Thursday, May 14, 2015

THIRD GRADE . . . Go figure! Drawing the human figure in motion.

Sketch by Garielle
The wooden artist's model is a perfect way for us to learn how to draw a human figure in proportion. It also shows us where the body can move. Each joint is represented by a wooden ball in the model.

Third graders drew a sketch of the wooden model and posed their figure in any way they wanted. We started with an oval for the head and added a circle underneath for the neck. Each part of the body was added on just this way, a shape for the body part followed by a wooden ball for the place it can move. We were careful to make the length and width of each shape in proportion to the size of the head that we started with. Learning to draw a figure this way reminds us of where the body can move without it looking awkward in our sketches. For example, the arm can move only at the shoulder, elbow or wrist. If we tried to bend it anywhere else, we would be breaking a bone!

To make our drawings look just like the wooden artist's model, we added on the pole and the stand. Shading each part of the body also gave our figures dimension and form. Here are a few examples of our figures in motion. You can see all of our sketches by following this link to and scrolling down through the exhibits for third grade.

Sketch by Araiya
Sketch by Eli

Sketch by Shaya
Sketch by Jason

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, May 12, 2015

FIFTH GRADE . . . Learning about Picasso

Abstract Sculpture by Alexis

Fifth graders experienced abstract art with our latest sculpture project. Inspired by the shapes and forms of our favorite musical instruments, we built an abstract version of our instruments using wood, string and cardboard.

Pablo Picasso changed the way we all view and accept what we consider to be "Art." His brilliant and influential ideas went far beyond just painting a face with features in the wrong place. As a well trained realistic artist, he could create a very recognizable and beautiful study of the human face. He was trained in anatomy and in figure drawing. He understood how to represent the world on paper in a traditional way. Why would an artist paint a face as strangely abstract as he is best known for doing, if he could draw like this image below?

Realistic Sketch by Picasso
Abstract painting by Picasso
Fifth graders compared these two images in class and most students thought he was just having fun with the shapes and colors, or he was looking for a way to be different. We looked at the events and developments at the end of the 19th century that might have led to an acceptance of abstract art as an art form. Architecture with the design of the Eiffel Tower, for example, also displayed this new obsession with an abstract visual that went beyond practicality. The world was changing and Pablo Picasso was a dramatic leader in our changing vision. His cubist portrait with features drawn in strange places was a creative experiment in how to portray a 3D person on a flat surface. Why would you try to make something look like it has dimension on a flat canvas, if the surface is flat? He broke all the rules as he tried to make sense out of these revolutionary ideas.

Picasso's Guitars
Music was a recurring theme for Picasso and many other abstract artists of his time. A few years back, the MoMA in NYC held a show of Picasso's guitars. These pieces were collages and reconstructed musical instruments reflecting his ideas with cubism and abstractions. We used this collection of pieces by Picasso as the inspiration for our fifth grade art show.

Just as Picasso was trained early in his life as a realistic artist, we began with realistic sketches in our sketch pad of our instruments. Then we looked for creative ways to break all the rules and create a sculpture inspired by music, without trying to reproduce our instruments in a realistic way.

Here are a few examples of our work. To see everyone's sketches and sculptures, follow this link to the Ranney School exhibit page on

Sketch by Lily
Abstract Sculpture by Lily

Sketch by Tucker
Abstract Sculpture by Tucker

Sketch by Emily
Abstract Sculpture by Emily

Sketch by Oscar
Abstract Sculpture by Oscar

Sketch by Sophia Z.
Abstract Sculpture by Sophia Z.

Monday, May 11, 2015

KINDERGARTEN . . . and then what happened?

Did you ever read a story, close the book, and wonder what happened next? Did the characters in the book just live happily ever after or did you wish there were more adventures to read about?

Kindergarteners shared a story as told by Aesop, over 2000 years ago in Greece. Aesop's Fables, a collection of stories featuring animals as the lead characters, teaches us lessons about human life. In the fable, "The Lion and the Mouse," Aesop entertains us with the idea that a small mouse might be able to save a ferocious lion from the trap of hunters. The moral of this story is; "Even the strongest can sometimes use the help of the smallest." 

In our illustrations of this fable, Kindergarteners continued the story that began so many years ago. What happened after the mouse helped the lion? Could they become friends? Here are a few adventures to enjoy...

Artwork by Brooke

Artwork by Cash

Artwork by Mia G.

Artwork by Sydney