Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Hand of the Artist

The end of the school year is approaching rapidly! This week many classes are having their second to last trip to the art room for the year. This project has been a PERFECT fit for a one day lesson to finish up the school year before we assemble and take home portfolios.

We approached this as an expressive self portrait of the artist, using one of our most important art-making tools for inspiration - our hands. Students were asked to create a composition by tracing their hands, and building the design from there. I told them they could not add other elements like stars, hearts, people, etc. The students and I reviewed various color families that we learned about this year - primary, secondary, complementary, analogous, warm, cool, neutral, etc. Students could choose any colors they wanted, but I encouraged them to think about the different color groups to help them limit their color palette a bit. It can be tempting to just use all the colors in a project like this (not that there's anything wrong with that - that, of course, was a choice too!) I wanted to make sure that students were being really conscious of their color choices.

This project is really easy and simple and incredibly effective. It can be done in 30 minutes if necessary - though a slightly longer class period is preferable for more detailed designs. I have three trays set up in the middle of the room: one for washable markers, one for permanent markers, and one for crayons. For this project I got twistable crayons, and they have been AWESOME. They come in a great variety of colors, have lasted through many, many classes and allow the students more control when drawing.

I gave each student one coffee filter - this was their ticket to choose one material from each tray to start their design with. (Before drawing, students wrote their name and class info on the outer edge of their filter in pencil.) Students could trade out colors anytime, but could only have one item from each tray in their hand at any given time. With one package of Crayola Washable Super Tip Markers (50 pack) combined with one package of assorted Crayola wide-tip washable markers (12 pack) in one tray, one set of BIC Mark It Permanent Markers (36 pack) in another tray, and two packages of Crayola Mini Twistables Crayons (24 packs) in the third tray, the students could easily share and have their choice of many, many different shades of colors. I think the variety of color choice and materials really made the final products very rich. These materials in large quantities could be quite expensive, but I found that for this project, if I encouraged the students to use the materials responsibly, one set of each material could be shared between the whole class and last through many, many different uses. (24 classes, with 24-28 students each, have done this project so far, and only the very most popular marker colors are starting to dry out a bit.)
Before beginning, students and I discussed the properties of the three materials and predicted what would happen when each gets wet. I instructed students to put the washable materials near the non-washable materials. When sprayed, the washable marker will bleed, the crayon will resist the running ink, and the permanent marker will stay the same. The effect is really cool.

At the end of class, each filter was placed on a couple sheets torn out of the phone book and sprayed lightly with a spray bottle. Less is more here - too much water will wash away too much of the washable marker. A light spritzing is plenty. The phone book pages help absorb the extra water and keep the filters flat while on the drying rack.
I am seriously so in love with this simple lesson. I wish I could have put every single one on my blog.


Phyl said...

I have something planned with coffee filters for a week from now (we're still in school till June 24th). I love it how the simplest projects are often the most effective! Very cool!

artteachergirl said...

This I like very, very much!!! I am going to definitely do this next year! Tomorrow, thank goodness, is my last day of the year. Simple is usually the best even in art projects. Best, Vicki

Anonymous said...

This is wonderful. Will definitely be using this year.