Thrones of an Enchanted Land summer camp at Montalvo

June 22-26 at the Barn Studio, Montalvo Arts Center.
It was a great week spent in a wonderful setting, with the Thrones camp in the morning, Art Trek camp in the afternoon. I did this camp for the first time this year. I had collected some chairs through Craig’s list and FreeCycle and the campers each had one. The material for this camp is not complicated: chairs, lots of wire, newspapers and white liquid glue, paint. The camp was amazingly calm, it was not too hot and the campers worked very well in the time frame they had (3 hours per day). The transformation of the chairs was great to watch. I had helpers including my son Milo and it was very much needed as two of the chairs were large stools and took along time to cover with the newspapers. Also there was some power tools work involved and the campers were not doing it. I love the result and the collection of thrones the campers came up with.

ART TREK summer camp at Montalvo Arts Center

June 22-26, 2015. Art Trek is about going outdoor to sketch (in the Italian Garden, the Phelan Garden, the Redwood forest, along the Lookout trail); and to come back to the studio to paint, using different techniques like tempera, dry pastels, watercolor inks. Every day I take pictures during the walks, that I print and bring the following day to study in the studio. This year Art Trek was taking place at the Barn Studio which is the perfect place for a group of young artists who love nature!

The Water Project featured at ArtSplash 2015 at Montalvo Arts Center

The Water Project was featured during ArtSplash, at Montalvo Arts Center. The Plastic Monster is made of nearly 500 plastic jugs and plastic water bottles that the kids, some friends of mine and I gathered at home. They contained milk or juice. The students were surprised by the amount they gathered. Knowing that in the end only a small percentage of plastic we consume is recycled and that tons of it goes to the ocean.

THE WATER PROJECT: ARTS INTEGRATION IN 2ND GRADE / 3. Data Visualization with Dots

A simple Data Visualization of the amount of water we “eat” compared at the amount of water we use every day at home. And we also compared the differences between the amount needed to grow/produce different foods and the differences between the amount of water needed to do different things at home.

Arts integration into the 2nd grade math and science curriculum. We used a base-ten to count the gallons of water.
One blue dot = one gallon of water. one square sheet is 12″x12″.
Lesson plan here.

Data source:
http://environment.nationalgeographic.com/environment/freshwater/change-the-course/water-footprint-calculator/
http://www.waterfootprint.org/?page=files/productgallery
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/13/food-water-footprint_n_5952862.html

The Water Project
– Exercise 1: Posters about the Watershed and the drought
– Exercise 2: Watercolors of the Bay Area

The WATER PROJECT: Arts Integration in 2nd grade / 2. Watercolors From the Bay Area

Watercolors from the Bay Area is about understanding the variety of our waterscapes (Pacific coast, creeks, delta, bay, wetlands) through observation of a photo (each student studies a different document). In the end, the class has a discussion about the diversity of the amazing waterscapes we have in our region. The occasion for the children to think about asking their parents to go see these waterscapes if they do not know them already. They are important and fragile eco-systems we need to protect and care for. This exercise is great to open up the dialogue about the importance of water in our lives.

Watercolors from the Bay Area is about understanding the variety of our waterscapes (Pacific coast, creeks, delta, bay, wetlands) through observation of a photo (each student studies a different document). In the end, the class has a discussion about the diversity of the amazing waterscapes we have in our region. The occasion for the children to think about asking their parents to go see these waterscapes if they do not know them already. They are important and fragile eco-systems we need to protect and care for. This exercise is great to open up the dialogue about the importance of water in our lives.

For this exercise we use watercolor inks.

Lesson plan here.
Posters about the Watershed and the Drought – lesson plan here.

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THE WATER PROJECT: Arts Integration in 2nd Grade / 1. Posters/Flyers

Arts Integration is a great way for the children to experiment with art in conjunction with what they are learning in other subjects. And here the theme being “water”, it touches all aspects of the curriculum: language arts, science, social studies and mathematics.

The Water project [10 sessions] is planned for 2nd graders but can be adapted for upper grades. The introduction to the project is here.
Session 1 and 2: Making a poster/flyer with an iPad: Understanding the watershed.
This exercise is about making a poster to preserve the watershed. The students use the information they learned about preventing water pollution and conserving water during the presentation by the Environmental Services Department specialist.
Folder with the lesson plan, the power point and more document is here.

The Summer Camps I will be teaching at Montalvo Arts Center this summer

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This year the theme for the summer camps at Montalvo is “A Sense of Place”. The three camps I am proposing offer to the participants to discover and use in the art they will make the wonderful nature around Montalvo villa.

WISHING TREE
The students get inspired by Montalvo grounds and create unique banners inspired by nature elements like trees, flowers, plants. The banners are made of a variety of materials, mostly recycled, some elements are found on site. Students learn about symbols, composition and typography while using various tools. The techniques used are collage, painting, hand-sewing. The banners can have a message and/or be symbolic. They will be installed by the students, who can either take them home or leave them at Montalvo for the visitors to enjoy.
Monday, June 15, 2015 – Friday, June 19, 2015
9 a.m. – noon (Ages 6 & up)
1 p.m. – 4 p.m. (Ages 9 & up)
Register here.

THRONES FROM AN ENCHANTED LAND
Students learn how to transform a chair into a fantastic throne inspired by the lush nature at Montalvo. The technique used to transform the shape of the chair is metal wiring and paper mache. To adorn the throne, the students use the provided recycled material and some found material that they gather during short hikes on the beautiful Montalvo grounds. During breaks, we read some inspiring texts about enchanted forests like Broceliande. The students have the opportunity to create a piece which will stay on Montalvo grounds and will be enjoyed by the visitors and/or to create a throne that they can take home.
Monday, June 22, 2015 – Friday, June 26, 2015
9 a.m. – noon (Ages 9 & up)
Register here.

ART TREK: DISCOVER YOUR CREATIVE NATURE
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. Back to the outdoor studio we will paint some of the things we saw during our walks. At the end of the week, we will have a show and the participants will leave with their “outdoor portfolio”.
Here’s the link to my blog about last’s year Art Trek.
Monday, June 22, 2015 – Friday, June 26, 2015
1 p.m. – 4 p.m. (Ages 9 & up)
Register here.

The Water Project, an arts integration project across the curriculum with Montalvo Arts Center at Village Elementary, 2nd grade

the_water_project_mozaic_smallThis project is implemented for the first time at Village Elementary and was created in conjunction with the 2nd grade teachers Elizabeth Shepherd and Chris Woods. In the context of the severe drought that California is going through this 10 session project proposes to study different aspects of water and to sensitize students to the importance of water in many aspects of their lives. During the ten weeks, students learn about water through Science, Social Science and Language Arts with their teachers. They learn about the water cycle, the weather, especially clouds, make inquiry charts, read poems, engage in reading (for example The Important Book about Water) and have class discussions about drought and water conservation.  The students are able to define groundwater and surface water and recognize examples of each, understand where their water comes from, and make their own water wells.

In the arts integration program the students use different techniques like drawing, watercolor, digital exploration, video, writing, and construction. They use an array of tools and materials, like oil pastels, iPads, watercolor inks, soil, pebbles, sand, and recycled plastic containers. The students work individually on some of the exercises, such as the watercolors, and collaborate on others, like when they build the Plastic Monster.

During the first session, Anthony Ortega (West Valley Clean Water Program) presents the concept of a watershed and how our actions/ choices can impact our environment, both positively and negatively.  Then I introduce the ten-session projects with a short presentation, without revealing the different exercises along the journey on which we are about to embark.

MAKING A POSTER-FLYER WITH AN IPAD: UNDERSTANDING THE WATERSHED
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Where does our water come from? and where does it goes? The students use the information they learned about preventing water pollution and conserving water to make their own poster using a poster app on their iPads.
Post about this exercise here.

The other five other topics in this curriculum are:

WATERCOLORS FROM THE BAY AREA: UNDERSTANDING THE VARIETY OF OUR WATERSCAPESwater_project_waterscapes_small

Each student studies/observes a different photograph of a waterscape:  Pacific coast, creeks, delta, bay, wetlands. In the end, the class has a discussion about the diversity of the waterscapes and their features. For this exercise we use a traditional technique.
Post about this exercise here.

DATA VISUALIZATION: UNDERSTANDING OUR WATER CONSUMPTIONwater_project_data_visualization_01_smallwater_project_data_visualization_02_small

The majority of the water we use is hidden is what we eat. How Much water do we really use daily? When do we use water the most? The students will work in group to create data visualization to understand the different amounts of water needed to grow/produce different food.  In this exercise, the students use graphic design basics to represent data.
Post about this exercise here.

THE PLASTIC MONSTER: UNDERSTANDING THE CONSEQUENCES OF OUR PLASTIC CONSUMPTION/MAKING A COLLECTIVE SCULPTURE AS AN ART STATEMENTwater_project_plastic_monster_small

The plastic pollution in the oceans is extremely important and is a growing problem for many marine species. We need to reduce our plastic consumption and to better recycle. The students gathered the plastic containers they used at home. With all the containers, they are creating a Plastic Monster. The students work in groups, they have to engineer the monster, think about ways to attach the containers together. In the end the groups attach the different parts together.

MAKING A TERRARIUM: UNDERSTANDING THE WATER CYCLE

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Each student build her/his own terrarium in a one gallon glass jar with gravel, charcoal, soil and small house plants and creates a composition with plants, rocks and small pieces of wood. The terrarium is almost closed (the lid is not tightened), it needs to be watered once when it is built, then the plants create its own water cycle. Technique: mini-landscaping, eco-art.

WRAPPING UP: WHAT IS YOUR THOUGHT FOR THE FUTURE OF WATER : UNDERSTANDING THAT WATER IS INTERCONNECTED WITH EVERYTHING
This exercise concludes our project about water. Students can work individually or in group, they chose the subject they want to talk about and create a short video, with text and sound. After weeks on working on water, they decide the important message they want to convey to their fellow students, parents and beyond. This exercise can be shared on online platforms like WATERWHEEL and on websites specialized on water-related topics. It engages students as young citizens and empowers them to start thinking now about the future of their planet. This exercise uses video as an art form, where students can experiment with images and sound.

montalvoarts.org

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

 

A Journey through Forces and Motion: an account of my residency with Montalvo Arts Center

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Ball Painting

Working at Village with the enthusiastic 2nd grade students, with two extra-dedicated teachers – Elizabeth Shepherd and Chris Woods – and with a great team of parents who helped during each session was wonderful!

STEM to STEAM is a fantastic approach to learning and thinking and as an artist I am thrilled to be part of this much needed initiative. Charlee Wagner (Education Programs Manager at Montalvo Arts Center) and David Wilce worked their magic to make this Arts Integration project at Village a great experience for everyone involved.

I was raised in a family of scientists (researchers and teachers) and I always loved science. For me it makes total sense to integrate the arts in the learning of each aspect of the curriculum at school, and science is my subject of choice. My dad (a geologist) knew how to appreciate a beautiful landscape but I was fascinated by the way he could “read” a landscape: he could tell me the way it looked million years ago and the transformations at play in the present time. My mom (a biologist) always gave me and my sister many interesting details about plants and animals encountered during our numerous hikes.

Art integration into Forces and Motion was an opportunity for me to work with the students on a variety of exercises, from 2D to 3D, all involving different forces: push, pull, gravity, friction – and sometimes all of them at the same time. The exciting thing about some of the exercises, is that they reveal the forces: the kids can “see” them in action before their eyes during the process, for example creating patterns with the paint or the ink.

None of the exercises were made with traditional tools. For blow-painting the students used straws and pipettes. For ball-painting they used plastic balls and marbles.  For pendulum-painting they used plastic bottles filled with paint suspended from a tripod. And for gravity-painting they did not use any tool except gravity itself.

For the 3D exercises – the mobile and the automaton – the students used all sorts of materials including bamboo skewers, foamies, cardboard, Tweesties and fabric.

The students had an opportunity to work in teams when they did the ball-painting and the pendulum-painting.  One student made the painting while one student documented the process with an iPad, and then they traded places. Documenting the process was an excellent way to see the forces at play during an exercise.

We watched short videos (Holton Rower, Jackson Pollock, Alexander Calder, the Automata museum in Glasgow) related to the exercises we were going to work on at the beginning of the sessions.  We took time for some positive discussions about what was made by the class — a time to watch, think, reflect and give feedback to the group.  During each session there was time for experimentation.

One defining moment was when I asked the students to “undo” their mobile and try another solution for the balance of the elements, like an artist may do when going back to the studio after working on a piece for a short time. The idea to work again on something they thought was pretty much done was tough for the majority of them. But at the end of the session, when asked, most of the students said that, although it was a hard thing to do, they preferred the second version of their mobile.

The ten sessions went fast! Through these exercises I hope the students were able to understand that forces in motion are everywhere, how to recognize them and how they can play a major role in the process of making art.