Friday, October 4, 2013

FIFTH GRADE . . . What makes a pattern?

This week, 5th grade students drew a design with leaves in their sketchpads. When we were sharing the drawings in class, I was very surprised by how many interpretations of my assignment were presented! To create a design, we can focus on the lines, the shapes, or the color. Ultimately it comes down to how these elements are arranged on the page and if there is a noticeable pattern created through the repetition.

Here are three wonderful examples of very different leaf designs. With Maria's colorful drawing, she studied the different shapes of the leaves and created a beautiful pattern using color and shape in a symmetrical design. Max chose to work with just pencil and drew very large leaves that seem to overlap in a very random way, as if he discovered them in nature just this way. There is a pattern to his leaves, even though the arrangement is not planned. Each vein on the leaves creates a very intricate and detailed pattern. Olivia brought an entirely different perspective to class! Using actual leaves, she created a pattern on the page with the direction of the bright green leaves and the contrasting colors of the berries. I was very pleased with all of these responses to a very open-ended assignment. How you do your drawings each week shows me just how far you have all come as a Lower School art student and a creative thinker.

Click on the work Comments below and let your friends know how you like their leaf designs. Which one really appeals to you as an overall design? Does the use of color help define the pattern, or does using only black and white make us notice a different kind of pattern all together? What do you think?

Sketch by Maria

Sketch by Max
Collage by Oliva

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

FIRST GRADE . . . What is the subject? What is the background?

Portraits by Ella, Desmond and Rianna
First graders continued to work on their portraits based on the pose of Leonardo da Vinci's "Mona Lisa." We drew our faces, shoulders and folded hands just like in the famous portrait by da Vinci, and today we colored them in with a color palette that best represents each of us.

In the "Mona Lisa," the subject of the painting is the portrait. The background is the area behind the subject, represented as a soft landscape that seems to be very far away.

To make the distinction between the subject and the background in our pictures, our completed portraits were cut out of the paper we created them on. Next week we will begin a watercolor landscape for our backgrounds. These portraits will then be mounted over the front of the landscapes.

Created in two very different ways, the subject of our pictures is the portrait drawn with bright colors and fine detail, and the background will be the landscape painted with watercolors in softer, more muted tones. We can't wait to put it all together!

KINDERGARTEN . . . We are artists in a museum!

Kindergarten students completed their self portraits today for the cover of their books, "All About Me!". Next week, we will begin working on the illustrations for the inside pages of our books.

Once everyone was finished with their portraits, I photographed the drawings and uploaded each image to, the world's largest art museum for children. Artsonia brings together the artwork of students from many different countries to celebrate creativity in the classroom. All students at Ranney School are automatically a member of this international museum and can build their own personal portfolios. Families are encouraged to browse the museum and view school exhibitions and student artwork. Students develop a sense of pride as their work becomes published on the site and is viewed by friends and family.

All published artwork is archived by Artsonia as long as your child is a student at Ranney School. The student’s personal portfolio will continue to build through their years at our school. Kindergarten artwork, for example, will still be present in the student’s online portfolio as your child advances to first grade and beyond. You will be able to access your child’s artwork from any grade as they move ahead through the divisions.

Artsonia was created for schools and respects the privacy of all participating students. The student’s last name and any other personal information will never be revealed to anyone visiting the museum. Only the art teacher and registered parents have access to the student’s account.  I will be sending home a slip of paper with your student's special registration name and code so that families can register. I look forward to filling these online portfolios with beautiful work all year long!

Here are two examples of finished portraits I uploaded to Artsonia. Check out the Ranney School homepage on to see everyone's work.

Portrait by Herbani
Portrait by Eli

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