Friday, January 29, 2016

Rene Magritte and Linear Perspective: 6th grade

I've been living with a shortened art schedule for 5.5 years, now.  Art used to be one hour and AMAZING.  Then cuts came, unfortunately, and now Art is once a week for 40 minutes (when there are no delays or interruptions).  Linear perspective is important to learn, and it's just as important to start kids on it before junior high, so I've been experimenting with different ways to do it that fit the schedule but are still worthwhile and have decent results.  It always seems to take forever.  This year I had one sixth grade class that was really behind (field trip, community circle, absent art teacher....the list goes on) but they still needed to learn linear perspective.  Instead of learning how to draw a town (which takes about 5 classes to complete), I used Rene Magritte's The Listening Room as inspiration and instead taught watered down linear perspective.

It WORKED!  Results were decent, the concept was taught, and I threw in a little contrast and value along the way.

Magritte was a Belgian Surrealist painter, meaning he painted dreamscapes/non-existent worlds.  He tended to combine ordinary objects in unusual ways that many think are just plain weird.  In my opinion,  Magritte was a class act as far as Surrealists go.  Anyway, on with the Art!

We started out using basic one point perspective to create the room, and sketched an organic, oversized object in the center.  To emphasize organic vs. geometric, we used colored pencil for the background and chalk for our object ('cause who doesn't love chalk?).  For their window with a view, it was the sky's the limit-anything goes as long as it's school appropriate.

I personally love the pile of shoe laces coming through the window (and was PC Artist of the Week).

 XXL Double Cheeseburger (also PC Artist of the Week)

 I usually hate spiders, but I'll make an exception for this one.

It just might be a keeper.  Just have to work on our window a little more next year.

Snow painting-Special Needs

Snow in's a guarantee we'll see some, but we never know how much, what kind, or when. Back at the end of November we had our first snow of the season, and it wasn't just a dusting. It was a good few inches AND wasn't that dry, powdery nonsense, either.  It was wet and awesome, so I jumped at the chance to snow paint.   Color theory with paint on paper is fun, but color theory on things that aren't paper is MORE fun.

I've taken kids out with squirt bottles filled with food coloring/liquid watercolor, but that requires temps above 20 degrees and kids to have boots, coats,'s fun, but can be a hassle.  This time, I brought the snow to them.  Before my first class, I filled up a few ice cream buckets with snow and left it just outside my door to stay nice and cold (plus mother nature filled the buckets even more with snow that blew off the roof).  When it was time for my class 'o special people, I brought it all in, scooped it into their own personal pie pan, and let the games begin.

We'd already done some mixing of primaries to get secondaries, so this time we worked on making intermediates with cool colors.  Each table had three cups of liquid watercolor-one of each color, and each student had their own pipette.  They really had to work those motor skills to pinch the pipette, suck up color, and squirt on the snow.  Most were having so much fun that I had to refill their plate a few times.  Once they had their fill of painting, they had just as much fun playing with their snow. Since their masterpiece was going to melt, I took pictures for them.  Here they are-snow paintings! (Disclaimer: no, they don't look like 'something'-that was the point.  Good ol' fashioned, messy, mixing fun).

Friday, January 22, 2016

James Rizzi Happy Cities: 2nd Grade

 James Rizzi is an American pop artist who gained a lot more popularity in Germany than the U.S. (His .com is even German based).  His work is bright, colorful, and fun, and the kids love his buildings with personality.  Literally-his buildings have faces and show their own moods.  We looked at Rizzi's City Day, City Night, and once they got past the fact that the buildings are in all colors of the rainbow AND have giant, cheesy grins, we talked about all the shapes Rizzi used to create them.  Do windows normally have hearts, stars, and diamonds for their shapes?  NO!! But Rizzi's did, and that's what made them so much fun.

For the first part of our assignment, 2nd graders worked with a partner to create a digital city.  Our goal was to create the building out of shapes using MoMA Art Lab, make sure it was colorful, and create the faces last.  They were to avoid using line except for the tiny details-dots on the eyes, whiskers, teeth, etc.

For part two, each student created their own building.  This time, there was more focus on the shapes for the windows and making the face unique so that it stands out when in a sea of other buildings.  We then combined each student's building to create a city for the whole class!  They were pretty proud of their work, once the whole thing was together.  Yes, some of the building placements are intentional-girly buildings by geeks, cutesy beside scary...makes it more entertaining!