ART TREK: A one week summer camp at Montalvo Arts Center

Each day the students explore Montalvo’s beautiful grounds, get inspired by nature and choose things to observe and draw – things we may not take the time to usually pay attention to, like the pattern of a bark, the shape of a cone, a rock, a leaf. I take photos during the walk that I bring back printed the following day. Back to the outdoor studio the campers use different techniques to paint/draw some of the things we saw during our walks.

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Day 1
Outdoor studio: The students walked around and gathered leaves, twigs, cones, lichen and drew them. Decaying leaves are wonderful to draw!
Hiking around: Sketching one of the magnificent trees on Montalvo Grounds. I asked the students to ask me when they wanted to take a photo of something they were interested in and then I printed the images and brought them back the following day.

Day 2
Hiking around: sketching in the Phelan Cactus Garden.
Outdoor studio: watercolor and black oil pastel from photos taken the previous day.

Day 3
Hiking around: Sketching in the Redwood forest, on the Redwood Trail. At the top of the Lookout trail, embracing the view on the valley!
Outdoor studio:
Starting working on black paper with dry pastels, from photos taken the previous day in the Phelan Cactus Garden.

Day 4
Hiking around: A short hike to start the morning. Using a viewfinder, sketching from the top of the Orchard Trail: view on the artists residencies.
Outdoor studio:

Day 5
Outdoor studio:  Painting from photos taken in the Redwood forest. Tempera paint on paper. Preparing a show in the outdoor studio, and gathering all the sketches and drawings in our decorated portfolio.
Montalvo Arts Center

 

ART TREK Summer Camp at Montalvo Arts Center

I am thrilled to have a summer camp at Montalvo in June!

Let’s walk, get inspired by the amazing nature around us and make some art!
Art Discipline(s): Drawing, collage, watercolor, painting.

Each day we will explore Montalvo’s beautiful grounds and choose things to observe and draw on a sketchbook. Things we may not take the time to usually pay attention to, like the pattern of a bark, the shape of a cone, a rock, a leaf. In our journey through the woods, meadows and hills of Montalvo, we will also encounter some of the wonderful contemporary art pieces created by artists from the bay Area and we will make some drawings about those pieces.
Some of the exercises (like painting, watercolor and some collages) will be done indoor. At the end of the week, the participants will leave with their “outdoor sketchbook” and an ensemble of paintings, watercolor and collage on 15”x22” paper.

And here’s a link to all the great summer camps Montalvo is proposing for this summer.

Waterwheel Symposium with the 4th and 5th grade students presenting their projects about water

March 21, Cumberland Elementary, Sunnyvale, CA.
The student from a 4th and 5th grade combo class presented two projects about water during the WATERWHEEL World Water Day online symposium. Waterwheel is a platform where scientists, artists and youth from around the world share their studies, art work and thoughts about water.

4th and 5th grade Students presenting a series of waterscapes from around the Bay area.

The series is about waterscapes around the Bay Area: the Pacific coast and the San Francisco Bay.
See lesson about California Landscapes here:

Part I – Drawing.
Part II – Watercolor.

4th and 5th grade students presenting a series of posters made on their iPads with the app PosterMaker.

The series is about water conservation awareness in the midst of the severe drought California is going through right now.
See how to make posters with Poster Maker here.
Waterwheel platform here.

The Arts in Your Classroom: Engaging the students in the sciences through the arts.

March 3, 2014, Montalvo Arts Center, Saratoga, CA.
Presented in collaboration by Montalvo Arts Center, The Santa Clara County Office of Education, and the Lurie College of Education at San Jose State University.

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My two-hour workshop: “Sciences and Art through Close Observation: We are Artist-Naturalists!
Engaging students in the Sciences through the Arts means having students being excited about making art, being opened to new ideas and trusting their own thinking. The activities I propose are always personalized for each student: they can appropriate their rocks or any other finding; they can appropriate the photo of the unique landscape they are working on. That is one aspect that makes the experience unique for each student. Each exercise is anchored in their reality, for example the school. I like to make them think about the fact that any place, any element provided by nature is unique, so that the journey becomes a source of surprises. That appropriation help the students understand their world better. The more we look, the more we see, the more we can open our mind and think freely and get new ideas. The holistic aspect of the common core is for me very exciting because it is the way I see my practice: everything is interconnected.
The goals are clear but each student follows a personal path at a personal pace.
I am careful that the exercises are not too technically driven.

Making the best use of the resources we have in our immediate environment and creating a journey for the students in which they become enthusiastic artist-scientists, connecting with nature by observation of its infinite diversity. A new look at the students’ environment – the mundane becomes extraordinary.
Handout document here.

Art+Science: Rocks and Soil (2nd grade) session 1/Observing the landscape at school

Arts Integration Residency with Montalvo Arts Center in Campbell, CA.

I met the first class of 2nd graders students in a class which is, amazingly, not used right now at school and can be our “Art Room”. Today is the beginning of a 10 week adventure with Montalvo Arts Center Teaching Artist program. 6 classes of second graders, with a project linked with their science curriculum, the occasion to implement the new common core standards: the “Rocks and Soil” unit.

First I show to the students a short power point presentation. Why I like landscapes and how they inspire me.

I show them 3 photos of the important landscapes that exist where we live, in the Bay Area: a Pacific Coast view at Muir Beach, the Wetlands in Sunnyvale, the mountains in Castle Rock State Park.

Then I showed them a satellite photo of the Bay area. I asked the students if they could show us where is the Pacific Ocean, the Bay itself, the wetlands, San Jose, Oakland, the Santa Cruz Mountains and finally Campbell, where the school is situated.


I proposed to the students to start our journey right here at school. Each of the students make a “viewfinder” with some recycled cardboard I gave to them. Once the viewfinder was done, each student grabbed a clipboard and we went outside. We looked at the landscape from the blacktop.We could see the Santa Cruz Mountains in the background, a series of trees and some constructions in the school including the playground in the middle ground and finally the foreground is an empty space.

We used our viewfinder, looking for a nice frame.

The students made a drawing (pencil on plain white paper), just to get the idea of what it is to try to draw what one sees in front of him or her.

Then it was time to go back to the class and to end the first session. I prepared the clipboards/white paper/pencils and recycled cardboard for the next class.

Art+Science: Rocks and Soil (2nd grade) session 4 / Finding and drawing rocks

Arts Integration Residency with Montalvo Arts Center in Campbell, CA.

We started the session with a look at the paintings on the wall. We had a short discussion; there were some comparisons between the landscapes made by the different classes (6 in total).

Before we went outside, I explained what the idea with the session’s exercise was: we are artists and naturalists, we are going to try to look at the rock(s) we will find outside with a lot of attention.

“Do you think it is possible to find two rocks strictly identical?”
I drew an example with a rock I had in front of me.
I gave them the choice to work with a Sharpie or an extra-smooth graphite pencil or both – They could make several drawings if they wanted to (and they did!).


We went outside to explore an area where we could find rocks. I asked them if they knew where the rocks come from – got some good responses: they come from the mountain they just painted, the Santa Cruz mountains they can see in their landscape. It was a long time ago, the mountain is very old and lost a lot of rocks. The place where we found the rocks at school is not covered by any construction and was apparently not changed (I showed the area to my mom when she came and she said it looks pretty much untouched). So it is interesting because there is this small area of “natural space”.

Each student selected one or two rock(s).

Then drawing session –

 

 

 

We went back to the class, each student carrying 2 rocks they chose. (Next session we’ll wash them and we’ll see beautiful colors appear. We will make a painting of a few of them).


We looked at all the drawings for a few minutes. The discussion was about finding interesting things in the drawings and saying why.

It was fun and the kids did an amazing job at really looking and drawing!

Art+Science: Rocks and Soil (2nd grade) session 7 / Finishing to paint the rocks – going outside drawing trees

Arts Integration Residency with Montalvo Arts Center in Campbell, CA.

During the first part of the session, the students finished the painting of their rock(s). I gave a short demo, showing how the first drawing can disappear under the paint, the paint was not necessarily controlled and it is OK, but it is always possible to draw over the paint and change the shape again. The motto for this session was – do not follow what the brush did, you can change it the shape again.
And then, if they wanted to, the students could paint in white parts of the painting they did not want to be visible. That part was tricky because the students had a tendency to cover with the white the drawing they had just made, loosing their nice tracing again. But it does not matter, what I wanted to show them is a layering technique where things can always be changed. For the 6 classes, I had to prepare different steps for my short demo, so that they saw me doing what I was explaining. But I needed 3 steps for each class, 18 paintings of a rock at different stages.

During the second part of the session, we went outside to draw a tree.
Before going outside I asked them “What is soil made of?”. They are learning about Rocks and Soil in Science and that’s the program we are following. They knew about the rocks which are eroding and giving minerals to the soil. The rest was not obvious but the students in pretty much each class found all the different elements. We talked about the living organisms, the plants, the animals that either are alive or dead and what happens to them. And now the question is: “And what does that soil do?” it grow plants! All sorts of plants, the plants which decorate the streets, the plants in the forest, the trees and all the plants we eat.It is just amazing! I tell the students that I am still amazed by the fact that a seed can become a tree taller than a house!
So let’s see one of those trees, there is one just outside the classroom. It is unique. Let’s pay attention to its shape, to its trunk and main branches. How is it structured? Does the branches grow equally around? Is one side more developped? Drawing on white paper, with a soft pencil and/or a sharpie.

At the end of session we looked at all the drawing. And we talked about what we like and most importantly why.

Art+Science: Rocks and Soil (2nd grade) session 8 / Gathering elements outside and drawing them

Arts Integration Residency with Montalvo Arts Center in Campbell, CA.

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medium: drawing on paper

Ressources
material: pencils, crayons, sharpies, drawing paper.

How it works

1. I introduce the lesson with a short presentation with a question to the students: What is the soil around here made of? Several students answer and we have a short discussion.
I propose to them to go outside and see what we can find which will be part of the soil soon if we leave everything on the ground decaying slowly but surely. Then we will draw what we found.

2. We go outside the class to gather a few elements that we are going to draw in class: leaves, decaying leaves, twigs, pieces of plants, anything that is laying on the ground (not the trash though!). The students can keep their findings in their hands or put them in a collective box.

3. We come back inside the classroom. The students have either their findings with them or pick some elements in the box and go seat at their desks.
On the table, pencils, crayons, sharpies and paper are available.

4. The students start drawing. They can draw one element or several on the same paper, do one or several drawings, it is their choice.

5. Group discussion with all the art on the floor. One interesting reflection about what a soil is made of, is that leaves are decaying on the ground. Some students drawn the decaying leaves. We talked about what “beautiful” means for them: not necessarily a “perfect” leaf, but a damaged leaf is also beautiful and very interesting to draw.

Art+Science: California Landscapes (4th/5th grade) Part I – drawings

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medium: pencil drawing/oil pastel drawing on all media paper

Vocabulary
science:
coastal region, satellite photo, Pacific Ocean, Bay Area, Wetlands, Redwoods
art: main lines, horizon, proportions

Science Curriculum
identifying some of the major physical features found in the coastal region where we live.

Resources
Material per student
: one printed color photo of a landscape, letter size and protected in a plastic sleeve, all media paper, pencil, eraser, a black oil pastel.

Instructions:
1. Power point presentation

I try to always use what is close to where my students live. In the Bay Area, I propose to the students to work from photos I have taken and printed, about the three major types of landscapes one can find around here: coastal, mountains and wetlands. They can recognize the places in some cases, we talk about places to go visit and it’s the occasion for an interesting exchange. Then, using a satellite photo of the Bay Area, the students can point the different places where the photos were taken.

We look at a series of photos of the main types of landscapes in the area.
Question
s: Can you describe them? Do you know where the photo was taken?

From left to right: Henri Coe State Park (left), the Wetlands in Sunnyvale (right), the Pacific Ocean at Natural Bridges State Park, Santa Cruz.


We look at a satellite view of the larger Bay Area.

Questions: Can someone tell me where is San Francisco? Where is the Bay area? What is the blue mass on the left of the photo? Where is San Jose, Santa Cruz?

2. I handle the same series of images printed in color on a letter size paper, one per student.

3. There is a simple help the students can use: by placing their pencil horizontally, they can see if, for example the line of the horizon is above or below the pencil. By placing their pencil vertically in the middle of the photo, they can tell if the cliff on the photo is placed on the left of the pencil or on the right of it.

4. The students trace the main lines of their landscape

The Wetlands in Sunnyvale

The idea is to recognize the principal features in each of the photo. And the main difficulty is to understand the proportions in the landscape. There is a simple help the students can use: by placing their pencil horizontally, they can see if, for example the line of the horizon is above or below the pencil. By placing their pencil vertically in the middle of the photo, they can tell if the cliff on the photo is placed on the left of the pencil or on the right of it.

5. When this is done, the students trace the lines again, this time with a black oil pastel. No details.

See Part II here.

Celebrating International Dot Day – Session 3

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Exercise with the combo class 4th and 5th grade. Approximately one hour. I gave the students very nice 6″x6″ sheet of Rives paper that I still have from an art project I was working on last year. I asked them to just draw circles with a black marker, starting with one and then growing a cluster. The difference with the previous exercise Celebrating International Dot Day and Celebrating International Dot Day – second session is that once you draw you cannot change the place of the elements. You just go and see what happens.
At the end of the session, it was interesting to put all the drawings together on the floor and to have a discussion. I asked the students if there was something which surprised them and to explain why. Something they did not think about before, something which gave them new ideas about space, composition and rhythm.

With very little means a lot of creativity and diversity can be expressed.

material: 6×6″ white paper, black marker.