917 "C" Street
San Rafael, California 94901
Third graders at Willow Creek Academy have been working with Mentor Artist Suzanne Joyal to utilize visual arts to make their creative writing richer. We have been learning to look: how can you find every detail, and draw what your eye SEES, not what your mind REMEMBERS. Today we worked on observational drawing, both Gesture and Contour. The drawings of animals made from 3D sculptures were inspiring.
Students have been working hard on their COLOR poems in Language Arts Class. They used what they learned in our Exploring an Orange lesson to add more descriptive words to their poems. This week in art class, students chose the strongest line from their poem as the subject for their illustration on black paper.
We compared the word “composition”: how do we compose WORDS to make a strong poem? How do we compose a PICTURE to make a strong image? What is most important about our picture? Where should it be placed? How big will it be?
We sketched first, then we drew with glue.
After, students were asked to REFLECT: “What did you NOTICE about drawing with glue?”
“When you paint with glue, be careful: you can smudge.”
“I noticed that painting with glue is not easy at all, and painting with glue is fun and sticky!”
“Painting with glue is art. Glue is hard to control.”
“I notice it is harder than using paint. Also, you can get more texture using glue.”
Practicing Blind Contour Drawing with Fall Leaves: We again brainstormed descriptive words using SIGHT, SMELL, SOUND, and TOUCH ( we didn’t TASTE the leaves!)
Willow Creek’s 3rd graders are exploring ways to use all of their senses to tell a more complete story (in their descriptive non-fiction, myths, and poetry). Mentor Artist Suzanne Joyal has been working closely with third grade teachers Anne Siskin and Maya Creedman to create an in-depth project combining fine art techniques with writing lessons to enhance stories. In class, students have been writing in-depth poems about a color. In our first art meeting, we began by writing 3 things we know about an orange, and then drawing one from memory.
“An orange is orange.”
“An orange is round.”
“It is fat.”
Then each child was given an orange, and together we brainstormed words describing what we could see, smell, feel, hear, and taste of our orange. Students then practiced blind contour drawing (learning to tell our hand to draw what our eye actually sees, not what we remember). And finally, children drew their oranges again, and wrote three more sentences about them. The results were amazing:
“Oranges are sweet, sour, and juicy.”
“If you split an orange in half, it looks like it has guts inside.”
“I felt delighted when I tasted the orange.”
On Sat. May 25th, the Marin City Recreation Department & The Hood Games present another day of skateboarding, youth performances, music, art-making & community love. The 12 noon – 4 p.m. event is all about keeping our youth safe, active & creative. Local co-sponsors include: Youth In Arts, Prooflab Skateshop, Triumph Skateshop, Marin City Health & Wellness Center, Marin City Health & Human Services, CA4Health, Venture Trucks & Big Thanks to S-One Skate Helmets! – Let’s Roll!!!
Youth In Arts art instructor K-Dub & his middle school Willow Creek Academy in Sausalito students mix & create fun cultural masks. After researching traditional masks from around the world, students were instructed to create masks that includes their own “Flava”.
Willow Creek students “Go Wild” with a fun project designed by Mentor art Teacher Mr. K-Dub. Students were given the task to design their name in “thingys” as their letters. They were instructed to carry a theme throughout their artwork foreground & background. Objects & thingys used were tools,fruit,sports equipment,trees, art supplies and Mr. K-Dub’s favorite selection Bacon! The final watercolor & color pencil works created were very fun and flavorful like this inspired Dr.Suess themed Lorax by a 5th grade student.
Message to Our Community
Mentor Artist K-Dub Williams has designed a year-long project with the teachers of Willow Creek Academy which will culminate in PSA’s by “Elder Avatars” (unique masks created by each teacher). The first Professional Development Workshop explored answering the question “How can we use what we create to inspire Youth and Community?”
We began with theater exercises designed to engage the whole body in the creative process. Teachers were asked to think of a word that represented the superpower their own personal superhero might possess: Listening, Strength, Caring, Inspiration.
When people were warmed up, we moved on to visual arts and began to brainstorm on our “Elder Avatar”. How do we design our masks to visually represent the characteristics of our personal character? First, we worked in paper. We practiced patterns, symmetry, cutting, and attaching pieces securely.
Next time, we move into cardboard and plaster.
Large ears represent a good listener.
Creating a Community SuperHero: Expressing character and a positive message through physical movements.
Collaborating to Create a Tableau Vivant: each person's pose represented the word they contributed to the group's message.
Statement: "I chose the color blue for the font because the picture was a little bit blue and I like to match colors. I also chose to have a plant in my picture because I LOVE nature. Finally, I chose to have the waves in my poem because I felt like swimming." - 5th grade student
For the Willow Creek Voices pilot program, we worked with select 5th and 6th graders in the realm of digital photography. After getting our feet wet learning how to use the camera and hands-on practice with the visual elements that go into composing your photo, we were ready to dive in the class project…visual adaptations from student generated poetry!
In the Adobe Youth Voices Curriculum, we found two great poems to model from… George Ella Lyon’s “I am From” poem and Lisa Storm Frank’s “I Am” poem. What’s so great about these poems (which youth all over the nation have made iterations of), is that structure of the poem asks the writer to dig into sensory-based experiences and unique sweet spots to express who they are. Students plunged right in, and some even took creative liberalities with the poem structure, to include how they see the world, from their perspective.
In both the 5th and 6th grade classes, students were shown both poems and asked to select the template that spoke to them and write their own “I Am” and “I Am From” poem. After writing the poem, students selected one line from the poem and were tasked with taking a photo that would visually describe their poetic line. Students were reminded to think not only of content, but also how framing, angle, composition and color would enhance their meanings. After students took the photos, we set back to the computer lab to learn the basics of Adobe Photoshop Elements and use tools and techniques that would stylistically clean up and enhance their message.
Many students took advantage of the ability to crop and re-frame the image once in the photoshop editor….some used the clone stamp to get rid of unwanted elements in their frame (the backpack that was distracting, the bright color on the student shirt that distracted attention from the focal point, the bright spot in the frame that needed to be dulled down). The magic wand was a tool used often, to add subtle color and levels enhancements to specific parts of the image.
Poem by 6th grade student: I am from a place that is lonely I am from a place full of color and happiness I am from a place that is dead with nobody here I am from a tunnel that leads to nowhere I am from a place where fireworks are bursting in the sky I am from a place full of people and life
Overall, students explored the process of artistic creation – from creative writing to surfacing content to capturing an image via a camera to bringing it all together in the photoshop platform. There were some students who decided upon viewing the image they took, the line from the poem needed to be revised, to match what the photo was saying…so they rewrote their poems. In this way, active listening, to the artistic process and to the relationship between content, form and meaning was encouraged in the workshop.
Statement: I started out with trying to make a photo about a Greek hill or landscape, but after a few pictures I realized that the photos that I was taking were depressing, dark photos. After noticing this, I decided to do a photo about death. In the photoshop and editing stage, I took my favorite picture and took a line from one of the poems that I had written -- “I see death.” I added this line to my picture, to help enhance the feeling of death or sorrow. After a while, I realized that this wasn’t exactly the message I wanted to put out into the world -- so I took one more photo, of a cheerful and spring-like image. I added this to the right side of my canvas, and moved the death image over to the left side. Under the “life” image I added a line from another poem that I wrote -- “I see life.” But even after those changes, the photo did not seem complete, did not seem right…so I decided to make a mash up of both of these messages, in the center frame. What is in between life and death? Me! At this stage, I started to pay attention to my test and something seemed off again. I changed the death wording to “I am death” and the life one to “I am life” and in the middle I put “I am somewhere in between.” - 6th grade student
When adding the text to the photo, students chose between adding the text outside of the photo or in the frame and then made decisions on how to present the text, so it fit with the image.
Although we were all doing the same basic assignment, each student took a different path and approach. After this process students reported that they now take in color in different ways, saw in terms of framing, and were in awe of all the exciting tools photoshop offered to digitally design their image. Throughout, our intent was to use the tools in the digital design world to navigate our way in the terrain of visual language and artistic expression, and from there to share our creations with the world.
I chose to photograph the rays of the sun because I think that before you come down to earth, your spirit is in heaven with god. Here is my poem: I am from San Ramon hospital I am from my mom's womb I am from the Bay Area I am from a twinkle in my parent's eyes I am from heaven I am from a church -5th grade student
For the 2012 spring quarter, a handful of 7th graders from Willow Creek Academy were selected to participate in a pilot program, Willow Creek Voices. While 5th and 6th graders in this program explored digital photography, the 7th graders embarked upon filmmaking!
Filmmaking opens up so many rich possibilities…from expressing your inner creativity, to dancing the fine balance between teamwork and individual contributions. And then there is all the craft that goes into making a video…from the technical side — how to operate a camera, how to edit it, and the creative content side — what content to show, how to frame it, what angle, how close or far should the camera be. Making a video also allows us the opportunity to get up close and personal with something we care about in the world, and do something about it! While some people may think 7th graders don’t care about social issues and the culture around them past the latest fad, it’s not true. The videos created in this workshop certainly stand up to this stereotype.
Throughout the workshop, we drew from process, techniques and tools detailed in the Adobe Youth Voices Create with Purpose Video Curriculum. To set the filmmaking stage and create a film common language [Media literacy], we watched several PSA’s and short videos, to tease out the important elements of a successful video, and to witness how Story, Audience, Message and Style (SAMS), each play a pivotal role in making a video successful.
Students then got into groups and brainstormed social issues they cared about and what they wanted to contribute to the conversation. From there, students selected one topic and pitched their ideas. Building from our media literacy and critical explorations, students used the SAMS structure in relation to their own videos, coming up with a clear Story, Target Audience, Message and Style for their PSA. Students went through the process of Inspiration/Media Literacy, Brainstorming/Pitching, Pre Production (SAMS structure, script, storyboard, story arc), Production (filming) and Post Production (editing, using Adobe Premiere Elements).
Throughout the process, students crafted the video and made choices based in intention and creating with purpose, while leaving room for the artistic muse to provide inspiration along the way. Team work, as well as leadership and playing to our strengths was encouraged at every turn. For example, some students students took the lead finding copyright free music, while others assembled the rough cut, both working in tandem and with the final project in mind.
Making a video was eye opening at every turn. Perhaps the greatest impression left on the students is that each of us has the ability and opportunity to make a difference, to make a change. And with these videos, this is exactly what these youth hope to do!