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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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This is going back to Fine Arts Camp, the Elementary Camp in 2012. The first day is under Color inspired by Kandinsky for 3rd through 6th graders.

We had 60 children, coming in for about an hour in a group of 15 at a time.

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This day, we drew – using good old exercises that might be familiar to you if you took a drawing class in college. I brought in a chair from home, and had the kids do various exercises, like rapid timed drawings – a minute, 30 seconds, 10 seconds. You use newsprint and vine charcoal.
Another great exercise is called blind contour: first you hold your pencil or charcoal out, and trace the contour of the thing you are drawing, in the air. You visualize your pencil as a tiny bug, crawling along the contour of the object. Then you draw, not looking at the paper, just looking at what you are drawing, going slowly, and not picking up your charcoal.The results are a big squiggle, but with remarkable truth in the lines.It helps to tell the kids that this is a college exercise. It is hard, or challenging as we say. You have to be sensitive to when the kids are done – depending on the group of kids some went further, some did less, you play it by ear – but that’s any art class. It’s like – there’s nothing like it. But such a great feeling to be guiding a group of people, feeding off their energy and ideas, to direct them to something greater than they thought they could do.

Then do some quick drawings, and then further develop them. Amazing pictures.

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Chair FACIMG_3723  FACIMG_3690  FACIMG_3676 FACIMG_3675 FACIMG_3674

chair drawn by an elementary school child

chair drawn by an elementary school child

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Another sunny day on Monday – and hot. My boy wanted to go for a hike up Verstovia, but all the way up to the peaky rocky top. I told him we’d see how it felt. We went up to the last cliff, where there is a little goat path around the face, and then there is a route through the heather to the top. But – below the little path it goes straight down a scraggy cliff. Maybe because last week a girl was killed in an ATV accident – and, like everyone else, I’ve done my share of stupid things –  I felt like this time it was a good thing to model saying no to temptation.

It was an amazing view from up high. And hot! It was so fun to hike with the boy. We took art materials, and both sat in the shade and drew the peak from the first peak.

Arrowhead by AsasmallThe boy’s picture, in colored pencil. He’s 9 years old but obviously a genius.

Arrowhead watercolor smallMy watercolor of the same view, as he pointed out, I made the mountain too small – I was trying to also draw the valley. First principle of art: it can only be about one thing.

Asa's drawing 2012smallHere is his drawing from last summer, from different mountain. See the charter boats returning to town –

IMG_5395smallThe mountain.

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IMG_9784smallGood bye, mountain!

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In June I taught at the Sitka Fine Arts Camp mini camp elementary school session. Sixty children rotated through in groups of 15. The kids I had were going into third through 6th grades. This is what we did on day one – we had under an hour, and some ace parent helpers – we had no running water, so used five-gallon buckets.

The first day I showed them some slides of Kandkinsky. We worked on color complements – the colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel. When you put them next to each other, each makes the other look more intense. We didn’t have time for all the kids, but we had different children tell what they liked about the picture in the slide, or find where complementary colors were next to each other. I demonstrated color mixing, mainly to show how you rinse and blot the brush between dipping into colors.

The kids were instructed to mix at least one new color, and encouraged, as they went along, to try color complements.

We used big paper, and each kid got a palette with primary colors and white, two brushes (large and small), and water and folded paper towels for blotting. They got a second paper plate for mixing.

A trick for cutting a lot of (institutional) paper towels off a roll: use a utility knife to cut the roll on opposite sides.

This went really well. It also helps to have the kids get their brushes, apron, and paper as they come in the door.

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This was a neat project, and the inspiration for starting a blog – to share successful art projects for children.

Megan Lindeman taught drawing and painting at the 2011 Sitka Fine Arts Camp, which has a week for grade school children, then two-week residential sessions for middle school then high school students.

This project was for kids going into fourth grade up to going into sixth grade.

She had each child choose a dictionary illustration – tiny wood engravings from John Carrera’s A Pictorial Webster’s (which itself is really cool). ( Here is a link to a video he made of this remarkable production.)

Megan had each student choose an engraving of an animal, and cut it out from the photocopy sheet. Next, they toned a piece of white paper (big – 18 x 24) with vine charcoal. Then, they used the vine charcoal to draw a large version of their animal, trying to use the entire paper.

Then they were to fill in the middle tones in the picture using the vine charcoal. They then used Alphacolor Char-Kole (compressed charcoal – super black) to add the darkest tones to the picture. Then they used the eraser to get highlights, and finally used white drawing pencils for the brightest highlights.

But that’s not all! They then used chalk pastels to make vibrant, abstract backgrounds for their animals, and the final touch was collaging scraps of colored – and metallic – papers onto the background.

Megan’s original inspiration was an artist in Europe who makes beautiful drawings, then pastes them up into the urban environment, and allows the graffiti and advertisements and grit and posters to happen to his art, and complete it. She had intended to have the kids spray water on the drawings, but they looked so cool the way they were, plus the paper was not very strong.

The classes were about 50 minutes, for five days. This project took three sessions, then day four she had the kids draw an imaginary bicycle – and the last day, they did a quick acrylic still life. I believe the great art teachers always push the limits – so we had a lot of hair dryers going that last day. And of course it wouldn’t be arts camp without blowing a fuse.

The brilliance of this project was that the kids were led through drawing from observation, and modelling with charcoal, without knowing it. I knew a lot of the kids, and a project that engages not only the Artists but the Jocks, that’s a project. They all learned a lot, and were pleased with what they made.

This project would work well for kids all the way through high school.

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