When I choose an art project for my students, I think about what new vocabulary and drawing skills they could learn, what new media they could try, and how they can connect to the subject. Sometimes I pull themes from literature or science. This "Llamas in Perspective" lesson, adapted from a Deep Space Sparkle lesson, had it all!
First we talked about the life and talents of the llama, particularly the Peruvian llama...how they are pack animals who help humans, how they spit when they are agitated and sit down stubbornly when they are overburdened. I told the kids I use llama poop on my plants because it's a great "unscented" fertilizer!
We practiced a llama drawing in their sketchbooks. I love that many of the students said they drew them all week long at home. We then talked about drawing and painting tricks that fool the eye into perceiving depth as we drew our scene together, step by step, and went over the lines with Sharpie. Students were free to add their own little details, decorations, and paint colors to individualize their work. We used tempera cakes, which are similar to watercolors, on heavy duty Bristol paper.
Finally, we "embellished" our mounted picture with handmade tassels. I told them that tassel-making is a "handicraft" that the Peruvians would do to decorate their llamas. The lesson took two 90-minute class periods. Check out the slideshows below.
Afterschool Art Club is something new I've added to the schedule this year, and it's been a blast! Twelve lively students gather on Thursday afternoons to create wonderful art, and for our first project, we created optical illusion "agamagraphs." Pioneered by the artist Yaacov Agam, this kinetic style art changes as the viewer moves. Two of Agam's pieces can be found in the Mayo Clinic art collection. I'm a big fan!
This project took 3 weeks of 75 minute classes to complete. Each student created a starburst name picture on and an optical illusion "wormie" picture, which they colored with sharpie and watercolor on 140 lb. watercolor paper. Then we cut both into 1 inch slices and mounted them alternately to an accordion folded page. The final effect is so cool! If you stand to the left, you see one image and when you move to the right it morphs to the other image. Check out the slideshow below!
I feel so very fortunate to have over 70 homeschooled students come to my studio each week, in 5 different classes, to create art and build friendships. These kids are respectful, eager learners who are endlessly creative and thoughtful. And as a 20+ year homeschooling veteran of 3 kids who have blossomed into creative, high quality humans, I can say, "I GET homeschoolers."
In the first 2 weeks of art classes, we have played with paint, practiced drawing skills, analyzed Leutz's "Washington Crosses the Delaware," played games, and created sketchbook covers. Here are some slideshows of our time together so far. I'll post photos from the intermediate class when we complete our sketchbook covers.
Elementary Splatter Sketchbook Covers:
Elementary "Llamas in Perspective" project:
Teaching watercolors to young, curious, enthusiastic minds is among my favorite things in the world! This week at camp, the kids learned all kinds of watercolor techniques as they explored their new supplies. New vocabulary like glazing, scumbling, masking, salting, lifting, and mopping were taught and tried out. The girls painted in the studio and outside in nature, and they completed many pieces by the end of the week, including transparent lotus flowers, a landscape & seascape, a bohemian owl, and more! Here is a slideshow of the week...
My campers were wonderfully enthusiastic and adventurous as we "traveled" around the world, learning about 5 countries, listening to the music of each culture, making a piece of art inspired by the country, and trying foreign foods. I loved every minute!
Day 1: Argentina
When campers arrived, they painted and beaded wooden name tags that my husband made on our Glowforge, then they colored in a giant welcome banner. We learned information about Argentina, made clay llama sculptures, and wove tiny blankets for them with a straw loom and yarn. Later in the week we painted the llamas. For food, we made homemade alfajores cookies by rolling out the dough and filling them with dulce la leche. Yum!
Day 2: Russia
We talked about the vast country of Russia and then read a story called Babushka's Doll by Patricia Polocco. The campers painted wooden matryoshka nesting dolls and then we made blini, a thin pancake, which we filled with strawberries and whip cream!
Day 3: Italy
After watching a video about Italy, one of the students dressed up like Leonardo da Vinci and "painted" the Mona Lisa. We read the story Strega Nona by Tommie de Paola. We spread wet plaster on burlap to make our own frescoes. When they dried, we drew fruit still lifes with chalk pastels. We also made margherita pizza with sauce, mozzarella, parmesan, and basil. Yummy!
Recipe: https://www.thekitchn.com/easy-recipe-classic-margherita-pizza-recipes-from-the-kitchn-174103 (we used refrigerator bistro pizza dough and jarred pizza sauce instead of homemade)
Day 4: Egypt
After watching a video about a tourist in Egypt, we made funny Pharaoh selfies with our names written in hieroglyphs. We cooked up some Egyptian Basbousa Semolina cake that was very interesting, like sweet, dense cornbread with syrup on top.
Day 5: Thailand
We enjoyed a video about a family who traveled to Thailand, and got some special information from MaiLa, one of the campers whose grandparents are from Thailand. We read a book called The Umbrella Queen and painted with liquid watercolors on paper lanterns. We cooked up some veggie stir fry and rice noodles with the option of sweet/sour sauce or Thai peanut sauce. We topped it off with Pocky candy sticks and watermelon slushies. The kids enjoyed shopping at the studio store, too!
Recipe: https://damndelicious.net/2014/05/24/watermelon-slush/ (I skipped the sugar)
We'd been looking forward to this trip all year, having studied 16 pieces of art in the vast collection and having learned about the artists and interesting history of each piece throughout the year. One of the pieces was nearly destroyed during the attacks of 9-11 before it hung in the lobby of the Gonda Building. One of the artists lost an eye. One of the gigantic pieces was moved from outside the building to inside using 2 cranes. Such a treasure trove of beauty and story! Warhol, Chihuly, Michelangelo, Miro, Mestrovic, and on and on. Checkout the slideshow from the 4 groups I took on the tour.
Our final project of the year in my intermediate classes was painting 16x20 canvases with beautiful landscapes. The students chose their own reference photograph and synthesized much of what they had learned through the year to create the paintings, and they were lovely! They spent 5-6 hours on these.
The newest editions to my art room are black-out shades, blacklights, and fluorescent paints! This allowed us to have an awesome end of the year party, at which we painted ourselves, our papers, our plaster hands, the tables, and even the poor floor, which kids said looked like a galaxy (it came off easily!)
Why a glow party? I want kids to remember their unique art experiences when they're 80 years old with a great-grandkid on their lap. I want them to say, "I remember when I did ________ in my art class." I think this is one memory that will stick!
I have wanted to do this project with my elementary classes for a long time. It's one of my favorite art memories from childhood, except we did not cast our hands, we cast our FACES! The kids, who were initially skeptical and may have thought their teacher had lost her mind, warmed up to the idea of having their hands wrapped in gooey plaster gauze, allowing it to harden, and then sliding it off. The sliding off was the hard part! It would have helped if their hands were boneless! After they spent a week drying, the kids painted their sculptures and some added embellishments and fluorescent paint so they glowed during our Glow Parties.
Here are the winners of our 2nd Annual Flapdoodles Ice Cream Art Contest! Nearly all my students created 3-D clay relief sculptures mounted on painted canvas panels with an ice cream theme. The owners of Flapdoodles selected the winners from 3 categories: 7-9 yo, 10-12 yo, and Intermediate. The art is currently displayed at Flapdoodles South through July.
Our 2nd Annual Flapdoodles Ice Cream Art Contest is underway! The students planned and executed these adorable clay relief sculptures, mounted on painted canvas panels. Some are still life sculptures and others incorporate animals enjoying ice cream, inspired by the book "Gorilla Loves Vanilla." Here are all the entries. Winners announced in April!
Jill Pearson, owner & instructor at Riverwood Studio, Oronoco, Minnesota