Sunday, April 5, 2015

Teaching Art in Public school classrooms - Grade One art

Nanabijou - The Sleeping Giant
mix media
Grade 1
St. Elizabeth Catholic Jr. Elementary School

This past week I completed a 50 hour residency in a local elementary school that began in mid-February.

I visited five classrooms using a once per week visitation schedule. Each visit was approximately 100 minutes in duration.
I was paired with teachers and students from 2 grade one, a grade five and 2 grade six classes.

Both classrooms with grade one’s undertook 2 projects.
The first project was a visual storyboard that explored a different theme in each class. The first class explored the legend of Nanabijou. Those of us who live here know it here as the Sleeping Giant, a rise of a land formation on a peninsula that is located across the bay from our fair city of Thunder Bay. (see photo at the head of this post). 

The second grade 1 class explored landscapes of Canada.

Stage 1 was to teach the young artists basic drawing composition (shapes) and colour theory/colour mixing. They were given trays of water based acrylic paints and with brushes had to lay down areas of primary and mixed secondary colours onto rag papers.  

Stage 2 was to  have them draw shapes in pencil on a 10 x 13 inch all media paper based board. This would establish the composition from which all other media would be applied to construct each storyboard.

Stage 3 had students create thin foam plate stamps by drawing shapes (plants, animals, etc…) in the foam surface, cutting and gluing these onto a recycled cardboard base. Water based relief printing ink was rolled on the stamp using a soft rubber brayer.

In stage 4 students cut out pieces of their colour areas that they painted in stage #1. They also cut shapes from pieces of oriental papers that I brought to class with me. These were then glued into strategic areas to add texture, colour to the pencil shapes.

Finally markers and other dry media were used to add definition (outlines and details) to the works.

The second project was the same for both classrooms. It had students brush white glue onto a balloon (these were set into plastic containers and held in place using small tabs of masking tape). The students them applied strips of newspaper using a wallpaper paste adhesive over the glue on the top half of balloons (paper mâché).     I took these home once they had dried and applied additional layers of Modge Podge mixed with white acrylic paint to seal and prime the molded paper. The balloons were deflated and carefully peeled away from the paper. I trimmed each to create a white bowl shape for each student.

 The final stage had students paint acrylic paint onto the exterior and interior of each of their bowls. We set the bowls into Styrofoam bowls to help keep them stabilized while the paint was being applied.

The paper-mâché bowls were the take home component of this project. The mixed media storyboards will be given an exhibition opportunity in a couple of weeks time at a branch of our city’s Public Library.

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