Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Karen Katz created the wonderful children's book, "The Colors of Us." It is the story of a girl, Lena, who sees herself as the color of cinnamon and how her artist mother, teaches her that there is no black and white. She shows her the many shades of skin colors: from light cocoa, to peach, from chocolate brown to butterscotch and beyond. Rather than pretending to be color blind, this book embraces the beautiful array of "colors of us."
This book is particularly meaningful to me because my family reflects a spectrum of beautiful colors. I purposefully purchased this book several years ago with that in mind. My daughter often refers to her skin color as cinnamon. She considers me to be "peachy-vanilla." My husband is "milk chocolate." This book reinforces the beauty and diversity of all people.
For my art classes my kindergartenders created their own Katz's folk art inspired collages with a layer of painted background, scrapbook paper cityscapes, and construction paper cut people with added details in oil pastel. The children really had fun with this project, bringing their own personality and added touches to their people.
Monday, December 28, 2009
Another one of my favorite books from childhood is "Harry By The Sea" from the Harry the Dirty Dog series. I think it's timeless success lies with its simplicity(in story and illustrations). The pictures have only 2 colors (and black): a pale olive green and light yelow orange which the children will paint with watercolor.
On a separate paper, I will give a directed line drawing lesson to create Harry. While it may seem simple, I'm sure I will receive a wide range of versions. This is when I hope I can convince them that that is where the beauty lies in art. I always say how boring it would be to have everyone's "dog" or "flower" or whatever look the same. Bring on the misshapen heads and swollen bodies - I love it! These simple pencil drawings will be drawn over with charcoal and smudged to create the same effect as artist, Margaret Bloy Graham. They can then cut them out and glue them to their watercolor backgrounds. Harry's shadow and ocean currents will be done in charcoal as well.
Sunday, December 27, 2009
My son is a freshman in high school and I can still hear myself reading from one of his favorites,"Miss Spider's Tea Party Counting Book." Kirk's illustrations are saturated in deep colors and glowing with an almost illuminated light source.
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
I did a little research about him and found his story so compelling, I wanted to pass it along.
Ezra was born in Brooklyn, NY in 1916 to poor Polish immigrants of Jewish descent. He excelled in art throughout school. At the time of the great depression in 1933, his family suffered hardships, as did most people in his neighborhood. While his mother encouraged his art, his father wanted him to focus on more practical skills. In January 1935 Ezra was awarded his high school's award for excellence in art. Sadly his father died in the street of a heart attack the day before he was to receive this award. Ezra was called to identify the body. It was at this time that he discovered in his father's wallet all the newspaper clippings of Ezra's artistic accomplishments.
Keats went on to work as an illustrator for a variety of publications as well as a fine artist. In the early 60's, Keats published the children's book, The Snowy Day, which received the Caldecott Award. It and 6 other books feature Peter, a young black boy in the streets of New York who would be Keats "hero." He introduced children to an urban world and a main character most had not experienced before in books.
The picture above was inspired by Whistle for Willie about the little boy, Peter who is yearning to learn to whistle so he can call his dog. Different colors of construction paper were used to create the city scene. I used foam stickers and small rectangles of sponge to print graffiti and bricks in Keats' style. I did marker drawings of Peter and Willie as they appear in the book. I will adapt this project for little hands for my classes next month.(The top picture is the actual cover from the 1962 copywrite version of the book)
Thursday, December 17, 2009
I purchased a pad of scrapbook paper over 6 months ago and I am still finding some fun ways to use it. I thought some of the children would enjoy making these cute cards for family and friends. I pre-cut strips of decorative scrapbook paper in widths ranging from 1" to about 4 ". If you don't have scrapbook paper, solid colored construction paper would be very pretty as well (just as I have used for the tree tops and the trunks.) Glue a 5"X8" piece of scrapbook paper to a folded piece of white paper for your card base and background. Next glue the strips of paper to a half sheet of white paper and cut out. Wrap and glue a thin piece of ribbon around your stack of gifts and glue this to your card. Lastly, top your "tree" with a small bow.