Monday, April 29, 2013


Elmer by David McKee
I finished up my Any Given Child Residency this past week.  I used the book "Elmer"  by David McKee as an introduction to our final project on camouflage.  "Elmer" is the story of a patchwork elephant who learns the importance of being true to oneself instead of trying to be like everyone else.  As I read the book we discussed the importance of not making fun of others and being happy with yourself.  I also let the students know that I didn't expect their work to be perfect but I did expect them to show me their personal best.  The next thing we discussed was the camouflage aspect of Elmer.  As a patchwork elephant he didn't fit into his habitat so we   discussed what his habitat would have to look like in order for him   to be camouflaged. 

For this project the students had to think more abstractly.  The first part of the project was to draw the outline of an animal.  We had already practiced drawing animals for the previous project.  This time they were instructed to keep the animal simple and not add much detail.

Next the students drew lines through the entire page from "edge to edge".  The type of line was their choice (curvy, straight, zig-zag etc...)  but the lines needed to cut through the animal.  Then they traced over all the pencil lines with a black sharpie.  When they were finished the image looked kind of like a jigsaw puzzle.

Next the students used watercolor pencils to color in each of the newly created shapes.  They were also instructed to limit their color palette to only four colors.  The hardest part was getting them to color the new shapes and not look at the image as an animal and a background.

The students who finished in time had the option of brushing water over the colored areas to activate the pencils in order to create a watercolor effect.

Here are some examples of the finished products

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Any Given Child Residency: Camouflage

I just completed the fifth week of a six week art residency.  I've been working with two third grade classes on an arts integration unit to go with their classroom unit on Camouflage.  Since they had little previous art experience we started with a lesson on the elements of art.

I usually like to spend more time on the basic elements by doing a few warm-up lessons on color, line, shape and pattern prior to beginning a final project but due to time constraints I tried to get the job done in a one hour lesson using a worksheet I made up.  We briefly went over color (primary and secondary), line (vertical, horizontal, diagonal, thick, thin, curvy, straight etc....) shape (geometric and organic) and then practiced creating patterns and textures in preparation for the final projects.

On day two we looked at examples of animal artwork done by various artists and discussed how drawing animals could be made less complicated by starting with simple shapes to get the proportions and basic animal shape and then refining the drawings by erasing unnecessary lines and adding detail.  We drew several animals as a class and then I encouraged them to try drawing an animal of their own. 

On the third day we looked at pictures of animals in their natural habitats and discussed how they were camouflaged.  We looked at the colors, patterns and textures of the animals and their habitats.  Then the students chose one of their animal drawings to transfer onto colored construction paper.  They used oil pastels to pattern their animal before cutting it out.

On the fourth day we talked about the element of art "space" and discussed how they could create an illusion of space in their artwork.  We added overlap, foreground, middle ground and background to their vocabulary list and then they went to work creating a background for their animals.  They used a sheet of construction paper the same color as their animal and sketched in elements of their animals habitat before adding color with oil pastels.

The final step of the project was adding some low relief by gluing layers of foam between the animal and the back ground.

 Their finished artwork.  I think they're fabulous!