I have fallen in love with the art of Keith Haring. It just makes me happy. I love the simplicity of his art, as well as the messages he sends to us of tolerance and unity through his images. He has left a wonderful legacy of images that represent love and positive messages. How can you not help but smile when you look at his art?
In the classroom, we focus on how Keith Haring shows movement, as well as the simplicity of his art. He generally uses bright and solid primary and secondary colors and lots of color … hardly any white space … and outlining his images in black. There are very few details in most of his work and he does a great job of showing movement through the placement of lines. We also talk about “underground” art and street art, which is how Keith Haring became noticed – with his N.Y. Subway wall murals. Even though “street” art is sometimes considered grafitti and the artists can’t sign their names, they have their own icon or symbol so people know who was the “contributor”. Keith Harings was known as the Radiant Baby. You can see how Haring included it as a “signature” in much of his early work.
The artwork we actually do is another “new” form of art… Artist Trading Cards. Just like baseball, football, Pokeman cards, artists create their own Art Cards to trade with other collectors and artists in the medium they are known for. There are actual conventions held for trading!
We did ours in the Keith Haring style of something or someone in “motion”, simply using Sharpies for the flat color Haring always used. After focusing on the art and outlining everything in black, students made sure they included their lines that showed motion.
They turned out fabulous, if I do say so myself!
I am constantly amazed at the skills of my students and this project was no exception … especially with regard to the boys. Painting flowers isn’t generally their favorite thing to paint, but it takes a lot of patience to paint botanical illustrations and they were up to the challenge.
They were BEAUTIFUL!
We began with quite a bit of discussion about how the point of botanical illustration is to accurately record the plant in all its forms. Botanical Illustrations began as a scientific study that turned into an art form. Artists work very hard to exactly represent the plant, down to dissecting the pods, showing what it looks like underground (roots, bulbs etc), showing leaves, flowers and other parts in all their different forms. Then they “glaze” watercolor in many sessions to get the colors just right.
I had a wide selection of plastic fruit and flowers for the students to choose from and they started their drawing. Of course, we didn’t worry so much about the roots etc, just the flower/fruit and a stem and leaf. Given our already tight time constraints, they worked exceptionally hard to get as far as they did.
After the sketch was done, students used watercolor pencils to add the color. We talked about the blending of colors and how that helps with low lights and high lights and showing where one pedal ends and another begins (or one grape …) I asked them to work with a minimum of 3 colors … starting with yellow (which I believe to be the foundation color for nearly all things “natural”.
Being fifth graders, they have a really good background in color from all our other classes and they did a remarkable job thinking about color mixing and how it would help or hurt their painting.
All in all, it was a great send-off project for my lovely fifth graders… they are off to middle school! This is my first group that I have taught from first grade on up and I really believe it shows in their work! Good luck to them all!
One of my all-time favorite children’s authors is Maurice Sendak … I have spent hours reading his books to my 2 boys and everyone knows his iconic “Wild Things” from the book Where The Wild Things Are”. I was looking for something to re-energize my second graders and this was the thing to do it! We had a blast making our Wild Things Masks!
Since all of the “Wild Things” in the book were based on real-life characters in Mr. Sendak’s book, I asked students to think about the personalities in their lives and create their Wild Thing around them. I’m pretty sure that there was some embellishing of characters, but isn’t that what artistic license is all about?!
Starting with tag paper, students drew a large head that took up most of the paper. Sendak’s characters were all bigger than life, physically and in personality. The shape of the head was at the discretion of the student. I gave them templates to help make big eyes, as all of the features in Sendak’s characters were large too. We talked about dimension and how that means there is something that pops off the paper. I was expecting that at least one feature on their mask was going to pop off, giving some dimension to their character and making it more life-like. Students are familiar with manipulating paper from first grade projects and it all came back … accordions, corkscrews, twisting paper, cutting a tab to make the horns stand out etc.
Using pastels, students colored like mad. Everything had to have color! Then they got down to the fun of putting dimension on their mask … a tongue sticking out, jagged teeth, horns, hair, a beak – you name it, we had it. It was wonderful!
After all the dimension was put on, students were given googly eyes and feathers. I hold these myself took help keep things under control … especially the feathers!
If there was time … students then cut out their mask! I think Maurice Sendak would be proud of all imagination and creativity that went into our Wild Things!
How did they make more than one copy of a book before the printing press?! What do you mean there was no such thing as a copy machine?! A typewriter?! Carbon paper?! What the heck?!
The printing press was an invention that truly made the world a better place. In 1440, Johannes Gutenberg invented a way to make multiple copies of books and mass media. Before movable letters and numbers, books were re-written and illustrated one by one and were only seen and owned by either the church or the very rich. Having books, illustrations and printed media produced by a press meant that the more common person could be educated and break the cycle of poverty and repression.
With the above in mind, printmaking in art is Printmaking is the process of making multiple pieces of art, where painting makes only one piece of original art. The prints are made from a single surface or plate and creates an “edition” that is signed and numbered. Artists will either carve or make a raised image on the surface of a plate using wood, stone, plastic rubber etc. The then ink it and make a print.
Our 5th graders made their own printing plates using styrofoam (you can buy these through Blick … Inovart foam). Our ink was simply black tempera paint. I gave students a piece of scratch paper to play with their designs first. They transferred the design to the plate by placing the paper over the top of the plate and redrawing.
Students carefully etched their design into the plate, making sure they had a deep groove. Remember … this will be a negative image! If you are writing on your plate, make sure it is a mirror image or it will print backwards!
Instead of expensive (and messy!) brayers that roll on a uniform amount of ink, we carefully brushed the paint over the plate until there was a very thin coating of paint. Too much meant a messy image and too little meant a spotty image. I don’t give students water … it creates a huge mess and only serves to water down the paint, making it difficult to get a good print.
Lift/peel your paper from the plate and see how you did. Didn’t work? These plates are meant to be used over and over! Try it again … (-;
Today I asked the Kindergarten classes this same question … and the answer came back a huge “YES!” Their art work today was beyond even my optimistic dreams! It was a perfect project for a warm Spring day … full of bright glorious color!
Before exploring our Kandinsky Style, we talked about shapes and how everything you draw is made up of different shapes just modified in your mind to tweak a little and make up the whole. A simple example is a house … what shapes do you use to draw that house? Rectangles for the structure, triangles for the roof, square for the windows, and so on. We then moved on to something a little more complicated. If you want to draw an elephant, you would start with an oval for the body adding some wrinkles and details, a tube for the nose, ovals for the ears adding wavy lines around the outside to make it look more realistic, etc.
We then talked about Wassily Kandinsky, the russian artist credited with painting the first piece of abstract art that was made up wholly of shapes. Showing them his famous painting, Concentric Circles … we now had our theme. I reminded them to look closely at his painting. Did he worry about the colors mixing? NO … it only added interest to his painting so, don’t worry about it! I think that was very freeing for many of my art shy kinders!
We talked about how to use the tempera cakes neatly and how to keep the colors clean without too much water. They did a great job dabbing their brushes on the paper towel and the applying the paint. You will notice there is no black or brown … I only give those colors out sparingly and for particular projects because the project tends to lose it’s brightness and we are dealing with “mud” at the end of the project. (:
Using 12×18 heavyweight paper, we folded our paper together in half 3x to make 8 rectangular sections to begin our shapes and concentric rings. They then chose what shape to put in the centers of their paintings. I encouraged alternating colors for the rings, but some had their own idea about what they wanted to do, which is great … that is what individual creativity is all about.
A little note … I also did this project in our younger special needs group and while I didn’t take pictures )-: they were also very successful. We scaled back the project to only 4 very large sections and a limited amount of paint. We had lots of smiles!
Second Graders (!) did these fabulous Picasso Heads! They really got into the spirit of Picasso when they drew and “painted” them with oil pastels. It was very exciting to see how they embraced the fact that not everything needs to look exactly like the real thing … even my very linear thinkers stepped out of their comfort zone for this one!
We first talked about the use of color and shapes in art to communicate feelings and meaning in a painting. Using Picasso’s Portrait of a Woman … the use of blue and cool colors, triangle for a tear, a white/open circle where her heart is, shows us she is very sad. We then moved on to the painting, Girl Before a Mirror. This is an excellent example of Picasso’s use of shape and color. Also, Picasso many times would put a line through the face to show that the subject has more than one personality or many sides. He also outlined everything in black to accentuate his color.
Students drew 3 heads that touched … representing a relationship between their characters. They then had to draw a line top to bottom on each head showing the 2 sides of each “person”. Using shapes for features, students began building the personality of their Picasso heads. We talked in simple terms about what shapes might represent. A heart for a mouth, corkscrew for eyes, etc. Of course, crazy shapes for hair is a given!!! After pencil, everyone outlined in Sharpie – their choice of thick or thin lines.
For color, we used oil pastels. I introduce the fact that oil pastels aren’t really glorified crayons. There is a reason for oil pastels. The pastel goes on nice and thick, but pastels are made to be spread and blended like paint! We use Q-tips to make the pastels look like oil paint and get a heavy coating of color. The use of an everyday item in our art always gives the students a little thrill and makes them think, “what else can I use?” (and no one put them in their ears … (-:!)
OUR RESULTS WERE FABULOUS!
The artist Gustav Klimt is a recent find for me and I thought it would be fun to introduce his work to our 4th graders, as well as the Art Nouveau movement in the early 1900’s.
I love the organic lines in Art Nouveau, or “young” or “new” art, and the overall organic feeling and bright colors in Klimt’s art. Living in the SF Bay Area, we talked about how prevalent the Art Nouveau look is in the architecture of the City, as the architecture was re-born after the 1906 earthquake. Art Nouveau wasn’t just seen in paintings, it spanned across architecture, furniture, glass, and clothing design.
Our art project was based on Gustav Klimt’s painting, Baby in Quilt
We talked about how many of the subjects in Klimt’s work seemed to be wrapped in a quilt-like environment and he used a very bright color palette. This project also became a talking point for multi-media projects, as we were using a couple of different mediums to finish our project – colored sharpies and watercolors.
Students began their painting by choosing a living creature they cared enough to wrap in a quilt and drawing their head 3/4 of the way up the paper. They then drew organic lines around the head to represent quilt pieces. Everything was outlined in black Sharpie.
We talked a little about symbols and I asked them to try to put some symbols decorating their quilt square that would have some meaning to the subject (ie. dog bone for their dog, carrot for the bunny, etc. We then colored the symbols in the quilt in colored sharpies.
After all the Sharpie-ing has been completed, we finished the quilt in watercolor. I liked the idea of watercolor because watercolor does not usually sit on the paper uniformly depending on the amount of pigment and water you use and it makes the quilt look like it is layered. Students were also able to get a tye- dye look by missing colors. If students didn’t want their colors mixing, I suggested they move from one corner to another, so it gave the watercolor a chance to dry before painting an area “next door”. We used the extra bright Crayola watercolors instead of the more traditional colored Prang that I usually use.
Students had a great time with this project and we had some really creative quilts for just about every imaginable “loved one” … even an alien was represented!
Another of my favorites in 2nd grade because it seems everyone is successful with this project. It is so beautiful that everyone comes away with a frame-worthy picture! This project is one of the few that I spend 2 class times on and everyone finishes.
The first time we meet and after discussing Van Gogh and his interest in Japanese Woodcuts and his studies of sunflowers, students draw their LARGE sunflowers on 12×18″ black construction paper (I like Tru-Color). The vase is a simple stencil to help save time and start the “large” process, which can be hard for some at this age. I ask students to decide if their vase is clear glass or ceramic … if it is clear, what will we see?! They then have to draw the stems in the vase, and many times nice marbles or rocks at the bottom for interest. The vase needs to be sitting on something so students draw a line to show a tabletop. This year, I had one student who thought to make his table small and round … very “out-of-the-box” thinking!
After all the pencil drawing is done, cover white glue along the pencil lines. This will protect the black paper when dry and give it the woodcut effect after adding the chalk and pastels. There is a fine line between too much glue and too little or dots instead of lines etc. but in the end they all look beautiful.
DAY 2 – IT IS TIME TO ADD THE COLOR! I found a use for the chalkboard chalk donated by a retiring teacher!!! It brightens our pictures like crazy!! We use the chalk along with 2 kinds of pastels – regular Cray-Pas and Flourescent Gallery Pastels and the contrasts really makes these sunflowers POP! You have to use the chalk first and blend the pastels in last … the oil in the pastels repel the chalk.
I ask that students cover their entire paper with color and show them that by turning the chalk on its side helps with laying a base of color, as well as giving their art a different look from using the tip of the chalk.
Chalk and pastel tends to be very messy and doesn’t adhere to the paper well. To make sure that these masterpieces can be enjoyed for a long time, we spray them at the end to seal everything. Instead of using an aerosol of some kind (hair spray or you can by a non-toxic that still smells terrible) I mix a little white glue with water (about 1 part water to 6-7 parts water) in a spray bottle and spray across the art. Lay it flat to dry and when dry it is ready to mount!
The past 2 weeks students have been celebrating Chinese New Year and learning about the Chinese culture in general. With that in mind, we made Chinese yo-yos.
We talked about how the Chinese doesn’t have an alphabet, but uses symbols that represent words. I found interesting symbols on the internet and we talked about how the symbol for “heart” looks like a happy face, “fire” looks like a burning fire, “brave” looks like a warrior etc. Of course, I also included the symbols for “Happy New Year” . We also talked about what symbols and colors in general are important in Chinese culture. Lucky colors are red and gold, coins, dragons, chrysanthemums, fish, etc.
We then talked about the brushes used for calligraphy noting that the brush bristles were very thick, long and tapered, which allows artists to “load” their brush with lots of ink and then make the brush strokes very thick to very thin by how hard they pressed down on the brush. Some artists now use pens with nibs or markers that have the 45 degree angle which helps artists get the thick to thin look.
I asked students to design their own “chop” or signature for their yo-yo. Many Chinese artists create their own unique signature or mark that they stamp on all their work. It incorporates symbols that are unique to that artist. I suggested not just the initials, but a picture of something that they loved(a football, book, ballet slippers etc.)
Students received a thin white paper (copy paper) for practicing/tracing, 2 sheets of symbols to trace, black Blick markers with the pen angle, and a yellow paper for the final yo-yo design. After practicing their calligraphy (I was excited because so many decided to free-hand their work instead of copying and with much success!) they put it to the yellow paper! Then they added a little color with their own markers.
The last step is to tape the end of the paper to a thick bamboo bbq skewer (with the end cut off) and rolled it tightly up. We rubber banded it and 10 minutes later the paper was trained and the yo-yo could be used!
I LOVE this project because it introduces an artist who is still alive and painting today, as well as exposes my 5th grade students to a more “modern” medium ~ acrylic paint.
Peter Max’s art is not only eye-catching and appealing to young children, but his subjects tend to the ones that are easily remembered and appreciated. We talk about his influence on pop/psychedelic/60’s art (beatles’ Yellow Submarine), as well as his modern take on painting iconic things and people.
I love the book, The Art of Peter Max by Charles A Riley and we look at many different examples of his very distinctive style. This book is chock full of visuals!
Peter Max paints very freely and doesn’t worry about getting that perfect paint color or line on his page. I encourage NOT cleaning your brush much and just “loading” your brush with 3 different paint colors and just explore the paint and colors. I love the shrieks I hear when I turn the paint plate upside down and hold it there for a minute or so to demonstrate to students the thick paint that doesn’t mix and mingle with other colors like other mediums they are used to using. The unique properties of acrylic paint (we talk about these too) really lends itself to this project and older students appreciate using a medium they have never experienced before. It is so flexible and forgiving they can’t really mess up and the bright colors used make all the paintings beautiful. This project always goes up on the classroom boards afterwards!
I chose the postage stamp theme because it was a different way of looking at the paper and it celebrates all the philanthropy Peter Max has done through his art. I mention that every July 4th, Peter Max paints canvases of the Statue of Liberty and the proceeds of the sale of the painting goes towards her continued restoration and maintenance. At one time, Peter Max painted numerous paintings of Lady Liberty, donated the proceeds and, some say, he single-handedly saved Lady Liberty from disrepair. Peter Max also designed postage stamps to raise money for our National parks – hence the postage stamp theme!
I demonstrate and encourage students to play with the paint and the colors with their brushes. There is lots of dabbing and rolling of brushes to get different effects.
Starting with a stencil of a postage stamp, students trace the stamp outline which will become the paintings frame. After painting and the paint dries, the final step is to cut out the postage stamp!