second grade art explorers

This year I showcased the yearlong work of our second graders in the gallery. The westward expansion is a big part of their curriculum in second grade and I think what we create in the art room is a wonderful complement to this.

How can we find beauty in the everyday? How can I be a lifelong explorer?

Our theme in Art combines the spatial and naturalist intelligences as we explore Art in Nature. Artists love to create and observe so we spent a lot of time developing observation skills. Our projects are inspired by landscapes and natural events: auroras, bird migration, and by the wonders of simple natural objects like the contours of a leaf or shell.

The second grade artists have done amazing work in creating their own paths of discovery just as Lewis & Clark did!

Each student was given a current map of the Saint Louis area. I asked them to think about how this map might have looked like in the time of Louis & Clark. What things would change? What would be the same?

They focused only on the lines and shapes that they found most interesting and drew those. Maybe it was the highway lines, or the waterways, or the boundaries. The pencil lines were outlined in glue and then colored with chalk and oil pastel.

These formalist map studies are beautiful in their lines, shape, and color but most of all it is interesting to see the influence of the Mississippi River and how it has shaped us.

This artist always has a fiercely original approach to everything he does.
"Where is the white pastel?"
(It hadn't occurred to me to put white out since we were working on white paper.)
"Just don't color in the areas you want to leave white," I suggest.
"But I want the whole thing to be white!"
And he waited patiently for me to get the white pastels out.
I love that he is never afraid to question and is always so dedicated to his vision. Thanks for keeping me on my toes Brian!

Here is a wall of nature inspired contour drawings.

I don't have a photograph of our felted cloudscapes, but these were also displayed!
And I'll be posting more on this watercolor landscape project soon:

Here is a peek at their gorgeous watercolor and ink birds:

These bird nest helper wire sculptures demonstrate ingenuity and problem solving by our second grade artists! Each artist designed their own three dimensional shape that could hold yarn scraps to be used by birds for nesting material. They LOVED creating these and did a great job handling the responsibility of working with many different kinds of pliers too.

Congratulations dear second grade explorers!


art21 educators

I couldn't be more excited about my summer! I am heading to New York in July to be part of Art21 Educators! This is a year long professional development that starts off in New York with an intensive 10 day workshop.

From the Art21 website: Participants work with Art21 staff, visiting artists, and guest presenters to develop their familiarity with contemporary art and artists and learn strategies for planning and teaching with big questions and processes related to contemporary art and interdisciplinary pedagogy. Accepted educators explore ways to use Art21 films and educational materials in the classroom, consider new documentation strategies and practices, and participate in collaborative reflection in support of their continued participation in the program throughout the year.

Art teachers are encouraged to apply with a classroom teacher to ensure collaboration and I am so lucky to have Linda joining me. Linda teaches 6th grade and truly is the best of the best! Linda and I are featured on Art21's blog here. Check out our video applications!

Soooooo excited to be part of this! I'll keep you posted!


third grade shibori

Happy Mother's Day!

Shibori is the Japanese term for the dye-resist techniques of binding, clamping, or gathering cloth so that dye cannot reach certain parts. The result is a wonderful combination of carefully structured design with the organic freedom of the unpredictable. The third grade artists learned how to do a kumo (spider web) and tesuji (pleated) shibori technique. Why is shibori blue and how is the color and design related to Japan? Just ask one of our third grade artists!

I forgot to take photos of the process but it is very simple to do: we used white cotton fabric and waxed dental floss to tie the knots (I always love the look I get from the cashier when I buy 15 packages of dental floss at one time). I dye all of the pieces at once with indigo dye.

After spending a good part of our art time in making just 3-4 kumo shibori knots, I like to show them
a dvd that shows artisans creating shibori garments from start to finish. As we watch the kumo section, the kids ask me if the dvd is sped up because she ties so quickly! Her movements are so practiced she flows from one knot to the next. And soon we see a curl of hundreds of precisely bound knots in the fabric. We are impressed with the process!

This is another segment from the same dvd:

The third graders very carefully unfolded their kumo and tesuji shibori this week and were very impressed with the results! The tesuji was made to unfold into the perfect scarf for mother's day and they loved wrapping their art up for special gifts this weekend.