Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Finding our voices: art and advocacy

Youth Art Month is a fantastic opportunity to get art out in front of the community. It is these stakeholders who make decisions throughout the year for the best for our students. However, it isn't the only time to showcase our students' exceptional work, and thus our art education programs. It is a springboard to creating partnerships for special displays and exhibits. We are fortunate to have established a wonderful rapport with our local hospital. Last spring, we exhibited a huge collection of 4th grade watercolor "Wildflowers" which were invited for an extended stay at Seton. Our newest exhibit, all still-life paintings by our newest artists, our 3rd grade, are up and already getting attention.

The works represent my philosophy of their process--no works are the same. Each artist's voice is clearly apparent, and their individual choices in regards to the still-life view and the painting style are celebrated. The still-life of 3 vases full of flowers was set up on a round wooden table in the middle of the room, with the students' art tables arranged in a circle around it. Students were instructed to sit in one seat and draw the view of the still-life in front of them. However--we added a little pizzazz: imagine the concept of musical chairs... When the music starts, students stand up, and move around. As soon as the music stops they find a seat, and draw the view from there. They aren't supposed to sit in the same seat twice, thus providing them with a collection of views from which to choose for their final piece. The next time they come to art, the display is exactly the same. They are instructed to look through their studies and determine which one they like the best. They will redraw that view with more attention to detail. Some students work faster than others, so the next step would be to provide them with the drawing/painting paper (we used 12" x 18") on which they will draw their still-life again. This time, they draw it bigger: we use the word, magnified.
Students then trace over the pencil lines with permanent ink pens, select the color of tempera for their backgrounds, and start painting. The process took several weeks. After the pieces dried, students did use permanent marker to define the still-life paintings. For many, this was the first painting experience! They were so excited at the variety of styles and color, as well.

Here, we present our Youth Art Month Celebration, brought to you by some of our 3rd graders!

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