On Tuesday, I gave each of my twelve Studio in Art students a valentine. I prepped 3″ x 5″ canvas panels with a few layers of beeswax. I carved in a heart stencil. I thought this would be a quick and fun way to introduce them to encaustic painting.
I took an encaustic course (graduate level) at Syracuse University in 2012 with free credits I’d earned for hosting a student teacher. Davana Robedee was my instructor. I love incorporating this relatively new-to-me media in the art classroom.
Students melted oil pastels on pancake griddles (all the windows in the room were open and the fans were on high) and went to town tackling their tiny canvases. The thing about wax is that when warm, it produces a luscious liquid color on the brush – but as soon as you remove it from the heat source, it solidifies, so…that brush stroke needs to be a quick thinking confident one – needs to count! They really loved the process. We decided to add a second day of it, which gave them time to process the process and make better decisions once they got the hang of it.
I painted 11″ x 14″ canvas panels with black acrylic paint for each of them and glued wooden plaques to the centers. Students carved into their encaustic paintings with clay tools to enhance the texture then added mixed media items to it and/or to the black frame. We brought the encaustics in for the landings with Elmer’s glue.
I am in love with the decisions they made and the fact that in three classes they all created these wonderful emotionally-charged finished products. So beautiful. I love heart energy! <3
Penny Santy’s bull paintings are currently hanging on the walls of the Chittenango Middle School library. She will be visiting us on Tuesday, November 15, 2016 for an artist talk during 10th period! In honor of her visit, four of my Art-8 classes created cows and bulls in both acrylic paint and oil pastels.
I have them hanging on the walls of the hallway outside of my art classroom.
The oil pastels are done on black Strathmore paper. Students created the drawings on white paper, transferred them onto the black using graphite paper (which introduces a bit of magic, and you all know I love magic!). Then they painted out the lines in black acrylic and went to town with the pastels – creating rhythm and texture via their own individual styles.
The acrylic paintings went through the same initial process – drawn on white paper, transferred with magic . Students were also encouraged to create their own styles, although I did have a handout to give what I call Ms. Tash Pearls of Wisdom. These are pointers to mixing colors so that one color ends up permeating throughout the canvas. Raw Sienna is that color.
Black outlining was an option. Penny Santy utilizes complimentary color schemes. Most of the pieces she is exhibiting have an orange/blue color scheme. I was pleased to see so many colorful animals, purple cows and red bulls, lol, as well as the rest of the rainbow.
I wonder which ones I should enter into the Scholastic Art Awards competition? I like them all! Thank you, Penny Santy, for being such a marvelous inspiration to my kids!
There was this Scholastic Art magazine with a Jaune Quick-To-See Smith painting in the centerfold – of a canoe. I loved the way she expressed social injustice with paint and collage.
I had been planning a series of art projects using horses and thought her work would be a perfect fit. And then, upon further investigation, it turns out that Jaune Quick-to-See Smith had created a series of horse paintings in this style! Isn’t that crazy??? It was a perfect fit. Serendipity at its finest!
This year, two of my 8th grade art classes learned about her work. What is great about this school year – my students all have I-pads now and they can research as they work. My ultimate goal is to connect with the artist and share this work with her. That would be a dream come true!
I taught them how to draw a horse using shapes and the technique known as measuring – all parts of a horse are actually in proportion to each other! We created the drawings on tagboard, cut them out and used them as stencils on the paintings.
They painted in acrylic then added the horse. Collage items from magazines that represented themselves were affixed with Mod-Podge. Then students added more paint to create rhythm and texture.
Finished work is on display in the Chittenango Middle School library!
Studio in Art is one of those jack-of-all-trades courses. I cover drawing, painting, sculpture, ceramics and technology. I teach still life, landscape, portrait and abstract concepts as well, so it is a little bit of everything.
Every so often I do this sculpture/installation/photography project based on the work of American artist Sandy Skoglund. I love how this lesson has so many concepts all rolled into one.
First, students create the armature then plaster and paint a rat sculpture. I’ve always done it with rats because they can be simplified and look both uniform and unique – usually students create a tail that makes their rat easy to identify in a “police line-up” of rats, lol.
I usually give students a small Gatorade bottle then show them how to add newspaper or paper towels and masking tape to shape the armature, adding tagboard for ears and aluminum foil for the tail. This year I drank a bunch of Simply Orange and Simply Cranberry and we used those bottles to make giant-sized rodents.
I have fourteen students in class. They painted the rats gold – there were three hues from which to choose. Every time I do this lesson the rats are a different color. We’ve done them in red, blue, yellow and green, so I thought the gold ones would look fun. Plus, I just bought more metallic paint. It is Sargent’s metallic acrylic. Love it!
Next, we take a tour of the school to spot areas that we travel everyday – to make the invisible visible. We look through viewfinders made out of index cards to see the space from a number of different angles. There are some wonderful bits of architecture in our school that make for great photographic landscapes!
I have the students create storyboards – just a sketch of what they want to do for their photograph and I give them a hand-out with some questions to help them solve the riddle of this project. For example, what emotion will they convey? Will it be funny? A depiction of social injustice? Romantic? Who will be in it? What will they do? What will they wear?
In addition, we talk about POV – will the camera be at eye level or above eye level (w/ photographer standing on a ladder or standing at the top of the stairs looking down) or will it be at rat level? And is it an active or passive photograph? Is the viewer directed to what the people are doing or what the rats are doing? Or is the viewer looking at what the people are looking at?
You see, there are a lot of options and a lot to think about. Sandy Skoglund’s models wear the same color to create rhythm and harmony. Successful images would be ones where the photographer coordinated their models to do the same.
I assigned the dates for their photographs, which were taken during class or after school if they wanted to take the shot upstairs (no one did this year). The rats were housed on carts that they rolled out to the installation area. They did this unsupervised (I know! Can you believe it? I am actually letting go of my inner control freak! It’s a slow process but it is happening!). I gave them the camera and they came back with the rats and several shots. They told me which one they wanted and I printed them.
While this was going on, the rest of the class worked on a wood sculpture lesson based on the work of Marisol Escobar.
All of the photographs are on display in the school hallway. In addition to seeing great art, the fun of it is to view and search for their rat – is it a star or a supporting player? And of course, it is fun when they see themselves as models in their friends’ pictures.
Artwork is assessed as follows – how closely it resembles the storyboard vision, composition, which includes how well they have utilized foreground, middle ground and background concepts, and if characteristics of the work resemble Sandy Skoglund’s. The rats were assessed separately (armature, plaster application, paint application).
Yeah – this lesson encompasses so much, I think. They must create a sculpture then create an image with a point of view, make that image come to life…and there is a lot of freedom, and yet, there is also tremendous responsibility. So many of the images were nearly spot on from the original storyboards! It was a really amazing experience this year – for my eighth graders and for me.