Friday, February 26, 2010

The Little Watercolor with the Long Story

I've had a lot of people ask how a girl born and raised in southern California ended up at The Savannah College of Art and Design. My life was forever changed by this watercolor I did my senior year in high school.

My art teacher was collecting our submissions for the Scholastic Art Awards. She discouraged me from entering this piece as she felt a true watercolor should have more white of the paper showing. (To her credit, she had a valid point.) I thought it was one of my stronger pieces, so she relented. It went on to win the Kodak Award for Best Watercolor in Los Angeles County. From there it went to the national competition in New York. While it didn't win anything there, a scout from SCAD saw the piece and offered me a partial scholarship. I went on to graduate from SCAD, meet my husband (of now 18 years), live in the south for a decade, and even name my daughter, Savannah - all because of 1 little painting.

We all make decisions in life that can forever change our course. I have something very tangible to mark my life altering path change.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Tasty Treats A La Thiebaud

My Mini Modern Artists finished this art session with a take on the work of pop artist, Wayne Thiebaud. The children were very excited about the subject matter of this living artist: rows of cakes, lollipops, pie ect. They each chose their dessert and drew and cut out a simple shape to be repeated. Some kids opted for a whole sweets buffet. After tracing their shape in permanent marker they used chalk and oil pastels to mimic Thiebaud's thick painterly style. I encouraged them to add some strong cast shadows, also very prevalent in his work. I did my own cupcakes as an example. But I was really thrilled to see these 2nd and 3rd graders take it a step further with color and placement. I think they did a wonderful job!

Leo the Late Bloomer

My kindergarteners finished this art session with their take on the 1971 published, Leo the Late Bloomer. It's a cute story about Leo the tiger who is having a hard time learning to read, write and draw. But as his mother says, "a watched bloomer never blooms." In his time he learns to all the things the rest of the jungle animals can do.

Since we only had 1 hour to complete this project I gave everyone a head template to trace. From there we drew the rest of the tiger features step by step. After going over their tiger in permanent marker, they could add leaves, flowers, and butterflies with oil pastel. Lastly we used watercolor to paint our tigers orange and a blue wash for the sky.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Dale Chihuly Inspired Sculpture

(Playing around with composition)

My Mini Modern Artists took a look at the work of Amercian glass sculptor, Dale Chihuly. His amazing installations can be seen around the world. Closest to our home is Fiori di Como in the lobby of the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas. Commissioned by Steve Wynn, it took over 100 architects, engineers, shippers, installers and glass blowers to create this 2,100 square foot installation with over 2000 pieces of glass. It's a spectacular piece that looks like a mass of dream-like flowers or sea creatures. Originally I had intended for each child to create their own design to take home. But I thought that collectively, they created a wonderful meandering composition more in the style of Chihuly. And as an added bonus, I get to keep it! Each child will get a mounted photo of their collaborative project.

I bought 8x10 sheets of Shrinky Dink paper (can you believe most of these children had never heard of them?!) I had them create a design with permanent markers, encouraging them to keep it simple and repetetive. Each sheet was put in the oven where it contorted to a unique shape. I randomly glue gunned the pieces together (managing to burn myself only once!) and threaded a small hole in the piece with fishing line and then a simple wire hook and hung it from my ceiling. It looks beautiful spinning slowly with all the interplay of colors, forms and shapes. I plan to do this project again on a smaller scale so each child can have their own mini Chihuly inspired sculpture.

Georgia O'Keeffe Inspired Flowers

My 2nd and 3rd graders got to take a look at one of my personal favorite artists, Georgia O'Keeffe. I particularly love her flowers, painted so close up, they take on an a beautiful abstract appearance. O'Keeffe once said,"I decided that if I could paint that flower in a huge scale, you could not ignore it's beauty."
I had lots of close up photos of flowers for the children to use as inspiration. As large as they thought they were making them, I had them take it a step further and encouraged them to go off the page in at least 3 places. They used oil pastels to draw their flower and add details. A watercolor wash was added to the background to really set off their flower composition.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Giraffes Can't Dance

I saw this art lesson on Deep Space Sparkle some time ago and knew I had to give it a try. (It is based on the book by Giles Andreae and Guy Parker-Rees.) I finally got my chance this month with my 2 groups of kindergarteners. They had so much fun with coming up with their giraffe's unique dancing pose. What made this lesson so workable with 5 year olds was the 2 part process. First we drew and painted our giraffes and put them up to dry. Next we painted our night time sky and grass. The giraffe was then cut out and glued onto background. This was a real favorite among the children.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Henri Matisse Meets Alexander Calder

My Mini Modern Artists have been through Impressionism, Cubism and Klee inspired Abstract-Primitivism. With only 3 more weeks to go in this art session, I have really agonized about which art movements and/or artists to visit in this highly edited journey through Modern Art with my 2nd and 3rd graders. I had initially intended to do a Matisse cut-out project based on his piece, "The Beasts of The Sea." But I was also playing around with an Alexander Calder mobile idea. I decided to combine the two in what I think is a really fun project.
First I went over a brief background of each artist. We discussed Matisse as one of the original founders of the Fauvist art movement. Years later an illness prevented him from standing at a canvas to paint. He then created his "painting with scissors" cut-outs while bed ridden or in a wheel chair. It is perhaps these collages created in the last years of his life, for which he is most widely recognized.
Next we discussed American artist Alexander Calder, "the sculptor who made sculpture move." Calder, with a degree in mechanical engineering, is widely considered to be the inventor of the mobile. After creating a number of toys with articulation in Paris, he went on to have his first show of this new art form. His friend, artist Marcel Duchamp was the first to dub these kinetic sculptures with the French term, "mobile." In addition to mobile and stabile scultptures, Calder created paintings, lithographs, jewelry and tapestry.
To create our mobiles with Matisee inspired cut-outs, the children first layed out pre-cut cardstock shapes(found in the scrapbooking section of craft stores) into their hanging layout design. Next we punched holes where these shapes would be connected using a standard hole puncher.With lots of examples of Matisse's wonderful cut-out work, the children cut out organic and geometric shapes to glue onto their base shapes. I reminded them to think about the play of color and shape combinations. Since this is a hanging mobile, thought must be given to both sides. Colored paper clips are then threaded through the holes joining the shapes in a hanging mobile composition. Lastly, I threaded a thin piece of wire through the top paper clip to act as their hook.
The children had a lot of fun doing this project and each mobile came out completely unique.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Paul Klee Inspired Abstract Fish

I got the original idea for this project from Union Hill Elementary in Grass Valley, CA via Artsonia. These fish were inspired by the work of abstract artist, Paul Klee. We learned that Klee was a Swiss-German artist who was inspired by Cubism, primitive art and children's paintings. He created over 8,000 works of art during his lifetime. In 1931 he began teaching art at an academy in Germany. He was run out by the Nazis who called his art (and all modern art) "degenerate."
After a direct line drawing lesson for the fish shape, the children created their own patterns and designs with permanent marker to give their fish unique personality. They were encouraged to create some primitive symbols that were very prevalent in many of Klee's paintings. The outline of the fish was gone over with a black crayon. Lastly they used watercolor, Klee's favorite medium to add color to their fish.