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