Friday, December 16, 2011

Egyptian Canopic Jars

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Make your own slide show at Animoto.

We've finally finished the canopic jars.  I want to thank the Museum of Fine Arts here in Houston for the inspiration for this lesson.  The teacher CD  they gave during the educator's night was amazing and provided such wonderful images.
Plastic cups, paper towels, tag or cardboard and tape make up the armature for each jar.  Small pebbles are placed in the bottom cup along with wadded up towels to help  balance the jar and to keep it standing. We then covered them with plaster gauze to make the surface strong and ready for paint.   The rest is up to the imagination of the student.  I did provide handouts of Egyptian symbols and patterns for the students to use as a resource.  These were done by my middle school elective class which was actually perfect because they come to art 4 days in a row.  They took us about 2 weeks to complete.  You can see the steps below.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Nighttime Paintings

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These beautiful nighttime paintings were done by 2nd graders.  We first looked at Henri Rousseau's Carnival Evening (see below). I asked the kids what time of day they thought this way.  As the conversation grew, we discussed what colors made it seem like night, what objects did we see, and what the season may be.  The students also shared  stories of their own nighttime experiences.  We used oil pastels to draw and color in their pictures and  then painted over the entire picture with black paint.  I gave them a second sheet of paper to press over the black paint, smooth with their palm and then "peel" away.  This removes any extra paint and helps to reveal the magical nighttime scene underneath.


  • If they take too long with the black paint it will dry.  Demonstrate how to paint over the entire picture quickly (almost with "scribble scrabble" strokes).  I also had them do the scribble scrabble motion in the air with me beforehand just to practice.
  • Some kids will apply too much paint. I walked around with a paper napkin to help them remove any extra paint.  
  • Make sure they use medium pressure with the oil pastels or else the colors may not show up well.

These are 9x12 and took one 45 minute session.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Imperial Robes

I do love teaching and learning about different cultures.  I think art is an ideal means of conveyance for this.  As Renoir said,
"...Flowers are never identical;  it would seem that beauty derives from this very diversity..."
According to Leslie, the girl on the right is frowning because "she's lost in the mountain". 

These imperial robes were made by 2nd graders. Only a few students are finished but I couldn't wait to share this lesson because I'm very excited about the results thus far.  We started off by discussing images of Chinese portraiture.    We identified symbols and discussed why they may have been used.  We also talked about the role of the dragon in Chinese society and how it is a symbol of good luck, power or fortune.  We noticed  the formal pose of the figure, the surroundings,  and the position of the hands and facial expression. The dragon robe is a "cosmic diagram" of our universe.  It reads from bottom to top:  water, land and sky.  You can see a fabulous example here and here.

Detail of robes-

This is the handout  I made representing
Chinese symbols although I  encouraged them to
create their own.

I am also doing this lesson with 6th grade girls but I am going to have them work in groups to actually make a full size model of their robes.  

Mask/Armour- If You Can Dream It, You Can Make It!

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These masks/armour pieces were done by my 5th grade boys. I started off by telling them they were going to design some type of armour  (of course this instantly got their attention!) but they could not copy anything from a game, movie, etc.     There design could be for the past, present or future and it had to show all or most of the parts of a suit or armour.  To help them with this I gave them a few handouts that I found  here,  here, and here.  After their designs were complete I told them they were now going to make the head piece  they had drawn. If you look at the pictures, you can see  the ideas came straight from a drawing because most of them are missing  a back panel.   I showed them how to do a basic head band mask and they had to go from there.  Yes, there were many doubts as to their ability to make this happen!  I could only assure them that it was possible and encouraged them to try and fail, try and fail, try something else, and one of those would work!  Voila!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Paper Weaving, Light and Shadows

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This book has been a great inspiration for working with paper.  I've actually done quite a few of the projects in it including  pop-ups with index cards (see below).

The weaving project was done by 5th and 6th grade girls.  It really requires a lot of patience and an eye for seeing the unseen.  It's actually quite simple.  You start off with a basic over/under weaving but what adds that element of artistry is envisioning what the paper could become if you pull and crease a certain way.  The shadows created by the lifted paper add yet another dimension.  I did purposely choose a white on white palette so the girls could focus on the space and not the color.  I also should add that I did not suggest for them to create any particular image, it was just about exploring shadows and light.  The discovery of the shapes or words was through their own artistic process...very cool.


Pop Ups With Index Cards
I would recommend to do the pop-ups with 5th and up.  I tried it with 4th grade but there was a lot of frustration.  I did it with 5th and 6th and they were challenged but they were very happy with their success at the end.  They even started designing their own pop-ups and asked if they could have extra cards to take home.  Both of these projects came from the book above.