For the beginning of the year "line" project, third grade students made landscapes filled in with lines instead of solid blocks of color. We looked at some of Vincent van Gogh's landscape paintings and saw how he let his brush strokes show which creates lines and texture. We talked about what a landscape is and what could go in one (I said that a small house or barn would be ok, but land should still be the focus). I saved a calendar from last year that had cool, very colorful, landscape photos from around the world and used those photos to talk about overlapping planes to show space in artwork. I showed the students how they can start by making a few "swoopy" lines as I like to call them, to indicate hills and create space. I had the students lay out their landscapes pressing very lightly with pencil so the pencil marks could be erased later. Ok, I asked them to press lightly but I suppose that means something different to everyone. :)
In the second class period, or end of the first if they were speedy, the students started using markers to fill in the space with lines. We talked about putting the lines close together but leaving a gap. I finally started referencing mosaics for an example: the lines are like the tiles and the gaps are like the grout. It really helps the students if you can convince them to work in one area at a time, putting lines close together, instead of jumping around. If they jump around with their lines, they usually left big gaps and had to go back to fill in with more lines which takes longer even though it seems faster to them at first. We also spent some time talking about the length, thickness, and direction of the lines.
Length- we came up with the guideline of not making lines longer than the end of your pinky (whatever the name of that phalange would be).
Thickness- made sure the students knew that the angle at which they hold the markers affects the thickness of the line produced.
Direction- we talked about paying attention to the shape and which direction the lines are put down, like using curved lines to make something like hay bales look round.
Some students finished in two class periods but almost all needed the third 40-minute class period to finish. If students finished early, they wrote an artist statement! I thought about doing artist statements with the students last year but I guess never got around to it. I thought of it again when Artsonia started publishing the statements this year so now it's the first thing the students (besides Kinders) do when they are finished with artwork. I have the students write their statements in pencil on the back of their artwork and I type them up after I photograph the work so I can enter them on Artsonia. It's more work, but I figure it's important to get students to think about their artwork, practice writing skills, and let their parents and teachers see what they are learning in Art class instead of just what they are making.
I can't find my picture of the artwork that went with this statement, it just cracked me up! Some of the students use the artist statements as a chance to do some creative writing...
"It is only 5:00 in the morning. All is silent. None of the people dare to breathe. Then BOOM! They are now awake. BOOM!"
"I used different colors and lines to draw a tree, a field, and a fence."