Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Cave Painting

Upper Elementary and Middle School students at Readsboro and Currier Memorial are well into a unit on prehistoric cave painting. As part of this unit, we took a virtual field trip to the prehistoric caves in Lascaux, France. We learned that the paintings in these caves were created around 17,000 BCE by the Cro-magnon people. There are many painted caves in this region of France, but this one, known as the Sistine Chapel of Prehistory was discovered by a couple of fourteen year old boys and their dog, Radar, while out on an afternoon hike.
You can learn more about the cave by following the link: or take the tour here The tour is a new link off the official website and it is really amazing. Lots of interesting info to be found at both sites.
Our art students viewed the art, learned to identify the main characteristics of prehistoric cave painting, and considered what it might imply about a culture that they had the tools, materials, time, know-how, and motivation to assume an undertaking of this scale. The students then developed some rough drafts of their own in this style, which they enlarged onto brown craft paper using chalk pastels. They cut out their animals, pasted them to fill larger pieces of craft paper, and sponge painted in the rock wall. From these we assembled our own version of a prehistoric painted cave. The Currier Cave is now set in the hall connecting fifth and sixth grade classrooms. The Readsboro Cave will be constructed in the art room. Come check it out.

Here's the finished product. Are they not magnificent?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Another Great Fall Project--Ceramic Leaf Dish.

Third and Fourth grade after school program kids "Got Fired Up" about ceramics. Making a ceramic leaf dish was just one of the project they completed during the five week session. Here you can see an older student putting the finishing touches on their leaf after they came out of the kiln.
Below you can see some photos of the the process for making a leaf dish. Here our first and second grade students have pressed the leaf, vein side down into the flattened clay. Look at those little hands carefully cutting around the leaf shape. Have you ever seen anything so cute? To get to this step our little artists practiced making basic clay shapes: a pancake, a ball, a thick snake, a pinch pot. First we practiced using play dough. Then we tried our basic skills using ceramic clay. We also practiced rolling a small slab and tracing around our hand to make a simple cut out before attempting the leaf. We had lots of time to build and explore our own ideas, too. With all this skills firmly in place, making the leaf dish was a breeze. First and second grade students are completing a six week clay unit. We are now practicing skills for making a ceramic fish.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Elements of Art

Of all the elements of art, line is the most basic. Line, as an element of art, is the focus of this quick beginning art project. In this lesson we discussed the three attributes of line: direction (vertical, horizontal, diagonal), measure (thick/thin, long/short), and quality (straight, zig zag, curving, looping, wavy, meandering, broken, spiral, etc.). We practiced making a variety of lines and combined lines to create patterns. We put our pattens to use in two special projects. This one, "Wild Hair Day", asks students to create a character with a wild hair do, to divide the design into a variety of shapes, and to fill the shapes with beautiful and carefully drawn line and pattern. The results are pretty amusing and provide plenty of practice for line control and variety. This project was completed by a fifth grade student. Fifth grade line designs are on exhibit on the board near the front entrance to Currier Memorial.
Our Fourth grade students enjoyed a similar lesson, but demonstrated their knowledge of line by completing a line design owl. Their work is in progress but I will post it soon.