School kinders recently finished a collage project based on the Eric Carle book Mister Seahorse.
We painted warm, textured papers for our future seahorses, and cool, wavy watercolor papers for our sea background. Then we walked through a guided observation of real seahorses in photos, noting the curvy lines and the spiral in the tail, similar to our cobras. I took liberties and loosely tied our seahorse to Mexico. All that coastline, you know. Then I turned them loose to draw, on the back of their warm painted papers, their first SOLO drawing from observation! A few were afraid to try, but as they watched me encourage and praise the braver students who applied curved lines to paper and tried to create the contours of a seahorse, my timid artists jumped in after them. We cut out and glued our seahorses to the watercolor sea, with the exception of one fellow who got the papers mixed. Either way, the results were striking, I think. A few Mister Seahorses:
A mister seahorse with a baby.
a big-nosed mister seahorse
the warm-water seahorse...love that smile!
There are a few tried and true lessons that kinders can be counted on to really enjoy and feel successful with, and as much as I love to try new art projects, I can’t deny these fledgling artists the opportunity to crow with the sense of accomplishment. In the fall particularly, they love to tell parents “I did that!” when they draw their pumpkins after the annual pumpkin patch field trip, and when they paint their sunflowers.
I love how quickly these little ones catch on to the concept of contour lines, but this year’s kinder class was especially sharp. After I followed a glue bottle’s contour on the white board with marker and showed the result, before I even called up a student to be my next contour model, one of them cried out, “We have a contour line!” They were excited to try to transfer their perception of my pumpkin’s contour to their papers in oil pastel. This was also their first formal oil pastel project, and they were so excited to see how the colors layered and blended. This year’s class at Faith may be a rambunctious little group, but they are also excited to learn and quick to apply what they do learn. Some first pumpkins:
Homeschoolers get to draw pumpkins, too. Note that our pumpkins are still growing out of the ground, like the ones they visit on their field trip.
We also paint sunflowers. We observe real sunflowers, too, and start their centers with oil pastel. In the past, we have painted our petals, double dipping to mix our paint on the paper. This year I wanted to try something new, and tested it on my class of 5 homeschoolers first. (Poor guinea pigs.) This time I introduced spatter painting and we spattered yellow and black over our center dots. Then we glued torn tissue paper (using liquid starch) petals around our center dot, and then painted our black outline. The kids seemed to have a lot of fun, and I think their sunflowers turned out quite dramatic, but it was a MESS. The capital M kind. I’ve done all these things before, but never all on one project. I had a wonderful time and would repeat it again with any group of a half dozen or less kinders, but I do NOT plan to take it to school! Those kinders will joyfully paint their sunflowers.
I’m getting ready to introduce Africa in September, and thankfully don’t have to do a model for Kinders, as they will repeat the always loved line and pattern tortoise. Actually, I would link to that lesson, but find I have NEVER BLOGGED IT! (gasp) Ok, I’ll put one up of that later, with credit to its original author.
This lesson is for my first and second grades. Our focus in Africa for all grades is texture and pattern. To me, apart from the very strong emphasis on form in African art, there is a lot of opportunity to practice texture and pattern. And really, as you look at God’s creation of and in Africa, how could those elements NOT dominate their art? They are so strongly evident throughout Africa! So my students, after some guided observation of texture and pattern in Africa itself, will look for it in African art. Then, with that inspiration, we will take our tempera paints and biggest bristle brushes, with a variety of texture tools, and create a colorful page of texture as a background for our giraffe. I am showing my model as I intend it to end up, but right now my giraffe is just lying on his background so that I can introduce this stage separately from him.
On our second day, we’ll do a guided line drawing of a giraffe on a yellow construction paper, then cover him in torn-paper spots from brown construction paper, using real giraffe spots as a guide. I want to emphasize craftsmanship with our glueing; we have trouble with this. We will then glue our giraffes to our texture paintings. Mine will extend above the paper, because I liked the way it looks, but they can put their giraffes anywhere they want. This could extend to a third day, depending on how focused my students turn out to be. I had fun with this project, so I hope they do, too!
(Student results on this hallway display.)
For some reason most of my February lessons seem to be hanging around into March. I thought I would be done with these, but the kids showed me differently. We are currently wrapping up first and second grade still life collages:
model for bowl of grapes
Some of the grapes still have no highlights or shadows, because I have yet to demonstrate this to the class (will do Thursday), and this is my demo piece, after all. I hope they see how magically their grapes become 3D! We have stickers to help them remember the direction of their light source, but I know this will be challenging. This project will be accompanied by a very little lesson on John 15:5.
Kindergarten will finish their springtime snowshoe hare collage:
- spring showshoe
The primary goal of this project is really to practice cutting curves, which is another goal on the above older classes’ grapes as well. They also practice overlapping, which so far has only partially been successful. But that is what practice is for, right?
And yesterday we had another day of illuminated manuscripts in fifth and sixth grades (which I think will finish up next week), and abstract landscapes of the Flint Hills in third and fourth grades, which are sooooo close to being finished! My demo included some “mistakes” to help the children see the importance of stroke direction with their oil pastels. It originally had some hills left blank as well, so I could demo how to get the light effect of the waving brown grasses.
Flint Hills demo
Seventh grade began their watercolor landscapes of the Flint Hills two weeks ago. They have very little experience with watercolor, or landscape for that matter, so we are taking it very slowly, small steps at a time. I expect to finish toward the end of March.