Wednesday, May 10, 2017

SECOND GRADE . . . A mummy mask!

Second graders dressed down yesterday for art class! Our lesson in ancient Egyptian art brought us back in time to 3000 B.C., and the highly stylized and symbolic images of the Egyptian culture. Many of our students knew many interesting facts about King Tut, one of the more famous of the Egyptian pharaohs.

We learned about their writing system, Hieroglyphics, a pictographic script that was often painted or engraved into the walls of the pyramids. The Rosetta Stone, discovered in the late 18th century in France, gave us a clue that these repetitive symbols were actually characters of a written language. Once translated, we discovered so much more about the ancient Egyptians, learning about their daily lives and their belief in an afterlife. For fun, we wrote our names in Hierolgyphic symbols.

Our masks began as a plastic face mold. We all added cardboard pieces to represent the Egyptian stylized head and then students had a choice to add a collar, hair pieces and a beard, creating a mask for an Egyptian pharaoh or queen. We applied plaster strips to the masks, a wet and messy material, but perfect as a molding medium that can be painted or decorated once it dries.

Here are some of our students getting messy and creative with their mummy masks!

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 Collage by Jack

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

Abstract Collage by Dylan

Abstract Collage by Zuri

Abstract Collage by Jonathan

Abstract Collage by Julie

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