Kindergarten explores painting with Eric Carle in mind

The Kindergarteners have started to read some Eric Carle books — colorful stories with illustrations by the author.  As Eric Carle does, the students are beginning to experiment – to play – with a variety of tools and paints in preparation for using their painted creations to make collage pictures.  Lately, the students used paintbrushes, palette knives, forks, sticks, steel wool, corrugated paper, and their fingers to manipulate and mix the paint on their papers.  Concurrently, the students are learning to care for their art tools and materials, to be independent in preparing to paint and in cleaning up their work area afterwords, and to talk about their ideas and their explorations.

4th Grade continues constructing their Ainu-inspired garments

The 4th Graders have been working hard on turning their plans for individual, Ainu-inspired garments into reality.  Based on their sketchbook designs, the students have been using colored cloth, fabric pastels, and fabric paint on tan-colored muslin cloth to bring their symmetrical, abstract designs to life.  It has not been easy to translate small, colored pencil designs on paper to large, cloth patterns, but the students have persevered and hope to have their garments ready for their November 14th presentation — during which they will wear their garments during a performance celebrating the learning about the Ainu they have been doing thus far this year.

3rd Graders complete another stage of their Letter Sculptures

The 3rd Graders have made much progress as they near the completion of their letter sculptures.  They have finalized their designs and plans and are currently painting and constructing the details which personalize their sculptures: colors, images, and objects which describe them individually and as “3rd graders”.  Collaboration has been a major aspect of this projects, and the students have made much progress in learning to be open-minded & caring, communicators & risk-takers.

5th Graders begin to create personalized Impressionist paintings

The 5th graders have been looking at the Impressionist painters and their very different way of looking at the world.  Just as these 19th century artists chose to incorporate their own world into their artwork (rather than focus on traditional subject matter), so the 5th graders are creating a way of inserting a bit of lives and their interests into their paintings.  Having worked for several weeks to learn to mix colors on their color wheels and charts (primary colors, secondary colors, tints, shades, and complementary colors), each student has now chosen a particular Impressionist painting to copy – in the style and palette of the Impressionists – and also to alter so as to personalize the artwork.

In order to understand how the Impressionists’ painting technique differed from others, the fifth graders watched this short instructional video.  It emphasizes the use of small, short brushstrokes, dots, and dabs, in many variations of a single color over the application of large areas of a single color.


Kindergarten students progress with their 3-dimensional artwork

The Kindergarten students — focused on how personal journeys show how people change — have finished drawing and coloring their three self-portraits (in three stages of life: past, present, future), and they have been assembling these paper creations into hanging sculptures. Concurrently, the students are also working three-dimensionally in a different medium: a soft, pliable playdough called ‘paperclay’ which allows them to practice various manual manipulations (rolling, pinching, pounding, pushing, carving) and to use and combine it with various other media, such as wire, wood, and plastic.

1st Grade begins their sculptures of living things

The 1st Graders — having focused on the central idea that people have an impact on the environment — have been discussing and drawing, in art class, the many different living things that make up our natural environment. Now, the students are turning their large 2-dimensional drawings into 3-dimensional sculptures of each student’s favorite creature — using pencils, paper, paint, newspaper, and staples. Later, we will turn the 1st grade hallway into our imaginary natural environment, filled with these animals, fish, bird, and insects.

4th Grade begins constructing their Ainu-inspired garments

These symmetrical and abstract designs are inspired by the actual garments worn by the Ainu people of northern Japan.  Students have been looking at patterns and tessellations — specifically the artwork of M.C. Escher, a Dutch artist who was inspired in his cross-European travels to Southern (Moorish) Spain — and they are basing their designs on the various motifs used in Ainu culture and are also adding an original motif of each student’s own design.  The children are using their sketchbooks to plan their ideas and are now constructing the garments out of fabric.


Previously, the students began creating their own, personalized tessellations based on Escher’s artwork. The students saw various examples of the work Escher did before and after his cross-cultural journey, such as these. In beginning their own tessellations, the students watched this instructional video to learn a method of creating a patterns of unique interlocking shapes:

Watch artist David Hockney paint a landscape ‘en plein air’

How do artists paint landscapes?  There are various approaches to creating a picture of the outdoors.  ‘En plein air’ is a French expression which means “in the open air”, and is particularly used to describe the act of painting outdoors.  In the following video, we see British artist David Hockney painting a landscape in the Yorkshire Woods of England, observing the sky, earth, trees, and foliage around him and then translating his observations onto a canvas by making marks and lines with his brushes loaded with paint.

The Impressionist painters — over a century ago — also painted landscapes, and many of them were committed to doing so ‘en plein air’.  The 5th grade art students have been getting to know the Impressionist painters and some of the events of their time period — as they prepare to create their own versions of Impressionist art.  Though we won’t be painting en plein air, each 5th grader will base his/her picture on a chosen painting by an Impressionist artist and then will transform it into a more personal artwork by the addition of a uniquely individual element/image.

*5th graders: notice how Mr. Hockney establishes the horizon as the first step to creating his landscape!