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Archive for the ‘Art Lessons’ Category

cezanne.basket-apples

Paul Cezanne, The Basket of Apples c. 1893 25 7/16 x 31 1/2 in. (65 x 80 cm) Art Institute of Chicago

The same Fifth graders who got into Abstract Expressionism tried their hands at Post-Impressionism. And, it was a sunny day just a week before school let out. So they weren’t exactly calm, and yet did fabulous work. The image above is the inspiration, which the kids each talked about – things like the color juxtapositions, how he made the fruit look round, the strange perspective that makes the table look tipped. We also looked at images of paintings by Henri Matisse.IMG_0424smallIMG_0422smallIMG_0423smallIMG_0420smallIMG_0421smallIMG_0418smallIMG_0419smallIMG_0416smallIMG_0417smallIMG_0414smallIMG_0415smallIMG_0412smallIMG_0413smallIMG_0410smallIMG_0411smallIMG_0408smallIMG_0409small

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gotham news 1957

Gotham News, 1955 by Willem de Kooning ( 69 x 79” Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo)

We looked at images of paintings by Helen Frankenthaler, Jackson Pollock, and Willem de Kooning, including pictures of the paintings in galleries, and Helen Frankenthaler and Jackson Pollock working in their studios, to show the very large scale of pictures in this school. I also told them where some of these pictures are, and had a snapshot of one (Small’s Paradise, by Helen Frankenthaler) I took in Washington D. C. in March.

I told them how Abstract Expressionism was painting that was not of something, but was the thing, in the words of Jackson Pollock. And how painting is a language, in which you can express things you can’t put into words.

The paintings they liked were both by de Kooning: Excavation and Gotham News, which is the one we talked about. The kids each noted something about the picture, and brought out the bright colors, and how it references people, dogs, layers, cities, noise, excitement, Batman, buildings and other structures, without being pictures of those things.

It could be too that they were drawn to this picture because it holds up better on the rather dim interactive white board projectors the school has. You don’t get the benefit of the brilliant colors of Helen Frankenthaler’s work. We held up the laptop so they could get an idea of the brilliance of the actual paintings.

Inspired by the picture, they made paintings in the manner of Abstract Expressionism. I think some of them felt like they were being naughty, by using a finger or their hands, in making layer on layer, in using gobs of paint, and even in scraping back to get to layers below. But they were not naughty, they were all fully involved in the paint and what it was doing. This was the most energetic and focused group I’ve had, as far as everyone diving in.

We asked them to mix at least 3 colors, and this time not to make a picture of a thing but to paint with colors and shapes and lines, and to try different brush sizes.

We even had time to clean up and to spend a few minutes looking at our work.

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A Still Life by Henri Matisse

The very beautiful still-life paintings by Ms. Love’s Fifth Grade class in 2015. I’ve been meaning to put these up for a while. The students first learned about color mixing. They did these paintings in one session, painting from still lifes set up with colored cloths and fruit. They are done with tempera paint on canvas board (just because the teacher had some she wanted to get used!).img_2132smallimg_2133smallimg_2134smallimg_2135smallimg_2136smallimg_2137smallimg_2138smallimg_2139smallimg_2140smallimg_2141smallimg_2142smallimg_2143smallimg_2144smallimg_2145smallimg_2146smallimg_2147smallimg_2148smallimg_2149smallimg_2150smallimg_2151smallimg_2152small

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IMG_2312smallChoose Your Own Adventure

By the 2014/15 7th Grade Literature Circle

We used large sticky notes to brainstorm this. Image by a student in the 2015 Fine Arts Camp mini camp.

1.

You wake up in your middle school bathroom. “Uh oh,” you think, “what if someone sees me there.” You hear the sounds of the jungle. “Hmm,” you think. “Middle school is wild, but not this wild.”

Do you:

Consider getting up, but you fall back asleep. Go to 2A

You get up and forget the phrase “curiosity killed the cat” and get up and explore. Go to 2B

2.

2A

You wake up again and look around. You are in another dimension. There is a Laser Unicorn right next to you. The unicorn runs at you and tries to lick your face off.

Do you:

want to hug it, go to 3A1

want to kill it in self defense, go to 3A2

2B

You see trees growing out of the trash and fungi in the gym lockers. You’re scared but also curious. A coffee mug is sprouting an oak tree. You think this is the best and worst thing that ever happened.

Do you:

decide on a safe approach and hide in a locker where unfortunately someone left their lunch a little too long, go to 3B1

Go look out a window while standing on a desk. Eww gross you stick your hand in some gum. Go to 3B2.

3.

3A1

The glittery unicorn gives a shuddering tremor, and then suddenly, it erupts into a poof of rainbow flames. You catch a whiff of peppermint poo, for some reason. After a while of the unicorn burning, a few mean, yucky, bright orange bears come into view.

“We smell peppermint. We eat you,” they say in a flat tone. Obviously they have not spoken much.

You fight your way through the bear’s sharp claws, but all too soon, you perish a sad, sad death.

3A2

The unicorn hugs you with its furry hooves but it starts to eat your hair. What do you do?

Let it eat your hair, go to 4A2A

Tell it to stop, got to 4A2B

3B1

Unfortunately, the old lunch in the locker becomes overpowering and you remember you accidentally shut the door. You die.

3B2

You see a rabid tiger. You panic but search in your pockets and along with the pocket lint you find a very squished cupcake and an old carrot. You know your only chance is to feed it something.

Do you: go for the the sweet choice (cupcakes) thinking that although it’s squished you like it, so they’ll like it. Go to 4B2A.

Or, do you go for the carrot, and save the cupcake for yourself. Go to 4B2B.

4.

4A2A

You let the unicorn eat your hair, and after a while you forget about the old school and you live forever in an alternate universe with your best friend the unicorn living off of peppermint poop and candy corn.

4A2B

The unicorn gets extremely moody. After an irritated whinny and a flick of its irridescent tail, the pubescent pony trots away. However, after you poke around for a while, you find a minty mound of poo. It smells delicious, and you fight the urge to stuff every last sticky bite into your mouth. In the distance, a clear blue lake shines and glimmers.

Do you – throw it into the lake, because you’re afraid it’s toxic – go to 5A2B1

Or, do you eat the delicious peppermint poop. Go to 5A2B2.

4B2A

The rabid Rabbitiger loves you but licks frosting off your face and you die from the stinging saliva that melts your skin and bones and fingernails.

4B2B

You feed it the carrots, but that makes it upset. It decides to eat you, and you die. Start over!

5.

5A2B1

The bratty unicorn gallops off, leaving a glittery, blue-green, minty-smelling poop. For a second, the smell overcomes you, and all you can think about is filling your growling stomach with this mint-smelling poop, then your senses return! That’s absurd! It’s poop! Ew! In disgust, you pick it up and throw it into the rather pink colored lake. When you throw it, your foot slips, making you tumble, into the sweet smelling water. The fumes of it play with your mind. You start singing of a turtle and a duck as you sink. Your mother was right, too much pink will kill. The end.

5A2B2

Suddenly, you wake up back in the bathroom where you started.

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At the 2015 Elementary-age Sitka Fine Arts Camp, I got to work with the 3rd through 5th graders. The first day we made abstract paintings, after looking at slides of paintings by Wasilly Kandinsky. Then we drew for two days, and the next, we painted their counselor modeling, or, if they wished, a figure, or anything they wanted.

Each group of 15 kids rotated through four classes:  music, theater, dance and visual art through the mornings during one week.

The only thing I asked on this one was that they mix three new colors for their picture.

Their work:

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The Sitka Fine Arts Camp has an elementary age session, one week of morning classes. Groups of 15 kids rotate through four classes of just under an hour. This year I got to do art with 3rd through 5th graders. One day we drew a chair – and on another, their counselor modeling!

Here is their work:

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I had the chance this year to teach two classes at the Sitka Fine Arts Camp Middle School session: Printmaking, and Natural History Drawing and Watercolor. This is an outstanding camp in every way, with some of the best instructors in the country – practicing artists who have also figured out how to bring young people on that ride. The students are also remarkable, in how they support each other. It was fun to get students to the next level in their art work, but just as neat to see them making connections with each other.

These are some pictures, from the final show, from the Natural History Drawing and Watercolor class. I had 18 middle school students – which is a big group, but they were a good group, and all worked hard.

The first day we did drawing exercises, to get into drawing what you see. Some very effective exercises including blind contour drawing (not looking at your paper) and very fast, timed sketches.

Some drawings from the first day

Some drawings from the first day

Then, next day, shading:

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IMG_6334smallwith the idea of using light and shadow to do what they wanted it to. All this was from observation, I set up clamp lights for the shading exercises. First we did strips of various kinds of shading.

The idea I had was to show how to make art starting from observation – but with the idea of making a picture.

Our last exercise session was to copy a watercolor landscape, The Blue Boat, by Winslow Homer, in watercolor. I helped them with color mixing, and pointed out the techniques used to create the illusion of space and depth. In this first photo (these are all taken at the final show, looking down at a table), you can see the picture we were copying.

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So this was an experiment but it worked really well. You can talk all day but it’s much better to just do it. I had them try mixing three different greens.

Next was drawing the landscape from observation, and another instructor had mentioned starting with the horizon. Drawing in the horizon is magic. Check these out:

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As they were drawing, I also helped them see how how close things are to the horizon tells you how far away they are, and some linear perspective for the students drawing buildings or pavement –

We went outside two more times, once drawing in pen, trying to convey some sense of writing pieces we’d been given by the Writing and the Visual Arts class. The last time, we painted our own landscape in watercolor. That was where I was really impressed with the students. I think most of us would be a bit intimidated by the task but they went for it.

watercolor painting the landscape

watercolor painting the landscape

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Also by this point, the last day of a 2-week camp, they were exhausted.

In one class we drew and painted objects we brought in from outside, as well as still life things in the room, in various sizes, and one day we drew some live 5-week-old chickens I brought from home. The chickens seemed to enjoy it as much as the students. Chickens are curious creatures and seem to like outings.

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Did I mention Dr. Who was popular at camp.

At the end, we made tiny books, with hard covers covered with paper they’d decorated, and pockets to hold the tiny pieces of art they’d made.

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And – poetry. We loaned tiny paintings to the Writing and The Visual Arts class, who wrote poems, on tiny papers that fit in our books. Here are some of the pairings – well, actually, all of them:

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Anyway, good work, guys! The one thing is I wish I’d taken the time to look at our work. It went so fast, and everyone was gone, I was in serious, serious withdrawal the next day. It’s intense, and I really enjoyed all the kids – bright and just plain interesting to talk to. So the next day, when I saw some of the students downtown, I was asking them how they liked camp, though – being a shy person – one girl I ran into but was too shy to talk to. I’m still kicking myself. Because she did really well, I really enjoyed her,  and I never got to tell her so. Well ok Amelia you rock. There now!

I’d love to teach again, maybe just landscape, or people – in a landscape – and I have an idea for drawing a graphic novel. I did that with elementary school kids last fall, I think it would be really cool.

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