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!
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.
This artwork focused on the American artist Chuck Close. Now a number of the learners at our school (as at any school) have great obstacles that they have and will have to overcome in their lives. Chuck Close is an artist who overcame the hugest of hurdles to become a world famous artist. For one, he is a quadriplegic. For another, he has prosopagnosia, which makes it almost impossible for him to recognize faces. He began painting portraits, in part, to overcome this difficulty. You can watch a small intro video to Chuck Close HERE.
Our learners first learned about Mr Close and his background. They then learned the technique he uses to make huge, super realistic portraits using paint and other media. He divides his canvas up into a grid which correlates to a grid drawn on a smaller photo of a persons face. Instead of focusing on the picture as a whole, he transfers the image block by block (Often called the grid method). We took the concept of the grid method and pushed it, using the grid as a creative tool.
Though some of the learners struggled a bit with expanding an A4 p
age to the A3 paper using the grid method, the learners creativity made up for this. The end results of the project speak for themselves, The artworks are beautiful!
I have done one lesson on perspective with the grade 7s of last year. I found that teaching the basics of linear perspective is very challenging!
I was searching the web, looking for ideas of how to teach perspective simply when I stumbled upon this page on smart class. It basically looks to simplify one point perspective down to its most raw essentials and then create a simple landscape using perspective.
I began with a power point where I introduced perspective in general and showed some exciting examples of how it can be used. I then explained one point perspective and went on to describe the actual artwork.
They by drawing a horizontal line across the middle of the page.They drew a dot towards the center of this page. They then drew lines from each of the corners of the page to the dot. I explained that they now had a vanishing point with what could be a road or a river and guidelines for the rest of the scene.
The learners then created buildings and trees using pencil. This was coloured in using a medium of the learner’s choice. The grade 6s really enjoyed the project! I had estimated 2-3 weeks but it went on to be 3-4 weeks with a few of the learners still not finishing! We had a lot of flus going around this term so that probably contributed to the slowness of some.
In memory of our wonderful ex-president and hero, Nelson Mandela, the grade 6s undertook to celebrate him through art. After viewing a quick presentation on his incredible life, the learners were given a piece of coloured paper. On this the learners were asked to draw a silhoutte of Madiba!
The original idea was for the silhouette of Madiba being decorated with patterns like the colourful shirts he was well known for wearing. Some of the learners drew Mandela so beautifully however that it would be a shame to colour over all their details with paint! They chose rather to add patterned colours to select parts of Mandela.
This was cut out and pasted onto a piece of either white or black paper. For the background, the learners had to think of as many names that Mandela had as possible. They wrote these as well as words or phrases which they associated with Madiba, filling the page with a written texture!
Kids love scraper boards…Actually, even I as a grown up love drawing on a scraper board! It’s like magic. You scratch onto a black surface using a toothpick and beautiful colours appear! And how perfectly this medium which is so instantaneous matches the focus we had which was music! Music is alive only in its own moment and in the next it changes. It also is quite free, allowing learners to make mistakes on their scraper boards and then make it part of the rhythm of their artwork.
The class began with a talk over how artists have been doing artworks of musicians for generations and how rhythm can be shown through an artwork. We then watched a few inspirational videos of some street musicians in action.
Making scraper boards that work properly is a little more difficult. I have tried a few recipes but am yet to find the perfect one. (if you have any ideas for other ones I can try, please let me know!) We first used oil pastels to fill our piece of paper with a variety of colours. The trick is to make sure that every part of the paper is covered!
We then took a mix of black tempera paint and dish-washing liquid and painted over out pages.
I handed out a few reference images for the learners to use for inspiration. These pages featured instruments and passionate musicians at work. Music is a subject in each grade in our school and the learners could also use the musical notes that they knew as well. The learners then made a sketch of what they would do for their final on a piece of newsprint paper.
Lastly we got to the scraping! When finished, the learners were asked to make a border for their artwork and then decorate this using black fine-liner. One or two of the learners used colourful markers for the border as well and this actually turned out well as well!
This project began with a challenge to the grade 6’s. They were asked to do two things that they had not done before. They were asked to firstly draw a horse and secondly, they were asked to do this in pastel!
Pastel is a fun medium for all ages but I think even more for kids as it is expressive and fast! The lesson began with me showing the learners some of the tricks I use to draw a horse, and then the grade 6s began!
They started by doing a quick pencil sketch of the horse. I told them they are wasting their own time if they try put in details in pencil as they won’t be able to see them through the pastel anyway.
They then began to add pastel to their artwork. The dirtiness of pastel made it a bit tough for some of the learners to keep their artwork neat but it is quite a forgiving medium as you can always smudge it away and add other colours to it.
I showed them my sketch that I had done in preparation for the class first and showed them how I quickly sketched in the background and then smudged it so it looked blurred, as though the horse was running. Some of the learners did something similar.
The tough thing about working with pastels in a school environment is working out how to spray them with the toxic fixative. Learners had to go outside all through the lesson and at the end of the lesson we all laid our artworks next to each other outside for a good spray!