Friday, December 30, 2011

Let's Get Cooking With Sepia Tone Recipes!

Casey's portrait of a frog used a variety of wet and dry media.  The students were required to use at least four of the "recipes" from their color wheels when making their portraits.  The other values could be invented on the spot as needed.
Armed with our awesome sepia tone color wheels we ventured into the theme of portraits for the next part of the unit.  I was very inspired by the work of several artists on the website "Etsy", which is an awesome place to view everything from original art to handmade jewelry. ( A link is in my "sites I like"to the right of this post.) I located several  examples of anthropomorphic art, which I shared with my students.
 Anthropomorphic art is when an object or an animal is given human qualities by the artist.  My brain was excited by the possibilities of "humanizing" the animals that would serve as the starting place for this lesson.  I gathered additional resources for the students to use including all sorts of books with animals as well as books with costumes and clothing from different periods in history.
The kids were relieved to hear that they would not be asked to draw people as their subject matter and even more interested when I explained that their animal portraits should be anthropomorphic. We discussed many popular characters who are anthropomorphic, including Spongebob, Scooby Doo and the teapot and candlestick from Beauty and the Beast.
 Students began by drawing three different sketches of three different animals and then "dressing" each one to add human qualities.  I saw everything from an alligator in a football jersey, a young chipmunk in a patterned sweater and a pig wearing a chef's hat and an apron that said, " kiss the cook".
During our discussion of portraits, I taught students about the three poses we would be using for this assignment:  Frontal, Profile and Three-Quarter.  We discussed the ways that the facial features would appear in each of the views, such as two eyes showing in a view from the front, one eye and the nose, (snout or beak) from the side in a profile view.  In the three-quarter view we would see one eye closer  to the viewer, as well as only portions of the mouth and the nose.  I used a stuffed animal of a horse to illustrate each view and this really seemed to help the students as well as give us all a little chuckle as I carried around the toy and angled its head in different ways. It was fun and educational and yes, I do have the best job in the world!

Matthew refers to his sepia color wheel recipes as he works on a portrait of an elephant wearing a sweater and a hat.

Can't wait to see our finished anthropomorphic portraits?  Good news because I'm still on Christmas Vacation so I'll be posting again really soon!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Re-inventing the Color Wheel

Elicia's sepia color wheel shows a range of values from light to dark.  There is writing on the side of each sample, so make sure you read the description below for more information about this activity!

One of the most important parts of the unit on using sepia tone was the creation of a sepia tone color wheel.  I had the students use a compass to draw a large circle which they divided into eight sections with a ruler.  I set up a wide variety of media on the supply table, and explained that for this activity they would be asked to experiment with combining different materials to create sepia tones.  The materials included oil pastels, chalk pastels, watercolor paints, crayons, acrylic gloss medium, construction paper and wallpaper scraps. I asked the students to use at least two materials to make each sample on their wheel.  Each student selected a reproduction of a photo by Edward S. Curtis to use as their inspiration for matching their sepia tones and this helped  a lot!
I stressed the importance of using this activity as a time for experimentation and documentation of what worked and didn't work the way they had expected it to.  For example, we learned that some materials will layer and blend together better than other ones.  It was important that the students record the process that they used to make their sepia tones, and I referred to this as writing down the "recipe" that they had used for each one.  You will notice the sequential steps that they wrote on the side of each sample on their color wheels.  I explained that they would need these recipes for use in the sepia portrait assignment that was coming up as the next part of the unit. Everyone was very excited to find new ways of creating light , medium and dark sepia tones.  It was very cool to see the students sharing the creative ways that they combined materials.  There were many times that I was surprised that some of the materials actually produced these results!  This activity created a great dialogue between students and generated excitement for what was to come!  The planning proved to be an invaluable part of the unit, so check out the incredible results in the sepia portraits that I will be posting really soon!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Intro to Sepia Tone!

A photo of Native American women taken by photographer Edward S. Curtis.
I used the editing program on my computer to change this photo of my dog Tamari into sepia tones.

I like to have my students learn about using a range of values from light, to medium to dark and then apply them to their work.  I would usually start with looking at black and white artwork, so that the values would be easy to identify.  I've been with my current students for over a quarter already, and I've also taught them last year in 7th grade. Because of their prior learning, I was confident that they were ready for a challenge.  I decided that they were ready to move on to learning about a different range of values, this time in the brown tones.
Sepia is a range of color from pale neutral cream, tan and amber all the way to deep browns some even with dark green undertones.
Sepia tones are used primarily by photographers. Many photographers opt to print their photos in sepia because of the warmer, almost old-fashioned look that sepia has.
My first step was to locate some examples of sepia photographs and it didn't take long for me to realize that one artist's work stood out from the rest.  Photographer Edward S. Curtis spent his whole life living with various groups of Native Americans in the early 1900's.  He took over 40,000 photos of the people and places he saw during this time.   His work is considered to be the most prolific collection of photographs of Native American culture.  And his work is printed in sepia tone!

Sioux Chiefs by Edward S. Curtis.  

Laguna Water Jug by Edward S. Curtis

These are just a few examples of Curtis' sepia photographs, but it is easy to see the range of lights and darks as well as the variety of textures.  My students were inspired by his work as they studied reproductions of his photos.  I was fortunate enough to borrow a book about his work from a Social Studies teacher in my building.  She had actually cut up her book and used the photos on her bulletin board!  I would never have dared to do that, but it was very helpful because each student got to chose their own image to look at up close.  
Oh, I forgot to explain that they would not be copying these photos!  Believe it or not, this lesson turned into a portrait lesson, and not one about people.  Check back soon to see our incredible close-up animal portraits, all done in mixed-media sepia tones! 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Glue Batik on Fabric: The Results!

The fabrics are done!  I hope you enjoy looking at samples of some of the great batik designs that my students created during this fun activity.  We learned so much about the process of gel batik and I will definitely try this again during another semester. 

Claudia's work is detailed and stimulating!  There is a "musical" feeling in this image due in large part to the series of lines traveling through the center of the image.  It's not easy to create depth on a flat piece of white fabric, but Claudia managed to do it!  I'm impressed!

Megan M. made a piece of fabric art that has strong repeating shapes and tints and shades of blue.  Don't you think it looks like cells in a view under a microscope?  Or maybe planets in outer space?  Any way you look at it she did a super job using circles!
Samantha used a limited color palette to create a feeling of unity throughout her work.  The large area of concentric circles seems to radiate toward the smaller ones.  Maybe she was thinking about waves moving across the sand!

Vanessa was worried that she had too much going on in this composition:  I think it has everything!  Lots of variety, movement, repetition, color, pattern and fun!

Brian used circles and ovals in his composition.  There is a tremendous amount of  overlapping  throughout the design.  I really think it looks like an owl!  Can you see it?  The eyes are at the top and the blue concentric circles help the viewer to look right at them!

Matthew W had fun exploring the different ways he could use the glue to draw  with on the fabric.  He used a variety of lines including straight, wavy, curved, thick and thin.  Then he filled the background with lots and lots of dots!  Very cool and original, Matt!

Patrick made this wonderful composition by using a variety of different circles including concentric, solid, partial  and repeating circles.  Overlapping the shapes adds to the degree of difficulty and adds visual interest to the image.  I also think that his choice of colors works well to create contrast throughout the image.  Great work!

Students had the choice of working on a square or rectangle fabric.  This square  fabric is Casey's and she fit a well-composed  design in a fairly small space.  The fabric is about 12 x 12 and she drew this design with glue!  The orange parts remind me of a bouncing tennis ball.  Do you see it too?

Leah used symmetry to divide up the space in her circle composition.  I especially like the way she used different values of yellow in the background area.  Good work!

The fabrics needed to sit in a bath of hot soapy water for a few minutes to loosen up the glue.  Then the real fun started as each student needed to use the scrub brushes to get off all of the glue.  The fabrics were rinsed with cool water and squeezed to get out most of the water.  I set up an area on the supply table where the fabrics were pressed between layers of newsprint paper.  This helped to flatten them and remove any remaining water.
Maddie C's fabric features pastel colors and a  lot of movement in this composition.  It reminds me of  decorated  Easter eggs in the fresh green grass!  Keep in mind that all of the white areas on every example of  this project were drawn in gel glue and then rinsed off to reveal the bright, clean white underneath.  Those are Maddie's hands and her fabric in the sink in the picture above.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Gel Glue Batik : Beginning the Process.

So here is a summary of the first parts of the process of making our amazing batik fabrics. This lesson was a lot of fun, but it was also a lot of work for all of us.  In the end, the pay off was BIG since everyone got to create a unique piece of fabric art. The kids were psyched to see the great results of their hard work. Soon I'll be sharing lots of pictures of the finished work!
 The students worked from a pencil sketch of their best circle composition.  They used the glue to freehand draw onto the white fabric.  Some students were nervous about "messing up" but everyone soon realized that if they made a mistake the only option was to turn it into something else.  In the end, there were no major catastrophes and everyone tried their best to concentrate on their work during this part of the process.  It was important to remember that the glue would spread as it dried; lines couldn't be placed too close to each other or they would blend together.

Drawing with gel glue takes concentration and a steady hand!
Katelyn  painted her fabric with acrylic paints in different values of pink, orange and green.
The glued dried in a couple of hours, so when the students came to class the next day the fabrics were ready for paint.  We used Crayola Portfolio acrylic paints and we diluted them so that the paint was applied in a medium consistency.  It was okay if some of the paint went on the dried glue, but I encouraged everyone not to paint right over the glue. Eventually we would need to scrub off the dried areas of glue to reveal the white fabric that was protected underneath.  We all thought it would be easier to rinse if we didn't seal in the glue with a layer of acrylic paints.

Darren used darker colors on his shapes and a light blue on the background.  Notice the orange tape that we used to keep the fabric from shifting around while we painted.

The painting process took a few class periods to complete, and the fabric had to be totally dry before the scrubbing and rinsing could begin. I had the students lay their wet fabrics on the floor indifferent areas of the room to help keep the classes organized.
 The amazing results will be included with my next post!