Goofy how-to videos are out there in abundance. I actually think the best way to learn how to draw ANYTHING, is to observe it…look at it…analyse it. But, this morning, I didn’t have a bucket of Easter lilies and after a 40 day journey of Lent, I’d love to leave the children with the anticipation of spring, new life, renewal and Easter. In this video, I like the idea of drawing the star shape first. I can’t guarantee that after you do a step-by-step activity of any sort, that you will be an overnight artist!
To begin with, in their visual journals, the students wrote a ‘waiting for spring’ short poem, after brain storming vocabulary words. On the next page, they drew their lilies.
We will use this video as a reference, as well as my own photographs of lilies in my garden, for studies in visual journals. These will be tucked away once we move into compositions. Initially, I had thought to paint tulips with the students, but, the limited palette of white and a number of greens will make the preparation quick and easy.
I provided a limited palette, having mixed up a variety of tints of green plus yellow and white. The grade threes began by drawing their images in chalk and then outlining their lilies in a single colour. Each bucket of paint includes two brushes so two friends share the same colour. I mixed fifteen colours, knowing that I had twenty five students. The focus of my side coaching and support was to remind them how unique flowers are and that they are like us, in that there is no single flower that looks like another.
Here are their paintings.
After music class and their agenda writing, wee Isaiah came up to me and gave me this little gift…proof of the extended learning and that made me super happy!
Display…ready for proper caption. Thanks for your class, Jenn!
As we approach the month of red and pink and doilies, I thought that I’d try something new and chat with the grade fours about Robert Indiana and his hard edged Pop Art, particularly his LOVE sculpture.
I showed the students this little interview that included a number of slides about the well known sculpture and I spent a bit of time showing them the negative spaces and talking about the colours that were used.
In retrospect, I would have used a smaller format and had the children use only wide and flat tipped marker pens on white bond paper. I realized, much too late that it was a challenging enterprise to paint such hard edges at this level. The students went ahead like gang busters, however, and took on the challenge. Once again, I showed them how to use the edge of their brushes to paint very long strokes and thin lines. I try to teach this whenever I mix paint.
We began by looking at the Clarendon Black or Bold Font. I talked to the students about serifs and about the sorts of fonts that we use when we open up a Word Document.
Their first depiction was made while making observations of the Calendon style, looking closely at the shape of the negative spaces, as much as the positive, the letters.
The students folded their bond paper in such a way that they created a square.
After that they created a + sign by folding edge to edge both directions. These left them the template where they practiced drawing their LOVE, remembering to leave their O on a diagonal. This is when we ended up giving the negative shapes names such as Arrow Head.
Remember, also, that a whole number of four letter words can be used in this study of Robert Indiana’s approach to text and language.
I then gave the students squared construction paper for their larger composition and they created their text, using chalk.
I first mixed up a number of tints of red for the painting of the font. I decided that contrary to Indiana’s pieces, I would not work with Complementary Colours as wet edge to wet edge, this would most certainly create mud once the children got busy painting. I mixed a whole palette of related colours, almost an Analogous palette and these are the resulting compositions.
Have fun with some version of this. I’ve since taken a peak on the web and their are a number of different approaches. It’s possible that you could outline the letters in oil pastel or sharpie pens. The students and I talked about that, waited for the pieces to dry and decided that from a distance the words popped out successfully.
dropping items to the Women in Need shop
Mr. and Mrs. Sparrow nesting in the vent across from my kitchen window
sprouts in the garden beds
return of water birds and the songs of red winged blackbirds, crows, geese, frogs, robins
crisp morning air
picking litter at Frank’s Flats
painting with children
keeping a close eye on live cams…eagles…wolves
I saw the beautifully illustrated books lining the window sill of the grade three class room and knew that we needed to paint something in the jeweled colours of India. HOW WONDERFUL! One illustration, in particular, struck me and so, with this as my inspiration, we began our journey from the soft sculpted forms of the outdoor Taj Mahal, to the highly decorated interior.
This activity was designed for two distinct art experiences. I didn’t wish the paint to cross over into the delicate pencil crayon drawings. We spoke about different shapes that make up architecture and I projected an image of the Taj Mahal on the Smart board. I turned on the Bollywood music and the drawings began. Of course, the question soon surfaced about how you make things look “NOT FLAT”. Turning off the music, I gave a basic lesson in how to show light and shadow, to be followed, once colouring, with how colouring practices the same muscles as hand writing does.
“My muscles for handwriting don’t work very well.”
“Well, colouring your Taj Mahal will be like hand writing practice then.”
Reflection and Depiction are so often abandoned for the sake of plowing on through that ‘make an art project’ mindset.
The boys started dancing, so the Bollywood music was turned off.
I demonstrated adequate pressure (back and forth, back and forth in small amounts, rather than long airy strokes…not hard…but not soft, either) for the students as they began to colour with their pencil crayons. And this is when we explored weather, atmosphere…beautiful light. The students, at this point, told me all about monsoon season. I always act like I know absolutely nothing about these topics and I become learner and they are the teachers.
“How do I do a white Taj Mahal if I don’t have a white pencil crayon?”
This is where we looked at twenty or so photographs on line…different times of day and different weather changed the colour of the Taj Mahal…so basically, any colour families would do once you, the artist, decided what kind of day it was. I showed the students how they could use yellow to show the light on a purple dome…or how they could use green on a blue dome. The colouring began!
Once completed, these were cut out and traced, with chalk onto their large composition, then set aside. Chalk is used to break the entire composition into borders, a window sill and a flower box.
The palette I set up was a mixture of ‘spice’ colours…cumin, cinnamon. We talked about the spices that get mixed up…we talked about curry and yellow food. I gave half of the class purple paper and half brown. The students with purple paper worked with the six buckets of warm colours first for background. The students with brown paper traveled back and forth from the cool palette for their background. After lunch and drying time, they would switch palettes for their interior patterns. There were 22 students in this class, so 11 pods of 2 students. I explain how to do all of this in previous painting lessons.
Backgrounds before lunch…patterns after lunch. We were sooo busy that I didn’t grab photos for these two steps, but only photographed the end results, after gluing the Taj Mahals into the windows. Let your paintings dry before the gluing! We did Math families and agendas before that step!
The artist who created the following painting was so intent on her Taj Mahal colouring that she is not quite finished, but she can do that on her large piece…amazing work! These are beautiful, unpredictable and richly coloured. I totally enjoyed the openness of the students, their excitement, commitment and knowledge. We can’t all travel to far off place, but we can explore them through books, learning, art and we can open our souls to their colours, textures, sights, smells and sounds. I am grateful for their teacher.
A beautiful person and artist, Ted Harrison passed away on January 16, 2015, at the age of 88. The world is losing so many heroes…and Ted is one. Having a beautiful heart and eye for simplicity, he loved the northern skies of the Yukon and never failed to share his delight with anyone he met.
One of my big encounters with his illustrations was in the beautiful version of The Cremation of Sam McGee…a poem I used to challenge my grade sevens to memorize from beginning to end. And every year, at least three students did!
I recommend that you introduce Ted Harrison to your classes. For years, Ted’s work has inspired works by school children of every age. When scented coloured markers came into vogue, so did another lesson based on Harrison. It’s wild what variety of lessons we invented as art teachers. The students loved it all!
Something I appreciate Ted saying in the video below is that if one is ever tired of life or inspiration, try looking up at the sky.
So, today…I looked up at the sky.
This morning, driving to school, I noticed a dappled sky above the rising sun…brilliant yellow, pink and orange, with a soft cerulean blue below an arch of cloud and an electric blue, above. That was it…in the afternoon, I would paint the SETTING sun with the grade fours…thinking about chinook arches and dappled clouds over the mountains. And so it went.
I line the back of construction paper with masking tape, when I can find the time. This allows some durability. Tempera paint tends to make paper, especially cheap paper, a bit crunchy after a while. This way the work can be preserved for those folks who like to save things forever. (pointing at myself)
Always use coloured paper for these paints as it creates a bit of an ‘under painting’ and activates the surface, taking away the intimidation of white or that ucky beige. Below…see my favourite yogurt buckets. Every art storage room needs at least twenty of these to be shared around.
Recess and the painting pods are readied…that, and a piece of chalk for drawing, placed at each desk.
A paint station (Palette) is readied…two brushes in each bucket. Students travel back and forth with colours agreed upon by every pair…back and forth they go. The place is like a HAPPENING!
I always work through a sample…don’t expect to have the students do something that you haven’t…how else will you know their struggles or the pitfalls of the lesson?
First…the short ‘review’ of dip, wipe and stroke. Surprise! You always discover that a lot of students haven’t handled a brush very much. (Painting IS MESSY!!) Show them where to hold the brush…not at the white tip. :0) Explain how to share the paint center and remind them to keep two hands on the bucket on each journey to and from.
Regarding the composition, first I spoke about portrait as compared to landscape format and explained that just for today, the composition would be landscape. I explained how clouds that are closest to the horizon line appear smaller…and as they are found higher in the picture plane, they can be depicted as larger and then they almost seem to come over our heads. “Often, Ted Harrison outlined some basic shapes in his paintings and serigraphs…instead of painting up to the chalk lines, how about leaving some of the paper unpainted and the coloured paper will become the lines?” (some of the students got this)
“No…I don’t want you to do a giant sun. No…no sunglasses…no rays…not today.” I went back to describing how the morning sun had not yet shown itself, but that there was a really bright light next to the land. I knew the sun was coming up. So…for the sunset paintings, I hoped that the sun would be almost gone from the sky. The teacher can always drive the vision…as long as he/she has one. I’m sharing mine with my readers. The teacher also benefits by allowing freedom within the vision.
“OH! Why are those small clouds near the mountains the brightest? YES! The light from the sun is hitting them first because they are the closest to the light!
I explained that because the students were focused on the sky, the mountains needed to be located below the one third line. (Yes! You’ll have to talk about dividing the landscape into thirds.)
The chalk is picked up and the students begin drawing, planning, and problem solving.
“Yes! As soon as you’re ready, you can get your first colour. PLEASE, don’t everybody begin with the mountains! Choose any colour and away you go!”
“Pick up a paper towel with your first bucket of paint. This will be your place mat…slip it along the edges as you go and then you won’t have to wash your desk! If this gets super sloppy, you might need a second place mat.” I asked the kind caretaker if I might have a bucket half filled with water in my classroom. This would provide a portable sink.Tonight, as I walked Max at the pond…I captured some of the clouds. We had an energetic hike about the area. It was so darned beautiful!
I really get excited about mixing up amazing colours of paint! It doesn’t matter where I teach, there is a limited number of pure hues (hmmm…don’t know about my use of singular/plural there) sitting in bottles on the storage room shelves. But with NO FEAR and a little bit of time (10 minutes), I can change those six colours into an endless selection and SO CAN YOU!
Today, I used 17 yogurt containers (the large size). I moved my desks, to create five pods of four students (class of 20). So, to begin, I wanted five pots of white tempera and 12 pots of various tints of blue/turquoise/purple and such. When I say tints and shades…do you know what I’m saying? This is where art teachers sometimes diminish the possibilities for awesomeness in painting experiences. Tints are created when we add a hue (pure colour off of the shelf in your art storage room) to white. Mix new colours (in this case, tints) by throwing in a little-of-this and a little-of-that into about a half cup of white, poured into the bottom of all 17 containers. If you add white to the hue, you might get way more than you bargained for. Today, I used Violet, Blue, Turquoise and combinations of those to create my 12 colour choices.
The notes above are just some swatches that I collected off the internet to illustrate some possible mixed colours…not what I did today! Goodness!
The palette (the 17 buckets) was placed on a side table with easy access and good traffic paths.
I always place two brushes in each bucket, later reminding students not to take those brushes out of that particular bucket, but rather, return the bucket to the paint center and choose the next colour. This is like working off a palette. Students make choices with one other person and have to commit to using the colour until both people agree that they are finished. I dunno…call me hyper organized…but this way, you can have a whole class of students sharing a beautiful colour palette in a manageable way, leaving clean-up realistic as well. If I had my very own class, I would place all of the buckets, at the end of the day, into a large plastic storage container, with lid on, just taking the time to clean brushes. The paint keeps for up to two weeks this way and students can work on painting when their other work is done.
First…reflection and depiction. A conversation took place about snow flakes. You can show on-line video, images; there are even books written about the topic. It can be as simple as asking the students if they know how many points are on a snowflake? Six! Hmmm…this is where things get tricky! It’s easy to draw an eight pointed snow flake! Try it! Not so easy to do six, is it? I’m laughing here. The tendency is to draw four lines directly across a central point…this way they end up even steven. But…try to draw the central point first and then draw six equally spaced lines (radii) around that dot. Time to pull out the scrap paper and to do some drawing. “Do as many different snow flake patterns as you can…then see if you have three that you will want to add to your painting.”
OOPS! How many points does THAT snowflake have?
OH! I GET IT NOW!
“Five more minutes! Okay…everyone! YOO HOOO! Pick out three studies that you like?”
On with paint…so, I always and forever demonstrate the use of the brush and describe it’s parts and how to best use it. Flat…round…turn it sideways. Dip. Wipe. Stroke. Difference between stroke and scrub. I’ll save you that schpeel yet again on my blog. The five buckets of white paint each have four brushes standing in them.
My little demo…
“Yes…your large snowflake can go right off of the picture plane and be outside of your composition. Do three…do five…oh yeah, sure…do six…it’s okay…yes, I know you did an eight pointed snowflake…it will still make a cool painting. Is that your large snowflake? REALLY?” And the blah blah goes on and on…and yes, I was so busy teaching, I forgot to take photos at this stage.
Then…for the fun stuff. “Go wild on your colours…no, we’re not just colouring the background one colour…we’re capturing wind…blustery wind…pattern…sky…all of it. Have fun with the colour.”
This is what happened…amazing. I like them! Typically, I would prep construction paper by using masking tape along the edges of the back. Just prevents curling, makes the surface a bit more yummy for the students and prevents rips and tears…but, in a crunch, just go for it!
These grade fours tolerated a lot of side-coaching today and they are angels because they kept the dance in their step throughout and managed to pull this off in one hour and thirty minutes…they had their desks/hands clean and had their library books tucked under their arms in time to head for library. I am really proud of them. I hope you teachers will mix yourselves up some colour and try. You can accomplish this in three shorter class periods. Thank you, Grade Four! The fact that I’m not featuring all of them is a fact of my out of focus photography, not due to deficiencies in their amazing work.
These little gaffers made a real impression! The white stuff was falling outdoors, but nothing could keep us from thinking about colour, light and flowers in grade one last week. I spoke to the children for a bit about sitting in Monet’s gardens, perched on one bridge and looking across the water to another. We talked about flowers. Aren’t Smart boards wonderful? Isn’t it a tremendous thing to be able to pull up images of waterlilies to look at on a wintry spring day? Or to visit Paris in a moment? Or to be able to walk the halls of the Louvre? Technology is wonderful.
I also enjoy the fact that children as young as this will take on depiction…looking at references and transferring what they see onto a surface. It’s a brilliant thing watching the mind, eye, arm, hand co-ordinate to do such an amazing thing!
In the end, they decided that the Impressionists liked making ‘smudges’. So, they proceeded to ‘smudge’, like little worker-ants. It was a morning of beauty and light.
Thank you to Jon, who cleaned up all the white paint trays. I am so grateful!
For three days, Calgary has enjoyed beautiful temperatures. It has been a long winter…lots of snow and bitter cold. In fact, this has been such a melt that on many intersections throughout the city, the drainage doesn’t seem to be sufficient or blocked, to the detriment to some homes.
Mike Drew of the Calgary Sun captured this image of a residence in Sunnyside.
Photo Credit: Mike Drew, Calgary Sun QMI
In the morning, Max-walking is dangerous, given that this water freezes up and leaves the sidewalks, virtual skating rinks.
Apart from these symptoms of changing weather, there are some beautiful moments in nature. We just got home from our daily walk about Frank’s Flats and it is absolutely breath taking. Lately, I’ve noticed magpies flying with pieces of nesting material dangling haphazardly from their beaks as they instinctively prepare their nests.
I’m a huge fan of Duke Farm’s Live Eagle Cam. It was an awesome thing, this year, to witness the laying of three eggs. The notations from the site are as follows and a still photo I just saved a moment ago. I encourage my birder-readers to follow the progress of this family. What magic to witness male and female trading off places in the nest and sharing the responsibilities for the eggs. The history of Duke Farms can be read here.
And for those who think that watching an eagle on a nest is the same as watching paint dry, be advised that last year, this particular event was caught on live cam…
Update 2/24/2014A 3rd egg was laid on 2/23/2014 in the afternoon. Thanks you viewers for your valuable observations throughout the nesting season.
Update 2/20/2014 A 2nd egg was laid the afternoon of 2/20/2014.
Update 2/18/2014 An egg was laid in the afternoon of 2/17/2014*. Snow in the nest should begin to dissipate as temps rise during the day over the next few days. The cam will remain zoomed close in on the nest bowl to aid in detection of additional eggs.
Update 1/14/2014 Soft grasses are being deposited in the nest bowl to act as cushioning and insulation, these signs are usually a prelude to egg laying behavior.
So, today…teaching grade one…while I was tempted to make art around St. Patrick’s Day, our Lenten Journey, the Stations of the Cross or Penguins!!! I ended up following my own muse, the nesting birds. And the children did NOT disappoint.
Where’s our teacher? Are you our teacher? Yeah! We get to paint!
Off with the coats there, buddies! On with the shoes!
Who is the engine? Who is the caboose? The caboose isn’t here! Oh, no! Pick a caboose, will you and take this attendance down, please.
Announcements. O’ Canada. Prayer.
I saw a magpie carrying a great big branch while it was flying the other day!
IT WAS BUILDING A NEST!
It’s so warm and the snow is melting.
IT’S GOING TO LAY A EGG!
A nest is like a bowl…do you remember what horizontal means?
WIDE!! (I notice, with this response, that the grade ones have been measuring things…they have a whole new vocabulary!)
Do you remember what vertical means? You’re right! Up and down!
Today you may choose to build a nest on vertical sky OR horizontal sky…whatever you wish. Remember that the nest will fall out if there are not enough branches. I’ll show you a bowl shape in some branches. (I demonstrate a BIG drawing on a vertical piece and then on a horizontal piece of blue construction paper). Three branches will work…or four…or five. The nest (to repeat) looks like a bowl.
Grab your chalk…you can do your sketch now. As I’m stirring up some earth tones of paint at the paint center I ask the children if they remember the THREE steps to painting…
Oops! We forgot a step!
Yes…please wipe your extra paint off of your brushes.
The students use the paint station with finesse, two hands on buckets…walking…taking turns. Let’s use the darkest brown for the inside of the nest. It will show that it is deep and dark…a good place to sleep. OF COURSE WE CAN PAINT LEAVES! I quickly mix up five different greens. Trading off begins and the paintings are set aside to dry.
We go to the reading corner to share in the rhyming poem, Five Little Penguins…yes, readers, you’ve got it…same as the Five Little Monkeys! We talk about visits to the Calgary Zoo.
After recess and recess snacks, we add our nesting materials into the mix…talk about birds collecting strings and grass…and talk about how penguins nest. We talk about how the Dad sits on the egg while Mama goes to eat fish…and how Mama sits on the egg while Dad goes to eat fish. We cut and paste and then add in the birds. BEAUTIFUL! Let’s set them aside so that the glue can dry. Hailey says out loud, as she’s placing her nest gently on the corner, “I love mine.” I think to myself, “This is what’s really important.”
It’s been -30 degrees lately…bitter cold. It takes resolve to think about spring time…plants pushing out from the earth…birds nesting…Being Green!
“From a meaning of colors perspective, green is also the color of growth, the color of spring, of renewal and rebirth. It renews and restores depleted energy. It is the sanctuary away from the stresses of modern living, restoring us back to a sense of well being. This is why there is so much of this relaxing color on the earth, and why we need to keep it that way.”
up into the silence the green…
up into the silence the green silence with a white earth in it
you will(kiss me)go
out into the morning the young morning with a warm world in it
(kiss me)you will go
on into the sunlight the fine sunlight with a firm day in it
1. Begin with dots in chalk on the edges of your picture plane!
2. Reach for these dots, so that your cross/shamrock is large and fills the space. There are NO MISTAKES…just rub a little with your hand and make your changes with chalk again. (If you draw with just a little pressure, the lines are easier to change….just get darker and darker as you change your minds.)
3. All sorts of green paints…remember, two hands on the bucket! Dip! Wipe! Stroke!
4. Paint in your Celtic Cross solid, one colour! Outline your four-leaf clover and then fill it in with a new colour. Remember! Walk-don’t-run to the paint center.
5. Now, time to decorate. Think of different shapes that you can use to decorate. Reminder? How is that you can tell when paint is dry? RIGHT! It’s lighter in colour.