Archive | March, 2012

PLASTIC – Based on One Plastic Beach

27 Mar

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slideshow of pics

Richard Lang and Judith Selby Lang have been collecting plastic debris off one beach in Northern California for over ten years. Each piece of plastic Richard and Judith pick up comes back to their house, where it gets cleaned, categorized and stored before being used for their art. The couple make sculptures, prints, jewelry and installations with the plastic they find washed up, raising a deeper concern with the problem of plastic pollution in our seas.

The kids chose how they wanted to display their pieces of plastic. They were suspended from cord around a hula hoop. This was to represent what plastic looks like when it is suspended in the ocean waters.

Please reference this wonderful video about the Lang’s journey as a couple, as artists and as curators of that one beach in California.

Room 5, 1st grade, Ms. Guerrero

March 2012 lesson

Docent: Debi Boyette

Art Elements/Principles/Artists Reviewed: Space and Shape/Form

To learn more about their work, visit:

and to learn more about the Gyre:


Primary Colors – Paul Klee

18 Mar

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Slideshow of student pieces

Discussion: Understanding color is important as an artist. If you learn the language of color, you can use it to convey a feeling, provoke emotion, highlight certain details, or even to give your picture a temperature.

Three colors – called primary colors – RED, YELLOW, BLUE – are the basis for the color wheel. These three colors can be mixed together (along with black and white) to create pretty much any color you can think of.

When you put opposite colors against each other, it makes the other color POP! Those are complementary colors. Warm colors are red, yellow, orange; Cool are blue, green, violet.

Warm colors feel like they are moving forward, while cool colors tend to make things look further away. (Have the kids think of the coldest place they can think of – and then have them describe the colors they see in this place; likewise with a hot place.) I also showed the students some of Paul Klee’s work where it was obvious that he was using certain primary colors to convey feelings or movement in his painting.

Artist: A modern artist who loved color was the great Paul Klee (1879 – 1940, born near Bern, Switzerland), a Swiss artist who painted in the 1900’s. He used color as a language, to create a sense of place in his pictures (the Tunisian watercolors) or of temperature (The Nile painting – the blue and white squares tell the story of a cool river – we know it’s water looking at it, even though we don’t see the shape of an ocean or stream). Some of his greatest paintings used just shapes and color. Paul Klee started off as a musician and an artist. When he started to pursue his art further, he started by using lines, then shapes, then color. It wasn’t until he learned about color that his paintings came alive with beauty and excitement. He painted what he saw, and what he felt using color.


Color Wheels for reference

Watercolor paper x2 (5×7 – grid lightly penciled in, about 12 squares, no need to measure or get grid exactly perfect, just eyeball it.)

Each set of desks (2 students per) has 4 containers (red, blue, yellow and gold)

Liquid watercolors in tubes – primary colors plus  a shimmery gold watercolor

A paintbrush for each color

Paper Towel for blotting


Take a second to have the child think about what he/she wants to say with their painting. Do they want to make a picture seem hot? Or seem cold? Or maybe both of those things? Or make a picture that feels happy, or serious?

Let the kids go to town painting. Guide them to try and use different colors in every square so they play around with mixing the colors right on their paper. When the colors touch each other and if their paintbrushes are wet enough, the colors will begin to mix right on their paper. Colors can be overlapped as well, the liquid watercolors are so vivid that it’s really interesting to see what you get when you layer them on top of each other. There was enough cut watercolor paper for two pieces each.

Tips: Paintbrushes stay with the paint color. One brush per paint color. 2 people share the set of colors. Keep your paintbrushes nice and moist. No dry paintbrushes. The more wet the brush, the more the colors will blend. Less blending with a drier brush. No recognizable shapes or images, just encourage the students to explore color on their paper.

Gold will go on LAST. As an accent. Keep to no more than half your paper. Don’t let the kids go overboard with the gold, it is meant to be an accent after the color has been applied. AND meant to be overlapped, not used just on it’s own.

Vocabulary: Primary colors – Any of a group of colors from which all other colors can be made by mixing.

Room 6, 1st grade, Ms. Wilson

March 2012 lesson

Docent: Marcie Guthrie

Art Elements/Principles/Artists Reviewed: color

Postcard art – Landscapes

8 Mar

– blank postcards – I made my own using the computer and printed them (2-up) on letter size cardstock. A blank front with a frame to draw inside, and a fun back with fancy “postcard” script, address lines and a stamp box.  I finished them by decoratively cutting the edges with either pinking shears or other textured cutter.
– colored pencils (I chose them for ease in my K class but with the right paper this could be a great watercolor activity too!)


Postcard back

foreground – object closer in space often near the bottom of the picture
background – objects further away behind the main subject often near the top of the picture

Read book: The Snail and the Whale by Julia Donaldson (illustrated by Axel Scheffler)

Discuss several landscape scenes from the story and what we objects we see in the foreground and background. Note how the space is filled and color is everywhere (no “white” left)

Think about all the places the snail and the whale went together.  If you went someplace special you might send a postcard to a friend to tell them about it. (Talk about sending/receiving postcards

Think of someplace special you’ve been, a favorite scene from our story or even invent a landscape in your imagination. Using only colored pencils, draw and color in your landscape scene on the front your postcard.  Fill the whole white space and add details in the foreground and background.

If kids finish early they can color in the frame on the front or write a note to someone on the back.

Room 2 Kindergarten Mrs. Schroeder

Docent: Jen Clark


Art Elements/Principles/Artists Reviewed: color, space

The Nature of Emotions Color Wheel

2 Mar

I wanted to share this link that was passed on to me by fellow Art Docent, Jim Bargfrede. He used it as reference for a color lesson in room 7.

(click on pics for a closer look at the students work, and the written “emotion” they were painting.)

The kids were instructed to think of an event in their lives that stirred up emotions. Then asked to paint with watercolors their “emotions”. They were not to paint any sort of recognizable form or figure, but rather motions and movements with color that conveyed their emotion at the time of this event in their lives.

I loved this lesson, I love this special “emotion” color wheel. Thanks Jim for the lesson!

Art Elements/Principles/Artists Reviewed: color – showed various works of art that portrayed all types of emotions through color

Art Docents: Jim Bargfrede

Rm: 7, Ms. Saltsman, 3rd grade

Feb. 2012 lesson