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Sunday, January 31, 2016

Wayne Thiebaud inspired Cake Slice Sculptures

Who doesn't love cake? I know the 5th grade students love it. We've been investigating how to build sculptural forms out of tagboard. We had first began using tagboard paper in the Van Gogh inspired Bedrooms.  The bedroom sculptures gave students an understanding of how paper can be cut, folded, and secured into their intended form. I felt confident they were then able to build a more complex form, like a slice of round cake.

I often create lessons with art history for our inspiration...having an art history degree, it feels natural. This particular lesson explores Pop Art, sculpture, and the artist Wayne Thiebaud.  I remember a print of one of his "Boston Creme" cake paintings hanging in my elementary school growing up.  I always loved this painting because of how well Thiebaud (pronounced Tee-bow) magically made his paintings look like they had the real textures of cake. I had to share it with my students.
Wayne Thiebaud, "Boston Cremes", 1962
I couldn't stop thinking about the lesson I found on Nic Hahn's blog, Mini Matisse. The Mini Matisse is one of many art education blogs I follow. I was inspired by her "Piece of Cake" project. I made some minor changes in that I had the students sponge on tempera paint for the "sponge" part of the cake. I did not have a template for the students to use, they were given parameters for the height of cake (4 inches) and the demonstration I gave for creating their own template for the 3-D slice.

Day 1: They were given 1 sheet of white tagboard, rulers, scissors, masking tape, and a demonstration to create their cake form.

Day 2: They used paper mache to cover their forms with Elmer's Art Paste and newsprint.

Day 3: They painted their cakes with tempera paint and used a mix of shaving cream, glue, and food coloring to "ice" their cake.  This material is almost magical! It is applied much like icing would be with a palette knife. We used craft sticks and they did just fine. The mixture dries with the appearance of a creamy texture due the glue suspending the foam. It is a really amazing and fun medium to use.  It is important to mix the ingredients as close to the time you are using it as possible as the foam settles over time.

They were provided colored sprinkles and glitter to decorate their cakes if they choose.
I even made a icing bag out of a ziploc. They could pipe on white "icing" mixture for an added detail.

Here are some of the results...

How sweet are these cakes!? The students were so proud of their sculptures. They were engaged throughout the whole process and were eager to make their own cake the "most delicious" looking. The younger students would comment about how real they looked and asked when they could make one.

Upon reflection, I found that the students appreciated learning about creating sculptures. Most of their previous knowledge of sculpture was based in using clay. I believe tagboard is an affordable and useful medium for teaching students about construction techniques. They learned how to use implied and actual texture in one artwork as well which is a Washington state art standard for a 5th grader.

I don't know about you, but I want some cake!

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Bethel School District's Art & Tech Fair 2016

Bethel School District hosted another incredible Art & Tech fair this past Saturday at Graham-Kapowsin High School. The Art Fair is an opportunity for Bethel art educators to showcase our programs and celebrate our students' artistic work.

Each school in our district is given a space to exhibit their artwork in the high school gymnasium. The artwork is categorized by grade level, 2-D, and 3-D media for judging.  The panel of 6 judges used a creativity rubric and craftsmanship rubric in assessing their choices for awards. They award 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place ribbons for K-1, 2-3, & 4-5 grade levels.  There is also the esteemed "Superintendent's award" that is chosen. This award is given to a artist who's work will be purchased by the Superintendent and displayed in the District Office permanently.

I displayed North Star students' 2-D art work that was selected on 4 large boards and and 3-D pieces on the table top. I have to admit I wished I could have displayed 10 tables worth of work but the space given required me to really think creatively about how to maximize the amount of surface for exhibition. My table was probably more on the "too full" side, but hey, that means more happy kids and families.

The lighting in the gym wasn't ideal, this photo has that fluorescent haze.
North Star Elementary had a strong showing in the award standings, in my opinion. We took home 3 ribbons and many honorable mentions. One of our 4th graders won the 1st place 2-D ribbon for the 4-5 category! We had a 1st grade 3rd place 3-D ribbon awarded and a 2nd place 3-D ribbon for the 4-5 category won by one of our 5th graders! I am so proud of their achievement!

2nd place winner for the 4th-5th 3-D category

What a great show! Now to get ready for next year!

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Joan Miro inspired Surreal Paper Sculptures

My teaching schedule is unique in that I see some classes twice a week. How lucky for those kids, right!? Double art! Ms. Eagle's third class is one of those lucky ducks..or should I say ducklings? They are usually finished with my planned 3rd grade lessons a week ahead of the other two 3rd grade classes. Double the art class, double the art knowledge I say!
Joan Miro "Harlequin's Carnival", 1924-25
To give these kiddos more art history I introduced them to the Spanish Surrealist painter, Joan Miro. His subject matter is very kid friendly with paintings named "Harlequin Carnival"...what kid could resist digging into it visually. I even remember a copy of that painting being hung in my own elementary school growing up.

I began by providing a brief background about Joan Miro and defined "surrealism" with the kids. Since they have handy-dandy sketchbooks they took notes on this. I defined surrealism as "the unexpected, dreamlike, nonsensical, and unreal". They seemed to really like that, as predicted!
Joan Miro, "Nocturne" 1940
I showed them Miro's "Nocturne", 1940. I asked them to look closely at the painting and explain how the imagery communicates the idea of night...since nocturne refers to night.

After 8+ students walked up and pointed out their observations, I transitioned into a game. Yep, a game. I found this "Roll A Miro" game on the internet where you can roll a die to determine which Miro-esque design you would apply to a surreal Miro-esque character.

They had a blast filling up a large piece of poster board with at least 6 bigger than their hand and no smaller than their palm

The next art class I asked the to paint their Miro characters with tempera paint. They were also asked to draw roundish bubbles around each character to prepare for the sculpture step.
The third and following class they were shown how to cut and interlock their Miro characters into a paper sculpture.  I posed this as an engineering problem. We talked a lot about how size and weight of their characters needed to be considered when interlocking them.  Some kids handled this with ease, others really struggled. The students who accomplished this task helped students who needed assistance. 
I found that this type of handwork built student character more than the actual paper used in the project.  It required these kids to plan, experiment, problem solve, overcome obstacles, persevere, and accept defeat. There were 3 students who couldn't figure out how to get all of their characters to lock together and stand up. Granted, they only had 35 minutes.

This lesson really made me want to create more sculpture projects this year. My wheels are already turning.

 Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Matisse inspired Still Life collage

What beautiful, vibrant colors! I love intermediate color.
The third grade artists have been studying intermediate colors and the color wheel. I have to say, my students love, love, love color and to paint. One of the best ways to practice color mixing and understanding color hues is painting. I've found that elementary student painters are very eager to swish paint brushes around and mix color until the cows come home.  The only drawback with that is that colors tend to get muddy when over mixed and intended subject matter gets lost when young painters blend together wet paint.

This is what happens when you mix all the colors together...blech!

One of the biggest lessons I learned teaching elementary students last year is that when I ask them to paint an image, their final artworks would lack definition and their paint colors would get muddy. This made me think, "how can I allow for colorful, painted expression without losing the subject matter?"  So, as usual, I explored my favorite art education blogs for solutions. I looked to the aptly named, wonderful blog, called The Painted Paper.  Laura, a veteran art educator from Ohio, provides almost limitless examples of how her students mix paint on paper first, then collage that painted paper as a composition. "Eureka!", she has a solution! 

One of my favorite views.
Taking a cue from Laura's Painted Paper, I can ask my students to mix paint, which they LOVE to do, in a structured way, and be empowered by using their painted paper to create a final work of art.

So, I did.

We studied the work of Henri Mattisse. We examined his still life paintings and discussed in depth what makes a still life vs. a landscape or portrait.
Henri Matisse, "Still Life with Lemons", 1943
We then set to painting paper. I had the students divide 12x18 white construction paper into half. The one half they painted their favorite intermediate color. The other side was divided into half again and they painted that their 2nd favorite color. The bottom half was divided into 3rds and they painted those the last of the 3 intermediate colors left.
I love this red-orange!

I love the way the water wash bowl looks. Also, check out that blue-violet!
Mixing paint, but under control.
The next art class they cut their paper up into the divided colored rectangles. The largest half was to be the background. The 2nd biggest color was to be a table. The other colors were to be cut up into shapes that can serve as still life objects, a la Henri Matisse.  They could be as creative as they wished.

Draw, cut, collage.

Look at those textures. I created texture combs with recycled plastic lids. They students could choose to drag those through wet paint to add a variety of textures.
Collage takes planning.
I suggested they draw on the backside of the painted paper so that it was easier to see their shapes for cutting. They could add oil pastel details if they choose. Here are some of their results.

 What I appreciate most about this project is the variety of results. Each student was given the same parameters and their creative work led them to different results. How interesting! I also appreciate the crispness of their the imagery and vibrancy of their colors. I'll be sure to continue this method of constructing a painting.

Thanks for stopping by!