Lesson adapted from Deep Space Sparkle 2018.
We created various images of a variety of animals in our 2018 Fall 2 Session: Animals in Art. Of all the projects we did, my favorite one had to be the mixed-media woodland collages that one group of conscientious 6 and 7-year-old artists made, using a lesson from the Deep Space Sparkle art curriculum.
In preparation for this project the artists made a large batch of painted papers inspired by the colors and textures found in nature. The goal of this project was to create a wooded landscape with appropriate animal wildlife. Our process began by looking closely at the work of Katharine McEwen in the children's book, Bear Hug. We talked more about the illustrator's use of line, pattern and shape. There was a brief discussion about perspective, overlapping layers, and ways to try and convey depth in their work, but since that is such a difficult concept for artists of that age, I did not spend a lot of time on the topic. I simply sketched several layout ideas on the white board for them to use as inspiration.
Day 1: Each artist thought about color possibilities for their landscapes, depending upon the season; and practiced drawing animals in their sketchbooks, before creating final drawings to cut out for their collages. For the purposes of the lesson, I limited their choice to a bear and a fox, and asked them to include some type of body of water in their landscape. I offered templates for each animal, which a few artists used, but most chose to draw from observation, which made me happy. With all of those pieces in place, they got to work drawing, coloring, painting, tearing, cutting and gluing. For this part of the process we used Crayola crayons, Prisma and Crayola colored pencils, as well as any type of markers for media.
Most children have a natural inclination to glue down pieces immediately once they are cut. Therefore, I always delay handing out glue in the second phase of the project and encourage them to explore their layout possibilities—move things around a bit—and be careful not to commit to specific arrangements until all of the objects for their masterpieces were created. I never force the issue though, I only make suggestions, because I feel it's important for each artist to make their own decisions about their own work.
Day 2: We did not spend the next two classes working solely on this project. I broke up the process into smaller chunks, because I did not want them to tire of the subject matter. My goal was to have them slow down and notice the little details in photographs of landscapes. We spent time talking about texture, and looked at photographs of trees, so we could look closely at the various colors in bark, fields of grass, the leaves of trees, etc. I added additional media to create added interest, and inspire the artists with Faber Castell oil pastels, Crayola metallic crayons, Ooly Chalk Crayons, paint sticks, and watercolors.
Day 3: The final day of this project was reserved for the details. We focused on craftsmanship. I encouraged them to use many colors and vary their use of line to give even more textures or movement to objects in their artwork. Finally, gel pens, fine-tip markers, and faint sprays of watered down acrylic paint were used for details in things like the veins in leaves, or falling snow.
At the end of Fall Session 2, these artists voted to have an art show for their families, so I have included a picture here to show the display of their work.
This was a wonderful lesson on the benefits of persistence. It is an open-ended project that is adaptable to any age group. Below are some images of my artists finished work, of which we are very proud! Each artist was diligent and thoughtful in their approach, and they realized how their efforts paid off once their masterpieces were on display for their families.
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