Thursday, March 31, 2016

THINK DIFFERENT Challenge Month at Y.E.S.

March was THINK DIFFERENT Challenge month at the Y.E.S. Art Studio

In honor of Dr. Seuss's birthday, March 2nd and in homage to the Apple advertising campaign of the same name ( Think Different) I spent the month of March  challenging kids to see and think a wee bit differently about the art they make. 

We started the month with all grades creating fabulous " scranimals" currently on view throughout the school. A scranimal is basically a scrambled animal, made up of the head of one animal, the body of another and sometimes even legs and wings and tails of another. The lesson was inspired by the book Scranimals by Jack Pretlusky and illustrated by Peter Sis, and started shared with me by a former student teacher. Through the years I have found it so empowering and foundational that I keep fine tuning it and teaching it each year. 
Kids all had a blast. We kept the palette limited to black and red, like Seuss's early books that were limited due to the high cost of color printing. But we found that keeping a limited palette that we could use color strategically to create emphasis.
Here is a slide show of some Scranimals by 3rd and 4th graders. The whole school did them and these are just a small sampling but so fun.  Your child's drawing will be going home later in the year.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Artists as Scientists: Observing, drawing and 'dissecting' a clementine

Artists as Scientists: Observing, magnifying, drawing and dissecting a clementine

A young artist carefully observing and drawing a

 clementine, like  a scientist. 

Recently, fourth graders have been exploring the connections and similarities between artists and scientists. 
Artists have a great deal in common with scientists.
• Observe carefully.  • Notice details. •Draw what they see, they do NOT make it up.•Slow down their eyes.•Draw from many different angles to inform.•Sometimes, like Leonardo Da Vinci they add notes to a drawing.• Often there is NO setting, just the object. • If there is a setting it is created to inform the viewer.
We discussed the phrase, ‘ A picture is worth 1000 words’, how it can be especially important to a scientist?

We learned that  in the “ olden days” before cameras most scientists had to be skilled as drawers, so they could record what they observed.  Leonardo Da Vinci and his scientific journals are an example of a masterful artist/ scientist.We looked at some of his scientific drawings and noticed many things. We had a rich discussion on everything from how he drew with a quill pen and also that his drawings all had explanatory notes in Italian.
We discussed how today, even with photography being so easy, that scientists sometimes still draw a specimen so they can really observe and remember the details of it. 
We then did our own drawings as artist/ scientists using a clementine. Each student was given their own clementine to examine. 
We then made a “ Do Not Look” to help us create “ blind contour drawings” that forced us to see the clementine, and NOT worry what the drawing looked like.
Students working with a " do not look"  which keeps one from looking at one's drawing, and allows one to focus on the SEEING.  Often this is called a blind contour drawing.

We then did observational drawings of the clementines, like a scientist, looking a the clementine and our drawings, and then  use a jeweler’s loupe to magnify it and see more the details. Finally, we will use wipes to clean our hands and use a 3rd piece of paper ( with a note on the back) to draw the clementine as we “ dissect” or eat it. This phase was very fun but we have to be careful to actually draw while we ate, and some kids were so engrossed in the earlier phases they did not get far. But the photos below show how engaged students were in the process. Everyone said they noticed details they never had; the loupes really added to the adventure.
Practicing using a jeweler's loupe. Everything looked very different.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Beautiful Oops!!!

Beautiful Oops by Barney  Salzberg is the inspiration for one of our Think Different Challenges.  If you don't know the book, check in out on YouTube.  Its basically a book that empowers one to take a mistake and turn it into something beautiful.

So this month every 2nd, 3rd and 4th grader will have an opportunity to make something beautiful out of either some squiggles, or smudges, or to complete some unfinished pictures with their own imaginations.

Here is a slide show of some of the wonderful creations;  I wish I could have photographed all of them but the books have gone home and hopefully families have had fun seeing them. The challenge was not only to TRANSFORM an oops into something but also to create a setting and a context for the thing they created.  Kids really fired up their imaginations and had a blast.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Weaving Continues to be a popular pass time at Y.E.S.

Many third and fourth graders have continued their passion of weaving into this winter and spring. Thanks to the generosity of one family funding a whole bunch of new yarns, another family donating a number of skeins, and Ruth's Recyclables and Jo Ann's Fabrics who have provided over 80 skeins of free fun fur, the weavings continue to be a favorite for many. Shown here are Nate and Owen, third graders in Mrs. Wentworth's class. Both are avid weavers and Nate in particular has challenged himself to make long and very colorful weavings. Check them out. Just makes me smile to see them.