Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Kandinsky Concentric Circles and Collaborative Murals

First and second graders are studying abstract artist Wassily Kandinsky.  They are each creating a colorful concentric circle in the style of Kandinsky's most famous painting, Squares with Concentric Circles. They are also working collaboratively on murals in Kandinsky's style.  Kandinsky has synesthesia, which means that when he heard music, he saw colors and heard music when he painted. As first and second graders worked on these murals, we listened to music and considered how different colors make us feel. 


Sunday, January 31, 2016

African Tribal Masks

Fifth and sixth graders are studying Africa in their classrooms.  As part of this study, they learned about tribal masks.  Using paper mache and natural materials, they created large tribal masks based on the traditional masks that they researched.  I invited a sixth grader to share the mask-making process and some information about her mask in this guest post.

Kwele Mask
by Ciera
Recently, we have been working on making African masks. We have now finished painting our masks, and this is how mine looks. It seems hard to believe how it started as a big box, and now it has a shape and is painted.
                                                         Day 1:

               On day one, we shaped our masks, and started to build it up. I taped on antlers and built up the eyes.
Day 2:
                     On day two, we started to cover our masks with paper mache. It was sort of falling apart at that point. It took some duct tape to hold it together.

                                               Day 3:
   On day three we painted a base layer of white paint.


Day 4:



 On day four, we added color to our masks.
            My mask was based on a mask from the Kwele tribe. The Kwele originated near the borders of Gabon, Cameroon, and Congo. The masks were used in the 'Beete' ritual. In the Beete ritual involved Ekuk masks. Ekuk means 'spirit of the forest'. The Kwele believed in witchcraft, and the Beete ritual  is supposed to help protect them from it. The masks sometimes represent the antelope that is eaten after the ritual. The Kwele used to live more toward the coast, but their enemies got firearms and they were forced to move inland.
           One of the challenges for me was to get the shape of the mask right. It took a while because it was so big, and it was hard to staple and the scored edges together. Another of my challenges was getting the whole mask covered in paper mache and the coat of white paint. I enjoyed designing my mask and painting it. I enjoyed making my mask and learning about the tribe that it belonged to. I think that my mask looks awesome.

Here are some other tribal masks by fifth and sixth graders.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Dogs, Dogs, Dogs! Inspired by William Wegman

I think this image speaks for itself as introduction for artist William Wegman. 

However, if you would like to learn more about Wegman and explore more of his work, head over to www.WegmanWorld.com for hours of entertainment! 

Third and Fourth Graders learned about William Wegman and looked at many examples of his work.  We even enjoyed one of his "Hardly Boys" videos while we worked! Students used dog head templates (thank you to Art Projects for Kids for this!) and drew the rest of the bodies dressed in many different types of attire! 

In addition to looking at Wegman's contemporary work, we looked at the classic paintings by Cassius Marcellus Coolidge of Dogs Play Poker.  This series of paintings were made over 100 years ago as advertisements for cigars.  This connection shows that artists have enjoyed the idea of putting animals in human situations for a very long time. 

Dragons for Chinese New Year

Every Chinese New Year Parade ends with a Dragon Dance. The parades start on New Year's Day and continue for the next fifteen days until the end of the festivities with the Lantern Festival.

The Dragon Parade is a highlight of the festivities. The Dragon represents wisdom, power, and wealth and a very important aspect of Chinese Culture. It is also said that the Dragon Dance performed on New Year's Day scares away the evil spirits and all the bad luck with them...

During the Dance, a dozen or so performers hold the dragon up on poles. They raise and lower the Dragon making him "dance" as they wind through the masses to the sounds of horns, drums and gongs. (from http://www.china-family-adventure.com/dragon-dance.html)

Here is a Dragon Puppet the was used in a Chinese New Year parade.

First and second grade artists looked at many examples of Chinese Dragons and then drew their own using construction paper crayons and oil pastels. 

Kindergarten Nature Names Paintings

One of the most memorable parts of being in Kindergarten at WES is having a "Nature Name." Each child has a native Vermont animal that he or she identifies with for the year.  In art class, we used tempera paint and really large paper to make paintings of these animals in their natural habitat.