December Already?

Hello again everyone! I can’t believe how quickly this school year has been flying by! We’ve been up to a lot in the art studio, including our 4th graders’ Studio Habits of Mind reflections and shares at First Friday, room reorganization, and…the opening of the clay center for most of our students! Please see below for information about specific projects/experiences from each grade!

1st Grader’s experimental paint pour

Kindergarten: Observe/Develop Craft/Stretch and Explore

Our kindergarten friends have been busy! Since our last post, we have concluded our formal study of the 5 senses and textures, but what we’ve learned continues to inform everything we do. We began learning about color recently, specifically “warm” and “cool” colors. Warm colors are considered the ones that remind you of fire and heat (red, orange, yellow) and cool colors typically remind you of a cool ocean breeze or snowy landscape (green, blue, purple). We explored warm colors through multiple materials, from paint to modeling clay. Finger painting with red and yellow reminded us of the texture of the paint, and surprised us when we created a new color: orange! Red and yellow modeling clay also provided inspiration as we explored texture and imprints from fall objects (gourds, dried corns, pine cones). What was really wonderful about this experience was the extremely different approaches that were taken. While one group focused on the exploration of texture and color, the other decided to use the clay and gourds to create characters, adding clay to resemble facial features and other accessories. It’s this unexpected, playful aspect of early childhood that really makes art come to life! From here, we have begun exploring lines, which has emerged into a study of maps, entirely arising from student interest. Stay tuned!

One student closely observing the texture imprint of the corn and replicating it with a drawing

1st Grade: Develop Craft/Express/Stretch and Explore

First graders have progressed quickly through a study of color mixing, and of course, found a way to make the experience their own. We began by discussing primary and secondary colors, as well as how to use the color wheel to help us mix the color we want. Each child had the opportunity to mix their own color, name it, and use it in their work (and share with others if they wish!). While stirring their concoctions, some students noticed that the colors swirl around separately before blending together, and they wanted to keep their colors partially mixed. In an effort to appeal to their interests, I introduced the concept of “paint pouring” and showed them work from a modern artist, Ashley Carter (please click to see her work/process, truly mesmerizing!) From there, many students became enamoured by the process of mixing and pouring paint, and made TONS of amazing pieces. Some students explored ways of altering the pour, including tilting the page, folding the paper in half, and stamping objects onto the paper. Many students also brought along their enthusiasm and new knowledge of Aelita Andre, a young artist they studied in Jonnie’s class, utilizing her style and technique in their own work.

2nd Grade: Develop Craft/Understand Art Worlds

2nd graders have continued their study of facial expressions, which has progressed into an investigation of portraiture. With a thorough understanding of how facial expressions can help us understand how someone is feeling, we used this knowledge to observe and comment on self-portraits of well-known artists. We looked at artists such as Frida Kahlo and Gustave Courbet to help us understand why an artist might make a self-portrait and the choices they made to express themselves.

Gustave Courbet, The Desperate Man, 1845
Frida Kahlo, Self–Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird, 1940

In addition to facial expression, we found that artists choose the style, colors, setting, and objects surrounding them very carefully to convey certain things about themselves. Norman Rockwell, for example, chose to include 3 drawings of himself , conveying a sense of humor and a glimpse into his studio/process.

Norman Rockwell, Triple Self Portrait, 1960

With this information, we began our very own self-portraits, asking ourselves, what do I want people to know about me?

3rd Grade: Develop Craft/Understand Art Worlds/Observe/Envision

3rd graders are continuing their study of art and nature, while also getting the opportunity to develop their own ideas. Our study of natural materials has brought us to charcoal, one of the first drawing materials in history. We learned about the different types of charcoal, how charcoal is made, and the historic significance of charcoal in the 30,000 year old cave drawings found all over the world! We even watch a bit of the Werner Hertzog documentary, Cave of Forgotten Dreams, where the director himself describes his incredible journey into the Chauvet caves in France. The students had the opportunity to experiment with the charcoal, noticing the unique qualities of this special material and different ways to use it.

While all this was going on, we still found time to explore our own personal artistic interests, and many of the students gravitated towards mixed media sculpture. Cardboard, fabric, caps and corks, anything we could find became a material for our sculptures. These projects were entirely self-guided, and many students chose to work together, collaborating with one another throughout multiple classes. Each student’s work is so incredibly unique, and that’s what’s so exciting about it!

4th Grade: Observe/Express/Envision/Understand Art Worlds/Develop Craft/Engage and Persist/Stretch and Explore

In 4th grade, we have begun formally studying mixed media sculpture through looking at Claes Oldenburg’s Food Sculptures and other Pop Art.

We went through a 5 step process to envision our idea, create the armature (base) of our sculpture, create a unified surface with papier mache or plaster gauze, paint the surface, and add any finishing touches. The subject matter is entirely up to the students, and we have quite the range of projects going on, from tennis rackets to puppets to animals. We have also been thinking about the materials we are using: how can we reuse something in our art that was going to be thrown away? Recycled bubble wrap and cardboard have been very important to our work so far, and some students are even starting to utilize found objects in their sculpture, a process known as “assemblage”.

5th Grade: Observe/Develop Craft/Engage and Persist/Understand Art Worlds

5th graders have been learning about observational drawing techniques in art class. We looked at creating gesture drawings (quick, loose, playful underdrawings to get the “feel” and/or “movement” of the object), facial proportions and features (including eyes), and shapes of light and shadow. We focused on drawing what you see, not what you think you see, controlling the amount of pressure put on the pencil, and ignoring that judging voice that may be telling us we’re doing it “wrong”. These foundational skills are so crucial to developing a strong drawing practice and the students are really grasping it well! Using their sketchbooks, students are building a basis of observational drawing knowledge and skills that can be practiced for years to come.