Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Studio Art: Unit 1 Projects with Zentangles

This year I decided to start off my Studio Art students with zentangles.  Yes, I know it's up for debate among art teachers because it's technically doodling, but I like the word!  And, I have quite a few high strung students this year, so using the term "zen" and getting them to relax a bit worked perfectly for them.  Whether you prefer to call it doodling, these zentangled alphabets turned out great.  I love using these kinds of projects at the beginning of the year because (1) it's an easy way to cover the elements and principles in a way that's easy for students to understand and (2) it's very easy for students to be successful!  

We started out by creating zentangled alphabets.  We spent a day in the computer lab finding a font to use that would be wide enough to doodle in.  Students were required to do at least 9 letters.  Some simply chose alphabet letters whereas some did their names.  I've done this project in the past and the students loved it as well...you can see our results here.

For the final project in the first unit of Studio Art, students had to incorporate zentangles into a bigger picture.  Now, I'm trying this year to really give students more choices.  I don't know a lot about TAB but I'm slowly trying to incorporate more and more TAB techniques.  Last year, I attempted a completely TAB assignment and it flopped big time in my Studio classes, so I came to the assumption that I can't just do TAB cold turkey, especially when a majority of the students in that class are there because they have to take it.  So, each unit I do this year will have a final project that incorporates more choices.

The final zentangle project allowed students to choose a subject matter of choice, and I was quite pleased with most of the results!
The student who did the zentangled Darth Vater did a lot of little composition thinking...he played around with the patterns he used on each side of the face.  I was quite impressed with the thought he put into it!  The student who did the flaming skull...well let me tell you he brought tears to my eyes with this project.  When he was in 7th grade, he did absolutely nothing.  He hated art.  He struggled a bit during the first week or two of school to get into the swing of things in Studio Art, but once he made the decision to remove himself from the negative Nancy's in the class, he began to excel!  He did such an awesome job blending and shading his colors, and he did it all on his own!

The portrait on the left was created by one of our exchange students from Denmark.  I find it fascinating that they don't get art in the upper grades (she hasn't had it since grade school), and yet she is so willing to learn and soak up the information I have to give! 

This is another artwork from an exchange student.  She is from South Korea.

This student is going to Boces for criminal justice.  She wishes to be a dispatcher.  Despite her nature to complain and be negative, we figured out something she could do for her final project that actually meant something to her and she somewhat enjoyed doing!  Score one for Mrs. Impey. ;)

Here is my rubric and project sheet from the final zentangle project.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Sixth Grade Cave Paintings

My sixth graders have just finished up their first project, which was, of course, cave art!  When talking about curriculum for my elementary grade levels, sixth grade and kindergarten are really the only two levels where my projects tend to remain the same each year, and it really doesn't bother me either!  (Ask me about my high school curriculum?  It's ALWAYS changing!)

Don't get me wrong, I have yet to do cave paintings the same way more than once, but the premise is there.  This year, students received a huge piece of brown kraft paper.  We tore off the edges, crinkled up the paper, and then took it outside to create our rocks.  We used neutral chalk pastels to rub over the crinkled paper, and then used a paper towel to rub and blend the pastels together.
I HIGHLY suggest doing this process outside, as the chalk pastels tend to get really dusty.  Interested in seeing a previous years technique for creating our rocks?  We have used tempera on tag board in the past as well.

Now, here comes the fun part, where I kind of changed it up for my students a bit.  Once again, we did make our own egg yolk tempera paint.  If you're interested in seeing specifically how I do it with them, you can check out one of my blog posts from a previous year here.  Here's the adaption for this project from this year!  I did the best I could to turn my room into a cave!!  I pulled the blinds, covered up the cracks with black paper, and did my best to turn it into complete darkness.  Then?  I put a bon fire on my smartboard as their light source for painting!
These pictures aren't that great at showing how dark it was, but it was dark enough!  It was a bit comical too, as students started complaining that there was too much light coming through the windows and that this wouldn't work, but once all the lights were off and they had to work with just the fire out the smartboard, they found it was pretty difficult to see to paint accurately.

This was a super great experience for them and I definitely plan on incorporating the bon fire next year as well!  There was a lot of conversation about the actual project and the way they were painting.  Many noticed that their paintings got a bit better as their eyes adjusted to the darkness.

As for the bon fire video, it's pretty easy to find them on YouTube!  The video I used was actually an 8 hour video of a bonfire.  This is the specific video I used below.  It's nice and quiet, nothing distracting in the background...just the calming sounds of a bon fire crackling away!

 My goal next year is to actually use real charcoal, dirt and berries to create the paint.  I never seem to plan well enough in advance but I will next year!!