Here are images of the printmaking project that our third grade classes are currently working on. Students draw symbols using conte crayon and then build a stamp using foam and corrugated cardboard. Next, class 3-310 is ready to print!
The African stamps are made by carving gourds. Like so many artists in diverse cultures, we use the resources that are readily available to make our art . Here are Adinkra stamps from Ghana:
Hello, my long lost blog! I've been attending a professional development group for art teachers called ArtXchange at the Brooklyn Museum this year. My colleagues and I share information and ideas about our calling. It has been wonderful to spend Thursday evenings in the museum, sketching and brainstorming. Thank you to museum educator, Alexa Fairchild, for organizing this wonderful program. Following is what I recently wrote to this small group of educators.
"My kindergarten students
created wood sculptures inspired by our activity during our last
meeting. I had two talking points. One was the idea of balance...if the
wood could balance without the glue, then their sculptures would be
strong when the glue dried. I positioned various wood pieces in
different ways and asked the children "Do you think that this will
balance?" I also talked about the idea of using a base in sculpture so
that students would build on their cardboard bases. This helped in that
we need to be able to lift the sculptures to a spot for drying before my
next class came in."
In this project, the materials teach the lesson. I only need to say a little and then I can step aside so that the students can have their experience. There was such an air of concentration and focus during this morning's painting session.
Don’t believe it if anyone tells you that first graders are too young for Shakespeare! Our first graders recently had a special opportunity to immerse themselves in Shakespeare when they met Shannon Whitt, the illustrator of a gorgeous picture book, Shakespeare’s Seasons, which uses excerpts from Shakespeare’s poetry and plays to introduce young readers to the bard’s writing. The kids were mesmerized by the poetry – and then they got to do their own paper and fabric collages inspired by some of the lines they heard.
Turning Text to Art
Shannon, who is the parent of a P.S. 154 kindergartener and 2nd grader and visited art class as part of the PTA’s Meet the Author program, illustrated the book by creating collages that were then photographed. Like Shannon, the kids began their collages by selecting one of Shakespeare’s lines for inspiration. As they started working, they could draw on some of Shannon’s secret collage tips – like a fool-proof way to make accordion-style grass from paper.
Seasons are Serious
The kids worked from Shakespeare lines that focused on spring or summer. Some children zeroed in on the disappointments of the seasons – “The purest spring is not so free from mud” – and showed kids playing in soggy meadows, farmers getting stuck in their fields – and, in one case, a zombie stomping through mud! Others were captivated by a season’s promise of beauty – “Summer shall come and with her all delights” – and created landscapes with lots of flowers and butterflies.
The kids really loved illustrating Shakespeare’s words and creating their own versions of what the lines meant. And great inspiration does spark the imagination. Just look at the collages!
Art class provides a unique opportunity for the kindergarten children to discover books in a different way than they do in their regular classrooms: as artistic inspiration. Reading a beautifully illustrated book to the kindergarten classes and focusing on how the story unfolds in pictures as well as words has been an exciting vehicle to launch new projects. Recently, the children explored the pages of Eric Carle’s A House for Hermit Crab and then made their own depictions of how a hermit crab would decorate a home.
The Geometry of a Dwelling
The kids began with the basic shape of a hermit crab shell – the spiral. And that was the only thing that was basic! Colors not typically seen in crab shells under the sea were vividly on display in these marker drawings.
Feathering a Nest – or Decorating a Shell
Like the hermit crab in the story who adorned his plain shell with everything from sea urchin to starfish, the children were incredibly inventive in adorning the shells in their pictures. Flowers, rainbows, fish and even a pumpkin or two found a way into the kids’ designs.
Home Sweet Home
Each of the kids put their creativity, hard work and lots of love into the hermit crab shells – a pretty good recipe for a happy home!
This year, each fourth grade class worked on a collaborative art project re-creating Vincent Van Gogh paintings. Here’s how it worked: each child was given a separate rectangle showing a portion of a painting. They were to reproduce the image they were given using pastels on paper. The twist? The class didn’t see in advance what the original Van Gogh work looked like so they could only guess what each individual rectangle was depicting and what all the rectangles, when put together, would reveal.
During the period 1888-1889, Vincent Van Gogh painted a series of portraits of Augustine Roulin, the wife of the postmaster of Arles. The portraits, which he titled La Berceuse, or “woman who rocks the cradle,” show Augustine Roulin rocking an unseen cradle via a string on her lap. One portrait in the series, which was begun just before the artist’s breakdown, can be viewed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Not knowing what the finished work would depict, the children had to focus on the information in their individual rectangles: colors, shapes, texture, line. As they worked, some kids tried to figure out what the finished work would depict. Some guesses? A garden, a hammer, a fish pond.
Building a Masterpiece
Once the kids had completed their rectangles, it was time to construct the full image. Working together, the children tried to place the rectangles together – six across and five down – in the proper order so that they would produce their version of a Van Gogh. It was puzzle work – lining up colors and shapes that continued from one rectangle to another.
With each rectangle fitted in place, the children could see that, together, they had created a richly hued portrait of a woman. The next step was to compare their work to a picture of Van Gogh’s version. Our favorite? The kids’ version!