Friday, May 29, 2015

Art of Science Fiction: Ceramic Carbonite Boxes-4th Grade

Carbonite was such a hit with 5th grade, why not do it with 4th?  Of course, we couldn't do the same thing (that would be too easy), so we made carbonite boxes from clay that included a secret compartment!

Time was running a little short (field trips and whatnot), so each of my five 4th grade classes had two art classes to complete this task.  Okay, they technically had 3, as we spent the week before clay day watching the clip, discussing necessary features, and sketching out what our aliens-trapped-in-a-box would look like.  Day 1 of clay consisted of me demonstrating how to pound out the shape of their box and carve out the inside, me cutting and passing out between 24 and 30 chunks of clay per class, and me slicing the tops off each box with my clay wire so the kids could dig it out.  Not bad for 40 minutes, Oh, and we did have to have time for clean up, which included each student putting a piece of newspaper between the box and the lid so they wouldn't get stuck together, writing names on the bottom, and placing them all ever so carefully on a tray that gets covered in plastic.  Day 2: pass all work back a.s.a.p., demonstrate slip/score procedure to attach parts, add details with clay tools, and return to tray to dry.  About two weeks later, all work was fired and ready for painting, which was really easy-give everyone SILVER!

A view of the secret compartment...

and a few of his fallen comrades.

Art of Science Fiction: Tooled Carbonite Boxes-5th Grade

5th grade, by tradition, makes something from metal tooling every year.  Whatever that thing is depends on my theme for the year (hey, I get bored-might as well come up with something new!).  The answer of "What to do?" came to me pretty easily this year-carbonite!

What is carbonite, you say?  Any hard-core Star Wars fan can answer that question.  It's that box that contains a freshly frozen Han Solo/Harrison Ford, complete with a control panel and a screen to check vital life signs.  The kids watched the clip where Hans was frozen, and we had an interesting discussion about what they thought was used to make the real box (Guys, the sound crew did a great job.  The box was NOT made of concrete).  Our boxes were made from brass-coated tooling foil, but we used the back side since carbonite is silver colored.  After frozen 'innocent' creatures on paper (and remembering to use implied lines for the knees, palms, etc.,) we traced it onto the back side of the foil, removed the paper, and busted out our embossing tools.  After a little bit of rubbing with a thick pile of newspaper underneath, we had ourselves some low-relief aliens frozen in a box.  We tried the black acrylic method for aging the metal, but in some cases, it was resistant to rubbing off with steel wool.  The last few classes skipped that step to save time, anyway.  Either way, they caught the attention of everyone else!  So shiny...

Art of Science Fiction: Alien Landscapes-4th grade

Every spring, my 4th graders make some kind of landscape painting with watercolors.  This is so I can introduce them to the joys of using salt with watercolor to create visual texture in an image (my battle cry is "It's not a sand painting! No salt piles on your painting!"  We want to see what the salt leaves behind, not the salt itself.

In honor of the late, great Ralph McQuarrie (the original concept artist for Star Wars), we created our own alien worlds with a  watercolor background and tempera details.  Ralph was excellent at capturing the essence of a scene with one painting, so the kids were trying to tap into that concept with their paintings.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Art of Science Fiction: Black Light Special

One of the perks of teaching elementary art is that everything is MAGIC.  Mix new colors? Magic!  Throw some salt on a painting and it leaves spots behind? Magic!  Use neon colors and put in a dark place with a bunch of black lights...MAGIC!  Kindergarten's Aliens in Underpants, special needs' Fredzilla-based costume designs (from Big Hero 6), and 3rd grade's Star Wars inspired ceramic creatures were all made/decorated from something neon for this sole purpose (plus, it's COOL).  Thanks to Mrs. Martin (librarian) for being so willing to go along with my scheme, and also thanks to Mrs. Pedigo (music) for loaning her entire black light stash for this display.  May the books be with you.  LIGHT 'EM UP!
Above display made by a Mrs. Martin's son, a 6th grader.

 Below: Fredzilla-based costumes in daylight, Special Needs

Below: Fredzilla-based costumes with black light

Ceramic creatures, 3rd grade

Glowing Aliens in Underpants

Art of Science Fiction: Alien Invasion in Art! Mixed Age

LOOK OUT!  There's aliens in the Art room!  At least, that's the look we were going for.  Continuing my sci-fi unit with the boys was a no-brainer since they were SO into it, so I taught a lesson in basic green screen work.  I found footage (thank you, YouTube) of how the original green screen work for Star Wars was done, and we tried our hand at our own using 123D Creature Show.  This app contains pre-made creatures that can be posed to your liking, and you get to take your own pictures for the background.  Put them together, adjust the pose and lighting, and you have your very own alien/zombie/monster invading the school!  The only downside was the tablet itself-our school is right by a wind farm, so it made sense to want to go outside and take a few pictures...who wouldn't want to see a giant bunny in overalls hanging from a wind turbine, right?  The glare on the screen was an issue-we were shooting blind.  The app also doesn't remember multiple photos; you have to take the one you want and work on the creature at that point.  Boo.

Once we got over our technical glitches, we tried again in the classroom, and these are the end results.  The boys did a pretty good job of finding unique angles from which to take their pictures.  From the looks of it, I think I have a pretty big pest problem...



Thursday, May 14, 2015

Art of Science Fiction: CG Designed Spaceships-5th grade

Okay, we didn't use computers-we used iPads, since that's what we've got (and it was ISTEP time...all labs were booked, anyway).  This is another 123D Sculpt project (to see our sci-fi aliens, click here).  I introduced the kids to Industrial Light and Magic, which if you somehow haven't heard of it, is the special effects juggernaut created by George Lucas.  They're now responsible for effects in over 300 movies and counting.

To start, we watched a short info clip on ILM, followed by a longer video clip demonstrating how ILM made the Knightship in Transformers 4: Age of Extinction.  I wanted to make sure they saw the process and understood why certain steps have to go in a particular order.  In our case, take a base form (a jet), alter the form to look like a ship, then add texture, and lastly, color (because they always want to jump in and color first...).  I thought the end results were pretty impressive for a free app, and included a video showing even MORE awesome ships made by my 5th graders.  They were having so much fun with it they ended up spending three classes working on them!

Art of Science Fiction: Baymax Masks! 1st Grade

I'm a HUGE Disney fan, and seeing as I'm doing a science fiction unit, who could resist the urge to make a new Baymax mask?  The kids had a chance to learn about concept artists and how they don't create just one fabulous idea and run with it-they make sketch after sketch and work with a team to decide upon the best look for that particular character.  I hired the entire first grade to be my concept art crew and design a new look for Baymax for the (surely) coming as-yet-unnamed sequel to Big Hero 6.  They had to make it symmetrical, could use any colors they wanted (maybe Baymax gets a female personal healthcare companion?)  and couldn't go too large on the attachments-we do want the big guy to easily maneuver around wherever he may be.  From our future Disney concept artists, I present to you....BAYMAX!  If some of the kids look a little stiff in the video, they have a reason-they were trying to hide art boxes.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Art of Science Fiction: Alien Spaceships-1st grade

I know-MORE aliens in underpants!  Who could resist?  It's colorful, crazy, fun, and also a great way to teach pattern to kids.  1st grade focused on the spaceships, and we didn't just draw them-we built them!  We made sure to include a control panel (very important-the kids could even tell me the functions for each of their controls) and lights on the outside.  We couldn't just draw the lights, though, so we used acrylic stones for some bling!  The main rule was the stones had to make a pattern and they could not use more than 12 stones total (because some kids want to use everything in the bowl...which doesn't sit well with me since there are up to 75 other kids who want to use them.  I will admit, the original idea for this project came from a pin and I modified it to make it even more fun.

First up: Artist of the Week, followed by a few other alien friends.