|plaster bandage finger puppet|
*By the way, I am filling this post with a random smattering of student artwork. It will not always match the text. I just want you to see the type of stuff my kids might have done in my program.
|4th grade room design construction|
So, some background. (Feel free to skip this paragraph if you are not interested.) I am one-year retired, after 36 years teaching. I began as a high school art and photography teacher, but spent the last 27 years in the district that I retired from, teaching elementary and some middle level art. This job was in a small rural school district in northern NY, about 500 kids in the whole district. For the first 14 or so years in this job, I taught in two buildings, in two tiny towns. When I began, my classrooms were either nonexistent or inappropriate, and shared. It was not ideal, but I did not let it hinder the creation of art. Then my district got some funding and abandoned their three inadequate schools and built a central Pre-K-12 building. The high school art teacher and I suggested that our rooms be central to the building and adjoining, so that we could share expertise. Instead, we were placed at the extreme opposite reaches of the large building. Our schedules didn't jive, so we never saw each other. In other words, my art program existed as an island, and I was really on my own for deciding what to teach and why. Until I began blogging three years ago, my only contact with other art teachers was, for the most part, my attendance at annual conferences. So I figured things out for myself.
|Andy Warhol inspired cat paintings, grade 3|
Here's what I believe: I believe that art class should be a hands-on opportunity for kids. If you are afraid of making a mess you should not be an art teacher. The good thing, of course, is that you will have less behavior problems if your kids are actively engaged in hands-on experiences. Don't give up those messy materials for something easy to clean up due to lack of space, time, or energy. You are cheating the kids.
|5th grade special education student's papier-mache Laurel Burch inspired cat|
|expressing emotion with thought bubbles|
|6th grade Blue Willow inspired plate design|
|coffee filter creation|
|no explanation needed!|
By the time they left my program, I wanted my students to have experienced drawing, painting, collage, printmaking, cutting, gluing, weaving, constructing, and more. I want them to learn to use their eyes and their imaginations, to find creative solutions to challenges, and make independent decisions. I wanted to expose them to a variety of well-known artists, art trends, and cultures. I wanted them to learn to appropriately use and clean up art materials responsibly, and be good class citizens. And certainly I wanted them to have an understanding of how to use line, shape, color, etc effectively in their artwork.
|4th graders learn to use charcoals and draw trees|
As for specific curriculum - what I actually taught - I do need to say it varied from year to year.
I did not drill the Elements and Principles of Art (though posters hung on my bulletin board all year and were frequently referred to), but instead incorporated them into every lesson. I think it is more important for kids to understand how to use line and color and texture, for example, than to memorize facts, though vocabulary was added to my word wall all year. I found that almost every art project uses more than one or two elements, so to say "this is a line project" is kind of limiting. Perhaps we are using line to create the illusion of space, using line to create shape, using line to establish rhythm or movement... Perhaps the color of the line is significant. Perhaps the lines you are using create value and texture... you get the idea, right?
I also introduced students to the work of 'famous artists' and art movements and incorporated these into projects throughout the year. I kept careful track of the artists I introduced, and varied them from year to year so that we could study one artist across several grade levels. One year might be VanGogh, Mondrian, Cassatt, and Jackson Pollock; the next could be Chihuly, Rizzi, Lichtenstein, and Janet Fish; and the next might be Nevelson, Matisse, Klimt, and Frank Lloyd Wright; and the next could be Arcimboldo, Kandinsky, Warhol, and Grandma Moses; and so on. Sometimes artists/styles were displayed and studied together - such as Dali and Magritte. Or perhaps I might display landscapes/seascapes by Cezanne, and Monet, and Winslow Homer. Or self-portraits by everyone from vanGogh to Rembrandt to Suzanne Valadon. Or we might compare/contrast Frank Lloyd Wright with Victorian architecture.
|a little art room cleanup!|
|1st grade Matisse inspired painted collages|
|3rd grade drawings|
|1st grade family portrait|
|Pinwheels for Peace installation|
|papier-mache Darumas, Japanese inspiration|
|6th grade mummy cases with hieroglyphics|
|paintings by grade 2|
- Watercolors, tempera and acrylics. Painting would include using both traditional brushes, and non-traditional, such as Q-tips, cardboard scrapers, fingers, squirt bottles, rollers, etc.
- A variety of drawing materials including possibly pencils, crayons, chalk pastels, oil pastels, colored pencils, markers, and more.
- A variety of collage materials.
- 3-dimensional materials such as papier-mache, plaster bandage, clay, cardboard, fibers, etc
- Grades 3 and up were exposed to perspective, with the understanding and challenge of what we did a little more complex each year.
- Drawing from life - whether it was 1st graders 'modeling' for the class to draw, or the time we brought in animals (a parent did taxidermy), or a still life setup, or contour drawing from objects in the room; I much rather kids draw from life than copy photos when possible.
toothpaste batik in process
making 'rock' for cave wall paintings
grade 1 - 'I have a little shadow' kindergarten collage
|6th grade altered book|
|kindergarten pinch pots|
|from the Salvador Deli|
|cave wall hunk|
|papier-mache garden gnomes, grade 3|
|collaborative Pollock painting|
|4th grade cardboard crooked houses|