Monthly Archives: January 2008

Portrait practice

In anticipation of visiting the Long Beach Museum of Art’s current exhibit, “About Face”, we are working on our portrait drawing skills.
We started out with a blow up of a face from a magazine copied onto paper in black and white. We cut the image in half vertically and pasted the left side of the face to a sheet of large white drawing paper. The other half remained unglued and used as a reference.

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We talked about the proportions of a face and how to divide the head into six equal squares, two by three.

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The upper horizontal division is roughly at the ‘third eye’ level mid-forehead, the lower at the base of the nose. The eyes sit on the horizontal centre, the mouth on the centre of the lower third.

Then we had the students draw in the missing half of the face. Having half the face already on the page seemed to make them a bit more at ease and less fearful of putting pencil to paper. After getting in the basic features we encouraged them to add shading and to notice the light and dark contrasts in the photo. Drawing portraits has always been one of those things the kids find difficult to do and this approach seemed to work for them.

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Next week we’ll do another portrait lesson- perhaps a self portrait on transparencies with marker so we can hang them in the windows and be seen from both inside and outside the classroom.
Still working out the details for a bus ride to the museum- cost is around $100 for public transportation(with one transfer) or $300 if we can get a school bus. Less than going to LA, which would be $600-$800. Admission is free to the museum since they are under 12. Free is good in this case. The show closes March 24 so we still have a few weeks. Testing season is rearing it’s ugly head and the teacher is under the gun to get the students prepared so it looks like we’ll have to wait until after the 8th of March to take our trip.
Testing = $$$
Art = ?????

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Paying it forward…

Today is pay it forward day (among other things like preparing an indigo vat and starting in on the taxes) so Emily, Anna, Kristen, Juanita, & Maura are being sent a little something as a reminder of being part of the community of artists teaching art. I won’t say what it is- that would spoil the surprise!!

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classroom is dark today-MLK holiday

Just as well as I am recovering from 5 days at the Pasadena Bead and Design Show.
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John Nava, Lizzie Cornwell, 2003,
Oil on canvas,48″ x 44″
Collection of the Museum of Ventura County,
Bonita McFarland Trust

There is an update however. Penny went to see a great little portrait show at the Long Beach Museum of Art and it looks like a good match for our field trip. Since we have no money or budget for elementary art in the LBUSD it is a nearby museum we can reach by public transportation (otherwise, it would cost us around $800 to hire a district bus).
We’ll rally a few parents to help chaperon the kids and perhaps have a bag lunch by the ocean. The teacher generously offers us use of the $100 she gets from the PTA, so I think we’ll use it for bus fare if she approves. The exhibit is small enough not to overwhelm and interesting enough to keep their attention with subject matter they can relate to. The museum also offered to cover a couple of the nude portraits so we don’t get sued or hauled off to jail for corrupting the kids. Not that there will be anything they haven’t seen on the TV these days..(thank you brittany spears, tmz, billboards on the 405 advertising breast enhancement, et al) I wonder what other schools who still take kids to art museums do about this.
The museum also has an upcoming portrait workshop (free) for kids that some may want to attend with their families. I’ll be marking my calendar and available to chaperon if some kids from the class want to attend and their parents can’t make it.

Children’s Portrait Workshop
February 3, 2008
2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Boeing Classroom in the Miller Education Center

Children, ages 6 to 14, learn the tradition of portraiture during this FREE workshop taught by Los Angeles artist Dan McCleary. Participants will learn how to sketch facial features and capture the likeness of their subject. Supplies will be provided. Drop in anytime during the workshop. Adult chaperones must remain on the LBMA campus while children are in the class.

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facing technology in the 4th grade classroom

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Well it seemed like a good idea……….
After our photography presentation last week we had asked the students to take a photo with a digital camera and email it to
the teacher. Most kids said they would be able to do this with the help of a parent or sibling. The few that didn’t think they would be able to were going to have access to a camera brought in by the teacher that week.

We also visited the computer lab and found the cameras that were available. They were so old and incompatible with the computers now installed in the lab that we gave up on that idea. Instead we spoke with the computer lab specialist and wondered if we could bring the class into the lab to work with some digital images. They have recently outfitted the lab with all new Dell computers running windows professional. Great! Only one problem…..the lab tech didn’t know if they had a photo imaging program and didn’t know how to find one if it existed. She was going to check it out and get back to us………..

As it turned out, only one student out of the 30 had emailed a photo. A couple of the kids brought in prints and we were able to talk about those. Listening to the kids, there were all kinds of obstacles- from computers not working,couldn’t find the right camera cable, the camera battery was dead, not knowing how to email a photo and more. It was just beyond their capability- much to their own surprise I think.
I had received a heads up from the teacher via email the night before so Penny & I scrambled to put together a substitute
lesson. I collected all kinds of scraps and collage materials and we spent the last 1/2 of the class making collage art/ valentine cards.
It was fun to watch the kids use the materials in all different ways…

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a little paper, glue, ribbon,fabric,wool roving, yo yos and more…….note the origami

on to next week-

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January is Photography month

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In a little bit of New Year’s organizing, I finally found the yearly outline for art in the fourth grade classroom Penny & I had created back in September. We’ve been winging it based on our combined memories of what we had planned back then and I’m happy to report that we still have most of our marbles (they do say two minds are better than one!).
So, January is photography month. This past weekend as I was pondering what in the world we should start with I came across this site which offered some help and organization to many of the thoughts I was having. These days kids are bombarded with so many graphic media images I think it is wise to educate them early on just how these images are created and how they are used in their everyday lives. We only have 3 Mondays to work with so the challenge will be to teach them something that will make sense even if we only get to the tip of the photography iceberg. We have been told that there are some digital cameras somewhere at the school that we might be able to use so first order of biz today is to locate these mystical, magical devices and see what shape they are in! In the meantime, today will mostly center around a discussion and we’ll get out the viewfinders Penny & I have made from black construction paper and wander around the room a bit looking through them to understand the difference between wide angle and zoom as well as some thoughts on composition. I also have some photographs from magazines as well as some examples of David Hockney’s work and a few Ansel Adams prints laying around the house. Wonder what Penny will bring?

Then on to shibori in the afternoon (yes I know I haven’t posted there in a month! I’m getting to it- really! So much going on..)

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