Sunday, January 29, 2017

Arts Around the World: Kandinsky & Onion Domes from Russia

The second country in our Arts Around the World journey this year is Russia. 2nd grade students began by learning about the country, including where it is located and it's capital city, Moscow. 
Then we read The Noisy Paint Box: The Colors and Sounds of Kandinsky's Abstract Art. We learned that Vasily Kandinsky grew up in Russia, learning piano and math and history. His family also sent him to art classes, where they expected him to paint houses, people and flowers—like a "proper" artist. But when Kandinsky painted, he heard sounds and connected elements of music to colors and shapes. 
He wanted to show how music made him feel, and to paint a symphony of colors and shapes. He became one of the first painters of abstract art, focusing on shapes, lines, and colors, rather than recognizable objects. 
Kandinsky, Composition VII (1913)
Students first explored this idea by drawing to music, listening to different classical pieces by Russian composers that they would learn about in music class, such as Tchaikovsky, Stravinsky, Mussorgsky, and Rachmaninoff. Students used oil pastels to draw a variety of different shapes and lines, using different colors. Some students interpreted different parts of the music using darker or brighter colors, faster or lighter strokes, and curved or straight lines. 
The following class, we added watercolor paint and learned about the technique of wet-on-wet. In this technique, we made the paper wet by first painting a light wash of water, then dripping or dotting paint on top. We noticed that the paint moved around and created interesting and unexpected effects. 
We also noticed that the watercolor paint did not cover the oil pastel, but moved away from it. This demonstrated resist, where materials move apart. Below are some examples of our abstract artworks, inspired by Kandinsky.
Brian, 2nd Grade (Pearse)
Eleni, 2nd Grade (O'Connor)
Ethan, 2nd Grade (McIsaac)
Kaylee M., 2nd Grade (Pearse)
Shane, 2nd Grade (O'Connor)
Sofia, 2nd Grade (O'Connor)
For our second Russia art project, students learned about onion domes. We looked at an image of a building in Moscow and students pointed out the colorful shapes and patterns that they noticed, as well as the "Hershey's Kiss" shaped tops to some of the towers! We learned that these are called onion domes for their shape and they are an architectural feature first started in Russia. Onion domes are often seen on churches in Russia but have now spread to many other areas of the world and are seen on many different houses of worship. 
Russian onion domes are often very colorful and brightly patterned. Students also noticed that many of the designs had textural details. We designed and drew our own buildings with onion domes using oil pastel on black paper. Using a white pencil, students first started with larger shapes and added smaller details as windows, doors, and decorative details. 
Students had to include at least two onion domes in their building and although many of the buildings we looked at were symmetrical in their design, students could choose to make them asymmetrical as well. Some students chose to hold their paper horizontally and others chose to design vertically. 
Students also looked at images of Russian buildings with onion domes as reference. After sketching out their design with the white pencil, students used oil pastel to add color to their work. We reviewed complementary colors and also noticed that lighter colors, like white and light pink, stood out better on the black paper than colors like dark purple. We also talked about how, if you wanted to use a darker color, you could use a contrasting lighter color around it to help it stand out. 
Students spent some time on their buildings with onion domes and it shows! Below are some examples:
Aaron, 2nd Grade (McIsaac)
Wyatt, 2nd Grade (McCarthy)
Dayton, 2nd Grade (McCarthy)
Ana, 2nd Grade (Pearse)
Dylon Z., 2nd Grade (Hinds)
Kemiyoda, 2nd Grade (Pearse)
Paulo, 2nd Grade (Pearse)
Noah, 2nd Grade (O'Connor)
Mera, 2nd Grade (McIsaac)
Evelyn, 2nd Grade (Pearse)

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Snowmen at Night Chalk Pastel Drawings

After learning about using value to show a three-dimensional form in their personal object still life drawings, 5th grade artists applied the same concept using a different material. We read the story, Snowmen at Night, and looked closely at the illustrations to inspire our own sketches for what our snowmen (or snow people) could be doing. 
Some ideas we came up with included making snow angels, skiing, snowboarding, snowball fights, and playing pond hockey. In their sketch, students had to show some sort of action, and include a light source, whether it was the moon, a lamp, or a fire. 
Using their sketch to guide them, students then used chalk pastel to draw their own snowmen at night scene on larger colored paper. We discussed how to use other colors in combination with white to create a three-dimensional appearance to the snow. We noticed that the illustrations in the book included many colors in addition to white to represent snow. For the areas of shadow, we used different shades of blue, purple, black and gray. For the areas of highlight, we used yellows and oranges to show light hitting a surface. This all depended on the light source in each student's work, and which side of the snowman was closest to it. (Most) students enjoyed blending the soft pastel with their finger to blend colors together and fill in shapes. 
The following classes, we focused on adding details to the snowmen as well as the background. Students got creative with their details, adding faces, winter accessories likes hats and scarves, trees, and even snow animals. We talked about how to add the shading and highlight to those details, such as the carrot nose or a top hat. 
Students also considered different ways to approach the sky, whether it was adding snowflakes, stars, etc. Below are some examples of our snowmen at night drawings. Two students' drawings were featured on the December winter concert program and some of our other snowmen at night drawings are now on display in the glass case downstairs. Be sure to check them out!
Chris, 5th Grade (Twomey)
Grace, 5th Grade (Twomey)
Ani, 5th Grade (Psychoghios)
Armani, 5th Grade (Bellis)
Celia, 5th Grade (Bellis)
Dorothy, 5th Grade (Psychoghios)
Elena, 5th Grade (Bellis)
Halle, 5th Grade (Bellis)
Ilana, 5th Grade (Bellis)
John, 5th Grade (Bellis)
Lindsay, 5th Grade (Domermuth Fantasia)
Tiffany, 5th Grade (Domermuth Fantasia)
Anna L., 5th Grade (Psychoghios)
Cyrus, 5th Grade (Bellis)
Danny, 5th Grade (Bellis)
Tracy, 5th Grade (Twomey)

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Abstract Paintings with Primary Colors

Kindergarten artists have been learning about primary colors: red, yellow and blue. We used them for our shape robots, as well as our collage artworks inspired by Mondrian's paintings
Sophia, Kindergarten (Segreve)
For our paintings, we began by looking at paintings by Franz Kline and Vasily Kandinsky to learn about abstract art. Students noticed the lines, shapes, and colors in the artworks. They noticed that sometimes the same lines and shapes reminded one student of a house, another student saw a ladder, and yet another student connected them to roads. Different students had different ideas and because the paintings are not showing us something we immediately recognize, everyone can have their own interpretation. They were not paintings of people or objects
Vasily Kandinsky, Composition VIII (1923)
We learned that in abstract art, artists are not trying to show something from the real world. They use lines, shapes and colors to show an idea or feeling. Sometimes they are inspired by music. Students painted their own abstract painting, using lines and shapes that we have learned, with black paint. Students left plenty of white space inside and around their shapes. 
The following class, we learned about our primary colors. We learned that primary colors are important because you cannot mix other colors to make them, but you can use them together to make new colors. To remember the primary colors, we looked at Superman's logo, because it has the three primary colors and these colors are strong and powerful, like Superman! Then we used the primary colors to paint inside the shapes and around the spaces in our painting. We focused on washing out our brush in between colors, so that they did not mix. Here are some of our finished abstract paintings, using lines, shapes and primary colors. They are currently on display in the connector hallway!
Kenjisan, Kindergarten (Segreve)
Thomas, Kindergarten (Segreve)
Dylan, Kindergarten (Blackwood)
Finn, Kindergarten (Blackwood)
Kai, Kindergarten (Segreve)
Will, Kindergarten (Tan)
Zoie, Kindergarten (Bolton)