Monday, May 23, 2016

Hundertwasser Inspired Architecture - Planning and Building

The eccentric Austrian architect and artist Hundertwasser (1928-2000), was a visionary creator who used his art to spread his ideas of life in harmony with nature and individual creativity.

I always liked his whimsical paintings of humanized buildings and colorful nature scenes of flowers and trees but wasn’t aware enough of his amazing and nonconformist architectural creations.

After viewing both his paintings and several of his buildings, the kids and I discussed how his buildings don’t have many straight lines, how colorful and happy they are, how each segment or floor is different, and how he thought about gardens sprouting from the roofs so that even if you live on the upper floors you can still enjoy park like life. We had a talk about how when you are designing a house you have to take into account several things: what the function of the house will be, and what kind of feeling you want the residents of the house to have.  I gave the kids a large white paper to design their house. It could be anything they wanted – a residence, a community building, a shop, hotel, palace and even totally imaginary house. They used either oil pastels or markers to color their paintings. I also said that these painting can be their inspiration for the Paper Mache building that they are going to build later on.  

After finishing the paintings, the kids could start planning their paper mache buildings. I handed them lots of paper rolls, empty salt containers, soap and paint tube boxes, empty tape rolls, and cones. They first planned their building and decided on its function. Then they started placing and attaching boxes together using masking tape. 

Second step was to wrap everything with newspaper and tape. Then came the gluey layer of torn pieces of brown paper bags dipped in art paste. The next class, after the brown paper had dried, came the 4th step of painting the structure with black acrylic paint. 

I explained to the kids how the black base coat will give their colors the vibrant look that Hundertwasser's buildings have. Usually we paint the paper mache works with white acrylic or apply a layer of white paper and this time being different was a bit difficult for the kids to accept at first. But afterward they realized how beautiful their colors came out over the black.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Papier Mâché Figurines

Couple of weeks ago I posted about a project I did with my 7-9 year old students that was about motion and action in the human body. The kids portrayed themselves performing their favorite sport or movement in a painting. We took this idea further and transformed their two dimensional figure into a 3D one by using a paper mache layer method. Here are the results and the step by step process.

So here are the steps:
1. Gather the materials. 
You will need:
  • plier cutter
  • plastic coated wire, 18 gauge 
  • newspapers
  • masking tape
  • brown  paper shopping bags
  • art paste

2. Cut your wire to 3 lengths. 
The length of each of them depends on the desired end size, ours were about 12", 8", and 6". The 8" will form the head and the arms, the 12" will be the body and legs, and the 6" will be the thighs.

3. With the 8" one held in the center, form a loop and twist around it two or three times as shown:

Bend the ends of the wire to form hands.

 4. Take the 12" wire and hold it at its center while holding the "neck" of the other wire that you had shaped into head and arms like so: 

Twist each side around each "arm" to form shoulders. Make sure to twist both wires around each other, so it won't be wiggly. Decide where the waist is and twist the long ends to form body and legs.

5. Now take the third length, hold it at its center and twist it around the waist.

Twist it around each "knee" to form thighs (otherwise the body has a weird shape where the legs are sprouting in a triangle shape from the body).

6. Now you are going to start wrapping it with a dry layer of newspaper to give it some body.
Rip a few strips of newspaper, tape a piece of masking tape to one of those and tape it anywhere on the wire skeleton, start wrapping it all around the skeleton and secure each piece with tape as needed.

When you get to the looped areas (head and body) wrap around the loop and not around each wire...

The head is a ball of aluminum foil secured with tape  (Sorry, don't have a picture of that)

7. Now you are ready to start the wet layers. Rip pieces of brown paper and dip each one of them in the art paste glue. For the art paste, I start with a cup with water and pour a tablespoon of powder each time. Let it sit for a few minutes and then stir it with a craft stick. The kids really like to make the glue. Some kids did not like the feeling of it and complain that it is itchy. I cook a flour glue for them. There are plenty of recipes on the web for a flour based paper mache glue. 3-4 layers of brown paper are enough to make it pretty stiff but the more the better. 

The kids lose interest after 2 classes of doing only layers of wet gluey paper so we finished after about 3 layers. For the face we used a paper mache clay (A terrible material to work with, it is muddy and messy and hard to manage the right consistency but good for making face details). 
After the brown paper layers dried completely, we used mod podge to adhere a layer of tan color tissue paper. I thought it will stiff it just a tiny bit more and that it will smooth the wrinkles and make it easier to paint.  I think it served the purpose of it overall...some kids left it as skin color and some painted their own skin color. We then painted the figurines with acrylic paint, added props (Like skis, helmets, tennis racquet etc.) and some kids went on to add a whole environment, like a swimming pool for the swimmer...

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Mardi Gras Masks

Last month, after years of wanting to do so, my husband and I finally flew to New Orleans.
What a weekend!  
When we planned the trip, we knew little of the fact that the Mardi Gras actually starts almost a month before the official dates in February. We were in for a lovely surprise when it turned out that there are a couple of parades that started that weekend. We heard from our local tour guide that these parades are smaller in size and hence they can actually go through the french quarter. Also, he recommended to be ready for a much naughtier and explicit parade than the later ones. Nevertheless, we were very happy to be in the midst of all the buzz...
The day of the parade we stopped with our rented bikes at the artisans market and purchased a few Venetian masks "for the girls". 
I just had to do a lesson with Venetian masks with my 5th graders! So here it is:
 We started with heavy duty foil cut into squares about 8 inches by 8 inches and folded 2-3 times.
We then shaped it over our face to form our unique face shape. We used a store bought paper mache masks as a guide to cut the eyes in the right place. 
We then covered the foil with a few layers of brown paper bag pieces that we dipped in wall paste ("Jelly glue" as the kids call it). 
We used containers (takeout soup containers) to keep the drying paper layers in round shape. After 2-3 layers of more brown paper, it was stiff enough for applying decoupage and embellishments (third lesson) but not too stiff, so it will be comfortable with wearing. We cut it to the desired shape. 

We used Mod Podge to glue tissue paper pieces, music sheet pieces, napkins, and feathers.

When I took these pictures the glue was still wet, hence the white cloudiness...

Happy Mardi Gras!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Movement and Motion 

The Super Bowl will be hosted here in less than a month. Wow, the Super Bowl. Here, in Santa Clara, 10 minutes from the studio. No doubt an important moment in the Bay Area's history which is usually only in the news when Apple is launching a new iPhone version. 
While I, myself am not really a football fan, I know nothing about the game, and I'm going to spend the Super Bowl weekend skiing, I thought this is a significant enough event and a great opportunity to talk about depicting movement in art. And who shall we watch and discuss if not the greatest observer of the human movement - Edgar Degas.
Ballet dancers are not football players, but Degas's constant studying  of their poses and movement were a good starting point for us. 

Dancers Practicing at the Barre - Edgar Degas

We observed a few artworks of Degas and noticed the dancers' habitat. The group of students that I've done this lesson with are in grades 2 and 3. They are still battling the concept of depicting space in a way that is not a strip of blue sky on top and line that marks the floor on the bottom. When they draw something that happens outside, and I ask them about what should be where they left the paper blank, they answer "nothing, this is just air" and the same goes for indoors. The work above really shows clearly how the dancers stand on the floor, behind them there is a wall and the line between the floor and the wall stretches just a bit above their feet.
Then we discussed for a few moments sports or physical activities they each like to do (or to watch, or they simply just like...). I had lots of cut out pictures from magazines and catalogues that they could browse through for inspiration and for a reference or they could use their memory to recall a certain movement.
So we started with sketching out the background on a big piece of paper (15x20)
and then we used acrylic paints to paint it. I instructed them to try and fill up the entire paper with paint. Even if the scene took place in the snowy mountain they should paint the snow white rather the leaving it merely blank. After they finished (I'm sorry that I didn't take pictures of this step) they took one of the two options of jointer figure  - side or front view - 
This one was taken from pinterest

They cut out the pieces and assembled them in the pose of their choice. They had great discoveries while doing that and most of them would not have noticed how each of our limbs has 3 different joints that can move separately and form a different kind of movement or action.

Yogi by Alma, Age 6

Skier by Yuval, age 8

Once they figured out the pose, they had to glue it onto the painted background (which was dry by then) and add color and details on top of the cut out joint figure, like face and hair, uniform and props (ball, skis etc).

Rock climber by Hayden, age 7

At the end of the process, the kids not only figured out how to show different movement, they also had to deal with space depicting skills. 
I think it was an incredibly successful project as the kids were very interested in the subject matter; a lot of it came from their own world and they felt connected to it. They also learned a lot in the process and of course, last but not least, had fun! 

Here are a few more:

Ballet dancer by Shachar, age 8

Goali by Amit, Age 8

Baseball player by Liron, age 7

Basketballl player by Ofer, age 7

Baseball player by Gilad, Age 7