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Friday, December 21, 2012

Snowflakes for the students of Sandy Hook

A building has been designated to house the students from Sandy Hook Elementary School.  The Newtown PTA discussed what they could do to make these children feel comforted upon their return to school.  They came up with the Snowflake project.  They asked students to make a snowflake for them to hang in the new building.  The goal is to create a cheerful, happy environment for the students entering the new building.  As soon as I found out about this I had a number of my classes create flakes before our December break. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

December Break Family Activities at the MFA!!!

Take a trip to the Museum of Fine Arts during your time off this December vacation!  The Museum offers free art activities for families all week long from 10am-4pm.
Some of the activities being offered are:

Americas through the Ages Charm Necklace Art of the Americas Wing Level 3
Explore the four floors of the Art of the Americas Wing. As you move from the oldest American art in the lower level (LG) to the modern work on the top level, think about the connections you can make between the art of the past and the present. Create your own charm necklace inspired by the art you see and the connections you make.
New Year's Resolution Postcard Lois B. and Michael K. Torf Gallery 184
Available until 8 pm on Wednesday, December 26

Step back in time to 100 years ago and see how postcards depicted daily life in "The Postcard Age." Create your own postcard for the coming year with your New Year's resolution on the back and a drawing of yourself accomplishing it on the front!
Coin Design Michael C. Ruettgers Gallery for Ancient Coins 212C
Marvel at different types of coins from the ancient world. Notice the symbols, mottos, and metals in these miniature sculptures; then design and emboss your own coin creation.
Pets: Then and Now Education Center in Druker Family Pavilion Room 159
Search for a variety of animals in the woodblock prints in "Cats to Crickets: Pets in Japan’s Floating World" (Gallery 278A). Examine how animals were part of daily life in Japan in the 1700s and 1800s, and then join us in the studio Room 159 to create a print about the role of animals in your life today.

*Click on this link to get more information!
December vacation at the MFA!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Calder Rocking Birds

First Graders began studying the elements of art- starting with line.  Using paint we created 4 or 5 different kinds of lines on our paper.  Afterwards we filled in the shapes that were created by our lines.  Finally students discussed patterns and used a variety of lines to create patterns on top of their paintings.

Next, we looked at artist Alexander Calder.  We discussed his love of motion as well as how he used to create his own toys.  After looking at and discussing his work we set out to transform our paintings into our own rocking birds!

Knights in Armor

Fourth Grade students studied armor from 3 different places in the world- Europe, Japan, and the Islamic world.  In Europe we discussed how the design of the armor often reflected popular clothing during that time period.  Students were able to analyze the designs on the armor; understanding how the artistic choices represented the person inside.  In Europe we saw symbols as well as illustrations that described scenes from the bible or military designs from Ancient Greece and Rome. In Japan, the samaurai's armor was very different.  Warriors wore masks to protect them and also to scare their enemies.  Their helmets also contained symbols.  We saw one helmet that used a praying mantis to represent fearlessness or bravery.  Students were also able to identify other symbols on their armor (like turtles to represent a long life).  Lastly we looked at some Islamic armor.  This armor did not include any symbols of people or animals like the others we viewed but instead was decorated with arabesques( looks like vines) and Arabic writing (often quotes from the Qur'an.  Human and animal symbols don't appear very often in the decoration of Islamic arms because using such images to decorate mosques and the Qu'ran was forbidden. 

    After viewing and discussing these examples students set out to design their own armor, drawing inspiration from what they had just seen.  Students began their design with tag board, covered it with foil, and etched their own symbols into the foil using a pencil.  Later students discussed medival weaponry and shields and added these elements to their work as well.

Friday, November 30, 2012

More Aztec Portraits

More Blue Willow Plates

Calder's Circus

Second Grade students studied the work of Alexander Calder.  We learned how Calder was very inspired by animals and their movements.  In fact, he often visited the zoo to sketch the live animals.  Calder also enjoyed the animals and movements he saw when visiting the circus and it gave him an idea for his art...Calder's circus! (video above).  Students also decided to draw inspiration from the circus.  Each student drew their own circus animal based on a photograph they were given.  We learned how to draw an animal by looking at it shape by shape.  Once the drawing was complete their images were cut up and we attached them together to make it look like a circus train.  On the top of the train studets designed a shape that has symmetry.



Self-Portrait before being attached to trapeze...
First grade students began their year by studying self-portraits.  After looking at the work of Frieda Khalo, they set out to create their own.  students were given a precut shape of a person that included everything but the head.  Each student drew in their own head, trying to represent themselves in their drawing.  once the drawing was complete we returned to the smart board where we studied a very different portrait by Picasso titled The Acrobat.  We learned how Picasso was very inspired by the circus and painted many pictures of harlequins.  After looking at Picassos work we also viewed work by other artists of circus performers and acrobats.  students then returned to their portraits adding patterns of lines or shapes in order to create a costume like a harlequin or circus performer.  students colored their work with colored pencils.  lastly, students watched videos of real circus performers on the trapeze to give them ideas of how they might want to attach their own self portraits to their trapeze

Chihuly Videos!

Rewatch the videos we saw in class on Chihuly!!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Kooky Line/Shape Clowns

Kindergarten students began the year by studying a portrait by Romero Britto.  Usaing the smartboard students were able to see how Britto used basic shapes and lines to create his art. After identifying the shapes and lines that artists use, students set out to create their own clown portraits.  We began with the hair.  Students created their own crazy clown hair by drawing 5 different kinds of lines.  We then noticed how the lines created shapes on our paper and students colored the kooky shapes with oil crayons.  Once the hair was complete we moved on to our clown's shirt.  Students learned how to repeat lines and shapes to create a pattern.  Last but not least students created a face for their portraits  by choosing a large white shape, a circle nose and drawing their own shapes and lines for eyes and a mouth! 

Blue Willow Story Plates

 The Chinese began making porcelain in 25CE.  The methods for making it were kept a secret for a long time and porcelain became a major export for China and a major source of its wealth.  Today this process is no longer a secret and porcelain is made in many different places—but the use of the word “China” to describe porcelain is a tribute to how important this art form was to them.
Fifth Grade students examined blue and white china.  We focused our attention on a very popular blue and white china design—the Blue Willow pattern.  The design itself looks Chinese but students learned this was actually designed in England as an imitation of Chinese examples.  In order to sell more plates the designers wanted people to believe this was authentically Chinese so they developed a story to go along with the image in the center of the plate- which was described as a traditional Chinese legend.  After reading the story and studying how it was illustrated on the plate students set out to design their own “China
Students created patterns around the borders of their plates using lines, their initial and geometric shapes.  In the center of their plate they illustrated a story based on their own personal experiences.

Friday, October 26, 2012


Glass is one of my favorite art mediums.  I've made my own stained glass windows, kiln formed glass, and I've even blown glass!  The third, fourth and fifth grade are about to start a large group art project based on one of my favorite glass artists- Dale Chihuly.  Students can see a real Chihuly sculpture at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. (It's free to visit on wednesday nights...there's information about it on the bottom of my blog)  I hope parents will be encouraged to take their students to check it out!  Glass blowing is so fun and interesting to watch--if your family is looking for something to do you might consider visiting Diablo Glass -where you can watch a glass blowing demonstration with your family.  It's not too far from the museum so you could actually visit both places on the same day!  Here's a link to their webpage:Diablo Glass School -Family Experience

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Adire Cloth


After finishing their masks, second grade students studied another art form from Africa- textiles.  We looked at Kente, Adinkra, and Adire.  After learning about these three kinds of cloth we focused our attention on Adire- which is created with a resist dye method.  Using rubberbands as our resist we tied them around a wet wipe and dyed the cloth with markers.  Once the cloth was dry it was opened to reveal our own adire cloths!  The cloth was used as a background for their masks. 

Aztec Inspired Portraits

Third Grade students began the year by looking at the Aztecs.  The Aztecs were a group of American Indians.  They came to Mexico where they developed into a powerful tribe (from 1428-1521).  Aztec society was based on farming- and religion was very important to them as well.  As a result, they worshipped gods that represented natural forces – which would be very important in farming (Gods for sun, rain, earth…)
Students examined the artworks the Aztecs left behind – stone sculptures that represented sun, rain, earth….The class discussed how the Aztecs used symbols to describe the different gods.  For example, the rain god had mountains on his head because they believed all water flowed down from the mountains to feed the soil. 
After viewing and discussing various artworks students set out to create their own Aztec inspired portraits.  Students thought about some of the things that are important to them (school, video games, shopping…)  and developed their own symbols that could represent their idea.  The symbols were then used to create a type of headdress for the person in their portrait. 
Once the drawing was complete each student transferred their work to a piece of foam.  The foam was then covered with ink to create a print!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

African Masks in progress!!

Second grade students discussed the different ways we use masks. Students are used to seeing these objects on halloween, in the circus, as part of parades and festivals, or in theater performances. We then explored how masks are used in other parts of the world. The class saw masks from Venice, Cambodia, Japan, Native Americans, and Bali. Finally we focused on the masks from Africa. . Students saw examples from Africas many countries and discussed the different ways the masks were used. We discovered that masks in Africa are very different than the masks we have encountered here. In Africa its believed that masks contain spirits of ancestors, animals, or other forces of nature. When a person wears one of these masks the spirit takes over and a transformation takes place. During a masquerade (when the mask is worn) an audience gathers to see what the mask has to say or teach them. Students were able to watch videos of some of these masks in motion.

We then set out to create our own masks using model magic. Students learned how to manipulate the clay to create the form of their mask.  When we are done building, applying textures, and beads we will begin to add color!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Back to School!!

Welcome back!  Last October I gave birth to my son and took the rest of the school year off to be with him.  I'm sad to leave my little guy at home after all the quality time we got to spend together but I'm looking foward to this school year and all the great art we are going to create!!  I'll be updating this blog throughout the year to keep you posted on all the great things we're learning and creating- so check back often and be sure to bookmark it on your computers!