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Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Art Notebook / First Session with the 5th Graders

This year I proposed to the two classes I volunteer in (5th grade and 3rd grade) to work on a year-long art project: an art notebook. The idea is to keep everything together and to build a catalog of visual ideas and to work on an art-object
I'd like the students to enjoy the journey and feel comfortable with what we are doing. I presented the project to the parents, with some examples of collages, drawings, doodling, layering, stencils, lettering. I am not looking for a specific result. It is a discovery process. We are trying things. 

I like to browse through the art section at our public library and I came upon a couple of inspirational books about art journals. In The Journal Junkies Workshop by Eric Scott and David Modler, I found an amazing quote: The Journey is the Destination. That's exactly what I'd like the children in the classes this year to experiment: the excitement of the journey itself.

I am very happy and thankful to work with two enthusiastic teachers who love art and who support this adventure!

The parents participated for the material. The Canson Field book is 9x12", 90Lb, hardcover, bound with wide rings and coasts approximately $15 (on sale at my favorites online store, Dick Blick and ASW). I asked $20 per student, which should cover our need in nice pencils, pens and markers, brushes and paint.

We are still waiting for the art pads for the 5th graders. They were back ordered because of the large quantity we needed. Right now the 5th graders work on sheets of paper that they will glue in the art pads as soon as they get them.

First Session - Petroglyphs
I take some time for a short Power Point presentation about the petroglyphs in the Southwest (history, location, description). That same week the teacher talked about the Pueblo civilization. I'd like to sometimes link what we do in art class with subjects the students are learning about. I gathered some images on the internet and some I've taken myself.

One of the slides

"Newspaper Rock" (detail), Utah

We talk about shapes, composition. 
I show photos of some of the engraved walls found in the Four Corners area. 
Then I give them a few sheets printed with black shapes of petroglyphs and some compositions (photos of some of the walls).

I ask the students to take their time and to chose as many - or as few - shapes they want to and to start with a large one and then to organize the space around it.
They work directly with graphite pencils (no erasers), which are super smooth, glide on the paper and make wonderful dark silver greys/blacks.

The idea is to really look at shapes - and those shapes are very special.
I'd like them to "see" the space of the page and organize it as they wish with different elements.
And to take their time, which is not an easy thing to do for the students.

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