Sunday, May 27, 2012

What how to draw book?!!

I know a lot of people have already started summer vacation but we have several weeks to go and a minor crisis has struck my classroom.... my most popular set of how to draw prompts has gone missing. This would not be a big deal but they were given to me years ago by a retiring teacher and I have NO CLUE what book they came from or if it is even a book.  They are set up like comic strip format and each animal is drawn in about five steps using very basic shapes. They are super simple black line drawings. There are four animals to a page. Does this sound familiar to anyone? Do you know the book or program they might have come from? Please help!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Kandinsky watercolor - round two

This is my second year trying to do Kandinsky inspired watercolors. Last year for this lesson  we focused on using organic shapes and geometric shapes and the concept of composition. While I liked some of them they were not very expressive and really not as Kandinsky as I wanted. This year I tried to focus more on using line and color to express moods and feelings. We started really well but by the end we had very mixed results again.
To start I had students paint onomatopoeia lines with india ink. I gave them a word like Zing, or splat, or shushhh and they had to paint what that line would look like. Then we listened to different types of music and painted lines inspired by each style of music. The next class we repeated the process but with colors...what color is swish and zip, what colors did each style of music inspire?

So I loved the movement and expressiveness of what the kids were coming up with during practice time and decided to break out the watercolor paper for this lesson (something I have a very limited amount of).
For their final assignment I asked them to use at least three expressive lines, three organic shapes, three geometric shapes and to repeat one of those shapes at least three times, to have overlap and to have something going off the page. I had them plan their design on printer paper and then use india ink and watercolor paint.

The end results were mixed. For many students the movement, and expressive nature...the freedom of the practice versions got lost in the final draft. Many student's struggled to fill the space and how to use color. Others did not have enough repeating elements to create true unity. Some kids really liked the lesson and others pushed through just to be done.  I feel like I was closer to what I want to see come out of this lesson this time but still not there. I felt a lot of pressure, and honestly a bit of disappointment in some of the results because I had used up so much of my precious watercolor paper.

this one is a good representation of the majority of lessons I received. I know this student followed my directions but yet the end result is lacking. When this many student's struggle I know it is a issue on my end with how I design and or teach the lesson.

Yet for other students, mostly the ones I choose to show, this lesson really clicked for them.

For round three next year I think we will make these changes:
*Use smaller paper...I cut smaller pieces of paper for the second class and the kids were able to handle the space better in that class.
*Use cardstock and not watercolor paper (less pressure on the kids and me)
*Put more emphasis on repeating three elements, a expressive line that is repeated 5 + times, and then two shapes that get repeated at least more than three times.
*Do more pre-practice on how to create a composition with unity and balance

What I still need help with:
*how to help the student's better handle using color in the lesson...should they use a color family or have a free range of colors like they did this time
*how to re-capture the freedom and movement from the practice work on the expressive lines...should I have them make five expressive line paintings (just the line) then choose their favorite to then add to to make the final work

* any other ideas on how we can improve the lesson?

Friday, May 18, 2012

painting textured clay

photo is of a roller you can buy from AMCO (I couldn't think of anything better to use that wouldn't take an image of someone elses lesson)

I need your ideas yet again...we have just finished up making clay kimonos for our Japan unit. I had the kids really focus on adding texture to their clay with stamps and texture mats and shoe prints and they did a good job. Now is the problem. In the past when we have painted textured clay a lot of the visual interest of the texture gets lost under the flat color of the paint. We are out of glaze so that is not an option. What ideas do you have to help bring out the texture designs when we paint these. I've seen explanations on how to "antique" polymer clay by using black paint and another color on top but those examples often require sanding off the black paint on the raised layers and I don't see that working with the ceramic clay.
Ideas please?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

no clay? No Way!

These really cool CLAY hot dogs are done by a childhood friend who is working hard to make a living with his ceramics. These hot dogs were going to be the inspiration for our clay lesson.

I had a surprising and, to me, rather shocking conversation with one of my 6th/7th classes today. We are finishing up pop art food paintings and are scheduled to then make those food out of clay and hopefully turn them into a lidded container. So I was explaining to the kids how many classes we had left in the year and how long it would take to make the clay and have it dry and fire and glaze and such.... basically that we need to be done painting by the end of the week so that we can start clay.
A few kids called out "I don't want to do the clay project." Oh  you know middle school students in the spring, complain complain. I responded that I'm sure they were not speaking for all 36 of their classmates. But then to my shock ton of kids started saying they didn't want to do clay. I told them we could vote at the end of class thinking that the kids were trying to impress each other and once they were voting on paper independently that they would vote for clay.  Well for the first time in my teaching career when the kids had a silent independent vote half voted no clay, a quarter voted yes clay and a quarter voted "either way is fine". I've never had a that many student's turn down clay! I'm shocked, my other classes love clay and are chomping at the bit to start the project. We have already done two clay lessons this semester so I am considering not doing the clay project as it will eat up a chunk of my clay supply and take a lot of time.
While I try to let my student's have some choice within each lesson, I have never let a class veto a project as a whole...but I hate to fight kids when it comes to clay.  Would you skip the lesson or push on forward?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

x-ray style stuffies

Well I may not be posting much but my classroom is creating like crazy. Part of why I haven't posted is because I am in mourning  the loss of Picknik photo editing. I can not find a program I like as much, or find easy enough to use while also playing with my son. I am not pleased with the editing of these photos but they will have to do.

 So onto the project. During our Australia unit this year I wanted to try something different with x-ray and dot style art. I had the students do dot paintings and x-ray style animal drawings as always but then I wanted to see how our drawings would translate into 3-D. I gave the students several Australian animal shapes to choose from and taught them how to sew and embroider. They got really into this lesson and begged to work on them before school even started. Each student learned to straight stitch, back stitch, chain stitch, satin stitch, blanket stitch and some student's learned to make french knots. Other students used puffy paint to add the dot aspect of their design. These took quite a while and I didn't really find a good way to display them but the kids sure loved them and were very proud. Good work 6th grade!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

attach those caps...

I'm all take and no give these days. We have almost collected enough bottle caps to do a much for having enough by earth day...oh well. Anyway the mural is going to be inside, hanging on the upper wall of the library and will hang for at least one year. We are looking at about a 6ft x 5ft mural. So I need your experience in choosing the base for the mural and the attachment method. I think I have ruled out foam core as being too flimsy but I worry that plywood will be really heavy. Is there an in-between material we can use? Do we really need to drill each cap in or can we use hot about gorilla glue or liquid nails? Did you assemble the mural or have adult volunteers or have student's do it? What types of attachment materials did you let the students use (hot glue gun, power drill?) I will have 6th-8th graders who can work on this project. Thanks so much for you ideas. I know there are tons of posts about this topic out there but honestly with baby demanding all my attention I don't have time to search through everything!