Category Archives: 5th Grade

Keith Haring and Artist Trading Cards

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keith haring copyI 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 ankh heart copyd 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.  radiant baby copyYou 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!

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Filed under 5th Grade, Artist or Focus, Keith Haring, markers, ~Blog~

Beautiful Botanical Illustrations in Fifth Grade

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!

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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!

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Filed under 5th Grade, Artist or Focus, Botanical Illustration, flowers, Medium, Paint, Watercolor, ~Blog~

Easy Peasy Printmaking

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 … (-;

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Filed under 5th Grade, Artist or Focus, Paint, Printmaking, ~Blog~

Peter Max and Acrylic Postage Stamps

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! 

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Filed under 5th Grade, Paint, Peter Max, ~Blog~