Sunday, October 31, 2010

Autumn Tree Silhouettes

The past month has been bizarrely warm, producing some amazing and inspiring sunsets. Every drive home, I've been amazed at the vivid colors and beautiful silhouettes that have occurred. Most of the photos below were taken on my mostly boring drive home(by the way, I don't recommend driving while taking pictures!)

I knew I had to do a lesson on silhouettes!

4th grade looked at artist Kara Walker, while we discussed what silhouettes are. We talked about how the nature of silhouettes are mysterious because of the lacking detail. I had the students analyze Walker's art and come up their own interpretations of her work.

To make our autumn tree silhouettes, we started by painting a 12x18 piece of paper in a variety of fall colors. I gave little direction at this step other than demonstrating a variety of painting techniques(color mixing, swirls, etc). I also told them to make sure that multiple colors are visible, to avoid them mixing every color together. Although a few students couldn't resist mixing colors to make a single-colored background, but they turned out amazing regardless! Art is all about breaking rules, right!?

The next week, students used oil pastels to add line details to their paintings. Then they used black paint to add their tree silhouettes. I only demonstrated how to paint the trees, but they came up with many great ideas on items to add, like people jumping in a pile of leaves, birds, tire swings, etc. I am always amazed and inspired at my student's innovative ideas!

Lastly, the students had the option to add sequins to their paintings to represent leaves. Students displayed sparse leaves dangling on a branch, swirling leaves in the wind, and a heaping pile of leaves waiting to be jumped in!

These paintings are hands down more beautiful than the glowing skies I've been witnessing on my drives home! My favorite thing about them is that no two paintings are alike even though we used the the exact same colors and subject-matter!

Check out a forrest of these beautiful trees on Artsonia!

A Leaf Man's got to go where the wind blows

Leaf Man flew into my classroom and into the boundless imaginations of my first graders. While reading the beautiful book, we picked out all of the leaf people and leaf animals that we could find. We talked about what details make it what it is? I ask, how can you tell it's a cow, or a turkey? I am always telling my kids that details are what make an artwork special and tell a story. We talked about if a leaf turkey didn't have a wattle(aka: red thing), would it look like a turkey? If a leaf cow didn't have an udder, would it look like a cow? If a leaf duck didn't have a beak and webbed feet, would it still look like a duck?

Even before the book was finished, lots of the kids were asking, "Will we make a Leaf Man!!!??"... Of course we will!

I wanted to keep my demonstration short and open-ended, because I feel this lesson is all about exploration and play.
I talked to the kids about...
-thinking of what details your leaf person or animal has.
-using the right amount of glue.
-beginning with a large leaf for the body and building off of it.
-cutting pieces of leaves in a contrasting color for details.

The results are amazingly beautiful! I love how each 'leaf person' or 'leaf animal' has it's own unique character!

When the kids finished their projects, I had them think of a story that their 'leaf person' or 'leaf animal' is part of. I prompted them to think about:
What could they be doing?
Where could they be?
What is your leaf person or animal like?
They shared there stories with the other kids at their tables.

I so love this book and accompanied lesson, it encourages the kids to see creative possibilities wherever they are and using the humblest of materials.

Check out the whole leaf gang on Artsonia!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Autumn Leaf Banners

Our first graders poured into the art room wearing their smocks, discovering a piece of large white paper covering their tables. I was almost knocked over with desperate, "What are we making today's!?".

So I had the kids gather round one of the tables and I showed them the 'magic' crayons(crayon cakes I made with autumn colors). As I was talking, I started rubbing the 'magic' crayon on the paper...stopped suddenly and proclaimed, "How did this happen? Look everyone!!!" A few of them noticed and shouted out, "a leaf!"

After I demonstrated the texture rubbing, I used liquid watercolors to paint over the leaves. We talked about how to create contrast by using dark watercolors over the lighter colored leaves and vice versa.

The kiddos were so thrilled as they found different kinds of leaves under the paper. I loved seeing each table working together and sharing in the joy and discovery! And the results were just so amazingly beautiful!

It was hard not to take these amazing banners home with me- they are just so stunning!