Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Organic Sculptures

A found sculpture
 During my recent trip to Maine, we discovered an out of the way area at the top of a very high mountain where you could see for 360 degrees around you.  It was a gorgeous view.  One of the interesting things about the site was all these little rock sculptures that people had assembled in the low ground cover along the parking area as well as in some of the clearings.  I wish I had taken more photos to share with you but here are a few.  Everywhere you looked were these small flat geometric rocks that could easily stack into towers.  We gathered a handful with little effort.
My sculpture

Our group sculpture

Wonder what you might find on your summer adventures that  you might could use to build a natural sculpture?  Check next time you are at the beach or hiking along the trails or even out in your backyard!!  Build you own sculpture and if you can, take a picture of it OR draw it.  I'd love for you to share what you make with me!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Lets talk native species...

posing for the photo
Hello wonderful students.  We are about half way through our summer break.  I hope you have been doing a lot of interesting things and are enjoying your summer break.  I just returned from several days vacationing in Western Maine in the area of Rangeley, Maine.  It was beautiful with its tall mountains and evergreens  I had two quest for my vacation, I wanted to see a Loon and a Moose.  Both are native to that area of the Northeast and I was hoping my chances would be good to succeed in seeing them.  We saw our first moose enroute to the cabin in Maine.  We were driving along Hwy 17 in New Hampshire when one stepped out into the road in front of us.  I spotted it ahead and stopped the car in time to avoid hitting it but we were disappointed because it was too late in the evening and dark to get any pictures.  Later we learned that the multiple cars we'd seen pulled off on the shoulders of the roadway with flashlights shining into the trees should have been an indicator that moose were in the area.

 On the second day we were there, we decided we wanted to have lunch by the ocean.  We were on the western side of the state so this meant driving several hours to get to the coast.  We lunched on a peninsula north of Freeport Maine and enjoyed wonderful fresh seafood and views of the Atlantic.  While shopping in Freeport later in the day, we came across a small shop selling moose antlers.  They were not cheap but I immediately envision their use in the Art room and wanted one.  Due to the price, I did not buy them but in regretted that decision as I drove back the several hours to the cabin in Rangeley.  The antlers and photographing a moose remained on my mind.  `

Loon at sunset taken with iPhone
Meanwhile, we spent our time cruising on Rangeley Lake where we spotted two pair of Loons.  These are beautiful birds that are very unique in their markings.  One pair was quite mischievous and dove into the water every time the boat was close enough for us to snap a photo.  We later encounter one of the male Loon who agreed to be photographed.  Unfortunately, my camera battery had gone dead and the photos I took with my iPhone do not show you the magnificence of these birds.
You can learn more about the loon at this page from National Geographic.  You will also be able to view a picture of a loon up close on the page.
We also were able to view a bald eagle with binoculars while out on the lake.  It was magnificent.  We saw the male but there was also a female and babies in the area.
Near our cabin were a number of deer which we enjoyed watching with their babies in the early morning.   One morning I counted three female with five small babies.  We also observed wild turkey with their new flock of little ones.

Our trip was winding down and soon it was time to return home.  We were disappointed that we still had not spotted a moose although we were pleased with all our other sightings.  I also continued to regret that I had not purchased to moose antler to bring into art class.  As we headed down the highway leaving town, I spotted a crudely lettered sign, antlers for sale and quickly turned into the driveway.  I was thrilled to be able to purchased this wonderful moose antler that I will be sharing with you when we return to school.  Maybe you might try adding a drawing of it to your sketchbook this summer.  A simple contour drawing would be fine.  Remember, the contour is a continuous line that shows the outline of an object.  You could also try to add some shading to show value or some texture.  Study the photo closely to examine the texture of the antler.  There a scrapes and groves where he has been in battle with another moose or may have scraped the bark off of a tree.  These antlers are shed as the moose grow in size and the moose are not harmed to take the antlers.
Moose on the side of the road in New Hampshire.
Back in the car we continued on our way home resolving to the fact, we had not seen a moose.  Upon entering Hwy 17 in New Hampshire, I was stuck behind a very old and smelly diesel bus and determined to pass it.  As I picked up speed to pass the bus, I watched another truck ahead of me slow and pull to the side of the road.  It was a moose!!!  We finally had our moose sighting.  I slowed down, pulled to the side of the road and this moose cordially allowed us to photograph him multiple times.  He was within six feet of the open window of the car as he continued to munch grass and allow us our photo shoot.  This was the highlight of our trip home.  To learn more about native Moose, click the link to National Geographic.

So what have you done this summer?  What have you seen?  Pay attention and don't let the world around you slip by unnoticed.  I'm wishing you many exciting sightings!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Build and Draw

This weeks challenge for you is to have some fun with you Legos or other type blocks and create something truly interesting, creative, and original.  Done that?  Now pull out some paper and a pencil and draw what you've made.  Try drawing it from different side and different views.  For those of you who learned perspective toward the end of the year, think about really concentrating on the perspective.  Everyone else, remember, Lego and other type blocks are shapes!!!  We can all create shapes so draw the shape, add other shapes and before you know it you will have completed your Lego creation.  Think about the drawing in the same way as when you built it....block by block.  And YES, I definitely want to see it.  Save it and share it with me when schools starts back up.  Use your sketchbook for the drawing if you'd like. I'm off for my first vacation in about 6 years beginning tomorrow.  Hope you are having a great summer, too!!!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Check this out!!!

Elmers, the glue people, just published a craft guide for the summer.  Lots of fun ideas to do at home with your family.  Click this link to download your own copy.  This is just one of the many projects you will find on the site.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Let's make some art - Art Class Opportunities

I went down the the Berkshire Arts Festival today and discovered the Renaissance Arts Center in Great Barrington.  It is physically located in the Jenifer House Shops on Stockbridge Road.  They run a year round arts institute for all ages.    Week five of their summer institute begins tomorrow with classes in collage for ages 5-7, Digital Photography for ages 11-14 as well as 13-15, a class called "Turn Styles" for ages 8 -10 described as exploration into Pop Art, Impressionism, Abstract, and Graffiti Art.  This place offers wonderful opportunities for you to explore new forms of art expression.  If you are looking for something new for the summer, click the link above and check them out.  This is another option for art making in the Berkshires.  Don't forget to follow opportunities at the Berkshire Museum, MASS MOCA Kidspace, and IS183 as well.  Happy summer, happy art making!!!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Making Art with the Sun

Finally, a gorgeous sun shiny day after yesterdays downpours.  I am thinking about the sun.  Today might not be the best day for this type of project but tomorrow is suppose to be less windy and should be perfect.  I usually try to do this project in the Spring with 2nd grade classes but this year, it just didn't happen. Summer is a perfect time to create your own sun prints and this is a fun family activity.  Adult assistance important with younger students.

Here is all you will need:
1 pkg of sun print  of nature paper (find at the museum, science stores, or          online)
1 piece of plexi glass (optional)
1 piece of recycled cardboard
1 bucket or dishpan of water (anything similar will work)
newspaper or other moisture absorbing paper

Collect the items you want to print.  Anything from nature is great but you can also use found objects from around the house.  If it will fit on the paper, you can make a print.  Assemble your print outside of the direct sun.  Make a cardboard, print paper, print object(s), plexi sandwich.  Head to the sun and let the magic happen.  This is really a science project linked with art making. The sun causes a chemical reaction to occur with the coating on the paper.  Read about what is happening scientifically here.  The print time will vary depending on the amount of sun exposure.   If it's a bright sunny day, your print will be ready for the water in less than 5 minutes.  The longer it is immersed in the water the brighter your whites and the darker the blue of the print.  If it is overcast, expose to the sun for up to 20 minutes.  You will know it is ready for the water when the unexposed parts of the paper turn white.  I stated the plexi was optional because the edges won't be as sharp without the plexi to weigh things down and light will seep under the edges of your object.  You will understand this better when you look at the images in this post.  Check out this Sun Printing site for project activity ideas after your prints have dried.  After you take the prints out of the water, lay them out to dry on the newspaper or other absorbent paper.  This will draw any excess water from the paper and will avoid water marks on your print.
Lights and darks made by applying elements
at different times.  Lighter elements on paper longer
fuzzy edges, lengthy time in water
Water marks left during drying time 

layering at different times and fuzzy edges
due to not using plexi