Posted on February 24, 2017
While each grade-level continues working on a long-term art-inquiry project, along the way, we do mini-skill building practices that ultimately allow students to better express their ideas for that long-term project. This posting is an update on the art skills students are currently building.
The art inquiry project that the 1st/2nd grade students continue to work on is creating a person and the landscape of the future. While the students' clay sculptures are drying and baking, we began to explore texture.
After starting with this question - "What is texture?" students summarized that it is something you feel. But when I showed textures on the smartboard, my smartboard stays feeling smooth, but we can imagine how certain artworks might feel, just by looking at it. After this discussion, the students were charged with creating at least three different textures out of paper.
This skill and deeper exploration into texture will help students create the textures of their future environment in the upcoming weeks.
The 3rd/4th grade students were excited to explore clay, and even more excited to create the animal of their choosing. Pulling from students' understanding of the water cycle from last year, students reviewed the best way to form clay to ensure that it holds its form and doesn't explode. We then drew eight animals, each needing to start with a circle, or oval shape. Following this brainstorm, students chose one animal to focus on to render in clay. Starting with a hollow cylinder or sphere helps students to understand how to make bigger forms in clay that will survive the firing process. This skill will help them in future projects to work bigger and with more confidence. Students also began to think in 3-D. For their classroom inquiry on Wetland birds, they will have a choice to create a bird in either 2-or 3-D. With a mindset already familiar with how to build in 3-D, the task of making their bird will come more easily.
For those students who prefer working in 2-D, we are exploring new drawing technique that helps to create realistic artworks. After comparing artworks, students deduced that there were two distinct categories: Realistic and Abstract. When asked, "If you wanted to learn and teach someone about an animal, which style would you choose?" Overwhelmingly, the students said realistic, because they wanted to present the reality of their subject. While there were a few votes for abstract, they all qualified that they would use that style to show more than just what the animal looks like, but maybe include movement lines, or other things that show how it lives.
Each of the realistic artworks the students saw were created by using a grid tool. After exploring how it works and helps ("it's like a puzzle drawing"), the students took photos of a subject and began to experiment with the grid process. While some took to the grid quickly, others realized the challenge of needing to look back and forth. Students were eager to share their findings and tips to help use the grid most effectively.
Taking photos to use with a grid.
When it is time to work on the classroom Wetland Bird installations, students now have another tool to draw their bird realistically.
The 5th grade is deep into a photography unit. While we are using photography as our own art inquiry, developing this artistic skill will also help them better document and tell the stories of their Capstone projects.
Students began with "Interactive Drawings." The combination of drawing and students inserting themself or some other prop into the frame teaches students to think about what's in their photo and story-telling.
Students then looked at photographs from known photographers and noted the things each photo had in common -- there is contrast, different perspectives, a clear focus, movement, and a story. With these qualities in mind, students walked the Elementary campus taking photos. After editing, students sorted their printed photos. With new knowledge about Ansel Adams and his categories of "straight" photography vs. "abstract," students looked at their class photos and categorized them accordingly.
Familiar with many of the different styles of photography and the qualities that make a photograph "good," we went on a walking photo trip to the University of Hawaii's Japanese Tea garden. The students insisted on going, even though it was raining, and we will work in the next few weeks to edit and print these photos.