Romare Bearden

Romare Bearden was born in 1911 and became famous for his amazing collages inspired by the people and music in Harlem.

“Romare Bearden, one of the most important African American artists of the twentieth century, was born in Charlotte, North Carolina and raised in Harlem, New York. As was the case for another African American artist, Jacob Lawrence, Bearden grew up in the midst of the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s—a literary movement of notable writers and poets that centered on black culture.

Bearden studied art in New York during the 1930s, asking in an important essay that African American artists give voice to their own distinctive experiences. Gaining recognition during the 1940s and achieving international status by the 1960s, he made his memories of life in the South and in Harlem the basis of his art. His art and that of Lawrence parallel the spirit of American Scene Painting, which in the 1930s recorded and commemorated regional identities, most especially that of the Midwest. In the 1960s, Bearden experimented with a variety of collage techniques that became his signature medium. His later style captures the syncopation and liveliness of American jazz, playing upon caricature and the fragmentation of forms associated with Cubism.”

Madison Museum of Contemporary Art

After watching this wonderful video made by Picturing America, students learned about improvisation.

Romare Bearden was something of a Jazz musician himself. Jazz and art were one to him. My musician friend visiting from Nashville, Kevin Knapp, came into our classroom and introduced the concept of improvisation. Students had been discussing call and response as well as improvisation in music class as well. Kevin explained that improvisation is like a conversation. One person says something and the other person responds. But when you respond it has to make sense, it has to relate to what the first person said. So you need to listen to each other so the responses make sense with what has already been said. You also need to l leave space for each person to respond. If you talk over one another, you aren’t really listening.

Students practiced call and response improvisation with Kevin. Kevin ‘spoke’ something on his bass and a student responded with a rhythm clapped out or a scat. Students soon experienced the importance of listening and giving each other the space to respond.

Students began creating their own collages in partners. One student would cut out an image and glue it down. Their partner was to then cut out another image to glue down but in response to what the first person glued down. In this way, their art became a beautiful, improvised conversation.

100th Post!

Over the last 6 months, I have learned more from other art bloggers than my whole last three years of college.  I’m so grateful to have discovered the blogging world (with help from my friend Heather).

My hope is that my students start using this blog as a resource and it becomes as important to them as it is to me!  Coincidentally, the 100th day of school is this Friday.

In celebration of my 100th post and the 100th day of school, K/1 students created self portraits of what they look like now AND in 100 years!  I’ve seen this in quite a few places around the Art Ed blog world but the one that comes to mind is Teach Kids Art.

Me:  Why does your ‘in 100 years’ portrait look so bored?

Becky:  Because all old people are bored and sad.

Madison:  I’m going to have whiskers when I’m old!

Me:  What’s in your ‘100 year old’ portrait’s mouth?

Brock:  A thermometer.  All old people are sick.

K/1 Jim Dine

Jim Dine is really known for his heart images.

K/1 students created a multi media Jim Dine inspired art work.  Students spent time in four different stations to create four different hearts.


crazy collage (which included beads, feathers, yarn and all sorts of choices),

and paper collage.

Then we let our hearts rest for the next art class.

The second class period, students painted a background for their hearts.  They also added in some texture as well.

Here is the finished Jim Dine inspired art!

I think they are beautiful and just in time for Valentine’s Day!!

K/1 Matisse

K/1 students have been really been working on their cutting and gluing skills.  Their skills were put to the test while ‘painting with scissors’ like Henri Matisse.  We learned all about Matisse and how he also loved shapes.  Geometric shapes are pretty new for the kindergartners but those smart 1st graders really had them down and started to add organic shapes to their art work as well.

First we had to sift through the scrap paper boxes which was a lot of fun because some of the 1st graders saw some of their Snow Day watercolor patterns they used last year for collages.  Some of the students even saw the scraps from our pumpkin people!  It’s fun re-using paper from other projects.

Some of us used templates to trace our shapes and some of us drew them by hand.  After drawing our shapes, we cut them out and set them on our paper to create a picture.  After they were all set in front of us the way we wanted them, we glued them down.

Kids even got little crazy and experimented with what it would look like if they glued them on so shapes became forms (3-d shapes).

The finished product!

K/1 Jasper Johns

Kindergartners and first graders began by reviewing warm and cool colors while learning about artist Jasper Johns.

Students began by using Mod Podge and newspaper to create texture.  Then chose a warm or cool color to paint their background.

Kindergartners picked their favorite numbers and practiced tracing them.  They chose three and used oil pastels (opposite color group of their background) to create pattern on the numbers, cut them out and glued them on their backgrounds.  (First graders drew numbers free hand).

Kindergartners and first graders learned that by using all these different art supplies in one project (mod podge, newspaper, paint and oil pastels) they created a mixed media art project.

Lesson inspired by Jasper Johns and LaughPaintCreate.

Zero Nine by Jasper Johns 1958-59

Free Day!

Most of the classes have gotten a chance to experience their first free day of the school year.  Free day happens after their class earns it by earning five stickers.  Each sticker is earned after a class period where they were good listeners, focused workers and did well during clean up time.  When a class has free day, they are free to create with whatever art supplies are in the room.  Some kids choose to paint or draw while others eye up materials they have never used before.  Here is a wonderful sampling of our first round of free days!  Some of these could be better quality photos so forgive me.  I had to snap a photo before they wisked their beautiful creations home!