Tag Archives: balance

Ilya Bolotowsky – Rotation and Balance (of Color & Line)

9 Nov

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I started my lesson with a news article. http://gma.yahoo.com/blogs/abc-blogs/goodwill-painting-bought-9-99-auctioned-27k-130823785–abc-news-topstories.html


Rotation -to turn around a central point. Rotating an object does not change it, but does affect our perception of it. Understand the meaning and measure of a quarter rotation (90°), half rotation (180°) and so on. Observe how the visual relationship of the lines and shapes created affect the balance of the finished piece.

Balance – refers to the ways in which the elements (lines, shapes, colors, textures, etc.) of a piece are arranged. Balance can be symmetrical (“formal”), where elements are given equal “weight” from an imaginary line in the middle of a piece. Balance doesn’t necessarily mean symmetry, though. Asymmetrical (“informal”) balance occurs when elements are placed unevenly in a piece, but work together to produce harmony overall.

About the Artist and Print

Born in Russia, immigrated to US in 1923. Bolotowsky was a leading 20th Century painter in abstract styles in New York City. His work embraced cubism and was much influenced by Dutch painter Piet Mondrian.He called his round paintings tondos.

In Tondo Variation in Red (1978) a few elements produce a powerful, dynamic impact. The weighty, dark red of the upper half of the painting is supported by horizontal whites that stabilize the composition. An even darker red, vertical plane below, bounded by a slim, straight, blue band, anchors the plane above and balances the composition.


What if I rotated the painting 90°, does it look as balanced? Why or why not? Another 90°?

Would different colors make a difference? Why or why not?

What about if there was no white? Does contrast help create balance?


10” x 10” square white paper
Larger black paper with 9” circle cut from center
Ruler and pencil/eraser
Colored pencils


  • Write name NICELY in pencil in lower right corner of black paper. And set aside.
  • Use ruler and pencil to create a design on white paper. Use horizontal and vertical lines.
  • Try to limit to no more than 15 lines.
  • Find balance with your lines. Vary the thicknesses.
  • Fill in shapes with color. Make sure to include some white lines.
  • Once finished. Place your drawing BEHIND your black paper. Rotate your drawing 90° until you find the composition that shows off the best feeling of balance in your piece. Keep rotating your piece a quarter turn if necessary.
  • Once you have found the best orientation, flip both pieces over and tape the drawing to the backside of the black paper.

Art Docent: Marcie Guthrie
Print/Painting: Tondo Variation in Red (1978)
Room#, Grade, Teacher: Rm. 9, 4th grade, Mrs. Choi
Art Elements/Principles/Artists Reviewed: LINE and BALANCE


Andy Goldsworthy – Art in Nature, using found and natural objects

24 Apr

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slideshow of kids nature art

Objective: To introduce the works of naturalist artist Andy Goldsworthy, and to create art using natural elements in and around the school, after which their art will be photographed


**MAKE SURE YOU’VE TOLD THE TEACHER THAT YOU’LL BE OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM FOR THE ART EXPERIENCE. Maybe scope out with teacher a suitable outside area to scavenge/set up the art.

Ask the students if they have ever made a sand castle or drawn designs in the sand? Have they ever made a snowman or snow angel? Sometimes creating art is very much like playing and exploring. Many artists are inspired by the beauty in nature: the colors, lines, shapes, textures and compositions. Some artists use paint or clay as their medium to make art; others, like Andy Goldsworthy, use nature itself.

“I enjoy the freedom of just using my hands and “found” tools – a sharp stone, the quill of a feather, thorns. I take the opportunities each day offers: if it is snowing, I work with snow, at leaf-fall it will be with leaves; a blown-over tree becomes a source of twigs and branches. I stop at a place or pick up a material because I feel that there is something to be discovered. Here is where I can learn.” -Andy Goldsworthy

This is also a great lesson to use to introduce a few elements of art: composition (the way the artist chooses to arrange his subject), balance, and color. Ask the kids, as you show the slides, what they notice about how Andy Goldsworthy uses color, composition, and balance. (Look for contrast in colors – compositions all seemed very balanced – lots of circles, or patterns that looked like they were inspired by nature).

Show power point slides of Andy Goldsworthy’s work. http://www.slideshare.net/GeorgeKellyArt/andy-goldsworthy-5236621

If roaming the school grounds for materials: Have the students pair up in groups of three or four. Take the students outside. Have them gather natural materials that are visually appealing. Look for different colors and different size leaves, rocks, sticks, dirt, etc.

If AD’s have collected their own materials, go to a central area where kids can spread out enough to have a space that is their own.

Have the students create an arrangement out of the natural things they have found. Take close up pictures of their completed work, with written name on white strip of paper near piece for identification.

Element/Principles of Art: Texture, Color, Shape, Balance

Vocabulary: Environmental Art: site specific work in the landscape using nature itself as a “found object”, as both subject and raw material. Composition: the way an artist chooses to arrange subject.


Start early gathering a variety of materials to have on hand:

All colors of beans and dried green peas, Birdseed, Sand

Pea gravel or other larger amounts of small to medium rocks

Leaves – fall or evergreen

Colorful petals or flower heads (dandelions ok), Grass fronds (ornamental grass trimmings)

Seed heads from the fall, Twigs – any shape or size (cool mosses on them all the better)

clumps of moss, Beach glass, Shells, Small pinecones, Berries

• Bowls to carry their items

• White strips of paper for kid’s names – will put next to art piece before photo taken.

• Digital camera to take pictures of final finished pieces before clean-up

Print used:

Book on Andy Goldsworthy’s work, plus Scholastic Art April/May 2005 issue

Conclusion: This was the most fun I have had at a lesson. And I’ve had some fun over the years. The kids LOVED being outside, they connected with nature, found their own creative way to express their form of art and in the end understood that this style of art is temporary. They enjoyed what the created and were ok when it was swept up. Beautiful pictures were taken as memories of a fun afternoon.

Art Docent: Marcie Guthrie and Jim Bargfrede
Lesson Title: Andy Goldsworthy – Art in Nature
Room 7, 3rd Grade, Ms. Saltsman

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.
watch: http://vimeo.com/18672227

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:

Alexander Calder’s Mobiles

6 Jan

Mobile – a sculpture frequently of wire and sheet metal shapes with parts that can be set in motion by air currents

In our case, we will be making mobiles that will hang and use balance.

Stabile – an abstract sculpture or construction similar in appearance to a mobile but made to be stationary

• Calder invented a new type of sculpture. His new works were called mobiles because they move.
• Instead of anchoring these three-dimensional works to the ground, Calder usually suspended them from the ceiling to allow them to float freely in space.
• To make a mobile, he attached brightly painted metal shapes to wire, using trial and error to balance each one.
• He usually cut natural forms that looked like leaves and petals rather than hard-edge geometric shapes.
• His use of industrial materials—steel, aluminum, and wire—was new. When Calder’s mobiles move with the breeze, they change shape and cast interesting shadows.
• Some even “sing” as their movable parts rub against each other.

Calder still made regular sculpture, or “stabiles”, that sits firmly on the ground. Calder’s stabiles are huge, bright, sheet-metal sculptures that are designed to fill city plazas, parks, and sculpture gardens.


Gather some materials

Map out your idea first on your desk

Simplify your idea… focus on balance… with eye catching – free from – shapes

Start building

Be flexible with your design as you WILL need to tweak it to get it to balance properly

Start over if you need to

Know when to STOP and be done with your design
Wire Hangers
Wire (telephone wire, jewwlry wire, copper wire)
Colored wooden beads, metallic origami paper, cellophane, buttons, yarn, etc.
Wire cutters
**Cut paper for writing name to hang from hanger

Website: http://calder.org/home.html

Closing Comments: Once the kids figured out that they could bend and warp the wire hangers to make their mobiles “do” certain things for them, their creative juices really flowed at that point. SOme unraveled the hanger to create a completely unique design. Some children really built upon their designs to create the classic Calder cascading look of pieces flowing from one to the other.

Hang your name tag on the hanger when finished
Lesson Title: Alexander Calder’s Mobiles
Room#, Grade, Teacher: Rm. 7, 3rd, Saltsman
Docent/s: Marcie Guthrie, Jim Bargfrede

Name: Marcie Guthrie
Email: mar_seegu@comcast.net
Art Elements/Principles/Artists Reviewed: Form, Alexander Calder