Okay…it’s mid October! There is no way that teachers can avoid pumping the kids up with pumpkins OR the holiday of Halloween. Since elementary art lessons have always seemed to be driven by the festivities and celebrations and seasons that take place throughout the year, it’s important to continue to embed the teaching of art skills at the very same time.
I’ve decided to take the idea I explored a short time ago, the contoured autumn leaves…
…and to teach the grade three students how to contour a pumpkin. When the oil pastels are getting low in your school, try these sorts of activities with materials such as conte or as I found stashed in the storage room, chalk pastels, in order to teach some shading and high lighting. Afterwards, this medium requires a light spraying of hair spray (once the students have gone for the afternoon) to set the chalk.
We began by looking at this contoured sketch of a pumpkin. What do you see? What do you notice? Where is the window? What is shadow. Why is there a shadow?
Next, the students began sketching pumpkins in their visual journals with pencils…no erasers… begin again and again and again. I spoke to them about practice and the idea behind sketching and making studies. It was at this time that I played a Youtube video showing the basic structures of pumpkins and how to contour them. They could sketch while they watched or sketch after watching. It was up to them. I also did my own exemplars on the white board, showing the students that some pumpkins are very tall and others are more wide and round, but they are built of the same parts.
For the composition portion of the afternoon, the visual journals were stashed away and, emphasizing scale again, I gave the students 18 x 24 inch construction paper in orange. I always encourage such activities be done on construction paper because of the tooth.
The students were given a light, medium and dark value within the warm colour family and away they went to the races, contouring each ‘segment’ of the pumpkin by using their darkest value for the chalked lines, then medium, and then highlight at the center of each segment. While tissue was made available for blending, I found that given the softness of the media, the beautiful marks and lines disappeared from the children’s work, so I asked them to try to preserve those marks and avoid blending.
A blue or purple chalk was given to each student for emphasis, as a very last step before cutting the beautiful creations out.
A wonderful and attentive class! Thanks, Jenn!