Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Monoprinting Explorations with Gelli Plates

This spring, 3rd grade artists experimented with monoprinting using Gelli plates. Gelli plates look and feel a lot like gelatin, but are reusable (and not edible!). We learned that in monoprinting, you make a one of a kind print, unlike other forms of printmaking, where you can print the same image multiple times. We explored a few different monoprinting techniques, focusing on one technique per class. 
On the first class, we learned about the subtractive method of monoprinting. Students connected this technique to subtraction in math, which means to remove or take away. Students watched a demonstration before trying it themselves. First, we rolled acrylic paint on top of the Gelli plate in an even layer with a brayer. Using cotton swabs, we removed, or subtracted, some of the paint from the plate before placing a piece of paper on top and pulling the print. We used them because we cannot use anything sharp on the Gelli plate's surface. Students experimented with different lines, shapes and symbols. We also noticed that everything we drew onto the plate came out backwards on the paper. The Gelli plates made monoprinting pretty easy! After each print, we used the brayers to roll more paint on top of the plate and start again. Each student made 3 subtractive monoprints, sharing a Gelli plate and brayer with a partner. At the end of class, one student washed the brayer and the other partner cleaned the Gelli plate. The Gelli plates are easy to clean with a little hand sanitizer and paper towel. 
The following class, we learned about and experimented with the additive method of monoprinting. The opposite of the subtractive technique, we added the paint directly on top of the Gelli plate. Students used paintbrushes to paint lines, shapes and designs on top of the plate before placing a piece of paper on top and pulling the print. We used scrap newsprint paper to remove any remaining paint between prints. Each student made 3 additive monoprints and shared the clean up responsibilities at the end of class. 
The third technique we learned about was masking. Masking is when you cover up part of the plate with a material so that it masks that area. We used paper shapes to cover up parts of the Gelli plate. 
We also experimented with layering as our fourth and final technique, printing on top of existing prints. For this technique, we also had to register, or line up our prints, with the one already on the paper. This was challenging, but we noticed that layering our prints together created some very interesting effects and new color combinations. 
After all of our monoprinting explorations, we looked at all of our prints and selected our three favorites to sign and title. Students had as many as 15 prints that they had made during all of our explorations! It was interesting to see prints we had made several classes ago. Students created a unique signature to sign all their prints and also spent time coming up with thoughtful and creative titles! 
We finished with a gallery walk to see everyone's favorite three prints, spending time to notice the monoprinting technique(s) that were used and reading the titles. Our creative titles added a lot to our understanding of the prints. Below are some examples of our monoprints:
Anastasia, 3rd Grade (Monfette)
Autumn, 3rd Grade (Monfette)
Boran, 3rd Grade (DeBaie Nickl)
Brian, 3rd Grade (Donato)
Charlotte, 3rd Grade (Fletcher)
Daria, 3rd Grade (Fletcher)
Ella, 3rd Grade (DeBaie Nickl)
Ellian, 3rd Grade (Monfette)
Mera, 3rd Grade (Donato)
Sophia, 3rd Grade (Monfette)
Viveca, 3rd Grade (Monfette)
Zaol, 3rd Grade (Monfette)

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Animals With Tails Paintings

1st grade artists recently painted about animals with tails! Unlike humans, many animals have tails, which help them do a variety of different things. We brainstormed different animals that have different shaped tails, inspired by a variety of different colored and shaped tails. 
After our brainstorming session, students selected one animal and sketched it, breaking it down into shapes. After sketching, students got a felt tail to glue down on a larger piece of paper, and drew their animal's body around the tail. We considered composition, so there would be space for the animal's body parts and tail, and how different animals are taller or wider. 
The following class, students mixed colors to paint their animal's body. We thought about the texture and patterns on our animals, whether they are furry, scaly, or feathered. We tried to paint the body in layers, painting the largest parts and adding smaller details and patterns on top. 
During the last class, students painted the background for their animal, which included the animal's habitat or environment. Students mixed new colors and thought about how to show where the animal might live. Some students painted an outdoor environment, including the sky, water, grass and desert. Some students painted an indoor environment, like a barn or a living room. Here are some examples of our animals with tails!
Archie, 1st Grade (McCarthy)
Audrey, 1st Grade (Salvucci)
Bryan, 1st Grade (Landay)
Jack, 1st Grade (Massa)
Nirvaan, 1st Grade (Mandile)
Aaron, 1st Grade (Landay)
Amelia, 1st Grade (Mandile)
Zoe, 1st Grade (Massa)
Stefany, 1st Grade (Mandile)
Marlo, 1st Grade (McCarthy)

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Self Portrait Assemblages

Back in March, Kindergarten artists created self portrait assemblages! We learned that a self portrait is when a you create an artwork, like a drawing or painting, of yourself. Only you can create your own self portrait. We also thought about what our bodies look like when we are doing our favorite physical activities. We shared ideas by having students act out different activities to see what their bodies look like when they are running, jumping, dancing, swimming, practicing ballet, doing karate, playing hockey and more. 
Next, students used cut cardboard shapes and glued them together to create their bodies, arranging their arms and legs to show what their bodies look like when they are doing their favorite activities. 
During the following class, we added clothing to our self portrait assemblages. There were many different materials to choose from at the materials table, including paper, fabric, metallic paper, felt, foam and buttons. Students chose different materials to add to their self portrait to give their clothing different colors, patterns and textures. 
Many students thought about what kind of clothing they wear during their favorite activity, to help select materials. Some students wear a uniform or special outfit for their activity, such as karate or gymnastics. 
During our last class, we discussed the different parts of our face and students added their facial features, as well as their hair. Students chose different colors of paper for their skin tone, since we all have different skin colors. Students could add their facial features using paper or draw them with pencil and Sharpie markers. Students added yarn for hair, choosing colors that were closest to their hair color. 
After everyone was done, we shared our self portrait assemblages with the class. We noticed that there were such a wide variety of activities represented! We also worked on being respectful of each other's work. Here are some examples of our self portrait assemblages that were on display at the Watertown Art Show recently:
Andrew, Kindergarten (Martignetti)
Blake, Kindergarten (Beatty)
David, Kindergarten (Blackwood)
Eila, Kindergarten (Segreve)
Ethan, Kindergarten (Tan)
Joshua, Kindergarten (Martignetti)
Kaleb, Kindergarten (Tan)
Keegan, Kindergarten (Bolton)
Naadufie, Kindergarten (Beatty)
Nifemi, Kindergarten (Bolton)
Sorayah, Kindergarten (Blackwood)
Zoe, Kindergarten (Beatty)

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Arts Around the World: French Pointillist Paintings Inspired by Seurat

The third country on our Arts Around the World journey this year is France. We began by learning about France and French artist, Claude Monet. Monet began the Impressionist art movement and we made paintings inspired by his many paintings of a bridge over a pond of waterlilies in his garden in Giverny.
Georges Seurat, A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte (1884-86)
For our next project based on a French artist, we looked at the work of Georges Seurat. We looked at Seurat's painting, A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, and noticed that many people were out in a park, sitting and standing on the grass and boating in the water. We also noticed that it was hard to see details on the people's faces and when you look closely at the trees and water, especially, they look very soft and seem to be made up of smaller dots or brushstrokes.
A detail from Seurat's Circus Sideshow (1887-88)
Georges Seurat was born in Paris in 1859 and studied to be an artist. Seurat and painter friend, Paul Signac, developed a technique of painting called Pointillism. Pointillism uses small, distinct dots of color to form an image. The eye and mind of the viewer have to blend the dots to form new colors and see the image all together. This is actually similar to the way computer screens work today -- the pixels in the computer screen are like the dots in a Pointillist painting. Pointillism took longer than the quick brushstrokes that we learned about with Impressionism, since it involves making so many dots. A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte took Seurat two years! 
Georges Seurat, La Seine à la Grande-Jatte (1888)
We looked at several examples of Seurat and Signac's Pointillist paintings and noticed that they liked to paint landscapes, especially with water. We drew our own landscapes, inspired by the paintings we saw. Two of the second grade classes looked at the painting above by Seurat, La Seine à la Grande-Jatte, which features the Seine River that runs through Paris. We noticed that the landscape featured a river, grass, trees and sky, so we included those elements in our own landscapes. Some students added buildings, clouds or a boat, as optional details. 
Paul Signac, The Port, Red Sunset (1906)
The other two second grade classes looked at the painting above by Paul Signac, The Port, Red Sunset, and drew a sunset scene with water and sky and a setting sun. We felt it was rather simple to draw, but knew that it would be important to mix different color dots together to give the impression of a sunset and that would take more time.
The following class, students began painting their Pointillist landscapes using cotton swabs to create the dots! We dipped the end of the cotton swab into paint and pressed it onto the paper to create the dots, repeating this motion several times until we filled up an area. We tried to use different colors in the same area, the way Seurat and Signac did. 
While we were creating the dots we listened to Claude Debussy's Clair De Lune and a few more of his compositions since we have been learning about him in music. One student noticed that he shares the same first name as Claude Monet! 
Although the painting part took much longer than when we made our Impressionist inspired artwork, many students enjoyed the repetitive nature of dotting with the cotton swabs! Students who finished their Pointillist landscape paintings early were able to make their own Pointillist paintings with subjects and designs of their choice. Also, during spring break, one of our 2nd grade artists found an example of Pointillism at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston:
Below are examples of our Pointillist landscape paintings:
Anthony, 2nd Grade (Hinds)
Ava W., 2nd Grade (Hinds)
Brook, 2nd Grade (Pearse)
Hannah, 2nd Grade (Pearse)
Lucas, 2nd Grade (Pearse)
Mary Kate, 2nd Grade (Hinds)
Norah, 2nd Grade (Pearse)
Willow, 2nd Grade (Hinds)
Ava A., 2nd Grade (O'Connor)
Dahlia, 2nd Grade (O'Connor)
Emma, 2nd Grade (Stone)
Maria A., 2nd Grade (Stone)
Maria O., 2nd Grade (O'Connor)
Mary, 2nd Grade (Stone)
Megan, 2nd Grade (Stone)
Noah, 2nd Grade (Stone)