Over the last six weeks we have been experimenting and exploring colour through paint. Moving slowly and deliberately through one colour a week – mixing colours – experimenting with colour shape and pattern – looking at how the colours work alongside each other, on top of each other. We have created cave paintings, dyed paintings, monochrome painting, colour mixing painting, wax resist paintings, giant paintings, pattern paintings and collaborative paintings. I had suggested to the Senior Infants that this week we would maybe move onto another material – but they all wanted to continue with painting! So be it!
So as we had not experimented with different tools and techniques for applying paint we were going to experiment with different size brushes, gestures, actions and plastic knives. But this week with a figurative theme. We had just heard that the St.Patrick’s Day Parades all across the country were to be cancelled so we were going to paint our own parade. We talked about what might be in a parade – looked at some photos from last year’s parade to get some ideas. We noticed that the main colours in the parade were the colours of the Irish flag – green, white and orange – and we know how to mix lots of different greens! So we’ll be grand!
So here our the beautiful parade paintings from Senior Infants! Check out the Lord Mayor on his carriage with horses and the giant fish, the crowds of people, the dancers, the street and St.Patrick leading the parade!
This week we worked on group paintings – giant paintings – so big they covered the whole table! To give us a structure I had divided one of the canvases into smaller spaces and shapes using masking tape. So each group – around a table added masking tape in lines to divide up their canvas. The idea was that each space would be a different colour. As Senior Infants are now master colour mixers this was no problem to them! A flurry of mixing and painting and the canvases were covered in a rainbow of colours.
But that was only the first part for today. The next part was to add a pattern on top in another colour. So we looked at each space and decided what colour would work well, be a contrast or different to the other colour. We had quick chat about different patterns – and if we needed ideas we looked at our socks! Always good inspiration for patterns!
Wow! Oh Wow! When we excitedly removed the tape we had these fantastic paintings of colour and pattern.
After break we had a look more closely at one of the paintings – picking out what we could see in the painting. We discovered landscapes, countries, roads, cars, faces – a whole world of images in the painting that we had not even planned on putting there! Lovely discussion. And what amazed me was how long we talked about the painting that they had only just completed and that the children did not just pick out sections they had painted. Lovely morning as always with Ms.O’Connell’s Senior Infants!
Each painting is 120cm X 120cm on canvas.
With the school closed last week and then the mid term break it seemed like ages since I had seen the Senior Infants and the 4th Class group. We had no opportunity to discuss the exhibition visit before the day of the visits. So it was with great excitement the Senior Infants arrived and we had a quick refresh on some rules in the gallery around not touching the artworks, not running, not shouting….general gallery and library rules and most importantly listening to each other and their ideas on the artworks we were looking at. We also remembered the last exhibition they had visited at the Lexicon. It is good for the students to be aware that the exhibitions change regularly and they can also see how the gallery changes depending on the artwork that is on show.
Our Colours – Artworks from the dlr County Collection is an exhibition of over 30 artworks from the Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Collection – including new works to the collection that have not been exhibited together before. I wanted to highlight to both groups the diversity or range of artworks in different mediums (eg. painting, drawing, sculpture, photography etc.), different subject/ imagery (eg. portrait, landscape, abstract etc.), 2D and 3D and different sizes and scales. Most of the artists in the exhibition have a connection to Dún Laoghaure – they may live here or studies here or have moved here.
We had some great conversations deciphering the artworks and also linked what we were looking at with what we are working on back in the classroom. So for example with Anita Groener’s large three part painting the Senior Infants discussed the colours the artist used to create the painting. The 4th Class looked at the centre of the painting wondering whether it was a human figure with some animal parts and whether it was coming towards us or going back into the painting.
In looking at Bassam Al Sabbah’s series of small artworks on a pink shelf we wondered if they were portraits of the same young boy through his life. Students in each class identified the writing on the painting as Arabic so we talked about how this artist was from Iraq and this was his language. We wondered if they were his family, if they were in a war because one man looked like he was wearing a soldier uniform.
In looking at Mark Grainier’s photographic image of an upturned car the conversation of whether it was art if it was a photograph was discussed. One student pointed out that the artist may have set up the scene to take the photograph so he was an artist.
Each class then did a workshop in the Project Room after the exhibition visit. Senior Infants made beautiful stained glass artworks using coloured cellophane on sheets of acetate. 4th Class made sun catchers using the coloured cellophane on old CDs and then suspended from sticks. With the reflective surface of the cds we did a little bit of light projection on the ceiling and around the walls. So busy I did not get many images unfortunately.
Brilliant morning with Senior Infants and 4th Class! Great art chats and beautiful artworks made in a very busy morning!
This week we were bringing together the elements of drawing, line shape and beginnings of form that we had been exploring over the previous weeks. But we were going to link them with our conversations about the zodiac, star constellations and mythological and half man/ half animal – or centaurs. Everyone was going to develop their own mythological creature. We looked at a few examples from ancient history and from around the world….loking at the similarities and different characteristics and styles.
Working first in drawing to develop the creatures. We then transferred these to cut paper shapes so that when we try to make them in papier mache we can identify the forms and shapes needed and how they will be connected. These also created lovely silhouettes as an aside. After break we began working with newsprint to create forms that will become the bodies of our creatures. We scrunched, wrapped and rolled and packed together the newsprint and taped it up so it became tightly bound. Just getting going! All to be continued next week!
This week was the week for mixing colours….a whole rainbow of tones, hues and new shades. Each group began with one of the primary colours plus another colour. So the four tables began with:
Blue + White
Blue + Black
Blue + Red
Blue + Yellow
Working on strips of paper each began with blue – add the second colour and add another stripe…..sounds confusing….once we got going there was no stopping the colour explorations and colour explosions! We talked about how some colours are stronger than others – so black would take over the blue so only using small amounts of black. And blue would take over white so maybe start with white and add small drop of blue.
As they were mixing the students were telling us the colours they were making with Lainey exclaiming – “I made foxy orange”. She had indeed made a foxy orange! What a great idea – we would invent names for the colours we had mixed – brilliant! After break the students looked closely at the colours and then gave us the names – so here is our new palette of colours -great fun! We were wondering should we go to a paint company with the new colour names……
A very enthusiastic 4th class met me this week! some of the class had done their homework – that was some star spotting – trying to find the Orion Constellation in the night sky – well spotted!
Straight into working on the dot mobiles we had begun last week to create a moving drawing in space. Using dots/ circles cut from card and suspended from different levels of sticks. I introduced silver/ gold card so this would bring in elements of light and reflection. Some students added on to their ones from last week and some began new pieces. Everyone got busy – cutting, punching, tying, knotting and taping. Just before break we brought them outside to observe the shadows they create. We hadn’t banked on it being so windy so while this created some beautiful moving shadows on the wall – unfortunately some of them got instantly tangled into knots!
After break we moved from 2d into thinking more 3d – manipulating shapes into form to contain space. I asked the question
What could you do with a paper square to change it?
After initial puzzlement…the suggestion came flooding – cut, tear, rip, fold, scrunch etc.
So then working in pairs the class experimented with all the actions they could take to change a paper square. Another busy session with good working together and building on each others ideas. Here’s the list of action words we compiled – and I would say there is more to be added!
Having focused on red and yellow ochre last week this week (by request from one student) we would be focusing on indigo this week. I began by looking at images of where blue pigment comes from – LAPIZ LAZULI comes from Afghanistan, found in rocks it is ground down to make a powder pigment – ultramarine. It is one of the most expensive colours in the world because it takes so much rocks to make just a little bit of pigment.
We also looked at INDIGO – natural indigo comes from plants in China and Vietnam. The leaves are rubbed together by hand – so people end up with blue hands – (like smurfs!) – mixed with water to create a deep blue dye that is used to colour the handmade fabric or material to a beautiful deep indigo. The longer the material is left in the indigo liquid the darker it gets. We looked at a patterned indigo fabric from Vietnam.
So now it was time to experiment with blue pigment on paper first – mixing it with water and then putting washes on top of each other building up to a rich dark blue……truly beautiful!
Looking again at the patterned material from Vietnam we looked at how the pattern was drawn on with wax before it was dyed – like batik or wax resist. So using oil pastels we drew patterns and pictures onto canvas – leaning heavy on the pastels so the lines were nice and thick. And then gently applied washes of indigo over the drawing and hey presto the lines and patterns reappeared! As if by magic!
So then after break we did the opposite – starting with indigo canvas we painted with white paint. It help explore the idea of opposites and reversing the colours. The indigo canvas is from an old Ikea blind so a lovely surface to paint on. Check out this beautiful cloud and a car in the snow!!!
Through focusing on drawing before building into construction I wanted to look at the idea of scale and static and moving drawings. So reflecting back on the previous session where we had used teeny tiny dots to begin our drawings and as the drawings grew in layers we then added light and shadow to create a moving live drawing.
This week we, each one of us was physically going to be a dot in the drawing….we would need to move out to the yard to upscale our drawings. As the winter light is so bright and also a low sun casting long shadows it was perfect conditions for this exercise! In groups of 5 students – each student had a turn to position their fellow student dots and using large chalks draw various lines connecting the dots. Building a layered drawing in human scale. A drawing that was somewhere between 2D and 3D….and also moving because of the shadows making it ephemeral (to be explained next week) – but captured through the images above.
We then tried to make the biggest longest shadow as a class group and then bunched right in so we were the smallest shadow dot we could be. Then each group made one shadow shape from their group. Some strange shadowy many headed animals began to emerge!
After break we looked at some star constellations that the class could look out for in the night sky. This was to explore the idea of macro drawing – huge drawing – connecting dots in the universe – out of this world!
Then back to physical dots and lines we began making simple mobiles – focusing on range of circles/ dots and lines of thread and stick. We will return to these next week as we kind of ran out of steam!
Here’s Orion, The Hunter Constellation.
This week we travelled back in time to use the art materials that the cave people would have used 1000s of years ago. We looked again at the image of the cave painting from France – talking about the colours and where they might have got their paints? There were no art shops so they had to make their own paints. But from what? Looking closely at the browns, reds and yellows we thought they looked a bit like mud or rocks. So we talked about how they might have mixed them into paints – breaking the rocks up smaller using other rocks until they were like a powder they could mix with water or animal fat. We looked and smelled the pigments – red ochre and yellow ochre.
We also talked about how they might have put the paint on – Aurora thought they used spray paint because of the splashes. So I explained how sometimes they put the paint in their mouth and sprayed it out onto their hands on the cave wall. And also how they made their own brushes from natural things they found around them – oh like panda sticks one suggested as we looked at the bamboos I brought in for making brushes, and some bristly hair!
Working on canvas lots of animals, people and patterns began to appear in the cave paintings – including a lovely pair of flamingos!
We used some beetroot juice to mix some lovely pink colours and also tried some charcoal hand drawing, mixing the charcoal with the paint creating darker purples and browns.
Lovely work Senior Infants!
First week back with Ms.Gorman’s 4th Class – lots of familiar faces and one or two new faces. We have decided that we will work on construction over the coming weeks. But I was going to start by breaking construction down – what do you start with? We discussed how a cube for example is made up of squares on each side. Squares are made up of lines. Lines are made up of dots or points. So everyone on their paper plotted ten dots. Then explored the different ways they could join these dots – directly and indirectly. With ten more dots we added a layer to the drawing using pen this time. For the next layer on the drawing using a hole punch we got ten dots to stick on top of the drawing. Now to connect these using the black card as the lines.
There was an explosion of ideas in the classroom as the drawings expanded up, around, weaving under, bridging over, linking through, twisting, arching, bending, folding and even using the holes in the paper to thread thin paper lines through. Fantastic!
As I began to take photos of the artworks we noticed the low sunlight of the cold January afternoon was casting long shadows which became another layer in our drawings. And some even created moving drawings moving the artwork in the sunlight so the shadows moved in waves.
Here’s Mya’s moving Expanded Drawing:
Great work 4th Class!