Washington State Visual Art Standards

Monday, December 28, 2015

Bedroom Dioramas inspired by Vincent Van Gogh


Complete bedroom diorama
The 5th grade artists have been practicing their skills in perspective drawing since October. They have had experience drawing a version of their "dream" bedroom, adding wonderful elements to their interior designs. I wanted them to build on this skill and imagine their room 3-dimensionally, so in response to the Washington state standards, I asked them to adapt their 2-D drawing in creating a 3-D work.

1 point perspective drawings showing bedrooms

I began this process of adaptation by introducing the "Bedroom in Arles", painted by Vincent Van Gogh. We examined the painting together by discussing the structure and content of the room. The students were asked if they were able to  to determine Van Gogh's character based off this bedroom. They were able to list characteristics like lonely, tidy, poor, organized, and artistic without knowing much about his biography. They were interested to learn that their analysis was fairly on point with the painter's personality.

Vincent Van Gogh's, "Bedroom in Arles"

Next, I demonstrated how we would take a 15" x 15" piece of white tagboard to produce the open diorama for their bedroom.  They created their own afterward.

Diorama construction

The students were then able to access a variety of mixed media to achieve their design purposes. I provided wall paper, construction paper, foil, chenille, raffia, beads, wooden sticks, fabric, felt, magazines, art straws, tissue paper, and encouraged them to bring in anything from home they wished to include. I handled a hot glue gun if they wished to use heavier materials like plastics and metals.

Students used their drawings when thinking about what to include in their room.

Small magazine images make for great wall posters!

They used 2 classes in constructing furniture with tagboard (I showed them how it was necessary to create "feet" when folding their tagboard so that there were surfaces to spread glue for attachment to the diorama), and adding the mixed media materials to express their creativity.

This student is constructing curtains with fabric and art straws.

Gluing the "feet" of the tagboard built bed.

I really enjoyed watching these kids work and help them solve design problems. I couldn't believe how fast our time went in class.  It was very rewarding to watch them come into class excited to work. They would speedily get their projects, materials, and set to art making. I never had behavior or lack of motivation issues, they were all engaged. This is an art teacher's dream!

Here are some more of their results.

An artist's room.

I love the use of beads!

A modern room with lime green floor!

A very cozy space.

I'll be sure to repeat this lesson for next year's 5th grade. The results were all unique in their creativity even though they were all bedrooms. I took notice that this class really enjoys working 3-dimensionally, I'll be sure to take that into account when planning other lessons.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, December 14, 2015

Pop-Up Gingerbread Houses

Sweet pop up house! I love that little gingerbread person that also pops!

First graders have been learning about the job of an architect. They understand that architects are people who design and build buildings. I thought it would be fun to put a holiday twist on our pop-up architecture lesson and ask the students to design gingerbread houses.

We took time to look at examples of gingerbread houses and discussed how patterns of candy create interesting designs on the building. We also recognized that gingerbread houses are usually constructed with a triangular roof and square room below.

We then reviewed proper tool use, glue application, oil pastel use, and collage techniques after which the supplies were passed to each table. Students were encouraged to be creative and add details to the background to create a space for the building to be placed.

Here are some of their constructions in progress.

Great start!

A sunny day in gingerbread land.

This artist really mastered the pop up technique.


A wintery world.

I love the change in size of each building.
I originally found this lesson at Mrs. Knight's Smartest Artist blog and it was designed for kindergarten. I adapted it for 1st graders with a more sophisticated task of creating the pop up with a cut and fold rather than a paper tab glued to the paper.  Perhaps the kindergarteners will get this lesson in the Spring time when we create garden gnome homes.

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Warm & Cool colors with Formline Art

One of the 2nd grade teachers, Ms. Attaway, approached me about creating a unique work of art to send to an elementary class in King Cove, Alaska. They had been in correspondence and what better way to connect with others than through visual communication?

Since we were studying form line art with the Raven landscape artworks (see "The Raven" post),  I decided to take the lesson further by asking the students to paint warm or cool striped sunset backgrounds with water color crayons. They then cut and glued their form line drawings on these backgrounds. We added patterns to the black borders by using white colored pencils and form line shapes.

Here are some of the results!

Cool colors with the Raven

Warm colors with the Raven

Another variation with cool colors. I love this border!

The one looks as if it could be singing.

Cool colors with an Orca whale. Look at the detail in that face!

Warm colors with an eagle
I really love how different each artwork turned out and how simple shapes and colors can create powerful images. I'm so proud of these artists for their hard work.

Thanks for stopping by and reading!

Friday, December 4, 2015

"The Raven" W.I.P. 2nd grade

The 2nd grade has been studying landscapes and practicing the 5 basic elements of shape in drawing. We have been learning how objects can appear to be bigger or smaller depending on how close they are to the viewer.  In drawing 2-D, the 2nd graders understand that they can visually communicate distance and space by changing the sizes of objects in their art.

To practice their skills I asked them to create an artwork in response to the book, "The Raven: A Trickster Tale From the Pacific Northwest" written by Gerald McDermott. I read them the book with my document camera and asked them if the Raven was close to us or farther away in each picture. This was a really quick way to assess their comprehension of this spatial concept.

I really love the bold "form-line" design in the illustrations.

Is he near or far?
Is he near or far? How do you know?

After I finished the story I guided the class in the drawing of the Raven. We focused on identifying the basic shapes seen in the original illustration from the book. After that, I asked the class to create a landscape in the distance to emphasize that the bird was near the viewer. Here are some "wips" (Works in Progress) from one class.


What a striking looking eye.

This artist used Seattle Seahawks colors.
This artist really wanted to focus on color patterns, saving the landscape for last.

I am pleased to see these kids are growing in their drawing skills. I've noticed that when we do these guided drawings together they are getting better at identifying basic shapes and translating that in their own drawings.  They are beginning to understand that being able to draw is more about seeing than raw talent.

Thanks for stopping by and reading!