Batik – in progress!

5th graders have just started a new project learning about the process of Batik. Batik uses hot wax as a resist on fabric to create a design. After the designs are created in wax, the fabric is dyed and left to dry. Once the fabric is dry, then the wax is ironed out of the fabric and you are left with a beautiful piece of work.

Right now, 5th graders are sketching mandala designs to transfer onto fabric where they have started the wax resist process.
 (Students faced blurred for privacy)

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Contour Line Self Portraits

Our first project of the year is underway! We are starting with all the grade levels doing the same thing, self portraits.

We began by looking at a drawing by Henri Matisse called Magnolia. magnolia

Students noticed that there was no color and it looked like a coloring book drawing. These lines are called contour lines. They define the edge of something or an outline. They also noticed some lines were thicker, some were thinner, some lighter and some darker. The differences in the lines is called line quality. Students were encouraged to use different line qualities with their contour line self portraits as well.


Students started by drawing with pencils first. They learned to use light, sketchy lines from this interview with Mr. Pencil so they could trace their lines with Sharpie and erase their pencil marks later. Then they brainstormed words about themselves to use for the background of their drawings.




IMG_2908Here is the finished project!


MMSD Art Standards:

Designs: Identify and use color, shapes, line, texture, and space in works of art. Identify and use contrast, repetition, emphasis (center of interest).

Creates:  Use different media, processes, and techniques to communicate ideas, Take advantage of the qualities and characteristics of art media, techniques, and processes to enhance their art experiences, and stories. Drawing with contour line. The techniques and processes of color mixing which include secondary colors.

Reflecting:  Understand that there are various purposes for creating works of visual art. Understands that there are different responses to specific artworks.

Interpreting: Understand that different subject matter and ideas communicate meaning. Select and use subject matter, symbols, and ideas to communicate meaning. Create artwork with various subject matter, symbols, and emotional content.


MMSD Social Emotional Standards:

Positive Self Identity: Students will identify and explore values. Students will reflect on their personal values.

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.

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.


And the quote that inspired the our lesson……


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.


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.


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!

5th grade Social Justice sketches

I am very impressed with the conversations going on during art with the 5th graders.  They are a bunch of very caring, very aware students.  We began to discuss what a political or editorial cartoon is and how it relates to social justice issues.  We looked at a few from the newspaper and began to brainstorm for our own projects.

Here are a few results from our brainstorm session:

3rd gr O’Keeffe Part 1: Observational Line Drawings

Third graders spent some time learning observational drawing from Georgia O’Keeffe.  We learned that she was born right here in (Sun Prairie) Wisconsin and she became very, very famous for her very large nature paintings.

O’Keeffe said,”  I decided that if I could paint that flower in a huge scale, you could not ignore its beauty.”

“Sun-bleached bones were most wonderful against the blue – that blue that will always be there as it is now after all man’s destruction is finished.” -O’Keeffe

Thanks to donations from George’s Flowers on South Park and J Kinney Florist on Monroe St, we had fresh flowers to draw in addition to nature found in our very own garden.

3rd graders learned observational drawing is about looking for  shapes, not just drawing the object in front of you.  While this can be a difficult art concept to ‘get,’ students were really successful in their observational drawings.

We also learned that our compositions look more interesting if we drew large and drew all the way to the edge of the page (into La La Land).

“When you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it’s your world for the moment. I want to give that world to someone else. Most people in the city rush around so, they have no time to look at a flower. I want them to see it whether they want to or not.” -O’Keeffe

“Nobody sees a flower really; it is so small. We haven’t time, and to see takes time – like to have a friend takes time.” -O’Keeffe

5th grade Masks: Update #2

Our paper mached balloons are dry.  We cut them in half so each partner gets one half of a balloon to begin their masks.

Now we are using newspaper and other recyclable materials to tape onto our half of a balloon to create the features of our masks.

These are features we drew on our sketches to design our masks before we began building our features.

Our next step will involve another round of gooey, slimy paper mache!

Stay tuned for the final results!

The eyes have it..

2nd and 3rd graders are preparing for a big project, but it’s a secret!  We will be doing a few smaller projects in preparation for a larger project.  This is the first in a series of smaller projects.

Students begin by practicing drawing eyes.  I’ve given them tools for drawing eyes including a handout with specific steps on it.  We’ve all learned how to write the letter ‘A’, all of our A’s sometimes look different from each other.  We all have our own handwriting.  Using the handout below as a guide, students are putting their own style into drawing eyes.

Students studied each others eyes as well as their own using mirrors.  Students looked for different lines and shapes in their eyes compared to their friends eyes.  Students may also notice the patterns in each others eyes as well as the contrast created by lights and darks around the eyes.

Here are some ways our different eyes have turned out so far:

Students have been encouraged to practice drawing eyes at home so if you catch them making funny faces at themselves in the mirror, you’ll know why!

Stay tuned for the next step!

*This lesson plan was created by UW art ed practicum student Courtney Moor.