Grade Two Explores Emily Carr

I had a placement this afternoon where the class, in fact, the entire school, had opportunity to watch a morning theater performance, “Emily Carr – Small Wonders” performed by
Canadiana Musical Theatre. So, it only made sense that I follow that with an art extravaganza in the Grade 2 class. This class has been helping me with my french lately and this has been great fun.

The inspiration for this lesson comes from Hilary Inwood. I’ve been pouring over her stuff the past couple of weeks, absolutely in love with the types of small books, and works based on nature and ecology that she has been writing about and creating. She has a large publication list and I encourage my friend-educators to look her up. As my readers know, I’m quite big on picking up litter and being a steward of my environment. I harvested from my own recycle bin and cut up three cardboard boxes this morning to be used in this activity.

First, we got the projector warmed up and watched a couple of short movies about Emily Carr, the artist. While the children enjoyed the morning performance, they didn’t have opportunity to learn a lot about Emily’s art. As we looked at several tree and landscape images, we talked about the wind and about the blowing shapes, in the sky, on the land and in the trees. There was a bit of chat about British Columbia and the big tall evergreen trees and imagining walking through the woods there in the dark.

Before recess, we opened nine factories, most having two factory workers, but some, having three. I reused chart paper that was set aside in the art storage room, as factory place mats, deciding to use that for collage paper later on as well. Here, the students prepared a lot of collage papers in the approach of Henri Matisse, to be later selected and used for creating a personal landscape in the manner and energy of Emily Carr.

So, the factory workers went to work, using white, yellow, turquoise, green and blue tempera paint blocks and large brushes. A helpful tip is to keep paint blocks out of the individual cupped containers as those are very tricky to clean. Instead, I just set them out on palettes or margarine container lids. Much easier to wipe off afterwards. Reminders to the students: “Stroke, don’t scrub, your brushes.”

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Time for recess! Over the fifteen minutes, the collage papers dried and I cleaned out the water containers, the brushes and the palettes. Ready for students to rumble!

The students entered, rosy cheeked and eager. I projected the following image for some sketching in their sketch books. I also demonstrated how when we draw evergreen trees, we don’t have to draw all of the individual branches, but can draw big clumps of branches all at one time. Among the Firs 1931

Among the Firs 1931

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To begin our compositions, we sorted our papers into two big piles on the floor, like piles of leaves. We talked about the way the wind blows most of the time…side to side…this way and that…most of the time it’s not going up and down. So, I initially requested a vertical composition (up and down), with the wind motion being wavy, but side to side. “Mix up your papers, guys, to get lots of variety!” I had brought a long a bag full of cardboard cut to size (different sizes and shapes) for compositions and a variety of tree trunks, strips also cut out of boxes.

I showed them Above the Gravel Pit by Emily Carr.

AbovetheGravelPit

The results…ta duh!

With advanced and Division II classes, you might add three layers of hills (foreground/middle ground and background)…and several trees. At all grade levels, given time, you might also want to add textures/shading/highlighting onto the tree forms with oil pastel, before gluing. Because this is a young group and I am a visiting teacher, one tree did the trick!

Thank you, Grade 2, for the magic of an afternoon making art!

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Gorilla House LIVE ART: April 17, 2013

Bruce demonstrated how to do an image transfer some months back and my cousin, Margy, has been using these techniques successfully out in the studio for several of her amazing collage pieces. Last night,  I really wanted to deal with the Trans Canada Highway in some subtle way.  Since coming home from Ontario, I’ve been thinking about the extent of the highway that has become so familiar to me.  An asphalt thread, it is all that separates me from these important family members.  I decided, before even driving to the Gorilla House, to adhere my mirrored image of the map onto my board…that, along with the colour test sheet that popped out at the beginning of my print job.

One of the concepts of the night was Cruelty and Beauty.  I was thinking about the painful experience of separation and the cruel reality of physical distance (This might be an emotional distance in the case of not being able to reach into the heart of someone you love.  It might be the seeming impossibility of attaining a career goal.) ; on the flip side, the awesome experience of knowing love for those who are not physically present…how beautiful is that love…how powerful.

Ravens are dealt with in art works right across Canada.   They are icons of a changing culture across regions.  I was introduced to Prince Edward Island artist, Karen Gallant, on my ancestral search in North Rustico two summers ago.  The raven appears both as a central subject and as a supporting detail in much of her work.

Artist: Karen Gallant Prince Edward Island

Artist: Karen Gallant Prince Edward Island

Amy Switzer, North Bay, Ontario artist, exhibits with my grade nine art teacher, David Carlin and masterfully creates mixed media sculpture, often with the raven and other birds as her subjects.

Amy Switzer: Untitled (Standing Bird 3), 2008, ceramic, steel and graphite, 14 x 6 x 18 inches

Amy Switzer: Untitled (Standing Bird 3), 2008, ceramic, steel and graphite, 14 x 6 x 18 inches

installboothAnd while I am whizzing across Canada, it’s imperative that I represent an image from the west coast, known for the historical reference of the raven used in First Nations masks, totems and art for generations.

Traditional and so absolutely beautiful…

“An elegant hand-carved and painted bass wood West Coast Native Canadian “raven rattle” by Gerry Dudoward, a Native Canadian artist known for his West-Coast style carvings. The body, painted in greed,  red, white, and black, is carved in the shape of a wingless raven, with West Coast geometric motifs painted along the body, with a small carved man sitting backwards on the raven’s back.
1.6″ x 1.4″ — 4 x 3.5 cm” SIC

Raven Rattle by GERRY DUDOWARD

Raven Rattle by GERRY DUDOWARD

Emily Carr’s observations of the lush coast and her observation of totems had a profound impact on the conversation about Canadian art and Appropriation.  “Canadian Expressionist Painter, 1871-1945 Canadian painter and writer. She studied art from 1891 to 1894 at the California School of Design in San Francisco. She lived in England from 1899 to 1904, studying at the Westminster School of Art in 1899, and settled in Vancouver on her return. Her stay in Paris in 1910-11, during which she had a painting shown at the Salon d’Automne in 1911, proved far more influential on her art, familiarizing her with Impressionism, with Post-Impressionism and with Fauvism.”

Big Raven 1931 Oil on canvas 87.3×114.4cm Vancouver Art Gallery

Emily Carr

Emily Carr

Here, W. Allan Hancock’s wildlife paintings represent the contemporary approach to ooooober realism.

Ravens of Klemtu by W. Allan Hancock

Ravens of Klemtu by W. Allan Hancock

This is my own two-hour painting resulting from last nights Art Battle. I am grateful to Emily, Grace and Alex for purchasing the piece at auction and to all my friends for their warm welcome home.

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Emily, Alex and Grace

Emily, Alex and Grace