Friday, February 21, 2014

“Spirit Animals”: A Lesson in Aboriginal Pointillism and Color Theory

Last week, 3rd graders at JFK Elementary School in Jamaica Plain, MA got messy with paint creating spirit animals!  Since students have been studying ancient cultures and religions, teaching artist Iemanja Wells-Wingfield connected the art movement of Pointillism with Aborigine culture. To engage the students, she designed a project where students would get to experience this for themselves and create their own spirit animals using Aboriginal and pointillist elements.  

The class began by learning about color theory, first discussing primary vs. secondary colors, then learning about different color tones, warm vs. cool tones.  Do you know what optical mixing is? Well, the students at JFK Elementary learned that optical mixing is a technique that overlays colors on top of one another without mixing them.  They then discussed Aboriginal cultures and the painting technique of Pointillism, a style of painting using small dots of color to create a larger image.

Combining what they had learned, each student chose a spirit animal ranging from snakes to birds to dogs, bears, and even a lion.  One student wrote “My spirit animal is a swan because I am pretty and elegant.”  Another student wrote, “My spirit animal is a viper because I am fast and furious.”  Using black construction paper, the students created an outline of their animals. Students then chose a color scheme and, using cotton swabs, dabbed paint around the outline of their animal and filled in their animals with acrylic dots of paint using the pointillism technique.  Check out some of their work below!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Arabic Calligraphy at GPA

Middle school students at Gardner Pilot Academy in Allston have been spending time learning about Arabic calligraphy. Last week, they discussed the origins of Arabic calligraphy and practiced traditional writing techniques, using bamboo and ink.

After watching videos about graffiti artists and how they turn large wall spaces into public murals using text, the students began to recreate their own small versions of graffiti art using Arabic text. They learned how to write characters that spelled out their own names, and decorated their pieces using markers and glitter to create their own special logo!

In the next class, they were taught about Arabic art and history, and how it related to the culture. They looked at pieces of early and medieval Arabic art housed in the Metropolitan Museum, such as bowls or manuscripts that illuminated the art of calligraphy in these times and how it affected art and culture and the impacts it had. They then began to create their own patterns, using a connect-the-dots technique, which will be used on their final project, a big mural encompassing all the Arabic characters and techniques they have learned. Calligraphy is an art form that has a lot of potential, and is often overlooked. It is an ancient art form that is used for communication, and has led to important contributions to society – for example, a calligraphy class helped Steve Jobs to create the Apple computer, and if not for his calligraphy skills computers may not be what we know them as today. If these students continue their interest in the subject, who knows what they may be able to create!