Friday, October 29, 2010

Salt Dough Experiments

In the week I have in between art class sessions, I am busy "test driving" art projects. I'm all over the map: Jim Dine, David Hockney, Impressionist fall landscapes and these salt dough inspirations. I was experimenting with texture and watercolor with the flower and shell. I used an actual shell to make a fossil-like creation while the flower was hand formed. The snake and sea turtle were inspired by the gorgeous work of Australian artist, Bronwyn Bancroft. (But I did see some similar creations in clay from Apples Love Oranges that really caught my eye.) I just picked up Bancroft's children's book at the library, "Possom and Wattle, My Big Book of Australian Words." Her work is so wonderfully bright and graphic.

You may be seeing some more similar creations from my classes soon.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Technicolor Dinosaurs

During the summer, my Children's Book Art campers did a project based on the book,"How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight?" by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague. They turned out so well, I thought I'd try it again with some of my students. I adapted a direct line drawing lesson from the cover T-Rex, complete with blankie. After going over their giant pencil dinosaurs in permanent marker, they used watercolor to give it some personality. Some children used colored Sharpies for smaller details. While still wet, they sprinkled salt on their work which gave the dinosaur skin a bumpy reptile effect. (You know they loved this part!)
Once dry, the dinos were cut out and glued to black posterboard. The final step was to add some stars and a moon.
This was a favorite project for many of my students(Kindergarten thru 5th).

Thursday, October 21, 2010

My Monster and Me

Art projects based on "Where the Wild Things Are" are about as common as Rainbow Fish lessons these days. But they are both kid favorites, incorporate lessons in line and color, and allow a variety of ages to feel successful. So my Kindergarten thru 3rd graders created an extra large monster with Sharpie and watercolor based on those of Maurice Sendak. We talked about ways to change the expression of their monster's face: happy, angry and sad. Then I took pictures of each child reacting to their monster. I explained that they might be their best friend and would look up to them smiling, they could be defiant, afraid ect.. We went through a lot of, "What's my motivation?" :D Funny how most of the boys chose an angry monster that they were NOT afraid of while most girls created happy monsters that they smiled at adoringly. Lastly, each child placed their cut picture to create a scene with their monster.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Dia de Los Muertos Skulls

These beautifully detailed skulls come from my talented group of 3rd and 4th grade girls. After learning the significance of the holiday in Mexico and other Latin American countries, they got to work creating some really uniquely decorated skulls. They did a fantastic job with the added challenge of trying to create symmetrical designs on both sides by just "eyeing it". After cutting their skulls out they had the option of adding more flowers and designs with oil pastel to their black background. Lovely work girls!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

A Tribute to Ben Morris

Ben Morris fashion sketches from the New York Times, 196o's

I just received a postcard in the mail from my alma mater, The Savannah College of Art AND Design. It encourages students to share stories and contribute to a scholarship fund in the name of my absolute favorite professor, Ben Morris. He would have been 80 this year. His style of teaching by approaching "drawing in a free light-hearted way" resonates with me to this day(even after graduating 20 years ago).

Ben was an extremely accomplished fashion illustrator who worked with Givenchy, Paris, Womens Wear Daily, Elizabeth Arden and The New York Times(to name a few.)

The trademark of Ben was to focus on the simple beauty of line. Most of his classes required just a tablet of newsprint and a box of chalk pastels. He would send us to the local market to buy fresh produce to bring back to class to draw. Or in my Fashion Illustration class we would head to the local mall to draw the latest shoes, sitting right there outside Belk's department store window. He had a quick wit and the amazing ability to keep you both on your toes, but loose enough to do your best work. He was not afraid to (gasp!) draw directly on your paper, which was of great value to me. I truly treasure the time I spent learning from him! I try to create the same atmosphere of enthusiasm in my own classes of young children.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

"Only One You" Inspired Fish

Lacie (7) chose to paint over her fish with watercolor to make them look "like they were really under water."

Toby, my 1st grader, really got the message,"Blend in when you need to, stand out when you have a chance."

My multi-age group looked at "Only One You" by Linda Kranz. I have done salt dough fish inspired by her book before. The book has great messages for children like "Find your own way. You don't have to follow the crowd." Her illustrations are composed of bright and graphic painted rock-fish with full red lips (no fins or tails) combined with underwater photography. I always love it when a project brings forth so many varied approaches and results.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Halloween Sunset Silhouettes

Fabulous job by Matthew, my 1st grader

Lately some of our unseasonably warm temps (even by SoCal standards) have brought forth some amazing sunsets. I took these photos at dusk a couple weeks ago on literally the hottest day ever recorded in Los Angeles - 113*. I know my students have been wanting to do a Halloween inspired art project. As much as I appreciate your suggestion Matthew (hilarious uber-smart 7 year old), I'm going to pass, at least for now, on the tissue paper ghost idea that you whispered in my ear last week. So I decided on a Halloween themed sunset silhouette.

After our watercolor sunsets dried, we talked about exactly what a silhouette was. I still needed to go around and encourage my younger students to fill everything in black. I went over how to create a "creepy" tree (desiduous trees are somewhat foreign in this zone :) ). They could add some pumpkins, a cat or whatever else they could think of that would create a spooky atmosphere. Some children chose to add some Van Gogh inspired finishes.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Wild Roosters

I have a group of all boy Kindergarten and 1st graders who are teaching me a thing or two about my approach to teaching art. I am lucky enough to have an active group of young boys join me in following art lessons after 6 hours of sitting still and listening at school. My son was all energy at this age (and his Pre-K teacher told me his scissor skills were less than spectacular and I should work with him on that) so I really get where they're coming from. I have yet to do an art lesson with templates or tracers in the 4 weeks of this art session. This may change - don't judge me, ha :) I am really trying to let the art come from them, no matter where they are in their fine motor control development. The fact that these are paid for art classes may cause me to struggle with the process vs. product issue a bit more. But I think as a parent, you really cherish a piece of art that comes from the child with as little interference as possible. So here are a few roosters from my Picasso rooster lesson. They are rough, wild and I think very expressive.

By the way, my now 15 year son does just fine with a pair of scissors :D

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Rex Ray Inspired Collages

Some of my students are creating collages loosely based on the work of artist, Rex Ray. The San Francisco based artist and former graphic designer creates gorgeous collages with layers of color, patterns and shapes, from the minimal to the ornate. He started making collages by cutting up magazines into interesting compositions after his day job as a graphic designer left him creatively stifled. He made hundereds of simple works, without judging them or over-thinking. (He clearly shut off his left brain.) He now sells his pieces in galleries as well as through Designer, Jonathon Adler.

I wanted to give the kids an inspirational spring board for this project. So I asked them to create an underwater fantasy garden or a garden found somewhere on another planet. (I even played The Beatles' Octopus's Garden to help transport their minds.) They first created their background atmosphere by painting their board with several colors without pre-mixing to give some added dimension to their piece. They could then use magazines, leftover textured paper, and scrapbook paper to create shapes for their fantasy worlds. I've encouraged them to repeat some of their papers and shapes to keep the viewer's eye moving and use the design principle of repetition.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Eric Carle Inspired Cityscapes

While one of my classes is in phase 1 of their sunset cityscapes, I thought I'd try an Eric Carle inspired cityscape collage with my K thru 3rd grade class. With such a range of ages, I try to find projects where every child can feel successful. In Eric Carle's, Animals Animals book there is a wonderful (ok they are ALL wonderful) nighttime city collage about an electric eel that could light up all of New York's streets. The children were allowed to create a nighttime or daytime sky with a variety of tempera paints. They then got to work cutting their sky scrapers (some opted to paint their buildings). They could use leftover textured paper, paints or oil pastels to create their windows. Lastly they could add finishing touches to their sky.