Thursday, March 26, 2015

van Gogh: more than sunflowers...

Rethinking Vincent van Gogh

I was thinking about spring and the amazing flowers that bloom in the warming weather, coloring the landscapes of backyards and parks.  *sigh*
I live in Chicago and the palette, right now, is less than colorful.

So, I decided to do some "Googling" and find some inspiration of paintings of flowers to brighten this dreary afternoon.  
I found lots!  No surprise. 
 The still life, of vases with flowers, has a strong history within the art timeline and provide amazing examples of the lineage of art movements.  

Bowl with Peonies and Roses, 1886

In the scanning and skimming process, many images were of the infamous "Sunflowers" by Vincent van Gogh.  This, also, is quite common with such a search, but I gravitated towards a painting of peonies and roses.  One of my most favorite flowers is the poofy, full, luscious peony.  The small Google image was not very clear, and as I clicked on the image, I saw it....."Vincent".
I thought to myself, "Wow" and "Wait a minute".
and "Why?"

Oleanders and Books, 1888

Why do most, meaning all, books I have about Vincent for my classroom only talk about his "Sunflowers"?  Why do so many other paintings go unnoticed or are not given the attention they deserve.

Vase with Red Poppies, 1886

I, too, am guilty of the "sunflower" painting.  Just recently, I was trying to come up something different for the "van Gogh" unit. 
All signs pointed in one direction, "A Vase with Sunflowers" (of various numbers).  

Vase with Zinnias and Other Flowers, 1886

Now, I have a fresh perspective and appreciation for our dear Vincent.  Perhaps he was also looking for some color on some dreary days.  
And now, I feel compelled to write a children's book about the many beautiful vases of flowers from Vincent van Gogh.

Vase with Asters and Phlox, 1886

Still Life - Vase with Fifteen Sunflowers, 1888

Want to paint a vase of flowers?  Click here:)

xoxo, SMocK you.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

a trip to Peru with Yianna and Helios

The adventure of 'traveling' with these two friends continues!  In our last adventure, Yianna and Helios sent us an email from the 'Forgotten City'.  Thankfully, it is no longer forgotten.  

One of my most favorite grades (don't tell the others) is 3rd grade.  Third grade students still have that wonder and amazement that makes teaching them exciting.  They also start to 'know stuff'--just enough stuff to have really great discussions about art, history and just a little mystery.  

Well, back in November, as the sunshine seemed to disappear over Chicago, 'our friends', Yianna and Helios shared their exploration of a very sunny place...Peru.  This was a very exciting country for me, as a life long dream is to visit the ancient ruins of the Incas and imagine to be Indiana Jones exploring Machu Picchu.
Our focus for this adventure was to investigate the meaning and symbolism of the sun, as represented, not only in Inca artifacts, but celebrated once a year in this ancient city. 
video introduction to Peru

I first developed this art unit while on sabbatical in Argentina on a Fulbright.  I connected with an Argentinean classroom teacher and focused on integrating art into a social studies unit.  Luckily, they were studying their ancient histories and landed me, well on my way to developing a lesson that has crossed curricula and grade levels.
Something I call fabulous.

This time, I did things a little different.  With the talk, trend and evolution of teaching kids, assessing kids and developing creative peoples, I thought to give my students an opportunity to take the reins.  After reading them the email from Yianna and Helios, exploring Peru, taking notes in our passports and spinning the globes (literally-they love it), I gave them one direction:  You have 10 minutes to make the sun.
And I left the room.
There was a sense of panic.
Students scrambling around the room, and asking each other questions.
I listened from outside.
How the students monitored each other, helped with problems and stayed focused made me proud.
This was their formative assessment.  WoW- the big "F" word.:)
preliminary drawing: 10 minute sun

This art adventure slowly evolved to 'just making' something to learning about different beliefs, diversities in cultures, artistic variations and the joy of yoga:)

student group analysis of two different images

We had a few connecting goals, relating to "the sun".  

First, each student was commissioned by the king of Machu Picchu to design a great pendant, made from the finest clay in the art room:)

Second, the CBS program "Sunday Morning" sent notice that they are in need of some new and creative representations of 'the sun'.

students doing some "sun salutations"

We sketched, we designed, we constructed, we fixed, we painted...we evaluated...
we did a lot.

My students enthusiasm for discovering new places and faces has increased.  They simply can't wait for their next message from 

Yianna and Helios.

I learned that 3rd grade students are not as flexible as I thought.
We are still doing sun salutations until we can touch our toes.

students taking a gallery tour of preliminary drawing

Check out the snapshots!

And click here for
 power point and lesson plan.

Here are some additional resources: (cartoon of boy in the Andes) (cartoon, cultural video of Peru)
My students analyzing:

xoxo, SMocK you.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Pi Day.....

a delicious celebration

I really could not resist today:)
As I sip on coffee and indulge in a little sweet treat of the day, I thought to the beloved artist Wayne Thiebaud and his delicious renditions of pies (and cakes).

 I think it is something about how Thiebaud sculpts with paint that really makes me love him.  
Whitney Collection

So indulge a little today and celebrate with a little pie or Pi.     


Wayne Thiebaud art lesson.

Hani's on the picture for Instagram feed
xoxo, SMocK you.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Celebrating International Women's Day....with women artists

Petah Coyne, Untitled #781, 1994
As I woke up this morning, made myself some coffee, realized I lost an hour from my day and checked Facebook, I became aware that it is International Women's Day.  I immediately turned on the television in an anticipation of a parade, but none to be found.  This made me go hmm.  I thought to myself, we celebrate a jolly ol' man with a white beard, but not someone that is actually real.  


So, here is my parade celebrating International Women's Day through art.  It's not all.
It's not even most.
But, just a few.

Untitled Film Still 3 (1977). Photograph: Cindy Sherman

Louise Bourgeois, 1911-2010. Photographed 28 February 1992. Sculpture, installation art and painting

Yayoi Kusama: one of few women to have had a major retrospective at Tate Modern.
Georgia O'Keeffe in 1918

Self-Portrait as a Lute Player, 1615–1617
Frida Kahlo
Joan Mitchell
Florence Henri -Portrait of Sonia Delaunay, Paris, 1931
Pained Madonna painted by Plautilla Nelli.
Edmonia Lewis, sculptor
Kathy Kollwitz
Faith Ringgold
Barbara Kruger, Conceptual Artist

I think the last one is my favorite:)
These are just a few from a list of thousands. As I was researching and browsing, I came across an excellent resource from the National Museum of Women in the Arts to use in the classroom. 
A big "Thank You" to these artists who mark the path for others.

xoxo, SMocK you.