Thursday, February 21, 2008

Art Lesson - Scientific Clouds/Imaginative Clouds

I did this lesson with Wesley's fifth grade class of 26 last week.

They were studying the weather, and magically on the Wednesday before the art lesson I got the idea while studying with Wesley for his test.

For the first part we used blue construction paper, and black and white tempra paint. (I also explained about "achromatic" and "monochromatic", just to throw a little art vocabulary in.) We talked about the different types of clouds - cirrus, cumulus, cumulonimbus, and stratus. I had some photo examples to look at. We painted the cirrus with a stiff larger dry brush, trying to make them as wispy as possible, just in white. Then we added a little bit of black to the cumulus. With the thunderhead, cumulonimbus, I tried to have them make a more contrasting cloud. The stratus was a little difficult to figure out, but it was basically more of a mix of grey.

This class hasn't had a lot of tempra painting lately, so I wanted to do some of that. And I notice they really still need to experiment with this paint. I did get them to mix more on the paper, instead of just mixing their pallette into a big mess. That was a good lesson for them. Although it seems that a lot don't know when to stop with the mixing, even on paper. A lot came up with more grey, no matter how many times I said to get clean paint and stop mixing once and a while. This is why I think they just need some more practice with this technique.

Wesley's turned out pretty good, and since he has a lot of experience in painting, he seems to know when to stop.

After the scientific part I wanted them to do an imaginary cloud. We even talked a little about what they see in the clouds as we were painting the first clouds, to get them thinking creatively about it. For the imaginary clouds I let them add one color to their black and white, making a monochromatic version. I first thought that I would give them a little guidance with this, but as I was handing out the colored paint, many were starting. And after the guided painting of the scientific clouds, I just felt they should be free to experiment on their own. Well I probably should've guided them a bit more during this. I did show them a version that I had whipped up, a poodle cloud. Because what's more cloud like than a poodle?

They really had some good ideas about the clouds, but I think they just had a hard time making these ideas transform from their mind onto paper. Or some would have a really cool looking cloud, then before you knew it, they had mixed the thing all up, completely changing the image. And usually not for the better. But I guess they were experimenting, and that is just as good for them. They did get more experience and that's really what they need.

I'm just so used to a lot of my projects coming out with a wonderful product. This was more process orientated. And kids love that. At least a few had a good product, as well as process. We adults just usually like the product to be good. And I think we should have fun with the process, forgetting the product, just sometimes!

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