Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Cityscapes with Fireworks Collages

Over the summer, I did a mixed media cityscape with fireworks project with my Unique Materials Art Fun classes. I was very excited to be asked by Arts and Activities Magazine to submit the lesson for possible future publication. I was so pleased to hear the article will be in the December issue. What an honor and privilege to be included in the nation's leading art education magazine!

Here is my original post and a variation on the lesson using recycled materials.

 Jackson Pollock fireworks show (by Calvin)

This fun and "everything but the kitchen sink" lesson is a take on this mixed media cityscape project I did a few months ago. "Miss Mary, the 4th of July is over." I told my classes, "There is a fireworks show at Disneyland every night at 9:35. You can even hear it from where we live!" (about 15 miles away) Each child created a cityscape outline using cardboard pieces and black acrylic, using the edges to make prints. After these were dry, they painted them with watercolors. Windows were created with circle or square prints in bright colored acrylics. They glued company names from magazines to personalize their cities. Fireworks were done on a separate piece of construction paper with small brushes and acrylics, with a final flicking of paint. And last, we located out cities on water and created reflections using oil pastels with a watercolor wash. There is a lot going on with these, clearly evident on our tables (and even floors) at the end of this project. But what Fun!

Mixed Media Cityscape Collages

 Reese, 1st grade

 Mia, 1st grade

 Ella, 1st grade

Presley, 1st grade

Lauren, 1st grade

Rylee, 5 

Parker, 5

 My new Draw, Paint, Collage classes are working on some very large mixed media cityscape pieces inspired by the art of Ezra Jack Keats (a real favorite of mine), Romare Bearden and even a little Basquiat. You'd never know it by the amount of animal based projects I do, but I Love cityscape art. The more expressive, the better. So I experimented with a variety of media and techniques and came up with this project. The kids started out choosing a well worn placemat full of paint and even doodles.

They choose a few analogous colors and white to sponge paint lightly over their poster board, leaving paint and doodles showing through. The next layer was a black city silhouette started with Sharpie and then painted in with acrylic. Once dry, ends of pencil erasers were used to make colorful prints for city lights. Next, I had the children use sponge brushes to paint over a sheet of newspaper, encouraging them to leave some words and pictures showing through. Pieces of cardboard were then used to print out building shapes and sponges were used to print colorful lit or dark windows. Once dry, they glued down some logos cut from magazines. And as if this wasn't enough (a less is more art lesson, this is not), I had them create reflected city lights using oil pastels, which they painted over with blue watercolor to create a waterfront city. Collage pieces were cut out and glued in layers with some help from Miss Mary. They are wild and expressive - just my thing!

My experiment for the lesson

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Observational Still Lifes

 Abby, 3rd grade

 Fiona, 2nd grade

 Maggie, 3rd grade

 Izzy, 1st grade

Ella, 2nd grade

 Kate, kindergarten

 Mia, 2nd grade

 Sydney, 3rd grade

Calvin, 3rd grade

The objective of this lesson for my Observational Art Lab students was to show them that drawing objects didn't have to be intimidating, it was all a matter of breaking them down into a series of shapes and lines . I was inspired by these wonderful tin can drawings done by 1st graders from The Art Room. I chose these random objects and put them in the center of our tables. I pointed out that these containers shared the common element of ellipses. And I had them observe that the bottoms of these objects were curved rather than flat which would make a more 3 dimensional drawing. After each pencil drawing was gone over in Sharpie, the children used chalk pastels and charcoal to add color and shadow. I gave them free reign with color choices for their table and watercolor backgrounds. I was worried they might find this lesson "ho-hum" but these kids are great about diving into any lesson with enthusiasm.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Pumpkin Still Lifes

 kindergarten - 3rd grade

2nd grade

 3rd grade

 3rd grade

 3rd grade

1st grade

 2nd grade

2nd grade


My Observational Art Lab students created these works on roofing felt ( because I'm obsessed with this material as a canvas and love the drama of color on black). I had some pumpkins in the center of our tables for the kids to observe. We broke down the pumpkins into a series of simple curved shapes using white chalk. I showed them how to add additional pumpkins in the background to create a sense of depth. My two guidelines for this project were to 1) double dip their brush into yellow and red paint, rather than premixing (no water) and 2) try not to paint over their white chalk lines. Once the paint was dry, we took damp paper towels and wiped the chalk away, leaving dramatic back lines. Backgrounds were done in chalk pastel, also blended with the help of a paper towel covered finger. They added last touches of charcoal shadows and white highlights. Love the painterly effects in these!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Drawing Leaves with Sticks

 Fiona, 2nd Grade

Mia, 2nd Grade

 Maggie, 3rd Grade

 Ella, 2nd Grade

 Calvin, 3rd Grade
Always my "experimental" artist and risk taker - :)

Abby, 3rd Grade

Kate, Kindergarten

Izzy, 1st Grade

Works in progress

 Sharpened sticks for ink drawing

When I was in high school, one of the first assignments our art teacher gave us was to go outside and find a stick shorter than a ruler. We were intrigued to say the least. After our sticks were sharpened, we were given India ink and given lots of contour/observational drawing assignments. Over the next few weeks we drew everything from nature, to shoes and backpacks to faces from National Geographic magazines, all with just sticks and ink on "typing" paper (this was the 80's). What a great foundation for me as an artist. Not having the ability to erase and having to draw so many things, helped me not worry about making things perfect and just focus on drawing what I saw. Why I haven't tried this with my students before now is beyond me. It gives line drawings a wonderful quality as the line thickness varies. It's perfectly imperfect. 

My Observational Art Lab students had a variety of leaves to observe and draw for their mixed media pieces. I had my younger ones trace their leaves and then observe and draw the veins. They turned their paper around and drew leaves in every direction, filling their paper. I decided to let them really play with media and offered oil and chalk pastels, bleeding tissue and watercolors, encouraging them to experiment with different combinations.