Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Autumn interlude, and an art lesson too!

This is an interlude from my usual posts, but if you read to the end, there's still an art lesson to share!  And I'll share some photos from the past couple of weeks. 
Autumn is my favorite season; I love the lipstick reds, vibrant oranges, glowing yellows, and more, of peak fall color in my part of the country.
 I love the fog on the lake on a crisp morning, and water with barely a ripple.
I love the amber glow of light, and the brassy/coppery look everywhere when the leaves start to brown, especially when the sunlight is just right.  
I love crisp fresh air and wearing cuddly sweaters and scarves, and I love the sound of leaves crunching under my feet, and milkweed seeds flying about.
 And I love interesting surprises, like these yellow berries.  Or are they bubbles?
I love the rich color after a chilly rain, and the smell of hot cider or squash soup.  
And another smell today, as my husband cut down the garden - the chives let loose a delightful oniony - garlicky smell that was totally unexpected.  It made me want to cook!  He does most of the yard work, but I like to rake, and sometimes I'm inspired to have an Andy Goldsworthy moment.
You can get imaginative in the woods.
Case in point, the Jabba the Hut tree roots below.
And I promised a lesson.  You will have to use your imagination, because this is one project I do not have photos of.  I always liked having my students create autumn landscapes or leaf collages, and we've used various mediums. But my favorite for autumn using sponge painting, because  you can so closely re-create the look of autumn leaves.

I cut sponges into 1" or 2" chunks, and "grabbed" each one with a clothespin.  These become paint stampers and spreaders.  I mixed tempera paint into various autumn colors - no colors straight out of the bottle; I would pre-mix varieties of red-orange, yellow-orange, olive green, yellow-green, ochre, tan, amber, and red-violet (yes, some trees turn this color) and put little paper muffin cups of these colors on the tables.  (Disposable after the mess is done!)
The students could further mix these colors by dipping a stamper in more than one color.  Sometimes we might draw tree trunks and ground with crayon and then stamp our leaves.  Other times we might stamp pages full of leaf colors, and then cut them out to collage.  Or we might paint watercolor sky and water, stamp leaves/trees along the shore, and fold horizontally to create a reflection of the colors in the water. 
There are so many possibilites, but sponge painting is one of the easiest for autumn leaves.  At the end of class, the mini sponges all go into a bucket, and are replaced with another set of sponges for the next class.  At the end of the day, soak the sponges in the bucket, and find some student who wants to rinse and squeeze.  It is so wonderfully messy, the kids will fight over the job!  They don't have to be perfectly clean.  Let them dry, and put them away to use another day!

 Autumn colors are fleeting; if you live in an area that is as glorious as it is here, the students will be excited to represent them, and the projects can be completed in one or two art classes.  Do you have favorite autumn lessons?

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