I always remind the children that if you go on a trip, make sure you check out any art museums where you go. Also, bring a sketchbook and camera. Whether you are visiting Paris, France or a local park, there are inspiring visuals everywhere.
Here are some wonderful exhibits to see right here in the Bay Area this summer:
The Sun Room has been studying biographies of famous people. I helped out with the puppet part of the project. The children came to art class with books about their chosen person. I gave each of them a pre-made (plain) canvas puppet. On the first day they painted the front and back of their person’s clothes with acrylic.
On another day, they traced templates for hands and the face on felt that was similar to their their subject’s skin color. The felt was cut out. The children were instructed on how to use hot glue and they attached the felt and other objects. It took at least one more class to finish. Yarn hair was attached and the pupped were made to hold something that had meaning to them. Other materials used were buttons, pipe cleaners, feathers, beads, cardboard, paper, and popsicle sticks. It was fun to watch everyone working. The class was very focused and attached to their work.
The human face and figure can be among the most challenging things to render. For the past few months the 7th grade has been practicing! First, the students were guided in drawing a generic face with proportion. This was followed up with a one day self-portrait done in pencil. We moved on to the figure and the students were guided in drawing a person with proportion. In another class, figures were drawn in various active positions using basic shapes.
Finally, they were asked to create an artwork of their choice using the human face or figure with proportion. How this was interpreted was up to them. I asked the class to look to other artists or styles they like, consider self-portraits or portraits of people they know, apply the project to issues they are passionate about, or just focus on materials and go from there. Students used paper maché, acrylic paint on canvas board, tempera paint on paper, watercolor, pencil, marker, collage, and glitter. Here are some of the finished pieces. They are varied, expressive and thought provoking.
For this project I introduced the students to Stefan G Bucher’s “Daily Monster” website. Bucher is a British artist and designer. He splatters a little ink on a sheet of paper, blows it across the page with an condensed air canister, and makes the ink design into a monster by drawing with markers. He has created hundreds of monsters! I highly recommend checking out his website. Bucher has hundreds of videos of the monsters being drawn, images, his monster book, an app, and even a class in monster making!
For this project, we watched a few short videos of monsters being created and the “First Hundred Monsters” video. The children dropped a little ink or liquid watercolor onto their paper. They used a straw to blow the ink. When dry, they turned their paper different directions and made their ink design into a monster. We talked about using different thicknesses of markers to vary the line and add details. Students also added details with colored pencils, rubber stamps, and stencils. This project forced us to use the right side of our brains and think creatively!
This lesson was an exploration in color and feeling. After looking at paintings by Paul Klee and a short discussion about color evoking emotions, the students were guided in making a list. They listed three emotions, next to each emotion they wrote the name of a color and type of line that reflects that emotion. For example, happy = yellow = wavy line. The children chose one of their emotions and drew lines that went with it.
For the painting portion of the project, the students painted the shapes formed by their lines. The rule was, every color they painted needed to have their chosen color mixed into it. So, like in the example given above, they would need to mix yellow with everything before painting. The result is a fantastic exploration of color filled with surprises and new learning.
We looked at some of Paul Klee’s drawings. His delicate, bold, and always expressive and playful lines offer inspiration. The students turned their painting different directions to see what it reminded them of. Once they had an idea, they painted their design/picture/shapes on top using black line.
The result is a collection of unique, colorful, expressive works of art.
This was a drawing project focusing on pattern and design. I showed the students images of various Zentangles and gave them a practice packet. They experimented with patterns based on the Elements of Art and Principles of Design. In a Zentangle, the artist draws an outline shape, then fills the shape with “strings” (lines that divide the shape into parts), then fills each section with a “tangle” or pattern. Patterns may include, line, shape, color, value, or more. The “Zen” in Zentangle comes from quiet meditative experience of drawing repetitive patterns. The work on this post is in various stages of being finished and includes different interpretations of the assignment. Most students worked with pencil, colored pencil, Sharpie, or a combination of all three.
I love collagraph prints. Collagraphs are made by gluing objects to a board (such as cardboard). In this project, the students worked with yarn. It was cut and glued to a sheet of cardboard. Some created recognizable scenes, others worked non-representationally. When dry, the children chose an ink color. I demonstrated how to ink a plexiglass plate using a brayer, and apply the ink to the printing plate. Every student made four prints. We discussed how some prints will come out better than others, a natural part of the printing process. When the prints were dry, some students reworked them with markers and colored pencils.
Friday, April 28th was the 5th Annual Synergeyes Art Show! Here are a few pictures I took right before the show opened and as the event was happening. The school was packed with art! We had a great turnout. Folks snacked in the big room, took a tour of the “galleries”, made collages in the art room, and listened to a special performance of “Soul Rat” our middle school neo soul band. It was a fun and special night for everyone. Thank you so much for attending, and a huge thank you to the Art Committee for their hard work.
This year’s clay project was making chia pets! The students looked at many examples of chia pets, from the traditional to child made. They started by making a pinch pot with clay and closing the top lip enough to allow for a small opening. Parts were added and attached using a scoring technique. Finally, ridges were drawn in the areas where the seeds would go. After firing, the “pet” was glazed everywhere expect the bottom and where the seeds would sprout. After the glaze fire, soaked chia seeds were applied to the ridges. The chia pets were filled with water, spritzed, and placed in a tray of shallow water so the clay would soak up the moisture. I am thrilled they are sprouting! They are only about a week old in these pictures and will hopefully continue to sprout and look like bushy chia pets.
For this year’s big ceramic project, the Eastenders and Skylights made pinch pot monsters! I reviewed how to make a pinch pot and how to score clay to attach pieces. We brainstormed all the things a monster might have and how to add texture to their piece. They could make any kind of monster they wanted so there is a great variety of creatures. After firing the monsters were coated them with 2-3 layers of glaze and fired again. They are on display in the display case next to the art room.
This project was started on a studio day. I demonstrated how one might make their own tempera paint color swatch, similar to the ones picked up at the hardware store when buying house paint. The challenge was to create at least 100 colors. I demonstrated how to put colors on a palette and mix. The new color was painted on a card. I then slowly added white in increments and painted the color getting lighter. When I finished I named my color. Many students were drawn to this center and they created a total of 56 colors over two class periods. I love the colors, but I think I love the names even more. Very poetic and mysterious!
For this project the students were given the task of combining an animal with a pinch pot in clay. I started by showing them lots of examples of student and professional made ceramic pinch pot animals. They sketched their ideas on a sheet of scrap paper. I demonstrated how to make a pinch pot and how to add pieces using scoring so they don’t fall off. As the children worked, some chose to use reference tools to see what their animal looked like, while others worked from memory. After drying for a couple weeks and firing in the kiln, the students applied 3 layers of glaze and the work was fired a final time.
This is one of my favorite drawing projects because it is so successful. I talked to the children about how our shoes say something about who we are. Our shoes reflect our style, how we walk, what we like to do, and where we have been. The students start by tracing their shoe on it’s side. The key to getting this right is to keep the pencil in a straight position. They draw the sole and larger shapes working their way to the smallest details. Pencil is used to shade in the darker areas. The focus is on observation, only drawing what one sees, not what they think should be there. It usually takes two class periods to complete.
This was a fun lesson in symmetry for kindergarten. We started by talking about symmetry is. The students learned that if the picture or object is the same on both sides (like a face or animal) it is symmetrical. They folded a large paper in half drew a big letter “B” on the folded edge. The fold was then reversed so the “B” was on the inside of the fold. Using pastel colors plus black, the children painted part of their butterfly one side of the paper, folded it in half and rubbed, then opened to see the paint printed on the opposite wing. This process continued until the butterfly was complete. When dry, the wings were folded in half and cut out. A face and designs were drawn on a black piece of contraction paper for a body and glued to the center. A pipe cleaner was folded and curled to make antenna that were taped on the back.
This was a very open ended project. The only requirement was to create an animal (real, extinct, imagined). I demonstrated how to divide the clay into sections, how to create texture, and how to join pieces using scoring. Nobody was short on ideas! The children rolled, pinched, squished and formed their clay into their animal. After drying and being fired, the students glazed their animal with three layers of glaze. The variety of critters is exciting and some of the snakes are so real, they freak me out a little.
For this project, the children looked at the pop art sculptures of food by Claus Oldenberg. He creates larger than life-size apples, sandwiches, and other objects out of vinyl, canvas, and various materials. SFMOMA has a large apple core, I believe it is on the 6th floor. Over a two week period the students worked to sculpt their clay to look like a food of their choice. After firing the pieces were glazed, then fired again. The resulting work is very playful! Are you getting hungry?
The Sun Room has been working to create global villages and monuments. I was happy to help facilitate the creation of the inhabitants! Jesse baked the dough cookies and brought them up to the art room. The first day, children painted them with tempera. Some used the colors from the bottles, others mixed their own. They were careful to make sure the color on the face matched the hands. On another day the faces were drawn with colored pencil and hair was was created with yarn. The dolls were taken downstairs right away and added to their dwellings. I love how cute they are!
We started out this project with sketching. In their sketchbooks the students practiced drawing two vanishing points and a horizon line. They drew a few cubes and rectangular prisms at, above, or below the horizon. Some of the students also practiced on two point perspective worksheets. On another day I introduced the name project. All the students stared out similarly then adjusted the lesson to their own taste and name. Some chose to draw their initials, others their full first name and/or nickname. The highest point in the name might be in the middle, or off to the left or right. Letters were drawn as blocks and angles were drawn with straight edges. Everything was outlined in permanent marker and colored with colored pencils.