(teacher's note) The Prekindergarten class is learning to mix colors. During the first week, students painted with red, yellow, and blue to fill in the shapes created by pre-painted black lines. For the second week, they mixed those primary colors, two at a time, to create a new color: orange, green, or purple. Natalie did an excellent job mixing colors and painting her shapes.
Last week started out with a day dedicated to hearts, but rapidly took a turn in a different direction.
I wrote the following entry last Wednesday to correspond with a Valentine's Day-inspired digital postcard created for my masters class.
If I were sitting down to make a postcard now, I would create a piece about the elements, not of art, but the ones more familiar to me as the kids from Captain Planet. Earth. Fire. Wind. Water. Heart.
Our arts building experiences these in unique ways. A flood in my classroom (water).
A cloud formation* in the ceramics room (wind). and today
A fire in the music storage room (fire).
Yes, the music teacher and I walked into our building today to find that the heater in the storage room had an explosion/electrical fire overnight. The guards found it this morning and had already called the operations department, but the building was filled with smoke and a layer of soot covered my classroom.
What a day it was! But since I'd almost finished my postcard yesterday, I decided to work it to completion today rather than explore the Planeteers that plague our building. You're stuck with a postcard about the fifth power in the cartoon of my childhood---heart.
And here's to hoping earth doesn't make an appearance next year...
*How to explain the freak weather phenomena that occurred in the ceramics room...
Essentially, it was my fault (unlike the flood or the fire). I left the air conditioner running in the classroom. Not central air and not a window air conditioner, this stand up machine functions as both cooling device, dehumidifier, and heater. Unbeknownst to me, it was on the dehumidify setting. And also unbeknownst to me, that has no temperature limit. So the machine kept working all weekend, cooling that room down to some unreasonable temperature. And the rest of the building was warm and humid. Cold dry sealed classroom. Warm humid hallway. Meet in the small space for air to pass through around the door. Condensation craziness! I created a cloud. Inside. And like all clouds, it had to rain eventually. And soak the classroom, grow mold in the ceiling tiles, and create a stream in the hallway. A rather large object lesson in the water cycle, all in one weekend...
And so now, almost a week later, the clean-up continues. I am a refugee, displaced from my classroom and teaching in a spare room in the elementary building. Boy, do I miss my sinks! But the major work in the hallway is done now and the music department is finished using my classroom as temporary storage. I have the afternoon free tomorrow and hope to spend it getting my room usable for Wednesday's classes. I might look like a chimney sweep by the end of the day, but the layer of soot that currently covers every shelf will be gone!
(teacher's note) 1st grade learned about texture: soft, fuzzy, bumpy, slippery, rough, and more. Artists can draw and paint texture! Eric Carle creates his own texture paper to use for his storybook collage illustrations. 1st graders used a monoprinting process to create texture papers, scratching and brushing textures into their paint and then printing it onto papers. The beautiful papers were then used to create a collage! Jason made a great little house. Check out the texture on the roof and the doorknob.
It might be my favorite lesson of the entire year. After three weeks of figure drawing, the students get a new (and significantly older/taller) model. Of course, I model on the 4th week because they are so much better at drawing now! But the results are still amusing, particularly the ones who struggle.
I think through my outfit carefully. For the other models (their classmates, chosen by drawing names out of a hat), I have them wear a costume. For myself, I pick an outfit with good details---seams, pleats, folds, etc. I added an umbrella this time since my sweater was somewhat boring.
I ask the students not to draw faces or hands. This is not about portraits, but about the entire figure. In general, the focus is on lines, but some students begin to explore value as a way to communicate.
(teacher's note) 4th grade has been refining their drawing skills by drawing their classmates, dressed in funny costumes! Students are practicing drawing what they actually see: all the wrinkles and folds in the fabric, the details of the clothes, and the position of the body. For the last class, students had the opportunity to draw Miss Melachrinos. Kevin did an excellent job showing the pleats in her skirt, the details on her shoes, and even the umbrella she was holding!
I pull ideas for lessons from all aspects of my life. I draw on experiences growing up, books I've read, teachers I've observed, courses at university, and other art teachers with whom I interact (friends, coworkers, blogs, etc.). Often another person's project is just an inspiration point that jumps me to a completely different idea for a lesson. Other times, I adapt the lesson to fit into my scope and sequence and work for my international crowd. This lesson is one of the few I've done with very little tweaking. The weeks prior are spent studying proportions in the human figure and creating wire sculptures. To transition into this project, we observe accurate facial proportions on photos of various people.
Where are the eyes?
How long is the nose?
Where are the ears?
Switching to the work of Amedeo Modigliani, I tell a brief background of his life. Having just studied proportions, they quickly point out the differences (placement of eyes, length of nose, length of neck, rounded shoulders, etc.). So was he a bad artist or did people look like that 100 years ago? We eventually decide that distortion (like we observed when our wire sculpture's arms got too long or head got too fat) can be intentional, not just a mistake. Following in Modigliani's steps, we create distorted self-portraits in oil pastels on black paper.
As a final exploration of distortion, we visit the Mac lab to play with preset distortions in Photobooth and use iWarp in Gimp to distort self-portrait photos (taken with the Mac's built-in camera).
(teacher's note) 5th grade spent the last few weeks working on proportions—creating sculptures and drawings with realistic sizes! After studying the correct facial proportions, they looked at the portraits of Amedeo Modigliani, an Italian artist. 5th grade used the same style to create their own Modigliani self-portraits. Be sure to notice the long necks, round shoulders, long noses, and eyes that are too high on the face! Paul entitled his project Paul Modigliani.
(teacher's note) This masterpiece was a group effort by Mr. Hedrick’s 1st grade class! Over two weeks, they learned the steps to making a great piece of art: sketch, create, adjust, display. After generating ideas together and sketching, they settled on an outer space theme for their mural. The students had so many ideas about real and imaginary things in outer space. Can you find all the planets? Some other items include the asteroid belt, meteors, space ships, aliens, dwarf planets, and stars! At the beginning of the second week, they decided what they needed to adjust, or change, to make their mural even better. Lastly, it’s time to display their work. See if you can find the mural, The Outer Space Construction Place 2010, on display as you walk around campus. It is quite large—90cm by 245cm. Great job students!