Amezaiku: a traditional Japanese candy craft art

In art class this week, the children are watching this video, to see a glimpse into a small and disappearing subculture of art & cuisine. In Tokyo, you can visit the workshop or showroom of this artist, Shinri Tezuka, who makes amezaiku, traditional edible candy sculptures.

It is said Japanese amezaiku originated in the 8th century. During the Edo period, craftsmen peddled amezaiku on the street, as a kind of entertainment for the common people. The technique of amezaiku has no detailed written documentation and has been inherited from person to person over generations. Today in Tokyo, there are only two remaining Amezaiku craftsmen.

Tezuka-san’s website can be viewed HERE (in English) and HERE (in Japanese).

Grade 1 Reflects on Personal Histories in Family Portraits

In their homeroom classes the Grade 1 students studied how family history provides insight into one’s own personal identity. So in art class the students reflected on their classroom discussions and then drew and painted and colored their self-/family-portraits. In this unit — focused on the concept of REFLECTION — each student developed the background of his/her picture by adding imagery from the memory of family events or from knowledge of his/her family’s history. In the foreground of each student’s picture is their own self-portrait, drawn & painted from observation, using mirrors.

See the students at work, above, reflecting on their own family histories and attempting to depict them through various processes: drawing from observation, drawing realistically, practicing mixing new colors, and depicting details so that the audience can understand the stories and events.

Created in response to a range of stimuli (photos, storybooks, conversations, sharing of personal experiences), students made personal connections to their artworks as they developed. The task proved challenging as the students had to reflect — on their inquiries in the homeroom class and at home with parents — to determine how to represent, visually, what they envision in their minds and what they can discuss verbally.

Art students begin their first units of inquiry

The elementary students are a few weeks into their art classes now, working on their first unit projects. Students are learning — little by little — about themselves as creators, about how to communicate, to take risks, to reflect on their work, and about how to be independent, responsible art students.

Kindergarten  –  In our first unit of inquiry, we’ve started by looking at the concept of Change and how personal journeys show the way that people change and can lead to new opportunities. These young artists have observed and discussed a variety of other artists’ self-portraits, have drawn their own self-portraits from observation, have experimented with a variety of materials as they developed their drawings, and explored different lines, shapes, and colors in creating 3-D crowns. At the same time, the students are becoming familiar with the elementary school art studio, learning what and where our materials and tools are, and practicing being responsible, cooperative classmates in storing their artwork properly and cleaning up their workspaces.

Grade 1  –  Families, family history, and the concept of Reflection are our focus at the moment, in our unit about Where We Are In Place And Time. The young students are practicing how to draw people realistically, both by observation — using mirrors — and with a step-by-step drawing process, from simple shapes and lines to more complex details. We will soon be reflecting on our own family histories. Later, each young artist will create a large family portrait as a way to communicate his or her unique family history.

Grade 2 – These young artists are focusing on the concept of Connection and how people can be enriched by their own cultures and the cultures they connect with throughout their lives, in this first unit about Where We Are In Place And Time. In art class, they have been practicing various modeling techniques with playdough in creating realistic human heads — using their hands and a variety of tools. Soon, the students will focus on a particular person in each of their lives, someone with whom each student celebrates a certain, significant cultural event. And the students will then create original sculptures of these people using clay and colored glazes.

Grade 3 – Three-dimensional sculpture and the concept of Reflection are the current focus for these students, along with the overarching notion that exploring and creating collaboratively helps individuals understand themselves and each other better. Thus far in this unit looking at Who We Are, these young artists made several practice sculptures, experimenting with different methods of manipulating paper. Now they are beginning to work collaboratively in small groups to create large sculptures, in a variety of media, which reveal something about themselves and their interests, individual strengths, and desires.

Grade 4 – The Grade 4 students are currently learning about organisms in this Sharing The Planet unit, focusing on the concept of Connection. In art class they are beginning to see how the natural world can be a rich source for imaginative artistic creation. We are looking at several artists who use nature as inspiration for imaginative, fantastical imagery. The students are now practicing drawing nature from observation and will soon attempt to transform these realistic sketches into imaginative pictures of whatever fantasies their minds create — all with a focus on the connections between the world outside us and the world we create inside our minds.

Grade 5 – In their homeroom classes, these students have been focusing on the idea of conflict, on how conflict affects lives, and on the concept of Perspective, in this first Sharing The Planet unit. In art class, we have been looking at, discussing, and practicing how to create self-portraits. The students are also learning that portraits can be either realistic or abstract, that faces need not look ‘perfect’ to represent someone or their feelings or personality. Soon the students will reflect on a situation of conflict in their own lives and attempt to communicate it through a self-portrait, and they will have elements in their portraits which are both realistic and abstract.

Welcome to Art Class 2016-17

AReed profile pic

Hello students and parents,

It’s Mr. Reed here, getting ready to begin learning and working and creating with the Kindergarten and Grade 1, 2, 3, 4, & 5 students in Art Class!

I wish you a warm welcome back to school for those of you who are returning, and for those of you new to Y.I.S. and/or to Japan, I hope you are finding your way around well (please don’t hesitate to ask questions).

We’re soon to begin our ES art classes, to reacquaint ourselves with one another, to welcome our new classmates, and to dive right into our first art projects. As you know, the ES art classes follow the Primary Years Program (PYP) and are well integrated into the work the children are doing across their various classes and subjects. It’s an exciting place to learn and grow and push new boundaries.

I look forward to meeting you at the upcoming Back To School Night on Wednesday, September 7th. Please do feel free to drop into my classroom — room E-203, upper floor, K-1 building — at anytime to ask questions or simply to say ‘hello’.

Best to you all in 2016-17,

Aaron Reed

Grade 1 creates life cycle dioramas

photo © by A.Reed

photo © by A.Reed

In their homeroom classes, the Grade 1 students examined how all living things go through a process of change. With Ms. Zoe and Ms. Saito the students looked at the cycles of life, how the creatures in our world change over their lifetime. And so in art class we have focused on the key concept of Change, as the children created artwork in response to a variety of stimuli. In so doing, they were challenged to identify a chosen living creature, to plan a way to visually display its particular life cycle, and then to make specific choices of materials, tools, and processes.

The students came to art class with much knowledge and many ideas from their homeroom inquiry. And after several weeks of work, they recently completed their life cycle dioramas — having utilized colored paper, pencils, colored pencils, oil pastels, scissors, staplers, soil, sticks, leaves, playdough, toothpicks, popsicle sticks, paint & paintbrushes, beads, rocks & pebbles, paste, wire, hot glue guns, and other media. Ultimately, these art students have attempted to transform ideas and materials into three-dimensional dioramas designed to educate their audience (parents and other students) about the various life cycles of living creatures.

photo © by A.Reed

photo © by A.Reed

The parent-sharing day is coming soon. All their dioramas are currently on display in the Grade 1 classrooms. Come have a look!

Grade 1 students create environmental treasures

In their homeroom classes, the Grade 1 students looked at the rights and responsibilities of people and living things — looking at how people have an impact on the environment. With Ms. Zoe and Ms. Saito the students discussed and considered our natural environment as well as the impact of the choices people make on that environment. And so in art class we have learned about sculpting and drawing living things (animals, insects, fish, birds, and so on) so as to transform to our downstairs hallway outside their Grade 1 classrooms. The students began by drawing various living creatures from observation (photographs) and then constructed large, three-dimensional paper sculptures of their favorite living creatures. It is these sculptures — these treasures — which now fill the hallway.

The following video shows the process the Grade 1 — and all ES students — use to become proficient at drawing what they see.  Limited to 10 minutes, the video is a basic overview and does not cover all the finer points of observational drawing. (Students can use this video to practice drawing at home)

how to draw what you see from YIS Academics on Vimeo.

The students first drew pictures and made small playdough sculptures of living creatures as a way to recreate their ideas in both two and three dimensions. We also read the books  The Butterfly’s Treasure by Schim Schimmel and Oi Get Off Our Train by John Burningham, both of which convey the beauty of the natural world and allude to the fragility of our environment. The students have had a variety of interesting reactions to these stories. We also had an opportunity to look at photographs of various living things and of the environments that they live in, and the students thus had the chance to observe and comment on how human beings can affect the natural environment and why they do so.

The Butterfly’s Treasure storybook cover (photo by A. Reed)

The children finished their large 3-dimensional sculptures of each student’s favorite creature in art class — using pencils, paper, paint, staples, foam, toothpicks, buttons, pipe cleaners and various other media — learning to express their opinions about art and to engage with and to enjoy a variety of visual art experiences. Now that all the sculptures are complete and the students have had a chance to reflect upon their work, the 1st grade hallway has been turned into our imaginary natural environment, filled with these “treasures”: animals, fish, bird, and insects. The students hope you will come visit their 3D art exhibition soon.


Our Young Artists Exhibit

The annual YIS Elementary School Art Exhibition has begun!

DATE & TIME: Saturday February 12 – Sunday February 21, 9:30-17:00 daily.

VENUE: Bluff No.111, adjacent to the fountain across the main street from Yokohama International School, is a Western-style house & cafe with a dedicated room for the exhibition of our students’  artwork.

This exhibition is part of the Yokohama Yamate Art Festival and includes the artwork of students from several schools in the Yamate area, each exhibiting at a different venue. All are welcome to visit our young artists’ exhibition and to view the energy, efforts, and two- & three-dimensional creativity of the 93 Kindergarten through Grade 5 artists whose artworks are on display.


CC BY-NC-ND 3.0: Aaron Reed & Nanako Yamaguchi

CC BY-NC-ND 3.0: Aaron Reed & Nanako Yamaguchi

E-learning for art class – January 18, 2016

Hi boys & girls,

Because of the storm, some of you (2C, 2M, 3B, 3N, plus the Young Artists Group ESA students) will be missing your art class today. I’m certainly sorry about that.

CC0 Public Domain

CC0 Public Domain

Grade 2: Remember how you practiced drawing EXPRESSIONS & FEELINGS last week in art class? Look in your storybooks at home today and try to find pictures of characters which have different expressions. How many can you find? Try drawing your favorite ones. It’s OK to copy them because copying can be a good way to practice your drawing, so long as you don’t claim it was your original idea.

Grade 3: You finished working on Unit 3, and we will be starting Unit 4 next week. You will be expressing your view of Responsibility through your own comic strip. So today, why not have a look at some of your favorite comic strips and cartoon characters? Try drawing a few of the characters you particularly like.

Also, you can do your own art class at home today! Click on the Online Art Resources tab at the lefthand side of this page and try some of those art activities on your laptop or iPad. Which ones do you like? I hope you will enjoy them. But you don’t need a computer today… just a pencil and some paper, maybe a few markers or colored pencils, or what about playdough? Did you know that you can make your own playdough? Find out HERE (and be sure to ask Mom or Dad for help when making it).

Stay inside and safe today, but don’t forget to look out the window too and see how the environment around you — the sky, trees, land, plants — looks different during a storm such as this. And listen to the sounds! Did you ever try to draw a sound? An artist named Arthur Dove tried to paint sounds. Look at his painting below and try to guess what sound this is (you can write a comment below if you have an answer):

This artwork may be protected by copyright. It is posted on the site in accordance with fair use principles.

This artwork may be protected by copyright. It is posted on the site in accordance with fair use principles. —More info