Friday, December 28, 2012

Australia dot style mini paintings

Time for 6th grade's yearly study of Australian Aboriginal art. We always learn about dot painting and x-ray style drawing and then throw in something a little different for fun. Last year we made the x-ray style stuffies...I'll post this year's wild card in a few days.  We start our unit learning a bit about the Aboriginal Dream time stories, symbols and dot painting. We talk about why Dream time stories and symbols differ from region to region and most are not to be shared with non Aboriginal people. We also talk about how traditionally dot paintings were not to be shared with non Aboriginals and look at how modern day Australian artists are creating dot paintings that do not revel sacred stories.

After our day of learning about Australian Aboriginal art we looked at a set of Aboriginal symbols and played matching and story building games...I got my set of symbols from a class I took but we also use this set from Aboriginal art online

and this set from this site

After practicing using the symbols for storytelling each student chooses one to three symbols for their mini paintings that are about 3x5 inches and done on scrap matt board.

Students paint their matt board a solid base color with acrylic and set it to dry. When dry they sketch their symbol(s) and paint them in solid black.  Then using either the back of a crayon, the back of a paintbrush or the back or point of a bamboo skewer each student radiates the outline of their symbol in dots using a 2-3 colors.
Doing "mini" paintings makes these novel and keeps the kids from getting burnt out on dotting so the lesson gets done in two days instead of dragging on forever. Plus is gives the kids good dotting practice for their next x-ray and dot style animal lesson.
Great work from this year's group of 6th graders....I wish I had time to post all 35 of them !

Sunday, December 23, 2012

fun with calligrams

My 6th-8th graders had a great time with calligrams this fall. They got really into it this year....I attribute three changes I made to this years lesson and a T.V. show.

Changes this year:
This year I if they were going to do an object I had them go look up how to say that object in six different languages. They really liked that. This girl also looked up how to say the different parts of a car in different languages.

I also said they could expand from a poem or text that they wrote to other variety of text such as song lyrics (clean version) which a lot of kids choose to do

and dialogue from a movie was another popular choice

Change three was that I got micro thin sharpies along with my thin felt tip markers. The kids felt they had better control of their lettering with the super thin sharpies.

The we had the kids that stuck with with words that described the object in English only

Man do they love the new Dr. Who

Then some 7th grade work:

and some 6th graders

 proof that using just the name of the object but a variety of text size can be very effective 

and the finally there is a show on PBS kids called Word World that has uses very basic calligrams and quite a few kids mentioned when I introduced the lesson.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

a peak inside....

Over the years I have had many many students who are on the autism spectrum...some love art some don't, some have talent for it and others not. However, the last two years I have had a young man who is Autistic in the more traditional definition of the term (I don't know how to better word it). He is very quiet, has a really hard time communicating with others, he seems very contained in his own head and as a teacher, and I know for his peers, it is very hard to get a sense of who he is as a person. While this student and I have "talked" many times and I have learned how to help him understand and process what I want him to do in the classroom, this lesson was the first time I felt like I was able to see the real him.... and what an amazing young man he is.

 This was his artwork for the illuminated letter lesson that I posted about before. This was the first time he had a really open ended lesson from me but not the first time he had worked in colored pencil in my classroom.

He used no how to draw books, just asked to look at my book of reptiles and if he could use a imaginary animal (yes of course!) ...these are just the wonderfully expressive and charming animals and images he choose to express who he is and what he likes.

I have this in a frame in the office so the reflection off the glass is making the photos a bit odd looking but I feel like you can see the personality in his creatures and the attention to detail he used

I was hoping to talk with his parents at conferences but it didn't work out....I know he likes to draw at home but these are so awesome  I think he would be a great book illustrator (and maybe author!) when he get's older.
I really look forward to to seeing what else he makes this year and I am going to make a big effort to adapt my lessons for him so that he has more time to work on them and can show his own style.
At the end of the lesson I was praising him for what an amazing job he did and I don't know if it made him uncomfortable, or if he has a hard time showing happiness, but he said, "ok, good" and kept his very clam serious look he always has. I hope inside he was smiling and knowing what a amazing young man he is.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

glazing green-wear? please help

I'm making cupcake stands with my 6/7th grade class... it has been a slow, less than ideal lesson that will need major work before I do it again. It has taken us so long to build them that I am really crunched for time on firing the green-wear and then glaze firing before winter break and there is no way I am letting this lesson drag on after the break.
I have always been told NOT to apply glaze to green-wear and fire it for several reasons that I fully  understand but I basically have no choice this time.

So my question is: have you ever glazed green-wear and then successfully fired it (low fire) any suggestions or tips that you can pass along to me so I don't turn this blah clay lesson into an epic disaster of a firing?

p.s. we do use ducan this case we will be using the sprinkle series and I always have the kids add a layer of clear coat

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Illuminated letters 2012 version

For our newest installment of Illuminated letters we went back to paper and maker, colored pencil and or crayon. We viewed my illuminated letter powerpoint that we watch for each version of this lesson. New this year I had kids fill out a little, "about me" survey to help them brainstorm for the lesson. This proved very helpful for me later on when the kids had some artist block.

 These were done by 7th and 8th grade student's many who are repeats to my program.

 I asked each student to choose a letter that applied to them and then use 5-9 images that told the story of who they were.

The kids were to really focus on using their art materials correctly.

 I tried to leave this lesson a bit more open to see what the kids would do with it. Overall I was really happy with the end results.

none of these are really my strongest artists but they all worked hard to do their personal best
New to art this year, I think he has really neat ideas like his paintball splattered letter R

Love this tribute to the new and classic Dr. you see how she drew herself wearing the classic Dr. Who scarf?
Darn this photo doesn't capture the insane detail of the work this young man does. He blows my mind. Here is a close up picture of the detail doodling he did inside his letter B.
a bit creepy...but there is a maturity in his work that is way beyond what you would expect from a 8th grade boy.
I still need to take a photo of the very best one though done by one of my autistic students who can break out of his intense internal world through his art...I can't wait to share his worth with you.

Friday, October 12, 2012

classic color wheels

Nothing ground breaking here, just some classic color wheels, but one of those skills I feel all middle school students need to master. 6th graders went through a series of practice exercises before making their final color wheel. First we use crayons and as a group color a color wheel while talking about the primary, secondary and intermediate colors. (Keep in mind some of my 6th graders have never had art). The next class I have table groups work together to paint a rather large group color wheel. They are given the primary colors and have to mix their secondaries and intermediate colors and get them in the correct place on the color wheel.

 After this group challenge I provided some troubleshooting instruction on how to correctly mix colors (what colors are the strongest...moving light to dark and so on) Next class each student has to paint a practice color wheel (takes about 20 min) and then starts creating their final color wheel.

 I pre-print wedges that equal 1/12 of a circle. I ask the kids to manipulate the top arch of the wedge to create a simple shape that will radiate around the circle. Some kids went a little fancier and others stayed pretty plain.

After cutting out the wedge each student traces it 12 times on a large sheet of white paper and then paint their color wheel. When the kids are done painting they need to use sharpie to go over their pencil lines, cut out their color wheel and then glue it to black paper.

 Students are graded on clean brushwork, solid colors and that each student has correctly created their 12 colors.

I don't know if it my camera or editing or computer screen but I feel like the colors the kids made are showing up distorted on the computer screen... particularly in the orange family.

One helpful hint we have learned is to use more of teal blue than a standard blue to get better color mixing. We also add a tinny dot of white to our purple colors to make them easier to see.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Radial name tutorial

I first did this lesson as a 6th grader myself close to 20 years ago. I believe we did it in math class while talking about different types of symmetry.  While there are several art blogs out there that have lovely photos of student work using the same process I'm not finding a tutorial with photos of how to lead your student's through the process so here is one. Be warned this is photo heavy.

First off you want plain old copy paper...nothing fancy you want to be able to see through the paper easily. Cut that copy paper into whatever size square you want. We go for 8 1/2 inches by 8 1/2.

Guide the student's (ideally under a document camera) into folding the paper into fourths and then opening it back flat again. Then have them fold the paper diagonally. Open the paper. Fold it diagonal the other direction.

Have the kids keep the paper folded into this right triangle.

 Have them fold it down into a smaller triangle....another right triangle.

And fold it down one more time. It needs to be folded in this order for it to look right when you open it up.

With the paper folded into the smallest right triangle have them set the paper on the table in front of them with  the 90 degree angle up.

Then moving left to right have the kids write their name in block or bubble letters.

 Make sure they have each letter touch the top and bottom of the triangle. Kids who want a challenge can use fancier lettering or overlapping or add in a random shape or two...but really your standard block letters will do just fine. What is important is that those letters touch the TOP and BOTTOM
Have the kids ink over their pencil lines with sharpie.

Now open up the paper. Have the kids line up in front of you.

YOU fold the paper so that they get the first tracing location correct. This will only take you a few seconds per kid and will save a ton of time in the long run. See the photo for how to make the first fold.

Send the kids to a window to trace in the first space. (two triangles have lettering now)

You can have them go right to sharpie or work in pencil and then later go over the pencil with sharpie. Warn the kids that at this step their project will probably look like a deranged 1st grader made it and they will come tell you they are doing it wrong and need to start over. Tell them they need to push on. Their tracing is going to be backwards, or upside down or both.  If after they fill in all 8 spaces it still looks messed up then they can start over again. Very quickly these go from "What the heck," to "that is so cool!".

Have the kids come back and check in with you after the trace the first section. Fold the paper for them as shown in the photo below.

Yes I know you think a 6th, 7th, 8th (whatever) grader should be able to figure out the paper folding on their own but after doing this lesson 9 times I promise folding it for them the first 2 times really helps.

Have them go trace in the 2 triangles on the flip side. (Four triangles have lettering now)

At this point most can figure out how to open the paper and fold it so that they are now ready to trace four of the triangles into the last four empty spaces.

If there is a big space in the middle of the paper have the kids add an interesting radial shape.

Now the kids can choose up to 5 colors. Sometimes I ask them to go with a color family...other times I let them free range. I like to get as many colors for them to choose from as possible. Do a quick review of how to use markers correctly (coloring in the same directions!)

Have them work not one triangle at a time, but one letter at a time. If the letter B is blue on mine then ALL 8 letter B's have to be blue. Work radially around the paper and you will have very few coloring issues.

Round and round they go. If you want these done will give them one to one half days (40-45 min) to receive instruction, plan, fold, trance and sharpie the design. Then I offer about 2 days to color. If they are really taking their time and coloring nicely then it will take a while. I don't allow white space to show unless it is part of a pattern they are creating.
If they are dragging on the coloring past 2 days then I find it helpful to split class into the first half of class for coloring and the second half for working on another concept or lesson. I match this will my color theory unit and I'll post what the aspects of that are in the coming weeks.

When done the student's are responsible for mounting them on construction paper and attaching a project completion card to the back.