Building Confident Illustrators through Collage

PEOPLE. That is what we are. Super complex beings on the inside and out. Have you ever sat down to draw the human figure? Drawing people from observation is quite challenging let alone creating one from our imagination. There is so much to include, so where do we begin?

SHAPE. We begin with geometric shapes. Read on, I will tell you all about it.

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First graders have been exploring geometric shapes through paper collage. We have discovered that many shapes can be made by simply cutting a square into smaller pieces. Cutting on a diagonal can create two triangles and cutting horizontally can make two rectangles, or even four more squares. A circle can be made by trimming corners. We use our shapes to form the recognizable things that make up our world. One of which, is people. We begin building people in paper collage.

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We ALWAYS PLAY FIRST by arranging our shapes until we are satisfied with our design, then glue is introduced to make it permanent. We discover how our body is made up of ovals of all sizes!  We discover that our arms and legs bend and that we can show action of these parts by snipping a rectangle in half and arranging it at an angle. We discover that shapes make up our world.

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Let me ask you this: If I gave you a pencil, could you draw a simple square? How about an oval? Now try a rectangle? Yes! I thought so. Children begin a second work of art in pencil. While looking at their collage, students illustrate a human figure beginning with simple shapes and adding color and details when necessary.

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Children discover how a drawing of absolutely anything can be achieved by breaking it down into simple shapes. It is empowering to know that you have the potential to manifest anything your imagination can possibly dream.

Why Collage before Drawing?
Offering children an actual shape to hold in their hand, manipulate and feel, offers them the kinesthetic experience that we all need to build new knowledge. Hearing the idea is one thing, but experiencing it with our own hands makes it real. Furthermore, the act of holding the shape while working in collage helps them to “see” where the shape ends and begins. We feel its corners and sides and the shape is distinctly defined for us.

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Shapes are all around us. Take a walk outside and embark on a shape scavenger hunt. See what you find and notice how your mind opens up to new discoveries. You may even “see” something in a way.

Have an artful day,
-MJ

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Happy New Beginnings

Maybe it is because my birthday falls in the month of August that I perceive the annual cycle to end and begin in the summer; I finished each grade level as one age, and began the next as a year older. Or maybe it is because being an educator is written in my genetic code and that is just the way I was programmed. This time of year brings excitement and the promise of a brand new adventure.

Are you eager for the beginning of school? How do you feel when you anticipate the initiation of a new routine?

I am eating up any anxiety by focusing my energy on productivity. Literally. I am producing worksheets to help develop learning experiences. Because if they are interesting to look at, I will be more likely to use them, right?
Heather at The Bees Knees Cousin developed her own planner which inspired me to do the same. I have been playing around just in Word and am discovering how much I appreciate soft shapes and grey tones.

Here’s a look at what I have generated so far…

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and if you fancy the portrait layout,

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If you want to test them out, download a copy here: Visual Planner 2014

How do you spend these early days prepping for the new year?

Have a productive day,
xo MJ

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NAEA 2014 in SanDiego

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I am presenting at the NAEA conference in SanDiego, CA the last weekend in March. The National Art Education Association conference occurs once every year rotating throughout major cities in the US. It is a whirlwind of inspiration for artist and art educators and I am thrilled to be sharing my passion this year. If you are curious about enhancing your art display through a variety of interactive and educational media, take a seat and check out my slide presentation. I have no doubt you will discover something new and your eyes will thank you for the visual experience. You can view it by clicking here:  The Art Display as a Learning Object

I will also be presenting an Art&Science curriculum I have developed with my colleagues and sharing successful strategies for collaborating with other teachers and disciplines. View The Art Science Connection to discover how these two magical worlds support one another and share so many learning objectives. Click on the photo below to be linked to actual learning experiences from my sister site, ArtEngine.

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Have you attended any conferences or presentations lately?

Share what fuels your fire.

Your fellow life-long learner,
-MJ

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2 Awesome 2 Pass Up

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I just had to share this fabulous photo with you all.
You can’t help but feel that gesture. Do you dig it?

I am grateful for the unique instances a photograph can capture so much in a flash. Talk about being in the right place at the right time.

Have a grateful day!
-MJ

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Happy New Beginnings in 2014

Happy2014

 

Carpe Diem.
And when nothings seems to be going right, go left.

xo -MJ

 

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Wrist Candy

When I began this post last Spring, I was surrounded by a delicious selection of greenery when inside my little bungalow. It warms the soul and keeps my values in check. Thank you, Earth.
And because I am grateful of all that our mother earth has to offer, I try to make beauty from the things I would otherwise throw away. If you have read my previous posts, you know I fancy hand painted papers. I want to share an art experience that I introduced to my third and fourth graders recently.

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I wanted to keep the focus on color mixing and less on creating a composition so we used the primary colors and white to create a large selection of color swatches painted on newspaper rectangles.

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Then we cut a small selection of color choices into strips and covered paper towel roll slices in blocks of color. Details were collaged over the basic rectangular blocks. Negative shapes were saved and used as well.

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Holes were punched on the ends of the cut slice of paper towel roll and ribbon was looped through for an easy tie.

Make your, or someone else’s, wrist smile soon! -MJ

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Romare Bearden Inspired Collage

“Take Harlems heartbeat, make a drumbeat.
Put it on a record, let it whirl!”
-Langston Hughes

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Visit an informative and fun interactive site at MetMedia. Listen to the sounds that inspired Romare, discover the hip artists he grew up around.

We were first introduced to Romare Bearden through a picture book inspired by his life titled “Me and Uncle Romie” by Claire Hartfield. “The Block” is also a rich text that poetically places the collages of Romare Bearden alongside poems by Langston Hughes. I read aloud the poetry to students or have them perform it for the class, then ask them to search for visuals  within his mural sized collage that illustrate the terms, sounds and visuals they hear.

Students utilized their knowledge of paper collage to construct a selection of urban buildings. These were then collaged to a colored background and accordion folded for a 3-D effect.

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Writing poetry about urban experiences would be a great way to incorporate literacy into this rich art making experience and bring it full circle in connection with the era in which Romare lived and prospered as an artist.

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