Contouring Autumn Leaves With Colour

I just pulled this one together quickly for grade fours yesterday afternoon.  I know that there is a plethora of autumn leaf activities out there during these months, and judging by the wind and cold weather in Calgary, those leaves are not going to be around for much longer!

I decided to add some colour to the otherwise, grey weather to come on the weekend, and show the students how to contour…create the hills and valleys that are in every subject we attempt to render in art.  The basic concept is that the top of a fold of fabric reflects the greatest amount of light, so it needs to be coloured with the lightest hues.  The valleys of the fold, hidden from the light, would sit in the darkest range of the same hue.  Similarly, when rendering a face, the creases would be the darkest and the bridge of the nose and the forehead would be the lightest…and so on it goes.

I gave the students some of these examples and then went about talking about the structure of the leaf (new words included the word ‘serrated’ edge) and that vein to vein, we see the same sort of lighting if we really look.  While our contouring would be an exaggeration of this, using white oil pastel for the lightest highlights…the students would see that their leaves would have more dimension than usual if they followed the light to dark formula.  I like how unique each of these leaves became through the difference in student mark making and based on the variety of original depictions.

First, my consistent approach…give the students chalk to draw with on construction paper, in this case, half a sheet of pink or yellow or orange or red.  This provides a variety of grounds and tooth as a receptor to the oil pastels.

Kath's Canon October 9, 2015 Contoured Leaves Elementary Art 021A chalk dot is made on each of the four compass points on the construction paper in order to set out the scale.  Ask the students to create a leaf that reaches each of the compass points.

Describe the veins as organic.  Rulers, erasers and pencils, not required.  Each and every vein is different.

Once the chalk depiction is there before them, review that the veins of the leaf, if in valleys, would be darkest.  Two palette choices were outlined on the board.

#1 White Yellow Orange, Red, Violet

#2 White Yellow Light Green Dark Green, Blue

By providing these choices, the students do not have to do too much investigation in those huge boxes of oil pastels.

Kath's Canon October 9, 2015 Contoured Leaves Elementary Art 022Some students will need some guidance one-on-one once the activity part of this class begins.  Sit with them and walk them through it.  Do one of your own in front of them, encouraging them to apply the oil pastels with a side to side motion rather than a long up and down motion.

Kath's Canon October 9, 2015 Contoured Leaves Elementary Art 025Resulting projects were beautiful!  Thank you, for your class, MJ.

Kath's Canon October 9, 2015 Contoured Leaves Elementary Art 001 Kath's Canon October 9, 2015 Contoured Leaves Elementary Art 002 Kath's Canon October 9, 2015 Contoured Leaves Elementary Art 003 Kath's Canon October 9, 2015 Contoured Leaves Elementary Art 004 Kath's Canon October 9, 2015 Contoured Leaves Elementary Art 005 Kath's Canon October 9, 2015 Contoured Leaves Elementary Art 006 Kath's Canon October 9, 2015 Contoured Leaves Elementary Art 007 Kath's Canon October 9, 2015 Contoured Leaves Elementary Art 008 Kath's Canon October 9, 2015 Contoured Leaves Elementary Art 009 Kath's Canon October 9, 2015 Contoured Leaves Elementary Art 011 Kath's Canon October 9, 2015 Contoured Leaves Elementary Art 012 Kath's Canon October 9, 2015 Contoured Leaves Elementary Art 013 Kath's Canon October 9, 2015 Contoured Leaves Elementary Art 014 Kath's Canon October 9, 2015 Contoured Leaves Elementary Art 015 Kath's Canon October 9, 2015 Contoured Leaves Elementary Art 016 Kath's Canon October 9, 2015 Contoured Leaves Elementary Art 017 Kath's Canon October 9, 2015 Contoured Leaves Elementary Art 018 Kath's Canon October 9, 2015 Contoured Leaves Elementary Art 019 Kath's Canon October 9, 2015 Contoured Leaves Elementary Art 020Kath's Canon October 9, 2015 Contoured Leaves Elementary Art 027 Kath's Canon October 9, 2015 Contoured Leaves Elementary Art 028 Kath's Canon October 9, 2015 Contoured Leaves Elementary Art 029 Kath's Canon October 9, 2015 Contoured Leaves Elementary Art 030 Kath's Canon October 9, 2015 Contoured Leaves Elementary Art 031 Kath's Canon October 9, 2015 Contoured Leaves Elementary Art 023

Autumn Close Up and Venation

Yippee!  A different group of grade 4s today!  With a slight breeze, spilling the leaves off of the autumn trees on a beautiful blue-sky day, what better topic than looking CLOSE UP at autumn leaves.  I like the format, in elementary art instruction, of always reflecting, depicting, composing and expression…the full dish every afternoon!

We reflected on some images, a leaf I had picked up on the sidewalk outdoors and a few Youtube videos.

Mark Hamblin photo

mark-hamblin-close-up-of-leaf-showing-vein-structure-and-autumn-colour-scotland autumn leaf autumn-leaf-macro-291405 autumn leaf 2 hazy-close-up-autumn-leaf-2236406Autumn leaves in macro…close up!

From the reflection time, we watched a step by step video, very simplistic in nature, about the venation structures of leaves.  We then spent about ten minutes drawing our studies.

Kath's Canon, September 25, 2015, Venation 040 Kath's Canon, September 25, 2015, Venation 039 Kath's Canon, September 25, 2015, Venation 038 Kath's Canon, September 25, 2015, Venation 037 Kath's Canon, September 25, 2015, Venation 036 Kath's Canon, September 25, 2015, Venation 035I handed out a photo copy of the patterned piece that my readers can view below.  I talked to the students about how artists use view finders to eliminate some of the busy information in their subject.  I had them trace their Be Great cards somewhere on the composition below to decide on one part that they wanted to use as a reference for their own art making.  I took the students through these steps, using my own as an example.

Autumn Leaf close upKath's Canon, September 25, 2015, Venation 004 Kath's Canon, September 25, 2015, Venation 005 Kath's Canon, September 25, 2015, Venation 006 Kath's Canon, September 25, 2015, Venation 007 Kath's Canon, September 25, 2015, Venation 008I would use tempera paint blocks for the next part of the lesson, unless nice quality paper was available to you.  Using white bond drawing paper did not provide the tooth OR the body for highly successful water colour.  However, we forged ahead and the students DID practice wet-on-wet technique successfully, to cover their entire composition with a ground of warm colours; yellow, orange and red.

These little Lunchable trays have become my favourite…a bit of water in one section and a squeeze of a bit of water colour pigment in each of the others.

Kath's Canon, September 25, 2015, Venation 001

From there, they used a variety of water based felt markers to achieve a number of drawings based on their small rectangular section.  Enlarging anything at this age, is tricky!  So, rest assured, if you see only relative success in this aspect of the lesson, it is to be expected.  If the depictions in marker are very teeny, just steer the students to discovery by pointing out aspects of their reference and if still a problem, engage them in an inventive piece including many leaves instead of just a few.

Demonstrate how MACRO cell texture can be arrived by ‘doodling’ squiggly lines between the veins.  A fun learning experience for me and for the students!  Thanks, Colleen for your class!  I turned on Vivaldi’s Autumn and it all began.

Kath's Canon, September 25, 2015, Venation 010 Kath's Canon, September 25, 2015, Venation 011 Kath's Canon, September 25, 2015, Venation 012 Kath's Canon, September 25, 2015, Venation 013 Kath's Canon, September 25, 2015, Venation 014 Kath's Canon, September 25, 2015, Venation 015 Kath's Canon, September 25, 2015, Venation 016 Kath's Canon, September 25, 2015, Venation 017 Kath's Canon, September 25, 2015, Venation 018 Kath's Canon, September 25, 2015, Venation 019 Kath's Canon, September 25, 2015, Venation 020 Kath's Canon, September 25, 2015, Venation 021 Kath's Canon, September 25, 2015, Venation 022 Kath's Canon, September 25, 2015, Venation 023 Kath's Canon, September 25, 2015, Venation 024 Kath's Canon, September 25, 2015, Venation 025 Kath's Canon, September 25, 2015, Venation 026 Kath's Canon, September 25, 2015, Venation 027 Kath's Canon, September 25, 2015, Venation 028 Kath's Canon, September 25, 2015, Venation 029 Kath's Canon, September 25, 2015, Venation 030 Kath's Canon, September 25, 2015, Venation 031 Kath's Canon, September 25, 2015, Venation 032 Kath's Canon, September 25, 2015, Venation 033 Kath's Canon, September 25, 2015, Venation 034

Max Falls In!

By now, my readers are getting to know Max pretty well.  Yesterday, it was such an awesome autumn day…so golden-blue, that I took Max back on the loop where I once did daily walks with my Laurie-dog at the river.  The image below is a photo that I took on one of our final river walks.

Laurie and Kath 2My children and I sprinkled Laurie’s ashes along the path of his favourite walks…places he had shared with me over his 14 years.  I painted, as a result of his passing, a series called my Heaven Series, paintings that were rejected by the commercial galleries that represented me at the time, for the fact that they had ‘too much sky’.  Sigh…

September 7 2008 Max and Heaven 033I try to get Max back to these places before the snow flies and my favourite time is in the autumn.  Yesterday the yellow leaves were dancing on the ground.  There was just enough breeze and in the past couple of days the leaves have been on the change.

?????????? ?????????? ?????????? ?????????? DSC_0571Initially, Max was charged with excitement simply because we had such a steep drop into the valley and then there were gaggles of juvenile pheasants feeding in the open clearing left behind after utility and infrastructure revisions.

Interest Peeked

Interest Peeked

Poor photograph...but, yes, these are what caught his eye.

Poor photograph…but, yes, these are what caught his eye.

Where, once, I would throw sticks for Max from the broad perch of river rocks on the shore, most of the banks have dropped vertically into the water.  Max found one of the few locations on the east side of the river where dry rock could be found and there was no way I was clamouring down there, although he barked enthusiastically to prompt me.

??????????It was obvious to me that some huge shifts have happened with the river since the big Calgary flood.  For Max, these changes were not so evident.

As we continued south along the river, I think Max supposed that there were going to be some excellent locations for his activity of choice.  At one point, he took a mad dash from the path and I heard him briefly charging through the thick autumn brush and then….nothing.  Silence.  And yes…this is where he went in.  A tentative and anxious herder, Max has always loved the water, but up to his hips.  He has never had a swim.  He has always barked at sticks when they have flowed out of his easy reach.  Hmmm…this was to be a different sort of experience for him!  This is where he went in.

??????????I climbed my way through thick brush and heard his feeble cries. His situation came clear.  The current was kicking him down river, all the while his wee head was popping up and his strong legs were reaching up onto the wet, worn shoulder of the river.  Eyes, wide open, he caught sight of me and at my prompting, remained at one spot.  I urged his hard work and with a few strong efforts, he pulled himself up and into my waiting arms.

Sheesh.  Be warned!  I was a bad mama!  While on the west side of the river, I could see other families, children and dogs playing on a broad shore, there isn’t nothing of that kind on the east side.

This was excitement that we didn’t need…but, let it be known, my border collie has finally had a good swim!

More of Autumn: An Afternoon Given to Walking and Light and Wonder

Looking West From the Top of Campbell Hill

Amazing Texture and Movement

More On Looking Up

 And finally….a self portrait. 

Forever Wishing for a 'Real' Photographer's Autumn Interpretation of My Pooch & Me

 

The Beauty in Ordinary Days

He Must be 16 Yrs Old By Now!

Watching Peanut-the-cat ‘watching’ birds, while sipping my first cup of coffee, is an experience that can not be overrated.  I love these mornings of autumn where everything seems to take on texture, more than any other time of year.  My autumn is filled with ‘ordinary’ days and I feel like I’m made new because of it.

Sparrows Polish Off Yesterday's Feed

On one of my off-leash experiences with Max, I completely relaxed into autumn and wrote.

It is an
autumn
afternoon.

I haven’t been a 
part
of the earth before.
I am the ground,
a bed of yellow leaves,
cool.

I watch the
golden bedazzled
flecks of leaves

separate

from the outermost branches
of hundred year old trees

and gently,

one
after
another,

they come and cover me until
I decide to roll over and
write this poem on an envelope.

Blue sky dappled with bits of cloud;
sun spiked rays, 
like those sharp arms of light
in child-made drawings.
There, up in the corner.

I remember asking,
“Does the sun shine like that?” (What a stupid question!)

Look in the eyes said, “Yes.”

And today I learned it is so,
as sun rays reached around
and through tree arms,
lighting up the dance.

I am witness, this year,
to an event of extreme importance.

Delicious Morning