Monday, March 28, 2011

Charles Demuth Cool Colors Number Five Art Project

I've been buried in art classes and prep work and haven't had time to sit and blog a lesson lately. This is one I did two weeks ago at one of the schools I work at. I have been captivated by this print by Charles Demuth for a long time, because I love  the use of numbers and text in art. There are many lessons you could do based on this print-I came up with this one because I had just finished another project using black paper and cool colors and it turned out great. (It was a portrait of Medusa), so I thought why not the number 5?

The Figure 5 in Gold, 1928


1/2 of 22x28 black poster board
white colored pencil
acrylic paint in cool colors, plus white
cup (to trace for the circle shape)

I did this project with grades K-5. For the Kinders I drew the number 5 on the poster board before class using the white pencil. The kids used a plastic cup to trace on 5 circles anywhere they wanted, and a ruler to draw 5 lines. For the older kids I let them do their own number 5.  Prior to the start of class I had mixed up some blues and greens with white (to make them more opaque and bright on the black background). The kids used these colors to fill in all the spaces they had made on their posters, being careful not to put the same color next to itself. This was not as easy as it sounds. They were challenged as they got farther along in their painting. For the Kinders I used some black paint to outline to re-discover their shapes and their number 5. The older kids were able to paint neater and keep their sections defined. Below are some of the first and second grade pictures:

Here are some of the 3-5th graders projects:

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Charlie Russell Sunset Project

This is a project I have done many times over the last 8 years with many ages. The original idea came from the book "Discovering Great Artists" by MaryAnn F. Kohl and Kim Solga.(this is a slightly different version) This is one of my favorite books to use for ideas. I love the format and artist bios.

All kids love to learn about Western art. Charlie Russell is a favorite artist of mine to teach because he is from Montana,(where I live), and he was not only a great artist, but a great person. Sometimes when you teach art history based lessons, you have to skip over alot of the artist's life and problems, especially when you are teaching younger kids. Charlie Russell's life is a great story to tell and the kids enjoy learning about this talented and humble man.


1/2 sheet of 12"x15" watercolor paper
white colored pencil
animal templates
black construction paper
glue sticks

 We talk about sunsets and how the sky looks then I have the students mix up pools of yellow, orange, and red on their watercolor tray.  Using a wet in wet technique I have them wet their paper (which I have taped with masking tape to a piece of cardboard about 1/2" all around to make a frame and secure the paper). Then using the three separate colors I have them streak the colors in. While that is drying, the kids pick out what animals or tree, cactus etc. they want in their pictures. We talk about what a silhouette is and why the animals would appear black with the sunset behind them. Using the white pencil they trace around the templates onto the black construction paper ( I don't know where I got these originally, I might have made them from line images and traced them onto card stock). I have elk, deer, two sizes of bears, wolves, coyotes,bison,mountain goats, trees and cactus. After they have cut out the animals,( for very small kids I do the cutting), then they determine what size hill to put them on and cut that out of the black construction paper as well, being careful to fit it on the bottom of the watercolor paper. When the sky is dry I have them glue the animals and hill onto their papers.

I often do this in a two part lesson, where we make a clay snake and paint the sunset in the first lesson and then do the silhouette, and paint the clay snake in the second session. It is a fun way to teach about Charlie Russell as he liked to paint, and do sculptures.