So this summer, I was lucky enough to receive a $300 grant from the Wisconsin Art Education Association/Handweavers Guild for a fibers project. I chose to do a snow-fence weaving with some fabric. I was intrigued by Janet Echelman's work. She is an American artist who was rejected from seven different art schools but never gave up. She painted for ten years before winning a grant to go to India to make art. While there, she made a large installation out of the local fisherman's nets. She then began to create large and larger works of art. They now are oftentimes seen in large, crowded areas. They are currently trying to get the finds to have one placed in Times Square right now, actually. The sculptures are really interesting because they are made out of a light netting that catches the breeze. So when the wind blows, it's almost as if you can see the wind as it ripples through the netting.
For the students, I bought blue, purple, and green fabrics. We talked about how these colors were called "cool" colors and that they had a calming effect on people's moods. Yes, I may be trying to do a little subliminal mood altering in m classroom! The kids worked on weaving into the snow fencing for three or four class periods. I asked them to start out weaving one direction and after they had finished, they could weave the other direction. Each class had 6 squares of fence that were 4x4 feet.
After they finished, I have begun to install them in the classroom. I have been hanging them from the ceiling and twisting and turning them so that they create interesting forms, like Ms. Echelman's work.
Like the second graders, the first graders also learned about Piet Mondrian so if you read my post about the second grade Mondrian project, some of this might sound familiar. This is a project that I got from Tasha Newton, a teacher I long-term subbed for, who does it with her students and I instantly fell in love with it.
For our second project of the year, we learned about my favorite artist, Piet Mondrian! Mondrian was a Dutch painter who lived from 1872 to 1944. He was a leader of the artistic movement 'de stijl.' "Mondrian, and the artists of De Stijl, advocated pure abstraction and a pared down palette in order to express a utopian ideal of universal harmony in all of the arts. (www.theartstory.org)"
Mr. Mondrian is known for only using the primary colors (red, yellow, and blue). He also only use straight vertical and horizontal lines which created squares and rectangles. No diagonals! These were the focus of our lessons. We began class by watching OK GO's music video The Primary Colors. Then we watchedBroadway Boogie-Woogie (named after and inspired by one of Mondrian's paintings). The kids loved theBoogie-Woogie video! And if they were super quick cleaners at the end of class, we watched it a second time.
Throughout the lesson I stressed the primary colors and how they were the building blocks to all the other colors. You cannot mix any two colors together to make a primary color. You have to go to Walmart or another store to buy them! The kids caught on pretty quickly to the primary colors.
Then we turned our attention to vertical and horizontal lines. They seemed to struggle with this a bit more so it's something we're going to have to go back and review in a later project.
We started by drawing a small circle somewhere on the page. This acted as the center of our web. We then drew straight lines out from that circle, all the way to the edge of the paper. I then showed the kids that the webbing that went between those lines dipped, like a hammock between two trees. After they had finished drawing their web, they drew a big ole' black spider. I made sure to emphasize that spiders have one BIG body and one LITTLE head with eight legs. Next, the students had to use a black crayon to trace all of their web lines, as well as filling in their black spider. Then we got to paint! Painting is my favorite medium so it's something that I do often with my students. Students were expected to paint using red, yellow, and blue. They also could leave some of the webbing white, like Mr. Mondrian's work. Lastly, they could use some metallic beads that I had to glue them onto their spider as eyes!
This was a one day project that I really tried to push the students hard on. It was tough to finish the project in one day, and several students had to rush through their painting at the end. That being said, I am very happy with how they turned out!
Harmony and Consolidated Elementary Art Teacher in Milton, WI. UW-Eau Claire graduate. WAEA President. Apple Teacher.