Monday, February 25, 2013

Look "Whoo, Who'" Is Learning About Contrast!

We learned about pattern and contrast!
Jessica shows us her cute owl and a nice range of patterns in lights, mediums and darks.
Eddie C. made a masculine owl with a mask-like face and a protective stance.  

Alec B. used large areas of black to help create contrast with the lighter patterns in the face and legs.
Morgan created a good variety of patterns, including the background!

For this assignment, I was looking for a theme that would interest my students while not being too difficult to draw.  I didn't want them to get hung up on the drawing because the goal of the lesson was to teach them about creating contrast in a black and white image.  I decided that "owls" would work well, and appeal to male and female students. I explained how their owl character could be made more aggressive, cute, comical etc. depending on the size and placement of the features and overall posture of the body. I provided the kids with handouts and library books that showcased a range of owls from the most simple symbols to more scientifically accurate renderings.
Ben's owl looks mechanical and has screw shapes for eyes!
Hannah B. made a cute more friendly owl due to it's large eyes and chubby appearance!

   After designing and drawing an owl, I provided students with a planning worksheet where they began to create different repeating line designs.  Each one inch box on the worksheet contained a unique pattern designed by that student.  I explained how we could change the lightness or darkness of a pattern just by using the black Sharpie marker to fill in areas.  I also provided examples of how to use the marker to make lines close together, which made the pattern look darker.  Students quickly learned that a black marker could make a design that appeared lighter if more of the white paper was left uncolored.  Problem-solving how these patterns could be placed into their owl would become the students' key challenge in this lesson. You can see just a few of the owls from these 8th graders here, and I think they did a great job using patterns and creating contrast. Let us know your thoughts!  We'd love to hear from you!


Saturday, February 2, 2013

Fun with Blown Ink Drawings!

A beautiful tropical bird sitting in foliage was created from ink blown through a straw.  Color was added with colored pencils. This image was created by Mary M. from my Period 6 8th grade Visual Art class.
See how the ink design was used to form the
shape of this fire-breathing man?
Remember the joy of trying new art materials before anyone told you how to use them? You just dove right in and started experimenting.  There is a lot to be said for not over-thinking and just doing when it comes to making art. Kids think it's great fun to use materials in a way that produces random, unexpected results! Sometimes I wonder if my students just need a break from using materials "correctly" to achieve a specific result, or from practicing a particular technique.  For these reasons I thought it would be beneficial to experiment with creating art from the random splashes and blobs made by blowing india ink through a drinking straw!

Several sheets of paper have been covered with ink blown through a straw.  Students will begin to brainstorm ideas for what each of these ink splotches can be turned into....Perhaps an animal? A person? May be an object or a landscape? 
For this lesson you only need a few supplies and the process is simple.  Get out small disposable paint cups and fill them only 1/4 full with black india ink. Give each pair of students two drinking straws, one of the ink cups and a dropper to suck up the ink.  I had old droppers left from previous years when I had purchased small containers of india ink, like those used for calligraphy. Suck up a small amount of ink and randomly let it drop anywhere in the white drawing paper.  Do only a few drops or else it gets absorbed before you have time to blow it around with the straw. Remind students to take big breaths and shift the paper and the straw from side to side to vary the effects produced by the ink.  It is possible to get a variety of line widths and directions, but each student will find this out through experimentation.  Remember to write one' s name on all sheets at this stage, because it is very easy to get confused with who made what.  The next class, introduce the idea of turning these random ink designs into something with a shape.  Turn the images upside down and rotate the paper because students tend to give up too quickly if they do not initially see something in their image.  Use a pencil to lightly add lines that connect small ink blobs to form solid shapes.  Add sharpie marker lines once you are sure that you like what you have drawn.  The sharpie lines should blend in with the line style of the ink lines.  The whole drawing should have the appearance of being connected and uncontrived.
Use the colored pencils to enhance certain lines or to fill in entire shapes to further help the viewer to recognize the subject matter.  Sometimes only a small amount of color is necessary, while other drawings look better with more.

Cute orange fox.  I especially like the expression of the face, don't you?
Frightening wolf above and a wonderful medley of natural elements below.

The students were challenged by this activity and it really forced them to consider the possibilities for making art.  The resulting images were really great fun to see and I especially enjoyed seeing the variety of characters that emerged from these random blobs and splotches of blown ink. What do you think of this lesson?

This lovely lady strolls about with a flower and a parasol.
Oh My!  No explanation needed for this one, but the dinosaur looks more cute than ferocious to me!

Silly floppy ear rabbit resting in the grass. Thanks for viewing this lesson!