Friday, December 31, 2010

Collaborative Murals

We often make group murals for assemblies, holidays and other special events. Sometimes the kids paint giant backdrops for their individual artwork and sometimes we'll cut their painted paper and work together to reassemble it.

For the annual First Grade Thanksgiving assembly, the students paint huge sheets of paper and we work collaboratively to create big murals for the stage backdrop. I usually borrow one or two to decorate my house for my extended family Thanksgiving. Then, throughout the year I make use of the painted paper for other murals and signs.

With the 6th graders, we worked on primed canvas with acrylic paints of a limited palette to create a big banner. The students chose one shape and painted a pattern inside. The edge of the banner has the students' hand-prints.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

More Calder

The third graders love the whimsical attitude of the Art of Alexander Calder. We start the unit looking at Calder's constellation sculptures in conjunction with their in-class space study. The students used a card-stock circle base and paper lines to bend, curl, fold and fringe creating out of this world results.

The children also admired Calder's simple cartoon drawing style and his limited color palette so they took off with black marker creating abstract circus drawings with primary colors. Later they created wire figures inspired by Calder's circus. (see Posting-Calder Wire Sculptures).

Fall Still Lifes, many styles, different grades

In the Fall I set up a still life in the middle of the art room with apples, gourds and pumpkins which I use for Second through Sixth graders to create a still life in an age appropriate style or technique. The Sixth graders were inspired by cubist artists like Picasso and Braque. They drew a simple line drawing from life, fragmented it with black marker and then filled each section with one color "family" of colored pencil. The Fourth graders were limited to a colored paper and black, white and the complementary color craypas for their still lifes while the Fifth graders could only tear construction paper. The Second graders looked at Cezanne's fruit paintings and created mixed media still lifes practicing drawing fruit, decoupage, wallpaper patterns and more.

Monday, December 20, 2010


These collages, made in Art Class, were inspired by the work of Dutch artist, Piet Mondrian. The first graders were asked to use only primary colors and black, vertical and horizontal lines, squares and rectangles in their compositions, as Mondrian did in his late work. We were able to review many concepts including use of perpendicular and parallel lines.

4th Grade Cave Painting

The Fourth graders studied the Caves of Lascaux famous for cave paintings made 18,000 years ago containing some of the most well known Upper Paleolithic art. They primarily consist of realistic images of large animals, most of which are known from fossil evidence to have lived in the area at the time. The children were faced with the challenge of drawing a prehistoric animal on crumpled paper. Although not as dark and hard to reach as cave walls, this was not always an easy task. The students limited their color choices to earth tones since that was the palette found in nature and therefore in the art materials of the time.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Monet Waterlilies standing accordion books-2nd grade

I was inspired after the Fall NYSATA Conference and a visit to the Monet Waterlily exhibit at the MOMA (09) to teach my 2nd graders about Monet and Giverny. I debated, tempera or watercolors and settled on a standing accordion Waterlily book with the covers tempera and the body watercolor paint over oil pastels. Some chose to depict the Japanese bridge, weeping willows and lily-pads. They all had the option of collaging lily-pads and flowers onto the paintings. The kids loved Monet's work and will never forget his interest in capturing the same subject at different times of the day and year.

1st grade craypas resist mandalas

The first graders used their knowledge of shapes, colors and lines to create unique mandalas that reflect each of their personalities and aesthetic sensibilities. Mandalas are circular geometric designs intended to symbolize the universe. The basis of the mandala is the center from which shapes, lines and patterns emanate. Early mandalas were created in sand and stones and have origins in ancient Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity and Judaism. The Star of David symbol, adopted by Judaism in the middle ages, is a common motif found in mandalas.

6th grade landscapes -4-ways

The 6th graders chose a photograph of a landscape and then drew a simple pencil drawing of the vista. They traced the drawing onto water color paper and then painted a watercolor version. Next they traced onto tag board and then used 1 color, white and the complement to paint a version. Next they used chalk pastel on black paper and finally they collaged tissue paper, construction paper and or magazine scraps onto a traced tag board. All four versions were hung together. You can see how some are more abstacted and others more realistic.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

4th grade Oaxacan animals and Mexican rugs

The 4th graders learned about the bright wooden animals carved in the Oaxacan region of Mexico. Since we dont have the tools or first aid kits for wood carving, the children drew the animal outlines on canvas. They used tempera paint to paint solid colors on both sides and then added patterns in paint and or craypas. The animals were stuffed slightly and sewn together. The students then created a striped "rug" as a colorful backdrop also inspired by the crafts of Mexico.

Georgia O'Keefe inspired Flowers-6th Grade

The 6th graders looked at real flowers and drew them LARGE in oil pastel. Some watercolored the background on top of the craypas. We encouraged them to start in the middle and have some of the flower go off the edge. They are hung in the main lunchroom throughout Winter bringing bright Spring and Summer thoughts to our snowy campus.