Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Making Connections Fifth Grade Wild Life Drawings

In our art classes we often spend time talking about the master artists. Artists like Leonardo Da Vinci, Claude Monet, Vincent Van Gogh and Pablo Picasso. Learning about their work and their lives is wonderful. But I also like to make connections whenever possible with current practicing artists.

Fifth graders were going to be working on a drawing using wildlife as the subject of their picture. Since they usually tend to want to do detailed drawings on a small scale I wanted them to try working “bigger” and to focus on one subject. Lucky for me I came across Jackson Hole artist
Amy Ringholtz. 

OK we were all sufficiently inspired and now the real work started. How to get them to work “BIG”

First we talked about contour drawing and spent one class period practicing sketching with continuous lines and focusing on shape. I gave students a limited amount of time (app 5 minutes) to complete a sketch with each student doing 3-5 sketches.

Here are a few of their pieces.

Now to begin the finished drawings. Like Amy Ringholtz, I encouraged the students to put expression in their animals eyes. So I had the them draw the eye of their animal on a small index card. This was a drawing technique I had seen used and it proved to really help with my goal of getting the kids to work big. We transfered the eye sketch from the index card to our drawing paper and since the eyes were so large it forced the students to complete the rest of the sketch on a larger scale. The rest of the sketch was completed quickly using the contour drawing skills we had practiced.

A limited palate of oil pastel was used to add color, shading and blending as they went. Watercolor was used for the background using a wash technique.

This project took a long time to complete. About 6 fourty minute periods, but we were able to hit on so many objectives that it was well worth it. And or course, most importantly the results are beautiful.

As a side note. During the process of completing their drawings a number of the kids were a little upset that their sketches were not turning out exactly as planned. “My coyote looks like a fox.”  My hawk looks like a parrot.” We had a lot of discussions about not being to hard on yourself. Drawing well takes practice. The more you practice the better you get. And sometimes you need to embrace your mistakes. Sometimes your mistakes can be the best part of the whole process”

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


Both fourth and fifth graders completed their winter landscapes right before break started the fifth graders looked at color value and used ink with a straw to make these frozen winter trees. Snow and shadows along with some small details were added with tempera paint. The fourth grade landscapes were made by sponge painting the background and using cardboard to print winter trees with brown and black tempera. These are on display in the hallway at school and have received many compliments.





A fellow art teacher blogger, Maggie Bandstra, posted similar ceramic trees on her class blog this fall, so I can't take the credit for coming up with this idea. I find that the basic pinch pot can be a great base shape for a number of ceramic shapes. In the past I have used this construction technique to create pumpkins, owls, hats, and houses with my students. Now we can add the Christmas tree to the list.


Second grade classes used construction paper scraps, oil pastel, and white tempera paint for their snowmen collages. They would be perfect for January if we were ever lucky enough to have any snow :( :( :( :(

First Grade Winter Animal Pastel Drawings

Kindergarten Gingerbread Houses

We read the book the "Gingerbread Baby" by Jan Brett before using white tempera paint (our frosting) and oil pastel (our candy) to draw our gingerbread houses. The illustrations in this book are wonderful and gave the kindergarten classes many ideas for details to include in their work.


I had intended to post about each of these projects individually but, before I knew it we were leaving for Christmas break. Now here we are and its our first day back from vacation. So here is the shortened version of our December work. Hope you enjoy :)

Fifth Grade Ceramic Snowmen

I saw these on another art teachers blog and thought they would be perfect both for the holidays and to cover some of the key ceramic construction techniques we try to hit at this age level. I love the facial expressions on them. After all the firing was complete we hot glued a pipe cleaner to the ear muffs for a little extra detail. I think that next year if time allows we will do some finger weaving and make a scarf to attach to the neck.

Fourth Grade "Snowmen at Night" Pastel Drawing

Whenever possible I like to make art connections to children's literature. The kids seem so much more invested in their work. The book "Snowmen at Night" provided wonderful examples of shading and blending techniques to create color value and three dimensional shadow effects.  It also was a great way to review action figure drawing with the fourth graders.