Tried & True Tips for Art Teachers is a monthly roundup of advice and wisdom
from fellow art teachers, put together by the intrepid Glenda Lubiner.
In the Flow …
“There are no straight lines or sharp corners in nature. Therefore, buildings must have no straight lines or sharp corners.” — Antoni Gaudi
We have almost made it through another school year with many highs and lows, celebrations, and tragic events. We have learned, shared, and experimented. And now we must say good-bye to another school year and another great group of kids!
In the month of June we celebrate World Environment Day on June 5, which brings us to our focus for this month. The end of the year brings to this column: recycling tips, art projects about the environment, animals and life in and around the water.
Colorful Clay Coral Reefs. Third-grade students in Emily Deacon’s art class at Franklin Academy Pembroke Pines have been learning about coral reefs and ceramics. They have created their own 3D reef sculpture while learning about the importance of coral reefs in the ecosystem and why it important to keep the oceans of the world healthy and clean.
Totally Totems. Totem poles can be made in a variety of ways, from recycled materials to paper towel rolls, clay to cardboard, two-dimensional or three. Not only can this be a great recycling lesson, but also you can teach history, sculpture, social studies, and of course art. And, when you add animal faces you are also teaching science. Think of the endless possibilities. You can even create totems as abstract as Louise Nevelson’s. You can make them stand or even hang them from the ceiling.
Got Water? Well, how about water bottles? Chihuly-inspired centerpieces can be made from water or soda bottles. To make flowers just take a plastic bottle, cut off the bottom, and paint the outside with bright colored acrylic paint (remember that the neck of the bottle will be the center of the flower). I sometimes have my students add polka dots or a gradation of colors.
When the paint is dry, cut strips about 1.5 inches wide from the bottom to about a half-inch from the neck—you should have about five or six “petals.” My students then round off the edges and pull the petals to make them curve outward. I usually have them put two bottles together, one inside the other. We hot glue them together.
To make the inside part of the flower (the ovary, stigma, stamens, etc.), I have the students paint the bottom of the bottle and trim the edges a bit to make it look more organic.
I drill holes in the center of the bottom of the bottles and the students add colored pipe cleaners. We have used them as centerpieces by gluing the neck of the bottle on to a cardboard or plastic cone. The cones can be decorated as well. To hang them from the ceiling, just use monofilament to attach the bottles. Other organic shapes can be incorporated into the design as well.
In the Flow with H2O. Have students do research on artists who use a water theme within their artwork. In their sketchbooks, have them reinvent a piece of art that their artist has created. Once the sketch is completed, one great way for the students to create a painting is to make the artwork three-dimensional.
Have the students draw their designs on corrugated cardboard or cut-up boxes. The students will then add pieces of cardboard to give it the 3D look. I would suggest no more than four layers of cardboard. When the glue is dry, have them paint it with acrylic paint. The result is beautiful.
Gone Fishin’. Another great recycle project I did many years ago was 3D fish made from recycled 2-liter soda bottles. The neck of the bottle becomes the fish mouth. All you do is cut off the bottom of the bottle, then cut and shape the tail.
Once that was done, I had my kids use black Sharpie® markers on the outside to add details, eyes, scales, gills or just some great designs … some even added some Zentangle designs. They then painted the inside of the bottles with acrylic paint.
If you want these to be sun catchers, the students can use colored Sharpies to paint the inside. When all the paint was dry, we stapled the back of the body by the tail and hung them from the ceiling with monofilament.
Happy Birthday to Maurice Sendak (June 10, 1928), Julia Margaret Cameron (June 11, 1815), Nicolas Poussin (June 15, 1594), Magdalena Abakanowicz (June 20, 1930) and Antonio Gaudi (June 25, 1852).
Thank you Emily for your great tip.
Arts & Activities Contributing Editor Glenda Lubiner (NBCT) teaches art at Franklin Academy Charter School in Pembroke Pines, Fla. She is also an adjunct professor at Broward College.
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