Social media opens up a whole world of lesson possibilities which the learners would love! Edgar Artis is an amazing instagram fashion illustrator who is very popular. As soon as I discovered him I knew my grade 6s would love his work! I decided to do a project around his style.
The lesson began with a figure drawing session. Various members of the class took turns posing for their friends while their friends practiced drawing from observation. When the next week I told them they could either choose their favourite posed drawing, or choose from a selection of images I had, and draw a model. I asked them to complete the drawing as much as possible with colour and outlines etc. This finished, they then began adding the clothing.
Edgar Artis does this using a various media, the stranger and the more unexpected, he greater the impact! The learners had to do this as well. They loved this step! They used old fabric, feathers (these were a favorite), beads and even seeds to create their clothing. Once it was finished, we cut out the model and pasted it onto black card which we could add details to using metallic pens.
The grade 6s were just finishing with their funny/funky head sculptures. This happened in drips and drabs. I started thinking about what we could do to extend this project. I thought of somehow integrating photography.
I knew of some conceptual artists like Sandy Skoglund and a South African artist Jane Alexander who had done artwork around a sculpture. I also follow a blogger who takes photos of various toys in strange locations. I used all of these as inspiration!
I took photos of my own creature in strange places and showed these to the class. I explained about composition and camera angles as well as lighting. I also showed a simple video on composition tips by a world renown photographer.
As soon as the learners finished their model, they could fetch their phones/ ipads and take it on a walk about to find interesting locations to photograph their creatures. I showed them how I was looking for interesting pics that tell a story!
To continue with the theme of foreign cultures I had been planning to make ancient Greek and Roman urns with the grade 6s. Just before I presented the class though I found something which I thought would go down better with this group of learners. I found pictures of some really funky creatures made from paper mache!
For our funny creatures, we took a balloon which was the base of the head. We then stuck on some bottle caps and other protrusions for eyes and horns, legs and ears etc. You can also create some of these using the paper mache itself and forming it into a horn etc. We then covered our balloons with paper mache. A number of learners were unfortunate to pop their balloons but all of us eventually got our balloons covered.
We allowed it to dry for a week before coming back and painting our creatures in bright, funky colours!
This year the grade 6s had other cultures as a soft theme in art. In celebration of Chinese new year in the first term I decided the grade 6s should make something to celebrate! I found very nice ideas online. One idea was to make a four part dragon using split pins so that it could still move.
I found images of Chinese dragons and a little video clip of the dance of the dragon taking place (they all recognized it from Kung Fu Panda). They then made their four parts of the dragon: head, two middle parts and tail. To save on paper I asked them to work in pairs. They then used off cuts to add decoration onto their dragons.
Finally we added sticks onto them so that the learners could control them!
I got this project from the Santam art teachers manual. The lesson began with a look at architecture from around the world and a discussion around the different forms. The learners then chose a culture they liked best (out of a selection of about 5) and began designing their buildings.
The end result they were going for was a pop up artwork where the learner created 3 main buildings which popped off a flat but beautiful landscape. This years grade 6 group is very creative and always do something which surprises me.
Andy Warhol was an artist that I felt my grade 7s could connect with. He was an art superstar from the last century who was super controversial and super interesting. We began this lesson with an intro to Warhol and his work and watched a pretty cool short clip that I found on youtube, showing Andy working on his Marilyn Monroe screen print artwork. This (and other similar artworks) was to form the basis of this art project.
I had already printed out black and white photocopies of all of the staff of Camps Bay Primary that we use in front of the office. Each learner was given one printout. The learners could use various techniques to edit each printout by adding colour and darkening lines. The first technique used by most of the learners was using oil pastel over the black and white face/hair etc. of the member of staff and then taking tissue paper and removing as much of it as possible. What you get is a softer colour that remains on the white areas of the page but where the black is printed, it cannot be seen.
Following Warhol’s style, the learners were encouraged to use bright colours and bold lines. They painted the background behind their member of staff using solid colour. They were then given two square pieces of cardboard, one coloured/black and the other slightly larger one, white. They used these to make a funky border for their artwork.
There was a little uncertainty about whether the staff would be happy to have the artworks up in the school exhibition but they were very supportive! The project was great fun.