Friday, December 12, 2014

Aboriginal Animal Dot Painting, Part 1

Artists in 4th and 5th grades have been learning about the dot paintings of the Aboriginal people of Australia. We looked at some examples of their paintings, which help tell the story of their lives and history. Aboriginal artists used different symbols to help tell their story in pictures, and also used colors that had cultural meaning.
We began our own dot paintings by selecting animals native to Australia and drawing and painting them as simple outlines on brown paper. We noticed that the Aboriginal artists flattened out their animals, often showing them from a bird's eye view, so we did the same. We also used different shades of brown paper to resemble the tree bark and rocks that the Aboriginal people painted on.
We spent a day exploring color mixing, so we could create a variety of different colors using just our primary colors as well as white, and refresh our color mixing minds. 

We then painted our animals, using at least 5 colors that we mixed. We added dots by using a very special tool -- a q-tip! We thought about how we could use color to create a pattern with the dots. 
Painting took a few classes, so during one of them we learned about an Aboriginal instrument called the didgeridoo, which is a wind instrument developed by the Aboriginal people around 1,500 years ago and is still used today. Traditionally it was made out of wood that was hollowed out by termites and beeswax was used to form a mouthpiece. 

We looked at one owned by Ms. Patashnick, the music teacher, that was made from a PVC pipe and we noticed it also had a pattern of dots painted on the outside. We watched a video of someone playing didgeridoo and noticed that different sounds are produced by different ways of breathing into the instrument, since there are no holes or keys. We have been listening to didgeridoo music as we paint.
Lena, 5th Grade
Check back soon to see updates on our finished Aboriginal animal dot paintings!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014


Recently, artists in 1st and 2nd grades have been weaving with paper. In 2nd grade we looked at images of Kente cloth, from Ghana, which we noticed have patterns and are woven in bright colors.
In 1st grade we looked at Mexican serapes, or blankets, and noticed the bright colors and patterns in these textiles, as well.
We began by making our own paper looms and used strips of paper, which we also cut ourselves, to weave them through the loom. We made sure to keep in mind to have the lines alternate, over and under, to create our pattern
We then added more interest and layers to our weaving, using lines and shapes. We got to use fun scissors with different edges that let us cut different kinds of lines. We thought about color combinations that would work well in our weaving.
An optional last step was to add strings at the ends, using a hole puncher to make the holes and looping yarn through to tie at the ends. Below are some examples of our weavings. Some of them are now displayed in the glass case on the first floor near the main office, so be sure to check them out!

Patrick, 2nd Grade
Jaylyn, 2nd Grade

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Exploring Color Mixing

This past week, artists in PK and Kindergarten have been exploring color. We were familiar with our primary colors and had been using them for previous artwork, including our Mondrian inspired collages and our shape robots:
David, Kindergarten
We also painted lines and shapes using black paint and added our primary colors, being careful to wash out our brush between colors so they did not mix.
Our primary colored work is currently featured on the bulletin board:
This week we began to explore secondary colors, which are made by mixing the primary colors together. We thought about what might happen when we mix 2 primary colors together. We experimented with mixing our primary colors to make orange, green and violet. We made guesses as to what color might result when we mixed 2 colors together and we were excited when we were right!

After exploring color mixing together as a class, and thinking of different things that are orange, green or violet in color, we began our own exploration and experimentation!
We mixed red and yellow to make orange, blue and yellow to make green, and blue and red to make violet. We thought about how to make a darker color and a lighter color. Some of us tried to mix all 3 primary colors together and discovered that it made brown! 
Duncan, Kindergarten
Calvin, Kindergarten
Mera, Kindergarten
Next class we will be learning even more about our secondary colors!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014


3rd grade artists looked at the work of Roy Lichtenstein and learned about the use of onomatopoeia -- which is a really long word! Onomatopoeia is a word that imitates the sound of the object or action it refers to. Some examples are words like: "ouch," "achoo" and "ka-boom!"

We looked at a few of Lichtenstein's paintings and shared our observations. We noticed that he had a comic or cartoon-style to his artwork and he mainly used the 3 primary colors: red, yellow and blue. He also used words like "Whaam!" and "Varoom!" to show action.  
Roy Lichtenstein, Varoom! (1963)
We brainstormed some onomatopoeia words as a class, and then did 4 sketches of ideas where we took the word and expressed it as a visual, combining letters and pictures as part of our design:

During the next class, we looked at more of Lichtenstein's paintings and noticed that he used dots of color, called benday dots, which were inspired by the way comic books were printed at the time. 
Roy Lichtenstein, Sunrise (1965)
We selected one sketch to make into a larger drawing and used markers in primary colors, incorporating the benday dots in at least one area of our artwork. These are some examples of our finished onomatopoeia drawings:
Natalie, 3rd Grade
Tamsin, 3rd Grade
Lily, 3rd Grade
Cyrus, 3rd Grade

Monday, November 10, 2014

Mondrian Lines & Shapes

Recently, PK and Kindergarten artists looked at the work of Piet Mondrian. We looked at two of his paintings and shared our observations. We noticed that he used lines to create his shapes, and that he used the 3 primary colors in his rectangles and squares. We also noticed that his painting looked very neat, not messy, and it reminded some students of a maze.
Piet Mondrian, Composition with Large Red Plane, Yellow, Black, Gray and Blue (1921)
We created our own collage using lines and shapes, using the same 3 colors that Mondrian used for our shapes. We carefully considered how to arrange our lines to create spaces for shapes and thought about how to use the appropriate amount of glue.
We learned that with a collage, it helps to put your line or shape down on your paper and think about how you might arrange them before you glue it down. Here are some of our Mondrian-inspired collages!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Dia de Muertos

5th and 4th grade artists learned about Día de Muertos, or the Day of the Dead, holiday celebrated in Mexico on November 1st and 2nd. Families gather to honor and remember friends and family members who have died. Traditions include building altars to honor family members and decorating them with sugar skulls and marigolds, a kind of flower.  

We watched Google's recent doodle of the day about the holiday. The skull or calavera is a common symbol of the holiday. We looked at examples of sugar skulls and noticed that they had a symmetrical design and were usually very colorful. We drew our own skulls and created a symmetrical design, using permanent marker to finalize our details and colored pencils to add color. 
We learned about blending the colored pencil together to form gradients, going from dark to light or light to dark using the same color family.
Ava, 4th Grade
Then we cut them out and glued them onto a colored paper background, selecting a color that helped make our skull stand out. Some of our Día de Muertos skulls are featured on the bulletin board outside the art room (some of the flowers were made by students who finished early):

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Keith Haring Dancing Figures

In 3rd grade we have been learning about the work of artist Keith Haring, who is famous for his energetic figures. We connected his people to our recent experience with gesture drawing. We learned that Haring was inspired by popular culture and cartoons from his childhood, and that this influenced his style.

We looked at a few examples of his murals and paintings, including this one, titled "Five Figures Dancing."
To begin our own Keith Haring inspired artwork, we began by dancing! We took turns dancing in groups to Pharrell's "Happy." When the music stopped, students would freeze mid-dance and their classmates did gesture drawings, or quick sketches, of them. 

The following class, we thought about how to use the gesture drawings and turn them into Keith Haring inspired figures. We selected 3 figures from our gesture drawings done during the previous class and drew them on colored paper. We cut them out and glued them onto a background, and then added lines and shapes to show movement. 
Colin, 3rd Grade
Anon, 3rd Grade
Grace, 3rd Grade
Lalita, 3rd Grade

Friday, October 31, 2014

Imaginary Monster Collages

After listening to Go Away, Big Green Monster! by Ed Emberley, 1st and 2nd grade artists created their own imaginary monster collage
We thought about how we could cut a variety of different shapes, both geometric and organic, to create our monsters. We also added details, like sharp teeth, hair, tails and multiple eyes.
Gavin, 1st Grade

Jaylyn, 2nd Grade
Some of our monsters are featured on a bulletin board in the connector hallway, near the music room, so be sure to check them out!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Take A Walk In Our Shoes

This past week, 4th and 5th graders took a closer look at their shoes and drew them from observation. First, we took off one shoe and put it on the table in front of us, so we could look at it as we drew. We focused on getting the shape or contour of the shoe first.
Then looked at all the details in the shoe and thought about how to represent them using lines and shapes.

Some of our shoes, especially the athletic sneakers, had a lot of detail, including many different shapes and textures. We also thought about the shadow that the shoe made on the table.
Anita, 4th Grade
Eden, 4th Grade
Jared, 5th Grade
Vincent, 5th Grade
Some of our work is currently featured on one of the bulletin boards outside the art room. Check them out on your way to art class!