Sunday, January 30, 2011

Fabulous Pairs of Portraits!

It was alot of fun to draw these final draft portraits of classmates on newspaper backgrounds.  Sometimes the newspaper had different sized letters or areas of crossword puzzles.  See if you can find some parts of these drawings that were made more interesting depending on the placement of the image on the newspaper background.  From top to bottom, these pairs of portraits were created by Nathan F., Emily H., Isabella, and Sophia. 
I also think that it is cool to notice the different ways that each artist has used the watercolor pencils .  For example, Nathan's work has a soft, shaded look while Sophia's colors are bold and vibrant!  Any way you look at it, these are some fabulous portraits!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Contour Line Portrait Exercises

We started with two portraits on manilla paper, and moved on to final drafts on newspaper. 
     In this unit of study, 7th grade Visual Arts students learned about using contour lines to create a series of portraits of their classmates.  I asked the students to imagine that they were drawing a picture of each person as though they were made with one continuous line.  In order to do the exercise correctly, each student looked at real models ( one male and one female classmate).  They began with a pencil portrait and followed the rule, "Once you start drawing, do not pick up your pencil."  This resulted in the curving, continuous contour line that you can see in each portrait. We all learned that this is an excellent way to practice your observational skills.  See if your eye can move at the same speed as your drawing hand!
     I had the students do a series of these drawings that resulted in two final portraits drawn on newspaper.  In the picture above we can see that Sophia has used the watercolor pencils to add shading to her portraits.  Clean water applied with a brush turned the pencil coloring into watercolor paint.  Check out the next posts to see some great "pairs" of classmates!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Amazing Winter Landscapes!

This picture by Miranda, Madison and Devon is playful and bright!

After working for several days, each team finished the assignment.  We hung the paintings on the large bulletin board in the back of the room and discussed the work during a group critique.  The students enjoyed looking closely at their peers' paintings to see if they had met the criteria for the lesson.  Each picture was very different in the way that the criteria was met; however, they all shared similarities with the art we had studied by Grandma Moses.  Take a moment to look at the finished work I have included here.  What parts are similar?  What did each team do that is different from the other paintings? Which painting is your favorite?

Small details rule in Nathan, Madison S., Steven and Mackenzie's painting.

I love the sense of depth in this painting.  Did you notice how the two fences and the gray road lead your eyes to the back of the picture?  We discussed the possibility of adding more people and animals in the gray area near the red barn.  The students agreed that this would be a good idea, but due to time constraints this never got to happen.  It is still a very well-composed and interesting painting!

Sophia, Dan, Brandon and Christina capture a carefree time in their painting!

This is one of the final paintings where the characters had the most sense of movement.  Notice how each person is doing something: from tossing a snowball at a friend, walking a dog and heading to church with a child.  This group did an excellent job of identifying "character in action" as an important part of what makes Grandma Moses' paintings so much fun to look at!  The road and the river also work well together to sort of "frame" this activity in the scene.  The color choices are great too, because it is easy to see each character and the buildings as they create multiple focal points for the viewer to look at.  Overall, this group simply did awesome work on their painting!

This close-up really shows all of the small details including the great outfits each person is wearing
and the ice skates the girl is carrying.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Adding Color Creates Contrast

Small brushes were used for all of the details!

After the background areas were painted, the students were excited to use pencil to draw all of their buildings, people, animals, trees and objects.  It worked out great because the pencil was easy to erase when drawn on top of the dry tempera paint. Each part needed to be drawn freehand onto the big painted backgrounds.   The students commented on how difficult it was to transfer their rough drafts to this larger, painted final draft paper.  I encouraged them to draw each part slightly larger, rather than have to think of new details to add to the empty spaces.
Each team used masking tape to hang up their rough drafts on the windows and walls around their work area.  That way they could look to this first draft as needed for guidance.
One of the most exciting parts of this lesson was seeing the students add color to their pictures!  The winter landscapes came to life as bright red, yellow, green and many other colors contrasted with all of the snow.  Students were able to mix their own colors or use colors that were poured into plastic cups right out of the bottles.  Each team member needed to be aware of who was painting what, as well as which areas were still wet.
  I am happy to say that there were no major catastrophes involving spills or smudges on the work.  On the other hand, there were quite a few students who left the classroom wearing colors that were not there when they arrived!  A special thanks to Vanessa for her help with a team member who found himself with more than a little green paint on his new black sweatshirt.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Painting the Background First...

Nicole. Avery and Dylan divide the background into areas of land, sky and water.

The students moved on to very large sheets of tan craft paper that I cut from a big roll.  They used tempera paints and large brushes to mix tints and shades of white and blue.  I limited their color choices to help them learn how to establish different "regions" in the landscape without relying on a variety of different colors.  The students enjoyed mixing paints to create a range of gray tones to represent shadows, roads, pathways, ice and clean and dirty snow.  I recommend that you use paper plates for palettes because of the large amount of paint that the students will need to mix.  Clean up is a breeze;  just throw away the plates!
Thanks to Social Studies teacher Mr. Hovey for his donation of the hospital scrubs that we use as "messy shirts."  Everyone enjoys being an "Art Doctor" and looking cool while our clothes stay clean!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Winter Landscape Example


Here is an example of a typical Grandma Moses landscape painting.  There are many people shown participating in various activities in a winter setting.  The architecture is just like what we would see here in rural Rhode Island because she lived in a small town in New York state. 
   Notice the bright, cheery colors that many of the people are wearing and how this creates contrast with the snow.  There are also a variety of different trees in different sizes. The viewer's eye travels through the paintings because of the use of diagonal lines shown as paths tracked in the snow.
Look closely:  Can you spot her signature?

Putting Ideas on Paper: Rough Drafts!

Emma and Emilania's awesome rough draft. This drawing is 30 x 36".

The concept sounded simple enough:  work with a partner or a team to create an original winter landscape inspired by the art of Grandma Moses.  The students quickly learned that sometimes the artwork that looks like it is the most simple is actually the most difficult to make! 
Grandma Moses was great at capturing the "good times" from her childhood memories.  Her work is fun, pleasant and childlike in the way that the objects, people and animals are painted. 
My seventh grade art students found it very challenging to make a picture that had all of these elements.  They were unsure of how to arrange the composition so that they would have room for all of the required parts.  I gave them a list of these parts so that they could work from it to stay organized and on track as a group.  Even so, many groups  experienced difficulties when it came to deciding what to draw and where to place things in the picture.
The students were asked to work from the following list:
1.  Have twelve or more people.
2.  Have five or more animals.
3.  Have three different areas of emphasis.
4.  Have a variety of trees in different sizes.
5.  Have three or more buildings.
6.  Have ten or more additional objects.
Check back soon to see how the students were able to work together to complete their landscapes!

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