Friday, April 8, 2016

THIRD GRADE . . . The art of the design

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

Abstract by Ava J.

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 and 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

Abstract by Rianna

Abstract by Courtney

Abstract by Giancarlo

Abstract by Peter

Abstract by Julia

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

Monday, April 4, 2016

SECOND GRADE . . . Spring is here!

Painting by Ryan

Inspired by the artwork of Vincent van Gogh, second graders painted a still life in art class. A still life is an arrangement of everyday objects and by its very definition, the objects are inanimate, not moving, or "still." For our paintings we used a vase with an arrangment of wild flowers. Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890), a Dutch post-impressionist artist, is well known for his painting of "Sunflowers." He painted with short directional brush strokes that helped to define the shape and movement of his compositions.

To explore this style of artwork, we painted our vase, table and back wall with bright colors and added patterns with our brushes all over the page. Then we learned a technique for painting flowers using the thickness of the brush to create the petals. We did not draw our flowers, but went right to paint, letting our brushes create each blossom. They all look like beautiful bouquets of wildflowers! Just like Vincent did with his sunflower still life, we signed our names right on the vase.

Here are some examples of our work. To see all of our 2nd grade flower paintings, click on this link for

Painting by Dylan 
Painting by Zahra

Painting by William K.

Painting by Savanna

Painting by Jack

Painting by Jonah