Organic Shapes: Grade Three

Yes!  Grade threes spoke to me about organic shapes.  Will they remember tomorrow?  I don’t know.  But, for today, they really did delve into the concept.

“Organic shapes are associated with things from the natural world, like plants and animals. The circles and squares that make up this sculpture are geometric shapes.”

There was paint left over from yesterday…black and white.  I grabbed bright red paper to use as a ground for today’s paintings.

Last evening, my son James came over to the house after work and created a huge bowl of Hummus, using my friend Carla’s recipe.  After we had our sit down dinner and the dishes were done, I headed out to drive James home.  While we journeyed I asked him what he thought would make a great subject for great three Halloween paintings…witches, cats or bats?  His suggestion was ghosts.  He rated, by difficulty, the four subjects and in the end, I agreed.  4. Witches 3. Cats 2. Bats 1. Ghosts  Ghosts would allow for creative interpretation, free flow, but would help me teach some basic design concepts and techniques.

I knew that I wanted to accomplish some successful design pieces in a very short time, so the focus could not be so much on Reflection and Depiction, but on Composition and Expression.

The class was so intensely involved in the art making that I had to stare in disbelief as it seemed I was in a bee hive.  Every student was geared up to accomplish wonderful things and the engagement was other-worldly.  It was silent.  I felt so happy.

I have a couple of suggestions if my readers were to, at any point, paint ghosts with kids.  First of all, have my readers ever had their mother dress them up in a bed sheet as a ghost at any point, for the purpose of trick-o’-treating?  Two eyes cut out.  No mouth…no nose. It’s tricky to get around!  I told the kids the story at the beginning of my lesson and they laughed an laughed.  I shared about how hot it was in the inside of the sheet as I breathed in and out, in and out. I told them about tripping as my feet stepped onto the front of the sheet.  I explained about the pillow case I was carrying, being difficult to access to collect candy at my neighbour’s doors.  I could tell by their faces that they could relate.

I drew a symbol for an octopus on the white board.  We thought about how the shape of a ghost symbol would be different.  I had them try to picture the sheet over my head.  Could they tell where the head was?  How?  What shape would it be?  The shoulders?  and then….why would the bottom of the ghost be so organic?  We talked about Casper the friendly ghost and the fact that he had legs and arms like we do.

Other words for ghosts that came up…spirits and specter.

Parameters for the composition.  Include at least seven ghost-like organic shapes.  At least three of these need to go off of an edge.  Try to include three larger ghost-forms and the rest, smaller.

I demonstrated how to use a paper towel as a place mat…sliding it along to the place where paint would be applied to an edge.  I showed them the difference between painting over an edge and painting up to an edge.

Given a small piece of chalk, the students moved into their composing.  I really didn’t want to impose too many restrictions on how they handled their darkness, only saying that I would like to see repeating lines and that the black outline around each specter should not touch the white shrouds.  Off to the races!

For the purpose of painting with tempera paints, always have a box of white chalk handy.  It takes all of the ‘preciousness’ of drawing away and becomes very free-flowing, with opportunities to change minds several times.

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Starting with the dark if the artist finds that all of the buckets of white are gone…

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Second colour…

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After drying…those little ghost faces were added with sharpies.  No noses required.  I enjoyed the creative solutions to the dark.  A beautiful morning!  Deb, thank you for your class!

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Something amazing happened.  As I stepped into the staff room, at the end of the morning, I learned that employees of UPS were visiting the school and making rounds at other schools, serving special coffees and cupcakes, in order to let educators in the community know how much their work is appreciated.  A heart felt message was delivered during the lunch break that left teachers feeling affirmed and happy.  It was a lovely gesture and a great end to my morning guest teaching.  I had a white chocolate latte.  YUM!

Thank you, UPS!

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