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Model Magic Flowers

WRLogoForBLOGThrough 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.

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

fern with spores

Glass sculpture by Dale Chihuly

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.

Model Magic! Sculpting people for our playground

WRLogoForBLOGThrough 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.

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.

Kindergarten Line Research: Imaginary Playgrounds

“What is a path?”

“A mark you make that other people can follow.” –Kindergartener, Ms. Kraft’s classroom.

Children continue to explore the idea of friendship as they design their imaginary playgrounds. We looked at the artwork of Indigenous Australian artists, and discussed the idea of paths. If we walked through a puddle of paint, and then played, what kinds of marks would we leave on the ground? What kinds of marks would our friends make?

Our line challenge involved a careful observation of the classroom, and also reflection. What kinds of lines do we see? What kinds of lines do we remember? We used our arms to practice the lines in the air before we began drawing. We practiced vocabulary too: Zig Zag, Squiggly, Swirl, Horizontal, Vertical, Diagonal, Dotted, Long, Short.

Students were asked to draw at least three different types of lines on their foam boards (donated by a very generous local framer!), and then we added color with liquid watercolors in Bingo Bottles.

Journal Question: Where do we PLAY?

Next time, we build UP as we work with strips of paper to build models of our ideal playgrounds.

Pop Art at Rancho Elementary

(with Mentor Artist Angela Baker)
Fifth Graders at Rancho Elementary in Novato worked in drawing, printmaking and clay to explore Pop Art. I began the residency by showing Abstract work by Kandinsky and discussing the different types of line: straight, curved, dotted and zig zag. Students used this knowledge to create abstract wax resist paintings with oil pastels and watercolors.

In our third class, we discussed how those different types of lines can be used to draw actual objects we observe. Students then used pencil to create detailed observational drawings of everyday objects like fruit, scissors and sneakers.

In our fourth meeting, students looked at the work of Pop Artists like Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and Wayne Thiebaud.  Afterwards, they created mixed media prints. The prints from Ms. Jones’ class were on display in the Main Office.

PrintHamburger OfficeDisplay

For our final project I showed the work of Claes Oldenburg and students created clay sculptures of food. 

Arts Integration, Week 2: Illustrating a Color Poem

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!)

Brain Dance

YIA Mentor Artist Hannah Dworkin

Brain Dance at Marindale Early Intervention

“I FEEL my brain getting smarter!  I feel my head getting bigger!” “B” from Meriam Granger’s pre-K language immersion class after her third session with “Brain Dance.”

Brain Dance was developed by   Anne Green Gilbert,  and it is comprised of eight types of movements based on the developmental stages of a baby goes through during the first year of life. The steps are: Breath, Tactile, Core-Distal, head-tail, upper-lower, body side, cross lateral and vestibular. There has been quite a few encouraging studies  about the use of Brain Dance with students of all ages.  I have been using it in variations in my VSA classes this year. Each of my classes have very different ability levels, and I found myself adjusting it to fit each scenario. Below are ways in which I found it most effective.

Class of autistic students age 3-5:

This group thrives on routine, so the key to having brain dance work with this class was to introduce it early in the 10 week residency and practicing it daily.  I gave the steps to the teacher, and she made sure to reinforce the movement.

Class of students with limited mobility:

This class was challenging because they were not able to move their bodies enough to participate in brain dance, so we all, classroom teacher and aides included,  were very hands on.  We helped them manipulate their limbs and as needed, and listened to gleeful shouts when we spun their wheel chairs at the final stage of the dance.

Class of language delayed preschoolers:

There were two important things to keep in mind with this group. First, they were very young, so keeping the pace up was essential.  I also used high energy, fun music to keep them engaged.  I also needed to be very clear with the language I used.  I needed to keep in mind that they needed me to use simple vocabulary to describe and demonstrate each movement.

YIA Mentor Artist Hannah Dworkin

Thank you to the Marin Community Foundation for their generous support of this and all of our programs serving students of different abilites!

Back to Basics At the Marin County Fair

Artists and volunteers with Youth in Arts provided five days of hands-on projects at the Marin County Fair this year. In keeping with the Fair’s theme, “Made in Marin” a celebration of our agricultural heritage, all of the projects honored the art and skills of our settler ancestors. We made rag dolls from rags and fabric scraps, wove bracelets using leftover yarn on a loom made from recycled mat board, and hooked a beautiful, soft rug with only feed sacks and old t-shirt scraps.

Every day at the Fair was a beautiful one, thanks to the tremendous help of our 30 volunteers and the creative energy of our thousands of artist visitors!
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Masterpieces on the Ground at Davidson

This Spring, seventh graders at Davidson Middle School culminated their year of Social Studies & Arts Integration by studying the artists and artwork of the Italian Renaissance with Mentor Artist Suzanne Joyal. Students learned about the Renaissance technique of Italian Street Painting, where street artists (Madonnari) honored the masterpieces to be found in Italian cathedrals by recreating them on the piazzas nearby. Passers-by would reward the street artist’s hard work by tossing coins to them on the street.

Davidson Artists recreated three Italian Masterpieces on their blacktop, on a very large scale. The Last Supper,  by Leonardo Da Vinci, was recreated in approximately actual size, 22′ x 14′. Mona Lisa, also by Leonardo Da Vinci, grew from actual size of approximately 1 1/2′ x 2′, to 14′ x 16′, and St Nicholas Taming the Tempest by Fra Angelico grew to nearly as big.

Each piece was divided into equal square grids, and students were each assigned one square from one of the pieces. First, students practiced enlarging their tiny 2″ square onto 9″ square papers. This gave them the opportunity to practice using chalk, and blending colors.

On our second visit, we moved out to the playground. First, we recreated a grid of much larger proportion using tape measures, chalk, and a snap line. We numbered each square (now grown to 2′ x 2′), and then each class joined us to recreate one more time their piece of the larger whole.

Students practiced blending, shading, tone, and collaboration as they worked closely with their neighbors to recreate, in two days, three very large masterpieces for their playground. Students learned that it is challenging to work outside in the sun and wind, to be sitting on the hard ground, and to use our hands to blend and draw.

The final pieces were a testament to the hard work of the students, and were a wonder to see.

Hands-On Learning: Asian Brush Painting

Seventh Graders at Hall Middle School 
deepened their understanding of Chinese and Japanese culture through an introduction to the art of Asian brush painting.

Tools have remained the same over the centuries: Rice Paper (Shue), Sumi Ink, and soft-bristled bamboo brushes. Students learned the proper technique to hold the brush, how to use pressure and movements to create marks varying from light to dark, fine lines to broad. Students then experimented with brush strokes, practicing strong lines, soft lines, spontaneous marks, and dry brush techniques.

Bamboo is primarily a Chinese subject, a simple shape but complex to paint, with harmony and joyous freedom. Students observed actual bamboo branches, and then learned the techniques to paint the subject in detail: the segments, the strong center stalk, fine thin branches, and graceful foliage.

Students were able to explore the development of Chinese and Japanese landscape painting and its influences through history. They observed how the Eastern ideal of perspective is different from our Western view 
(Flatter and more vertical). Students studied the works of various masters, both Japanese and Chinese, and learned the value of recording your world by painting what you see, and seeing the beauty in our own back yard. Using black watercolors on Japanese mulberry paper, students then created landscapes of Mt. Tamalpais in the style of a Japanese Sumi- e painter. They began by practicing circles, paying careful attention to breathing and thought before the brush touches the paper.

Learning to use a brush in a new way, practicing a variety of lines, practicing control of the brush, the freedom to be found when the brush is moving quickly, practicing spontaneity and celebrating beauty: sometimes it was hard to remain standing and hold our bamboo brushes upright as the masters were taught.

Developing Artists at Castro Valley Cooperative Preschool

Printing with Vegetables and Experimenting with Color

Amid the hustle and bustle of snack preparation and the smells of fish sticks or chicken nuggets baking, the kitchen at Castro Valley Parent Nursery School was transformed into a lively art studio with Mentor Artist Margaret Niles.  The energy and enthusiasm of the three- and four- year olds made every class lively and fun, involving an element of play and experimentation.  The children explored their way through a variety of projects, from printing, to drawing, to painting, to sculpting.

We began with a childhood classic: fruit and vegetable stamping. Little did Margaret know that these kids were accomplished stampers, and it wasn’t long before the colored tempera paints were mixed and blended together in wonderful new combinations with the aid of bits of corn, apple, and potato.  They also modeled birds out of self-hardening clay and learned to shape a head, a beak, a body, and a tail.  These creatures of flight and fancy were embellished by brightly colored feather wings, making them truly out of this world.  To ensure their birds were comfortable, the little ones crafted nests out of a variety of softly textured materials.  It was a community effort, as parents contributed baggies of dryer lint, and collections of small twigs their children helped gather.

Making Nests: Parents and kids explored at home to collect potential materials, then shared their finds with friends

The budding artists also experimented with mixing their own colors from the primaries to arrive at wonderful new creations and gained some technical practice with drawing different shapes and types of lines.  They also learned to roll balls out of Model Magic to form caterpillars and to shape other animals, adding brightly colored macaroni for embellishment or dinosaur scales.  It was especially fun to observe some children immediately start to play with their modeled animals, be they bird or caterpillar, and to create interactive and spontaneous games with their animals and one another.  The children are accustomed to having lots of choices in their preschool, and they were true art ambassadors and model citizens.

What would make my nest strong? What would make my nest comfy?

The differences in developmental levels and concentration among the children, particularly between the three and four year olds, was at times pronounced.  It was fascinating to observe some children, who could sit for an entire half hour or more, and others who were finished at a rather windy pace.

These eager artists demonstrated a natural creativity and willingness to take risks as they painted, sculpted, drew, played, and explored their vivid imaginations and the world both in and around themselves, finding joy and satisfaction in the process.

The face of PRIDE in a job well-done.

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