Tuesday, June 3, 2014

5th Grade Charcoal Still Life Drawings

Teaching a charcoal still life drawing to my 5th grade students has been one of my favorite and most rewarding lessons since I began teaching. I use a desk lamp as a spot light, and all the vases are spray painted white, so there are no details besides the shadows. All the vases are glued to a board, so they stay put when I quickly transition between classes (one thing college doesn't teach you is how to quickly transform your art room from a 5th grade classroom to a 1st grade room in a matter of 5 minutes or less!).

I think one of the reasons I love this lesson so much is that I personally don't enjoy working in charcoal (I hate getting my hands all black!), and the subject matter of a still life is one of my least favorites. Yes, you heard that right--I like teaching this because I don't actually like doing it! When I teach something I love (like ceramics), and I have that one student say, "do I have to do this?" or "is this good enough?", I take it personally; I just shared one of my favorite things with these students, and they don't appreciate it?!?! But with a charcoal still life, I have to try to get the kids excited, and I have to try to engage them, and keep them  focused and on task; and when I succeed with the majority of them, I feel wonderful! And when one student says, "do I have to finish this?" I can truly sympathize.

I'm curious if any other art teachers have a lesson about something they don't really enjoy doing themselves, and how you feel about teaching it? Leave me a comment if you have any stories to share!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Pointillism Birds with 5th Grade Students

Here are a few pointillism birds by grade 5 students, modeled after art by Georges Seurat. The most successful students mixed several colors to make each hue, much like Seurat did. This was a difficult concept for some students to understand, especially when using a color like red (I encouraged them to mix some pink dots in) or black (adding brown, purple, dark blue, and dark green works well). Mixing several different colors of blue together to make blue was easy for most students, but when there's really only one shade of the color, the students struggled.

When using secondary or tertiary colors, I really encouraged the students to mix in the root colors, instead of just using the desired color. For example, green can have yellow and blue mixed in. I really worked on that concept with a pointillism color-mixing worksheet I developed. The students completed the worksheet before beginning their bird picture.

This year, I purchased a box of Mr. Sketch markers to use in addition to the Crayola markers I had from last year. Using both boxes together worked well, as the students had more colors to choose from.

Over all, I am quite pleased with results from this lesson this year. I think having two brands of markers helped, as the colors vary slightly. The more different colored dots, the merrier! Here are some pictures from last year, using only Crayola markers.