Friday, December 11, 2015

Give Them Two

PK student

This week I realized that if you give a student (especially 3rd and below) 2 sheets of paper instead of one big one a couple of things happen.  First, they don't end up covering up their original work/idea. You see, kids just follow their urge to keep painting, it's natural.  But if you have the 2nd paper there ready for them they seem to follow their instinct of knowing when to stop and they start their next painting...awesome!  The other thing that happens is that you see the story of the first painting grow, almost like the next chapter. Here are a few examples of "giving them two".

Kindergarten student

Kindergarten student

In this lesson, the idea was to experiment with watercolor.  I also had dry media available at the table in case they wanted to incorporate the two. 

If Only We Could Bottle It

Sometimes, I have the opportunity of seeing a creative color genius at work.  I guess Picasso was right when he said "We are all born artists, the problem is how to remain an artist as we grow up". The painting below is by a PK student, the one below that is by the renowned Abstract Expressionist Hans Hofmann painted in 1959.  
 Hans Hofmann, The Conjuror 1959


Fostering Creative Independence

Central Idea: Artists can transform materials by using their imagination

Teaching for creative independence

*Give options for response
*Assign open-ended tasks

Here the Kinder students were working on a few things: cutting, tracing, drawing, gluing and arranging.  They started with a printout that I made which had about 6 lines going from one side to the other.  They also had paper cups they could trace onto colored paper and cut.  After that, they had to decide how to arrange their composition. I loved it because they were expressing their personal ideas while experimenting with both materials and ideas (in collage you have to try different arrangements before you commit to gluing). They had complete control over the final product.  I believe the practice of this type of art making can have a big impact on developing their creative independence.  Notice how wonderfully different each piece is!

Friday, November 6, 2015

Just The Right Words, Altered Page

                                 Grasshopper sang in the field for Winter!
                                                         by Michelle, grade 4

This piece makes me wonder if "Winter" is a season or a person. Another thought, when I look at this I can see the entire paper as a fluffy field of white snow and the colors are representations of happiness. 

Altering a text filled page for me is almost like a meditation. You absolutely have to slow down in order to find just the right words to compose just the right sentence. Now your mind conjures up an image, colors, lines and shapes to go with that sentence.

She flung it.
Notice how this student uses the element of line to push her idea.  The curved lines are not only in the round spiral but in the fabric as well; also notice the expression on the girl's face.

Jack wished for a supper this night.
This student wanted it to look like "...those planes that carry a sign behind them".
(I think this student shows an amazing sense of space and color) 

left to right-
Giants disappear.
This student glued a sheet over his original page and cut holes out in order to see the's almost as if the text disappeared as well as the giant.

Jack wished he grew up. 
I love how we get the feeling that they boy is thinking about growing up and those thoughts are represented with green and orange dots. This student also cut most of the page away to create a shape and then glued it on a white background. 

The band wished for a good supper. 

left to right-
When Jack came down the chimney he heard big words from giants.
(notice the ear on the bottom left and how "big words" are represented with large colored dots)

The disappeared chimney. Hey Dad, the chimney disappeared.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Beginning of Ideas, Line Printing

By working with lines, we begin to see how they can be the beginning of a pattern or a shape. Those shapes and patterns in turn can be the beginning of an idea.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Directions Not Included

I think sometimes we just need to force our hand to start moving, to start a line and see what happens.
It's playful, (maybe) uncomfortable and valuable. Here, we talked about the word ambiguity and how some artists love the feeling and run with it.   Being okay with uncertainty,  that blank paper and just letting go.  Seeing where not knowing may take you.  It could lead you to inquiry. Whether it's self inquiry or transdisciplinary research.  It's all good.  Here are some thoughts on the process...

This lesson was inspired by a Ted Talk given by Cindy Foley "Teaching art or teaching to think like an artist?"  Watch it below...

Friday, October 2, 2015

Crayon Explorations- Artistic Habit of Mind Stretch and Explore

How  fortunate we would be if we could "see through" this piece and experience what the artist did. 

Artistic Behavior or (Studio) Habits of Mind Stretch and Explore

Learning to reach beyond one's capacity to explore playfully, without a preconceived plan, and to embrace the opportunity to learn from mistakes and accidents. 

We've all used crayons.  We're all familiar with coloring.  But are we familiar with exploring the potential of what that little crayon can do? And how does this apply to life anyway?   I see this as holding ourselves in one spot, possibly our comfort zone as they say.  If we stay there we may limit our opportunities to grow.  That's why it's important to give children (and ourselves) the opportunity to play.  When we play (explore) we open our minds up to situations that are authentic learning experiences. And I wonder (and hope) that through guiding this experience of exploring it can be applied as a "habit" and make a difference in the way we go through our day and situations that may arise.

Known techniques explored:
rubbings (held on side and rubbed on a surface)
pressure (learning to be aware of our strength and movements to help achieve light, medium and dark values)
line (thin, expressive, bold, light, etc.)
blending colors to make new colors

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Beauty In Our World

Central Idea:  Artists Can Help Us Find Beauty In Our World

We all find certain things or places beautiful. Whether the place has a home in our imagination or in our reality.
 Have you ever been to a place that you connected with? Somehow it probably touched your senses.  You felt something inside.  For me it was my grandma's house.  I don't know if you can "carefully" look, but I remember looking carefully at the trinkets on her dresser...a little brass bell, an ornate hand mirror, a little black box.  I still think of it often.  As humans we can all connect to places and find them beautiful for whatever reasons feel right at that moment . After all, beauty is in the eye of the beholder as they say.   If we choose to, as artists, we can  respond in personal and creative ways.  These are some of the responses to beauty in our world, from Kinder through 5th grade. That's the thing about exploring "big ideas",  it doesn't matter whether you're 6, 16,  or 96, they are a part of that which we call Home.

(Scroll a bit to watch a video of the kids in class!)

Harshini, The Playground

Esther, Kindergarten, The Water-park

Malia, Hawaii

Jude, Kindergarten, My House 

Lauren, Kindergarten, Party City

Julian, Kindergarten The Pool

Saturday, May 16, 2015

What Do You See? Imagination With Ink Blots

Ink Blots

Pouring a bit of black ink onto a paper, blowing and seeing what it could be.  Kindergarten, First, and 5th grade tried this challenge.  I noticed the K-1 students were so open to the ink's suggestion of possibilities where as 5th grade found it much harder to see at first.  Although after completing 2 or so they found it much easier. They just had to let go and release what they were accustomed to seeing to find what was right in front of them the whole time.  Interesting... this is one reason why I believe we need to be part of a creative process everyday. What will you see today? What will you create today?

Julissa, Kindergarten

Abihga, Grade One
Me and My Mom Dancing

Ashley, grade 5

Grade One Artwork

Isabella, Grade One

Grade One Artwork

Melanie, Grade One

Alex, Grade One