Monday, June 22, 2009

An Independence Day Eagle

I can't say I join with all the frenzy over our new president but it is a historic occasion and a time to reflect on the rich history of our great nation. So in honor of that, I present you with an Independence Day Art Project!

This project was done in chalk pastel, which I love for it's superior blendability. Achieving soft and realistic results is really easy with this versatile albeit messy medium.

You will need:

Chalk pastels
pastel paper(construction paper with a rough texture will work too!)
silver star stickers(the kind we lived for in elementary school)

Draw the flag in first. You will probably want to use a ruler and plan out your measurements. (What a perfect way to add math skills to an art lesson!) There are thirteen stripes to represent the original thirteen states. I could only fit 12 on mine, but that is okay since it is kind of a cropped viewpoint. There should be 50 stars, but obviously the eagles wings will cover a lot of them, so just eyeball it the best you can. The stars should have one point going up and two going down. You can learn more about the history of the flag at this website.
Enchanted learning also has a great little book you can print out for younger kids to read and color.
Here is a step by step tutorial for drawing the eagle.

When adding color, complete the background first. Add in white stripes first, then red, and then the blue in the star area. blend with your finger, tissue, or q-tip.
Color the beak with a lighter yellow and accent the shadow with a sandy tan. Color the head white and add feathers with blue, brown, and a little black.Blend. Color the iris of the eye with the sandy tan and the pupil with black. Make sure to leave a white accent in the black pupil to show the shiny wetness of the eye. You can color the rest of the body and wings with brown, except for the end of the tail feathers which will be white. Add black happy face shapes to show feathers in the wings. In the body, keep the lines straighter. Add a little extra black to the back wing to make it appear darker and thereby father away. Blend until perfect, add a few white and tan accents on the wings to show lights. Make sure to this in the bones of the wings as well which would catch more light.
Be sure to spay your painting with a fixative to protect it.
(I sometimes use aerosol hairspray for this. It is inexpensive and way less toxic.)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Chinese Dragons-Redux

Chinese Dragon in oil pastel on 18" X 24" construction paper

Though it is past Chinese New Year, we happened to end up in Medieval China this week in our history curriculum- The Story of The World. As it worked out, I was also supposed to teach an "Art in the Classroom" for private school 7th and 8th graders today that would be focused on China, but a sick child(mine) derailed that. So since the lesson was already done, here it is! I would suggest giving kids a square template to start so that everyone is "on the same page" in size and proportions. (Better to avoid the dragon that looks more like a tiny lizard- hey didn't Confucius say that too?)

You can click on any of these steps to make them bigger

Unit Study Ideas

Math- There is nothing better for fractions than doubling, tripling, and halving a recipe! So find a great(and simple) Chinese food recipe and try it out! Let your students figure out how much of each ingredient to use. If you don't actually need to do it for your own family- pretend that this is a meal for the court of Kublai Khan!(For a language arts connection, have them write a story about how the great Khan kept changing the party plans, and how the cook had to keep changing the recipes- include all the math work!)

History- Learn about these great historical figures- Ghengis Khan, Kublai Khan, and Marco Polo. You can also learn about the Silk Road and the Great Wall of China. (My boys like to use every lego they have to see how "great" a wall they can make!(Connect this back to math by measuring the space it takes up, counting the legos, and then estimating how many legos it would take to make a lego great wall a mile long.

Science-The Chinese are responsible for many great inventions, printing books, gunpowder, chemical fog weapons, and the weaving of silk thread from silk worms into cloth. You could learn more about any of these and maybe even raise some silk worms of your own! There are also many endangered animals from China, including the panda. You could learn more about them and what we can do to help.

Language Arts- Fairy tales seem to be a universal thing. There are many Chinese versions of fairy tales we know well, Little Red Riding Hood and Cinderella are just two that come to mind. Why not take an American Tall Tale and give it a Chinese spin!
You could even try your hand out at writing in Chinese with a bamboo brush and ink or make your own Chinese Printing blocks by carving letters in rubber erasers and then use them to print out your story. (As time consuming as that might sound- it was light years faster than it took monks to write out illuminated manuscripts by hand!)
Have fun!
If you have any other ideas(done or not done yet)
please feel free to leave them in the comments


Here are some book selections you may find useful,
check your local library to see if they have them.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Dragons- Revisited

This week in art class we looked at Raphael. Among his many great paintings, he painted St.George and the Dragon. I saw this as a perfect opportunity to get the boys excited about what they were drawing. In the study of Renaissance artists, there aren't all that many subjects for boys to get all that excited about that are also appropriate. Lots of portraits, religious paintings, and nudes. Dragons on the other hand are perfect for boys and girls. All the kids who tried this one did really well. I have omitted a few of the steps above just because of space. If you'd like the in between steps just leave me a comment and I'll get them to you.
As always, I like to let you know about ways you can expand these lessons to incorporate other aspects of a curriculum, and this lesson again can serve as a gateway to a wealth of learning...

Science: Dragons, could they have been another species of dinosaurs? What else could they have been? Explore the myths and legends surrounding these great mythological creatures.

History, Social Studies and Geography: Where and when are these legends coming from? What country and time period seems to have generated the majority of dragon lore? Learn about the Chinese New Year and what role dragons play in Chinese culture.

Language Arts and Literature: Read St. George and the Dragon, Retold by Margaret Hodges and Illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman or Droofus the Dragon by Bill Peete for younger kids.
Write dragon poems and stories. Create your own dragon legends.

Math: Estimation; how many scales might have a dragon have? How big is a dragon and how many square inches does a scale cover, then estimate how many scales it would take to cover the whole dragon.

Art History: Learn more about Raphael at Art Smarts4 Kids or at Garden of Praise and try drawing your own dragons. The illustration at the beginning of this post was done with regular markers and blended with a blender marker.

Next up- Chinese Dragons.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Thiebaud's Tempting Treats

One of the hardest things to get art students to understand is that the process of creating art is far more important than the finished result. That being said, there are days when I really love my job all the more because the kids end up with absolutely gorgeous results. Today was one of those days and this was one of those kind of lessons that are a perfect fit for kids.
Wayne Thiebaud is best known for his dessert paintings and honestly what kid doesn't love dessert? This lesson presents an opportunity for kids to engage in fantasy, creativity, and wish fulfillment- all without a tummy ache or trip to the dentist.
Be forewarned, however, this lesson may result in overwhelming urges to visit Baskin Robbins or Coldstone Creamery!
We started off by watching this video about Thiebaud I found on YouTube and posted over at Artist of the Week for kids. After this we looked at individual pieces and discussed the shapes that the artist used to create all these goodies. From oval to cylinder and triangle to wedge. How to layer scoops on an ice cream cone, or half-circle sundae dish, or how to frost the cupcake, or add meringue and layers to pies, or even how to represent a slice taken out.
The kids were given free reign as to how many treats could be in their pieces, as well as their size and arrangement. We did discuss how artists use their space and that even though the individual objects may be small, there are enough of them in varied sizes to fill the space. We also discussed how artists tend not to leave backgrounds white or just plain but somehow tie then into the foreground. I am so very pleased at the results.

Most of these pieces were completed in tempera paint but a couple were done with this technique-color with washable marker and then use a Q-tip dipped in water to spread the pigment around. The result is a watercolor look without the hassle of watercolor paint and brushes.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Our Mode of Modigliani

By Zee Zee- Age 10

By Tatum- Age 7

Last week in art class we studied Amadeo Modigliani, these are just a couple of the beautiful pieces that the students came up with as well as links to the projects that inspired them and more information about the artist.

The above projects were completed with oil pastel and then baby oil was rubbed over the pictures with Q-tips to spread out and blend the paint.

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Stylized Stallions of Laurel Burch

Laurel Burch is probably best known for her colorful cats, but she painted lots of other animals too, and among them were horses. Burch's artwork was highly stylized in that you can tell what the subject is, but it is not necessarily realistic. In fact when you look at the work lots of influences seem to pop up which is part of what makes the artwork so interesting. All of these influences seem to blend together to create something very unique. There seem to be Greek and Roman influences all the way over to aboriginal and African Tribal influences as well.
Try your hand at this project and see what influences you!

This is the piece that inspired our projects.

The drawing instructions look like this (click on the step to enlarge the picture)...

We started off by drawing in pencil
then using a black sharpie to outline the pencil.
Next we added highlights with metallic markers.
Thirdly we added designs and patterns with oil pastel,
we didn't color large areas with either the metallic markers or pastels.
We did add color using watercolor pencils
then using q-tips dipped in water to go back over those colored areas.
The result was an oil pastel resist
the pieces came out just gorgeous.
Don't believe me? Well check these out...