Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Arts Around the World: Tiger Paintings and Ink Wash Bamboo Painting from Korea

The fourth country on our Arts Around the World journey this year is South Korea, which is especially fun since Ms. Kim's family is from South Korea! 
We began by learning about the country and looking at artwork that features the tiger. In Korean history and culture, the tiger is a guardian that drives away evil spirits and brings good luck – a symbol of courage and power. It appears in many Korean myths and folk stories, and is a favorite subject of Korean painting and sculpture. The mascot of the 1988 Summer Olympics held in Seoul was a tiger and the recent 2018 Winter Olympics had a white tiger mascot.
We looked at some Korean paintings featuring the tiger and noticed the tiger's striped pattern and the different ways tigers were depicted. We looked at the tiger's face and noticed that they are symmetrical. For our own tiger paintings, students folded their paper in half and drew half of the tiger's face. Then we painted one side, with one color at a time, and folded it and pressed the paper together to get the paint to transfer to the other side.

This was challenging to do, as students had to work quickly to get the paint to transfer before it dried. So once enough paint transferred, students also evened out the paint on both sides of the paper with a paint brush. For our next project, students learned about ink wash painting. Ink wash painting is a type of brush painting that uses black ink, like the kind used in East Asian calligraphy. The goal is not only to paint the subject but to capture its spirit with the fewest possible lines and tones. Mountain landscapes, nature and animals are common subjects. Artists usually grind an ink stick over an ink stone to make black ink.
We looked at examples of ink wash painting and used bamboo handled brushes to paint our bamboo using ink. We learned three different techniques to paint the stalk, branches, and leaves.
Below are examples of our artwork, inspired by South Korea, on display at International Night in May. 

The last project was a fan design. Fans, or "buchae" in Korean, come in many different shapes, including a leaf, oval or a half-moon shape, and are made with different materials such as silk, bamboo, and feathers. Fans were used for special ceremonies, musical events, to exchange greetings, and to show your status. We also watched a video of a Korean fan dance, before designing our own fans using marker.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Plaster Masks

This spring, 5th grade artists created plaster masks, which took us several weeks. The process involved designing their mask, creating the mask form out of plaster strips, painting their mask and writing an artist statement to accompany their mask on display. 
We began by discussing masks, why we wear masks, and learning about masks around the world. Students connected masks to Halloween, as well as masquerade parties and even sports. We talked about how masks can help you hide your identity, or assume a different one. They can also help protect your face, or just be worn for fun. We learned that masks have a long history and have been created, used, and worn by cultures all over the world. They are also made from a variety of different materials. For example, in ancient Egypt, masks were used to dress the faces of the dead. Royal death masks were made of gold and bronze and meant to look like the person. In Japan, samurai masks were designed to instill fear in opponents, as well as protect the wearer. They were often made of iron and leather. In Italy, during the Carnival Festival in Venice, elaborate masks are worn to provide mystery. And in West Africa, masks are used in religious ceremonies to communicate with spirits and ancestors. Many are made with wood, ivory or clay. 
After learning about masks, students sketched out design ideas for their own plaster mask. Many students were inspired by popular culture, super heroes, symbols, and sports. We also cut plaster strips to prepare for mask making. Mask making was done in two sessions, with half the class making their mask one week, and half the class making their mask the following week. The class also came early to art class, so that we would have enough time to complete three layers of plaster. Thank you to the 5th grade teachers for making extra time for this project! 
To make their plaster mask, students began with a plastic mask form that was covered with Vaseline, so that their finished mask would slip off easily when dry. Students dipped pieces of dry plaster in water, then placed them on their plastic mask form and smoothed them with wet fingers to make the plaster come out and cover the holes. 
Students made sure to overlap their strips and could choose whether to leave the eye holes open or closed, as well as the mouth. This depended on their design. Students also made sure to smooth the plaster pieces together to make the top layer the smoothest surface on which to paint. After three layers of plaster, the masks were left to dry. 
After our plaster mask making sessions, students got their dry mask back and were ready to paint! We used acrylic paint (instead of tempera paint, which we usually use) so that they paint would stay on and not flake off the mask later. Students noticed that the acrylic paint dried quickly. 
Students spent two to three classes painting their masks, considering how to paint their design in layers so that they could add details on top. Depending on the design, some students had to paint their mask all one color, or two colors, before adding details on top. Other students began with the white base of the mask and painted details directly on top. On our last mask making class, student added extra details using a variety of different materials. Some students added ears to their animal mask, or feathers to a masquerade inspired mask. 
The following class we worked on artist statements for our masks. An artist statement is a written explanation of an artist's work. You can tell the viewer about the motivation and inspiration behind your design, how you made your work, and any additional information you want the viewer to know. Students typed up their artist statements so they could be accompany their mask on display. Below are some examples of our plaster masks on display!


Thursday, May 31, 2018

Ice Cream Papier Mache Sculptures

In keeping with the warmer weather, 4th grade artists recently created papier mache ice cream cones! We began by creating the armature, or base structure, of our papier mache cones. We discussed how buildings often start with a foundation and steel beams that help give it shape and support. An armature helps support a sculpture or 3D artwork from the inside, much like the foundation and steel beams in a skyscraper. It also functions like the skeleton in our bodies, helping the work to stand.
First, we filled our paper cups with newspaper so that they would not fall over. We talked about how, when building something that stands up, it is important for the base to be heavier and sturdy, to support the weight of materials that go on top -- like when you are building a snowman. Then students balled up more newspaper, wrapping masking tape around the "scoops" to secure them to the paper cup "cone." 
The next class, students learned how to papier mache, using art paste that is clear and thick consistency. We took a little of the art paste to coat our palms, then took strips of newspaper and rubbed them in between our hands. This kept the paste from dripping everywhere and allowed the strips to get fully coated. Each piece of newspaper was applied to the armature and layered on top of each other to fully cover the cone and scoops. 
Next class, we added additional papier mache layers. We used white paper for the ice cream scoops and brown paper towel for the cone, so they would be easier to paint without the newspaper showing through. 
The following class, students used their knowledge of color mixing to paint their ice cream cone scoops. Students were encouraged to paint each scoop a different color and paint the base layer first. Many students used white to make lighter colors called tints. We mixed a variety of different colors to create different flavors, including mint chocolate chip, strawberry, coffee, chocolate, cookies and cream and rainbow! 
After the first layers of paint had dried, students added details like toppings, sprinkles, and hot fudge on top. Some students also painted the cone a darker brown, or painted lines on top to make waffle cones. The last step was to cover the entire ice cream cone with a clear varnish called Mod Podge, to help seal the paint. Here are some examples of our colorful ice cream cones:
Andrew, 4th Grade (Cikacz)
Ariana, 4th Grade (Graves Pelletier)
Arianne, 4th Grade (Doherty)
Brixton, 4th Grade (Mattson)
Connor, 4th Grade (Doherty)
Destanie, 4th Grade (Cikacz)
Gustavo, 4th Grade (Doherty)
Holly, 4th Grade (Cikacz)
Jackie, 4th Grade (Cikacz)
Lamar, 4th Grade (Doherty)
Marina, 4th Grade (Mattson)
Marissa, 4th Grade (Graves Pelletier)
Maya, 4th Grade (Graves Pelletier)
Pamela, 4th Grade (Graves Pelletier)
Priya, 4th Grade (Graves Pelletier)
Sarah, 4th Grade (Cikacz) 
Sofia, 4th Grade (Mattson)

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Texture Printing

Recently, PK and Kindergarten artists have been exploring texture, or how something feels to touch, through texture printing. We have already printed with cardboard earlier this school year, in our printed cityscapes. This time, students tried printing with a variety of different everyday objects and materials, as well as different colors of paint! 
First, we reviewed how we make a print with an object: dip it in the paint, press it down on the paper, and lift up to reveal the print. We talked about how to leave some space on the paper, so that there would be enough room to visit all 6 different color stations. Then students started printing at their assigned table, with one color of paint. Every few minutes, students moved to another table with their group to print with different materials and colors. 
Objects included sponges, bubble wrap, cardboard paper rolls, plastic mesh, and various plastic caps and lids. Prints were layered on top of each other as students moved around the room. Students were encouraged to explore and experiment with their prints and use the entire paper. 
PK and Kindergarten students did a great job with this messy process, making sure to put their objects back in the center of the table for others to share and walking carefully to the next station with their artwork when it was time to switch. It was messy, but also a lot of fun! Here are some examples of our texture printing exploration works on display:
Amor, Kindergarten (Beatty)
Giannah, Kindergarten (Bolton)
Inty, Kindergarten (Tan)
Kaylie, Kindergarten (Blackwood)
Lily, PK (Mattson / Gendren)
Nico, Kindergarten (Segreve)
Nora, Kindergarten (Segreve)
Olivia, Kindergarten (Blackwood)