Wednesday, December 15, 2010


What a fun day, and a great way to wrap up before our 2 week break! In ATCs, kids did student-choice cards and then spent quite a bit of time trading at the end of class.
In Explorations in Art, we spent some time talking about the qualities of abstract painting and sculpture. We toured the gallery and discussed works by some very famous artists. 
Some of the artists featured this week were Marc Chagall, Constantin Brancusi, Piet Mondrian, Pablo Picasso . . . 
. . . Paul Klee, Elaine Marie de Kooning, Henri Matisse, and John Marin.
Afterward, students created gorgeous abstract mixed media works using watercolor and Sharpee markers. Anyone who had trouble getting their "Abstract Groove" on was encouraged to use their non-dominant hand--always a great way to loosen up!
In Ceramics I and II we spent the entire class time applying glaze to our bisque fired works. The goal was to have everything glazed prior to our winter break, but we just didn't have enough time. 
We'll spend another class period in January just doing glazing. So, kids, if you have any ceramics at home that you still want to glaze, bring them in after break!
As always, we listened to some wonderful music all throughout class. Many kids were especially taken with a particular group, Mannheim Steamroller. So, if you asked about the music and can't remember the name of the group, there you go! :)
Just a reminder that we'll only have 2 more weeks of school before the end of the semester!
I hope you all enjoy your 2-week break, and return rested and ready to create some more incredible art!
Happy Holidays, Everyone!
See you Next Year!!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Murals, Mixed Media Miniatures, and Last Wet Clay Day!

We continued our work with mixed media collage in ATCs, ACEOs, and Art in Miniature this past week. Students created colorful backgrounds, and then attached cutouts from magazines to create fun and whimsical mixed media miniatures . . .
Best Buy by Rylee, Mixed Media Miniature
These were a lot of fun to create, and will be displayed inside student portfolios at the end-of-semester Art Show. Don't miss it!
 More mixed media miniatures!
We continued our tour through Art History and The Gallery when we viewed and discussed the art (and history!) of Murals. Students learned about the various materials used to create murals, beginning in pre-history and continuing through modern times.
Woman Playing the Kithara, c. 40-30 B.C., Roman Mural
Following our discussion and gallery tour, young artists set about making a group mural. While we couldn't do "real" murals, which would require applying our creative talents to the walls of our classroom . . .
Running Horses from Cave of Lascaux 
About 17,000 years old! (France) Mural.
. . . We did the next best thing: Collaborated and worked on a VERY LARGE sheet of paper!
The History of Medicine in Mexico (1953), Mural by Diego Rivera
The "murals" themselves will be displayed in the hallways during the Art Show, but following is a Sneak Peek of what you'll see:
In all Ceramics classes, we wrapped up our production work during "Last Wet Clay Day" this past week. Because we will only have two more "working" classes before the art show, all of the wares need sufficient time to dry and get fired before the end of the semester.
Head from a Chinese Wall Painting, Yuan Dynasty 
(c. 1271-1368) Mural.
Miss Bobbi sent an email to all of the parents, 
but here's another reminder: 
Please bring in all fired works next week! 
We'll be glazing and painting works during the next 2 class periods in preparation for the Art Show.
Primavera di Stabiae, Rome (c. 89 B.C. - 79 A.D.) Mural.
One more reminder: The coming week will be our last week of classes before Winter Break, and we won't return until 2011! Wow, this year has gone by FAST! :)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Landscape, Still Life, and Collage

To recap what we've been doing the past couple of weeks: The week of Nov. 15th, just before Thanksgiving break, we learned all about Landscapes!
 The one featured above is by Asher Durand, an artist of the Hudson River School (HRS), and is titled Kindred Spirits. This painting paid homage to fellow artist Thomas Cole, and to the poet William Cullen Bryant. We talked about how this particular landscape combines elements of the Clove of the Catskills and also Kaaterskill Falls, becoming an "imaginary" landscape built from real locations.
Henri Rousseau's Landscape with Cattle
We looked at a number of different styles of landscape painting, comparing Durand's, and the HRS's romanticism-inspired works to Rousseau's primitive style . . .
The Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh (1889)
. . . and compared these to the post-impressionism work of Vincent van Gogh. We marveled over the impasto of van Gogh's painting, and his use of curvilinear lines.
View from Mount Holyoke, Northampton, Massachusetts, after a Thunderstorm--The Oxbow (1836) by Thomas Cole
Students learned about the Rule of Thirds, and how it applies to landscape. Then, we took turns pointing out the how this rule was applied in each work of art on display before creating our own landscapes.
Henri Rousseau's Virgin Forest at Sunset (1910)
After returning from Thanksgiving break, we learned about the genre of Still Life, and how this particular type of art allows the artist some flexibility--through arrangement, palette, etc. We talked about how this becomes a good "exercise" for the artist in terms of honing their skills.
Chardin's Still Life: Apples, Pear, and White Mug
We talked about popular themes in still life: fruit, flowers, vases, fabric--basically, things from everyday life.  We also discussed the works with regard to balance and symmetry, light and shadow, realism vs. stylization, warm vs. cool, and so on. 
van Gogh's Irises (1890)
We also discussed how, in a successful composition, the viewer's eye will first "land" somewhere on the painting, then "take off" and travel around a bit, before returning where it initially landed. We took turns talking about how each of us viewed the paintings, and then analyzed why our eyes wanted to go to various places first--what the artist did to manipulate the way we unconsciously view the work.
Cezanne's Still Life (c. 1890-1894)
For instance, Cezanne gives us an island of warm in a sea of cool. All of the wonderful visual texture surrounding the fruit makes our eyes want to look at, or travel around, the rest of the work, but those warm colors force us to come back. Brilliant!

Finally, young artists worked on a still life that was set up in the center of the room. I've said this before but it bears repeating: We have some fantastic artists in our school!

In ATCs, ACEOs, and Art in Miniature, we had a BLAST working on small-scale collage. First, we browsed magazines to find a small picture, or the single element of a picture, then carefully cut it out. Once done, we decided where this element would go on our paper and then carefully drew & colored in the background. Once this was done, our cut-out was glued down to complete the composition. We'll be completing and/or continuing these projects in the coming week, so check back next week for photos!
That's right! Our last wet clay day will be this coming week (December 7th and 8th). Our works will need sufficient time to dry (become "bone dry") before they can be bisque fired. No worries, though, because we'll be super busy finishing works that have already been fired. Some things will require glazing (which means they'll need an additional firing), and some works will be finished in either acrylic paint or wax. Students: Please bring back any works that you would like to finish during the last few weeks of this semester. We'll be doing our "finishing" work on Dec. 14th-15th, and Jan. 4th-5th. 
Remember that WINTER BREAK is Dec. 20th-Jan. 3rd!
The End-of-Semester Art Show is Jan. 11th-12th!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Thanksgiving Break Approaches!

Hey, Kids! 

I'm a bit late posting for last week's classes because I've been a bit under the weather. I'll do a "make up" post soon.

We said good bye to Valencia this past week, who is moving to Dallas. She'll be missed, but has promised to stay in touch.
Norman Rockwell's Freedom From Want

As we prepare for Thanksgiving break, we'll spend the coming week working on our own versions of Ex Votos in many of the art classes. These are a lot of fun, and will be a nice way to illustrate our Thankful feelings with our families over the holiday.

I'm thankful to work with such a talented and cool bunch of kids!

See you in class! 
Miss Robin :)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Dona Nobis Pacem

Dona Nobis Pacem . . .
Fridden, Der Frieden, La Paix, Achukma, Mr Bosnian, Shalom, Heiwa, Salam, La Paz, La Pace, A Paz, Alaafia, Amaithia, Amani, Aman Malay, Amniat, Ashtee, Asomdwee, Aylobha, Bake, Barish, Beke, Booto, Budech, Chibanda, Dailama, Damai, Diakatra, Dodolimdag, eace-pay, Echnahcaton, Ets'a'an Olal, Eyewi Nez, Faddriampahalemana, Filemu, Fois, Fred, Friour, Goom-jigi, Gunnammwey, Hasiti, Hau, Hedd, Hmetho, Hoa Binh, Ilifayka, Innaihtsi'iyi, Iri'ni, Irq, Ittimokla, Kagiso, Kalilintad, Kapayapaan, K'e, Khanhaghutyun, Khotso, Kinuinak, Kiba-kiba, Kunammwey, Kutula, Kwam, La Paqe, La Patz, La Pau, Lape, Layeni, Ki-k-ei, Linew, Lumana, Mabuhay, Maluhia, Meleilei, Melino, Miers, Mina, Mtendere Chewa,, Muka-muka, Musango, Mutenden, Nabad-Da, Nanna Ayya, Nerane'i, Nimuhore, Nirudho, Nye, Olakamigenoka, Paci, Paco, Pax, Pingan, Pokoj, Pyong'hwa, Rahu, Rangima'aire, Rauha, Redamaian, Rukun, Saanti, Santipap, Saq, Shite, Shanti Bengali, Sholim, Siochain, Sith, Soksang, Solh Dari, Sonqo, Sulh, Taika, Tecocatu, Thayu, Tsumukikatu, Tuktuquil, Tutkinun, Udo, Ukuthula, Uvchin, Uxolo, Vrede Afrikaans, Waki Ijiwebis-I, Wetaskiwin, Wolakota, Wontokode, Wo'okeyeh . . .
Today is the international Blog Blast for Peace. People all over the world are celebrating and spreading the hope for Peace today. The Peace Globe featured above includes a linocut print that I created which is titled Many Beliefs, One Wish. I hope that you'll take some time today to visit the Peace Globe Gallery. Perhaps you'll even find some time to create one of your own to share with the rest of the world.

Happy Day, Everyone!
Wishing  you Peace!

Miss Robin :) 

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Portrait and Self-Portrait

Self-Portrait, 2010, by Elisabeth B. (Age 8)
Okay, I have to make a confession: Artist's self-portraits have always fascinated me, and are by far one of my favorite subjects! Needless to say, this week's Explorations in Art lesson on portraits and self-portraits is also my favorite discussion (and project!) so far this semester. Students got an opportunity to see a variety of artist's self-portraits, as well as a few very famous portrait paintings. After our tour of the gallery, students spent the remainder of the class period either capturing the likeness of one of their classmates, or doing a self-portrait!
Self-Portrait, 1997, by Chuck Close. Oil on canvas.

Portraits and self-portraits can be created in a number of ways, and also in a variety of styles. For instance, Chuck Close's self-portrait (above) is a pseudo mosaic of painted squares which, when viewed close up, appears very abstract. Viewed from a distance, though, it takes on a photorealistic effect--almost like looking at Close through wavy, clear glass. Since 1988, Close has been confined to a wheelchair, and has adapted his easel to spin in a circle for easy access to all parts of the canvas. Because he usually works on a very large scale, most painted works take about 2 months to complete.
Albrecht Durer's Self-Portrait at 28, 1500. Oil on panel.

Portraits and self-portraits are well documented throughout art history. Some of the more famous of these, the Faiyum (or Fayum) portraits date back to the 1st century B.C., and were created with encaustic (wax) and tempera on wood.
Faiyum mummy portrait, c. 1st century B.C.

La Gioconda, commonly referred to as the Mona Lisa, is probably one of the most celebrated and recognized portraits of all time. It, along with Grant Wood's painting, American Gothic, is one of the most copied paintings in the history of Art. 
La Gioconda (Mona Lisa) by Leonardo da Vinci, 1503-1506. Oil on wood panel (below left) . . . and Salvador Dali's Self-Portrait as Mona Lisa ( below right), 1954

Above left: Grant Wood's American Gothic, 1930. Oil on beaverboard. Above Right: Robin Hernandez' Atchison Gothic, 2006. Acrylic on canvas.
We talked quite a bit about how artists are inspired by the works of other artists, and will often "borrow from," copy, or work in the style of others. Student's saw, first-hand, the influence Gustav Klimt, Grant Wood, Andy Warhol, and Frida Kahlo had on a number of portraits (and self-portraits) done by their very own art teacher!

The great thing about self-portraits is that the artist always has a subject available and ready to be captured on paper or canvas (or in a 3-dimensional medium!). Students were strongly encouraged (and challenged!) to do at least 1 self-portrait per year for the remainder of their lifetime.
Self-Portrait as a Cyprus Tree, 2001. Ceramic, acrylic, and wax (left); and Self-Portrait in Cool and Warm, 2003. Oil on canvas (right) by Robin Hernandez.

Many artists have built their oeuvres around portraits and self-portraits. Albrecht Durer's earliest known self-portrait was created when he was a mere 13 years old, and he continued to use himself as a subject throughout his entire lifetime. 
Portrait of Josh B., 2010, by Keith C. (Age 11)

An artist most well known for her self-portraits is Frida Kahlo. She used this particular genre of painting to record events in her life and to express her feelings of pain and frustration. Because she spent a great deal of time confined to bed, she created much of her art while in the supine position, and used a mirror (attached to the bed above her) to do her work.
Self-Portrait Dedicated to Dr. Eloesser, 1940, by Frida Kahlo

Another artist well known for portraits and self-portraits is Andy Warhol, an icon of the Pop Art movement.
Andy Warhol's Self-Portrait, 1966. Silkscreen print.

Warhol was fascinated by celebrities and by popular culture. He used photos, either taken by him but often by others, to create colorful screen printed portraits. Often he would create multiple images of the same portrait. Sometimes he would re-ink the screen between printings, but more often he would create multiples from one inking which resulted in the degradation of the image.
Self-Portrait by Vincent van Gogh, 1889. Oil on canvas.

By now we've viewed many works by Vincent van Gogh, so students easily and quickly identify his work by the brush strokes and impasto of his paintings. He is another artist who did many portraits and self-portraits throughout his lifetime. According to Wikipedia, van Gogh painted himself 37 times between 1886 and 1889!
Dr. Martin L King by Diana Bracy. Fiber Art.
Students got the opportunity to see an original fiber (or textile) portrait done by artist Diana Bracy. Bracy uses assorted fabrics to create colorful, realistic portraits. Students in my ATC, ACEO, and Art in Miniature class will be interested to learn that Diana is also a big fan of ATCs and ACEOs, and if you visit her website, you'll get a chance to see miniature textile works by her, in addition to an amazing variety of portraits!
Self-Portrait by M. C. Escher, 1948. Lithograph

I feel pretty comfortable stating that any artist "worth their salt" has done one or more self-portraits throughout their career. 

Interestingly, many artists include very subtle (or not!) self-portraits within works that would be categorized as another genre. One of my absolute favorite artists who is "guilty" of this is Remedios Varo . . .
Exploration of the Sources of the Orinoco River, 1959.
Oil on canvas by Remedios Varo. In her book, Remedios Varo: Unexpected Journeys, author Janet A. Kaplan says, "The intrepid traveler in [this painting] is a most determined woman who bears particular resemblance to Varo herself."

. . . Varo created whimsical, dream-like surrealist worlds which were often filled with people--and sometimes animals--who looked just like her! 

I've often mentioned, in class, that artists will tend to depict people who look like themselves. Varo illustrates this point better than any amount of lecturing on my part, and does it in the most wonderful way!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Mixed Media ATCs and Design

We began a 2-week project in ATC class: Mixed Media ATCs! Students created wonderful little drawings on their watercolor ATC cards, then set about painting them with watercolors. Some students chose to use traditional watercolor palettes for their work, while others used watercolor pencils followed by wet brushes. Next week we'll add a second (or third! or fourth!) medium to finish the little jewels!
Anais' design features symmetry and balance. The mood is certainly happy!

Design was the topic of this week's Explorations in Art classes. All of the classes leading up to this were in preparation for this week's lesson. While touring the gallery, we discussed the myriad components that artists consider when designing a work of art. Students pointed out the more obvious design choices of the featured artist's work.
Edward Hicks' The Peaceable Kingdom, c. 1834, has a strong theme of "peace" and employs mostly a warm color palette. The mood is calm and peaceful.

Elements that make up design can include, but aren't limited to: Use of space, theme, line, color, symmetry, asymmetry, mood, light and shadow, perspective, pattern, balance, repetition, proportion, etc. Even a title can become or can influence a design choice.
The Child's Bath, 1893,  by Mary Cassatt has a very calm and soothing mood, with a mostly cool palette. Cassatt put a lot of pattern into this work.

We compared and contrasted the ideas of balance and symmetry, and discussed how a work of art can be very balanced while not necessarily being symmetrical.

Of particular interest was assigning a "mood" to each work of art, and identifying design choices the artist used to convey that mood.
Rosa Bonheur's The Horse Fair, 1853 is very balanced in the way the subjects gallop across the midline of the painting, and also in her use of cool and warm colors. Her painting evokes a sense of excitement and, with the rearing horses and oncoming storm, also a touch of possible danger.

And, of course, we learned some very interesting things about the artists featured in this week's gallery tour. For instance, we talked about Edward Hicks' theme of "peace," and how his life as a Quaker, and therefore a pacifist, would compel him to paint a scene such as the one in The Peaceable Kingdom . . .
Victorian Parlor II, 1945, by Horace Pippin is very symmetrical and has a great deal of pattern. His painting is very still and calm. Students decided that the occupants of his painting were tidy, and were also "very old; probably even 50 years old or older!"  :)

. . . and how Horace Pippin was a self-taught artist! We noted the lack of perspective and proportion in his work, but marveled over his use of pattern and symmetry.

We talked about Mary Cassatt's travels to France, where she first encountered Impressionism, and then later returned to the States where she gained fame as one of the first American Impressionists.
Scary, screamy, and anxious! The Scream, painted by Edvard Munch in 1893 evoked some fairly dark "mood" words by students, though almost all of them admitted to really liking this particular work! The strong diagonal lines which seemingly cut through the central figure, the strong swirling colors, and the expression and rendering of the "screamer" all help to create and enforce the mood.

And most students quickly identified Edvard Munch's The Scream as a very famous painting. Easily half of the students also knew the title! Students: Do you remember the proper way to pronounce Munch's name? :)

Ceramics I and II students received some bisque-fired wares back this week. Right now we're in "Production Mode" in ceramics classes, so I won't be posting many photos. Near the end of the semester, though, when we've had an opportunity to glaze or paint the works, pictures will be posted!