Wednesday, December 17, 2014

CHW India: Animals

Indian animals were one of the starting points for my 4th-6th graders' Cultural Heritage Week projects this year. India has some really beautiful, interesting animals. On my "choose your own adventure" bulletin board, one section had a list of Indian animals and some facts, like that the Bengal Tiger is the country's national animal and the Peacock is the national bird. I found a color photo of each of the animals I listed to display on the bulletin board and printed off reference photos showing most animals from multiple angles. How the students chose to use the animals in their artwork (or whether they went an entirely different direction) was up to them.
 Many students chose to create realistic drawings.

I wish you could see this 4th grader's drawing in person. I had to adjust the photograph because the colored pencil on black paper is subtle, but it is really cool.
Some students used my mehndi cheat sheet and worked the patterning into their composition.
You should enlarge this photo and read the artist statement. She was so thoughtful with her choices!

 Some students used the same idea in printmaking.
Two students asked if they could make handprint peacocks. I told them if they made it not look like a handprint turkey, they were welcome to try. They turned out kind of fun. :)

Sunday, December 14, 2014

CHW India: Mehndi

India was our focus for Cultural Heritage Week this year. My 4th-6th grade students chose a starting point from the "Art is Culture" bulletin board and were free to branch out from there with their own ideas. One of the most popular starting points was mehndi. Mehndi (henna) is applied on the hands and feet of Indian brides and can also be used for other special occasions. There's a nice article about Mehndi in Indian Marriages here
We talked about how the ink is made from leaves, how the designs are applied, that the designs are temporary so not really "tattoos", and what elements are used to create the designs (lots of lines, organic shapes and images, repetition, etc.) I created a "cheat sheet" with different kinds of shapes and lines I've observed in looking at many, many, images of mehndi and some tips for getting started. The cheat sheets were really helpful for the students. I will try to scan the cheat sheet and share it later.
Most students interested in mehndi chose to start by tracing their hand and wrist, then planning out their designs with pencil. When I watched the application of mehndi, there was obviously no erasing. The students were more comfortable with the safety net of a pencil. After the designs were planned, most traced with sharpie. Many students used construction paper from the Pacon Multicultural Construction Paper pack. It was nice to have 10 different skin tones so students could choose one that matched their own if they wanted. Some students used white paper instead with the intention of adding color.
Some designs were left clean and simple, either with a blank background or cutting out the arm and gluing to a new piece of construction paper.
Some students combined the idea of mehndi with what they learned about block printing in India. Craft foam and cardboard were used to create stamps. Metallic gold paint was the most popular choice for stamping.
Metallic anything is usually popular at my schools. The student below used metallic colored pencils to create a border of different patterns. 
Many students also used bleeding art tissue on top of their mehndi designs. You can see more tissue examples here!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Donors Choose Books!

A couple months ago I was encouraged by Erica from Art Project Girl to try out Donors Choose. I wrote a project proposal for a book display and 28 awesome art books and the project was funded! It was a pretty easy process and I didn't even know all of the donors. I did know some. They're pretty awesome.
We've been thrilled with the new reading center in the art room. Check out the photos from the thank you package here

Art and Max

All the books except Art and Max were ordered from Amazon. I linked to the books for your convenience.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Art Tissue + India

Over the summer I saw a Facebook post from Pacon looking for bloggers to test out some products. I answered and was delighted to receive Spectra® Bleeding Art Tissue, Art1st® Multi-Media Paper, and a Classroom Keepers® Activity Tray. I found the paper they sent to be pretty sturdy and it held up well to the water used with the bleeding tissue paper. When we ran out of the multi-media paper and had to switch to the sulphite drawing paper in the cabinet, it tended to curl up a lot more with the tissue process. While I put the Activity Tray together super easily, I keep changing my mind about what to use it for so in the words of Forest Gump, "That's all I have to say about that" (for now).
Spectra® Bleeding Art Tissue creates really cool color effects.
Starting points for India projects
Each grade learned about India and created an art project inspired by the culture in the first 9 weeks. I had used the Spectra® Bleeding Art Tissue to test out an idea for 4th-6th grade, drawing an elephant with crayon and applying the art tissue over the top, creating a resist. Most of the students who chose to try a similar idea wanted to be much more detailed with their patterns, so they planned in pencil, and traced with sharpie instead. Elephants were a popular choice, but not the only option for students. I had several starting points and students could branch out and connect ideas to come up with their own direction. As long as they could explain how their art related to something they learned about India, it was good with me! 
I did not assign the students to learn about a particular element or principle, but check out how this student took the idea of a peacock, the national bird of India, and created patterns!
This 6th grade student told me she "messed up" because the shapes from the tissue on the right were not as clear as on the left. I thought it was beautiful and do not think she messed up at all!

"Painting" with the tissue over a drawing of an Indian animal was by far the most popular choice. I had the students use a brush to apply water to their paper, set the tissue on one piece at a time, and use the brush to press it onto the paper.

Sometimes the color seeps in irregularly but I like the effect.
The tissue can be applied in a patchwork kind of design with squares and mixed up colors, or it can be applied strategically, matching colors to the field you are coloring in, such as blue tissue on water. Since most students wanted mixed up colors, I took a stack of assorted art tissue to the paper cutter, chopped it into 1.5 inch strips, then chopped the strips the other direction to create a bunch of mostly equally sized squares. Most students removed the tissue when dry as the color seeped into the paper, but you can also use watered down glue or mod podge to keep the tissue on the paper, adding texture and intensifying the color. 
Many students also used the tissue over a drawing of their hand with mehndi designs or as a background. 

The students and I especially loved the Spectra® Bleeding Art Tissue and I already ordered some more so the primary kids can try it out. I know they'll enjoy it just as much. I haven't checked other places, but it's pretty affordable from Sax, which is where I order all of my school supplies.