Art Room, Artwork, Color Construct Create, Elementary Art

Feed your soul (with art and dessert!!)

We all have things that feed our soul.  It’s different for everyone. For me, it’s teaching art.  This past week, I taught the Art Club kiddos about one of my absolute favorite artists of all time.  Wayne Thiebaud.  Come on, now!  How is it possible to not love Wayne Theibaud’s art?  As a pop art icon, Thiebaud brought us classic Americana with his depiction of diner desserts. We took our inspiration from his work and used oil pastel with watercolor to create our own dreamy desserts.

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Cakes by Wayne Thiebaud, 1963

As we learn about artists and their techniques, I always try to share a general life lesson that pertains to art, our specific subject matter, and the conversations the students generate.  This wasn’t always intentional.  It happened organically, as my students are very deep thinkers and have some pretty remarkable conversations for their age.  Given that our Art Club students are mostly “tweens”, there are often many opportunities for discussion based on what they bring up in class.  This week was no exception.  I noticed that the kids were comparing their work to their classmates.  I expect them to compare but I never want them to feel badly because someone else has better rendering skills or made a really cool design choice.  This is where I typically decide to have a “talk”. I shared with them about my experiences as a student in art school.

I shared how I spent so much time comparing my work to my peers that I often missed the beauty of the experience.   Creating art is very personal.  Comparing what we make to what others make is human nature.  Learning how to balance that with being mindful of the moment is key.  In art club, we focus on the joy of what we are doing as well as the final product.  And sometimes, we eat our cake (or cupcakes) while we create!

Here are our beautiful cakes!

Artwork, Color Construct Create, Elementary Art

California Beautiful

Oh my goodness!  Ours students never cease to amaze us.  When you see the work our Art Club students just completed, you will know why I’m beyond excited!  During the month of January, Art Club focused on  our beautiful California coastline.  The California Coastal Commission holds an annual art and poetry contest and our students couldn’t wait to enter!  We started off the month with a study of California Brown Pelicans.  The kids dissected (with their eyes and pencils!!) the shapes within the birds and then recreated them on the page using the shapes as guidelines.

art-contest

We, then, used charcoal to draw ocean waves.  The beach can be very challenging and charcoal is the perfect medium because it is so forgiving.  The students were able to show the waves arc as well as the splash and horizon.  That was fun!

Our culminating activity was a free choice drawing or painting of something that inspires them about the California Coast.  This was to be their contest entry.  Each student chose something completely different.  We have mammals, fish, plant life, and landscapes all beautifully represented.  One of the best parts of this activity were the contest rules.  No one was allowed to complete any part of the artwork except the student.  I took this a step further and facilitated the students making the bulk of the design choices as well.  I love my kiddos.  They are so talented.  They are also relatively inexperienced and often hesitate to make a decision without my input.  I hope I helped them to feel empowered to make choices regarding their art.  The end results take my breath away!  Remember, these kids are in elementary school!

 

Color Construct Create

Arts of Asia!

Our theme this month takes us to Asia!  We could stay with this theme for months given the vast amount of inspiration from the many countries and cultures of this continent.  We visited Thailand, India, Japan, and China on our tour.  One of the favorites from this month was our open hand tray.  Our inspiration came from the beautiful henna designs in India.  Here’s how we did this really fun project:

Materials:
Air dry clay (we like Crayola!)
Paper Bowls
Scoring tools: straws, dowels, plastic knives, awls
Acrylic Paint (Blick)
Small/medium paint brushes
Modpodge

Prep:
Roll out a racquetball/lacrosse ball size slab of air dry clay 1/4″ thick for each student, place between sheets of cling wrap or in zipper bags.

Steps:
Show students images of henna designs.  Discuss the meaning of Mehndi ceremonies in Indian culture.

Each student receives a slab of clay and a plastic knife.  Students trace their hand onto the clay with fingers touching.  Use the plastic knife to gently cut out the hand.  Use scoring tools to make designs and patterns, emphasizing floral patterns, leaves, etc.  Line a paper bowl (or any cereal-sized bowl) with cling wrap and gently press hands into the base of the bowl to round the shape of the hand.  Do not disturb the designs of the hands while pressing into the bowl.  Allow to dry undisturbed for 2-4 days (depending on climate).

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At the next class, return hands to students with a small palette of acrylic paint with small brushes.  We chose colors based on what we had a lot of in the closet ;)!   Ask the students to paint the entire hand, no white spots.  Acrylic paint is absorbed quickly into the clay so it shouldn’t take long to dry.  We intentionally limit the amount of paint the kids have access to for 2 reasons: we don’t like to waste and if you give them only what they need, they are more likely to use it appropriately.  Let’s face it, we all have those students who will apply globs and globs of paint.  If you are intentional with your teaching and materials distribution, they will be intentional with their painting! Once the paint is dry, liberally apply Modpodge with a foam brush or old paint brush.  We have old brushes that we use just for glue application!  Have fun!

Art Room, Artwork, Color Construct Create, Elementary Art, Therapeutic Art

Mad about Murals!

This month we are mad!  Mad about murals, that is!  There is something really special about art on a larger scale and something positively magical about kids collaborating to create something together.  We started with our O’Keefe inspired mural.  For this project, the kids studied the rich paintings of Georgia O’Keefe and were inspired by images from nature of beautiful mums and dahlias in festive fall colors.

With an analogous warm color palette (colors next to each other on the color wheel), we freehand painted our flowers in different sizes and shapes.  Our kids sometimes struggle with scale so this was a great opportunity to practice fitting your flower onto the paper by going all the way to the edge without going over.  I admit, we did have a couple of almost perfectly square flowers (the exact shape of the paper).  As any artist knows, sometimes mistakes provide the best inspiration.  With black paint and a tiny brush, the kids were able to add some detail that really made the flowers pop!  And those square flowers… it was a piece of cake to go back in with the black paint and define those petals.

Each child painted 3 or 4 flowers, depending on time.  After they dried, we cut out our flowers and picked our favorites to add to the class mural.  Ms. Kristin painted a vase on the a 6 foot sheet of butcher paper that was hung on the wall.  We used scraps from the scrap paper bin to cut out leaves for the spaces between the flowers.  We think the end result is stunning!  Do you agree?  It’s hard to tell in the photo, but our mural is about 6 feet tall!

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Materials:

Square art paper in multiple sizes

Tempera Paint: Red, orange, yellow, and black

Large and small paint brushes

Butcher Paper

Green Scraps for leaves