Grade 4 artists use organisms to spur their imaginations

In their homeroom classes, the Grade 4 students have been studying organisms and cultivating their garden. They have been focused on the central idea that “organisms rely on one another” while in art class we’ve been engaged in the visual art inquiry into how “the natural world is a rich source for imaginative artistic creation”.

Photo: A. Reed

Photo: A. Reed

Students began their two-part drawing project by, first, focusing on organisms (in this case, plants) and on the realistic depiction of them through close observation. We looked at how we focus first on the simple shapes and lines found in the plants’ leaves and stems; then, how we refine the shapes and lines into something more closely approaching the actual plants; and finally, how we add the many small details which brings the image to its realistic conclusion.

Photo: A. Reed

Photo: A. Reed

Then the students moved on to the second stage of the project. Having left areas of their paper blank, these young artists then had to tap into their imagination — considering the plant drawing they’d just finished in color — and continue the drawing by depicting some imaginary, fantastical imagery. We discussed how artists do this: sometimes by thinking of their own interests and drawing those (animals, movie characters, patterns, particular colors); sometimes by closing their eyes and letting their minds wander; sometimes by looking around and noticing pictures or words in their immediate environment, one of which might spur a memory or thought or other image. We made available an “imagination box” just in case — a small box with printed words inside of it (“space”, “machine”, “food”, “cartoon”) that might help students tap into their own imaginations.

Photo: A. Reed

Photo: A. Reed

In the end, the Grade 4 artists had the opportunity to practice different approaches to drawing — via observation and imagination — in the creation of original artworks begun in the natural world and ended in the world of their own imaginations.

Grade 2 artists create culturally-specific clay sculptures

The Grade 2 students have been focused on the central idea that people can be enriched by their own cultures and the cultures they connect with throughout their lives. In art class we are focused on the personal connections the children make through their cultural celebrations.

Photo: A. Reed - CC BY-NC-ND

Photo: A. Reed – CC BY-NC-ND

The Grade 2 art students are creating clay sculptures: original artifacts of each student’s experience in reflecting on a cultural celebration that he/she experiences with family (and/or friends).  Having chosen a particular person whom the student associates with this cultural celebration, the children have moved from the practice (play dough) stage to the final (clay) stage of their sculptures: currently the sculptures are drying and will soon be put in the kiln for the first firing.

Photo: A.Reed - CC BY-NC-ND

Photo: A.Reed – CC BY-NC-ND

The students have used these two videos to assist them in their work and to allow them to work at their own pace, accessing the desired instruction as needed. The first video focuses on the basic head, eyes, nose, and mouth forms:

The second video addresses additional details such as the teeth, lips, eyelids/eyelashes/eyebrows:

And — as the human nose seemed to be the most challenging facial feature to model — a third video was created later, as it became apparent that some students needed alternative approaches to sculpting a nose:

Having modeled and carved a head, eyes, nose, mouth, ears, hair, and the related details in clay, the students attached the heads to a clay base and engraved the subject’s name. Once bisque-fired, the sculptures will be glazed in color and finally glaze-fired.  The artworks were unfortunately not completed in time for display at the Cross Cultural Lunch on last Friday October 3; however, photographs of their works-in-progress were showcased there.

Here are some images of the students at work in art class:
(unfortunately, FLICKR slideshows are not compatible with phone/tablet displays)

Grade 5 self-portraits about conflict via drawing, color, and abstraction

In their homeroom classes and in drama class, the 5th graders have been addressing the central idea that “differences in beliefs and values are factors leading to conflict” by looking at how each student manages situations of conflict and interpersonal problems. And so in art class, we were taking this opportunity to create self-portraits that communicate each person’s experience with or feelings about this theme.

These young artists initially identified a personal situation of conflict (during a drama class lesson) and used this event as a catalyst for their art project. These young artists have spent time discussing and reflecting on these conflicts, learning different approaches to drawing realistic facial features, and exploring and practicing geometric and organic abstraction in paint. Now they are in the final stages of putting their new learning together to create their final self-portrait — attempting to convey their ideas both in a realistic and in an abstract manner. These self-portraits are each made up of:

  • in the foreground: a pencil and ink image of themselves — drawn from life using a mirror, showing a facial expression indicating the feelings aroused by this situation of conflict
  • a background: an abstract painting — either geometric, organic, or both — utilizing specific colors as symbols of the student’s feelings about this situation of conflict

Soon after completion, the students will evaluate their ideas and the execution of their work:

  • How did you communicate in both realistic and abstract manners?
  • What did you learn during this project which was new to you?
  • What could you have done better? What would you do differently if you made this self-portrait again?

The finished self-portraits will be displayed here on this blog upon completion. Come back and look for them!