Friday, December 16, 2011

Happy Holidays!

Sending warm holiday greetings your way! See you in 2012!

Winter Counts in the Winter

Third grade students have recently been through a time warp! In art class, they were transported to the year 1857. They landed in the Great Plains, and became members of the Lakota Sioux Tribe.

Well, they didn’t really travel back in time. But, we did learn all about the Lakota Sioux Indians and how they tell stories and record history through what they call a winter count. The winter count is like a calendar. Events are recorded from first snowfall of one year, to the first snowfall of the next year using pictograms.

Students were asked to choose their own adventure in the Great Plains. They each recorded what happened to them in a winter count journal, and then translated their words into pictograms. Students even had the opportunity to invent their own pictograms for words they couldn’t find symbols for. Finally, students drew their pictograms on rawhides that they made earlier. The end result: each student has a unique and imaginative story to tell in the style of a winter count. Enjoy a few samples below!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Sol LeWitt

In fifth grade we are currently learning about Sol LeWitt, and beginning a project based on his artwork (more to come on the project later). A couple years ago, I had the chance to see his exhibit at MASS MoCA in Massachusetts. It was one of the neatest exhibits I have seen. If you are ever in the area, the exhibit is actually going to be up until 2033! MASS MoCA also happens to be a pretty cool space. It is huge and has a warehouse kind of feel. LeWitt's wall drawings are huge! In class, we watched a timelapse video showing the process of creating a wall drawing. 

Feel free to find more information and timelapse videos by following this link:
Interior Hallway in MASS MoCA

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Coil Vessels

After spending a good portion of time on creating curvilinear two-dimensional lines, the fifth grade students created coil vessels using three-dimensional lines. Building upon ceramic techniques and skills from previous years, students created a coil vessel that incorporated variety in shape, line, and texture to add interest. Students experimented with expanding and contracting the walls of their coil pots for added pizazz.

Look for the final glazed product in January...

Friday, December 2, 2011

Winslow Homer Inspired Ship Paintings

The second grade has made a dramatic shift from abstraction to realism. And, who better to inspire realism? But, Winslow Homer! After learning about the American artist’s life and artwork (including his usage of foreground, middle ground, and background), students created an observational drawing of model ships in perspective. Students had the advantage of looking closely at some really cool ships in the art room, and drawing what they saw – in perspective! These drawings were then transformed into watercolor paintings by using new techniques like the watercolor wash and adding salt for a clever effect.


Friday, November 18, 2011

Immigrating to America Mural

As a culmination of the drawing unit, students tried their hand at a large-scale collaborative mural. Everyone participated by including their own full-body portrait. Students also worked together to create the beautiful backdrop of their mural: Ellis Island. Students were responsible for painting the ocean, waves, sky, and clouds. I found this to be a great opportunity for the students to share a visual story of their interviewee, while also participating in a large collaborative project that the entire grade can be very proud of! Well done, fourth grade!
"Immigrating to America" Final Mural

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Full-body Portraits of Immigrant Interviewees (tie-in to social studies curriculum)

For the fourth grade’s final drawing of a person in proportion, I asked students and families to send me a full-body photograph of the person they chose to interview for their immigration project in social studies (thank you, families!). First, students drew their person in proportion by using basic shapes. Then, students learned how to draw clothing on a three-dimensional form. They used their observational drawing skills to closely capture the clothing their interviewee was wearing the day of the photograph. Because a lot of the clothing was black or white, I encouraged students to exercise their own artistic license when it came to coloring in the clothing. Lastly, students were responsible for carefully cutting their person out in preparation for the collaborative mural. The results are really fantastic! Please enjoy the few examples below.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Skype Session with Faith Ringgold

When I was hunting around on the internet (specifically Faith Ringgold’s blog:, I found a really great opportunity for my third grade students. Immediately following the culmination of the story quilt lesson, I arranged for a skype session with Faith Ringgold herself! All 49 students squeezed into my art room last Tuesday morning, and a few students had the chance to ask Ms. Ringgold questions. Next, every student present stood in front of the computer camera to show Faith Ringgold their story quilt. Ms. Ringgold was gracious and delightful, and made several comments and compliments on the student’s work. This was probably the most thrilling celebration of an art project that I have ever done. Not only am I ecstatic that the students put the amount of effort that they did into their story quilts, but I am also excited for the students to be able to have this chance-in-a-lifetime experience with Ms. Ringgold.
Setup for Skype Session

Faith Ringgold on the screen!

Tradition Drawings with Patterned Frames inspired by Faith Ringgold

Faith Ringgold is an artist well-known for her story quilts. In class we learned about Faith Ringgold’s life and observed her artwork. Then, we read the book Tar Beach, which prompted a discussion on tradition: What is tradition? What is Faith Ringgold’s tradition in Tar Beach? And, what are your traditions? Following the discussion, students chose a tradition to feature in their artwork. Then, students drew a representation of their tradition by drawing mostly from their imagination with a little help from some reference photographs. Then, students transformed their drawings into story quilts by framing each piece with the patterned tiles they created earlier. 

The story quilts really turned out beautifully (great job third grade!), but my favorite part of this project was learning all about the students traditions. There were so many traditions I had never heard of – from “elf on a shelf” to “pickle presents.” It was neat getting to learn more about students and their families through creativity.