Monday, October 27, 2014

Pastel Fruits and Vegetables- RES

Grade 4 artists are working on 
chalk pastel fruits and vegetables in class. 

So seasonal!
I am always bragging about my students here at RES, but this group of 4th graders is a really exciting bunch for me to be working with. Why?  Because this is the first group I have had at RES all the way through, since they were Kindergarteners.
Electric lemon!
What does that matter?  Well, one of the joys of being a Specials teacher is that you get to see the students through their entire elementary education.  I introduce shadow and light in art making in grade 1, when students create a cut-paper self-portrait with a shadow.  We play with a projector and figure out what things are needed to make a shadow: a light source, an object blocking the light, and a surface onto which the shadow and light fall.
The red/green color complements really make this pop.
In second grade, students create a snowman at night, a project that I blogged about here back in July.  That project is the first time I ask students to paint volumes.  In third grade, this group of students created paintings of apples in a still-life cluster, and mixed all of their own second and tertiary colors as well.

An apple still-life from last year's third grade
So by fourth grade, their work is pretty astounding, and can suggest, without explicitly showing, the direction of a light source on an object.

Can you tell the light comes from the upper right hand side? Peachy keen!

These RES fourth graders know all about it. Shadows are always opposite the light source, and the side facing the light tends to be warmer in color as well.

It's the end of October. There were a lot of pumpkins.
 Artists began with black paper and used richly colored chalk pastels to create the basic shape, and then add lights and darks to show volume in the forms. We review color complements, but using them was not required, just a reminder of how to let colors make each other look good. A color like orange not only stands out with its complement blue, but also looks great with blue's analogous colors like purple and green.

A dimpled orange- citrus skin is challenging to make smooth and bumpy simultaneously.

Pear on polkadots
 The color use goes above and beyond with many students.  Look at how the artist made the pear above pick up and reflect the warm tones of the table top in the glossy skin. Also, the choice to crop the leaf and stem off at the top are surprising and interested to the viewer. It's fun to share those choices with the other students and see how they change or respond in their own artworks.

Plum all aglow.  Just like the faces of the kids in art class.

The Drying Rack Today- RES

A teeny-tiny post.

Sometimes in the art room it takes me by surprise 
how beautiful the drying rack is at the end of a class. 

Isn't it amazing? That's all.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Harvest Festival Bowls

This Saturday is the Harvest Festival!
 Held on October 25, at Monitor Barn, there are lots of fun and educational opportunities, as well as vendors of local treats.

And RES 4th graders think that YOU should go.
That's right. YOU need to go.

And if you do, you would be wise to buy a bowl of soup, because you get to keep the bowl

Oh, you have bowls in your cabinet already? Nice. I am sure Pottery Barn appreciated your business- 
but do you have ONE OF THESE?!

Behold, the soup bowls!
Fourth grade artists have created dozens and dozens of marvelous bowls for the festival, and above are forty-eight of them. Recently on this blog was this post about the bowls in progress, and I am pleased to tell you they are now all finished, freshly washed, and awaiting owners. 

Ooh, check out that radial symmetry.

You can pick one up from 11am-3pm, but I recommend getting there early, they have sold out every year.
 Get 'em while they are hot!

Just kidding. The kiln goes over 1800 degrees, but they are cooled down before use.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Clay Wall Pockets- RES

Each week at RES, small groups of students come to the Art Room for an Extra Art class. Extra Art focuses on building skills with hand coordination, strength, and fine motor tasks. Students love to come, and get to work on projects completely separate from what they have going on during their class' art period.

We use a lot of materials to build strength, because only if your muscles are strong can you gain greater control of finer tasks like pencil grip and scissor cutting.  Some materials and processes the students enjoy include clay, scrunching paper, and playing with wire, so I developed a project that includes all three of those.
Clay wall pockets
These clay wall pockets are made of two clay slabs rolled out and pinched together at the side, and stuffed with newspaper to leave an opening at the top. Two little holes are poked for wire to go through after they are fired. Rolling out clay from a ball into a slab takes a lot of muscle- it helps to stand!

The pockets are glazed inside and out so that they can really hold water, and could function as a hanging vase.  But to further challenge the art-making skills of my students, we created our own flowers out of tissue paper and pipe cleaners.

We talk a lot about texture in this group.  Clay is squishy and sticky, glaze is wet, etc., so it surprised me today to hear one of my students say that the fired pottery felt "soft" and would make a good pillow. We tested this out by putting our heads on the pockets (think about dinner plates here...this is fired and glazed pottery) and it was a great chance to talk about texture more specifically, how something can feel both smooth and hard, both nice to the touch and maybe not great to sleep on. We compared them to the pipe cleaners, which they decided were both soft and sharp at the same time.

So pretty!
Building muscles and beautifying our world, one Extra Art class at a time!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Making Your Own Halloween Costume? RES

Hey RES students! 
Are you (perhaps with parent help) making 
your own Halloween costumes this year?  

 Of so, please email me a photo- I would love to put together a post of homemade RES costumes!   Often in art class I invite students to tell the class about their homemade designs. Halloween is my favorite holiday, because it is all about the art.  Making costumes is challenging and joyful for me.

KidsVT recently featured some cool DIY costumes with how-to tips from local makers, including my son's train costume from last year.

Today I am not at school, but home with a small, sick, and sleepy kiddo. (I miss you Tuesday classes!) The sleepy part means that I have had some time today to work on Halloween costumes.  Here is what I have going:

 Crankbot 2.0
This is my two-year-old's costume, mostly made of felt and buttons, plus a little glitter glue and a repurposed foam clown nose. It's just a little hat and tunic, soft and easy for him to walk in.

Cardboard robot
This robot is made mostly of repurposed materials- spray-painted Amazon and cereal boxes, bottle caps, plastic cups, and clean dryer hose. It is two separate pieces, a body and sort of hat/helmet thing (I avoid masks for safety), and will be worn by my Kindergartener. He helped design it, including this cool keypad for the back with pieces he cut and numbered.

Back of robot

The coolest part is that in the dark, we will turn on and light up the robot head.  It has three RGB LEDs that I wired and my son soldered together. The RGB (Red Green Blue) bulbs change colors, so every few seconds it looks a little different, and helps him be visible while he trick-or-treats.

The kids' are nearly done, so now it's time to brainstorm mine.  Any suggestions?

So RES, what are you making?  Please send along some pictures!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Leafy Stop-Motion- RES

My Wednesday third graders are at different places in their work than the rest of the grade, so we were lucky to have enough time for a fun and silly one-day project last week.  Students colored a picture (or two) of leaves on a tree, and I created a stop motion video of all of pictures together using an app that is new to me, iStopMotion.

I have done claymation and dry erase stop motion, but attempting sequential drawings made by different artists was also new to me. Think about a flip book, but a different person doing each page.  Here is what we created:

Now, before you tell me "Hm. Not so hot.", let me tell you, I know. Not everything works in the art room, and I want to share that fact.  Not everything works anywhere. And if this blog is to be a true picture of what I teach and how it goes with kids, it needs to be honest.

I love stop motion, but in reflection, here are some ways it could have worked better:
The group could decide on mutual colors or materials to make it more cohesive-looking.
Small groups or individuals could do their own over several classes to keep work stylistically similar.
The line weight of the sharpie could be thicker, heavier, and more dynamic.
The objects could be larger- the sun is an element that worked well, because it is easier to visually track than the leaves.
It needs music! Or narration?

We'll try it again, because practice makes perfect!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Bowls Begin for the Harvest Festival- RES

At the end of October is the annual Harvest Festival to raise money for the RES Farm-to-School program. This year it will be held on October 25, at Monitor Barn.

Monitor Barn
 The 4th grade artists are continuing the tradition of making ceramic bowls for soup to be donated to the festival. Attendees can purchase a bowl of soup, select the bowl in which it is served, and can keep the bowl.
This week students are glazing the first of their two bowls using radial symmetry, and planned their designs first in pencil.
Students thought about these like pizzas, dividing their bowls into "slices."

It's easy to erase pencil on ceramic to make changes as needed.

After they were finished drawing, they began to glaze.

The glazes look very different once fired.
 It is amazing how the colors change in the kiln- the most surprising to the students is how the glaze that appears pink will turn blue during firing.

Two layers of glaze are recommended for the truest colors.
All bowls use food-safe glazes and are clearcoated before firing.
The pottery will be safe for the microwave and dishwasher. 

In Art class, I let students talk while they are working.  Some art teachers I have met ask for silent classrooms, but I feel that navigating social conversation is an important skill and allow students the space to practice that in art class. Consequently, conversations are often surprising and delightful. 

A few overheard gems from this morning's fourth grade class:
Sample 1-
Student A (boy) to Student B: You know, it just occurred to me to wonder, why are we talking to a girl?
Student B (boy): I don't know.
Me: Why wouldn't you?!
Student A: Because girls are gross.
Student C (the girl): No way, boys are gross. They pick their noses.
Student A: Actually, my mom picks her nose.  But she doesn't eat it.
Sample 2-
Student A: I have a cat named Raven.
Student B: Raisin?
Student A: No, Raven. R-A-V-E-N.
Student B: Oh, because I thought you said Raisin.  I hate raisins.  I never eat them. They are all wrinkly and gross, and it would be like eating little old people.
Just a day in the life.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Garden Mural- RES

You may already know that first grade artists here at RES are working on scientific drawing.  We began with our shoes and then moved onto leaves, incorporating lots of formative assessment in the style of peer feedback.

Last week we read Janet Stevens' book Tops and Bottoms to help us think about how plants have many parts.  If you haven't read it before, KnowWatchLearn has it in video format, which we used in the classroom to see the illustrations larger. The story is hilarious, as the hare outwits the lazy bear into selecting the inedible portions of each crop, and is a great introduction into plant parts.

Each students chose a vegetable. We began with a basic discussion of whether we eat the tops or bottoms of each vegetable.

Tops of vegetables
Bottoms of same vegetables as above
We then discussed how those "tops" and "bottoms" have other more specific names, such as leaves, stems, fruits, flowers, tubers, roots, bulbs, and seeds. Each student illustrated their vegetable in its entirety and wrote about what parts we eat, what parts they like, and some even chose to describe what the vegetable looks like. Special attention was given to leaf shapes and mixing shades of greens.
"Beets are red and green.  We eat the bottom."
 Look at that beet!  This student worked very carefully to mix just the right red, and really focused on the shapes of the leaves, and the way that the stems cluster together so tightly at the bottom.

"We eat the root of the carrot."
All of these are being put together into one big garden.
"I eat the bulb of the onion."
The accurate overlap of the leaves as they grow out of this onion bulb really astounded me- this is a first grade artist!
In-progress garden mural
This morning the Kindergarteners walked by on their way to drop off vegetables in the RES kitchen for the Stone Soup they are making with the Farm-to-School program.  They stopped to check out the work of the first graders, and it was a wonderful opportunity to make some subject area connections between the grades.

The soup is simmering away, and the hallway now not only looks beautiful, but smells amazing as well!

Is that a QR code on that bulletin board display?  It sure is! Now when I display student work in the hallway, I link right to this blog with a QR code to let visitors get more information about artwork.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Magic at the Faire! BCA + Generator

Today I taught five sessions of a Magic Wand workshop for Burlington City Arts and Generator at the Champlain Mini Maker Faire at Shelburne Farms.

How could you not want to make one?

My official Maker tag
Now, it was a pouring rain. But I must say, if it could have been any busier, I wouldn't have known what to do!  (My teacher voice is flagging, y'all, and I need some more tea.)

That's the back of my big 'ol head talking electrical circuits.  Thanks Nance Nahmias for the photo!
Dozens and dozens of wands were made.
Groups were about ten at a time, mostly with hands-on help of older siblings or parents.
Many Flynn Elementary students came through today
Many Halloween ideas were launched today, and one brother/sister pair came to the Faire specifically because they read about the wands, and wanted to learn to make them for their wizard costumes. Like the wands above, many students added a packing tape orb to the end of the LED to refract the light and make it look like a crystal.

I was thinking elfin forest sprite could work as well with this leafy one- look at those seasonal colors!
It took a lot of concentration and careful work to make these on the part of all the kids, who ranged in age from 2-12 (and a few adults like me who never exactly outgrew childhood).

Such focus.
But the payoff was pretty big. Alakazam!
Abracadabra! Poof!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Spider Weavings and a Meditation on Glitter- RES

Happy October!  Nearing Halloween, I start to think of all things creepy-crawly, and ways to incorporate them in the Art Room. What's spookier than spiders? Not much, if you are me.

Except maybe making spiders while wearing a skeleton shirt! For the win.

 Second graders are discussing all the things we know about spiders- their anatomy, the purpose they serve, and how they make webs.

With pink polka dots
The students begin by drawing the spider on a plate, and can artistically interpret their spiders however they would like, creepy or cute, real or imaginary.

Black widow!

 Then students began to weave.Over, under, over, under.

First layer of yarn- over under, over, under...

Switching colors as she weaves!

AB pattern striped spider

Camouflage spider
After two classes, the spiders were mostly finished. 

Hairy legs

Using a multi-toned yellow skein the whole time

Some even got bedazzled with silver glitter. 

That is one sparkly web.
Let's talk about glitter a moment. 
If we are being honest, I think that we can all admit that it is the zebra mussel of art supplies.

Glitter seems to proliferate. You thought you had one project covered in it, but later you find it on your arms.  You take a shower to wash out the glitter that mysteriously ended up in your hair.

Glitter belly button
And then the next morning, when you inspect yourself in the mirror, there is still a single dazzling fleck on your nose. It just doesn't go away. Like zebra mussels.

That said, children across the land love it, and deserve to use it. My general spin is to tell students to use glitter to enhance, not overwhelm, their artwork.

Visiting the building here at RES? My bulletin boards are now interactive with QR codes.

But let's admit it.  In the words of my son's preschool teachers: 
Glitter: It's not done 'til it's overdone. 
And that's why we love it.