Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Friday, December 10, 2010
I introduced charcoal this week and we had a fun conversation about its origins. Some students announced that charcoal was used to fuel trains, others thought in was inside chimneys and others expressed more fantastical ideas of its origins. We talked about the many tools we get from nature and how charcoal is left over from a fire, pressed and formed for us to draw with. This led to some eager, messy explorations. The student pictured here spent twenty minutes meticulously transforming a white sheet of paper into coal black (with intermittent hand washing).
Watercolor has an increasing appeal. We are exploring wax resists with white oil crayons and liquid watercolor on the easel and there are large cake watercolors set out on a work table with pencils for continued exploration and expression.
Next week is shortened due to Winter-break. We plan to continue many of the same activities for indepth exploration.
When complete, he smiled and said, "I like my brother", obviously at ease. It is inspiring to see how the many languages of art can help each of us process our emotions and the events of a day, in a rich and fulfilling way.
Sunday, November 28, 2010
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Here's a quick review of the process:
Tony began by introducing himself to the students during morning circle time and answering a few of the children's questions.
Next, we invited students, two at a time to begin working with us in the studio. Tony invited each child to the paint mixing table and measured a few paints into a recycled plastic container, each time asking the child to "guess" what color might emerge. The student than used used a wooden tongue depressor to thoroughly mix the new color.With a thorougly mixed container of paint the student was ready to paint on the mural. We began by filling the various outlined shapes with blocks of color, often complimentary or secondary shades, to form the base of the painting (so faces were green and hair was purple). After the base coat of color was in place, we began using a dry brush painting technique to overlay a second layer of paint while maintaining some of the original color.Finally, students used pointillism techniques to add small dots and dashes of color to the painting.Then Tony finished the murals by adding black outlines and overlaying the whole piece with a UV retardent varnish. The entire process was an amazing experience for students and staff alike. Thank you so much to Tony Ortega for sharing his talent with us in a unique and inspiring way AND thanks to our families without whose support this wouldn't have been possible.
Please come by after Thanksgiving break to see the new murals installed.
Thursday, November 4, 2010
How the tree project emerged.
While in the studio exploring leaves three weeks ago, a conversation emerged with three students from the morning Ward-Hobbs classroom. The students involved were Laurel (L) age 4, Amelia (A)age 5 and Joseph (J) age 5. The conversation proceeded as follows:
Angelina Have you noticed any changes happening in our trees outside?
J The leaves are changing colors. The leaves are dying because they are turning so hard and the rain is making them change colors.
L The leaves were a little bit changing purple. I saw some purple leaves on the ground and on the tree. I saw a leaf changing rainbow: orange, pink, purple and green. I saw leaves change turquoise. I think they’re all gonna fall to the ground. Can we make a tree of leaves? It would look like a real tree. We could glue leaves on it, then we need to make a big circle of brown paper.
A Yeah! We could make it out of brown paper.
J Real trees have wood.
L Can you get some wood Angelina?
Angelina Yes, but what kind of wood do you want?
L A branch, we could hang it from the ceiling!
J So it is standing up like a tree. We have to make the sky higher, cuz the sky is air.
A Water makes air.
L Really hot water makes air.
Angelina What kind of leaves would you like to hang from your tree?
L These leaves! (points to the ones on the table)
Angelina Okay. These may change by the time we make our tree. (I show her an old leaf and how it is brittle)
L We don’t want breaking leaves.
Angelina Would you like to hang some of your drawn leaves on the tree?
(Amelia, Laurel and Joseph all say “NO!”)
(I told them about a technique where leaves are preserved in wax so they maintain their color and remain intact.)
L Do you have wax?
Angelina No but I can get some.
J YEAH! Then we will make our tree.
A With leaves falling down.
L Can we do it today?
Angelina We will have to wait for another day.
L Okay but you get wax and a branch
Angelina And you can start looking for leaves.
My sons and I went hiking and found an interesting branch near a creek bed above Morrison. I brought it into the studio and asked Laurel, Amelia and Joseph if it would work. They all agreed that it would. Next, I tried out laminating the leaves and found they retained their color well, while the veins and texture remained evident. I asked the three students involved if we could use laminated leaves rather than waxed leaves and they agreed that we could. I selected an open studio day and we made an appointment to meet.
Angelina What did you notice while making the tree project?
L I saw rainbow leaves!
J The colored leaves
L We glued them on with honey glue, (deep intake of breath) it looks like those big yellow trees (points at a cottonwood tree outside). Maybe they’re made with honey glue too!
A Yeah! Maybe we could make a tree outside now. We would do it just like this (pointing to the tree).
Angelina How do you think the leaves outside stay on the tree?
L They’re connected to the branches without any glue, they hold onto the tree branches.
A Their arms are really tired and that’s how they fall off.
L They let go like this and lay on a bed.
A Yeah, like an acorn bed.
L But flat like this (slaps her hands together).
A A smooshed acorn bed with mud.
Angelina How will they look differently in the winter?
L Maybe they will turn white.
A In winter we could throw snow on the tree.
J The trees are gray in winter.
Angelina Is there anything else you would like to say about our tree project?
L We hanged it up by string.
A But real trees spread up and POP! Spreading leaves, spreading trees! Growing!
J And I think we should bring more leaves in and stick them on the tree one we made.
Friday, October 29, 2010
Thursday, October 28, 2010
I found three old hollow doors discarded on the side of the road recently. I patched a few holes and covered the surface with white primer. It was then propped in the studio ready to begin. We used the projector to translate some of the found leaves onto the door in a random pattern. Students then began tracing these leaves with pencil.
I black lined each of the leaves and the next day we began painting the leaves with Creatix acrylic paint (the paint Tony will be using). Next, the background was filled in primarily by this student who had an interest in preserving the leaf shapes that were disappearing beneath enthusiastic layers of paint.The next class applied paint in a random pattern using a dry brush technique. Finally, a few of our older students finished the mural applying a black outline around each leaf.This process continued to interest the students and several children continued projecting leaves, drawing them, then adding paint and a black outline.We have already begun plans for another mural on the opposite side of the door and will have that available next week for continued exploration.
We have shelves stocked with a variety of tools: dot markers, oil pastels, markers, colored pencils, large crayons, etc. These tools are organized by color and available for exploration. There are pre-cut sheets of white drawing paper nearby. This student selected several dot markers and worked for ten minutes, carefully filling the page.This student made several paintings, this one he called "an evergreen on fire". His title was inspired by the palette of warm colors available, each brushstroke accompanied by an ongoing dialogue, a story emerging in color, line and paint.The light projector is a source of continuous intrigue. It has been in the studio since the start of the year and children are still somewhat shocked to see the image projected in scale. Many students stare at the bright surface of glass holding a leaf or stone and when their eye is directed to the translated image in shadow, they are giddy with excitement.Others are captivated by how it works. They examine the projector from all angles, exploring its mechanics with interest.This week, a child was moving the reflective mirror at the top and it snapped back on its hinge, shifting the light from the wall to the ceiling. She was amazed by what she saw. Soon several other students joined her, each eager to project a shadow on the ceiling. Light and shadow seems to be unanimously captivating to young children and continues to be a source of discovery in the studio. Another interesting evolution is an interest in the human body, particularly with the students in the 440 class and the extended primary students who have begun a study of the body, its parts and systems. This student arrived at school carrying a pencil sketch of a human skeleton that he had traced on the back of his brothers homework. He came into the studio and asked if he could "make it bigger". Of course, I said "YES!". He was deeply focused on this activity and continued drawing and painting for nearly thirty minutes. Those are just a few of the things emerging on the periphery of our leaf study. We will see how things evolve in the weeks and months ahead.