5th Graders “Hired” in the Art Department on New Tim Burton Production

The last 5th grade unit that I was a part of was another that I designed and began teaching myself but was unable to finish as my time student teaching in the elementary came to a quick end and I had to move on to high school. I am a huge fan of mixed media art, printmaking, and movies so I decided to implement all of those elements into 1 unit and “hire” the 5th graders as my Art Department who would be working as character designers and developers, storyboard artists, and as printmakers.

Many people are familiar with the movie director, Tim Burton, who is famous for such films as Edward Scissorhands, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Big Fish, Frakenweenie, as well as many others. What many people are unfamiliar with is that he is also an artist and that he designs all of his characters himself and develops his storyline from there. There is a featured article in The Scholastic Art magazine on Tim Burton’s artistic philosophy and process that inspired this unit.

http://www.art.scholastic.com/issues/11_01_12/book#/10

I believe that his artistic philosophy is extremely important to teach young artists and I posted some of his quotes around the room for students to see.

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And the quote that inspired the our lesson……

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We began our unit looking at, analyzing, and interpreting character drawings done by Tim Burton but I kept the fact that all of the drawings were done by Tim Burton a secret in the beginning. Some character drawings I showed the students included…

We discussed the common themes in how all of the characters were drawn/painted, the style that the artist used and we learned the terms disproportionate, elongated, fanciful, gestural, expressive, and surreal. I also asked the students to come up with a quick back story for each character just by looking at them and what they came up with was absolutely hysterical and very creative! I asked if they knew who the artist was that created all of these characters and the most common response I received was Pablo Picasso, so I showed them a few more characters done by the artist that they might recognize 🙂

I then congratulated them on being “hired” as the art department on an up and coming Tim Burton film and there job was to design and develop a character and create a storyboard to “present to Time Burton”. In order to make our art room seem more like the art department on a movie set I gave each day we worked a title.

Day 1 of Production – CHARACTER DESIGN

On the first day their task was to design and draw an interesting character using Tim Burton’s style of drawing as inspiration.

Day 2 of Production – CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT

We finished designing and drawing our characters and then transferred those character drawings onto linoleum blocks and began carving out our blocks in preparation for printmaking. We discussed simplifying and negative space. Everyone had a great experience carving out linoleum blocks for the first time, just like professional printmakers. They will be using their character prints and cutting and pasting them into their storyboards rather than drawing out the character every single time in each frame.

Day 3 & 4 of Production – CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT AND STORYBOARDING

I showed the students a short video of how a professional storyboard corresponds to the actual movie and we discussed narration and storytelling through visuals. We were going to be doing a slightly shorter storyboard and I asked the students to sum up their character’s story in only 4 frames. They were given a variety of supplies and asked to draw out each of the 4 major scenes but not forgetting to leave room in each scene for their character print. The imaginations and creative ideas I witnessed working with the students was absolutely amazing.


Sadly I wasn’t able to be there when the students did the printmaking and finished their storyboards as my student teaching obligations took me to West High School but I can’t wait to see all of the finished products in upcoming blog posts!

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Bruce Howdle Animal Mugs

The 3rd grade clay project has become sort of a tradition in recent years due to it’s popularity with students and even the teacher! But this year, I had the pleasure of teaching the lesson that focused on the artist Bruce Howdle, a ceramic artist living and working very close to us in Mineral Point, WI. The artist is famous for his large ceramic installations and murals, vases, platters, humorous cups, and other ceramic pieces featuring animals as the main theme.

http://www.brucehowdle.com

For our unit we focused on analyzing and interpreting his funny animal mugs!

Taking inspiration from Bruce Howdle the 3rd graders designed and constructed their own animal mugs. they students first spent time drawing out and designing their mugs. Not only did the students draw out their animal as a mug but they executed design drawings of what their mug would look like from a bird’s eye view, from underneath, and how the handle would be incorporated into their design. Many students also drew out their designs on paper cups to help realize their 2-D drawing as a 3-D form. We also had a discussion on shape vs. form, visual texture vs. texture, and non-functional vs. functional art. Once they got their hands on the clay is when the real fun began! The students learned about rolling out a slab of clay, constructing a cylinder, scoring and slipping when attaching clay pieces together, and different techniques to add texture.

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The next step was to let our animal mugs dry out so that they could be fired in the kiln.

We were then able to glaze our mugs and make them functional pieces of artwork!

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Dr. Evermor Fantastical Machines

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This last lesson with the 4th graders while student teaching was a lesson that I designed and taught myself. We focused on one of my favorite Wisconsin artists, Tom Every, aka Dr. Evermor.
Many of you have probably seen some of his giant, metal bird sculptures on the roof of Madison’s Children’s Museum or on Patterson Street in between East Johnson Street and Williamson Street. A handful of the students even said that they have had a chance to visit his sculpture park, just South of Baraboo, WI.

Our first day, the students were given a picture of Dr. Evermor’s famous Forevertron sculpture, which happens to hold the Guiness World Record for largest scrap metal sculpture. I asked them to interpret and analyze the picture without giving them any previous information. They discussed with their classmates what they noticed about the picture, what they thought the item in the picture was made from, and what they thought the item in the picture was used for.


FOREVERTRON by Tom Every aka Dr. Evermor
http://www.worldofdrevermor.com

We then had a class discussion about their ideas and I introduced the artist Tom Every and his artwork. We discussed how he uses unaltered recycled scrap metal or “junk” in his sculptures, the importance of recycling, alter-egos, narration in artwork, storytelling, elements of a story, inventing, and the non-traditional art making process of generating the context behind the artwork after it is already made rather than the traditional process where ideas are generated first and turned then into final pieces of artwork. That last topic was something I really wanted to focus on in our initial discussion and following activity because that is exactly how Dr. Evermor works. He begins by welding various scrap metal together without knowing what type of sculpture he is making and lets the artwork itself help determine the content, concept, and story behind the sculpture. Then the students were given their own junk and were instructed to just start drawing using the “junk” as inspiration and begin creating a drawing without knowing what it was and to let the drawing itself decide what it is.

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Then the students were asked to create their own Dr. Evermor inspired fantastical machines based off their “junk” drawings and develop a story that explains their machines. The students were introduced to the various graphite pencils that artists use, blending/shading, hatching and cross-hatching drawing techniques, designing mechanical drawings, and even 1-point perspective!

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The student’s Fantastical Machines and stories behind them were absolutely AMAZING! The creative and inventive ideas that came from the minds of the 4th grades was absolutely inspiring and everyone one had a fun time inventing their own Fantastical Machines!

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3rd Grade Art & Music Integration

While the 4th and 5th graders were busy with their Romare Bearden/Jazz Music – Art and Music Integration Unit, the 3rd graders were involved in their own Art and Music Integration unit which was also the first art lesson that I had the pleasure of organizing and implementing. While the final products look very abstract the substance and lesson behind them allowed for students to use critical thinking skills and help them realize that everything that they learn in their Art class is connected to what they are learning in their other academic classes.

We began our unit listening to a short Jazz/Hip-Hop Instrumental song and really trying to pick out the beat/rhythm, the tempo, the pitch, and the different instruments. As a beginning exercise the students were instructed to “draw” the song with a line drawing. We then had a discussion on how the pitch relates to the shape of the line and an example would be sharp (triangular) lines represent a high/sharp pitch. Also, a fast tempo could be depicted by close-together and overlapping lines and a slow tempo could be depicted by lines that are farther apart. Finally we discussed how the beat can be translated as the background of a drawing. Then the students were instructed to do another drawing using various shapes to visually depict the song all the while still thinking about the connections between elements of music and visual art. The next step was an activity and discussion on what colors represent what particular sounds and music styles and then to add color to their shape drawings. The following activity allowed for the students to get out of their seats and move around a bit. I played recordings of various instruments and asked the students to use their facial expressions and bodies to show what that sound looked like. We had a lot of fun doing that! Their final task for the Art & Music Integration unit was to sculpt what the Jazz/Hip-Hop instrumental song looked like using pipe cleaners and add our sculptures to our drawings to create a final, mixed-media visual artwork of what music looks like.

The results turned out great and we had a great time! It was so great to hear the understanding in the 3rd graders voices of how Art and Music actually relate to each other instead of those quizzical looks I got in the beginning of the unit when I told them we were going to be drawing music 🙂

Super Science Saturday Art Exploration Station

As many of you know, Super Science Saturday is always a big hit in the Madison community. This year, my cooperating Art teacher was approached by some of the organizers and asked if she would be interested in organizing an exploration station that integrated Art into Science. I instead asked if I could organize the project as I want to get as much experience as possible working school events while still a student teacher.

Over the few weeks prior to Super Science Saturday I asked for any student volunteers to join me in the Art room at lunch as I wanted the exploration station to be as student oriented as possible. A small group of 4th grade girls stepped up and joined me for lunch for 3 weeks in a row where we brainstormed ideas, possible activities, and made visuals for our exploration station. As 4th graders had recently been learning about magnets in their science class, we decided to organize a booth integrating magnets and painting, and soon the “Magnetic Masterpieces” Exploration Station was created. With student input, previous knowledge, and a little research of my own we created posters explaining how simple magnets work as well as visuals explaining color theory and color mixing.

They day of Super Science Saturday I was met by my group of volunteers to help get things going and we set up 2 stations for visitors to make “Magnetic Masterpieces.” A piece of thick paper was taped in between 2 tables and another in between 2 chairs and those allowed our Artist/Scientist visitors to create a work of art using only magnets and various pieces of metal to move the paint around the paper and create their masterpiece. Using the high powered magnet on the underside of the paper, visitors were able to move the various metal jewelry, paperclips, bottle caps, screws, hair clips, etc. that were on top of the paper and move those items in and out of the paint to mix colors and create an interesting composition.

While our visitors were creating their “Magnetic Masterpieces” my Wonderful 4th grade helpers, the visiting artists, and I discussed color mixing, basic color theory, composition, and how magnets actually work! Everyone got a little messy, but everyone had a great time and created some really awesome “Magnetic Masterpieces”!

I want to give a special thanks to the 4th grade girls who volunteered to help me on the only Student run Exploration Station! It was the volunteers who pointed out that I am technically still a student 🙂

Goodbye Elementary, Hello High School!

My 9 weeks student teaching elementary art has ended and I have moved on to student teach in the ceramics room at West High School for 4th quarter. I’ve had an amazing experience at both elementary schools and had the opportunity to work with some absolutely amazing students who I will never forget!

I want to sincerely thank both schools for welcoming me into their communities and a special thanks to my amazing cooperating teacher!

Even though I’ve already began my student teaching at West and started working with another group of awesome students, some of who are actually siblings of the Randall students I worked with, I want to finish posting about all of the lessons and activities that I created and was lucky enough to be a part of while student teaching elementary students.