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.
Incredible 3-D Art
“At the age of six I wanted to be a cook. At seven I wanted to be Napoleon. And my ambition has been growing steadily ever since.” — Salvador Dali
Just like Salvador Dali, our students are still experimenting and deciding what they might want to be when they grow up. It is our job to guide them, mentor them, and let them explore their creativity. We are getting toward the end of the year but there is still enough time to have your students create some incredible 3-D projects. There are so many ways to incorporate 3-D art into our curriculum, from bas and high relief to recyclables and clay.
It’s Rhyme Time in the Art Room. Michele Parris from Cotee River Elementary in Pasco County, Fla., offers us this little tip: she uses two rhymes for her 3-D units. They help explain 3-D and utilitarian art, and she teaches them right before they do functional clay projects/sculptures. “Utilitarian art is art we can use…like vases, teapots, and quilts for a snooze! Sculptures are tall, deep, and wide … you can see them from every side!” She adds posters that show pictures of these types of items.
Frank Gehry: What an Inspiration! Frank Gehry has always been one of my favorite architects because of his organic shapes. After studying his designs, my students have been excited to make Gehry-inspired slab houses, corrugated cardboard pieces of furniture and abstract pieces of clay sculpture.
Sculptural Bookmaking. Students of all ages can get into the act of sculptural bookmaking. The art teachers in my county have been so fortunate to know and be inspired by Ann Ayers and Ellen McMillan, two high school teachers (now retired) who authored the book Sculptural Bookmaking. Passionate about art, teaching, sharing and bookmaking, these two phenomenal educators have excited and motivated us to make books with students of all ages. This year, my students have made tunnels books, pop-up books, and even a book made into a designer purse!
Box it! Louise Nevelson has always been one of my favorite sculptors and, many years ago, I thought it would be fun to have my second-graders do an assemblage project. After introducing the kids to Nevelson’s unique style, they couldn’t wait to try one of their own.
Each student (about 100 or so second-graders) brought in a shoebox and anything small that was made out of cardboard, paper or wood (plastic does not hold the paint well). They used white glue to assemble their objects and, when the glue was dry, I spray-painted them all black. They look amazing, but the best part of this project was stapling them to a bulletin board and having them displayed as one large sculpture.
Recycle This! Everybody drinks water these days and instead of throwing out those water bottles and having them end up in a landfill, keep them, paint them, and make some incredible flower bouquets or Chihuly-inspired ceilings!
To make the 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 stripes or polka dots, or have them do 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. This should give you 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.) 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 bottle bottoms and the students add colored pipe cleaners. We have used these as centerpieces by gluing the neck of the bottle on to a cardboard or plastic cone. The cones can be decorated as well.
For a ceiling, just use monofilament to attach the bottles to the ceiling. Other organic shapes can be incorporated into the design as well.
Happy Birthday to Keith Haring (May 4, 1958), Salvador Dali (May 11, 1904), Henri Rousseau (May 21, 1884), Franz Kline (May 23, 1910), and Alexander Archipenko (May 30, 1887).
Thank you to Michele for her great tips, and to Ann and Ellen for their inspiration!
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.
ATTENTION READERS If you would like to share some of your teaching tips, email them to: [email protected]