It’s a very other-worldly feeling to be journeying life through a pandemic. In the grocery stores, yesterday, I felt to be plunked into the opening scenes of a Sci-Fi movie. Sometimes a person just has to find a way to ground themselves when all else; health, economy, events and travel are floundering. I almost feel that this is a guilty pleasure in these times…writing about children and painting. But in doing this, I feel like a rope has been tied around my ankles…someone is tugging…and I am easing my way, like an overfilled balloon… coming to rest on the ground. This is what I do.
This year, my friend, Claudia, inspired me by the painting she did with her students. My practice, as a guest teacher, is to promote painting with children. It can be so messy…there is the preparation and there is the clean-up…but Claudia doesn’t shy away from any of that. She is a remarkably inspiring Div 1 teacher. Thank you, Claudia!
After seeing the results of Claudia’s art lesson, I went out into a Div 1 classroom and painted the very next week.
And following that, Gillian also painted with little ones. Gillian has had a long and accomplished career as an educator and she is also not one to shy away from paint.
I wanted to post all of these resulting paintings at the same time in order to illustrate the variety that can be achieved with paint….same concept…same lesson…but, each and every painting is unique and each of the three sets of paintings is using a different palette of green. If you look about the hallways of elementary schools, if you see that there is a sameness about the works that children create, there is the possibility that their outcomes have been engineered to be close-ended; it also means that the means to get there may have been closed. (the trouble with most Pinterest activities) Try letting go, just a little, at first. The resulting projects may not be as predictable, but this is what creativity and visual art should excite in children.
Children are magical. May they be safe and may their teacher’s be safe through these trying times. Happy March! Happy GREEN!
Claudia’s Palette. (I didn’t include images of students painting because their little faces were in the photos.)
She comes to mind often. Her humus recipe surfaced the other day.
I wonder if she reached out to our friend, Bobby, upon his arrival. A few more photos were tucked into albums today.
Ed, Bobby and I headed out to see Pauline, our inspiring University professor, who lived perched above Kootenay Lake in Argenta. This was in 1996-97 and I was on Sabbatical. We got lots of sketching/painting done. We slept under the driftwood shelter on the beach. It was the weekend that my friend, Lynn Kierzek, died. While I slept, I wore a painting vest that Lynn crocheted. I still have that vest.
The border collie found in the photo is not Max Man or Laurie Dog…that’s Pauline’s dog. I felt right at home. I love the memory of this time away from the city, of conversations shared along the drive. We picked up a rose bush for Pauline in Cranbrook and planted it while in Argenta. We also purchased a bottle of spice that she needed, in a small grocery shop in Coleman.
May Bobby and Pauline rest in peace and may perpetual light shine upon them.
As I sort and toss, a practice that seems to be going on forever, I am getting to the end (I THINK) and I might have some valuable advice to give to young artists. I may not have a hope in Hades of ever really getting my art on a roll, but for you young sprouts, now that you live in a digitized world, please try to keep a record of your progress. Second to that, take quality photographs.
An artist who really inspires me with his practice is Mark Dicey, on Instagram. @paddlecoffin If you don’t follow his work, he is absolutely breathtakingly amazing.
Part of this revisit, just last week, included digitizing my grade nine-eleven sketchbook from 52 years ago! Cough! Sputter! It’s never too late, right?
Today, I came upon a white envelope filled with some very poor quality glossy photos of some flower paintings I did for a Tribute Show for my parents. The subjects were all based on their country gardens in Frankford, Ontario. It was an exhibit dating back a lot of years, hosted by the West End Galleries in their Edmonton location. (I have that date in my art archives somewhere.) I remember, at the time, hearing other artists poo poo painting flowers, as a subject. One person gave me permission and that was Ed Bader. Thank you, Ed. At the time, I was painting my own series of poppies as a response to losing two former students to a tragic car accident. Ed pulled together a series of books featuring a number of very significant paintings created by important historical artists, dealing with the subject of flowers. He was covering for another teacher at ACAD back in 1997.
This morning, I took photographs with my phone of some of the these teeny photographs. Now, I can toss them as I’ve got a bit of a record. As more flower paintings/sketches surface, I will post them here. If you paint flowers, I give you permission. There are a myriad of subjects for art and through any subject, you can address the ideas that are floating around in your head. It’s all valid, representational or not. Make art…and keep a record of it.
These images are all fuzzy/unfocused, cropped badly to replace their original wonky formats…likely bad colour…but, they are illusions of the originals and they make me happy. I learned a lot painting these…and they are a mere sampling of the many works present in that show. I wonder where they are now.
Just sipping an early coffee. James and I arrived home from Lethbridge at midnight last night and had it not been for Max and his request at the back door at six this morning, I would still be sleeping.
Yesterday was an exquisite day. I liked the surprises of it and the colour of it. In its own way, yesterday was a rare bird.
But first, there were the ordinary rituals. First, the update from the red couch.
I got Max down to the Bow River early and discovered how powerful and fast-moving it was, after all of our rain these past days. Experts assure Calgarians that these continue to be usual run off levels and that we needn’t be anxious about the swelling river, but given the floods of other years, the changes at the river can feel unnerving.
Some one doesn’t care. He always smiles on these walks.
Something to identify.
Another something to identify.
Birds were very busy and there was a cacophony of sound as it seemed they were all rebuilding, particularly the Red Winged Black Birds. At the eagle nest, I’m pretty certain that we’ve had one of the eaglets ‘fludge’ (accidentally fledge) as I’ve only been able to pick up the profile of one of the siblings these past four days. One adult continues to stand watch in neighbouring trees, but I’ve seen only one this week. We’ll see how that all plays out over the coming days. With full foliage in the trees now, perhaps I am missing things. The adults raised up only one of two last year and this may end up being a similar season. I’ve been documenting daily what I see at the nest, but am not publishing these, as a way of protecting the location of the nest.
Once arriving home, James and I loaded up and headed out on the highway, after gassing up the vehicle and buying our road trip treats. It was sad to leave Max behind, but I was super happy that my nephew, John, agreed to come and take care of Max’s needs late in the afternoon. This was a great relief and I am very grateful to John.
We got as far as Nanton before we began our exploring. There was a vintage car show going on, as well as a Barbecue cook-off and parade of garage sales. The sights and smells were wonderful. Good job, Nanton!
In Claresholm, there was a stop for lunch. The most wonderful thing about lunch was spending time with my son. I was already thinking about how wonderful it was that he wished to spend the day with me and celebrate my art. He has been very encouraging since I have begun painting again. He is a great support.
We hit Lethbridge in the midst of Pride festivities and it seemed that the core was alive with activity and fun. GO PRIDE! Karen and Mel had already visited Casa and so we hooked up at the Tim Horton’s where I enjoyed an ice lemonade and the four of us had a lovely chat. It was good to reconnect and to give ourselves the time to share. I so appreciated that Karen made this visit happen and that we were able to celebrate my art and one another. My heart was spilling over the entire day.
I tried to locate my friend, Michael, with no success and so James and I steered the boat toward Larry and Nina’s. Along the way, I shared stories about my memories of the years 1973 to 1977. I’m sure at times he was overwhelmed with the name dropping, but I love that I was able to bring him into the circle of love that I experienced through those years. Gratefully, Larry and Nina were home and we managed to really shake up their afternoon! But, oh my, it was so much fun! Talks of single-engine Cessna flights, books, family, Herb, renovations, Kaslo…it was rich and filled with belly laughs. Thank you, Larry and Nina, for letting us crash into a quiet afternoon of watching baseball. I love you.
I changed my clothes and off James and I headed to Casa for the celebration of a group exhibit as well as two other exhibits that were going on at the time. Casa is a beautiful facility and Darcy is a hard working curator! The following words shared by Lorraine Lee, the writer of the poem, Child’s Rara Avis.
The Gallery at Casa Presents:
CHILD’S RARA AVIS
work by A Cluster of Rare Birds
June 22 – August 24, 2019
Hugh Prather wrote in Notes to Myself:
“There were seventy-five people in the lobby and only a seven year old girl was finding out what it felt like to sit on a marble floor.”
Or, in this case on a rock.
The exhibition is based on a verse written by one of the artists at the age of 17 – about sitting on a rock and looking at her world through a child’s eyes but now, on the cusp of adulthood, thinking she would no longer be able to do so. This exhibition says we absolutely can, and SHOULD, still ‘sit on that rock’ no matter how grown up we are.
Each woman in this group has used the verse as their “guide”. Some have used direct imagery from the verse, some used the idea of the verse.
– the adventuresome spirit of her grandchildren
– her own childhood memories of walking in nature with her grandmother and seeing the magic there
– believing the world to be filled with colourful, impossible creatures
– familiar landscapes but with a child’s touch of fantasy and painting style
– childhood images of magical worlds she could only dream about
– the freedom and innocence of childhood
– seeing everyday beauty, that as adults, we often pass by
– an archive of treasures suspended through her experience of her own child like sensibilities
All of us have been able, through our creativity, to reach to our child self and in the process, make some discoveries about who we are and what we believe. And, essentially to discover, or rediscover, the spirit of fun and wonder that children naturally gravitate to. To look again through the eyes of the child we used to be.
Come join us on the rock.
A Cluster of Rare Birds:
We met one another (this was my first time meeting the other artists) and celebrated with wine and cake. Thank you for your hospitality, Lorraine.
I will also include here, my own artist’s statement regarding the work that I am presently producing. With over 220 Instagram images archiving the life and times of a bush at the edge of a pond, I have many references for a vast exploration of time, atmosphere and presence. I am very excited about it.
My Rara Avis: Instagram Bush
A person aligns with certain values throughout the course of living a sometimes-joyful, sometimes-challenging life. My way of being is strongly influenced by literature and most specifically, by two books; Le Petit Prince par Antoine de Saint-Exupery and Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury. Both writings include lessons on noticing, presence and place. The protagonist of Dandelion Wine, Douglas Spaulding, keeps a diary throughout the summer of 1928, in the front, collecting a record of ‘usual’ things about summer and in the back, a record of the revelations about those ordinary things. My life, thus, is marked by a huge history of seeing the spectacular embedded in the ordinary.
The poem, a Child’s Rara Avis written by Lorraine Lee, aged 17, invited me to share my rara avis, my incredibly beautiful and evolving experience of a single landmark along a circular pond walk with my dog, Max, daily, in 2015. I took pause in front of this bush and observed the changing aspects of its structure and surrounding environment through the course of our walks, snapping one Instagram photo and capturing the moment as a matter of preservation. I logged the time of day, the weather and the date at each visit. Through the course of this presence, I collected samples of vegetation and other organic materials found beneath the branches of this same bush and bottled them up as an approach to archiving the moment. Douglas Spaulding, similarly, observed his grandmother bottle the ‘Summer of 1928’ in the cool basement of his home, in the form of Dandelion Wine, a tincture to be brought out in the wintertime to combat aches and colds.
In the studio, I am pouring over the references and field notes, enjoying the sensual memories and the experience of walking. I am intimately recreating these experiences by transitioning the Instagram photographs into paintings. This process contributes a seeming permanence to something that is very ephemeral. (see Chapter 15 in Le Petit Prince) It elevates my rara avis.
It is the child’s heart within me that discovered the wonder of this location. It is here that I ‘sat on a rock and watched the world’.
During the process of walking, I realized that while incubating the idea of these works, all square formats and all acrylic paintings, I wanted to also capture the act of walking. Videographer, Liam Hawryluk, of Beam Media, generously joined me on the circle and collected footage across the seasons, capturing the reality that within a very huge narrative, there is a rara avis available for personal engagement, if one chooses to take notice.
This is the video created by Liam Hawryluk.
Liam’s company, Beam Media, produces amazing videos and I am so grateful that he took this project on. This archive means the world to me. Thanks, Liam.
I think that the first surprise, and a glorious one, was to see Kasia. It was such a quick embrace and I wish we had shared more time, but so quickly, a big chunk of my amazing family including my Auntie Eleanor, descended into the space. Thanks also to Tim and Tamaki. And, thank you, Larry and Nina. And most importantly, thank you, James. What a wonderful and surprising night. We all live such busy lives and I’m grateful for those of you who were able to find the time to give me this support. Now, please readers, forgive my blast of photographs.
Martine, Kath, Danielle
Nina, Kath, Larry
Kath and son, James
Kath and Auntie Eleanor She described my art as having a lot of movement.
Tamaki and Tim
Tristan, Robert John de Gruchy, cousin Deanna and beautiful daughter, cousin Barb, cousin Martine and daughter, Danielle and cousin Margy. In front, Kath and Auntie Eleanor
It is April 9, 2018 for just a short while longer.
I was downloading photographs off my Canon Powershot…birds, of course. I clicked something in the process of fiddling with the files on my desk top and images surfaced from past April 9ths and I take pause.
I’m going to slow this writing down a little. I’m going to back-track. Yesterday morning I was feeling downhearted. News has been very sad lately. We had just endured more bitterly cold days and another 15 cms. of snow. I was just heavy-hearted for a lot of reasons. I received a message from my friend Michael. He said that he was up for some naturing. The weather was taking a turn for the better and the sun was out.
We sat ourselves down on a bench at the river, after enjoying a leisurely walk right to the river’s edge. I watched a Downy Woodpecker, from where we sat. The brilliant white gulls flew overhead. Michael plugged in a bit of Ram Dass and we took pause and listened. For both of us, Toe Knee came to mind. Then we talked about death. We talked about the releasing of everything…power, ego, money, objects, even friends and family. We grieved the loss of so many who suffer addiction, hopelessness, overdose, hunger…we talked about trauma. I know. It all seems pretty dark. But, truth is, we don’t talk about some of the things that really matter. And that is why the pain sometimes continues to go on in the background.
Michael made me cry when he told me that the paintings that my students do are an expression of the artist in me. I was grateful for the remark. And so, today, I began my day by painting with grade threes…this, after walking Max, drinking my two cups of home brew and moving, dazed, through all of the morning rituals that began April 9, 2018.
First…my photograph of the little Mrs. She only pops her head out briefly during the morning, when Mr. heads out in search of sustenance. He is usually on guard at the vent, repeating his vocalizations again and again. This morning came with her sweet face.
The children are beautiful, as they enter into a magical silence and become completely consumed by the process of creating.
Small conversations about Easter break…hugs from friends I have made over the years…a really great conversation about Reconciliation and the Metis with a teacher I had met some years ago…a young student, now in grade five, putting out the question, “Do you remember me?” Number lines and plotting data, first events in stories, agendas, recess, mixing of paint, sunlight filling the room, fruit yogurt, spelling digraphs gh/ph/f…wallpaper in closets…dates in calendars…logging in and logging out…the drive to and from.
Max and I at the river…releasing. We stood under a tree and big chunks of wood began dropping onto both of us. He would shake. I would brush off. Again and again. I looked up to find this guy, ravenously chipping through the flesh of the tree.
…and this guy observing all.
…and this guy scooting into the tall grass.
…and this above and around me.
…and these two courting.
Not to mention, these two.
April 9 was a particularly beautiful day, as it turns out. My first born took a drive to Lethbridge today with my grandson and these two photographs, make my heart sing…Steven with his Great Granny Batsford and his Great Grampa Bergman….and soon he will meet his Great Grampa Moors. What a blessed boy! and how blessed we are by him!
And as I downloaded my photographs onto my desktop computer, April 9, 2013 photographs surfaced. I was given the memory of my mother’s hands…and the memory of the work that she did in her life.
These were a little gift for me.
The day is almost gone and I am left with a feeling about just how powerful a single day can be. I hope to be mindful about each day I am given. I hope to remember the lesson that this day has given.
As we moved through Advent at what seemed to be warp speed, I had the opportunity to be with Ashley’s class of Grade fours for a day. The students were bright-eyed and receptive…an awesome little group. Woven through the day seemed to be a theme of gift. So, the story book that I had packed into my bag at home, seemed like it would work just perfectly.
In the afternoon, I pulled out my book and read it aloud to the students. No matter the age, students, for the most part, fall silent at the reading of a picture book. It was no different on that day. While I’m not crazy about this particular delivery, I did find the story on Youtube.
I would consider the painting activity to be an Expression lesson. I did not focus too much on skills related to depiction or composition, but focused on how to hold a brush and the idea of stroking paint instead of scrubbing paint. I guess the interesting thing about asking the students to paint two mittens is the idea that the patterns would match…so they were exploring two things in duplicate. At some point, I adjusted my own system of sharing buckets of coloured tempera, but quickly fell back to my fail safe routine when I observed the chaos in trading that can ensue. I had intentionally limited the number of buckets I prepared on this day for the simple reason that I didn’t want a big clean up at end of day, so I prepared 14 buckets for 24 students. Normally, I would prepare 18. So, you can imagine that, at times, you would hear someone belt out, “Are you done with the white?”
Thank you, Dana, for your wonderful assist.
The paintings, in the end, were lovely. The Pinterest crowd will find a whole variety of projects based on this story book including fabric arts, oil pastel drawings and paper cut outs…lots that you can do around a story. Advent and Christmas art abounds at the moment, I thought that these paintings might bring the spirit of winter into the classroom, for a longer duration. Thank you, Ashley. Thank you, Grade four students. I had a beautiful day!
I’ve always used the word loosely. No incantations…nothing showing up out of a top hat. It’s a way of being…a choice to live in delight…even when, like today, a 2 liter jug of eggnog spills out on the kitchen floor, just minutes before having to rush out the door. I’ve made an effort now and then to explain…but, it is too much about the un-explainable.
Yesterday, I painted with Grade Ones…tree ornaments…I thought these would be cool with a bit of an aluminum foil embellishment added. I still paint with kids around the city, every opportunity I get, but have stopped writing so much about it. Holding a brush is an important action…it’s something important enough to become familiar…to practice…to enjoy. I like to paint with kids.
Every darned day that I am a guest teacher in someone’s classroom, I am absolutely blown away by the mountain of responsibility and creativity that is observable in just moments of being in that someone’s learning environment. I am in awe of the magic of the teaching experience, interaction and output, both by teachers and by their students.
I usually go over to the window first and open the blinds. I like to see how the light changes things. I also have the time to reflect, something that teachers who are steeped in their careers don’t always have enough opportunity to do. I like to reflect about the spaces where I find myself enjoying, exploring and filling with hard work.
Yesterday, Amber generously shared her students (little guys) with me. Grade One! Wow! All I can remember about grade one is my coat hook and the fact that my brother ran so fast the first day of school, I felt really really panicked about catching up. I remember a man walking about the school yard, at a point, raising a hand bell high in the air and shooing us into the building. I still, to this day, want to call him Mr. Cannon.
I haven’t asked permission (now I have), but would like to share a couple of images I snapped while the students went up to the music room for their very first time.
Just look at these…tell me what you think.
The students were full of energy, but we enjoyed our time together and really engaged the process of chalk drawing and painting. (There was no white in the supply cupboard so…I used yellow to brighten some of the colour…but, tints are just so lovely!) The students were very attentive as we went forward and I’ve captured a few little images of their work and their journal responses. Magic. And yes! Could be an Easter Egg…could be a kite…could be an ornament! In the ‘end’, it is about the means…and NOT the END! The experience of painting is wondrous. There! You heard it from me!
I asked the students if they might do a journal entry about their experience and the resulting pieces were pretty amazing. Lucas told me he didn’t want me to photograph the following drawing until he had finished the light coming from the window.
Today, I left my paint bucket out in the car. I thought I’d meet Jen’s Grade Six students before committing to an art experience in paint, this afternoon. I wasn’t with them for ten minutes and I knew that they would enjoy and respond well with paint. Mayhaps it was the fact that the first wondrous thing I noticed, after looking out the window…were these!
Gorgeous, Jen!! Wowsah!
I decided that I’d use the very same lesson that I did with the Grade Ones. As I delivered my lesson about tempera paint, I could have heard a pin drop. The students were totally engaged and I was pretty grateful. Nice people. So, as I publish the next photos, I was wondering if my readers are able to notice the differences, schematically.
The past two days have been blessing days.
And, this evening…
Nigel left me a note. I’m over the moon about it. I treasured him years ago…and treasure his contact now.
I will always remember you as “Mrs H”. I don’t know if you remember me, but you taught me grade 7 art some years ago. I have been searching for you for some time, but it is only appropriate that I should find you now, as I am about to embark on a new adventure; teaching art. Would you be interested in a get together and perhaps imparting some of your wisdom to me?
What a beautiful exchange was had…looking forward to many inspiring conversations about art education with this new arts educator!
I came into the house, after visiting the Nickle Galleries at the University of Calgary, yesterday, and looked deeply at the painting by Joane Cardinal-Schubert that my then-partner and I bought on December 7, 1995 from the Master’s Art Gallery. It wasn’t as though we could ever afford to collect art, but, we were determined to collect art…we were always buying something and we did it in a disciplined way because each month we made an allocation of a specific amount of money toward our art budget. A lot of people at the time, and still today, don’t realize that they can invest in art over time. Ordinary people don’t have access to a budget that covers the entire value of many of the pieces that they grow to love. This is how I was able to be a collector.
After seeing the amazing retrospective, The Writing on the Wall, I couldn’t help but see Joane’s work differently. Appropriate that on December 1st of 2017, I should enjoy all of this and more.
I just went upstairs and snapped a couple of photographs…the first, the painting that greets me each day as I enter my home, Protectors of Dreams.
And next, the book that I purchased as it relates to Joane’s narratives about the various works…and her practice. I’m so looking forward to reading this.
The exhibit was so powerful that it hit me in the gut. I sat down at every opportunity to process the messages of the work and to take it into my spirit. I read every wall plaque and words, as best as I could, on every painting. I’m just going to post the images and spare a great commentary.
Joane fought tirelessly against the building of the Old Man Dam and we reconnected once again in Maycroft, as well as at the Masters Art Gallery, for another exhibit. At that show, she took the time to chat and to sign my poster, collected back in the fundraising days of the Friends of the Old Man meetings.
Joane came to visit with my students in 1980, right before I took them down for their tour of the Glenbow Museum. During those years, I worked very hard developing curriculum for urban Metis and Indigenous students in my care. Our School District was aware that there were huge gaps in content for these students and that generally, many were struggling with attendance and performance on standardized tests. Visits from Elders and people like Joane created a sense of role modeling that my students could not get from me. She showed them slides on a slide projector of her sweat lodge images. All these years later, I will never forget her generous heart and her painful remembrances. Yesterday, I felt my hand in hers. I am forever-grateful for our connection.
Tomorrow, I attend a friend’s funeral service. One piece that really touched my heart was this one, Remembering My Dreambed…I stood before it and thought of my friend’s battle with cancer.
Remembering My Dreambed Joane Cardinal-Schubert 1985 recollections of invasive medical procedures related to cancer treatment.
Below…Homage to Small Boy: Where Were You In July, Hercules? 1985, Joane Cardinal-Schubert. The colour is not near true…the blue is the most amazing ultramarine blue, in this piece.
Letters to Emily Carr…birch bark letters. I loved reading the words…
The Lesson Joane Cardinal-Schubert
Where the Truth is Written – Usually first installed 1991 Joane Cardinal-Schubert
I have not yet included all of my references, but again, Max needs his walk. I need to pull the decorations from out of the basement. The roast needs to get into the slow cooker. I want to end with a bit of music. Last night, a friend and I attended A Tribe Called Red. I want to insert the images here.
Photo Credit: Michael Collett
Photo Credit: Michael Collett
Photo Credit: Michael Collett
It was such a powerful experience. The visuals, the dance and the music combined to speak deeply to the heart. I feel changed.
…any excuse to tell the students about my memories of Expo ’67!
My teacher, Mr. Mackay, arranged a billeted field trip from DND Hornell Heights in North Bay, Ontario, to Montreal, Quebec to wander for a whole day at Expo. With no money in our pockets for rides and such, we covered a vast distance on foot, taking in at least five different Pavilions. I remember being in awe most of the time. It turns out that Canada’s artist, Charles Pachter, along with Alexander Calder, was hired to work on the sculptural representations of Canada.
In his book,The History of Canada Series: The Best Place To Be: Expo ’67 And Its Time by John Lownsbrough,
Lownsborough shares the following archive…
All this aside, given that this is Canada’s 150th year…I thought it fun to share with the students what was happening in the world, 50 years ago. To begin with, their eyes told me that they imagined a dinosaur was speaking before them…chatting away about what I was doing at the age of 12, with my teacher, my own grade five class and in the city of Montreal. I shared during the Reflection component of the lesson, Charles Pachter’s website and his short biography. We talked about moose, the Queen of England, satire, and simplicity of form. I showed a few of Pachter’s works, in order to lead into a depiction lesson, followed by a painted composition.
These were the pieces of art that I shared with the students and that we spoke about, in terms of the subject matter and the arrangement of very simple forms in the composition.
Some vocabulary…satire, silhouette, flat space…
Dressage by Charles Pachter painted in 1988
NONE Charles Pachter art__ Uploaded by: Goffin, Peter
As we viewed the works, we had a discussion about iconic Canadian animals. I asked the students if they had ever seen the combination of coloured stripes that appears in the background of Bay Watch. Someone mentioned a blanket. So, for a few short minutes, I spoke about the wool blankets that were made and sold by the Hudson’s Bay Company.
The students went to the chalk board and listed animals that they wished to explore in silhouette. I think that caribou, moose and deer were unpopular because of the challenge of the antlers and thin legs, but, there were still several students that took on the challenge.
Level II (grades 3 and 4) REFLECTION APPRECIATION: Students will interpret artworks literally.
A. Contextual information (geographical,
historical, biographical, cultural) may be
needed to understand works of art.
DEPICTION ACTIONS AND VIEWPOINTS: Students will select appropriate references for depicting. B. Drawing strategies, such as gesture to capture action, contour to study important edges and massing to show bulk or weight, are helpful in depicting animate forms.
COMPOSITION: Component 7 EMPHASIS: Students will create emphasis by the treatment of forms and qualities. A. The centre of interest can be made prominent by contrasting its size, shape, colour or texture from the other parts of the composition.
Component 10 (iii) MEDIA AND TECHNIQUES:
Students will use media and techniques, with an emphasis on mixing media and perfecting techniques in drawing and painting. -Use preliminary sketches as the basis for a painting, as well as painting directly.
Level III (grades 5 and 6)
REFLECTION ANALYSIS: Students will study and analyze the individual character of natural objects or forms. B. Natural forms can be examined for less visible characteristics.
Component 4 MAIN FORMS AND
PROPORTIONS: Students will modify forms by abstraction, distortion and
other transformations. I. Gridding can be used for systematically capturing or distorting the proportions of things.
Component 8 UNITY: Students will create unity by integrating the parts of a composition into the whole. C. Transitions of colour, texture or tone relate the parts of a composition to a unified whole.
Component 10 (iii) MEDIA AND TECHNIQUES:
Students will use media and techniques, with an emphasis on mixing media and perfecting techniques in drawing and painting.
-Use preliminary sketches as the basis for a painting, as well as painting directly.
The students were also asked to include the colours of the Hudson’s Bay blanket some where in their compositions.
Off they went to the races!
Next, large 18 x 24 paper was folded into 8 rectangles (in half both width and length and then lengthwise from each end, into the center), proportionally accurate with the 8 rectangles that were printed onto the 11 x 17 bond paper. Students prepared their own coloured construction ground, on the back, by edging with masking tape. (avoid ripping edges), flipped the work and began to use the grid to make relationships as they enlarged their silhouette in chalk.
Paints were mixed, as is my typical method. See former lessons under Teacher…and all went swimmingly. It’s time for me to seek out a great Netflix program for this evening. I’m sporting one heck of a head cold, but before I do, I’ll post a few of the photographs I caught of the process.
The months are closing on Canada 150. I’m happy that I had time to spend with these grades 4 and 5 students. They have been fantabulous!
What a wonderful group of grade fours! They were very intense about their art…from the very beginning until the very end.
I began the class by asking the students what makes people scared of spiders. We thought about why they have become a symbol and decoration for creepy times like Halloween. We shared all of the types of spiders we know about from library books, movies, stories and experience. We talked for a while about Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White.
In their visual journals, the students designated a BEFORE page and an AFTER page. I asked them to draw a spider, with their own knowledge and understanding and idea of what a spider looks like. It could be entirely imaginary or be based on something they’ve seen before. They were asked to add as much detail as possible.
The variety of interpretations was amazing. I love love love their BEFORE images.
Next, I showed the students a YouTube video…great guy…easy going and enjoyable script, “How to Draw a Red Back Spider.” I have never been a big fan of HOW TO DRAW books, but honestly, when a class is swelling to 29 to 32 students…the YouTube Video is a way for the teacher to filter around the classroom, assist and support students. If you are doing a demonstration/explanation at the front of the room, with your back to the students, really you are less engaged with them and more being a ‘bit of a show off’. I’m laughing as I type this. Do what you want! It’s just that, very late in the game, I’ve discovered that these little videos are superb for the Depiction part of a lesson.
This guy is great.
The very same students who had created the BEFORE drawings posted above, drew the following AFTER depictions.
I didn’t have a lot of time for prep…was busy eating up a bowl of homemade leek and potato soup, so I grabbed black and white paint and orange paper and so began the expressive portion of the lesson.
Using chalk for drawing, the students were asked to use their sketches in order to create a Red Back Spider on a web. The red spot could be coloured after both the spider and web were painted…using a red Mr. Sketch marker.
The resulting BLOW OUT session was remarkable! A great time seeing students show their own spin on the subject. I only wish that I had my Canon with me. But, this will give my readers some ideas.