Thursday, February 5, 2015

FIFTH GRADE . . . A month of celebrations!

Fifth graders worked on a few fun sketches for the month of January, including a bright and colorful design in celebration of the New Year. We saw 2015 decorated with streamers, bright colors, symbols of a party, and clever illusions where the artist turned the numbers into pictures of other things.

Sketch by Kayla
Sketch by Alexa

Sketch by Cynthia

We also shared amazing drawings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as we honored him with a postage stamp design. Not everyone drew a portrait of Dr. King, some drew symbols or messages of equality. Which drawing do you think would make a good stamp design?

Sketch by Anthony

Sketch by Sophia Z.

Sketch by Reese

Sketch by Sophia A.

Sketch by Christopher

Celebrating Mrs. Levine's favorite artist, we tried our hands at drawing just like Vincent van Gogh. Did you know that van Gogh sketched just the way he painted? He drew with short repetitive strokes, showing direction and movement on the page. Here are some of my students' interpretations of his work. Beautiful drawings!

Sketch by Lily
Sketch by Ross
Sketch by Melanie

Please add your comments below. Our 5th grade artists would love to hear from you!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

SECOND GRADE . . . The arrangement of a still life

Paul Cezanne (1839-1906) is a famous Post Impressionist artist from France. He often focused on the arrangements in a still life as his choice of subject matter. Cezanne studied the shapes and angles of his arrangements to create a dynamic composition. Can you see any shapes in this painting, "Apples and Oranges," by Paul Cezanne? His work influenced artists such as Pablo Picasso and he was considered by many to be the father of modern art.
     The composition of a still life is the most important thing to consider. Objects are arranged on a table top to create interest, to highlight color, and to create a sense of movement across the page. When we began our still life drawings, we learned how to create a composition with overlapping shapes. When objects overlap, it is important to understand which one goes in front. We learned that the object or figure lowest on the page should be the one in the front.

Every round object we created began with a circle or an oval. The top of a vase or a bowl looks like a circle when you look straight down at the object, but when it is place on an table and you see it from a distance, the top circle appears more as an oval. Even the bottom line of the vase appears to have the same curve as the oval at the top. Understanding how to represent a round object on paper helps us to better see the form.

Once we drew all our objects in an interesting overlapping arrangement and added in details, such as fruit, a table cloth and a background, we used watercolors and a fine detail brush to add color.

Here are a few wonderful examples of our still life paintings. You can see everyone's work by following this link to

Artwork by Layla
Artwork by Ethan S.

Artwork by Lynna

Artwork by Anthony

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

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

FOURTH GRADE... Creating a Mandala with the letters of our names!

Fourth graders created a colorful circle design based on the art of the Mandala. Our designs were created out of the letters of our names. The repetition of colors and shapes around the circle are all created out of letters and the spaces between the lettering.

The word, "Mandala," is from the classical Indian language of Sanskrit. Loosely translated, it means "circle." It represents wholeness and appears in all aspects of life: the celestial circles we call the earth, sun and moon, as well as the conceptual circles of friends, family and community.

In ancient Tibet, as part of a spiritual practice, intricate mandalas were created out of colored sand and crushed stones. The designs in a mandala repeat as they rotate around the circle and any symbols used in the design must be perfectly reproduced each time within the circle. Rowan J. in one of our fourth grade classes recognized one of the symbols used in this mandala. He said it is the symbol "ar" that is used for Tibetan meditation. How wonderful that we can learn about so many different cultures right in our own classroom. Thank you Rowan!

The American Navajo also created sand paintings used in spiritual rituals, much the same way as they are used by the Tibetans. These designs could range in size from 3-15 feet but only last about a week, depending on the weather and wind conditions.

To create our mandalas, we started with a shape that looks like a slice of pie. It is 1/6th of the full circle. In this shape, we drew the letters of our name either in bubble letters or with straight lines. Then we used a light box in my room to trace our single name design into the full circle, repeating the letters as they rotate around the circle. Just as we did with our last project, we also used a mirror image repetition to make it reflect and add symmetry to the design.

Here are some examples of our name mandalas. Can you find the names hidden in these designs? Some of the students shortened their names or used a nickname for their design. To see all of our mandalas, click on this link for Artsonia and scroll down to the fourth grade exhibit.

Artwork by Nehemiah (Neo)
Artwork by Ava

Artwork by Charlie (Chuck)
Artwork by Colette (CeCe)