Second graders at Short and Laurel Dell elementary schools in San Rafael created vibrant collages showing what a healthy neighborhood needs.
We began by looking at the work of artists like Faith Ringgold and the late Romare Bearden. Working with Youth in Arts’ Mentor Artist Cathy Bowman, we used the “wax resist” method to write our names on watercolor paper and mixed blues and greens to paint a “cool” background. We talked about what a neighborhood needs to be strong and healthy, and what we need to be strong a healthy. Both classes included schools, libraries and homes of different sizes and shapes. There were some surprising additions too. At Short, one student suggested a carnival. At Laurel Dell, a student created a community art studio.
We then created collages, using only warm colors for our structures. That made them stand out when they were placed on the cool colored background. This gave us a chance to review what colors are warm, and what colors are cool. Once they were dry, we flipped them over and cut out our shapes. Details were added later with pastel and more paper. We looked at doors and windows from around the world, and noticed they are not always square or rectangle.
“This was a complex project with many layers, and students did an amazing job,” Bowman said. “It was wonderful to see them make connections between their own lives and their neighborhood.”
Some of the paper that students used was made by rubbing crayons and pastels across textured templates, creating brick patterns and other designs. More connections were made as the textured paper was shared between the two schools.
The projects will be on display as part of the upcoming Youth in Arts’ upcoming exhibit: Kids Imagine Our World: In My Neighborhood. The show of 2nd grade work from both schools runs Oct. 28 through Dec. 6. The opening reception, which will be hosted by the Youth in Arts’ Board of Directors, will be held on Nov. 8 from 5 to 8 p.m.
Mentor Artist Tracy Eastman says of her Arts Unite Us Residency at San Jose Middle School: “The students explored art in very creative ways!”
“Texture Collage Boards” — Our first class project was all about textures. Each student was given contact paper with the adhesive side up (secured to white foam board) and choices of textured materials to add. We discussed what the materials felt like and described the feeling it gave, (i.e. soft, bumpy, rough, smooth, noisy/crunchy, hard, etc.). We then took oil pastels and drew across many of the textures. As the last step, we covered the remaining sticky areas with magic gold transfer foil. Some of the classes removed the white foam board from the back of the artwork and displayed them in the window, while others left them with the white background and hung them on the wall.
Our second class project was making stained glass window kites, which focused on creating shapes, working within borders and cutting with scissors. The students were given the same set up of contact paper placed on a white foam board, but with different instructions. Each student was given four strips of black construction paper to create a diamond shape on their contact paper and were given additional strips to add anywhere within the diamond’s borders. Within the spaces of the black strips, the students placed square pieces of colored and patterned tissue paper to further decorate their kites. The students then smoothed on a top layer of contact paper to seal the pieces in place and then cut them out, staying on the outside of the black diamond borders. Most students needed assistance and/or adaptive scissors, which were provided by the classroom teachers. Lastly, the students taped a yarn tail with a tissue paper bow to complete their kites. All of the students held up their kites and pretended to fly them around the room before they were hung in the windows.
During this residency program, we also focused on creating various marks on watercolor paper with tempera watercolor cakes and an array of adaptive tools. The tools ranged from paint brushes with variously shaped handles, sponges, roller sponges, silicone stamps, etc. Prior to adding paint with the adaptive tools, the students drew on their paper with oil pastels to create resistance artwork. Together, we talked about oil and water resist each other and how the oil will fight with the watercolor to show through. The students improvised on making marks with different parts of each tool. One student even used the foam roller as a hammer and made small circles on his page. We used these skills to work on three-dimensional and two-dimensional projects throughout the residency.
These programs were made possible with support from the following sources:
This Spring, Mentor Artist Lisa Summers worked with students at Hamilton Middle School to create multi-media projects based on the work of folk and vanguard artists through Youth in Arts’ Arts Unite Us program. Students started with metallic pens and black gesso boards to assign lines to words they felt best described them. Over the next several weeks, students used a bird pattern to create work inspired by Indian Gond art, a form of painting that is practiced by one of the largest tribes in India with whom it shares its name. We began by looking at examples of Gond paintings, and then started our own artworks by incorporating our individual “lines” into the composition.
We built upon these skills with exercises such as contour line drawing of faces and animals, in which we used unconventional drawing and painting utensils like sticks and cotton swabs to experiment with pattern, color theory, composition, geometric shapes and shadows. Students learned about graphic artists like Peter Max and self-taught artist Kiyoshi Awazu by making posters using collage and oil pastel. As a reflection exercise, students were asked to consider advertisements that use visual language and to evaluate their own work by asking questions such as: “What makes this pop? What gives this line or shape emphasis? What attracts you to these colors and the design? What do you think the message is?”
We had lively discussions about their work, and students were encouraged to revise if they felt a particular work was not complete. Classroom teacher Ms. Moon and staff jumped into the collage project as well. Examples of student artwork were hung in the front office, and many of the artworks created throughout the residency will be on display at Youth In Arts during the summer exhibition, “Outside the Lines: Collaborative Art in Special Day Classrooms” opening on July 31st, 2019 at the YIA gallery.
Through the California Department of Education’s Student Support and Academic Enrichment (SSAE) grant that the Marin County Office of Education received, Youth in Arts was in multiple Special Day Classes this spring.
Mentor Artist Julia James taught second graders at Coleman Elementary School how to create Matisse-inspired insects.
She began by introducing Matisse’s art, demonstrating how he often used colors and shapes to make large collages. Some of his work is as big as a wall!
Students worked together with Miss Julia to apply Matisse’s collage techniques to bugs. There was a lively discussion about the different parts of an insect and how to make each one. Students practiced their cutting skills as well as learning how to use a glue stick. Using a black background, they cut out the head, thorax and abdomen along with eyes, antennae, wings and legs. This reinforces what young artists are learning in their classrooms this year. It was also great practice in how colors look different depending on what is behind them or next to them.
Mentor Artist Suzanne Joyal worked with children in Jay’s and Laura’s pre-k classes at Marindale this Spring. Following are her perspectives on the many ways the students experienced the visual arts:
Clara loved to do all kinds of art: drawing painting, stamping, gluing, and squeezing clay. But her greatest joy was discovering the many different ways her materials could make noise! Each time I visited I would bring foil, or bubble wrap, or “crunchy” paper so that Clara could experience paint and color and sound in her art-making process.
Christopher was tentative with new experiences, but with a gentle touch and lots of encouragement, he was able to hold a paintbrush and draw with special soft crayons. With his new glasses on, he was able to see his plain white canvas come to life.
Marquise has limited sight and could only see light and shadow from one corner of one eye, and loved working with Model Magic. When it was placed in front of him on a black board, he was able to find it no matter where it was placed, and loved to squeeze and pull and roll the soft, pliable clay. He also loved the “crunchy” shiny wrapper that the clay came in.
The energy level was alive and exciting in Jay’s classroom, and I was able to work with the students in pairs. We learned to take one pastel at a time, to share with our friends, to wait for our turn, to be careful and respectful of our art materials, and to use these valuable skills to explore art-making in myriad ways.
Again, the students were open to any new experience, and were able to paint on mat board, foil, and plastic, to draw circles and lines with crayons, pastels, and even window-painting crayons. We explored textures with collages full of shiny bits, sand paper, soft fur, and much more.
With Model Magic, we squeezed and pulled and rolled, and even poked it with markers to turn it new colors. The students taught me a whole new use for Model Magic when they squashed it onto their mat boards (it stuck there), and then proceeded to draw and paint and glue right on top of it. It was a truly multi-media process with beautiful results.
The classroom teacher, Laura Becker, had this to say about their time with Suzanne:
We are so excited to have Suzanne with us. We have students who are at times difficult to read, but Suzanne has gotten to know each child individually and has brought material that will excite and motivate each one of my students. I am so grateful that she has taken the time to know each one. Her projects allow each of them to express themselves and their abilities. It has been a real joy. She is very gifted.