Friday, March 10, 2017

Elmer the Elephant

Elmer is a wonderful children's story about appreciating people's differences. I enjoy teaching this lesson to PreK and Kinder classes and the kids love the story. Elmer discovers that when he tries to change his appearance in order to 'blend in' with the other elephants, they no longer recognize him, or accept him as one of their own. This makes Elmer sad, and he experiences how it feels to be treated like an outcast, after being ostracized by his old friends. It's only when it begins to rain, and the grey paint that Elmer has covered himself with starts to disappear, that Elmer's 'true color's are revealed, much to the surprise and delight of his friends, who preferred his multicolored and fun loving persona. Following their happy reunion, the elephants reassure Elmer that they love him because of his differences, and not in spite of them, and they celebrate by painting themselves in multi-colored paint, in recognition of Elmer's unique appearance and personality.

We began by using a glue and water mixture and brushing it over squares of tissue paper to attach it to a white paper. During the next class, we drew an elephant shape on the back of that paper and cut it out to create the Elmer. All you need to add is an eye and an ear with black crayon or marker. We glued our elephants onto a torn paper background of palm trees.

Value Techniques

Students in middle school created these abstract designs to practice creating values with various techniques. We began with a set of instructions that the students could interpret for their design. Students were instructed to draw 3 straight lines, a curved line, a zigzag line, 5 circles, 2 other shapes and several types of stripes. I showed the classes how to create value with ink using stippling and cross hatching. Then, I showed them how to use colored pencils to create values from light to dark and also from color to color. Students needed to use light and dark values to keep the composition balanced as well. This is a great project to get students comfortable creating various types of values.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Self-Portraits Chuck Close Style

Students in middle school created these self-portraits in the style of American artist Chuck Close. We began by working from a photograph- students drew a 1/2 inch grid over the photo and a 1 and 1/2 inch grid over a 12x18 sheet of drawing paper. We then transferred the information over so the portrait was accurate and proportional. Next, students chose a color and created a value scale in that color from light to dark. The drawing was then filled in with different values that matched the black and white photograph. Students had to become comfortable with blending and creating many values within the portrait. I do this project every year and the results are always incredible!

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Native American Pottery

Students in grades 4-6 created these Native American vases as an introduction to a pottery unit. We began by sketching several vase designs using traditional Native American designs and animal symbols. We watched several videos of native people creating vases. Students then drew out large vases and colored the designs with marker. When finished, the designs were outlined with black sharpie to make them stand out and have clear edges. The final step was to shade the vases with oil pastels; black on one side for a shadow and white on the opposite side for a highlight. 

Friday, January 20, 2017

Old Bear

Students in grades 1-3 created these artworks based off of illustrations in the book Old Bear by Kevin Henkes. On the first day, we went outside to collect several different types of leaves. We then painted the leaves with either white or gold paint and rubbed them onto the black paper to create leaf prints. During the next class, we read the book Old Bear and looked at the illustrations. I showed the students how to draw a bear and how to paint in different ways to create a texture similar to fur. In the final class, students cut out the bear and added a snow covered ground and snowflakes. 

Winter Trees

Students in PreK and Kinder created these winter trees to learn about patterns, lines and shapes. We began by creating a watercolor painting. Students drew out a series of patterns with crayons. We discussed how patterns are any type of shape, line or color that repeat. We also looked at different patterns- AB, ABC, etc. More advanced students could complete more difficult patterns if they choose. These patterns were then painted over with a watered down green watercolor paint. During the next class, students cut curved lines to create a unique border for their artwork and then stamped snowflakes throughout the paper. On the final day, students cut out triangle shapes from the pattern paper and added branches with black crayons. 

Monet Style Autumn Leaves

Students in grades 4-6 created these autumn collages in the style of French Impressionist painter Claude Monet. We began by creating a watercolor painting using the three cool colors- blue, green and violet. We discussed using gentle curving lines to create the movement of water and break up the background space. To create the leaves, students used styrofoam to carve out a leaf. These were then colored in with marker and pressed onto a slightly damp piece of paper to create a relief print. When placing the leaves on the pond, we looked at some of Claude Monet's paintings and examined his use of color contrast.