Monday, October 24, 2016

Assemblage Project

A few weeks ago, my class studied the amazing artist, Louise Nevelson, and each student created their own, Nevelson-inspired, assemblage sculpture. 

Nevelson offers a great lesson in art history and moving forward in life with confidence and work habits. She built large sculptures using wooden objects in boxes and painting them one color, black, white, or gold. It was fun to watch students search through piles of materials and find something that was meaningful to them. I offered my students pieces of cardboard and wood, used water bottles, wire, and small, used toys.

 Art classrooms often becomes the garbage cans of the school, as people show up with paper towel tubes , bubble wrap, and a "Can you use this?" But that's a good thing when teaching students environmental concepts such as reducing and reusing, as well as art concepts such as "found objects" and assemblage. Conversations can go back to Duchamps "ready-mades" and the big question, "What is art?"  Bliss for me as a teacher, is the spot right between the profound and the whimsical.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Ceramic Lanterns from Slabs

Every time I think I'm going to run out of ideas for ceramic lesson plans, another idea pops up like a light bulb over my head. Only instead of a light bulb this time, it was a candle light, shining from inside a clay lantern. I recently dusted off the slab roller and students got busy rolling out slabs of clay.

Some of my students created cylinders, in which a candle can be placed underneath a covering or inside a little doorway.

Others created boxes with opened tops, or in the shapes of houses in which the roof could be removed to place a candle inside.

This lesson is a great way to teach about form and function, as well as negative shape and the technique of slip and score. I just got these babies out of the kiln, but I can hardly wait to see them painted or glazed, and lit up from within.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Foil Paper Art

My art class just completed a week dedicated to Austrian symbolist artist, Gustav Klimt, whose use of gold and pattern helped usher in the Art Nouveau movement. Last year's film, Woman in Gold, was about his most famous painting, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer, which is hailed as the "Mona Lisa of Austria. "
In the spirit of Klimt's metallic looking paintings, we made landscapes and figurative images using foil paper. This lesson plan idea was courtesy of art supply company, Dick Blick. My students each drew an image on chip board (although paper would work as well). Then they filled in each shape with color by gluing torn foil paper onto the board. Little cracks between the paper work well to break up the space. Several students used used plastic tooling tools to emboss a pattern onto the foil. And then they used black tempera to cover the entire image. When the paint was almost dry they wiped the it off using a damp paper towel, which gives a vintage feel to the piece. It was a trick getting the right amount of rubbing, as too much will take the color off the foil, and not enough will keep the color from being revealed.

Some students drew directly from posters I had of Klimt's paintings, while others chose to represent their interests (such as the Nike shoe below).