Monday, 25 June 2012

Printing with Picasso

At the end of last term I introduced the kids to Picasso following a long weekend trip to Sydney to visit the NSW art gallery and the Picasso exhibition. (I was disappointed to find that while I was in Europe last year the Picasso Museum in Paris was closed for renovation- only to find that some of the collection had travelled to Australia while I was in France! So I just had to go and see it in Sydney.) I bought several books for kids while I was at the art gallery several of them focused on Picasso. They were fantastic picture books suitable for introducing this significant modern artist to the children from year one to seven.

For the older children I used a book called 'Just Behave Pablo Picasso'by Jonah Winter and another called Picasso and Minou. Both books introduce children to the life of Pablo Picasso and his personality in a readily accessible way in a fun enjoyable story picture book fashion.

With the children in rooms 19 and 20 (yr 4/5) I looked at some really simple line drawings of strange faces that Picasso had drawn. I used a book of step by step draw like Picasso for the kids to follow then they had a go at creating some of their own. From those we used the patterns and lines to create potato prints to decorate the surface of a piece of fabric.
The children in Rooms 2 and 3 (years 5-7) created collograph prints based on Picasso's cubist portraits these were then printed on paper and then fabric. These prints have been the basis of a textile project for these classes.

I made up sewing boxes for each group. Each box had a little pin cushion with a needle for each child each needle had to be returned at the end of each lesson before they could leave the studio - I don't think we lost a single needle!!  There were also sets of sewing cards that I had made up showing a variety of embroidery stitches. The children had time to practice and experiment with these stitches on scrap fabric before venturing on to the embellishment of their printed fabric. Most of the children had sewn before in previous years when they made their pencil cases. So apart from a bit of a refresher on knot tying and needle threading techniques the kids were off.
 I rarely thread needles for kids or tie knots rather I demonstrate each step by step and tend to show a couple of ways for the kids to choose from. Having said that I do make sure that I buy needles with eyes that are of sufficient dimensions to make threading possible at each year level while still ensuring that they will go through the fabric easily so the sewing process is not too tedious. You can see the kids have been working very well with this project, even though it takes time and patience to learn the skill and get used to the fiddly threads.

Here's a tip for any other art teachers out there. The kids had difficulty pinning their fabric onto the front of their bags in order to sew it on so I used a few dabs of craft glue (not too much as it makes it difficult to sew through.) to keep the pockets on the front of their bags so they could sew them on more easily.

What style!

Over the last week or so most of the classes have been watching this film animation that illustrates how Mondrian's art work changed over time from representational to pure abstraction.

Depending on their year level the children have been creating artworks inspired by Mondrian using different medium. Some classes are using artline markers to create thick and thin black lines and will complete them using liquid watercolour paints.

Many of the classes in year 1 to 4 will be creating collages using pre-cut black paper strips and colourful paper rectangles. (I saw this idea somewhere in the blogosphere and thought it was a good one as I have tried this many years ago with younger children and they find it difficult to cut many even strips of paper and the skill of cutting overtakes their "arts ideas" or  artistic choices and arrangement of line, shape and colour. However I have encouraged kids to trim down their pre-cut shapes into sizes that suit their work better)

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Picture this...

you have a class of kids for an hour and a half at the most and you have one camera booked out to your art studio and have managed to beg and borrow three or four more from other class rooms, some of them have full memory cards and you don't know what you can delete...some of them have flat batteries and you're trying to get every kid to take photos in the time you have the class. On top of that what do you do with the kids who have nothing to do while they wait for a camera. How do you supervise both groups, because there are some pretty keen kids waiting to get their hands on a camera and this distracts them from whatever it is that you've told them to do while they wait.
I went to our P&C with a request for some money to buy a class set of cameras - the lovely generous P&C donated some money so I could buy the cameras to teach the kids photography properly. When I went to Office Works tho buy the cameras the manager was impressed with my desire to teach photography and our plans for a photographic exhibition later in the year she said they like to help out schools when they can so she donated a camera too. We now have 12 cameras for the kids to use and one for me to use to demonstrate and record what the kids are doing.
It is my aim that all the kids from year one to seven will get a turn at using these cameras throughout the year.
Today the year 4/5's in room 19 had their first chance to have a go. This first lesson was mostly about how to hold and care for the camera and little things like - 

Make sure you start your photographic session by holding a card with your name and room number and taking a photo of it before you start taking pictures. That way I can download your photos and get them into the right folder on our main computer storage system.
I didn't give the children any instruction beyond "take pictures of things that you find interesting." 
I purposely haven't given them any photography tips yet because the next part of the lesson will be to look at the pictures we have taken and choose the ones we like most and discuss what it is that makes these photos work. 
Here are some of my favourites from today.