During our week learning about Canadian (and local!) artist Emily Carr, my students created these acrylic paintings inspired by Carr's many forest artworks. For their compositions we drew inspiration from Carr's Blue Sky. We discussed Carr's love of nature and the Canadian landscape, as well as her increasing use of unnatural colours inspired by the Fauves. A number of the kids really took to incorporating unusual colours into their paintings, creating fantastical looking landscapes.
Our Inspiration: Emily Carr's Blue Sky, 1932
This student was especially inspired by Emily Carr's love of animals and her large amount of pets, from several dogs to her monkey Woo.
My students created these colourful zebras using chalk pastels and charcoal. We started by drawing the zebras with pencil before going over our lines with willow bark charcoal. The kids the used chalk pastels in about 4 different colours blending the colours with their fingers ( a few kids wanted to make realistic looking zebras and so used white chalk pastel instead). I also had the kids use their fingers to smudge the chalk pastel out for their zebra's mane.
After they were done with the pastels the kids used compressed charcoal to fill in the black areas such as the stripes. Finally the kids sprayed their drawings with hairspray to fix the charcoal and chalk.
My younger students (ages 5-8) created these monster paintings as part of a unit on puppeteer Jim Henson. For inspiration we looked at Henson's drawings of various creatures (in particular his bird-like frackles) that were later used as inspiration for the Jim Henson's City Critters.
The city critter figurines
We started with a basic step by step guide to assist in the creation of the drawings for their monsters. When painting the kids used 3 values of one colour as a way to give their monsters a bit of dimensionality, something which is particularly visible on the spikes of the fur.
A mock demonstration was held outside the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston to protest the art of Pierre-Auguste Renoir which is currently being displayed. Led by Max Geller, who created the Instagram account Renoir Sucks at Painting, the protesters demanded that Renoir's art be taken down and replaced by that of other 'better' artists. While the protest is only semi-serious, and the style over substance reasoning behind Geller's disdain falls a little flat, the demonstration does raise awareness on the authority of museum institutions to dictate what is good art, as well as the need for personal love it or hate it passion to really appreciate and form a relationship with art.
As part of my summer art courses I decided to have my students create a summer long collaborative artwork. We created our enchanted forest over 10 weeks, adding one new element each week. While I did this during the summer it could easily be adapted for the school year.
I started by creating 6 large brown craft paper trees that lined either side of our building's main hallway. I also made flower stems at different heights.
The first week students created brightly coloured flowers.
Most of the elements added to our enchanted forest were created using construction paper, such as the birds, fairy houses, and toadstools.
At different points throughout the summer I would also add elements that went with that week's addition, such as a couple of beehives for the kids' bees to swarm around, and spider webs for their spiders to hang from.
Another element that really made this forest enchanted was the addition of fairies. I invited other instructors and staff members to create a fairy that would magically appear in the forest each week. This was a great way to include everyone in the art making process, and turned a lot of kids into fairy hunters!
To finish the forest the kids added tinfoil dragonflies, 3D snails, tracing paper butterflies, and bugs resting on the leaves of the tree tops.
Stay tuned for future posts where I'll share detailed instructions on how to create all the different pieces in the enchanted forest.