Thursday, June 2, 2016

Cherry Blossoms & Sakura Season in Japan

After our exploration of Brazil, we traveled to Japan. We began by learning about the cherry blossoms, or sakura. In the early 1900's, Japan gave the United States a gift of more than 3,000 cherry blossom trees, as a sign of friendship. These trees were planted in our capital, Washington, D.C. The cherry blossom season is a very big event in Japan, as well as in D.C. We looked at photos of the cherry blossoms in bloom, as well as traditional paintings of cherry blossom trees. 
To begin our own paintings, we actually used black ink and a straw! First, black ink was dripped onto the bottom of their paper and students lifted up their paper to move the ink down and create a trunk or longer main branch. Then students used straws to blow the ink around their paper, causing smaller branches to form and extend towards the edges of the paper. 
We noticed that by angling the straw sideways and blowing away from the ink, we could create smaller branches off of the main branch or trunk. It took a lot of effort! Then we put these on the drying rack.
Next class, students looked at a variety of different cherry blossoms and noticed all the different kinds of pink. We remembered that to make pink, you mix red and white. When you add white to a color to make it lighter, it is called a tint. We noticed that when you add more white, it creates a lighter pink, and when you add more red, it results in a darker pink. We also discussed what kinds of shapes you could use to create petals and flowers. We learned how to use different brush strokes, dabbing to create smaller dots and also pressing down the side of the brush to create petal shapes.
Students got their ink branches back and using red and white paint, they mixed a variety of different pinks to add the cherry blossom flowers. Students were challenged to mix at least 3 different kinds of pink, and many students made even more
Students experimented with a variety of different shapes for their blossoms. Some students created smaller dots and dabbed their brush around to create smaller buds. Others pressed the brush down on its side to create petal shapes and overlapped these to create full blooms. Some students also painted petals falling off the flower, as they do in nature.
As a final step, we added a chop, or signature, to the bottom of our painting using red marker. We looked at examples of this in traditional Japanese paintings. Many students chose to use their initials or nickname, or a symbol that represents them as an artist. Below are some examples of our cherry blossoms or sakura paintings! 
Artem, 2nd grade (O'Connor)
Ava, 2nd grade (O'Leary)
Christina, 2nd grade (McIsaac)
Hashem, 2nd grade (McIsaac)
Lily F., 2nd grade (McCarthy)
Zerihun, 2nd grade (O'Leary)

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