April 21

GRADE 4 CLAY CELESTIAL BODIES

When we return to school after Easter my grade 4 students will be almost ready to create their celestial bodies in clay. They will have one more practice session and then in week 2 they will make their final piece.

Clay, as for most things with my students, is never a one off session. You cannot get skill development or clayworks like these without exploring the materials and tools and experimenting with ideas. Yes, it is hard work, yes, it is messy, and yes, it can be loud, especially at pack up time on my awfully thin laminated art room table tops but the students are smiling, eager and learning – what more could you want!

Whenever we are working with clay I frequently remind the students that we only have one rule for clay. I say it and the students all chant it back to me, whether they are in Preps or Grade 6. “YOU MUST BE SENSIBLE WITH THE CLAY! With the Prep students I usually take it a bit further.

“Can you stick it in your ear?’                                    “NO!”

Can you stick it in somebody else’s ear?”              “NO!”

Can you stick it in Mrs Menhennet’s ear?             “NO!”

And on it goes until they are all falling about laughing.

However, the students know this is quite serious as we then discuss the consequence of not being sensible with the clay (and the tools and the slip, etc). And the consequence is that the clay is removed from the student. They then wash their hands and sit on the floor while everyone else is working at the tables. A direct consequence like this makes sense to the students and is much more effective than a detention that would not even be on the same day!

And now back to the process………In the first session I bombard the students with images of artworks incorporating the sun, the moon, planets, stars, etc, etc.

These images include all sorts of artworks – jewellery, clayworks, paintings, drawings, sculptures, metalwork, embroideries, photography, and the list goes on.  You can find lots of images of celestial bodies on my Pinterest board.

And then I let them loose on the clay – and then we pack up and when it is pack up time NOBODY wants to, as they are all so into what they are doing.

In the second session I show them examples from grade 4 students previously. We discuss them and any interesting stuff they have looked at in their independent research and then they get stuck into their own creations/experiments again. I also put slip on the tables and remind them how to use correct joining technique – the four s words –  score, slip, stick, smooth! And they chant them after me!

Depending on the school calendar and the crazy timetable that changes constantly, the students will have one or two more sessions to practice/refine their ideas.  The students choose whether to make a flat 2D or a 3D clay piece. There are usually groans at pack up time at the end of these sessions but I do photograph any experiments the students are keen to keep in mind and then they all pack up their clay.

The students are encouraged to do their own research for inspirational images in their own time as they all have IPads and/or computer access.

By the time the final session comes around the students know that they need to complete their clay piece in one session. Most students manage this as they have been working on an idea for several sessions and get faster at creating and refining their clay piece each week.

I scratch the students initials and grade into the base of their finished piece with a sharp skewer before I put it on a rack to dry. This seems to eliminate any arguments about which piece belongs to whom which I used to have when they all did it themselves, as it is in my neat lettering. It doesn’t take long, gives me a chance for a brief chat with the artist about their work and check that it is joined together properly and perhaps send some students back to the table to fix an issue.

Once the works have been fired the students paint them. I encourage the students to think about the painting process before they start and have a plan in their head for what they want to do. Just a simple statement like this is enough to stop most rushing and slapping paint on willy nilly!

Thanks for looking. Leave a comment!

Shell

April 2

GRADE 6 JOURNAL COVERS

For several years now I have been using a scrap book as a Visual Arts Journal for my students from grade 1-6. I know some art teachers prefer a fancier, more expensive, drawing book to use as an art journal but I have found a scrapbook that has almost cartridge quality paper in it for a scrapbook price, so that’s what I use.

I don’t send these Visual Arts journals home at the end of the year unless they are full. I only have my students now for one semester each year and they don’t get enough opportunity to use them and it is just a waste to send them home with only a few pages worked on. The students also like to look over old drafts and artworks and reflect, and giggle, about how much they have improved over time.

So at the start of each school year they work on a journal cover concept that is just for that year level and this makes the 800+ journals I store in the art room easily identifiable so they can be put away in the correct place if they get lost. The journal covers when complete are covered in clear contact (sticky backed plastic) to protect the student’s hard work. As they use the art journals for more than one year they just glue the new year cover on top of the old one.

 

This is the design brief for my grade 6 journal cover.

  • choose an A5 photocopied artwork (this year I had 20 different artworks to choose from)
  • choose an A4 piece of coloured cover paper for the background of your cover
  • each grade 6 journal cover must include your name and grade. This MUST be easy to read as although you are creating an artistic cover it still has to function as a cover!
  • each grade 6 journal cover must include an easy to read title, eg: Art/Art Journal/Art Book
  • the A5 colour photocopied art work must be altered in some way as part of your overall cover design, eg: cut it, tear it, draw on it, collage with it, etc

Why were there 20 artworks to choose from this year? Every year the choice grows as I add the current artist that we are looking at, this year it was MC Escher, and if any student asks for a particular artwork, I also add that to the list of those available. These were the choices for 2019.

Australian Art

  • Ghost Gums, Central Australia                    Albert Namatjira
  • Slumbering Sea, Mentone  1887                           Tom Roberts
  • Shearing the rams   1890                                       Tom Roberts
  • Angel   1988                                                              Deborah Halpern
  • Ship of fools  2011                                                   Deborah Halpern
  • Wings of life 2014                                                   Dave Behrens
  • Self Portrait    2013                                                 Dave Behrens

International Art

  • Broadway Boogie Woogie  1942-43                       Piet Mondrian
  •   The parakeet and the mermaid 1952                 Matisse
  • Mona Lisa                                                                  Leonardo da Vinci
  • The arrival of Spring in Woldgate 2011                David Hockney
  • Child with a dove   1901                                          Pablo Picasso
  • Weeping Woman   1937                                          Pablo Picasso
  • The Scream              1893                                         Edvard Munch
  • Sinbad the Sailor      1928                                        Paul Klee
  • Castle and sun           1928                                        Paul Klee
  • Sky and water 1          1938                                       MC Escher
  • Miradauro                   1958                                        MC Escher
  • The Starry Night        1889                                       Vincent Van Gogh
  • The Church at Auvers           1890                            Vincent Van Gogh

I am always blown away by the ideas the students come up with.

What do you think of these?

The students finish off with a self assessment rubric. They also assess the cover of a peer using the same rubric. If you would like a copy of this rubric please email me and I will send it to you.

Thanks for looking and a comment would be appreciated.

 

Shell Menhennet

October 3

ART SHOW POSTER

My students had an opportunity to draw up a poster for the Cambridge Primary School Art Show which will be on the 23rd ad 24th October – yes, just a few weeks away!!!!!

Here are the finalists!

I love the dotty lettering style on this one.

Art show poster drawing 8 2015

Art show poster drawing 8 2015

This one was huge and made by a beautiful pair of sisters showing off all their art skills. This photo just doesn’t do it justice.

Art show poster drawing 7 2015

Art show poster drawing 7 2015

More lovely lettering.

Art show poster drawing 6 2015

Art show poster drawing 6 2015

I love how this one has used the school logo.

Art show poster drawing 5 2015

Art show poster drawing 5 2015

And who doesn’t love glitter??? I certainly do! Well, I suppose Lucy, our wonderful cleaner, doesn’t like it much. And, as you can see, lot’s of it did end up on the hallway floor under where the posters were hanging on display.

Art show poster drawing 4 2015

Art show poster drawing 4 2015

And another with lovely lettering.

Art show poster drawing 3 2015

Art show poster drawing 3 2015

And how gorgeous is this parrot???

Art show poster drawing 1 2015

Art show poster drawing 1 2015And here is the

Drumroll please!

And the winner is, as decided by myself in conjunction with Ms Nadia Bettio, our Principal – Crystal!

Congratulations Crystal and Ms Bettio and I both thought your art show poster was amazing. And the fact that you drew ME so beautifully at the bottom of your poster was just the icing on the cake. It is a stunning drawing – well done!

Art show poster drawing 2 2015

Art show poster drawing 2 2015

I am looking forward to seeing your poster up around school and on the front of the art show program. And, apparently, your poster is going to be put on a giant sized board at the front of our school – whoo hoo1

I’ll take some extra photos and upload them when I get the chance! Well done everybody!

December 5

GRADE 2 DAVE BEHRENS INSPIRED DETAILED DRAWINGS AT THE CAMBRIDGE PRIMARY SCHOOL ART SHOW

 

As mentioned in previous posts, the Grade 2 children were inspired by the work of Queensland artist Dave Behrens. We looked at his website on the projection screen and even watched a video of him in his workshop.

 

The children were itching to get started after looking at the amazing squiggles, lines and symbols that go together to make Dave Behrens amazing paintings.

 

We started off small with each child decorating a rectangle to add to a whole grade piece of work.

 

They then chose a template to trace from a heart, a circle or a person. Some children found looking at the whole empty shape daunting so they used rulers to break the space up into sections to fill.

 

They were so proud of their work when it was finished and they looked terrific displayed together at the Art Show.

November 19

ART SHOW 2013 GRADE 1 THE COAT DRAWINGS

These photos are of the hall display I did earlier and the drawings mounted and on display at the Cambridge Primary School Art Show.

I read THE COAT by Julie Hunt to the Grade 1 children as part of celebrating the Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) Book Week in the Art Room. They were mesmerised by the story and the illustrations, by Ron Brooks, are divine. Ron Brooks illustrated The BUNYIP OF BERKLEY”S CREEK as well as lots of other Australian children’s titles. Thhis book went on to deservedlywin Australian Picture Book of the Year 2013!

 

After immersing themselves in the story and having a great discussion about the fabulous illustrations we talked a bit about how fantastic it would be to fly through the sky in a magical coat. The children then drew their own head and neck onto a coat shape I provided them with. They could decorate the coat in any way they liked and they were so excited to add some sequins to it as well! Such a simple thing but they just thought it was so special! I love the picture below with the flying ponytail!

The next step was to cut their coat drawing out very carefully, ensuring they didn’t hack off the head or the feet, and put it aside to start the background. Drawing from a bird’s eye (or a person flying in a magical coat) point of view is tricky when you are in Grade 1.

 We looked at photos and maps and drawings I found on pinterest and google for inspiration, we talked about what they would see if they flew over their house, or the school, or the MCG (the Melbourne Cricket Ground, an iconic Melbourne institution, where footy and cricket are played, and other events held, in our sports mad Capital city, so it was familiar to most of the children) and most of the children seemed to be able to articulate what they would see and what it would look like when they drew it. I love that you look at the back of his headas he is flying in the drawing below!

 I have to admit, when it came to the execution it was really tricky. Some of them started out with a bird’s eye view but then as they found something tricky to draw they would revert to a straight on aspect. Some of them just drew a picture from a straight on, normal view from the start, even if it was very detailed.

But boy, when they GOT IT, wow, they well and truly GOT IT!!!

 

I am so proud of all their attempts as nearly all the children said they thought they were the best drawings they had ever done!

September 29

GRADE 1 CLAY EXPERIMENTING WITH TOOLS

This is what happened when I gave the Grade 1 children a tub of wooden clay tools for the first time. Up until this stage they had only been using their hands and fingers as tools. I explained that this was a time to try out and experiment with the tools and see what they could do with them.

It was interesting how some of the children madly textured their work while others incorporated the tools into their finished items. Hey, I didn’t tell them that they couldn’t do that!

Quite a few of the children created a clutch of a few small items rather than make one large piece, and they all knew that none of this work was going to be kept but I would try to photograph their experiments before their session finished.

We certainly had a terrific discussion after everyone had walked aroud and looked at each other’s work.

“How did you do that?”

I wish I had thought of that!”

“I’m going to try to do mine like that next time!”

How did you make that shape?”

“Can we use the clay tools like that?”

“I made my clay flat like a picture but next time I want to make a fat shape that sits up on the table.”

And just in case you were like me who mistakenly assumed this was a nice tree – this is the Tower of Isengard from the Lord of the Rings!!!

September 29

GRADE 1 10 MINUTE CLAY FACES

I just love my Ipad.

It makes moments like these, when I have asked the Grade 1 children to make something just before we pack up, easy to keep forever.

The instruction was, “Use your clay skills to make a face in 10 minutes!”

I think they did a great job!

 

July 24

DAVE BEHREN’S STYLE!

A friend of mine sent me a message on Facebook during first term telling me that she had found an amazing website that belonged to an Australian Artist and I was going to love it. My friend Sue knows me really well and she was right. It’s a great website and DAVE BEHRENS is an amazing artist. He lives in Queensland.

http://www.davebehrens.com/
I sent him an email and told him I was going to do some work with my Grade 2’s and 3’s in the Dave Behren’s style. And in the end we sort of spent the whole term working in Dave Behren’s style and the work the children have produced has been absolutely stunning.

Dave Behren’s paintings are incredibly detailed and the” WOW!!!” factor was certainly there as the children all “oohed”, and “aahed”, while looking through the website together and watching a video interview, which was available on his website, on the projection screen in the classroom.

Viewing the website in the main art room 2013

Looking at the Dave Behrens website on the wall in the back art room.

 

We started off small. The grade 2 children had to decorate a rectangle of coloured paper. The grade 3’s had to do a star shape. I glued them onto a large sheet of black cover paper so they would look similar to the way Dave Behren’s arranges some of his paintings. There was a lot of discussion about what could be drawn, repeating patterns, shapes within shapes, symbols, etc. I drew up some idea sheets BODIES/SHAPES/LINES and asked everyone to contribute one idea  to at least one sheet. Once they were working though they all took inspiration from each other – “Ooh I like what you did just there. I’m going to try that one.”

Viewing Dave Behrens video interview main art room 2013 

viewing Dave Behrens video in back art room 2013

I have lots more photos to put up of this stunning work so keep looking for future posts.

Shelley

July 22

HANDS UP FOR ART!

I created this display with the hands made by the Grade 1’s to get the year started off with a lovely activity and a lovely display!

Hands up for art

Hands up for art 2

The children traced their hands and arms, or asked a classmate to do it for them and then decorated them with patterns using the zoom crayons.

The following week they painted their hand using watercolour cakes(or blocks, whatever you like to call them).  The grade 1’s had not used these before so needed to be taught to wash their brush when they were changing colours so the cake of watercolour did not become muddy.

I also insist that they look after the water pots themselves and if the water is too dirty they just go and empty it and refill the water pots themselves without asking me. This always results in a few water spills at the beginning (big deal, it is just water!) so we then discuss why the spill has occurred (rushing, too much water in the container) and what we do when they occur (put newspaper down immediately to help soak up the water and make the spillage more visible for others in the room and then clean it up as quickly as possible) and the spillages soon stop. It is all worth it in the end as I strive to make the children clean up after themselves. I am always stupefied by the number of children at Grade 1 level that have NO IDEA how to turn on a tap! This is all part of the learning process of being responsible artists!

I did not tell them that the crayon would resist the watercolour but waited until someone noticed it before we discussed it. “What’s happening here? Why isn’t the paint covering that crayon pattern?”

When they were dry cutting them out was the next challenge so I demonstrate how you can turn the paper while you are cutting slowly, a revelation for most grade 1’s, so you don’t just chop off all the fingers!

I ummed and aahed about how to display them and then settled on a circle. I layered them on the display board and tried NOT to staple the hands and fingers so they would move in any breeze that wafted past. I was going to put the sign in the top left corner in the middle but then found the bit of gold corrugated cardboard  in the scrap box, added some cupcake wrappers for eyes (we used to call them patty pans when I was a kid) and it turned into a beaming sun, so appropriate as the start of the year was so very hot!

Thank you for the inspiration from this picture on Pinterest. I absolutely adore Pinterest!

I also saw this one on Pinterest too which has obviously been created by much older children.Thanks for looking and I would love it if you left a comment!

Shelley

July 21

WHAT CAN YOU DO WITH A CIRCLE?

I always like to start off the year with a drawing activity and this is what I came up with for the Grade 3’s this year.

They had to choose a coloured circle from the pile, any colour they liked. They could then paste it anywhere on their A4 piece of cartridge paper and then turn it into’ something?!?!?!?! using their imagination and their drawing skills. I told them that I wanted to be impressed by what they came up with as they were now in Grade 3 and I would not accept a drawing that didn’t have the background filled in. This then lead to a discussion about horizon lines, where the sky meets the ground or the buildings or whatever is in the way, and I threw in my old favourite question – “WHEN YOU LOOK OUT THE WINDOW CAN YOU SEE ANY WHITE PAPER????” No, because everything is filled in and there aren’t any gaps – well something along those lines anyway. There always seem to be a few nodding heads and “Eureka” looks on faces whenever that old question is aired so I keep asking it whenever this sort of discussion comes up.

And in the end I was quite impressed with their drawings and utterly stunned that I only got one Angry Bird – and he is quite cute. I thought that would be the first thing they would think of!

They used textas or zoom crayons to complete these drawings.

A few children asked if the could do something to the circle and the answer, of course, was yes. A few folded them and a few cut them.

I think this one might have been torn so the Ninja could see!

A fancy teddy bear handbag out in the sunshine!

I love the cat’s shadow cast by the sun – just brilliant for grade 3!

Such a wonderful train – Jester your drawings are always fantastic!

This gorgeous turtle has laid some eggs.

There were fewer sunsets than I though there would be. I like how the sun looks a bit sleepy!I was so surprised to see several Pacman drawings. I wouldn’t have thought these children would know that game at all!

When you lift up the green bird’s wing she has other little baby birds hiding under there – too cute!

This magnifying glass is enlarging the tiny ants walking across the grass from the left.

Thank you for looking. Don’t forget to leave a comment!

Shelley