First week of Art Class in 2013-14

The beginning week of school is behind us, and most of the ES students have come to the art studio for the first time. Kindergarten and Grade 1 will have their first class starting in Week 2, although some of the kindergarten students were kind enough to come upstairs to meet Mr. Reed and to see their new art studio.

Grades 2 – 5 enjoyed the incredible picture book ‘Chalk’ (see it in the YIS Library!) and then each had a warm-up art activity to get their brains and eyes and hands ready for the upcoming Unit 1 projects. Grade 2 worked with plasticine (playdough) in anticipation of their ‘Where We Are In Place And Time’ clay portrait project. Grade 3 were challenged to create paper sculptures as they prepare for their ‘Who We Are’ 3-D sculptural project. Grade 4 played with abstract designs in creating patterns as they look forward to their ‘Where We Are In Place And Time’ wearable fabric project. And Grade 5 drew two self-portraits (one with a mirror and one without) in preparation for their ‘Sharing The Planet’ project on conflict resolution.

You can see some of the children at work here over the past several days:

Drawing during vacation?!?!

I know that some students love drawing. Some of you love drawing after school, over the weekends, and on vacations. If you plan to do some drawing during the summer and want to practice your observational drawing (meaning that you want to learn to draw real things more realistically), then watch the following two videos.

This short instructional video reviews the basic steps to drawing realistically from observation (this mean: by looking closely at the thing you’re trying to draw):
*And always draw very LIGHTLY at first, so you can erase those lines easily later on.

The second video is a bit longer, reviews the same ideas, but goes into a bit more depth:

The key thing is to look closely at the different types of lines and shapes you see on the thing you’re drawing.

Don’t forget to have your eraser by your side. Erasing is important! It means that you’ve noticed something about your drawing that you can do better! So just erase your first effort and try again.

“If you are not making mistakes, you’re not taking enough risks.” – Debbie Millman, artist & designer



Young Artists Group ESA propose a new mural for Y.I.S.

After finishing their first mural (check it out here), the ten young artists who participate in the Young Artists Group ESA began preparing for their next visual adventure, another effort to increase the on-campus art here at YIS.  The chosen space is the wall at the bottom of the outdoor stairway leading from the ES level up to the main building and library.

It should be noted that there has been an existing mural on the wall which was made some years back by YIS students (a number of whom are still here at school!). The existing artwork had some simple colors — early green and brown with a light blue sky above — painted on the concrete wall, as well as many colorful ceramic sculptures adhered to the wall to evoke a landscape.

The young artists decided to incorporate these clay sculptures into their new landscape idea, and so the ceramic pieces have been left intact. But what was needed was to start fresh with a so-called clean slate (or at least, a white concrete wall). And so part of our Session 3 ESA time was spend painting the wall with a permanent white paint, being careful not to cover the existing sculptures. The other part of our ESA time together was spent addressing the big challenge before us: What new image will we paint on the wall?

Realizing that the wall is part of our entire school and is for the enjoyment of the entire school community (students, teachers, parents, staff, and our visitors) the young artists had many discussions about what would be appropriate to represent. We focused the mural as a landscape with Japan as a theme, including incorporating a traditional Japanese pattern, and then — after much brainstorming and back and forth — finally voted for the five most important ideas to represent in the mural: Mt. Fuji, sakura, shinkansen, ocean waves, and cats & kittens.

The artists split themselves into two groups, and each produced a proposed illustration of what the mural might look like. Each group then created their own presentation, rehearsed it, and filmed it. The presentations and illustrations have been submitted to our director, Mr. MacDonald, along with all the principals and head administrators, and we are now awaiting their feedback.

You will have to wait until next year to see the outcome and watch the mural develop. In the meantime, above are some pictures of the young artists at work along with each group’s proposed illustration and their video presentations (see above).

5th Grade ponders mistakes and risk-taking as they prepare for Middle School

At the beginning of art class this week, the 5th graders were presented with a quote — “If you are not making mistakes, you are not taking enough risks” — by artist and designer Debbie Millman.

The students were asked to consider this idea about mistakes & risk-taking by responding to the following question: Why is this idea important for Grade 6 art students?  Below are their thoughts.

Tuesday, class 5G:

“Making mistakes is better because make you learn and thing [think].” – Ares

“I agree with this because when you try something new you take a risk and you make mistakes. It’s important in 6th grade because in 6th grade you try new things.” – Kiyoka

“I think this is important for us because we have to be risk-takers even you makes mistakes and humans are perfect and its okay to make mistake. You make mistakes, you learn form the mistakes and you get better.” – Reina

“Because if you don’t take a risk you will be shocked or you will think I can’t do this enymore.” – Sayo

“I think you need it for 6th graders because you’ll need to do a better job than now and you learn from mistakes.” – William

“I think that this tells people that if you can make mistake that mean you are taking risks. Because it proves that you are risk taking and you can trust yourself to make mistake. Because you can learn from mistakes.” – Sae

“I think making mistake is good because if you don’t make mistake it mean your not trying and if you make mistake you should try to make it better.” – James

” I think this is not true because making alot of mistakes mean to get scolded alot.” – George

“Because from taking risks you learn to always take risks and if you make mistakes you learn from them. So always taik a risk.” – Brazil

“I think it is not good to not take risk and making mistake because if you make a mistake you will learn a lot from it so you can do it better next time.” – Shannah

“I think that people should take risk to improve there skills and we need to take risk to talk.” – Phillip

“Because in 6th grade you do new things! It’s OK to make mistakes. Mistakes -> challenging. Mistakes -> take more risks. Mistakes -> it makes you become closer to perfect.” – Nina

“I think it because when you will be in 6 grade, you will take a lot of risk. So you need to try.” – Toma

“I think it is important for 6th graders because they need to know how do things right and better so for harder projects you will be able to do it easily. And when you take risks and get it right, then you find a new way to do things.” – Akhil


Wednesday, class 5W:

“This idea is important for the grade 6 because if they make something they already do they will never learn.” – Ryan

“Because that is the best way to learn and if you don’t make mistakes you’ll never know how to fix them.” – Lente

“This is important for Grade 6 art students because it shows them that they don’t have to be scared to make mistakes. It also tells them that life is all about taking risks, and if you take risks you try new things.” – Amelia

“Because if you don’t take risks you wont make mistake so you won’t try new thing. Because when you try new things you can learn from what you did.” – Isabelle

“I you don’t make mistakes it means that you are not trying new things. Because when you make mistake it means you were trying something but it didn’t do it as you expected. It’s important to learn from your mistakes.” – Ceci

“Do mistakes and learn by doing it. You should to mistakes and learned from it.” – Oscar

“This idea is good because when you get older you will have to do many more risks. And you can learn from those mistakes.” – Anna

“I think that is right because if you don’t make much mistakes, your not challenging yourself and if you don’t challenge yourself you won’t know how to do anything.” – Rei

“I think you are not taking enough risks because if you took risk you might fail. If you take risk you can learn new things.” – Kenryo

“It’s important because the point is to communicate. No matter if you make mistakes. Unless you communicate. Communicate helps your work gets better.” – Ryu

“Cause if you don’t take risk you’re not making mistakes and if you don’t make mistake you won’t learn anything. Also by taking risk you can get new ideas.” – Haruna

“It would be important because no boy in this work is not perfect. Which means it is impossible. You have to make mistakes because you will not learn.” – Everest

“It is important because it will make us risk takers, so that we can discover new ways of working.” – Athul

“I think it is important because if you don’t make mistakes, you can never learn.” – Meg

“I think if we make mistakes, we get experience.” – Leon

“It is important because if you don’t take risks you don’t know the outcome of the risk because then you don’t learn new things.” – Grace

“If you don’t take risk you would not learn anything. By making mistakes you learn new things.” – Hyun-Seo


Thursday, class 5B:

“I think its right because art is about playing around with paints and mixing stuff and if you’re too careful, you will not invents a new stuff and you will not sucess.” – Yu-Jin

“I think if you take risks that mens you not make mestakes. I think it is a good thing to take risks because wen you rode your first time your bicycle you take risks.” – Julian

“Because as you get older, you need more hard experience that means.” – Shoichi

“This matters ’cause if you do mistake you learn more about it. For example you go out to present a speech and you make a mistake and you do that in front of loads of people you take a risk.” – Hana E.

“If you take a risk, you can do more things to fix and create.” – Wongyung

“I think it is important for Gr 6 art students because you can improve your work by making a mistake.” – Vienna

“I think that is true because when I try doing a skill that I’ve never done before in gymnastics and I make mistakes, but whenever I do a skill that I already know, I don’t make any mistakes. When you make mistakes you can go further and you can improve.” – Elena

“It’s important because it means that you got a try to gues sometime so you will fail and learn from you’re mistakes.” – David

“It means you’re not trying your hardest at what your doing. Learn form your mistakes.” – Owen

“You won’t improve if you don’t make mistake and risks.” – Kai

“If you take risks you might find out that you are good at different thing. It is also important to try new thing.” – Liam

“This is important Gr. 6 students because if you don’t make mistakes you won’t be able to arrange the mistakes to a cool thing.” – Julynn

“Being messy is art and when you make mistakes you learn from it so if you don’t make any mistake, then you don’t get better.” – Andreas

“I think it’s important because if you don’t make mistakes you don’t learn anything.” – Kelly

“I think it is important for art because art dose not have a right answer. So people could learn from them or even fix it and change it a little bit.” – Hana C.

” I think this is important because if you don’t make mistakes, you can’t think in lots of ways.” – Shion

Dear 5th Graders, Here’s your final art project of Elementary School

We’ll discuss this project in more detail during class, but have a look here and start thinking about what you might create:

DISCLAIMER: As to the city of Yokohama giving us land to create and install forty-five different 100-foot tall sculptures, that’s actually not true. Nor is the construction of the 100-foot sculptures. Of course, you’ll still be creating small sculptures as if they were going to be built as the large public ones — just as working artists create models to present for commissions or for public art competitions.  This project is both an opportunity to use your imagination and to pretend that you are about to embark upon the biggest sculpture project of your young life. Have fun!

5th Graders & the visual presentation of the PYP Exhibition

The 5th Graders have been working diligently for over 4 weeks in preparation for their culminating PYP unit, the Exhibition. Each student (having identified and chosen a particular passion) works to research, develop, express, and present some aspect of his/her passion to the school community.

Given the amount of time students spend researching and writing and organizing their ideas, they want to be sure to present their passions — to communicate them visually — in the best manner possible. So, in art class, the focus has been on visual presentation. How do artists and designer present information visually which clearly communicates an idea and which is appealing, compelling, and/or striking to the eye?

The students have been focused on three design principles, Contrast, Unity, and Balance, as guidelines. And they have been challenged to think creatively so as to develop their Exhibition presentations beyond a simple panel of text & images.

Here are the students at work on various stages of their presentations:

5th Grade continues their expressive self-portraits on Peace & Conflict Resolution

Earlier in their homeroom classes, the 5th graders addressed the central idea that “there are many ways to create peaceful solutions 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 express each person’s understanding or belief about this theme.

We had to put this project on hold recently so as to focus on the visual preparations for their PYP Exhibition presentations.

Students were incorporating both drawing (pencil) and collage (magazines primarily) to represent their own faces and to communicate their particular belief or understanding about peace and conflict resolution. The students were also required to use text (words or sentences) in addition to imagery in their picture. Early on, students were instructed in ways of observing themselves in mirrors and depicting their faces by drawing, although the amount and type of drawing in this project is entirely up to each student.

We will continue on with this project following the Exhibition on April 23-24.

Here are the students in action:

5th Graders express beliefs via self-portraiture (and graffiti)

In their homeroom classes, the 5th graders have been addressing the central idea that “there are many ways to create peaceful solutions to conflict” by looking at how each student manages situations of conflict and interpersonal problems. And so in art class, we are taking this opportunity to create self-portraits that express each person’s understanding or belief about this theme.

Students are incorporating both drawing (pencil) and collage (magazines primarily) to represent their own faces and to communicate their particular belief or understanding about peace and conflict resolution. The students are also required to use text (words or sentences) in addition to imagery in their picture. Previously, students were instructed in ways of observing themselves in mirrors and depicting their faces by drawing, although the amount and type of drawing in this project is entirely up to each student.

Additionally, as some students have shown an interest in graffiti (see one of the videos we watched below), we have begun a 1×2 meter collaborative graffiti drawing. On a large paper on the wall, students take turns drawing for 5 minutes each with a black marker. The guidelines are: 1. draw locally 2. draw what you know 3. do not deface others’ art 4. no stick figures.

See the students at work here on both the self-portraits and the graffiti drawing:

Graffiti video of artist team “Mulheres Barbadas” (the Bearded Ladies):

MB @ Nova SP – MIS / SP from Mulheres Barbadas on Vimeo.

Yamate Art Exhibition 2012-13: E.S. art students on display!

The Yamate Art Exhibition is on!

A number of our elementary school art students have their artwork exhibited now in the annual Yamate Art Show: February 15 – 26 at Bluff No. 111 (Yamanote Ichibankan 111, tel. 045-623-2957) from 9:30-17:00 daily, 9:30-12:00 on Feb 26.

This art show is part of the Yokohama Yamate Art Festival and includes the artwork of students from several schools in the Yamate area, on view in other galleries located at: Bluff No. 234, Berrick Hall (St. Maur), Bluff No. 18, Diplomat’s House, and Osaragi Jiro Memorial Museum.

Do come visit the Y.I.S. student gallery at Bluff No. 111 and see the energy, efforts, and two- & three-dimensional creativity of our Kindergarten through Grade 5 artists! If you can’t, see the images below for a sampling of what you’re missing!

5th Graders focus on self-portraiture and observation

Having completed their Impressionism-inspired paintings before the winter holidays, the fifth graders have been spending some time focused intensely on themselves — in a very artistic manner, that is.

In preparation for their next project (a self-portrait drawing & collage piece on the theme of Peace and Conflict Resolution), the students have been warming up by doing some drawing focused on getting them to learn to look closely. Keen observation is one of the keys to drawing-what-you-see, and so the 5th graders spent some time doing blind contour drawings of themselves, of each other, and of their teacher. This activity challenges a person to draw while looking only at the subject, not at the paper, training the eyes to look closely at contours (edges) while the hand learns to follow along with the gaze. Later, the students did some modified blind contour drawings and then began doing some self-portrait practice which aimed to help them locate the features of their face both in the correct place and in proportion to one another.

Here is the video the students watched to learn about how to create their blind contour drawings:

Here is the video that showed the students how to modify the above method to create a more realistic self-portrait from observation: