Wednesday, September 18, 2013

FOURTH GRADE . . . The Art of Photoshop

Fourth graders are discovering the magic of modern technology in their general art class. With our self portrait, we are going to explore how art can be expressed with the traditional tools of a graphite pencil on paper as well as using modern tools and digital images on the computer. Leonardo da Vinci will be our inspiration for the more traditional lessons in drawing portraits, but I have always thought that Leonardo would have been a very eager student of all things digital in our modern world. Imagine what he could have done with the art and science of Photoshop!

Adobe Photoshop is a wonderful retouching tool for graphic artists as well as anyone who owns a digital camera. Most of us know how to upload photos to a computer and use them in different applications. Therefore, we should also know how to correct a photo, change its size or alter the color. With Photoshop, my students will learn how to do all of that, as well as discover how to change a digital image into a creative and original work of art.

With new advances in technology there is always a moment we have to step back and review what impact this new technology will make in our lives. When I was younger, cameras used film to record images. Unless you were very skilled at darkroom techniques, the image was printed just as it was captured by the camera lens. The best we could do at the time was use a pair of scissors to crop the photo. Now with software such as Adobe Photoshop, photos can be altered and you would never realize a change was made.

Here is a video put out by Dove Beauty a few years ago that I shared with my classes today. This really highlights the significance of Photoshop and the impact it has on our perception of beauty and reality.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

FIFTH GRADE . . . Our reflections of a drawing

Fifth graders brought in their sketchpads to art for the first time today. We took turns presenting our drawings with the class and we learned how to talk about each drawing. We were able to point out something specific about the sketch and we were able to ask the artist questions as well. How amazing would it be to go to a museum and actually ask Vincent van Gogh why he painted swirls in the sky of his "Starry Night." To be able to ask an artist a question gives us an opportunity to learn and appreciate so much more about the art.

It is not enough just to say you like a picture; we want to know why you like it. When we discuss a drawing in class, these are some of the elements of art we can recognize or talk about:
  • Is the image realistic or abstract?
  • Are the colors soft, bright, bold?
  • How was the object shaded? 
  • Is there an interesting design or composition on the page?
  • Details about the subject of the drawing
  • Details about the background
  • Do you notice anything about the use of line or shape? 
  • Is there a sense of movement in the picture?
  • How does the picture make you feel: happy, sad, calm, excited?

Here is a sketch by Abbi S. that was presented earlier today. We heard some wonderful thoughts about the drawing in class. Click on the comments option below... can you come up with your own reflection?

SECOND GRADE . . . Pop Art Portraits!

We started working on our portraits in Second Grade. Everyone created a wonderful outline drawing of themselves in pencil and black marker. These simple portraits will be reproduced 4 times on a copy machine and then handed back to the class next week to complete in many shades of colorful markers.

The artist we will be introduced to next week is Andy Warhol, a well known Pop Artist from the 20th century. His art was a reaction to the sudden popularity of celebrities and mass produced items of that century, such as Coca Cola bottles and Campbell's Soup. He was also the one who came up with the expression, "In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes." Most of Warhol's images are done as multiple prints to reflect just how "popular" the image is to all of us. We did not see Marilyn Monroe once, we saw her over and over again in movies, on TV, and in magazines. Warhol's portrait of Marilyn reflects her fame and her popularity.

Here is a question we will discuss in our next art class . . . If Andy Warhol was still creating Pop Art images, what very famous person do you think he might want to do a portrait of today?

Note to families . . .
    This art blog will be updated regularly with new posts sharing our daily activities in the art room and news about upcoming art exhibits. To respect the privacy of our students, names will always be limited to first name only and identifiable photos will never be accompanied with a name. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to write in the comment box below or send me an email at I would love to hear from you!
    In my class, students are given the chance to explore different materials and fun new techniques as they develop their signature style. Some young artists love to draw with a pencil, some like to paint on canvas or create images in a digital format, while others prefer working with clay and molding three-dimensional forms. In my classroom, we use a variety of materials allowing all artists to experiment and figure out which type of art they like the best. At Ranney School, we place a strong emphasis on originality and celebrate artistic differences, always nurturing and encouraging the imagination of every student.
     Remember to check out our display of finished artwork and student portfolios in the Ranney home page of