Thursday, October 1, 2009

Abstract Composition

Every grade has been working on this short unit on abstract composition the past two weeks. I don't usually do the same unit across the grade levels, but this one is quick and every grade has LOVED it and been very successful. This is our first art unit this year using recycled materials; for this unit we incorporated them as tools for art-making!

There are two simple steps:
1. Arrange a composition by tracing the bottle caps using markers. Students are encouraged to make choices about what size caps they will use, whether the circles will be separate, touching, overlapping, inside or outside, or even going off the page. They can also choose whether or not they will make their composition symmetrical or asymmetrical, or even draw just a partial circle.
2. Add more color, detail, design and pattern to the composition by coloring with construction paper crayons. Students could color inside, outside, around, and on top of the circles, add other lines, shapes and patterns, etc. It's important to encourage the children to push hard with the crayons so that the colors are more vivid.
The only rule is that students did not make anything "recognizable" like a person, place, animal, car, etc. since they were doing an entirely abstract composition.
This unit is great for a number of reasons. One, it ties in with our Eco-friendly art theme for the year, and two, it allows for a LOT of creative self-expression and individual problem-solving. I can't even begin to describe the beautiful variety of the work! The students felt such a sense of ownership over their assignment!
The artwork I'm showing here was created by students K-5th grade! Every grade was super successful!
I modified the unit for grades 3-5 (and some 2nd grade classes) so that the assignment is a little more challenging. We reviewed cool colors (greens, blues and purples) and warm colors (reds, oranges, and yellows.) Then, we discussed how they are opposites of one another and when placed against each other, they have a lot of contrast. In other words, these colors placed next to each other really "POP"! Students were directed to choose the color paper they wanted, and then figure out which color family (warm or cool) that it belongs to. Then, students had to use only colors from the opposite color family. For example, if a student used a blue paper (part of the cool family) then they could only use warm colors on their paper.
We are working on artistic concentration (which means staying on task and working quietly) so that we can get more work done in a short amount of time. The past two weeks, we listened to music during work time (to help us focus on the creative vibe), and practiced silent communication skills. Students were nodding their heads to the beat, and really focused well and used their time wisely! This also challenged the students working with warm or cool colors to figure out whether or not each color on their table was warm or cool without help from me or one another. When the students realized they could solve the problem on their own (by looking up the colors on the color wheel) they felt good about it! Totally engaging, fun and creative! What a wonderful week!


TeachKidsArt said...

Hi Katie - I was just wondering what brand of construction paper crayons you use.... Crayola seems to have discontinued theirs! Thanks, Cheryl

Katie Gonzalez said...

We do use the Crayola Construction Paper Crayons, the 16 color classpack. I LOVE them! I just checked Sax Arts and Crafts, and they appear to have them in stock. I hope they aren't being discontinued! If so, I guess I will be stocking up... Let me know if that info. is correct!

Debbie Weymouth said...

I'm so excited to see this creative use of the bottle caps we've been collecting. Can't wait to show my co-workers who have been faithfully recycling and sharing!

Beth said...

What a positive and encouraging post! I love reading about your successes this week!

Miss Tabarcea said...

I love these! They're absolutely wonderful. I think I have to start a bottle cap collecting campaign!

Mr. Ted Edinger said...

I hope you don't mind....I'm going to go ahead and add you to my list of art ed blogs! I like what I see happening in your classroom!! Also...odd...I sing..and collect turtles!!!!!! Maybe it is just an art teacher thing! ha ha

Megan Kimball said...

These are awesome. I am working on an abstract unit with 3rd grade, as we have just worked with symmetry and asymmetry. I am going to try something similar. Thanks for the inspiration!

Marta said...

Great blog and great work!
We ask you for permission for adding yourselves to the blog of art of our school (Barcelona):

Many happiness!

Marta said...

So thanks very much! You are welcome too to add our blog to your list.


creativemom said...

this is awesome. Love that you use bottle caps instead of a circle template or compass Super idea! We love those construction paper crayons. They really have a great look! :)


Lauren Taylor, Art Instructor said...

Wow, Mrs. G! This is absolutely awesome!!! I love the focus on composition and the super great selection of color. And, of course, the fact recycled products were involved! :) Great job students and super art teacher!