This was the sample I made (11x14) of the folk art fish auction project for Mrs. Z's class. I always panic a bit before I start an art auction project because it is usually a large piece of art and we only have so much time with the kids to get it right and get it done.
So I sketched some fish onto my smaller canvas first. This also helped me with size as I needed to smoosh a lot of fish onto the class canvas. I was able to practice that on the smaller canvas and it gave me a better idea on proportion and how many fish I could fit in a given area.
Then I started painting, making notes as I went along as to how I would show the class and how I would approach acrylic painting with them.
It turned out pretty nice, if I do say so myself. And it was a great visual for the kids to look at and touch and imagine their own contribution to the class project. It's also hanging in our living room now. Why is it I am only attempting art on my own these days if it is a class sample? Whatever works, I guess!
We used inexpensive craft acrylic for the canvas. We were on a budget here! Mrs. Z picked the palette of colors so they worked together. I would come into the classroom and pick students according to their "fish #" so that I had students on opposite sides of the canvas painting at the same time.
In the beginning I could have up to six students painting at a time. But as we got more space filled in with paint we had to be careful about not smudging somebody else's work or resting our hands on wet paint. I was quite surprised at how well the students managed this.
I am not a painter myself, but I was able to give the kids some basic lesson on painting - like how to use the different shaped brushes, not overload with paint, how to layer color, how to block in base colors, etc.
Most students came at least twice - once to paint in their fish and once to touch-up and add details.
A few students came back several times to really work on their particular fish.
As they finished their fish I started painting in the background.
Then I brought it home and finished the blue background, outlined all of the fish in a sparkly black, touched up any white spots, added some darker blue swirl marks and lighter blue "air bubbles".
Didn't this turn out wonderfully? I am so proud of Mrs. Z's folk artists!!
This year, R has a fantastically enthusiastic 4th grade teacher - Mrs. Z. Among the amazing projects that Mrs. Z tried to stuff into an already crowded school year has been a months long study of natural resources via local fish studies. Through the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife, she has managed to get her class involved in a special program that includes teaching the kids about local fishing regulations, types of local fish, fish dissection, hatchery tour, fishing with mentors, hatching fish eggs and much, much more. It is a pretty impressive program ODFW puts on. I was very happy to be able to go on the field trips and watch the kids learn some hands- on natural science. So when we were thinking about a "theme" for this class' art auction project....my thoughts naturally turned to..... "something with fish in it". To me that was a very unique aspect of their classroom that I thought they would like to share with the school.
So we started out with the size canvas we needed. I think it was 24x36. Then I sketched on the canvas the number of fish that we needed for all the kids in the class and for Mrs. Z. It was fun and a little tricky fitting in a bunch of different fish so that everything made it onto the canvas.
I then sketched a small version of the fish on the canvas onto a paper so that we could have a copy the kids could work from. We numbered each fish (to prevent the kids from complaining that they wanted a particular fish) and then had the students pick a number from a hat. Thankfully we did not have one student complain that they did not like their fish. Of course I would have loved if each student could have sketched their own fish design onto the canvas, but that just was not possible with the time constraints for this project.
We projected the "fish map" onto the overhead and had the kids find their fish and try to do a reasonable contour line drawing of their own fish on a sheet of copy paper. Some kids asked for their own copy of the "fish map" so they could get their detail more accurate. The basic shape of the fish was already sketched on the canvas but I told the kids they could add their own colors, patterns and any small shape changes that they thought they could fit in on the canvas to make their fish more their own.
The students could use marker or colored pencil to finish their fish. This worked out wonderfully later on when each student went to paint on the canvas, as they brought along their completed fish and it helped them get down to business right away rather than hem and haw about what they wanted to do or be intimidated by a large canvas with open space. And Mrs. Z later used the fish drawings in a thank you to the folks at ODFW - a win-win definitely - from this project we got an art lesson, a thank you card and an art auction project! Right on! Here is a sampling of some of the fish:
Oh yikes, I almost forgot about the lesson....I made a powerpoint slide show about Folk Art in general and then narrowed it down to folk art fish. Here were my talking points about folk art:
-Folk art is characterized by a simplified style, in which traditional art rules about perspective are not employed
-Folk art can also be called “naïve art”, “tribal art”, “pop/popular art”, “primitive art”, “outsider art”, “self-taught” art
-Folk art represents traditional art forms of diverse community groups (ethnic, tribal, geographical, religious, occupational, gender-based)
-Some of the most visually stunning examples of folk art use symbols and patterns and colors to represent personal thoughts and beliefs of the artist
-Folk art can be made from any media and can utilize many different art techniques
And here were my project steps:
1. Pick a number to determine which fish you will get to paint on the mural
2. Using COUNTOUR LINE DRAWING and your knowledge of ORGANIC SHAPES, draw your fish onto your paper (DON’T overuse that pencil eraser!!!)
3. Add a few extra details to your fish (But DON’T go overboard so we can’t tell it’s still a fish!) Think…patterns, colors, shapes, personal symbols, simple designs.
4. Now color your fish using colored pencils or markers. DO NOT use more than 5 colors. And REMEMBER – you will have to duplicate this in paint next week!
5. Have fun! Make your fish unique and YOU!
Now wait until you see the in-process amazing-ness still to come....
This art auction project was a perfect example of what awesomeness can be achieved if I just don't over-think too much. When I showed the examples to Miss L I really was not totally sure how I would do the project. And then when I decided to add in the Charley Harper component I knew how the birds would be created. But how was I going to put it all together and make it look like a piece of art that somebody would buy to actually display.
First off we got a large canvas (24x36, I think, or the next larger size). I took it home and used some nice acrylic paints to make a lightly textured sky background.
Then I used charcoal to sketch in some branches.
I then collaged newspaper bits onto the branches to give them some cool texture. And finally I loosely painted over the collaged branches with a slightly watered down brown, letting some of the charcoal peek through.
We went back to school and gathered the students with their collage birds and they started to apply them to the canvas with Mod Podge. Don't you love all the different types of birds you can see...owls, woodpeckers, cardinals, toucans...so fun!
This went pretty quickly and I could have more than one student at a time adding their bird.
It was funny to hear their discussion about where their bird should go and why.
After the kids (and Miss L) attached their birds, I went back over the entire canvas with two more layers of Mod Podge and let it dry. And darn if it didn't turn out pretty good! We got many, many compliments on it from other teachers and other students as they passed by.
I think Miss L is trying to figure out if she can buy it for herself!
S & R have different 4th grade teachers this year. And that meant helping with two different art auction projects for 4th grade. S's favorite artist is Charley Harper and he really wanted me to do an art lesson on him in class this year. I gave Miss L (S's teacher) some collaborative art ideas for her class and she really liked the thought of birds. This is where I got the birds in the tree idea from: Art for Small Hands. Combining Charley Harper and a bird collage piece was obviously a no-brainer!
I gave the class a powerpoint lesson on Charley and his minimal realism style of art. I cut copy paper in half and gave each student a half sheet. They then folded it in half and on one side began drawing their bird (any type of bird at all) in the style of Charley Harper. After they finished their drawing they could then visit the scrap paper pile and start trying to duplicate their bird in collage form on the other side of the paper. Some students made a very faithful reproduction, while others discovered patterned papers they liked better than their original design. But it was fun to watch them design between the two different media.
The size of the paper also helped the kids stay in a general size range that made it easier later on to find spots for each bird on the canvas mural.
It was a pretty cool lesson that turned out even better than I expected. Next stop - adding to the canvas!
Wife to a VERY understanding man (even if he does roll his eyes and duck back into his garage way too much); mother to three maniacs,crafter, professional volunteer, crazed maniac in her own right...yep, that about covers it for now.
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