Tuesday, November 17, 2015

From the Art Docent: Complimentary Colors

Second Grade Art Class
Mixing Paint and Complimentary Colors

The assignment was to draw a border (so paint doesn't go right to the edge--saves on clean up) and trace their hands as many times as they'd like. Then, I had the kids mix primary colors, blue and yellow, to make the secondary color, green. The hands were to be decorated with the primary and complimentary color, red. That's it, the rest was left up to creativity.

The kids were so excited about mixing colors that many explored on their own. I encouraged the journey! This is where kids can dabble with the media, see what patterns the brushes make, and if they heard the lecture, maybe a little of it soaked in. The artwork turned out beautifully.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

From the Art Docent: Texture

I thought it would be fun for the first-grade kids to create images, painting with glue and paper to create texture in their art. I brought bins of paper in various solid colors, visual texture, and tactile textures like basket weave, glitter-paper, corrugated cardboard, die cuts, and paper doilies.

I started the lecture by asking them if they remembered the first thing they touched in the morning and what it felt like...soft pajamas, warm sheets, rough carpet, fuzzy slippers and so on.

Then, I had them imagine the other things they'd touch getting ready for school from their clothes to their breakfast. I told them to imagine the lights suddenly went out, and it was pitch black! They still had to brush their teeth, but how could they find their toothbrush and toothpaste? I brought a black bag that contained a toothbrush, toothpaste tube, comb, scrubby, exfoliator, file and a calculator. Without taking the items out, they felt around in the bag, trying to guess what was in there. I asked if they could tell what item didn't belong?

It was a lot of fun! This was the first lecture where I felt the kids were really engaged. Success!

The lesson, however, was a bit of a rough one. I showed the kids how to paint the paper onto their cardboard hearts...I chose this shape because I thought the kids might be interested in making unique valentines. I pre-painted the hearts blue, so the background could be the sky, water, the color of a room, but it would be done, and they could focus on glueing the surface with their imagery instead of spending the limited class time covering the background.

The blue background threw them for a loop. Was it the back? Should they glue on the blue paint? Then they didn't know if they should tear the paper? Cut it? What should they glue down? Should they really glue over the top of the paper? I explained all these things, but there was still a block in getting started. They felt unsure of what they were supposed to do.

I quickly realized that even though I had examples for them up on the board: pizza heart, animal faces, city, random, robot, shapes, words, they really needed one theme to get them started. I think they felt overwhelmed.

Most of the kids enjoyed it, but unfortunately, I didn't get to walk around and snap pictures like I wanted. Clean up was a massive effort! I scraped glue from twenty cups back into the jug and then stood in front of the sink washing glue cups and paint brushes. Oy!

I did manage to get a snap shot of two texture hearts:

Top: Shark Reporter by Ruby
Bottom: Our City by Bianca

Supplies: paint brushes, Mod Podge glue, glue cups, paper towels, paper and cardboard, painted cardboard hearts, and yarn for hanging.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

From the Art Docent: Line as a Visual Element

Hey kids! Are you excited for today's art class?
(Yeah! Insert excited chattering and clapping.)

We're going to learn about line!
(Insert the chirp-chirping of crickets.)

I could tell the first grade class I taught today didn't think line was all that exciting. At first, I followed my lesson script with enthusiasm and fun facts like:
A line is a path between two points! Wait, it get's better...
A line can express a feeling. I know, fascinating, right? Like a horizontal line can be sleepy, a line full of angles can be angry or energizing, a thick line can feel heavy, a lightly drawn line can seem like it's floating.
A line can connect and create a shape, it can communicate by forming into letters or scrawling like cursive.
A line can--

--well, it can decorate...

I tossed the notes aside and jumped in with the fun stuff. I passed out watercolor paper, paints, brushes, water, and a black crayon. I had them sign their names first, earning a nod of approval from the teacher, and settled in with drawing lines on the paper with our black crayon.

Put your crayon on the paper and see where your line goes, I encouraged them.  I told them to draw squiggly lines, straight lines, circles, shapes, angles, dotted lines.

Hey kids! Draw whatever you feel!
(Huh? Is that it?)

Hey kids! Let's paint the white space in between!
(Yeah! Color! Insert applause and cheer.)

Some were done the second their paper hit their desks, and some consternated over each detail for the full hour. It takes all kinds of artists, and even though the enthusiasm I was looking for seemed a little mellow in the beginning, most of the kids were exited to show me their work and proud of their "line" journey.
Today's Drying Rack

Bianca's Sea Monster

Ruby's Hannah Playing in Heaven

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Just, That, Really?

One of my critique partners mentioned that I use the word 'just' too many times. So I did a scan on my 71,500 word manuscript and had to raise my brows. I had no idea! I used the word 'just' 268 times. Good grief! 

I did a control F and reviewed each instance and whittled all the 'justs' down to 152 occurrences.

I found this article on other words to be wary of: http://www.dailywritingtips.com/five-words-you-can-cut/ and discovered that I abuse the word 'that', too!

With over 600 cases of ‘that’ in my manuscript, I started down the long slog of reviewing each instance. After the first 100 or so, I questioned whether my usage was so awful. Some 'thats' flowed naturally and sounded good to me when I read it out loud. So, I did a little search and found an article by Grammar Girl that made sense:

So, I’ve decided to stop stressing. Each 'that' is worth reviewing, some need to be changed into stronger sentences, some are part of my voice and style and some work grammatically. To eliminate and avoid words doesn't make sense, but to evaluate them? Definitely! This was a good lesson for me, because now those two words stand out every time I use them. 

Along this same grain, is punctuation. Apparently, I abuse the ellipses and the m-dash, too.