917 "C" Street
San Rafael, California 94901
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Through the Walker Rezaian Creative HeARTS Fund, Mentor Artist Suzanne Joyal has been teaching friendship through visual art with all the kindergarteners at Loma Verde Elementary School.
Learning to draw what your eye SEES, not what your mind REMEMBERS. Children practiced looking closely, and allowing our eyes to guide our pencils. This helped children to better remember their work, and to better appreciate their efforts.
Children used their own sculptures as models for their drawing. They practiced looking closely, defining the types of lines they could see, and even made choices about what they might do next.
Playground drawings using colored pencils in our art journals
Flower drawings using pencil, Sharpie…
… and tempera cakes for lots of color.
The 5th Graders at Mary Silveira have spent the past few weeks continuing to work on their exploration journals.They continued creative writing inspired by their observation and perspective drawings, and made revised drawings of their island maps. We practiced color pencil blending techniques, and discussed how artists can make more lively drawings by blending analogous colors instead of using just one. For a warm-up exercise we made mandalas, instinctual circular drawings. These mandalas proved to be very popular!
We also created new island inhabitants by drawing hybrid creatures. To do this, each student drew two different animal models from observation. Then they cut and recombined these animals into a new creature, pasting it into their sketchbook. Cutting up and reassembling their drawings was difficult for some of these artists, and very freeing for others. But the unexpected results were a joyful surprise. After naming this new creature, they then added it into their stories.
For a culminating project, students will be exhibiting their maps and journals at the school art show. It has been great to see how enthusiastic these young artists have been about sharing their creations every step of the way.
Revising a map.
Observation drawing from a toy fish.
Cutting up observation drawings to assemble into a new creature.
Observation drawing using a toy animal.
Assembling a new creature from observation drawings.
Explorer journal pages.
Imaginary island map.
I have recently started working with two classes at Oak Hill School in San Anselmo, a wonderful program for children with autism and other developmental differences.
The first project with the Buckeye Class of middle-school boys was a sculptural project we called a Sun Column. We used fine motor skills create a vibrant, wild layered assemblage of paper and found materials that had been painted with texture rollers and stamps dipped in gold ink. It was then adorned with texture rubbings and drawings, fringe-cut paper, cut and glued ribbons, and twisted gold pipe cleaners. This project helped me assess each artist’s needs and abilities, but most of all, it was fun.
We are now sculpting figures.The first step was making an armature out of pipe cleaners, and covering that with a foil skin. The next step will be paper mache.
The first project with Oak Hill Prep was a collaborative group project to exhibit at their school art show. I gessoed a wood puzzle and gave each student several random puzzle pieces. After discussing and looking at line art patterns, we each drew our own patterns on these pieces. Next, we traded pieces back and both adding our own touches so that most pieces became the creation of multiple artists. We also stamped (and one artist even added his fingerprints) to the pieces. Finally, the artists reassembled the puzzle, and we were able to see our collaborative drawing for the first time, with surprising results. I then glued the puzzle permanently together.
We have now begun looking at the work of M.C. Esher. We discussed how his tessellation images fit together like puzzle pieces, and we colored some of his tessellation designs using complementary colors schemes. Very soon we will be making our very own tessellation designs!
Figure sculptures in aluminum foil over a pipe cleaner armature.
We had so much fun with sculpting Model Magic, we decided to revisit the medium. This week, we looked at amazing photographs of flowers and plants, along with the beautiful glass sculptures of Dale Chihuly. We talked about how things grow in nature, and how artists reinterpret what we SEE, into what we IMAGINE!
fern with spores
Glass sculpture by Dale Chihuly
Children were given small bases of mat board and chenille stems. We reviewed the techniques we learned a week earlier to build unique and magical plants.
This week we created friends to live in our paper playgrounds. We used Model Magic and practiced using our small muscles to create people and creatures to live on our playgrounds.
Children squished, squashed, rolled and more as they created their people, then played with their friends as they shared their designs with classmates.
Parading with Florencia “Fofo” Pierre
Short School parents and students celebrated the culmination of their Haitian Music & Dance program with a schoolwide performance, parade and dance party on Tuesday, March 18th. For sixteen weeks, students in grades K-2 have been working with Mentor Artists Djenane St. Juste, Florencia “Fofo” Pierre and Jeff Pierre to learn music and dances associated with the celebration of Kanaval or Carnaval, a major midwinter celebration in the Caribbean. Students have also learned words and expressions in both French and Haitian Kreyòl languages. On this beautiful Tuesday morning, the students were able to share music and dances they had learned with over 70 parents, teachers and siblings!
Jeff Pierre with Short School drummers
Djenane introduced a dance game the children had learned in which they dance without touching a line that represents danger or “sobo”. As the children danced down the line faster and faster without touching it, parents in the audience helped with a call and response from the song Ti Gason (Little Boy) in which the dancers are told piga’w pile sobo, male va rive’w (roughly: “don’t step on danger or you will have trouble”).
Don’t step on the line!
A few parents and siblings even came up to try the dance on their own!
Parents, teachers and siblings try to dance “safely”
Next came a grand parade led by Fofo Pierre with students performing steps they have learned in their classes and teachers and some parents following behind as the “back line”. The grand finish was a circle dance with each class taking a turn dancing in the middle, followed by dancing parents and all the teachers!
Short School teachers dance in the circle
It was a fun event with a great parent turn-out. Thanks to all the students, staff and families of Short School, to Djenane, Fofo and Jeff for their terrific work with the students and to the California Arts Council’s Artists in Schools program for its support of this project.
Djenane St. Juste, Principal Pepe Gonzalez and Fofo Pierre
Kindergarteners at Loma Verde took their line research to the third dimension as they used new folding skills to design their own personal playgrounds.
Local architect Janine Lovejoy Wilford joined us in the classrooms. Janine specializes in designing learning spaces for children: both classrooms and playgrounds. Janine introduced them to the ideas of collaboration and design.
Children practiced, folding, tearing, rolling, and gluing strips of paper to build their slides, steps, tunnels and swings to design their magical play spaces.
Where do we want to PLAY?
What would our FRIENDS like to do?
By Theatre Artist Thomas Arndt
This Fall, I spent a fabulous 8 weeks with 3 classes of 4th and 5th Graders at Harding Elementary in El Cerrito. We had a great time together exploring many facets of acting technique and storytelling. One of the main goals we worked with was “Be Understood,” which led to a journey through what it means to be “clear” on stage: with our voices, with our movements, and with our story creation. We spent a good deal of time working with “Space Substance,” with activities such as throwing invisible balls against walls and to each other with the instruction “Keep it in the space, not your head!” (instructions from Viola Spolin’s great books on theatre activities with kids). This led to a discussion of “where theatre happens,” ending up with the answer that it takes place when the actors and the audience connect with each other and imagine something together.
Debriefing activities throughout the residency, the responses from the kids were compelling and the teachers and I could see their minds lighting up! I heard one of the best things I’ve heard from a teacher too, something that really gets to the heart of this work: “It’s amazing to see some of these kids who I thought I knew, showing up in a totally different way when on stage!” Whether these young people go on to become actors or not, the chance to explore an unseen side of themselves, to express something new, and to be witnessed in front of a group of peers and celebrated for their successes has a huge impact. It was also great to note that, for example, children who had struggled with speaking clearly were the ones asking for additional speaking roles when we performed.
At the end of the residency, we had a small performance, coupled with Stephanie Bastos’ dancers. Each of my 3 classes created a short show, with a rotating cast playing the characters for each piece of the story. We developed the short plays together, each based on a theme of either bullying or making new friends. The students of El Cerrito Superhero Highschool banded together to stop Iron Fist from pushing everyone around and always throwing the Principal onto the moon. A lonely basketball player and a sad football player, after initially coming into conflict, decided to create a new sport, BasketFoot, for which they are now famous. And, in a small old town, a little boy and a dog, who were archenemies (!) were taught to compromise and play together–now that dog plays catcher for the boy’s baseball team!
We had a great time together and I feel lucky to be working with such a great group of young people. I’ve begun my after-school Playwriting group, with many of my students from the Fall, and we are creating a wonderful show that will go up in May!
Thank you to the Thomas J. Long Foundation for supporting “Arts Unite Us” at Harding Elementary.
5th and 6th graders at Harding Elementary worked with Mentor Artist Angela Baker to explore the significance of place. Students began by doing a drawing in one-point perspective.
Next students made pop up books about a place which demonstrated the concept of Foreground, Middle Ground & Background.
The culminating project was to put it all together in a painting of a place, real or imagined.
Youth in Arts is grateful to the Thomas J. Long Foundation for their support for ”Arts Unite Us” at Harding Elementary.