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Elementary Art (K-5)

Art Week 4: 11/18-12/19/19
5th Grade: Realistic Shading

Since we're learning about the Renaissance this year, now's the time to learn shading!  Realistic art-making requires a subtle mastery of "value," that is, the usage of gradients between light and dark.  Graphite and charcoal are the best materials to use here because of how sensitive they are to pressure: press hard for dark values, light for lighter ones, and gradually increase or decrease pressure in order to create the crucial value "fade."  After a one-class shading practice, students either create a realistic drawing of human eye with Mr. See or of a different subject of their choice.

A fifth grade artist's realistic charcoal and pencil drawing of the human eye

4th Grade: West African Ritual Masks
All year, we are looking at how our worldview influences our art style.  In order to appreciate this, we are exploring artworks from various cultures.  West-African tribes, although diverse, share a common visual art heritage of making masks for ritual dances.  The masks are usually adorned with symmetrical patterns.  Hence, this week, we created our own masks using a common "tribal" color scheme and symmetry.  Students have the option of wearing the masks and creating their own dance if they're finished early by the end of the week.
A symmetrical mask made with inspiration coming from Sub-Saharan African ritual masks
3rd Grade: Zentangles

Continuing our journey through the Elements and Principles of Design, this week's element is Line and our principle is Pattern.  Any line, when repeated, can turn into a pattern.  In order to create our own interesting pattern designs, we're taking our cue from "zentangles," a popular style of improvisational doodling.  Students create a basic image and then color it, but not with solid colors - we use intricate layers of thin line patterns.  And we choose simple, contrasting color scheme to make sure our designs stand out.

A third grader's rendition of the Colorado Flag, but using intricate colorful ink line patterns for the design

2nd Grade: Hokusai's Great Wave
We're almost at the halfway point in our journey from realistic to abstract art!  As our work gets less realistic and more abstract, it also gets a little more "cartoony" and expressive.  For art history examples of such styles, look no further than Hokusai's famous Japanese prints from the early 1800's and Vincent Van Gogh's expressive "Post-Impressionist" paintings from the late 1800's.  Van Gogh was a huge fan of Japanese prints like Hokusai's, and was inspired by such works to allow his outlines to take on a more graphic, almost "cartoony" look.  Students create their own versions of either artist's most famous paintings and are given technique and style tips from Mr. See throughout the process.  Van Gogh students create Denver's skyline in the artist's famed "dash" style.  And Hokusai students attempt to emulate the artist's exact work, "The Great Wave," just like how art college students seek to copy the great masters.
A second grader's rendition of the famous Japanese print, Hokusai's "Great Wave"
1st Grade: Color-Mixing Lightbulbs
This week, first grade will master their usage of primary and secondary colors.  After a day of experimenting with color mixing, first grade art geniuses design an image using overlapping shapes.  Then, when painting these shapes, they're only allowed to use primary colors: red, yellow, and blue.  In the overlaps, artists discover how mixing primary colors will yield secondary colors: purple, orange, and green.  Mr. See leads all students through a light bulbs drawing, then invites students to try generating their own original overlapping designs as well.
A first grader's drawing of overlapping light bulbs, painted only with primary colors, revealing secondary colors in the overlapping space where the colors mix
Kindergarten: Henri Matisse Flowers

So far this year in Art, we have started learning how to use warm and cool colors separately.  But what happens when you scatter warm and cool colors together across the page?  It's really hard to pull off, but some artists put warm and cool colors all over the place while still making their designs stand out!  Henry Matisse is the true master of this.  We looked at lots of flower paintings and other works to inspire our own more skillful, creative usage of warm and cool colors this week.  Students create a flower still life drawings and then color them by allowing warm and cool colors to decorate the same shapes.  Mr See shows students how to keep this process organized in order to make our designs striking and visually readable.

A Kindergarten artist's rendition of flowers in the brightly colorful style of Henri Matisse

Theme for the Year: FIND YOUR STYLE!
Every school year, Mr. See uses a different theme in order unite and inspire the different artworks and projects we engage with throughout.  This year's theme is "FIND YOUR STYLE."  Starting by showing students some of his own personal and professional artwork, Mr. See will take students on a journey from merely learning art skills to applying them in personally meaningful ways.  Students will see how Mr. See learned from different kinds of art making in order to find his own art style.  Similarly, students will make a year of art projects that successively build a variety of art skills.  Using these new skills, students finish the school year with a project called "D.Y.O.P" ("design your own project").  Each student will offer this artwork as a response to this idea: "I learn from every style in order to create my own."
A Mr. See original illustration of a bee and a butterfly perched on a baseball glove in the grass
Elements, Principles, and Beyond
Besides having lots of creative fun and making memories, our students' main takeaways from Mr. See's art class will be how to use the elements and principles of design, that is, a traditionally tested and accepted set of building blocks and sensibilities that visual artists have been using to make art throughout the ages.  Each grade engages and applies these building blocks of art in an age-appropriate fashion that builds upon learning from previous years in Mr. See's art class.  And once students advance to 4th and 5th grade, they start venturing beyond these basics by grappling with how the elements and principles are used differently and diverse historical, cultural contexts.  See the below table for more specific info on each grade level's learning this year.


The Power of Color and Line!

We will focus on two main art-making skills: how to make different kinds of (neat) lines and how to use warm & cool colors.


How to Build a Picture

We'll gradually use the main ingredients of ART more and more independently all year: warm & cool colors, complementary colors, color mixing, shapes, lines, and patterns.


From Realistic to Abstract

There's a diverse spectrum of art style -- each genre uses the elements of design very differently.  Each one has something to offer as we develop our own personal styles.


Visual Language: the Elements and Principles of Art

Art styles are languages, each using the elements and principles of design differently to communicate.  Let's practice the elements and principles so we can understand and create visual languages.



Culture and Worldview in Art

The world is FULL of different visual languages!  Let's explore various cultures of art in order to discover how different beliefs and values effect our style (that is, our usage of the elements and principles).



Renaissance, Technique, and Finding your Voice

The Renaissance is a dramatic example of everything we've already learned: worldview fuels art style and art skills.  As we explore this era, let's push our usage of art media to new depths.  This will give us new tools for maturing our own personal art styles.


The Elements and Principles

To varying degrees across all grade levels, Mr. See often refers back to this poster displayed in his classroom. It helps provide examples for how to use the basic building blocks and principles of art-making.
A poster displaying the elements and principles of design

Grading in Mr. See's Art Class

We always get two grades per week in Art: a participation grade and a project grade. The participation grade is based upon the student's adherence to AA Manners and Character as summarized by Mr. See's five main rules: Be Productive, Be Respectful, Be Positive, Be Gentle, and Be Responsible. The project grade is always comprised of 52 points for honest effort, plus 10 points per each of whatever four basic steps that week's project entailed.
For both participation and project grades, a 92/100 indicates a "perfect" score in that the student met all expectations. Scores lower than 92 reflect either a rule that was repeatedly broken or an incomplete step on a project. Scores exceeding 92 reflect extra helpful participation and extra skill and thorough work on projects. This info is all elaborated somewhat on Infinite Campus wherever you view your art genius' grade. If you have any questions or comments on this, please email Mr. See