"A Faithful Attempt" is designed to showcase a variety of K-12 art lessons, the work of my art students, as well as other art-related topics. Projects shown are my take on other art teacher's lessons, lessons found in books or else designed by myself.
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LAND ACKNOWLEDGEMENT I acknowledge, with deep respect, that I am gathered on Treaty 7 territory. I acknowledge the many First Nations, Métis and Inuit whose footsteps have marked these lands for generations. I recognize the land as an act of reconciliation and gratitude to those whose territory we reside on or are visiting.

Saturday, July 2, 2022

Inuksuk Watercolour Landscape Painting


An inuksuk is a stone structure that can communicate knowledge essential for survival to an Arctic traveler. Inuksuit are found throughout the Arctic areas of Alaska, Arctic Canada, and Greenland. Inuksuit take on many forms, the most recognized being the inunnguaq (’like a person’), which is built in the shape of a human. I often see these rock structures (small versions) made by hikers on the hikes I do in my province. 

I was inspired to create this watercolour lesson based on this gorgeous book I bought in a local bookstore. It is written and illustrated by Mary Wallace, an Ontario artist and teacher. In the book, Wallace, in consultation with Inuit elders and other noted experts, gives a fascinating introduction in words, pictures, and paintings to the many forms of the inuksuk structure and its unique place in Inuit life and culture. 
This gorgeously illustrated book highlights the ingenuity of a people who live in a demanding environment. The book includes the use of the Inuit alphabet to caption the beautiful pictures. There is a dictionary of sounds and words in the back, which can be used for kids to write their own names in Inuit.

Using the book as reference as well and a handout I hand drew, Grade 6 students drew a Canadian landscape including an inunnguaq. I encouraged them to include a foreground, middle ground and background. They drew a border and included a space at the bottom to include their name translated in the Inuit alphabet. They outlined their drawings in Sharpie, then painted using watercolour.

Some finished Grade 6 paintings:

Monday, June 13, 2022

Reconciliation Quilt

This was a very meaningful multi grade collaborative project our school completed recently. It was initiated by one of our Grade 6 Social Studies teacher. She has a background in quilt-making and has a personal interest in Indigenous culture and reconciliation.

 The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) was created through a legal settlement between Residential Schools Survivors, the Assembly of First Nations, Inuit representatives and the parties responsible for creation and operation of the schools: the federal government and the church bodies.

The TRC’s mandate was to inform all Canadians about what happened in residential schools. The TRC documented the truth of Survivors, their families, communities and anyone personally affected by the residential school experience. This included First Nations, Inuit and Métis former residential school students, their families, communities, the churches, former school employees, government officials and other Canadians.

Reconciliation can be a touchy subject in my province of Alberta with many Conservative politicians and people trying to downplay it. I'm thankful I work with colleagues who are passionate about including First Nations topics in our school including difficult ones such as reconciliation and residential schools.

I've done some other Canadian Indigenous lessons in the past:
See my Blackfoot Winter Count Buffalo Hide Designs art lesson HERE
See my Norval Morrisseau Style X-Ray Paintings HERE

For this collaborative quilt project, students from Grade 4,5 and 6 worked to colour in a square for the quilts.  An indigenous representative helped the Socials teacher select the indigenous imagery used and ensured they were appropriate. They strove to represent The First Nations, Metis and Inuit of Canada with each image chosen and to honour each indigenous group.
The images were printed off and the students traced them onto pre-cut canvas squares. The edges were taped off. 

Once traced in pencil, the images were coloured using fabric markers. While students worked on the art, the teacher shared the symbolism of the images she has learned from Knowledge Keepers.

Once all the fabric squares were coloured, some students ironed and prepared the material for sewing. A parent volunteer helped the Socials teacher sew all the material together. Finally, a local quilting company, Loopy D, was utilized to to sew the quilt patterns on top of the quilt.

During a division wide assembly, one of the quilts was gifted to a local Indigenous Education Consultant (from the Cree and Carrier First Nations) who worked with our students last year, teaching traditional Indigenous games on National Indigenous Peoples Day. He was very touched by the gift and gave us a mini lesson on the history of gifting blankets within his culture.

For First Nations people, a blanket holds deep meaning and traditions linked to culture, birth, life and death. Blankets are given at weddings and upon the birth of a child. They are also given to recognize elders and those involved in a worthy endeavour. Some blankets used at pow-wows are changed into shawls by adding satin appliqués and ribbons. First Nations peoples’ use of blankets is multidimensional, shaped by their experiences, and can be passed to future generations. (Source)

I love how they all turned out! Making these ten quilts connected everyone and helped us learn about caring for one another by accepting other cultures in Canada.

Here are the specific steps as generously provided by my colleague:

Quilt Process

Step one: With the help of an Indigenous Consultant, images were researched together to ensure they were appropriate. Copies were made of these images.

Step two: Beige fabric squares were prepared (cut 14inch by 14 inch and taped along the edges to prevent fraying).

Step three: Using a pencil, the paper copies of the images were placed under the fabric squares and traced.

Step four: Fabric markers were then used to colour in the images.

Step five: The images were heat-treated (ironed).

Step six: Images were carefully selected and grouped to highlight each piece.

Step seven: Fabric was chosen to bring out the gorgeous artwork. 

Step eight: Fabric was cut to size for sewing together and the tape was removed from the fabric squares, which were then “squared up”.

Step nine: The images were sewn to the fabric sashes. These were each heat treated to ensure a smooth seam.

Step ten: Batting was cut (a little larger) than the top of the quilt. 

Step eleven: The backing was cut a little larger than the top layer and the batting and all three sections were pinned together.

Step twelve: Time for the long arm quilting machine to work it’s design magic onto the quilt.

Step thirteen: Cut fabric 2.5inches wide and in long strips, sew these together on the bias to create the binding.

Step fourteen: The quilt is ready for “squaring up” before the final touch.

Step fifteen:  Sew the binding (back of the quilt first, iron and then sew the front of the binding onto the top of the quilt)


Monday, June 6, 2022

Leaf Print Weaving- Nature Inspired

This is a nature weaving lesson I found on the Crayola website HERE which I've modified a bit.  
You essentially paint some paper, then paint the underside of leaves to create leaf prints, 
then weave twigs or grasses through the painted paper.

So Grade 4 - 6 students started off with a sheet of heavy white paper or even cardstock.
Fold it in half both ways so you have 4 equal sections.
Paint the sections whatever colours you like. We used watercolours, but you 
can use tempera cakes or acrylic. 

Gather some interesting leaves of various shapes and sizes; make sure they have strong veins on the backside, otherwise you won't get a decent print off of it. I missed photographing this step but paint the back of the leaf with black paint and make a leaf print in each section. 
Have students practice on scrap paper first until they get the hang of it. I like to use black for the dramatic contrast, but students chose whatever colours they liked.  Make a leaf print in each section.  I encourage the students to keep it fairly symmetrical or at least have the opposite sections match.

Let this paper dry. Once it's dry, fold it in half and cut some thin strips through it.  I draw a line across the top, about 3 cm thick, that I don't cut through.  This keeps the paper all together. You can measure the strips with a ruler or not- it's up to you. It doesn't have to be perfect. 
The thinner the strips, the longer it takes to weave, FYI.

For the nature weaving part, we gathered some long, dry grasses from a nature reserve near our school.  You could have the students gather think twigs as well.
We used about 15 'blades' of grass per artwork. You may need to cut them down to be just slightly longer than the width of your paper.

Then weave the grass through the paper: over, under, over, under and alternate for the next row.
After it's finished, we paint the back with white glue for extra strength and to keep the grasses all in place. You can trim off any ends that are too long or leave it au natural.

Some Grade 4 - 6 results!


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