done outside of the class, in small groups. The weather was great, it was really nice. There were 3 stations: painting, drawing and gluing (glitter).
The result is very colorful and the kids want to keep their guitars when the Walkathon is done! They had a lot of fun with the paint, the pastels and the glitter.
paper guitars (one per student), tempera paint, brushes (large and thin), Mod Podge glue, glitter (blue, gold, silver, green, multicolor), oil pastels (several colors including black).
Time: 2 x one hour session (at each student’s pace) – including a 15mn set up time.
It’s getting messy!
The tries are made on smaller pieces of paper. See the post about this here. Because the pace is different for each student, after some of them finished their butterflies, they could chose to do another butterfly or to make more tries on the smaller paper. The tries had a lot of success!
- watching a short power point about the exercise in which I detail the technique we will use.
- Taking the time to observe a black and white photo of a butterfly (a different one for each student), looking at the main lines: body, wings.
- tracing the main lines with a pencil on the watercolor paper. Making the butterfly as big as possible, and tracing not too many details.
- Re-tracing with a black oil pastel.
- trying the black pastel + watercolor technique on a piece of light watercolor paper.
- coloring the butterfly using liquid watercolors, brushes and water.
1/2 letter size black and white contrasted prints of different butterflies (one per student)
12″x18″ white Watercolor sheets
Black oil pastels
liquid Watercolors – 6 colors
brushes, containers for the watercolors and water, rags, newspaper for the tables.
Time: One hour session – including a 15mn set up time.
This exercise is included in the ‘Lines (oil pastel) an colors (liquid watercolors) with a fish‘.
The theme is free. Several pieces represent a flower because I demonstrated the technique at the beginning of the session by drawing and coloring a flower. Each student can make one piece or more.
The students had a lot of fun and experimented in different and creative ways. All the pieces are not shown in this post (there are too many!).
- watching a short demonstration (under the projector) by myself of the use of oil pastel and liquid watercolor
- tracing a black figure on the paper with the black oil pastel
- using the liquid watercolors
10×10″ printmaking paper (type Rives) - (at least 2 pieces per students)
Black oil pastels
liquid Watercolors – 6 colors
brushes (one thin, one thick), rags, pots, newspapers for the tables.