Monday, March 30, 2015

Painting with Paper - Follow the values!

When my project students at South Shore Charter Public School arrived the other day, I handed each of them a small color copy of a painting.  I told them they could trade with each other if they wanted.  (Surprisingly, very little trading). Then they had to make a rectangle proportional to the small painting in their sketchbooks.  I then revealed several containers of colored paper, with and without pattern, lots of color, wide range of values, and told them they were going to "paint with paper".  I showed them an example from my blog from a while back when I recreated one of my own paintings in paper. 

 Initially, my kids were a bit stymied that we didn't have exactly the right colors, but then we talked about how value was more important than color, and magic started to happen..  I chose paintings by Matisse, Picasso, Fairfield Porter, Gaugin, and Carol Marine all for their accessibility, masses of color, and strong light to dark pattern.  Here are their results so far. 

I am so excited by what they are seeing, and how they are constructing their "paintings".. not to mention how well they are cooperating with one another.  Splendid day!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Apples and a Mouse - a lesson on cropping and neutrals

This week, I set up a lesson using a painting by terrific artist, Carol Marine (See her work at the link here)  Carol's work is strong and very accessible to my middle-school students.  I chose this painting by Carol for its color scheme, whimsy, and cropped subject matter. The students needed to make a thumbnail sketch, then paint it in watercolor, using no black nor brown.  On a couple of the paint sets, I had to use "caution tape" to cover the black and brown just in case they "forgot."  We talked about black, brown, tan, gray, etc, and how they need to make those tones using complements after naming the black, brown, tan, gray, etc, by using one of the primary or secondary colors as adjective.  "Green gray", "orange brown", "reddish tan".  They got the hang of it.  We'll finish this week. 
Thanks for looking!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Drawing Aerobics - pencil, a stopwatch, and some fun

Sometimes my students at South Shore Charter Public School can be self-conscious about drawing, and feel intimidated around their peers or when facing challenging subject.  Today I introduced them to "drawing aerobics", an exercise I came up with a few years ago to break the ice, break the surface tension, get their juices flowing.  I added a couple of suspenseful twists today, and got great results.  This exercise works with adults and child students alike.

As they arrived in class, I told them to get their sketch books and to make 4 rectangles on each of three pages, all different shapes and sizes.  As they did so, I placed 5" x 8" pieces of card stock on the tables in front of each student and then doled out a variety of objects onto the card stock; mini-still life setups.  There was a piggy bank, a jar with dice in it, binder clips, a cream pitcher, some building blocks, a ceramic chicken, jar with brushes in it, a miniature trophy, etc. 

I explained to the students that I would roll a die, which would tell how many minutes they would draw, (maximum time allotted was 3 minutes) then we drew a card from a deck.  If it was black, they could draw anyway they wanted.  If it was red, they needed to crop the drawing.  Then.. drum roll, if they pulled a face card, it would be a no eraser round!  They gasped.  

We had a ball, and they took risks, pushed themselves, and realized that 3 minutes is a long, long time when you are drawing the essence, the essentials of the object in front of you.  They cropped their images in very interesting ways, excitement!  We had a lot of laughs.  I had a large stopwatch running on my smartboard, some music in the background, and they happily rotated after every round. 

Everyone left happy, and successful, and feeling pretty accomplished... a good day. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Folk Tale Set - 8 feet by 9 feet acrylic on canvas

The completed set!
I work in a wonderful K-12 charter school where we find ways to collaborate between younger and older students on a regular basis. Along with teaching middle school math, I teach 4 hours of project-based learning each week.  My project is naturally an art project, and I have posted before about some of our lessons and activities.  One of the projects in our kindergarten is Folktales, where the students put on plays.  This year, they asked us to create a set for their play.
Three primed panels, ready to go.
We read the play, made a list of anything we thought should be included in the set, measured the wall, then had to sit on our ideas through snow day after snow day until we reconvened in project with only a few days left before the kindergarten's big day.  I love a deadline, and teach a week of theater camp each summer at our local art association so I am accustomed to short time frames.  (By the way, this summer we will be producing "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" during our summer art camp, so check the link above for dates and details).  

However, I have never had seventeen students painting an 8 x 9 foot tarp in the close quarters of my small classroom.  We divided the students into three teams, cut the tarp into three strips, listed the items to be included on the set, and divided them among the teams.  

They agreed that they would make some of the objects cross from one to another for continuity on the set, then they designed their pieces of the set, collaborating with the other teams.  I asked some students to stay after school one day so we could prime the tarps with tinted gesso... then off we went.  As you can see, they painted a house, barn, well, school bus, forest, firewood,  a variety of chickens, and even a teeny, tiny 6-inch chicken coop painted with a teeny tiny brush.  

Teeny Tiny Chicken Coop

I love watching these teams of students work together, figuring out color, placement, and how to dance around my room getting only a little paint on themselves and the floor.  Some students are very cautious, afraid to make a mistake.  I help them break that "surface tension" and they emerge proud and brave.  Some students dive right in, working group to group. Some are super-focused and can paint a teeny tiny chicken coop right in the middle of the panel while everyone else maneuvers around them.  What a blast.  The play was a huge success, and we're going to make our collaboration an annual, if not more frequent, event.  

File under "love my job".  Thanks for looking!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

"Breakfast on Boylston" pen & ink 9 x 10

 Today was "deliver daughter back to college after her spring break" day in Boston.  I spent the morning in a Boylston St coffee shop with a  bag of schoolwork and my sketchbook. I enjoy people watching, and sketching Boston architecture.  People were out and about, many hustling off to the T to get to the St. Patrick's Day parade, and the rest enjoying the recently reclaimed-from-snow sidewalks.  What an enjoyable morning!

Thanks for looking. 

Sunday, March 01, 2015

"Along the Waterfront" watercolor & ink 8 x 11

Continuing my reminiscence of summer during this long, snowy winter.  On hot evenings,  here on the east coast, as the day winds down, the sun can be shining brightly on the distant houses, boats, objects, either sneaking under the day's clouds, or while leaving you in shadow depending on the topography.  My daughter started calling it "your favorite lighting situation" when she was in kindergarten out on a long peninsula where we could see the sun highlighting the houses across the water.  On a sultry evening, it's nice to walk along the quiet harbor hoping for a comforting breeze or two off the water. The February theme for my painting group was "comfort".  I chose this memory of summer as my interpretation of the theme.   See the rest of our paintings  here. 

Thank you for looking, and keep your eye on the sun.