Saturday, November 16, 2013

"Mr. Kelly".....1st grade

We are off on a great art adventure in 1st grade.  Following the story of Anna's Art Adventure, the first graders are on the edge of their stools with anticipation, awaiting to see if Anna ever finds the toilet....
because, when you gotta go.....

The first artist we came across creates very simplified paintings, with some very familiar colors and shapes.
Ellsworth Kelly
Minimalist artist, Ellsworth Kelly, became a great jumping off point for the students to learn the primary colors, simple shapes and size variations.

This was a two part project, starting with a basic red, yellow, blue composition painting.  Along with learning our primary colors, I introduced my students to basic painting skills: holding a brush, dipping it into the paint, creating brush strokes (not "coloring"), and slow and steady.  Keeping in mind these little guys and gals are just that, little guys and gals, simplifying the steps is essential.

Red, Yellow, Blue II

I created a game out of this part of the project.  I gave the students small rectangular red, yellow and blue poster board, they moved them around on their paper, deciding which colors go where.
It was fun for them and giving them choices encouraged them to take ownership of their work.

Their mini-Kelly color compositions were simply wonderful.  Most importantly, the students followed a sequence of steps, encouraging their growth as independent learners.

What more can a teacher ask for?

Ellsworth Kelly
Ellsworth Kelly

Part two of the Mr. Kelly exploration was his wonderful drawings of leaves and flowers.  These simple, yet elegant and...perfect, drawings became the start of observational skills.  Using their "Adventure" books, my students practiced drawing the outline of simplified leaves from a worksheet.  (I know, I know a worksheet but the goal here was for students to try to replicate what they saw and for their first time, their eyes needed a little training).

We wanted our leaves to look enormous within the small square and did so by "filling up" most of the space.  The students followed the simple "To Do" list on the board:
1.  Draw leaves with pencil
2.  Trace with black crayon
3.  Use the primary colors to fill in the leaves

When talking about this stage in the project, we looked at some of Mr. Kelly's paintings and drawings that demonstrated organic, enormous "leaves".

The students' goal was to reference their favorite leaf and transfer their image to a larger piece of paper, using the same sequence as they used in their adventure books.  The added component was painting their larger leaves, instead of using markers.  I purposefully chose a square sheet of paper to guide their "copying" skills and help them understand how to "make something look enormous".

Our focus remained on the primary colors, but that idea was just something in the back of their minds, at this point.  They were so independent at this stage.  

The last stage was putting it all together.
Each student needed to prepare their final paintings for display by matting their work onto black construction paper.  My students do this all on their own.  Yes, some are a little crooked, some can't find the middle of anything but it's their work....and they are very proud of it.

This was the first graders' initial attempt at contemporary art....not so bad.

xoxo, SMocK you.