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3rd grade learned about the Italian painter, Modigliani and his inspiration from the Impressionists. Using exaggerated proportions and bright oil pastels, students reproduced their own Modigliani portrait. A remarkable job for the first art piece of the year!

Kindergarten: We started the year off by introducing the artist Monet and his styles and techniques. Our primary focus was on his many paintings of Water Lilies. We learned how an artist holds his/her brush, mixing colors (especially how to make green), and backgrounds. The final results were amazing – I’ll post pictures soon!

1st grade: We are working on a 4 part series that will eventually become one painting. Our artist focus is Henri Matisse and his painting, Goldfish. Starting with the fishbowl, an ELIPSE became a new shape & vocabulary word. Our next meeting was painting a table with proper perspective & mixing colors to fill in the color of the table. The following week, we undertook one of Matisse’s favorite additions to his work – patterns. In the final week, we will cut out the fishbowl and table and apply to our patterned backgrounds. We will then outline the foreground objects with a thin line of black or blue paint.

2nd grade, classes did either a or  b:

a.  Franz Marc, Sheep: Thinking “outside the box” – not drawing & coloring objects realistically. Instead of having green hills and a blue sky, we blended “blobs” of color, creating new colors between them to fill in “natural” colors of things we see. We noted the directions artists color objects to dictate a new form. During our final day, we added a farm animal of our choice, without filling in the bodies, just like Marc did.

b. Kandinsky’s Squares with Concentric Circles: After watching a video on youtube, we began using our own shapes to create an abstracted piece filled with colors touching one another – to create whole new colors. We drew our shapes with chalk, filled in with oil pastels, and we’ll paint a black wash over all of it on our final day.

3rd grade: Realism with tropical birds (macaws and toucans): Drawing from life is difficult, drawing from a realistic photograph is no easier. We discussed how many objects in life are simply the combined form of lines and shapes – and then how much easier it is to draw those things if we start breaking things down to such simple ideas. After drawing our birds in their native environments (the canopy of the rainforest), we filled in these lines and shapes with oil pastels. Oil pastels can look like paint if applied with pressure and they are great for blending. In blending, we thought about objects like branches and leaves in nature – they are always more than one color. 

4th grade, Vincent van Gogh and his Sunflowers:

As one of the most renowned artists worldwide, I take special time in introducing the value of his work in our day, his life as an artist, and his techniques as an artist. We watched a classroom video on van Gogh, a YouTube video with many of his works with the song sung by Don McLean “Starry Starry Night” playing in the background, and prints of his various Sunflowers still lifes. Students used a crayon to draw 3-4 large sunflowers thinking about interesting placement within their paper’s space. The following meeting days are dedicated to proper blending with chalk pastels (not van Gogh’s forte – but a difference in interpretation and technique). Our final class meeting with this project had us filling in the background/negative space with controlled scribbling or crosshatching. *We watched a super cool video on YouTube of Julian Beavers and his amazing work on sidewalks with chalk blending.

5th grade, enlarged bugs:

I’ve long been fascinated with bugs, from their coloring to the way they are built. I want to share this with all of my kids, every year, in every grade level. We began by drawing in pencil on black construction paper and going over our pencil lines with glue. The following meeting, with the glue dried, we began blending our chalk pastels – students had the choice of creating realistic colors on their bugs and environments or wacky colors on each. Our final class meeting with this project had us filling in the background/negative space with controlled scribbling or crosshatching. Their works are beautiful!


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