Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Drawing a still life

The third grade has been having drawing lessons this week!

First, each student chose one object out of the 'still life bins'. After drawing it enough times to see improvement, a student would then return the object and choose another to practice with. The goal was to try to get the sizes and shapes right, then add the details!

The next lesson was an arrangement of objects on the center table. In this lesson, the objects had to be drawn in relation to each other. That means drawing things in front and things in back. The objects in front should be lower on the paper than the things in back. Also, students were taught that they can compare where objects seem to 'touch' each other, so they will know how big, little, tall, short, fat, or thin each item should be compared to the other items. This is a fun, but very challenging assignment. To practice at home, collect some items from the kitchen and set them up on the table. Now, draw them! Practice, practice, practice!
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Shading a Cylinder

The fifth grade spent today expanding their shading skills to a more difficult subject; a shiny #10 can! There is a ton more detail to work out on this than there was on a simple sphere. They were really up to the challenge, though, and did a fantastic job! Congratulations on a job well done! Don't forget to practice tons and tons at home.
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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

6th Grade Name Tags

Here is a collection of the most creative name tags created by this year's 6th grade students. Congratulations!
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Monday, March 29, 2010

Drawing Lessons - Negative Space

On Monday, the 6th grade classes had their first drawing lesson of the year. The first lesson was on Negative Space Drawing.

Negative Space is the space around the object you intend to draw. It forms shapes that you can use to help you make your drawing more accurate. Above is an example of negative space drawing. In class, I placed a pile of pencils and scissors onto a black paper. The object of the assignment is to draw the space AROUND the pencils and scissors... NOT the pencils and scissors!

Once you get good at seeing negative space, you can combine it with regular drawing techniques to make really accurate drawings!

It takes a bit of a mental shift to see the space around things as something you can actually focus on as shapes to draw; but once you make that shift, it is really fun to do!
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Thursday, March 25, 2010

A quick reminder!




Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Welcome back 6th graders!  It is good to have you in the art room for this final term of the 09-10 school year.

Your first homework assignment is to complete a name tag.  It should be done artistically.  You are welcome to research fun fonts on your own computer for ideas, or you can get even more creative by using your own interests to draw and shape the letters. 

Remember, the main purpose of a name tag is for others to easily read your name, so it that is your main goal with this assignment as well!


Points will be awarded as follows;

5 pts. for turning it in on time
3 pts. for neatness and ease of reading
2 pts. for creativity
10 pts, total
+5 pts. extra credit for doing both sides
15 pts. possible

Thursday, March 18, 2010

An intro to the Principles of Design

Our final 'project' for fourth grade this year was an introduction to the Principles of Design.

First I should mention that the students already know the Elements of Design. Those are the basic building blocks of art. The Elements of Design are:

Shape, Line, Color, Texture, Value, Space, and Form.

Just knowing what the elements are is not going to guarantee a successful artwork. That is where the principles come in...

The Principles of Design are the rules for using these elements well.

The Principles of Design are:

Balance, Proportion, Unity, Variety, Pattern/Rhythm, Movement, and Focal Point.

Over the next couple of years (in 5th and 6th grade) the students will learn more about these principles and how to manipulate them to make their artwork look more amazing than ever before!

Because this was just an introduction, this assignment was not graded.

I have had lots of fun with my fourth grade classes this year and I look forward to more adventures with them next year!
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Kindergarten - Week 10

This is our final week of art lessons for the Kindergarten classes! I want to thank the Kindergarteners for their sweet and friendly ways. I look forward to seeing all of them much more next year in the first grade classes!

This week we talked about how to draw things in relative sizes. That means drawing big things, medium things, small things, and tiny things. Often at this age, children will draw things in sizes that represent how important it is to the child. For instance, family drawings often show the artist (the child) as the biggest. The mother is usually the next in size, and the rest of the family gets even smaller.

Look for a drawing to come home that has items in the correct relative sizes. An elephant that is much bigger than the mouse. That sort of thing!
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Saturday, March 13, 2010

Collographic printing

This week in third grade art, the students built cut out animals and glued them onto a backing board. Students then painted the board with tempera paints. While the paint was still wet, a colorful paper was laid over the image and rubbed in place. When the colorful paper was peeled off, a print of the animal was created.

This form of printing is called collographic printing.

The students had loads of fun blending and mixing harmonious colors for a varied effect in the printing process. Each student was allowed to make 3 prints (unless they ran out of class time). Some prints turn out better than others, so we will choose our favorite prints next week.

The coolest part is that the printing board gets to go home, too, and makes an excellent artwork of its very own!

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Kindergarten - Week 9

There is no photo to go with this post, because I don't want to ruin the surprise.

This week the kindergarten classes were working on a special surprise for a special loved one in their lives.  The project included tracing, cutting, and gluing.

A word (or many) about cutting:

I can easily see a huge gap in cutting ability between kindergarteners who are allowed to play with scissors at home, and those who are not.  I understand the concerns at home over kindergarten 'haircuts', or even the safety of the upholstery when a 5-6 year old is wielding scissors.  However, PLEASE let them practice cutting appropriate things at home!  A child who cannot cut along the line is at a major disadvantage at school, where many fun projects in every classroom require it.  I see the looks of envy when they see their more practiced friends' projects.  I see the frustration and the tears when they compare the successful cutting jobs with their own sorry attempts.  For some children, this is the first moment they decide that 'I can't do art' or 'I'm no good at it', when in reality, they simply need more exposure to catch up to the boys and girls who have had lots of opportunities to use scissors at home.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Clay projects are done!

Here are the clay (now stone ware) projects after the final firing in the kiln! They are now ready to come home.

You will notice that now the glaze looks all shiny and the colors are MUCH different than they were before.

A glaze firing is set at the temperature recommended for the type of glaze you are using. The glazes used in the elementary classroom are called 'low fire' glazes and are non-toxic. These were fired at a Cone 06, or at about 2,000* F. That level of heat is enough to melt the silica (sand) in the glaze and change it into glass. The glass surface (and rating on the glazes) makes these projects food safe, so, yes, you can let the family eat out of it!

Many students were willing to 'gamble' on the outcome of their glazing by painting each successive layer of glaze a different color. Glazes don't blend together in predictable ways like paint would, so you can never really be sure what will happen when you layer the colors like this. However, we ended up with some truly beautiful galaxies of color on many projects, so I think most of the students were really thrilled with the outcomes!

Here is a picture that demonstrates how the glaze changes color in the firing process. In the picture below, the lighter blue of the finished cup on the left is the same glaze as the light, light blue of the unfired plate on the right. That is a mild transformation, though. Our yellow-green glaze transforms from a rust color!

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Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Bisque fire and glazing

The fourth grade projects went through what is known as a BISQUE FIRE. To 'fire' a kiln is to bake the clay at a high enough temperature to result in a change of nature. Nothing really catches fire. In a bisque fire, it changes 'green ware' (dried clay) into 'bisque ware', or clay that has been converted to stone through super heating. This process is done at approximately 1800* F, or to what is called a Cone 04. This is the lowest setting most people use on a kiln.

Once the project is in the bisque ware state, it is time to glaze! Glazes are made from silica (super clean sand) and chemicals. The students painted 3 layers of glaze onto their projects and are now ready for them to go into the kiln again! The colors may look off, but we will see in the next 4th grade post that looks can be deceiving.
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Thursday, March 4, 2010

4th Grade Clay Projects...

We completed building the clay coil construction projects today and now they are drying in preparation for their first firing in the kiln.

There were no guidelines on what to build, other than the project must be built with coils and use scoring and slip to secure the parts to each other. Smoothing the sides to erase the coils was optional. Many students built vases, cups, and bowls. A few even built plates or baskets.

A KILN is a large and extremely high temperature oven. The clay projects are useless at the moment, because they can be broken very easily, or melted down in water to become mud again. Cooking them at high kiln temperatures is called FIRING the clay. The clay doesn't really catch fire, though. This first firing is called a BISQUE fire. It will transform the 'mud' into 'stone'. That will make the project much more durable. For this bisque transformation, the kiln will reach temperatures around 1800* F.

Next week.... GLAZING!
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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Kindergarten - Week 8

This week the kindergarten classes learned what the term 3D means. Simply put, 3D=3 Dimensional. The 3 dimensions (in kindergarten-speak) are;

Up and Down
Side to Side
Front to Back

3D objects also have an INSIDE and an OUTSIDE. (However, 2D shapes can also have an inside and an outside)

In art, 3D objects are called FORMS.

The human body is called the HUMAN FORM. The students used clay and straws to build 3D FORMS. They learned that some forms have special names, like a CUBE and a PYRAMID.

You can let your child build 3D forms at home using Playdoh (or salt dough...find the RECIPES link in the right hand column) and toothpicks.
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Monday, March 1, 2010

Clay project!

Here are the bisque fired 3rd grade clay pinch pots! This is the first clay project for most of these students and they really had a ball with them! Now that they have been fired once and are no longer quite so fragile, we are painting glazes on them. Tomorrow should be the last day of painting glaze, then they'll go into the kiln for a final firing before students take them home on Thursday. If you were absent for the glaze painting, just come see me at recess to get it done. If your project doesn't make it into the kiln on Wednesday evening with the rest of the class, then I will hold it and send it through a glaze fire with the 4th grade projects next week.
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The long anticipated clay project is here!

This year, the clay technique we are going to focus on is called COIL CONSTRUCTION. Coils are those 'snakes' that are just about the first thing little kids make with their Playdoh. Coils are great for building, because you can stack them on top of each other and create pretty consistent walls with them.

Today I demonstrated the technique for all of the classes.

I also introduced some new vocabulary with this project...

SCORING = cutting into the clay to rough up the places where two clay pieces need to be attached to each other.

SLIP = a 'glue' made from clay and water mixed together. It forms a slimy mud. :) We use slip to cement the pieces to each other.

The projects begin tomorrow and will continue through Thursday.

In order to keep the clay moist over the course of 3 days, we will enclose them in plastic grocery sacks. I will provide the sacks, but it would be nice if you could send one with your student to replace the one he/she was given. That way I will have enough sacks for the 5th and 6th grade clay projects next term. Thank you!
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