Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Big, Messy, Fearless Owls - Part 2

ALL of the big, messy owls! #2

Here we go, teaching these awesome owls to 30 kiddos! And don't forget, this lesson was inspired by this post.

Big Messy Owls in Progress #1

Amazingly, this lesson went perfectly.  I think the kids were even more amazed than Miss L and I were at how wonderful these owls turned out.  Here's how it went:

SUPPLIES
12x18 white construction/drawing paper
Compressed Charcoal
Soft Pastels
Pencils
Scratch paper
Owl drawing handouts

Big Messy Owls in Progress #2

This was my first time working with this class in total (although several kids had been in S & R's class last year when we made the dog art auction project).  So I went over my "Art Class Rules".
#1  Have Fun!
#2  No "I Can'ts"
#3  RESPECT (the art, the practicing, your classmates, yourself, the teachers, the supplies)

Big Messy Owls in Progress #3

I talked a bit about how none of them started kindergarten knowing how to read like they can now, or knowing their math facts.  That art is a skill that has to be learned and practiced and practiced and practiced some more.  And that practice really never makes perfect (because perfection is pretty darn hard to achieve).  But practice always, ALWAYS, ALWAYS makes better. (This has kind of become the art class motto now).

Big Messy Owls in Progress #4

Now I am by no means an "official" art teacher and I do not have to worry about visual arts standards, etc.  But I want the kids to learn something besides the art technique itself.  My way of doing that is throwing various art words out at them as I am working or talking to them.  Asking them questions about the art words and then continuing to use those art words as I help them work on a piece.

Big Messy Owls in Progress #5

ART WORDS:
Charcoal, Pastel Chalks, Medium, Cropping, Emphasis, Color, Value, Line, Shape, Form, Texture, Space, Pattern, Contrast, Balance, Depth, Proportion

Yes, that was a lot of art words.  But I was surprised that once I started using them, they came really easily to the kids and they understood what I meant when I would talk to them individually about their piece.

Big Messy Owls in Progress #6

Now here's how I went about teaching the lesson.....
1.  After we went over the rules and tools and used our beginning art words, I showed the samples that we had made.  I also passed out some owl drawing handouts (2 that I made up and 1 from kutchuk) for them to gather inspiration from, but not to copy from.

Big Messy Owls in Progress #7

2.  I gave them scratch sheets of paper and charcoal and I continued to talk to them about how we were going to use the charcoal as they experimented with it on their scratch paper.  We drew lines with a sharp edge, colored in space with the sides, smudged lines, made value scales...basically made a mess!  We talked about how to control this medium by lifting our hands off of the page and essentially drawing in big sweeping strokes from our shoulder and wrist without the side of our palms resting on the page.  But we also talked about how the nature of this medium is such that blurred lines and less defined images were totally okay.  And that we were all going to make BIG, MESSY, FEARLESS owls.  The FEARLESS part was from us letting ourselves go with this new medium and drawing BIG and being okay with the MESSY.  I must confess, this lesson could have gone totally wrong here as this was my first art lesson of the year with this class and we do not have elementary art teachers in our school district.  So for many kids, they have not had much art instruction and very few had ever worked with charcoal or pastel chalks.  But these kids rocked it!

Big Messy Owls in Progress #8

3.  Out came the big pieces of paper, and the pastel chalks. They were allowed earlier to have pencils to sketch an owl on their scratch paper, but they were not allowed to use pencil on their project paper.  They had to be fearless and start right away with the charcoal.  They were to start with their owl and figure out which areas they wanted to color and to try to keep those areas free of charcoal.  I told them they had to finish their owl in charcoal first and then bring the charcoal back to me and wash their hands before they could get  the pastel chalks.  They could of course use the charcoal again, but I was attempting to keep the surfaces and artwork as clean as possible and prevent smudging accidents.  I talked to them about creating emphasis and gave them the "project rules" (see below) and talked to them about adding in the pastel chalks, how to start with light colors first and how to blend with their fingers and how to color with the soft sides and keep the colors from getting muddy with the charcoal.  We added the color, but left a small outline of white and then blended with our fingers up to the charcoal lines. 

My second in-class sample...

4.  I really wanted them to work on small areas of color (hence the project rules) that really made an impact in the image, instead of too many colors or such big fields of colors that lessened the impact of the owl image as a whole. 

Big Messy Owls in Progress 
#9

5.  I worked on a sample taped to the white board while I continued to talk to the kids.  Thankfully all that practice of mine ahead of time paid off and my sample came out really fast and easy.  I actually looked like I knew what I was doing! The kids at least were impressed with the speed of how fast I did it.  But I kept talking them up about being big and fearless and messy and the kids did just that!

My first in-class sample

Okay, here were my project rules.  By no means do I want cookie cutter artwork from the kids.  But I have decided that I do want them to have certain requirements that they achieve with each lesson,  using art elements & principles. I tell the kids they have to first know "art rules" in order to break them later on!

My second in-class sample

PROJECT RULES:
1.  Fill the whole page (go off the page if you like)
2.  Crop your owl image (try to focus on the head)
3.  Your owls must be made up of different values of charcoal (meaning no white)
4.  Only two areas may be colored in (eyes and background, beak and background, etc)
5.  No more than 3 different pastel colors

Not all the kids followed the project rules to a "T", but they tried hard, understood what the rules were for and most importantly, had a blast! And every one of the owls turned out amazing.  Check them out:

ALL of the big, messy owls! #1
ALL of the big, messy owls! #3

ALL of the big, messy owls! #4

And you know the best part - Miss L told me that several kids told her that this was the best art they had ever made in their life.

 Smile.

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