March 28, 2018

Book It

As a response to some of their favorite "literature", my pre-K students have been collaboratively filling some blank books with their creations:

The youngest classes at our school are three and four years old, and they made a very simple "colors" book, and a more ambitious alphabet book respectively. 

For our colors book, we began each class by choosing two colors, and students helped mix paint colors, filling a single page with a single hue. (Each day we could do two side-by-side pages, allowing a whole day to dry). Later they added to the pages using tempera sticks and pastels. The cover was gesso'd and got a beautiful rainbow. We've already "read" this book a number of times - you'd be surprised at how intriguing a book with no words can be!

An older class took on the alphabet. We used a die cut machine to make letters, and the kids choose what would go on each page to represent the letter.. Their drawings were cut out and collaged on the corresponding page Some were really easy go-tos (like"Z for Zebra") while others were more...inventive (like "C for Caged Building").  The cover was decorated wth tissue paper letters carefully glued on. Similar to the color book, this alphabet book has already found a prime spot among our favorite reads.

March 27, 2018

Flora up Close

Inspired by a recent* comprehensive Chuck Close photography exhibit at PAFA, I designed a lesson for my pre-Kindergartners that would allow them to dip into old school photography. 

In Close's show, there were two enourmously large scale still lifes photomontages of flowers - which is where I drew my subject matter. Many of the photo collages that were in the exhibition were visibly held together with tape, which gave them an imperfect and purposeful feel - a connection I intentionally included in our version of this project. 

Our small friends have experimented with photography before, and we reviewed parts of a camera. We've also done some still life drawing, so were able to dip back into that experience - setting the scene, choosing what to include in our frame, etc.

Students took two or three instant photos of  live cut flowers, anxiously and excitedly watching them develop. For this endeavor, I used my tried and true favorite instant film - Fuji Instax Wide. The colors and price can't be beat! After a week of taking pictures (and trying to refresh my wiltering bouquets), all the kids IN THE WHOLE SCHOOL had snapped photos of our sunflowers, carnations, and daisies. Each kids work was collected in a labeled envelop for later.

The second week of this project was all about layout. The kids arranged their photos onto 12x12" cardstock, glued or taped them down, and then decorated with colored tape, metallic markers, or other ephemera they dreamed up. 

*btw this exhibit turned out to be somewhat controversial. After it was open, several credible sexual misconduct accusations came out against Chuck Close. PAFA handled the news in a very cool way, and instead of pulling the show, they scheduled exhibitions and open ended talks about power dynamics in art and the museum and art viewers responsibilities. 

March 26, 2018


What a treat to teach some Josef Albers color theory right in front of the real deal at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

The five and six year old class listened to the (beautifully illustrated by Julia Breckenreid!) bio of Albers "An Eye for Color" by Natasha Wing, and discovered how colors interact with each other. I love seeing his work in gallery 174, surrounded by Robert Slutzky, Alma Thomas, and Geneviève Claisse, sleeping under a giant Sol LeWitt ceiling mural - there's a lot of "simple" side by side color explorations in that hallway. 

From the book, they learned that Albers often preferred to paint "straight from the tube", without mixing colors - investigating the pigments in their most pure form. 

Back in the studio, each student chose a shape and traced concentrically smaller versions of that shape within the original. Colors were thoughtfully picked form a selection of acrylics and the students carefully filled in their shapes with a flat brush (working on the edging skills!)

With a whole class working on this project, we were easily able to see how colors looked different depending on their neighbors: magenta looked more vibrant paired with silver, or green was dull next to red.