Monday, May 30, 2011

Don't Let the Pigeon...

Many of my art lessons are inspired by children's picture books and Mo Willems is one of my favorite current children's authors!  I remember the first time I saw his book Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! I couldn't stop laughing as I read the story and admired Willems' expressive illustrations (I was a library clerk still in college earning my Art degree back then!).  I even checked it out so I could bring it home and read it to my family.  Most of them were less impressed than I, but luckily my first graders always share my enthusiasm for these silly books!

Day one we read the book Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! and then drew our own pigeons with black crayon following Mo Willems' directions from his Let's Draw the Pigeon! handout (just Google "Let's Draw the Pigeon! and it should pop right up).  This year, we colored with crayons so we could immediately cut out our cute pigeons, but I've also done this lesson using oil pastel and tempera to make the pigeons.  I asked all of the first graders to finish the sentence "Don't let the Pigeon..." with a rule or expectation from Art or Music class.  As they were coloring and cutting, I buzzed around the room to record their sentences. 

Day two we started by reading Don't Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late! and then talked about Mo Willems' use of word bubbles in his illustrations.  I had typed out their sentences from the previous class and they cut them out in the shape of a word bubble.  Finally, they assembled their pigeon and word bubble on construction paper using glue stick and drew their pigeon legs using black crayon.  Because I knew the book and collage assembly wouldn't take up all of our 40 minutes together, I showed the kids how to make a simple 8 page book using a standard sheet of printer paper and then they wrote their own mini "Don't Let the Pigeon..." stories.  I wish I had a picture of some of their books to share with you, but the first graders were so excited about them that they all took them home at the end of class!  The first grade teachers told me that the pigeon has made appearances in many of the first grade anything journals, on the backs of tests, and in the margins of assignments!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


I missed making a post last week and am going to try to get back on track!  Things have been busy inside and outside of the Art room...we had our annual school auction a couple of weeks ago (the theme this year was Masquerade...see the felt bird mask I made to wear to the event!) and I donated 2 "Teacher Treasures" with other teachers in the school.

The first treasure I did was a basketry class with the school Librarian.  She is an expert basket weaver and is really fun to teach with!  We set the limit for the class at 5 students so that we can give lots of individual attention.  This year we had 2 second graders, 1 third grader, and 2 fifth graders (all girls) and they did a great job!  We gathered in the Art room after school and I had the girls wash the tables with shaving cream (fun and it gets all of the gunk from oil pastels and glue off of the table in no time!) while I got the water basins for soaking the reeds ready.  The Librarian brought all of the reeds and tools (and her expertise) and guided the class from measuring and cutting their own reeds all the way through finishing their rims.  Very impressive!  To make a beginner basket it takes about 3 hours and all of the girls ended the class with a unique basket to take home!  The picture you see is the third grader weaving.  She was so thrilled with the beautiful, hand dyed reed that our Librarian brought.  She decided to use red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple (in rainbow order of course)!

For the second treasure, I always team up with one of our awesome first grade teachers and take 4 first graders out to lunch and to a performance at the Children's Theater (we have a great family at our school who donates the tickets and even lets us use their car [which has all of the necessary booster seats] to cart the excited kids around).  This year we enjoyed Annie.  Now that the teacher treasures are over with I hope I will have more time!

Here is one more non-art-room project that I have been working on!  My husband's cousin just had her first baby (a girl!) and I used freezer paper stenciling to make her a custom onesie (it is hard to tell in the photo, but I mixed the screen printing ink to match the green from the super cute BabyLegs I bought for her).  Freezer paper stenciling has become a new hobby of mine - it is so fun!  If you have never tried it, I highly recommend it! 

Please stay tuned for more art projects from the Art room!  I'll try to do a better job with posting consistently!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Frank Stella

I needed a project that would get my eighth graders excited to be in art again (I hadn't had this group for over a year and now I have them during their LAST TRIMESTER AT THE SCHOOL! IN THE SPRING...hormones are running rampant and many brains are on vacation already, to say the least!) and have wanted to try a project inspired by Frank here it is!

To make these 3D paintings, low-relief paper sculptures...or whatever you want to call them, we started by spending 2 days making painted paper using tempera on drawing paper, thin cardboard and corrugated cardboard.  This was my hook - low stress, high success, and oh-so-messy painting!  Each student painted at least 3 pieces of 12 x 18" paper, one cereal box (thank you to my Mom, sisters, and many teachers at school for collecting boxes for me!), and one rectangle of corrugated cardboard (the corrugated cardboard is what we used as the "base" or "canvas" that we later built upon).

Next, we did A LOT of cutting.  I had some sets of French curves (Stella is known for having derived his forms from cones, pillars, French curves, waves and decorative architectural elements for some of his works in the 1980s) that the eighth graders traced and they also cut out some of their own shapes.

Before constructing, we watched a short video of Stella talking about his process and viewed images of some of his works.  For our projects, we did it backwards (we painted THEN cut our shapes instead of making what we wanted to paint on first as Stella does) but I still thought it was valuable for them to hear the artist talk about his work.  To put all of the pieces together, we used thin strips of cereal box cardboard folded into accordions and hot glue.  To quell my fears and protect fingers, each glue station also had a pair of inexpensive garden gloves for the kids to wear.

The eighth graders did a beautiful job and our school community was enthusiastic about seeing some abstract work on display!  They've been up for several weeks now and I still see kids, parents and teachers checking them out everyday! 

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Oil Pastel Butterflies

Third graders got in the mood for spring when they drew these colorful oil pastel butterflies.  This lesson was inspired by Patty of Deep Space Sparkle and her fabulous watercolor butterflies.  We started by folding a 12 x 18" piece of white sulphite drawing paper hamburger style (or taco style as we call it in the Art room!).  The artists unfolded their papers and then, using a black oil pastel, drew HALF of their butterfly's body starting and ending on one side of the fold.  Working on the same side of the fold as the body was just drawn, they drew one of the butterfly wings and added designs (I challenged them to have a minimum of 6 shapes/spaces decorating their wings).  

Then they re-folded their papers, with the oil pastel drawings on the inside, and rubbed over the lines using a craft stick.  When unfolded, voilĂ , their drawings were transferred to the other side of their paper!  They outlined the transferred drawings and then set to work coloring their designs symmetrically. 
I love how the black pastel from the outlining smudges in with the colored areas!  Enjoy!