Friday, February 21, 2014

Jacob Lawrence's Dynamic Cubism

Story Painter, By Jacob Lawrence

Giana, Grade 3

Aria, Grade 3

Christina, Grade 3

Isaac, Grade 3

Ivana, Grade 3

Kevin, Grade 3

Kiarie, Grade 3

Michaela, Grade 3

Wendy, Grade 3
What better time is there to study Jacob Lawrence than Black History Month?  I thought it was fitting to see his work, referred to by him as "dynamic cubism", right after we completed our unit on Picasso and cubism.  The students noticed right away that, like Picasso, Lawrence's work looks like collage, even though it is painted.  They decided that three common features of his work were the use of primary colors, the use of black paint for the skin and hair, and repeated figures in motion.  Using these three features in their own work, the second and third graders have been completing some tempera paint compositions inspired by Mr. Lawrence's work.  We have had daily read-alouds from Story Painter, The Life of Jacob Lawrence, by John Duggleby.  This book has introduced the students to The Great Migration and The Harlem Renaissance.  They loved that Jacob got his start at the YMCA and in after-school programs, using tempera paint and crayons.  They tried to mimic his procedure of working with one color at a time, like in a color-by-number. 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Adobe Architects at Work

Elizabeth S.'s Design

Busy Hands Smoothing a Group Project

Nate U. is proud of his work.

Daisy, Grade 1

Christian Painting

Dylan's Design

Alana C's Design

Leslie's Design
Our first graders are looking at the adobe architecture that is common in the Native American tribes of the southwest.  They completed their storyteller dolls, and are now constructing their own adobe village out of clay.  The village will be a group project, so they are making individual paintings they can take home.  I may steal some of them to display since they are coming out well. 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Thiebaud-Inspired Dessert Drawings

Cakes, by Wayne Thiebaud
The students in grades 4-6 are studying work by Wayne Thiebaud.  They have been working on the use of value in artwork to improve realism, and we began by drawing and shading cylinders, spheres, cones and triangular solids.  These geometric forms can be found in the desserts that Thiebaud uses as subjects in his work.  The students began with a shape, turned it into a form using shading, and then used oil pastels to fill in color.  They had to try several times in some cases, but eventually they are all finding how to get light, medium and dark values in their work.  They added bright colors to the shadows in their drawings, and kept the other colors muted.  The backgrounds were kept muted to make the desserts stand out, and they tried to keep one fixed light source.  My goal is for all the students to finish at least one drawing that meets the class goals.  So far, there are some great examples!
Analiz, Grade 4

Alex, Grade 4

Amir, Grade 5

Mason's Cake

Adrian, Grade 4

Lawrence, Grade 6

Shamar, Grade 6

Monica, Grade 4

Quin, Grade 4

Olivia, Grade 4

Lily, Grade 4

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Storyteller Dolls

The first grade students are making the most of their extended time in the art room.  They have jumped right in, using clay and making connections with an upcoming Social Studies lesson on Native Americans.

Sample of a Traditional Storyteller Doll
Traditionally, storytellers held a place of great importance in Native American Pueblo communities. The older members of the tribe would help preserve the culture and heritage of the tribes by telling traditional folktales and historical stories to the younger generations.  Pueblo people also have a great tradition of clay sculpture. They were especially good at creating small figures of people or animals. The Pueblos combined their skill at sculpture with their love of storytelling and began a tradition of creating "storyteller dolls." A storyteller doll was usually a small clay sculpture of a man or a woman. The figure always was depicted with its mouth open to indicate that it was entertaining listeners with songs or stories that conveyed the culture of the people. The storyteller was always accompanied by several “listener figures.” Usually, these listeners were children that were being taught by the elder storyteller.

Our students have been making basic shapes like spheres and cylinders, and have learned how to "scratch and attach" the pieces and smooth them out.  Three students finished the sculpting in only 2 days!  They will finish up next week, and they will paint their projects.  It is great to see them so active, working with such a hands-on medium.

To help adjust to a longer class period and a tough winter, I set up a movement station in the back of the room, and students take breaks in pairs to do some fun exercises on my rug.  They can choose three popsicle sticks that are labeled with an exercise and a number.  They might find jumping jacks, mountain climbers, sit-ups, imaginary jump rope, running in place or doing their favorite dance move.  The number is for them to count so they know how long their turn can be.  They are not limited with the number of breaks they can take.  So far, they are moving around a lot, and they are getting to use paint and clay!  It is fun to be helping a student and to look back and see kids choosing an activity independently on the rug.  In addition to the movement station, the students are working while standing a lot of the time, and I am allowing water and bathroom breaks that I previously discouraged. 
Ermuun, Robert and Alana C's figures

Ruby's Work in Progress

Izzie took 4 movement breaks this week, but also got a lot done on her work.

Elizabeth will just add little 'listeners" next week and will be finished!

Ruby and Mallory working

Robert discovered a new talent... sculpting!

Amari and Shamaya worked together well.

Izzie and Jack at the movement station, doing jumping jacks

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...