Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Introduction to Value!

Here is a summary of the first unit that I taught to my second semester 8th gradeVisual Art students.  The unit is about introducing them to the use of grayscale and value.  We completed a series of four exercises; each of the exercises taught a specific skill and the skills built upon each other.  Please check back soon to see the very cool monochromatic paintings that the kids did after learning about value.  I broadened the theme to include tints and shades of one color, too.  The unit was a great success and I am really loving having a full ninety days of art with my students this year!  What a difference it makes when it comes to teaching themes in depth, versus just touching upon a concept and moving on due to lack of time.  I hope that my school system will keep this format next year since it really allows me to share even more great art information with my kids!
The photos above show two views of part of a large bulletin board in my art room, Room 9.  I decided to arrange the information in a flow chart as you can see by the black construction paper arrows.  Each part of the board reviews a key term or fact about value, which is the range of lights, mediums and darks.  The display runs left to right horizontally, but to fit it into the blog, I have it shown top to bottom.

The first exercise that the students completed was to shade a value scale using an ebony pencil.  I like to teach this exercise where you fill in the darkest value first, almost black and adjust the pressure applied to the pencil so that each sample is gradually lighter until the final box is almost white.  This beginning exercise teaches the students to take their time to complete a range of pencil values that are smooth and texture-free.  I had the students store their work in a paper portfolio because it was easier to house all of the exercises in one area.  Also, it was much easier to have everything together when I graded the work, since I could see individual progress by viewing each student's work as a series.

For the second exercise I had students select an abstract composition of a black and white magazine picture.  I had the images ready to go, so all the kids needed to do was choose on to draw.  The photo above shows a small magazine picture of a close-up of a men's watch.  The concept was to have students enlarge the composition and then use the ebony pencil to create a range of values.  They were asked to be as accurate as possible and to use at least five lights and darks.  The most challenging part of the exercise was the enlargement of the photo!  Once the image was drawn, most of the students did an awesome job shading their picture. The image above was drawn and shaded by 8th grader Devon H.

 The third exercise required students to experiment with using a small piece of a peeled black crayon to shade a sphere.  I demonstrated how to use a compass to draw a circle and them how to hold the crayon to make a rubbing for some areas.  Other parts of the circle were made by holding the peeled crayon in a more upright position.  Ultimately, the students needed to figure out a way that they could use the peeled crayon to create values that could be placed to create the illusion of roundness.  This meant that they would need to leave a highlight, some medium values on the body of the circle, a shadow and a cast shadow.  By varying the pressure, this was possible, but would require concentration and skill!  The students pleasantly surprised me with the focus they gave to trying to shade their spheres. This exercise also introduced the concept of creating contrast, which would become very important in upcoming lessons.

In this photo we see Jasmin T. and Miranda B. working on shading spheres.  Note that they each practiced on the inside cover of their portfolios.  We can see Miranda using a compass to draw circles that she will shade for her final draft.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Final Landscape Lesson: Mixed- Media Cityscape!

Hey!  This isn't a landscape!  No it isn't, but it will make more sense when you see the next picture....
 Darren G. did a great job of using the found images of architecture to establish a sense of scale in this image. Just how big is that women, or may be the buildings are really tiny?  The color choices and the adjusted proportions of the woman's eyes add to the creepy and unusual theme of the image.  He did a great job cutting and adding the building so that she is grasping it.  I can't stop looking at this picture, but at the same time it is really scary and thought-provoking!
This is a fun example of the many ways that found images can be arranged to make a visually interesting collage .  The students had the option to use the paint in many experimental ways, and we can see that on this piece Kate L. made good use of splatter painting on her background!
This mixed- media collage is made with magazine images, photocopies, acrylic paint, oil pastels and  a generous serving of creativity!
So this lesson was the final lesson that i did with my First Semester students for 8th Grade Visual Art Class.  I asked the students to use any of the materials that were on the supply table, to be experimental and to show me one final burst of original ideas.  It was bittersweet because we all knew that this was the last time we would be working together.  This was the end and I was pleased with this unit.

Just to let you know,there was a third lesson in this unit and it was all about using watercolor paints and colored pencils to create a seascape.  I had the kids use a long strip of watercolor paper, 6 x 18 to set up the format for a wide view of the beach, horizon, dunes, seagrass, etc.  They came out great, but I could not figure out how to photograph them so that the whole image could be in the same photo!  Because of that, I have not included them in the blog posts, and it makes me a little sad, but since they couldn't fit properly I need to get over it. In the end, my students submitted a portfolio of four different landscapes, not the three I am featuring on the blog.


Sunday, February 5, 2012

Landscape Lesson #2: Magazine Collage.

Cut and torn pieces of magazine pictures are carefully arranged and glued in place to represent  this tropical landscape.  If you look back one post to the first lesson on landscapes you can compare Sophia C's. drawing of this scene to this second version as a collage.  Both are well done and pay great attention to value and detail.

The next lesson in our "Landscape Unit" was a magazine collage.  I asked students to re-visit the same inspiration photos that they worked from for the first lesson on ebony pencil shading.  This time, I challenged them to look closely to see all of the wonderful textures and the range of subtle values in each area of their photo.  I hope that you will be able to see the attention to detail that the students used as they assembled their collages.  These images are made on
9 x 12 white paper and the magazine is cut or torn and then attached with a glue stick.  This lesson is straightforward, with no "tricks"; just a good old-fashioned art exercise that really gets the students to problem-solve and make good decisions about their work!  My students found the process to be challenging and they were thrilled with the result s.

This collage was created in layers: I suggested that the students begin with the background areas first, then continue to build forward into the middle ground.  The foreground, the area which is at the bottom of the picture was layered on top of the other parts.  Tiny details like the houses and the trees are added right over the larger areas of land.    
Megan's collage uses a combination of vivid bright colors and rich deep colors.  The resulting contrast is fun to view because there is a path for the viewer's eye to follow through the bend of the road.  Now that's what I call a bend in the road!
This image of "Men in a Boat" is calming and peaceful.  The student artist, Nolan, searched for magazine pictures in a variety of cool tones such as blue and violet. The darker mountains are behind the lighter ones and this helps to create a feeling of space in the scene.
8th Grade Visual Art student Donita made this colorful collage from cut and torn magazine pictures.  I especially like the tiny shadow under the vehicle and the great sense of depth and space in the composition.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Learning About Landscapes!

Sakari worked hard to shade a range of values with an ebony pencil on this awesome drawing of a very cool tree.  I especially like the intricate branching pattern and the delicate leaves that are shaded with a very dark value.

So it's hard to believe that we have reached the last unit for my first semester students.  In other words, the school year is half over!  It has been a very fast year full of new lessons and experimentation.  I decided to end the class with a unit all about "Landscapes". 
The unit consisted of a series of small assignments that I asked the students to store in a paper portfolio.  After completing all four lessons, they self-assessed and then received written feedback from me.  Of course, along the way we had tons of discussions about works in progress.  I am including several examples of the different lessons, all landscapes, but each with a different emphasis.  I hope you enjoy viewing this work!  Please leave a comment if you have any questions or feedback!

Sophia C. has created an image that captures the peaceful calm of an island paradise.  The stillness in the water allows us to clearly see the wonderful reflections of the palm trees.  Using an eraser to erase out some areas of the ebony pencil helps to make the illusion of  the reflections even more realistic.  Super work, Sophia!
A great example of our first Landscape lesson.  The students worked from inspiration pictures that we found in magazines.  The photos were in color and the students needed to translate the lights and darks into gray tones.  This picture was made by Tyler M. in Period 5.

Ariana's inspiration picture was an aerial view of a farm.  This sort of view is fun because the land has a totally different sense of perspective.  You get to see what a bird would see!

Leah had a challenging picture of the sand dunes in the desert.  It was very important that she use very strong dark values to contrast with the lighter areas.  This helps to create the illusion of hills and shadows.  She did an excellent job!

I really like the sense of space that this picture by Brian J. has.  Notice the very small trees in the distance, and the stormy sky with a lightning storm!