Thursday, June 25, 2009

Piet Mondrian Cake

The Mondrian Cake

Created by Caitlin Williams Freeman, resident pastry chef for the Blue Bottle Coffee Bar, at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
Thanks to SF Chronicle reader, Shelly H.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Rosie's Window Art

Listening to NPR Morning Edition on March 27, 2006, I was moved by the words of Frank X Walker. His essay for the program This I Believe, poignantly shared the importance of creativity.

The rest of his words are here, and if you encourage art and creativity with the children in your life, his words will make your day! (And if you have an industrious child, you'll also find a great way for them to score some free ice cream during the month of December...Hint - it has to do with the elf photo above.)
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Art Materials

One mantra I repeat in the classroom, "Our art materials are tools not toys; we're careful with our tools and treat them with respect, then they last a very long time."
This artist has taken it one step futher. These materials are not the tools, but they're "the art"!

These crayon sculptures were created by artist Diem Chau.
I like the idea of showing pictures of her crayon sculptures to students then asking them if they think that she's showing respect to these "art materials"? (One of those rhetorical questions that I know the kids will answer correctly.)

Friday, June 19, 2009

What kids say.....

I was teaching 4th graders a lesson inspired by Paul Cezanne. Before the lesson I showed some Cezanne art and talked a bit about him. As usual, I pointed and repeated the correct pronunciation of his name (emphasizing "Say-Zahn")a couple of times, then told the class it was "their turn". I point to the name and they're supposed to say it in unison. Class get ready, I point, and everyone said slowly, "Paul Cezanne." Actually, not everyone said, "Paul Cezanne." One boy who sat the front row wasn't paying too close attention and instead he said, "Celine Dion." Say-Zhan?/Dee-Aahn? -- If you knew the child, you'd know as I did that he wasn't kidding. None of the other kids heard him, luckily.
Close enough, I guess???

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Artist Quote

"At the age of six, I wanted to be a cook. At seven I wanted to be Napoleon. And my ambition has been growing steadily ever since." Salvador Dali, Spain 1904-1989

Monday, June 15, 2009

Art Lesson, Dali

Unfortunately, these days many children do not have sufficient opportunities to use their imagination. This lesson lets them exercise their imagining skills.
Salvador Dali, Spain 1904-1989, is a perfect artist to help kids explore the world of imagination. Much of his art though, would be difficult to show in an elementary classroom because it would require considerable discussion given that the subject matter is extraordinarily graphic.
Here are few examples of Dali artwork that can inspire children to create an imaginary picture. The Persistence of Memory, 1931
The melting watches are some of Dali's most famous. Ask students what they think it might mean to have "time melting".
Sleep Mascara
The crutches represent the assistance or help that is needed by all. Even the dog has a crutch holding up his head. Prior to showing this print to students in class, I usually make a big deal by saying some kids might find it very creepy. I verbally explain the picture before I turn it around and show it.The Hand

Lobster Phone
(Be forewarned, if you show this one to kids in 1st & 2nd grade, they will almost wet their pants from giggling so hard. You'll need to have your transition words ready to move them on from the "Lobster Phone" to the rest of the lesson in a composed manner.)

A lesson inspired by Dali.
Explain to students that they're going to make a "Surreal Tree" because their tree is going to have crazy things growing on it. Things that don't really grow on trees.

Materials Needed: Pencil, glue, scissors, pieces of cardboard, brown and green paint, magazine cut outs

Step 1: Draw basic tree branches
Step 2: Paint brown bark
Step 3: Paint green leaves
Step 4: Cut out things that wouldn't naturally grow on trees. Use magazines to find these things.
Step 5: Glue objects on tree.
Step 1: Draw basic tree and branches
Need large (approx. 3"x3") and small (approx. 1" x 3") pieces of cardboard.
Dip large pieces of cardboard in brown paint for the bark.

Remind students to press gently, to get the imprint to look more like bark. Tell them to "tap, tap, tap" the edge of the cardboard onto the paper.

Use a smaller piece of cardboard for the leaves.

Tap, tap, tap leaves onto the branches.

If you'd like your students to finish this project in less than one hour, it's best to give them a pile of pre-sorted magazine pages with interesting objects, people, etc.
(As you may know, if you give your students whole magazines many of them will spend the entire hour looking for pictures.)
After choosing their pictures, students should cut them out
so only the object is showing. Glue on the magazine cutouts.

One Surreal Tree!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Kids Really Do Say These Things

Art lesson in a first grade classroom...

After I'd finished explaining the lesson I gave the students permission to begin creating their art. Kids worked quietly and three hands went up in the air for help.

I went to first child who said, "Is it okay if I put a flower over here?"

I said, "Yes, that's a great spot for a flower."

Then I went to the other child with his hand raised who said, "Can you help me cut this out?"

I said, "Sure, let me show you where to put your fingers and get you started cutting, then you can do the rest."

Then I went to the third child who had waited patiently with her hand raised the whole time I was answering questions and helping. She said, "I like your toes. Are they pink?"

I said, "Yes, I do have pink toenails. Did you have a question about your art?"

She said, "No, now I'm going to get started."

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Artist Quote

"A line is a dot that went for a walk."
Paul Klee, German 1879-1940
Moonrise and Sunset, Klee 1919

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Art Lesson - Collage

Art Tip:

Wrapping paper is great for making collages bright and fun. (And it's inexpensive when found at the Dollar Store.......also known as the "teacher store" by some of my friends.)

Matisse inspired collages.
Students are given instructions to create a house and a tree using collage technique. Once they have a house and tree, they may add anything else their heart desires.

San Benito Elementary artists

Henri Matisse-Collage

Henri Matisse, French 1869-1954

Matisse's collages/brilliance. He called it, "Drawing with scissors."

Matisse, The Snail

Tate Modern, London

(Can you find the snail?)( Here it is. )
(Also, too hard to see in these photos, but if you look in upper left corner of upper left, lavender cut-out, you'll see a small snail figure moseying along the border. Ha, such whimsy!)
This is one of my favorite works of art to share with children. Also worth noting, you cannot see the edges of Matisse's cut-outs in these pictures, but in real life the edges are NOT perfect by far. The cutting looks like Matisse was working quickly and didn't care in the least that his scissors were not moving in straight lines and that shards of paper were left hanging on edges.
Sometimes I catch myself preferring students to work very carefully on their art, but then I'm reminded of Matisse's Snail and realize that "careful" art is not necessarily something to strive for.

Matisse, The Cut-outs

National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Inspired by Mondrian

Mondrian Art is great for the classroom. I love the idea of telling students they can "go wild" with colors and composition, but at the same time they need focus on precise geometric shapes and lines.
Piet Mondrian (Dutch 1872-1944)

And, if you're a parent with a LEGO loving child.... here's a summer project.

Mondrian's art inspired this "simplest mural I've ever painted". Step 1: Paint four colored rectangles. Step 2: Paint Lego logo. Step 3: Create straight black lines with "electrical tape". (Lastly, I pasted up a blown up photo of a custom Lego jet on one of the colored rectangles just for fun.)

Friday, June 5, 2009

Art tip

It's June! Perfect time to put a bag in a teacher's lounge with a note on it saying, "I'll take any old file folders you're no longer needing." You'll never have to buy "cardstock" again for making templates and other art projects. And teachers will love that their old materials are going to good use:)

Palm Tree Silhouettes

Palm tree silhouette lesson: Materials (blue and black crayon, watercolors)
With a blue crayon draw outline for horizon and mountains. Paint the sky yellow, orange, then red. Paint the sea yellow, orange, red, then blue. Paint the mountains blue.
Wait to dry, then draw on palm tree with a black crayon -OR- draw and color black palm tree on separate piece of paper, then glue onto painting.

San Gabriel Elementary Artists

Here's a simple directed drawing lesson for creating palm trees. The steps are all done by drawing dots and lines. (I always tell my students that my dots are BIG to help me teach the lesson, but their dots should be tiny, almost invisible.)

Start with 4 dots

Add tree trunk lines

Add a circle of 5 dots

Add 1 dot, far away, between first two dots in the circle.

Connect that dot to the circle, with 2 curved lines.

Repeat again, and again, ...

Until you have created all six leaves.