Sunday, November 17, 2019

8th grade Hand Observations

Teaching 8th graders to draw their hands from observation is one of my favorite growth measures. There are a lot of connections to art history like Leonardo's studies and the Creation of Adam on the Sistine Chapel ceiling, plus we know that learning to observe and really look at something is a skill that carries over into other non-art areas. Hands are something that most kids assume they "can't" draw and avoid, so teaching them that with practice they CAN learn these drawing skills help them to see that you can grow and improve in art- it's not just something you're born with or not.

I am always blown away from the growth we see in this unit. I start by asking the students to draw their hands from observation with no help as a pre-assessment. Next, we spend a couple of days doing "drawing on the right side of the brain" exercises like blind contour, continuous line, and non-dominant hand drawings to get the students to slow down and look carefully. Truthfully, those drawings stress some students out so I always emphasize that it's not about it how the drawing looks, it's about how YOU are looking.
After that, I draw my hand to demonstrate different techniques for measurement and comparison to get proportions correctly. I talk about what I'm looking at as I draw. The students spend a day or sometimes two working on a contour line drawing of one of their hands, however they would like to pose it, before I demonstrate rendering techniques. 
This year the students were especially into their drawings and wanted to really push the creativity so we updated the rubric for the growth measure to include creativity.
When the hand drawings are complete, we switch gears and observe our hands in three dimensions by sculpting them out of clay. The technique we use is 1:1, starting with a slab of clay about as thick as your hand, tracing, and then carving away to match what you observe.
Most students chose to stain their hands with red iron oxide but they were also free to use glaze or oil pastels and India Ink.
Here are the 2D and 3D hands in the display case!

Thursday, November 7, 2019

8th Grade Neon Paintings

 In late July I attended and presented at the TAB KC summer conference. A couple of the ideas shared were drawing with India ink in bingo daubers and making neon artwork and letting it glow under a black light. These idea were a huge hit with my 8th graders!

Disclaimer: I used Amazon Associates to link to a couple of the products we used for this lesson. If you happen to purchase the items through my link, I may earn a small commission but it does not charge you any extra.

I set out some large pieces of drawing paper and let students practice with the bingo daubers before they started on their own paper. This let them get the feel for it and approach their drawings with confidence. It doesn't work very well to have students draw it out in pencil first since the tip on the daubers is much thicker than a pencil. They have to learn to loosen up and embrace and "mistakes" that happen. The bold outline also gives it a pop art feel.
I ordered some neon supplies off of Amazon. Others were purchased from my local Walmart.
Did yo know that not all white paper will glow under a black light? If this is important to you, check your paper before students begin so they know how to plan. Some of the paper I had glowed but not all. I never figured out the difference since the paper had been removed from the packaging long before. Our white paint also did not glow.
When students thought they were done painting, they put their work under the black light as a test. I put a black lightbulb in a small lamp and placed it in the kiln room so it would get dark enough to see.

Since I couldn't figure out a way to get a black light in the hallway we settled for a printed photo of the picture glowing under a black light so viewers could see the intention.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

4th grade Calder Inspired Circus Sculptures

Each year my elementary school starts the year with a theme and this year the theme is circus! I like to use that theme as a starting point for each grade's first art classes of the year. This year my 4th graders looked at Alexander Calder's circus and then had choice of a whole bunch of materials to use for their own circus sculptures.
I pulled out a tub of pipe cleaners to serve as our wires. In my cabinet I also found buttons, feathers, sequins, beads, other "crafty" materials that were donated, and found objects. I put the tubs out on the table and the students were able to take what they needed buffet style. 
I cut pieces of cardboard down for bases and showed how to attach things by poking holes, making slots, using buttons, etc. Of course students invented their own methods and some things required glue.
Feathers make for very fluffy lions.
While some of the sculptures are more abstract than others, I saw a lot of problem solving and experimentation, which I think is more important than perfectly polished artworks.
Here is the display. There is even someone on a flying trapeze hanging from a support!

Thursday, October 24, 2019

1st grade Circus Drawings

My elementary school chooses a theme each year and this year's theme was circus! I like to kick off the school year having students create artwork with some choices within a theme and/or medium to ease into things so using the school's theme works perfectly. My 2nd graders looked at Marc Chagall's circus art and 1st graders looked at examples of Chagall's and others' artwork. If I ever need to find a variety of artworks based on a theme, I start with and just search for the keyword. That usually give me lots of options so I can show a bunch of different styles, time periods, cultures, etc.
After looking at the artwork, I asked the students to think about what kind of act they might like to do if they were in the circus. They thought of clowns, tightrope walkers, horse riders, and more.
The students sketched their ideas in pencil first then added color with marker. I'm usually not a big fan of markers and honesty considered just recycling my old markers because students tend to be sloppy with them, but then I received a box of Sargent Art supplies when one of my students got 1st place in the Kansas Sargent Art Contest last year. Included in the box was a class set of 12 count brush tip markers and I decided to let the students try them. You guys, they were SO CAREFUL with the "fancy" markers! I got out the broad tip markers we already had for big areas, but they did a great job using the finer brush tip markers for little details. 
Students starting to add color to their drawings

When the drawings were finished we put them up in the display case across from the 1st grade classrooms. I used butcher paper to make the display case look like a circus tent.