Sunday, July 6, 2014

Winter in July- RES

Summer is when lots of gears are turning in my head for the next year's projects. When a lesson is completed, teachers do lots of reflecting about how things could be different for the next time. Did students meet the learning objective? Did true growth and understanding occur? Was the lesson enjoyable?  This is a good time of the year to do that thinking and planning.

Sometimes I throw a lesson out the window, and try again from square one, and sometimes a lesson meets all of my "keeper" requirements.  I usually steer away from snowmen and other "holiday" and "seasonal" art themes, but this has so much science I could not resist.  And so here I am in July, considering winter, night, color, and moonlight, while I sip lemonade.

 Presenting, the Snowmen. (And Snowladies.  And a couple of Snowaliens.) An all-time favorite among students, as well.
The trinity of creating realism: Light source, surface, and shadow. 
RES second graders made these last winter, after I tweaked a very similar project from the year before.  The changes mostly happened in the way I taught it, but the artistic process for students was largely unchanged.
Looks like you could hug her!
We began this lesson with students spending a while discussing what color snow is. The general consensus, of course was white.  (Or yellow, which created endless ripples of giggles.)

Next was reading Snowmen at Night by Caralyn Buehner, with illustrations by Mark Buehner.  It's a sweet, rhyming story about nighttime mischief, but what makes it truly outstanding are the illustrations.
Look at how Mark Buehner uses light and time of day to shift the colors you expect to see when you think "snow."
Oooh! came the impressed sounds of students.  Followed by shouts of Snow is blue! And purple! I see pink! My goal here was to look at how color is relative to the light source and the things around it.  If you want a snowman to look like it is out at night, it won't be totally white.

Think of picking out socks in the early morning- you thought they were black, but after you got to work it turned out they were navy or brown.  But in that morning light, they really were black, because there were fewer colors and less light overall.  The socks did not change, the light changed.  And snow will still be white in the morning.

These are painted with brushes and cotton swabs on dark blue, purple, or black paper with tempera, and detailed with cut fabrics.
 So then we looked at light, and using a projector in the art room experimented with the things you need to make a shadow, and students figured out the three things (light, surface, object) needed to create a shadow.
Light on the left, shadows on the right.
Students also noticed that the cast shadow and the dark side of an object are always opposite the light.
Armed with all of that knowledge, as well as lots of other preknowledge about color-mixing, we began the project.
A lamppost, shooting star, and moon among falling flakes.
We began by painting the three spheres, gradually adding more blues and purples to the side of the snowman opposite the light source.
Snowman is 3/4 pose.  Wow.
After stacking the three spheres, students added light sources, ground, and a cast shadow.  Most of them also have snow falling from the sky.
I love how this snowman is playing and jumping around, stars sparkling among the falling snow.
The next class, after the paint dried, we added details like the faces and buttons, and used scissors to cut fabric for hats, mittens, aprons, scarves, and more.
Tattooed snowman.
So, this is one I will keep forever.  One way to know it is a forever-lesson is that students can adeptly apply the knowledge to other artwork, making all kinds of work (fruits, pumpkins, balls) look three-dimensional with shadows and light sources. The students have also practiced this at home and in their classrooms, and have brought me all kinds of amazing work in crayon and colored pencils they have made on their own.
Watch out!  This one is holding a snowball.

Smiling moon.
This is a lesson with somewhat limited ways to "make it their own" for students, which makes me nervous, but after seeing the directions in which the new learning can be taken, I am sold. Here are a few more to enjoy. Happy summer!

See you next winter!

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