Sunday, March 27, 2011

Local Artists Unit- #2 Toni Rhodes

The second artist we talked about was Toni Rhodes. She is a local encaustic artist.

We talked about abstract art and how you can use colors to express your ideas. Ms. Rhodes came in and spoke to the students. They got to see (and even TOUCH!) some of her work. She talked about the process of creating her pieces and the students loved the idea of creating art with a blow torch. We were, however, going to take a less hazardous approach to encaustics; melted crayons.
I brought in an electric skillet to melt the crayons. We peeled the paper off, broke the crayons into several pieces, and put them in small tins that are typically used to make candles.

After talking to students about how to paint safely, I called them over 4 or 5 at a time. They were asked to think about how they could express their animal using only colors, shapes, lines, or textures. What colors are in your animal? What does their skin feel like? Where do they live? (Only having 11 students and another teacher to help, it was easy to safely monitor all students) They had to paint very quickly because as soon as the wax came out of the tin it was dry in seconds.
This was a great experience for my students. They couldn't get hung up on what it was going to look like in the end or how each brushstroke would look. They got to explore a new material, and they had a blast!

Local Artists Unit- #1 Charley Harper

Over the past five weeks, I have taught an art class for students in grades 4th-8th. I decided to focus on local artists with very distinctive styles, all different from each other. I began with my favorite artist, Charley Harper. He was a Cincinnati artist who made beautiful serigraphs and other prints. His work consisted of animals in a geometric style that Charley referred to as "Minimal Realism."

I showed the students lots of Harper's work including some beautiful mosaics. The students chose their favorite animals and made a plan for their mosaic on graph paper.
They then counted how many tiles they would need of each color, so they could begin to paint. Instead of using traditional ceramic tiles, we used styrofoam. Because of time restraints, I cut 4 inch squares from styrofoam plates and drew 1/2 inch squares on them before giving them to the students. We mixed our own colors with acrylic paint (the styrofoam would resist tempera) and painted the appropriate amount of squares before cutting them apart.
The students begin cutting the squares apart and gluing them onto poster-board.
This project took a long time, but was very successful. The styrofoam is a very cost effective way to create beautiful mosaics. The students had to use a lot of math skills to graph their animals and figure out how many squares to paint, so this is a good cross-curricular lesson. If you do not have somewhere to store the mosaics flat while they are in progress, I would recommend mode-podging them after every session. If they are picked up, the pieces pop off rather easily. I hope you enjoy their beautiful work.