Saturday, October 26, 2013

Primary Printmaking

One of Posada's Most Famous Prints, La Catrina






One of my goals this year was to bring printmaking into our classroom studio.  After having the supplies donated through Donors Choose, the fourth graders were the first to try out this new medium.  They looked at prints by Mexican cartoonist and illustrator Jose Guadalupe Posada.  His calavera prints have become an inspiration to many Mexican-American artists, and his work is highlighted each year around Dia de los Muertos, a Mexican holiday celebrated in early November.  In these photos, you can see our fourth graders trying out the brayers and ink on their scratch-foam plates.  These plates are a safer alternative to traditional linoleum or wood blocks or etching plates.  The students can use the same steps in the print process without using sharp engraving or carving tools.  They got really excited for this activity, and I am enjoying the introduction to a new medium in my classroom.

Fall Colors and Contour Lines

Charlie, Grade 1

Ruth, Grade 1

Jack, Grade 1

Jesus, Grade 1

Maureen, Grade 1
I do this project every year now.  I love to see first graders learn to think more critically about their drawing.  We start by experimenting with a watercolor wash, wet on wet, with warm colors.  The next day, we talk about trees.  We imitate how trees grow by making our arms move up and out like branches.  Thinking about direction of growth, and comparing the trees and branches to our bodies, arms and fingers help the students visualize the tree as they draw it.  It's amazing to see their trees become realistic works of art rather than the typical first grade tree.  Way to go first grade artists!

Circle Squirrels

Felipe, Grade 1
Yoli, Grade 1

Weronika, Grade 1

Lauren, Grade 1

Cooper, Grade 1

Maureen, Grade 1


Charlie, Grade 1
The first graders made some cute fall pictures this week.  They practiced drawing squirrels using the letter "S" as the tail and making the body from various circles.  They then practiced making brown and grey by mixing the primary colors and white.  After painting papers with these neutral colors, I cut various circles from the paper.  They created a tree branch by tracing their arm and cutting it out, and then they built a squirrel with the circles.  I gave them fabric, papers, and some fabric leaves to decorate their work.  They each have their own personality.  I love them.  I also love that the kids learned color theory, practiced motor skills, found shapes in an image to help with drawing, and had a lot of fun!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Fall Observational Drawings

Arely, Grade 8

Geno, Grade 7


Isabella, Grade 7

Zarina, Grade 8

Jimmy, Grade 7

Jackie, Grade 8

Sara, Grade 7
The middle school students have been learning about observational drawing this month.  They have focused on value, contour lines, and on negative space.  These activities are challenging and require students to see things in a different way.  Training ourselves to see things as basic elements of art takes lots of practice, but once we can begin to see lines, shapes, lights, and darks rather than leaves and pumpkins, we can suddenly draw with much more accuracy.  These are a few strong examples.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Secondary Colors and Still Life Study


Martha, Grade 1

Mallory, Grade 1

Joey, Grade 1

Madi, Grade 1

Alana C.  Grade 1
The first graders have been mixing primary colors to make secondary colors.  They used these colors, orange, purple and green, to create still life paintings of pumpkins.  They were able to practice drawing, painting, cutting and gluing in this week-long project.  I love how different they all look, and I noticed some students even added shading and details after finishing. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Many Different Sides of Our Personalities

Completed Middle School Cube Portraits

Collage Work

Cube Templates and Busy Hands

Sample Cubes from Grade 5
The students in grades 5-8 began the year with a project that helped us get to know one another.  When we meet people for the first time, it is easy to label them with stereotypes.  This self-portrait project allowed students to explore the many different sides of their personalities that help to form their unique selves.  They were asked to think of 6 characteristics or adjectives that describe them.  These traits ranged from athletic to shy, from nerdy to girly and even included some hidden talents none of us knew.  The students then illustrated these in 6 squares of a cube template that they cut and constructed by folding and gluing.  I feel like it helped me get to know the students better, and it is always fun to think of how complex we all are.  Simple stereotypes begin to seem boring...

An Eye on the Sky

Georgia O'Keeffe's painting, Sky Above Clouds

Inspirational Books

Cirrus Clouds

Cumulus Clouds

Nimbus Clouds

Stratus Clouds


Experimenting with the supplies

Shaping clouds with "wind"

The students in Mrs. Bigby's 2nd grade class are learning about how artists depict the weather.  They learned about types of clouds from Tommie DePaola's book The Cloud Book.  They then used various art-making tools to try and make 4 types of clouds:  Cumulus, Nimbus, Stratus and Cirrus.  They referenced famous artists who have used clouds in their own work including Roy Lichtenstein, Georgia O'Keeffe, Vincent Van Gogh and J.M.W. Turner.  They used straws to create wind to shape some of the clouds, and they tried both dry and wet watercolor techniques and wax resist.  Science and history are part of art, and they are getting to learn all three in this fun lesson!

American Sculpture: Martin Puryear

Martin Puryear is a 79 year old sculptor who lives in New York.  He has traveled the world to study art and craft traditions, and he has rec...