Saturday, April 3, 2021

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 received many awards for his sculptures.  

Sculptures by Martin Puryear have abstract shapes and forms. He often visited museums when he was growing up in Washington D.C.  He found a love of art, organic materials, and nature. His father was a mail man, who loved building things from wood as a hobby.  

began experimenting with wood as a teenager. He studied painting and printmaking in college and art school, but when he returned to the United States after living abroad for four years, he turned his attention to sculpture. 

He learned craft traditions of many cultures when he lived in West Africa as a Peace Corps volunteer and then in Sweden as a student.  Wood carving, boat building, basket weaving, and furniture making are just a few of the crafts he loves.  

Although he made a lot of art that looks similar to traditional baskets, he found ways to make them look enough like other things we know.  This makes them very mysterious and interesting.  Many of them look like shelters, traps or cages.   Look at these images and think about these questions:  

What is a shelter, and why would someone build one?

What is a trap, and why would someone build one?

What is a cage, and why would someone build one?

Can you think of reasons why Martin Puryear would want us to think about these structures when we see his work?  What do you think inspired him?

Check out this video to hear about one of his most famous public sculptures:  

Martin Puryear, Art 21

In this project, you will use strips of cardboard, sticks, wood or any other material you have at home to create a sculpture that resembles a basket, shelter, trap or cage.  Think of Martin Puryear's sculptures as inspiration, but experiment to make your project interesting to you.  Watch this video to see the steps demonstrated by Ms. Ammons!  

To turn in work, copy this code:  WCCP-WSTF

Friday, March 19, 2021

Jean Michel Basquiat: Radiant Child

Jean-Michel Basquiat was a famous American artist of Puerto Rican and Haitian heritage.

He was born in 1960 and died in 1988. Famous pop artist Andy Warhol and famous street artist Keith Haring were some of his friends and supporters of his art. Basquiat started his career as a street poet and graffiti writer under the tag ‘SAMO’ with his friend Al Diaz. Basquiat’s work often referenced the different sides of human experience, values of people and groups, and what it means to be human.
Warhol and Basquiat

Basquiat’s work often included text (words) in his work that spoke of his inner experience and outer experience. This text often reflected dichotomies in thinking and values. (Dichotomy: things that are at opposite ends of a scale or seem vastly different) Eg. Home and Work, Health and Sickness, Rich and Poor, Light and Dark, Happy and Sad, Peanut Butter and Vegemite.

  • Think of and recognise things in your life that are opposites? Things that cause different emotions and feelings?
  • Make a list of things that you agree with and disagree with or things that make you happy or sad?
  • Think of a situation that was challenging. Eg. Being stuck at home during Covid19 restrictions. What words describe both the positive and negatives aspects of this situation?

Pick some of the words you came up with to write on your self-portrait. Basquiat often wrote words on his work that he scribbled out or changed - Why do you think he did this?

Basquiat used to sign his thoughts by writing SAMO - Do you have a nickname or a name you like? Sign your work with this.

 To hear about Basquiat's life, and to see a video version of the lesson, watch here:  

Video Lesson Link

Use dice OR you can write numbers 1-6 on small papers and choose them from a bowl...  Then roll or choose a paper 4 times to guide your drawing!  

To turn in work, copy this code:  WCCP-WSTF

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Chicago Style Pop-Art: Hot Dogs and Pizzas!

 What is POP ART?

Watch this video:

Pop Art usually includes.....

Popular Trends    Cultural Imagery     

Commonplace Objects     Everyday Life

Famous pop artists have been inspired by hot dogs!

Why would pop artists be inspired by hot dogs?

  • Hot Dogs:  Colorful, Fun, Delicious, Popular
  • We eat hot dogs at events that are memorable:  Picnics, Ball Games, Festivals.
  • Chicago is known for having its own style of hot dogs.  


Our Project:  

We will be making a collage showing all the elements of a Chicago Hot Dog!  Your challenge is to use ONLY paper, scissors and glue... NO DRAWING. 

I was inspired by this fun poster on Alyson Thomas's Etsy page called Drywell Art!

Watch this video to follow along with Ms. Ammons.

Finished?  Try to adapt this project to use deep dish pizza as your subject!  
Print by Alina Petrichyn, found on

To turn in work, copy this code:  WCCP-WSTF

All About Peru


This week, we will learn about PERU!  Peru is an amazing country.  It is in South America.  There are high, rocky mountains, but there are also areas of Peru that are part of the Amazon Rainforest.  

In the mountains, there are ancient Incan ruins including Machu Picchu.  You would see people wearing colorful woven cloth to keep them warm, and llamas make themselves at home.  

The rainforest is different.  It is warm and humid, and it is full of thousands of types of unique plants and animals.  

In this week's class, we will begin by looking at art of the ancient Incans, and we will learn about Machu Picchu.  We will make some fun Incan art and a llama picture!

After that, we will learn about some of the fun animals of the rainforest and create some colorful jungle art.  

Let's start with some "Are We There Yet?" videos about Machu Picchu and some Ancient Incan stories!

Nat Geo Kids Video about Machu Picchu

Now follow along with Ms. Ammons to make an Incan pattern and an Incan sun!

Next, let's have some fun making a picture of a llama in the mountains!  

Now follow along with Ms. Ammons to make your project!

For our last project about Peru, we will learn about some rainforest animals and draw a rainforest!

Take a virtual tour of The Amazon Rainforest    

Then draw your own rainforest!
Here are some animals you might want to include:

To turn in work, copy this code:  WCCP-WSTF

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Constructing a Hero with Hebru Brantley

Today, in a world of COVID-19, society has highlighted heroes who are working on the front lines of this pandemic. Whether they are working 20 hour shifts at a hospital or picking up groceries for an elderly neighbor, their dedication and selflessness has redefined what it means to be a hero. They are helping the sick, keeping us safe, and comforting those who have lost loved ones during these uncertain times. 

In this week's project, you will consider these questions:

What does a hero look like to you? 

How can you be a hero? 

How have you been helping others?

One Chicago artist challenges the traditional view of a hero.  Hebru Brantley grew up in Chicago.  He enjoyed coloring books, watching cartoons, and reading comics. Inspired by his heroes like Captain America or the Tuskegee Airmen, Brantley created his own cast of heroic characters.  They appear in his paintings on buildings, walls and canvases!  

His two main characters are named Fly Boy and Lil Mama. 

They are children with a fluid ethnicity, they have real or imaginary powers, and  they wear goggles and aviator hats. While they look like children, Brantley wants the characters to be taken seriously. By creating heroes, he reminds audiences there are individuals out there who are protecting and watching over us. 

Much like Brantley’s work, we can find heroes in all walks of life. However, today, COVID-19 has redefined what a hero is and brought new ones to the forefront. Let’s take a look at what a hero is...

Follow along with Ms. Ammons to create your own hero inspired by Hebru Brantley!

Part 1:  Make a brick background!

Part 2:  Create your hero mural!

Don't want to create your own unique hero?  Here is a simple step-by-step to drawing a basic hero.  You can also do a little research for inspirational images like I did, or you can use your best ANIME skills!  Watch the video below to work with Ms. Ammons.

To turn in work, copy this code:  WCCP-WSTF

Saturday, March 6, 2021

Legends of the Loop: Picasso vs. Calder

In Downtown Chicago, we have artwork by world-famous artists that we can see any time!  These outdoor, public sculptures are landmarks in our city.  People see them and think of Chicago!  Begin by watching these 2 videos.  The first one is about the Chicago Picasso.  The second one is about Alexander Calder's Flamingo sculpture.   

What IS that thing?      Is it a Flamingo?

Let's use our imaginations this week.  Imagine these two sculptures as characters that come to life.  What would they say?  How would they move?  We will begin by drawing each sculpture as if it came to life for a day.  Make a cartoon with at least 8 frames that illustrates your story.  Follow along here for an example!

NEXT, let's try building paper versions of each sculpture.  Use these links for help.  When you are finished, photograph them carefully in front of a plain background.  

FINALLY, invent your OWN sculpture.  Create a paper version of your sculpture.  Upload a photo to Artsonia, and in your artist's statement, describe how you would build it and where it would be on display.  

Fun fact:  Works by Calder and Picasso have been exhibited together in museums because they are both so famous for their abstract sculptures! Check out this ad for a show in Paris... 

To turn in work, copy this code:  WCCP-WSTF

Horace Pippin

Horace Pippin painted the memories that stuck with him. Some were terrifyingly painful. Others were peaceful. Pippin had no formal art training and created his first oil painting at age forty-two. Only eight years later, four of his paintings were exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City. His artwork expressed his concerns about social and political issues and documented the lives of black Americans during and between the two World Wars.

Horace Pippin was the grandson of enslaved African Americans, and he was born 23 years after the Civil War. Slaves had been freed, but the country was still divided. “Jim Crow” laws mandated racial segregation in public places. Pippin went to segregated schools, but left school in seventh grade to take care of his dying mother and then took an array of jobs to help support his family.

When America entered World War I (1914 – 1918) in 1917, Horace Pippin was 29 and signed up to serve in the military.  Even the military was segregated!  He was part of an African American regiment called the "Harlem Hellfighters".  They could only do jobs like unloading ships, building roads or digging graves for soldiers.  He worked hard in the military until he was shot by a sniper.  

After the war, it was hard for Pippin to work.  He was injured, and many jobs available for black men were jobs that required physical labor.  He did not let this stop him, and he began using art as a way to feel better... both physically and mentally.  Drawing his memories from the war helped him adjust to being a civilian, and working to control his paintbrush helped his muscles in his arm.  

Pippin’s story – an untrained artist and decorated war veteran turns to art as therapy – is remarkable, but that’s not only the reason why his body of work became well known. It was because of his artistic ability. He became well-known in the art world and had exhibits in art museums around the country!

Watch this video to learn what we will do this week!

Hear the story.

Draw the character.

Add details and color.

To turn in work, copy this code:  WCCP-WSTF

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Surrealist Self Portrait

This week, we will continue our lessons on identity in art by exploring images in our dreams.  We will: 

  • Analyze the history and meaning of surrealism and utilize these characteristics in a self-portrait.
  • Investigate past and present surrealist artists for inspiration.
  • Develop a surrealism-inspired self-portrait using mixed media and fantasy images.
  • Learn the importance of balancing freedom and responsibility in the use of images and materials.
Start by watching this video that asks:  What is Surrealism?

Next, watch this video to brainstorm and make art with Ms. Ammons.  You will be asked to analyze some images from a dream or dreams you have had, and you will:

  1. Prepare your surface. (Canvas Panels, Canvas, Cardboard)
  2. Layer design elements. (Get creative with your supplies!)
  3. Create a self portrait. (Draw your face from different angles or draw parts of your face.)
  4. Assemble the layers and portrait(s). (Arrange your designs and drawings)
  5. Add final elements. (Found objects or decorative elements.)
Get creative!  If you have lots of art supplies at home, think of ways to use your favorites.  If not, just use what you have.  Make it FUN.  Don't just do the minimum.

Project Goals: (4=A, 3=B, 2=C, 1=D)
  • Self portrait sketches show proportions of the face and shading
  • Images from the dream give some clues about the dream.
  • There are at least three 4 layers of collage, paint, or found objects.
  • The color scheme and mark-making create a mood that matches the mood of the dream.

To turn in work, copy this code:  WCCP-WSTF

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Layering Stories With Aaron Douglas

This portrait of Aaron Douglas, by Betsy Graves Reyneau, hangs in our National Portrait Gallery!

Begin this week by reviewing what the HARLEM RENAISSANCE was.  
Listen to a story HERE.
Watch HERE.

Aaron Douglas was an African American painter and graphic artist who played a leading role in the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s and 1930s.  Arriving in 1925, Douglas quickly got involved in Harlem's cultural life. He made illustrations for magazines. Douglas created powerful images of African American life and struggles and won awards for the work he created for these magazines, and was then asked to illustrate some books. 

In 1926, Douglas married teacher Alta Sawyer, and the couple's Harlem home became a meeting place for many famous writers like Langston Hughes and W.E.B. Du Bois, among other powerful African Americans of the early 1900s. 

Douglas had a unique artistic style that combined his interests in modern art and African art. He incorporated parts of Art Deco along with elements of Egyptian wall paintings in his work. Look at these images of Douglas's work, and see if you notice some common images.

Click HERE for an Aaron Douglas Video

In class, we will talk about 
found in his work.  We will also talk about the layers in the painting.  Notice here that the front layers are dark, and the back layers are very light.  

Look for these things three "S"s in the paintings below, made by Prescott 5th Graders.  Also, try to guess what their paintings are about.  Aaron Douglas made art about his experiences as an African American and African American history, because he felt strongly about representing these stories in his art.  These artists chose to paint about things they feel strongly about...

Now, think about what you would like to choose as your theme, and watch this video by Ms. Ammons to make your own!

To turn in work, copy this code:  WCCP-WSTF

Tales from Totems

This week, we will learn about the Native Americans of the Northwest.  These natives live near the coast, and in the mountains.  A lot of their art shows ocean or forest animals.  What animals do you see here? What shapes and colors do you see?

Tribes like the Haida tribe make animal art that is made of simple shapes, patterns and colors.  The animals often represent people, and they are used as characters in stories.  

If you were an animal, what animal would you be?  Why?

Some artists carve totems.  These tall poles include animal designs stacked one over the other.  They can tell a story of an important event, they can show the members of a family, or they can represent a tribe.  Have you ever seen a totem pole in Chicago?  There is one on the Lakefront Trail!  

Let's learn about totem poles, read about totem poles and MAKE a totem pole!  

Learn about totem poles HERE.

Hear a story about totems HERE.

Hear a story of a raven HERE.

Now let's watch Ms. Ammons and make our own totem pole!

Totems Made by Prescott First Graders

To turn in work, copy this code:  WCCP-WSTF

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...