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!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Perspective, Vanishing Point, and Space

Small format "Favorite" drawing was the theme in ATCs, ACEOs, and Art in Miniature this past week. Working in a 4" x 6" space, students created 4 different drawings during class time. Each drawing represented a favorite thing in their lives.
Space was the subject in Explorations in Art. We toured the gallery and discussed how famous artists such as Millet, Seurat, and others used perspective to create a sense of space. Students learned about both linear perspective and aerial/atmospheric perspective.
The Gleaners, 1857, by Jean-Francois Millet. Oil on Canvas.
Young artists learned the meaning of a vanishing point, and how this is used to create perspective in a work of art. We talked about how the two (vanishing point and perspective), working together, tell the brain that the artwork makes sense. For instance, objects that are closer appear larger and more detailed than those farther away.
Wheatfields, c. 1670, by Jacob van Ruisdael. Oil on Canvas.
Students took turns finding the vanishing point in each work of art. We also acknowledged that sometimes a work of art has more than one vanishing point. This is found in two-point perspective, three-point perspective, and so on!
Peasant Wedding, 1568, by Pieter Bruegel, the Elder. 
Oil on Oakwood.
We talked about an "easy" way to create a picture in perspective, by deciding on a vanishing point, then drawing light lines leading to that point. This became the base, or underdrawing, for the perspective drawings we did in class. While this certainly makes the process easier, the project can still be quite tricky! Everyone did fantastic work, though, as evidenced here  :)
As in every class, we took time to discuss the palette of each work, our observations about the composition, and interesting tidbits about the various artists, their influences on those around them, and those who came later.
Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, 1884-1886.
by Georges Seurat. Oil on Canvas.
For instance, we talked about Seurat's invention of pointillism, and the painstaking technique used to create his beautiful, Neo-Impressionistic works.
Young artists learned that The Gleaners is considered a very important work in Art History, and that Millet's composition was copied by, or greatly influenced, many other artists. 
The Fall of Icarus, 1555, by Pieter Bruegel, the Elder. 
Oil on Canvas.
We also discussed Pieter Bruegel, the Elder's work, and how he painted works which illustrated stories, myths, fables, and also the everyday world around him in his genre paintings. Students learned that he was the father of Pieter Bruegel, the Younger, an artist we discussed in an earlier class this semester!

Monday, October 18, 2010


In ATC class this past week we finished up our "mini mandalas," and they're absolutely BEAUTIFUL! Students titled their works, and these will be mounted and labeled for the end-of-semester Art Show.
Rembrandt's Old Woman Cutting Her Nails, c.1665-1660. Oil on canvas.
 We learned all about the relationship between Light and Shadow in Explorations in Art. After a discussion about the various sources of light, both during the day and at night, we toured the gallery to discuss the works on display. Students took turns using the "portable Sun" to identify the position of the light source in each work.
James Chapin's Ruby Green Singing, 1928. Oil on canvas.
 This was a little trickier than they thought it would be, but we had a lot of fun (and some coaching!) figuring out each work of art. We discussed the way artists use Light and Shadow in their works to convey a sense of volume and to create a mood.
William Harnett's The Old Violin, 1886. 
 We learned the meaning of Chiaroscuro, and talked about the mastery of this technique by artists such as Johannes Vermeer, Rembrant van Rijn, Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio.
Vermeer's The Kitchen Maid, c. 1658. Oil on canvas.
Once each student felt comfortable with their understanding of Light and Shadow, we set up a Still Life, turned on a spotlight, and then turned off the overhead light so that students could create their own chiaroscuro compositions. 
 Young artist who earlier declared this an "easy" project soon changed their minds! But, as you can see by just a couple of examples, their efforts were very successful . . .

 Meanwhile, in Ceramics I class, students began work on clay masks, which will be finished in the coming week. With a little leftover time and bits of clay, a few young artists spent the remainder of the class period making small works, such as the animalito featured below which was created by Olivia. She combined red and white clay to create this wonderfully whimsical little creature. So creative!

 Ceramics II students continue their "independent study" work, and I'll be sure to post photos of what they've been up to just as soon as the works have been bisque fired. Be sure to check back, because they've been doing some seriously cool stuff!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Mini Mandalas, Form, Artist Stamps, Etc

In ATC and Art in Miniature, we began a 2-week project creating miniature mandalas. After discussing some of the qualities of the mandala's design--particularly symmetry and repetition--students created detailed drawings and, afterward, began adding color. Once these are finished, each student's work will be titled and exhibited at the end-of-semester Art Show.
Form was the subject of the past week's Explorations in Art class. We talked about form in art, and particularly form in sculpture. We learned that sculpture is displayed differently from 2-dimensional art, because sculpture is intended to be viewed in the round.
Flying Horse, One Leg Resting on a Swallow, Bronze. 2nd century CE from Wu-Wani, China
We also reviewed what we've already learned about direction (vertical, horizontal, diagonal) and identified the implied movement, or lack thereof, of the works under discussion. Students learned about the "lost wax" method of creating sculpture.
Auguste Rodin's The Thinker, 1880. Bronze.
In discussing the sculpture of ancient Greece, students learned that the "ideal" of beauty was someone who appeared calm, thoughtful, and peaceful. We studied the face of The Discobolus, noting his almost expressionless face, and talked about how this is typical for the period when it was created, over 2,000 years ago, and how we can expect to see this same expression on other sculptures from its time.
Myron of Athens' The Discobolus (Discus Thrower), c. 450 BCE. Marble.
After our tour of the gallery, we spent some time creating tiny works of art from paper: Origami! The twirling bird origami, in particular, was a big hit. 
The Virgin and Child, c. 1150-1200. Walnut with paint, gesso, and linen. French.
Ceramics I students used the pinch and carve techniques to create animalitos, finger puppets, and their own artist stamps. Once the stamps have been fired, the young ceramic artists will use them to "mark" their work throughout the semester.
Artist stamps and Animalitos

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Scratch Art, Texture, Spirit Balls, and A New Blog!

We had a lot of fun in ATC class this week when young artists applied their sgraffito skills to Scratch Art ATCs! Students began by brainstorming ideas and doing practice drawings on plain paper. Once they decided on a design, each artist set to work scratching away the waxy black surface to reveal a colorful, linear work of miniature art.
Sadly, the batteries in my camera died after taking only a couple of photos, so there won't be many pictures of student art this week. But the photos I DID get are amazing! Don't you just love these beautiful little masterpieces?
Ceramics I students created "spirit balls" this past week. If you want to know what a spirit ball is, ask your little ceramic artist! Photos will be posted here after the first bisque firing.
Albrecht Durer's Hare, 1502. Watercolor and gouache on paper.
Meanwhile, in Explorations in Art class, 
the week's lesson was all about:
Rough, smooth, sticky, pointy, scratchy, bumpy, soft, wet, hard, dry, silky, spikey, fluffy, scaly, slimy: These are just some of the "texture words" that students came up with. 
Edgar Degas' Little Dancer, Aged Fourteen Years, c. 1879-1891. 
Yellow wax, hair, clothes.
We talked about how artists use texture to convey feeling--how, through the use of visual texture, they create a mood for their work and give the viewer clues to figure out what's going on.
Jean-Baptiste Greuze's Broken Eggs, 1756. Oil on canvas.
Students compared various works, and discussed how the artists used texture to tell us about the lives of the people depicted in the works. Let me tell you: There are some very observant young artists in the Explorations in Art classes!
Thomas Gainsborough's Mary, Countess Howe, c. 1763. Oil on canvas.
We also identified that some artists put tactile texture right into their works of art. For instance, Vincent van Gogh is well known for the impasto of his oil paintings:
Vincent van Gogh's Landscape with Ploughed Fields, 1889. Oil on canvas.
Often, his works have such heavy impasto that the viewer doesn't need to get terribly close to see the texture!
Hans Holbein the Younger's Anne of Cleves, c. 1539. Parchment mounted on canvas.
After our discussion about texture, students did their own texture project. Some chose to draw their own unique texture picture. Other students browsed magazines and cut out samples of texture and then drew those textures on paper. And yet others chose to take crayon and paper, and go on a texture-hunting expedition, using the crayons to take texture rubbings.
A sneak peak at Miss Stacy's Blog reveals a jar full of buttons!
And finally, for all of the students, teachers, and parents who've salivated over the yummy smells wafting down the hall from the kitchen, I have some exciting news to share. Miss Stacy started a blog, called HSC Kitchen Classroom, to share news from Cooking & Sewing classes! There are already some recipes posted, and photos from Sewing class, so be sure to stop by her blog regularly. 
By the way, those "Double Lime Coolers" really hit the spot! Yum!