Andy Goldsworthy project

After Open House, with the portfolio folders sent home, I finally had a chance to do a project in the style of Andy Goldsworthy. I decided to try it with just the 4th and 5th graders to see how it would work… It would have been hard to do with all of the classes (I would have run out of materials!), but I am so glad we got to it with the older kids!

Of course, doing a Goldsworthy project gave me the chance to talk about the environment, and why Goldsworthy is my favorite living artist…  about how we make too much stuff, use too much stuff, and waste too much stuff; and how Goldsworthy doesn’t waste any art materials, but simply rearranges the materials found in nature without destroying anything . I showed a lot of pictures, many from Goldsworthy’s book Time, and we talked about the ephemeral nature of his art, how it can be there one day and gone the next, and the only record of it is the photograph…

Before getting the kids into groups, I explained the rules: ONLY use things you find on the ground (no taking leaves or flowers off of living plants!), but alter and arrange them however you want. You may use the materials I brought (I brought in a lot of stuff from my garden: pine cones, pine needles, prunings from bushes, seed-heads from love-in-a-mist flowers), but use them sparingly and leave enough for other groups. Then we went outside and found spaces, and spent about 20 minutes arranging materials into artworks. They made good use of the materials I had brought, as well as rocks and leaves found on the ground, and magnolia leaves and bougainvillea flowers that had blown from across the street. As each group finished, they gave their artwork a title, and I took a picture.

If I had this one to do over again, I think I would take an extra week to give a presentation on Goldsworthy and show more pictures, so that we could then have an entire class period to create the art, because this did at times feel a bit rushed. Even in twenty minutes, though, some of our artists created some truly lovely environmental art!

Echoes of Memories

Echoes of Memories

The Eye

The Eye

The Box of Summer

The Box of Summer

Forbidden Feather Fortress

Forbidden Feather Fortress

The Firework

The Firework


Wonder Valley Flower

Wonder Valley Flower

I’m afraid that this is goodbye for now for the Crocker art blog — for next year, the leadership team has decided that Crocker’s students need more physical education, so the art program will be at least suspended. I know that all of Crocker’s teachers do many art projects in their classrooms, so art will still be alive here…


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mosaic for Open House

Last year I still had artwork on the walls at Open House, and sent the portfolio folders home the last week of school… but this year I learned my lesson — everything goes home at Open House! Besides, with only one wall to display artwork for the whole school, deciding what to display for Open House would have been a nightmare (and having the portfolios finished would give us a good chance to do a few weeks of creative dance at the end of the year…). So, early in the year I had decided to try a collaborative mosaic, a project I had seen at The Incredible Art Department. It involved a lot of logistics, but since I started early it was quite doable, and and I think came out well!

The first step was to decide on a word phrase to mosaic — it had to be seventeen letters (one for each class)… or sixteen letters plus an exclamation point would do. I put it to the fifth graders to come up with ideas, and we decided on “Crocker Is Awesome!” I drew each letter on 18×24″ tagboard with thick black lines, then divided the letters into sections and numbered them on the back (very important step to remember!) before cutting them up into rectangles — enough so that every child had one to color.

The rules for coloring were:
• NO BLACK (except for your name) and no white — fill it with color!
• Abstract designs only, no representational pictures;
• If you have a thick black line, you have a piece of the letter —use only warm colors on one side of the line, only cool colors on the other side (if you have a blank card, you can mix up the colors);
• Use lots of detail; and…
• Sign your name on the front.

The next week, I gave the kids a chance to catch up with anything unfinished in their folders while I called them up in the order of the numbers on the backs of their cards, and assembled the letters with double-sided tape on a second piece to tagboard. They were fascinated to see the letters coming together… and it seemed to be a big hit at Open House, with so many students wanting to point out their class’ letter to their parents!


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Recent projects – radial symmetry, Op Art hands, buildings collages

The second and third graders followed up their bilateral symmetry project with work on radial symmetry. This is one I adapted from a few similar projects I found in our resource books, along with the Islamic tiles project I learned in a workshop at the CAEA conference last year. The directions seemed simple in concept: start with 9″x9″ square paper and fold it into eighths; draw a design on a triangular sliver of paper equal to one-eighth of the square; trace the design on both sides with black sharpies; then trace the design onto each eighth of the paper, being careful to flip it over to the other side each time; and finally, color it! The difficulty came when students had trouble seeing their designs clearly enough through the drawing paper, and got really frustrated — we finally had groups of kids gathered at the windows, tracing their designs against the light. It took them a few weeks to finish, but I think they were well worth it!

2-Annika 3-Audrey 3-Elliot 3-Mia N


















The fourth and fifth graders learned about the Op Art movement. We looked at some works by Victor Vasarely, Bridget Riley, and Julian Stanczak, then we tried another project I had learned from some middle school teachers at the CAEA conference. It involves tracing your hand and wrist; drawing straight lines across the paper (but skipping over the hand); drawing curved lines on the wrist, hand and fingers to give the feeling of depth; then coloring the “stripes” in contrasting colors. It was a hard project, but our artists did very nicely — and some came up with some variations I wouldn’t have thought of!



While the kindergartners reprised the texture collage project I had tried last year (we had such fun doing the “texture hunt”), the first graders used textures to create a collage with different kinds of buildings. I came up with this one because I wanted them to also use textures in a collage, and we hadn’t done anything with buildings yet this year (and they had done such a lovely job with the Klee-inspired buildings last year as kinders). The instructions were to fold drawing paper in thirds (possibly the hardest part of the project!), and use crayons to rub a different texture onto each section; then to draw a different kind of building on each texture, and trace it with Sharpies; then to create a very simple background (ground and sky) with color sticks; and finally to cut out the buildings and glue them onto the background. They almost all managed to get them done in two weeks, and I thought they came out darling — and such detail in some of the buildings!

1-Dylan J1-Helen1-Izzie G1-Jaci

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While the fourth and fifth graders finished up their (very complex) surrealist montages, the younger students worked on a couple of projects involving faces, one way or another…

First, the kinders and first graders viewed some portraits my Matisse (especially “Portrait of L. N. Delekorskaya”), noticing the strong black outlines, bold colors, and simple forms. Then we drew a really BIG face together, step-by-step (I got the step-by-step instructions from Art Projects for Kids), and traced all the lines in thick black marker. The second week, we got out the crayons and the kids were encouraged to color in their faces with bold, bright colors. I love the way all of these turned out so differently (even after following the same directions to draw the face)!





















The 2nd and 3rd graders learned about Maori tiki carvings. First, we learned that tikis came originally from the Maoris of New Zealand (not Hawai’i!), that the term “tiki” comes from Maori mythology in which Tiki was the first man, and that posts were often carved with huge faces to mark important sites or with scary faces to ward off evil spirits.

We also talked about bilateral symmetry, and I told them we would be making symmetrical faces inspired by the Maori tikis (this was another great project from Art Projects for Kids). The directions for the students were to fold the (brownish) paper in half to find the center, then to draw facial features any way any way they like, as long as they are symmetrical! Pencil drawings were then traced over with black Sharpies. The second week, they colored in whatever features were to stand out — again, using any colors they liked, as long as everything stayed symmetrical. We got such a great range of styles in our faces!









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Recently all the classes worked on collage projects (though different ones, of course!)

In kindergarten and 1st grade, we created shape collages — this was a project I got from the trusty Discover Art books. First we brainstormed all the geometric shapes we could think of (which for these little ones means pretty much any shapes you know the names of). Then they cut colored construction paper into small geometric shapes and glued then onto backgrounds in interesting designs. The second week, we looked at a few collages, turning them all directions, and brainstormed pictures that could be made from them — then got out the crayons and drew in the details. Some of them were so imaginative!
1-A 1-K









The 2nd and 3rd graders worked on 2-D vs. 3-D collages (I got this project from School at St. George Place, another of my favorite art teacher blogs). First we looked at examples of 3-dimensional forms — cube, cylinder, cone, and sphere — and talked about how to shade 2-dimensional drawings to make them look 3-D. The students practiced their shading on plain copy paper, then picked three or four colors of construction paper to draw and shade their forms on. The second week, they drew 2-dimensional designs all over their drawing paper with markers, and then glued the 3-D forms on top. They made some very interesting contrasts:














The fourth and fifth graders learned about Surrealism, then created surrealist montages. We viewed classic surrealist works by Magritte and Dali, and learned that a montage is a collage made specifically from pieces of other pictures. The instructions were to create a montage using juxtapositions of images that wouldn’t naturally go together — my examples were a dog with a human head or a tree with wings… but our artists came up with so many more interesting ideas!





5-O-Everlasting Thoughts

Everlasting Thoughts

5-W-The Eyes of Time

The Eyes of Time






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