Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thanksgiving Zentangles: 

Before Thanksgiving, some classes were able to create mini-pumpkin Zentangles in which they embedded, or hide words of people, places or things they were thankful for. They were mounted in a hand-made envelope and hopefully made their way home to family and friends.  This one below I found particularly lovely as the student wrote a poem around the Zentangle and said I could share it.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Second Graders introduced to paintings of Georgia 0'Keeffe
This fall second graders have been sci-artists and explored leaves and flowers from the Y.E. S. gardens with jewelers loupes ( see 2nd Grade Team Hour). With jewelers loupes as our tool we have now gone on to look closely at flowers as Georgia O'Keeffe might have done.  We watched a short Brain Pop Jr. movie clip on Georgia 0'Keeffe and some classes we read the book  My Name is Georgia.  
We learned that Georgia O'Keeffe was born in Wisconsin on November 15, 1887 and if she were alive today she would have been 128 years old.  We learned that she always knew she wanted to be an artist but that in those ' olden days' women were not expected to be artists.  She studied to be an art teacher and eventually moved to New York City where she began painting HUGE flowers. She wanted her work to be so big and beautiful so people would stop to see the beauty of flowers as she saw them. 

We then explored being artists in Georgia O'Keeffe's style. We used loupes again to look closely at flowers, drawing what we saw but also adding our own styles and interpretations. The flowers are larger than life, filling 9 x 9 inch squares. Second graders drew them  carefully in  pencil, then sharpie, and now have begun adding colors.  Our color study we will learned about warm and cool colors. We did small thumbnail color studies in crayon of warm flowers on cool backgrounds.  We then chose the combination we preferred and applied that to painting of our flowers. They are coming out beautifully and each one is very unique expression of each child's vision.
Enlarged flower.

Students did thumbnail studies of warm  color flowers on cool color  backgrounds
Color study in warm and cool.
This young artist used the jewelers loupe ( upper right) to allow her to see details in the flower.

Red violet on blue background. 
Art Parties, Press Here & a busy Open Studio

Recently all the classes, 2nd, 3rd and 4th earned an art parties. Due to holiday and field trips its taking a few weeks for all classes to have their parties but they all will for sure.  Art parties can vary from being a day of self-guided free art making, to watching an art video to learn about an interesting artist, or to learn a new art game. 
 For our first art party of the year I introduced all the students to the brilliant french artist/ illustrator HervĂ© Tullet and his book Press Here and the game of visual logic of the same name, “ Press Here”.   We started classes off with the book and game intro and then each child had time to pursue ‘ their own” creative endeavor.  Some kids worked in sketch books, some made posters, other in Mrs. Rhoads class worked on their knitting and, still others played the game Press Here, or made their own versions of the book Press Here. Without fail the studio was very much alive and vibrant during these hours and all classes are well on their way to earning another art party in a few months.
I have embedded here a slide show of just some of the creativity that blossomed during these parties. Without exception kids were engaged, excited, often collaborating, always creating and an inspiration to me. Some times ' free art' can devolve into chaos, or inappropriate behaviors but Y.E. S. kids appreciated the sessions and made the most of them. Made me look forward to our next party.
Most of the slides are of Mrs. Rhoads fourth grade classe but all the classes were just as creative. The knitters are from Mrs. Rhoads class where she has taught them all to knit and many of them wanted to bring their work into the art studio so our work was quite diverse.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Thinking Abstractly: Music Mapping:  Connecting Music and Art

Recently, in music, library and art class fourth graders have been preparing for the Portland symphony performance of 'Alice in Wonderland ".  In the art studio we listened to one of the pieces from the "Alice Symphony" by David Del Tredici.  Its called " Speak Roughly/ Speak Softly", and is a very abstract piece with two distinct moods.  In music class Mrs. Troy has shared the piece  and focused on how the composer creates a unified piece out of what sounds like complete chaos. In art studio we focused on translating the music, the sounds and beats of the music into marks and color, and actually ' mapping" it as it moves from one rough, loud mood to in intermediate mood, and finally to a calm movement.  I am sorry I don't have a clip of the painting in action as the kids were very kinetic as they painted.

It was a two week lesson and I introduced it reading on the Kindle overhead the Caldecott honor book  The Noisy Paint Box: The colors and sounds of Kandinsky's Abstract Art,  by Barbara Rosenstock, illustrated by Mary  Grand Pre.  We learn that as a young boy  Kandinsky discovered he had synethesia; when he saw colors he heard sounds and when he heard sounds he saw colors.  At the time he did not know  it was a unique condition ( about one in every 5,000 people has this unique ability) , but eventually it led him to be the first painter in the Western world to paint abstractly.

We looked at some of his works, listened to the abstract discordant and then melodious music of Del Tredici from the Alice Symphony, and then translated the sounds to marks.

Week two we watched a slide show I created on the importance of color in the world, how it affects everything from how animals are camouflaged, to how insects are attracted to flowers, to our moods on a sunny or gray day.  We also looked at how advertisers use color to influence our purchasing.

Here are some samples of the works both in phase one, black and white , and then phase two, when artists added their colors.  Each child not only responded in their own unique style, they also articulated very contrasting feelings on the different sides of the pieces.  Ultimately the paintings will be hung as a music mapping of the " Speak Roughly/ Speak Softly".

Student painting the notes and beats of "Speak Roughly, Speak Softly " from the Alice Symphony.
Left side speaking roughly. Right speaking softly.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Zentangling at YES Art Studio


Recently  third graders  and now some fourth grade classes were introduced to the concept of creating Zentangles. Zentangles are complex designs that are created through simple repetition, or sequencing of different marks.  We discussed the difference between creating a pattern vs. a sequence of marks that may need to adapt to the space they are in.... a picture of a Zentangle is literally worth a thousand words and that is pretty much how I introduced this lesson. 

This is an example of a quilt of Zentangles. 

We watched a slide show, then watched one of the originators of Zentangles doing a zentangle and then tried our hand at our own Zentangles. On one level Zentangling is really just a special kind of " doodle", on the other hand, having taught the art of Zentangle for about 5 years now, I find it an amazingly EMPOWERING form of creating.  Without exception, in each class you could hear a pin drop as my kid artists watched Maria Thomas, one of the originators of Zentangles wordlessly create her Zentangle.  In addition kids were eager to try their hand at it, and each child brought their own unique style to their tangles.  The first Zentangles they created went home with them; hopefully you had a peak at them.  Going forward we will use the art of Zentangling to create unique texture, style, contrast and beauty to all sorts of works of art.  Below is the slide show I shared with the kids. If you want to find out more on Zentangling or to do it yourself with your child, go to

Crayon Resist Leaf Placemats with 2nd and 3rd Graders
In the second and third grades we explored one of the Elements of Art, TEXTURE, to create lovely leaf textured placemats.  We reviewed that texture in art often is how  something looks like it might feel, even though we would only feel it with our eyes.  We used the scientific properties of oil and water, the fact that the two don't mix to create crayon resist paintings.  We limited our palette to the primary colors Red and Yellow, to create warm fall colors, and Green, the complement of Red to create natural fallish feel to our rubbings.
Vocabulary for this lesson was: Texture, Warm colors: Red, Yellow, Orange
and Complementary colors: Red and Green.
We discussed how complimentary colors are opposite on the color wheel and when mixed together they create a muddy color.
We also discussed how artists use different colors to create different feelings in a work of art.
These pieces were intended for daily use, as placemats, so I hope that they have found their way into your home, sooner than later. By the end of the first week of November all should have been sent home.

Step one, use the vein side of a leaf to create textured leaf rubbings
Step two, add  thinned tempera paint to create a resist