"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, M├ętis and Inuit whose footsteps have marked these lands for generations. I respect the histories, languages and cultures all the Indigenous peoples of Canada, whose presence continues to enrich our community.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Stencil Portraits

This is a really popular project with high school students because the get to a) use spray paint and b) use x-acto blades! We looked at the work of one of my favourite artists, the British street artist Banksy. His work involves alot of political and social commentary and is also very humourous (dark humour). 

Banksy, "Riot Flowers"
For this project, I had students choose a portrait to make into a hand-cut stencil. They could take an original digital photo themselves or use a picture of a famous person from the internet. 

Here is a step-by-step sample I did to show everyone the process:

 Upload any photo to an online photo editing program (Fotoflexer, Pixlr, etc.) If you know how to use Photoshop, of course that works as well. 

Turn your photo first into black and white (grayscale). Then fool around and adjust the contrast until you have a super high contrast image. 
Some photo editors might have a special feature for this (ie: 'ink stamp')
Below, I used Fotoflexer: I uploaded the photo, turned it to black and white, and then applied the 'ink stamp' feature. Easy peasy!

So here in the photo below I just fooled around with the contrast until I was pretty happy with the look of it. Print it out full size. If your photocopier or printer takes cardstock, print it out on that so you have a nice sturdy sheet of paper. If not, just trace the image onto cardstock.

So here it is below all traced out. I like to shade in the areas that need to be black and then cut those out using an x-acto knife and a cutting mat underneath.

These blades are super sharp- I always tell a really scary 'cutting accident' story before I let any students use these knives and then do a demonstration on how to use them properly. You know your class best and I would only do this project with a class that I trusted completely with using x-actos.
Here's a good thread on safely using x-acto blades with kids- some great tips there.
x-acto knife

Cutting mats

So here above is the stencil all cut out from a sheet of cardstock (it's black because I had used it already).  Because it's thick paper, it takes time and patience to cut it all out. But you can use it over and over again- it's quite sturdy. 
Now it's time to spray-paint. Do this outside, away from buildings, and in a large box to contain the over-spray. Tape your stencil down onto your good copy paper- use any colour you want.
I just buy cheap matte black spray paint at the hardware store.
Shake it really well beforehand.  

Spray a nice even coat- I spray down at the artwork lying flat so you don't get any massive drips.

You might try using a low-tack spray glue so you get all the little pieces of paper glued down; otherwise they flip up a bit and spray paint goes underneath as it did here in the hair and it's just not as clean and sharp.

So here's my finished piece. You can look at the design and then choose to mask out some areas of your stencil you don't like with masking tape, or cut more areas.

Here are some student samples- they love making these and many end up doing their own at home
with different colours.

c'mon baby light my fire...

Other hand-cut stencil examples from students in Grades 11-12:

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Ceramic Ornaments

This is a quick lesson I did with Grade 6 students at the end of our clay unit.  It's a good way to use up scraps of clay as well as a quick and easy project for 'fast finishers' (we all have those!)  We did these at the end of the year, but they would be really nice for any holiday crafts as well.

Simply roll out your clay...not too thin, not too thick- about 2cm.
We use small wooden boards when we use clay. I've seen other art teachers who use cut canvas/fabric. 
I'd like to try that at some point- less to store.

I bought these mini alphabet stamps sets at Michaels craft store- they were in a big $1.50 bin and had an assortment of different fonts.

Use cookie cutters (or even a glass for simple circles) to cut out your ornaments.

Smooth the edges with your finger and a dab of water.

Gently stamp your word/name. Poke a hole at the top with a bamboo stick. 

Because these are quite thin and small, they didn't need much time to dry-maybe three days? 
Bisque fire, then apply glaze, then glaze fire.  I fire to cone 06.
For different effects, you could apply a dark glaze colour, wipe it off and then paint clear glaze on top.
The dark colour will stay in the recesses of the word to create more contrast.

Below you'll see a crazy cool metallic glaze I used.  I found it in the far recesses of the art room, covered in dust- a UK glaze company: Harrison Bell.  It gave a gorgeous pewter-type glaze.  Love it!

You can add yarn, ribbon or raffia to hang these up.  You can hang them on the wall, on a door knob, on a tree branch or even attach them as gift tags to a present.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Winding One-Point Perspective Drawings

This is a lesson that has been floating around the art blogs for some time. I originally saw the lesson posted here, on the Waunakee Community School District website, by art teacher Sophie Wagner-Marx. She has some great student examples and a handout posted- thanks Sophie!!
This is a great lesson in both one-point perspective and creativity.
I've taught this lesson to Grades 7-10 and they all really enjoy it.

So first, students draw some random shapes on a sheet of paper- I encourage them to be geometric, as it's just easier in the end.  Encourage a variety of shapes and sizes.

Next, somewhere on the page, draw a dot. This will be the 'vanishing point'. Using a ruler and a pencil, lightly connect all the corners of each shape to the vanishing point. 
Then draw the edges of the shapes by drawing a parallel line beside each shape.
Erase the rest of the lines that go past the shape.

Then, draw circles on the front of your shapes, and ovals on the sides
This is where your chosen object is going to wind through.  Choose an object, and have it start somewhere on your page, and then 'stretch' or wind it through all the holes in the shapes.  

Students come up with some really creative ideas for this project- it always surprises me everytime I teach it.  Students can colour these with pencil crayons, markers or watercolours.
I encourage them to shade the shapes, so they look really 3-D. 
Here are some Grade 9 results:
Ta da!

Dice- how clever!


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Black & White Doodle Design

UPDATE: see my updated version of this project HERE

This is a line & pattern project I've used when I needed a Substitute teacher at school. I've used it with Grades 6-8. It uses minimal materials and it's very easy for anyone to explain, plus, the kids LOVE doing this project. Having been a Substitute teacher before, I know I really appreciated it when the teacher left a straightforward yet interesting lesson that kept the kids engaged. This is one of those.

I originally saw this on the Artsonia website here, on the Hillcrest Christian High School site, but I've also seen it around the web, so whomever originated this project- thank you!

So students start off by drawing a border around their paper (I used large paper here) with a black marker.

Then they start by filling the page with doodles: lines and patterns. They can have some objects, but I encourage them to keep it fairly abstract. I also tell them no numbers or words or logos. Encourage a wide variety of lines: thick, thin, wavy, straight, etc. I keep a large laminated photocopy of a variety of lines and patterns posted on my whiteboard for kids to refer to if they need extra ideas.

Keep going until your page is filled. This took about 3 classes maybe? Warning: have a large supply of black markers, because mine dried out SUPER fast (although I think it might have been the 'absorbent' paper I chose...).  Either way, it was really frustrating for my poor kids when the markers started dying on them. Thinner paper would work better for this project, I think; just protect your tables with newspaper (if you want) as the markers go through.

Ok- nice and filled in and dense.

Then, using a compass or plastic lids, students trace a circle (or two) somewhere onto their design where they want the focal point to be. Some kids get really stressed at this stage and I hear lots of  "Miss, where should I put my circle?" I just tell them to throw one anywhere that's not in the middle- choose their favourite area to be the focal point.

Then colour in the circle with markers.

Here are some Grade 7 results.
Ta da!

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