Friday, May 1, 2015

FIRST GRADE . . . Who invented art anyway?

First graders took a trip back in time, over 40,000 years ago, to the age of cave people. Cavemen drew amazingly realistic pictures of animals on the walls of caves. What kinds of art tools do you think they used? Was there a Michael's Arts and Crafts back then to buy paints and brushes?

We looked at cave paintings of early horses, buffalo and other animals. They were not only recognizable, they looked like they were drawn in action, appearing as if they were running on the walls in the caves! Surprisingly, these images of early cave art are very similar all over the world, which suggests that people were producing "art" at a much earlier time, possibly before they began to spread out across the earth.

In art class, we drew our animals in pencil and marker on big sheets of recycled paper. Then we crinkled up the drawings to create creases, just like on the surface of a rock. The animals were painted in warm earth tones, and chalk was rubbed into the background areas to represent the marks and colors of the wall.

Often, the cavemen used a hand print to signify people in their art. Taking a cue from the images we shared in class, we traced our hands near our animals to represent our signatures.

Here are a few examples of the work in our prehistoric cave. All of our paintings will be on display in Panther Hall next week for our Spring art show. You can also see everyone's images on

Cave Painting by Adam
Cave Painting by Saahil

Cave Painting by Lorelei

Cave Painting by Zahra

Thursday, April 30, 2015

THIRD GRADE . . . design and composition

Abstract Art: Art that does not attempt to represent reality, but seeks to achieve its effect through shape, line and color.

Abstract Collage by Nico

Leonardo da Vinci
Piet Mondrian
Third graders took a journey through art history in the 19th and 20th centuries and saw dramatic changes in what people considered to be "Art." Before the use of a camera, it was an artist's job to make a rendition of any scene or person as realistic and recognizable as possible. An important way to record history was through depictions of portraits, landscapes, paintings of battle scenes or illustrations from the Bible. Leonardo da Vinci's "Mona Lisa" was the level of mastery that artists tried to follow.

During the 19th century, artists explored how they could express their feelings in their artwork and began to break away from the rigid rules of the masters in Europe. Artists who experimented with impressionism or cubism had a difficult time becoming accepted in a traditional art world, but it was their daring ideas that eventually changed the way we view art. Pure abstract art, such as the painting shown above by Piet Mondrian, is not supposed to represent an object or a person. It is meant to stand on its own as a wonderful composition. Learning to appreciate abstract art means understanding and appreciating the art of the design.

Third graders created their own abstract compositions with cut papers. We balanced colors, textures and random shapes together to create a pleasing design. My only rule was that it should not be based on a portrait or a scene, but just a random arrangement of paper.

As well as creating a unique and interesting composition, we played around with which way it should be held. As it is an abstract and not a picture of a person, we showed our collages to the class and turned it four different ways until the students agreed which side should be facing up. Selecting just the right color frame was another important design decision they had to make.

To see all of our abstract collages, follow this link to our 3rd grade exhibit on

Collage by Kaitlyn
Collage by Gabriella

Collage by Luke

Collage by Seth

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