Friday, January 29, 2010

Fantastic Friday with the Arts - Pollock/Jazz

Hi there fellow art lovers! It's time for our weekly art activity! This week I chose the American artist Jackson Pollock (January 28, 1912 – August 11, 1956.) His birthday was just yesterday! Studying this artist gives us the perfect opportunity to learn about action painting and abstract expressionism. Pollock called his paintings action paintings because it took a lot of action to make them, and because they have a lot of eye movement and action in them. The paintings were later given the official title of abstract expressionism, meaning they are non-figurative and painted with intense emotions.

While planning this lesson, I really wanted the kids to be able experience "action painting." However, because my art class is inside in a room where mess must be kept to a minimum, I ruled out splatter and drip painting. I did though, find this very cool activity using marbles as a way to apply the paint to paper. The paper is put in a pan or box (something with sides), a marble is dipped in paint, and then the student simply rolls (here's the action part) the marble back and forth on the paper. This action is repeated using different colors. The result is an action painting created with very little mess! I loved it and so did the kids! Here is the link where I found this great lesson - Jackson Pollock Lesson Plan: Introduction to Abstract Expressionism. This website also has some cute little paper frames the kids can put around their paintings when they are done.

As for music during Pollock's time period, I went with jazz. We used one of my favorite music for kid websites, Classics for Kids. There you can find a description of the genre and many great links to jazz sites. I especially liked the link to pbskids Jazz | PBS KIDS GO!.

Kids love creating abstract expressionism. Anytime I give a class of kids free time to paint anything, there are always a few splattering and dripping the paint, creating "action painting" without even knowing it!

Have fun creating! See you next week for a new exciting art activity!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Fantastic Friday with the Arts - Cezanne/Debussy

This week our fantastic Friday began with a fun lesson about Paul Cezanne. A French artist born on January 12th, 1839. Cezanne is most known for his still life paintings, which makes this a great opportunity to have your students give this subject matter a try. We began our lesson by looking at quite a few of Cezanne's paintings. The one entitiled "Apples and Oranges" is a great example of his still life painting. We discussed his biographical information as well. I printed off the info from this website -Apples and Oranges by Paul Cezanne, and reviewed it with the kids. I especially liked the way this website mentioned the fact that Cezanne did not think he was good at portraiture. This revelation caused him to steer away from portraiture, and focus more on still life, for which he is most known today. My kids found it reasurring that just because they are not skilled in one area, it doesn't mean that they won't be gifted in another. Next, I set up a still life for them to paint. My still life included oranges in a basket, a pitcher, and a mug. The kids used tempera paint. I gave them the primary colors (red, blue, and yellow), and had them mix their own secondary colors (orange, purple, and green). This was also a great time to show the kids how to achieve a more 3D look when painting something round. I suggested shading on one side to achieve a more realistic look.

Our music connection this week was Claude Debussy (one of my personal favorites), born in France in 1862. He was an impressionistic musician composing music during the same period that Cezanne was painting. We listened to his fabulous music while creating our still life paintings. I used this website to discuss his biographical info with the kids -Classics for Kids. Samples of his music can be found there also.

See ya next week for more "Fantastic Friday with the Arts"!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Fantastic Friday with the Arts - Sargent/Tchaikovsky

This week I started something new with my homeschool kids. I have declared Fridays as "Fantastic Fridays with the Arts." After a productive week of homeschooling our core subjects, we will spend our Fridays immersed in the arts. We will be learning about a different artist and musician each week. Today, we learned about John Singer Sargent (the American portrait artist, 1856-1925) and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (the Russian composer, 1840 - 1893). I will be basing my weekly choices upon artist's birthdays. Sargent's birthday was on January 12th. I added Tchaikovsky to the line-up because he and Sargent were creating their masterpieces during the same period in history. I found a calendar at
Artists Calendar 2010:, that lists many well known artist's birthday.

We began our morning by learning a bit of historical background about Tchaikovsky. I used the website Classics for Kids. On this website, you can find 6 minute radio shows that discuss, in a kid friendly way, many famous musicians. The radio shows can be played from their website. We followed a link that took us to another show about "The Nutcracker." We then watched a bit of "The Nutcracker" ballet.

After lunch, we turned our attention to the artist, John Singer Sargent. We used the internet to view many of his famous portraits. The artist calendar from Artists Calendar 2010: provided biographical information about Sergent. I then showed the kids how to create their own portraits using a paper folding technique to aid in the placement of facial features. I played Tchaikovsky's music while the kids worked on their portraits.

Check out the result!! In this picture, you can see the fold lines used as a guide. We folded the paper in half and then unfolded to make a crease. We then took the bottom of the paper and folded it to the middle fold and then unfolded it. This should leave a fold line in the middle of the paper, and a fold line about 3/4 of the way from the top. The placement of the facial features goes like this - eyes on middle fold, mouth on the bottom fold, and nose between the two folds. The ears are also between the two folds. Kids find this to be an easy technique that takes the stress out of portrait drawing.

Check back weekly for a new Fantastic Friday with the Arts!!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

While looking for nature activities for my kids, I found this great ebook of nature studies that also includes art and music appreciation. Now that is right up my alley! Check it out - It is called The Winter Series of Outdoor Hour Challenges. This ebook is a unique product that includes not only ten nature study challenges but three months' worth of art and music appreciation with a winter theme! Info about this unique program can be found at Handbook of Nature Study: Winter Series of Outdoor Hour Challenges-New Ebook Now Available! Giveaway Too!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Christmas Card Collage

Have you been trying to decide what to do with all of those Christmas cards you received this year? Don't really want them but hate to throw them out? Here is a crafty way to put those cards to good use while giving your child the opportunity to create an artistic composition.
Have your child create a "Christmas Card Collage!" Guide your child through these few simple steps.
1. Gather up all of the Christmas cards you received this year.
2. Cut out their favorite parts of the cards (pictures, family signatures, holiday greetings, etc).
3. Glue them on to a piece of construction paper in collage style - this is a great time to explain the artistic elements of overlapping, balance, and symmetry.
4. Add color or glitter to spice up the collage.
5. Enjoy a piece of homemade art that will remind you of friends and family and put those old Christmas cards to good use!

Anyone else have any good ideas for Christmas cards? Please post a comment - I would love to hear your ideas!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Hi everyone!
Just wanted to let you know about my dad's new blog. He is a Christian hiker who is blogging about his hiking adventures and insights. He is also a former science teacher and environmental engineer and has quite a bit of knowledge in the area of nature and wildlife. His posts will also provide support and encouragement for other Christian hikers. Check out his blog at or follow him on twitter @christianhiker.