Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Plants On Parade!

The succulent plants that were our models in class now are enjoying life in their new home.  I planted them in a birdbath and have them on my deck so they get plenty of sun.  I love how they look grouped together with the river rocks!
The final lesson of the unit about succulent plants is now complete!  Check out these plants from several students in many different classes.  The main comment that I heard from people at school who were not part of our class was,"Wow, those look so real!"  I would have to agree with that observation because the students really captured the essence of what a container garden looks like.  The many shades of green contrast beautifully with the unique patterns on the handmade clay containers.  Did you notice the way the plants have a life-like quality to them because of the waxy looking coating on them?  This was achieved with a topcoat of acrylic gloss medium over the tempera paints. I hope you enjoy seeing this group of plants as they parade across this final post on succulent plants!

Check out the amazing amount of thorns that Donita placed in her cactus!  I think it is saying'"hands off!"
Lynz's sculpture is fun; it reminds me of succulent plants at a birthday party!
Weird, but it must have something to do with the pattern on the pot.
Anthony filled up his pot with a few small plants with many leaves contrasting with one huge cactus!
In the last post, I showed you how Molly added thorns to her cactus.  Here we can see how she has arranged her plants in an oval-shaped container.  What a great variety of textures and colors!

I especially like the extra attention to detail that Travis  showed by adding red areas to the shortest plant.

Nick H. made a pair of thorny upright cacti in the center of his container.

Julia added many interesting shapes to fill up this brightly patterned container!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

We're Going Green...And Adding Thorns!

The next steps were so much fun!  I demonstrated how to use the cake tempera paints to make many types of green.  Yellow-green, mint green, olive green, dark green and all sorts of other greens emerged from the many combinations of paints that we mixed.  The cake tempera paints covered the model magic so well that all of the white areas had quickly disappeared.  We also talked about adding shadows and highlights to each stem, leaf and flower.

Julia carefully holds one of her plants as she paints.
It wasn't long before the white plants were green!

Kayda and Lexi concentrate on adding many different colors to each plant part.

After the plant parts were painted, we needed to add different colors and styles of thorns to some of the plants in the cacti family.  I originally thought that pieces of toothpicks would do the job, but I had an unexpected idea that worked out perfectly!  I asked the custodian for a "dead broom" and had the woodshop teacher cut the handle off.  Then I cut up the bristles into smaller pieces.  After some experimentation, I realized that the best way to add color to each thorn was with the side of a peeled oil pastel.  Each piece needed to be pushed into the plant piece .  No glue was necessary since the model magic was now firm and spongy. Although time-consuming, the results were realistic and visually exciting!

Molly colored her thorns orange to show contrast against her yellow-green cactus.  It kind of looks like a giant spiky prickly caterpillar at this stage!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Weirdest School Lunch Ever!

Trays of Model Magic parts for plant sculptures.

 After seeing the great results from the lesson on drawing and shading succulent plants it seemed only logical to extend the lesson to include a 3-dimensional version of this theme.  We were all excited to explore ways to use the Model Magic to represent the unique shapes found on each plant.  We tried flattening, rolling, squishing, twisting, pressing and pinching the modeling compound.  It was very cool to see how each student devised their own way of creating their plant parts.  Everyone had their own styrofoam lunch tray that worked perfectly as a great means of storing so many small individual parts.  Some parts were made separately and attached together later with a low-temp glue gun.
During this week of classes we used the alternate days to form small containers out of air-dry clay. These pots would be the container for the handmade plants each student made.  I asked students to use the basic technique of creating a pinch pot from a ball of clay.  The clay dried very slowly because of the high humidity in Room 9.  Students were able to work on painting the plant parts or the clay pots, and there were plenty of things to do while waiting for things to dry! Eventually everything got painted, even though it took longer than I expected.
In the next post check out all of the steps as we worked toward the creation of some amazing sculptures!

Monday, June 6, 2011

People Say, " 7th Graders Did This Artwork?!"

Jazmin T. used a variety of different values to create shadows and add dimension to her drawing.
Her work is highly detailed and demonstrates an advanced understanding of overlapping.
She did an amazing job!
The mixed-media pictures of the succulent plants came out so great that people who see the work can't believe that 7th grade students were capable of creating such high quality work!  That makes me feel great, especially because I got to see each student really grow as a young artist throughout this unit.  Everyone in class, including those who like to say " I can't draw", improved their drawing, shading and painting skills during this assignment.
  Remember that your work will always improve if you have a positive attitude and are willing to ask for help if you don't understand how to use a certain technique.  Shading was a perfect example:  I spent a lot of time working with individual students to make sure that each person understood where to add shadows and highlights to their picture. Shading is a difficult skill to use unless you grasp the concept of how an object looks with a light source shining on it.
 I enjoyed seeing each student's confidence grow as their work progressed.  The artwork really speaks for itself, so I hope you'll enjoy viewing the amazing selection of work that follows.  Why not leave your favorite student artist a comment?  Have you tried to forward your art on the blog to someone on facebook or via email? Just use the links at the end of the post and share your work with a relative or friend!

Donita continues to impress me with the high degree of difficulty and the amount of details she adds to each part of her work.  I really enjoy looking at the particular way that she has arranged each of the thorns on the cacti:  Did you notice that the rows of thorns help to make each plant look more lifelike?  They look so round that you could grab them and pull them right out of that container...or maybe you shouldn't do that considering all of the thorns!
Casey chose to have the light in her picture coming from the right side.  You can see this by the way the shadows are cast to the left side of the pot and plants.  I also like the way that she has one of her plants bending to the outside of her container to sort of droop in front of it. Small details like that make each picture have a unique personality!
Jenna D. experimented with different combinations of plants and container shapes before settling on this uniquely designed composition.  I especially like the strong use of contrasting colors that you can see in the green cacti next to the warm-colored watercolor background.
Lexi O. made this wonderful picture.  We joked that the image looked so peaceful that it would make a great "Get Well Soon" or "Missing You" greeting card.  Her use of cool colors and a light application of those colors add to the overall feeling of calm.
Tiana fit her plants into a colorful container of her own design. Some of her plants have the added special touch of  bright flowers. This makes them as interesting to look at as Tiana is to talk with!  I enjoy her enthusiasm and hearing her ideas during Period 4.

Molly L. used a strong center light to give her container and plants the illusion of roundness. Wait until you see how cool her model magic plants look when she added thorns to them in the next part of this unit!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Adding Color and Value to Plant Drawings

This color wheel required students to practice shading and layering colors.
This color wheel shows each color applied with light, medium and heavy pressure. It was shaded by Elicia N. in period 2.

Brandon L. used a variety of green colored pencils to shade a range of values.

After drawing the succulent plants in a container of their own design, the students completed two color wheels with the colored pencils.  The colors wheels served as a warm up exercise because each wheel required that a certain shading skill be practiced.  The first wheel was shaded in sections where each color was applied using different pressure to make a change from light to medium to dark. The second color wheel was shaded with each color as labeled.  Two colors were shaded over each other to create the color in between.  For example, one section was orange, another was red and then the red and orange are applied together to create a section of red-orange.  Although the colors wheels were a lot of work, the students all agreed that what they learned about using colored pencils was a great help when they shaded their drawings.  I couldn't agree more!  The finished artwork speaks for itself as you will see in the upcoming posts!