Finding Rousseau at the Zoo

For my journaling purposes, I need to finish documenting my lessons for the year. We pretty much took our zoo field trip as our inspiration, and I pulled out Henri Rousseau as our mentor artist, since he pretty much used the zoo as his reference for his jungle paintings, too.  Seventh grade did Rousseau-inspired jungle scenes in acrylic, hopefully using skills they had spent the year learning. Third-sixth grades benefitted from a lesson taught by Fun Art for Kids making watercolor elephants out of washable marker. We expanded it to include any solid gray animal from the zoo, and gave it a Rousseau-like background. My own son’s:

drinking elephant

All the students’ wonderful elephants, hippos and rhinos can be seen at our Artsonia.  First and second grade drew oil and watercolor resist tigers from guided observation. They then hid them behind cut-paper grass, sort of Rousseau-style. Kindergarten drew their favorite zoo scene.

I think the kids really felt empowered by creating art from a real experience. It also helped to know a famous artist had been inspired by the same kind of thing! I think the tigers were VERY successful. They each had their own personalities, and the kids were all excited at their own results. No whining on this one!

The gray zoo animals had some interesing issues. A few kids didn’t like where a few marker lines went and, without checking with me, “corrected” using liquid paper. Interesting. In every case we could have made the stray lines wrinkles or a tail or something, but instead on our finished piece we have funky sections that obviously didn’t bleed and show more now that the image was “watered.” Interesting lesson learned by the students. Also, there was a marker or two that hardly bled at all, but I had trouble figuring out what brand that was. I really do need to know, because I certainly want to avoid them in the future! Mostly, though, the kids had fun with this, too! It was a good project to end with, because it wasn’t too hard, and it had that cool surprise factor. This is definitely a project I would repeat.

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