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San Rafael, California 94901
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Painting to Music at Rancho Elementary School

Pre-K students in the Ready, Set, Grow! program at Rancho Elementary School explored various tools while painting to music. Part of a sensory-rich arts experience for students with Youth in Arts’ Mentor Artist Cathy Bowman, this 10-week Rancho residency is part of the Arts Unite Us program.

Cathy says of her classes: “Recently, we painted to different pieces of music. We talked about how different music makes our bodies feel different things. First, we listened to  “Gymnopedie No. 1” by Erik Satie. Then we listened to a lively bit of Scott Joplin’s “Maple Leaf Rag.” Finally, we heard Duke Ellington play. It was fun to try different things to paint with, from creamy crayons to toothbrushes dipped in tempera paint. How does a sponge make marks differently from a roller? We used two colors of paint, pink and yellow-green, to explore mark making on sturdy mat board generous”.

Through the California Department of Education’s Student Support and Academic Enrichment (SSAE) Grant that Marin County Office of Education received, we are in multiple Special Day Classrooms. This residency is one of the programs that have benefitted from this collaboration.

 

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Mask Making at Novato High

Students at Novato High School and Sinaloa Middle School explored issues of identity and representation through mask making during 10-week residencies with Mentor Artist Cathy Bowman.

We began by painting glue onto a plastic mold taped to a piece of mat board, being careful to work to the edges. Then we chose scraps of tissue paper is colors that spoke to us. Some students chose a single color, while others preferred to use several colors. Every piece of tissue paper we touched, we had to tear.

We pressed the tissue paper onto the masks and added another layer of glue then let them dry. The following week we used metallic Sharpies. For this lesson we referred back to a project we did at the beginning, where we transformed five words about ourselves into different lines.  We used those lines as inspiration, repeating them on the masks.

 

 

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Lynwood Students Build Sculptures and Learn Pattern and Form

 

 

 

 

As part of Youth in Arts’ Arts Unite Us program at Lynwood Elementary in Novato, Pre-K to 2nd grade students worked with Mentor Artist Cathy Bowman to practice identifying and building with different shapes.

Cathy explains, “We used circles, squares, and rectangles to make 3-dimensional sculptures. This was a great way to reinforce geometric patterns that they are learning at school.”

Students used regular glue mixed with cornstarch to create an extra-sturdy bond that enabled shapes to “stand up” on the mat board base. Together, Cathy and her students worked through creative solutions to challenges such as balancing forms exactly the way they wanted them to sit.

Taking inspiration from artists such as Louise Nevelson, students finished their projects with monochromatic painting the following week.

“We used white or black paint to finish their sculptures,” Cathy says. “We used our paint brushes carefully to get into all the corners.

“The following week, students made observational drawings.  We looked carefully and closely at our shapes to draw what we see instead of what they think is there. After we used thick, water-soluable pencils, we applied a bit of water to make the lines come alive. This was a great way to practice using brushes gently – like a cat’s tail. We finished by writing our names at the bottom.

The lesson continued the next week with students practicing color mixing with tempera paint in red, blue and yellow and  creating paintings of their shape sculptures.

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Exploring Identity through Lines and Patterns at Novato H.S.

As part of Youth in Arts’ Arts Unite Us program, students at Novato High School explored identity with Mentor Artist Cathy Bowman. The 10-week residency kicked off with personal exploration, creating abstract self portraits using emotive and descriptive lines and shapes. The project was a fun and engaging way to asses where each of our new students was at and acted as a safe introduction to self-portraiture. By using materials that students were used to and tapping into our human love of doodling, we were able to start building a vocabulary around what a portrait and art can be.


We began by coming up with a list of five adjectives to describe ourselves – these adjectives could describe the things we liked, who we imagined ourselves to be, or what we were good at. Then we turned each word into a line by asking ourselves: “What kind of line is “curious”? What kind of line is “awesome”? How do we draw “grumpy”?” We explored these questions and more, thinking about the characteristics that we associate with certain words and what they might look like in our everyday lives. We then started our drawings by sketching in pencil as we brainstormed the visual meaning of each word we had chosen. For the final project using gold and silver Sharpies and black canvas boards, we made patterns using our lines. Some of us covered the entire canvas with linear patterns while others worked in a more freeform and organic way. We talked about issues of identity and what we choose to reveal about ourselves in our work and in our everyday lives.

 

Through the California Department of Education’s Student Support and Academic Enrichment (SSAE) Grant that Marin County Office of Education received, we are in multiple Special Day Classrooms. This residency is one of the programs that have benefitted from this collaboration.

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Clay Sculptures

 

 

 

Students at Short Elementary School in San Rafael made clay sculptures inspired by the work of artist Monir Farmanfarmaian. Inspired by curriculum provided the Kennedy Center, students looked at patterns in art. Like Farmanfarmaian, they worked with geometric shapes. We continued our discussion of patterns from a previous project and how to make patterns (a shape that repeats itself). Using air dry clay, students added color by coloring the clay with markers. We formed large shapes and pressed them into mat board. Then we made patterns using shiny paper, beads and found objects in the shapes of circles, ovals, triangles, squares and other forms. It was great to watch a short film about Farmanfarmaian and learn about her work! We finished the project with a reflection in which each student presented to the entire class.

 

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Paper Sculptures at Short Elementary School

As part of Youth in Arts’ Arts Unite Us program, Mentor Artist Cathy Bowman and students at Short Elementary School in San Rafael explored color, cutting, and three-dimensionality by making shape sculptures inspired by glass artist Dale Chihuly. We began by cutting a single piece of paper into three pieces, and then used oil pastels to add pattern to our cut pieces. We followed the oil pastels with watercolors, practicing and learning about the wax resist method by painting over the pastel to add more color. Once everything was dry, we completed the sculpture by cutting notches in our newly-designed paper pieces so everything fit together in a three-dimensional form. Together, we found that balancing our sculptures against gravity was the most challenging part, and it was a fun way to learn how to do it. The lesson built on previous lessons exploring pattern and shape, and continued to help develop and practice fine motor skills.

Thank you to the Kennedy Center, Marin Community Foundation, and Marin County Office of Education for making this program possible.