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.