Monday, October 31, 2016

British Columbia animal acrylics

The lunch art program I am running at a local elementary school is focused on creating art highlighting high risk species.

For their acrylic paintings, I introduced them to some animals right here in British Columbia that are considered at risk

My hope was that by highlighting animals close to home, the issue would take on a personal meaning to them.

I brought some photos of several animals, a grizzly bear, a Vancouver Island marmot, snowshoe hare, and the spotted owl.

spotted owl, grade one

The majority of the children decided to draw and paint the spotted owl with a few kids who picked the hare, the bear and the marmot.

Vancouver Island marmot, grade one

That sounds like the title of a children's book!

Each child spent time working on a sketch first. I used this as an opportunity to have them start focusing on what they really saw in the pictures and how to record on paper the observations they were making.

spotted owl, grade one

Since for the most part this is a very young class, I began by having them find the shapes that made up the animal and then combining the shapes with line to create their drawings.

This was also an opportunity to share with them how to make conscious choices about composition and creating one that pleased the eye and drew the viewer into their works of art. Sounds like a lofty concept for young children to comprehend, but they always seem to get it.

Vancouver Island marmot, grade two

Never underestimate the mind of a child.

As the class ended, they each used a piece of carbon paper to trace their sketch onto acrylic paper and then went over the drawing once it was transferred with charcoal.

This past week, they painted. Each child had a palette of primary color plus black and white. I used this as a real opportunity for them to practice color mixing. I encouraged them to create their own colors instead of just using the blue, yellow or red someone else made.

spotted owl, grade one

Immediately the question was raised, 'Do I have to paint my animal brown?"

Which was a wonderful opportunity to discuss how many artist use color to show emotion and create mood or abstract a work for interest. I emphasized that color was an important decision they would make as artist when creating their work.

spotted owl, Kindergarten

For a couple of children, it was also a great opportunity for them to explore how to create mood with tints and tones. These two artist had made some very interesting choices with their backgrounds- one using a lot of white and the other mixing with a lot of black. As I walked by, I encouraged both of them to continue adding this element to the colors they were mixing for their owls and was so excited to see they decided to give it a try! 

The black certainly leaves the viewer feeling like they have happened upon this spotted owl at night.

spotted owl, grade three

I like to share with the kids what I call, "artist secrets". There is something about calling them secrets that really captures their imagination. The first one I shared was starting with painting the background first. I also encouraged them to mix their colors directly on their paper instead of the palette.

ninja fighting snowshoe hare, grade four

I also spent some time as they painted showing them how to use brushstrokes to add interest to their works of art.

Finally as they finished their painting, I gave each child another opportunity to use the black charcoal to add any black lines they wanted. By adding charcoal while the paint is just semi-dry, it adds a very interesting look and adheres to the painting without the need of fixative.

spotted owl, grade one

spotted owl, grade one

It also gives the students more control than trying to add black line with the paintbrush.

In the end, there were some absolutely adorable works of arts. Each and every child should be incredibly proud of themselves and hopefully their artworks share with others some of the animals right here in our own part of the world who need a little extra TLC from us.

grizzly bear, grade one

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Halloween inspired shadow boxes

I love when students take a project idea and make it their own.

I learned a long time ago to trust children when they divert from an original project plan. Great things have always been the result.

My original project was to have the kids create Day of the Dead inspired boxes. I had pulled several reference photos and as a group we discussed the details they discovered in the photos. I told them about the Day of the Dead celebration in Mexico and they shared with me storied of loved ones who had passed away in their families. We talked about how when we shared stories of our loved ones who were no longer on earth with us, they continued to live through those stories- the basis of the loving and beautiful holiday tradition in Mexico.

I learned about Pancake Grandma. A child's great grandmother who was famous in the family for making the world's best pancakes and several other wonderful family members.

But in the end, the kids were not to interested in creating decorated skeletons. 

Not interested at all.

They wanted to create Halloween boxes and sculptures of themselves trick or treating.

9 year old.

One wanted to create a box of bats flying on Halloween night.

9 year old

So while using the design elements of the Day of the Dead boxes as inspiration, the class project took a sharp turn left with the students at the wheel.

Using oven baked clay, each child created the characters for the narrative scene they wanted to create. They also painted the box with acrylic paints.

Close up of 9 year old box, she's a cheerleader this Halloween and she even added details like the skeleton on the shirt and her pigtails with ribbon, along with the black stockings.

At that point, the hour and a half was finished.

The following week, they painted their sculptures and then built their boxes to tell their unique Halloween story.

Close up of 9 year old box, he consciously chose to simplify the bat form and make one bat a different color. This was a great example of learning about back, mid and foreground.

There was A LOT of glitter applied to the backgrounds.

Rhinestones and holiday themed wasabi tape I picked up on clearance along with some holiday theme greenery.

5.5 year old box. Mom and dad are pirates, she is a princess and their dog is dressed up as Olaf. She added spooky faces to the tree branch! And enjoyed creating a stack of jack-o-laterns for the dog.

I had sticks and wood blocks the students could apply their imagination too.

And they had a ball painting their characters and assembling their shadow boxes. Most of them were creating until the very last minutes of class and they were so thrilled with their final results. 

Close up of 8 year old box, "Vampire" Love the "harvest moon" he created in glitter.

I had them each take a moment to write a note to their future selves on the back of the boxes. The wrote Halloween 2016 and then the story they had created. Since most used themselves as the hero/heroine of the box, in their costume holiday choice for this coming trick or treat night, I believe these will become a cherished decoration of their childhood in years to come.

Close up of 9 year old box. Best friends (you'll notice the cheerleader again from the above box) out trick-or-treating with the artist's pet cat, Taylor. Again the Harvest Moon makes an appearance.

Regardless I am glad I handed control of the project over to the students so pure magic could happen in the studio this holiday season.

Happy Halloween Everyone! 

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

shopkins assemblage boxes

This past weekend there was a birthday party of an 7 year old in the studio. All the girls were grade 2 and all seemed to be enthralled with Shopkins.

In fact, that was the theme of the birthday party.

I strive to learn one thing new everyday and for this day, it was all about Shopkins. I had never heard of them before and so spent some time online figuring out what they were so I could create a project around them.

birthday girl

At first I thought I would have the girls create little oven baked figurines of their own design, however after seeing how small this toy actually is was concerned they would finish them way before the 1.5 class finished. Plus I thought it might be a bit of a challenge to paint in the details with one 4 year old in the mix. (which did turn out to be two little 4 year olds in the end)

As I was cleaning up the house, a time for some reason I seem to have creative breakthroughs, I remembered the Affirmation Boxes the elementary class created last year and thought it would be a great match for a Shopkin party.

Each girl started by sketching their own Shopkin creation. I suggested creating a character that might be associated with birthday parties and the girls all through out ideas of birthday foods in a quick brainstorming session.

Once they had their own Shopkin design, I asked them to paint an environment on the inside of the box I gave them.

As they finished the boxes, I gave each girl a piece of acrylic paper and asked them to draw their Shopkin character. When finished they traced over the lines with acrylic and again started painting.

When finished, I took a blowdryer to the parts of painting that hadn't quite dried. Thankfully they were all finishing at staggered times, so I didn't have a long line waiting.

Then I handed them some scissors and asked them to cut out their Shopkin character.

Finally I showed them how to draw a banner on a piece of cardstock and asked them to put the name of their character on it in Sharpie and again cut it out.

Now it was time to assemble the pieces. I gave them some adhesive little dots to tack their pieces into the boxes.

The girls were all excited with their finished results.

Then it was time for snacks and cupcakes and lots of giggles and chatting.

Thank you Miss S for letting me be apart of your special day.

Happy 8th Birthday!!!

Friday, October 21, 2016

halloween reduction prints

I introduced a printmaking project to the elementary class last week. I decided to make it a Halloween theme, knowing the kids were beginning to get amped up about the holiday.

Each child created their own composition on sketch paper, focusing on creating a line drawing.

When they were happy, we taped the sketch on top of a piece of styrofoam then had them trace the drawing with a dull pencil. This created an indented line drawing on the foam. To make sure the ink would not settle in the lines when we started pulling prints, I asked them to trace over the indents one more time.

Then I explained that we would be creating reduction prints.

This process is hard to grasp at first, but as we began creating our prints the kids caught on quite quickly. I asked them to pick out three colors of ink for their picture, explaining that we would need to start with the lightest color and work our way up to the darkest color.

This print was pulled with him coloring out the "hole" in the pumpkin for a yellow glow with pencil. The other two prints were pulled after he cut out the area he wanted yellow. In the end, this was his second favorite print.

8 year old, first choice

Two of the children had put moons in the composition and the other child had created a Jack-o-Latern, so all agreed yellow was a good first choice for color.

Using the plate, each child pulled three yellow prints.

Then either using the dull pencil to color out what they wanted to stay yellow or cutting out with scissors the areas they wanted to remain yellow, we pulled a second group of prints on the same paper using silver.

At first I was going to have each child just color out their moons or the glow of the Jack-o-Latern, but the kids found it much easier to actually have a "hole" in these areas to match up the register when they pulled the next group of prints.

9 year old. first choice

To take a little pressure off getting it right the first time, I had each child pick their least favorite first pull to start with when using the silver. This way if it didn't go according to plan, they had another shot before they got to their very favorite pull.

But as this project continued, the kids quickly learned that what was once their least favorite pull....or their favorite pull....changed with each new color we added.

Once we had printed the silver over the yellow, the kids cut out their main subject matter to add another color.

Bats and the witch's hat were inked in black and printed and the pumpkin in orange.  Again the kids started with their least favorite print for practice working up to their favorite print.

And again when they finished, each child found they were enamored with prints they might not of been happy with prior.

8 year old. first choice

Finally two children wanted to add a fourth color and so cut (or reduced, I kept using the word reduce or reduction over and over to make sure they understood the concept of why we call these reduction prints) out the final shapes they wanted to add color too.

The black shadow on the pumpkin and the purple patches on the witch's hat.

They kids each had three prints to take home at the end of the project. I'm sure they will enjoy decorating their homes with them during the Halloween holiday.

They are all spooktacular!

(sorry. I couldn't resist.)

Thursday, October 20, 2016

sketching ravens

The drawing class last Friday focused on sketching ravens.

I brought out conte sticks for them to explore, along with some very fat charcoal blocks in color.

9 year old

We started the hour again with some warm up drawings using a photo of a raven for reference.

7 year old

They drew with their non-dominant hand and also upside down. To be truthful, I think all of them were very happy with their non-dominant hand drawings and used the exercise to start their final sketches on the large black paper I had put out to use.

7 year old

Having a black piece of paper was a great way to encourage them to focus on highlights and also discover that just because something is black, like a raven, doesn't mean it is devoid of color and variations.

And I got a good chuckle out of the above drawing.  When I really looked at his drawing after class had ended, I made some pretty funny discoveries. During class, this little boy had decided to focus on drawing just the face- really focusing in on the eye of the bird. What I noticed after the kids had all left and I was setting the pictures with spray was the bird now had a name....Jeri! He named the bird after me. Ha! And on top of that I realized he has also added a body to the bird and I am IN LOVE with the proportions of his addition. Children never cease to not only surprise me but also keep me smiling.  However I sure hope he didn't name the bird after me because he thinks I'm big-headed.......

8 year old

Although the objective of this class is all about process and exploration, these ravens turned out stunning. Each child was so happy with their creations at the end of class. I'll be sorry to see them go home this week as I have throughly enjoyed having them hanging in the studio to view.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

clay bug pins

This fall I am running a lunchtime art program for a local elementary school. Their PAC committee requested I focus on Species at High Risk. It have been very excited to create projects inspired by this theme.

Of course October is also the month of all things spooky and so it seemed a perfect match to have the first project focused on bugs that are on the endangered list or high risk category. I thought letting the kids create creepy crawly pins to wear during the Halloween season while also pointing out that even the lowliest of creatures are important to our eco system seemed like fun. And I'm guessing from the excitement in the room as I gave them their pins to take home yesterday, the kids felt the same way.

The ages range from Kindergarten to Grade 4, although the bulk of the children are Grade 1. We have 45 minutes to create and they finished these bugs in one class period.

Grade 1

I had brought some reference material of bugs who for one reason or another are now at high risk for extinction. While they ate their lunch, I shared the creatures with them and then when they finished eating they broke into groups based on what bug they wanted to create so they could all share the reference picture.

I had brought oven baked clay in primary colors, plus black and brown for the kids to use. I showed them how they could mix the primary clay colors to create other colors if they wanted.

grade 1

I also brought some wire for them to use if they wanted for legs, antennae, and whatever else their imagination dreamed up.

grade 4

It was a wonderful opportunity for them to discover some basic anatomy facts about insects.

grade 1

grade 1

The kids all finished at the 45 minute mark and I then took them home to bake. Afterwards I glued a jewelry pin onto the back and then drew a mason jar using brown card stock to pin them onto for presentation. I took these pictures before I left for class, but each child then wrote their names below their bugs before taking them home.

I wanted to make sure the parents knew what bug their child had focused on in order to open up more dialog at home....who knows? Maybe they will discover together more about why these creatures are species at high risk.

Grade 4

It was interesting to observe how each child interpreted the bug of their choosing and watching them work through and solve problems as they arose. It was great insight for me when moving forward introducing the next projects over the course of six weeks.

grade 1

grade 1

And I think we all have a better appreciation that endangered animals come in all shapes and sizes and each and every one of them is important to our world.