April 18, 2014

Homeschool Art Lesson: Exploring Line

So far I have had the most fun doing the suggested activities from Amy Hood’s fantastic e-zine, Art Together. Her second issue discusses line.

As I wrote in my main post about art, 1st Grade Art Explorations, I have wanted to introduce some artists and their techniques to my son. We do a lot of art and building around here, and my son is developing his creativity tremendously from the way we homeschool. I hope these occasional formal lessons will give him more to think about as he continues on with his own creative work.

I’m not usually very good about planning lessons more than five minutes before we’re going to sit down to do them, but when I read Amy’s e-zine focusing on line, it inspired a trip to the craft store. There are lots of activities, information about art materials, and an artist “spotlight” (in this case, Piet Mondrian), but for my young boys, I picked two activities that I thought they would enjoy: 1) drawing with tape, and 2) wire as line. I also knew I wanted to read the short introduction, “Types of Line,” to my seven-year-old so that he would understand why we were doing these activities.

I didn’t tell my children what we were going to do before we went to the craft store. They just enjoyed piling up the new art supplies in the cart, including two fancy rolls of tape that I let them pick out, and some wire that I got in the jewelry making section. (I always keep clay on hand, so we already had that.)

Of course, my seven-year-old wanted to know what we were going to do with all this stuff, so on the way home in the car, I started to explain to him that we were going to explore “line.” And this is where not having time to blog very much doesn’t serve me well because I can’t remember our conversation. But I do remember that it was terrific. We were looking out the windows on the way home and noticing all the lines – the lines of the buildings, store signs, painted lines on the streets, and the light poles. My son was making so many discoveries and connections all on his own – I wish I had a recording of his awesome observations. We discovered that the whole world is made up of lines!!

After that he also enjoyed listening to the introduction in Amy’s magazine, and both boys loved these activities. Below are our creations. To learn more details about these activities, be sure to check out Amy’s e-zine.

Exploring line with tape! My seven-year-old made a leopard with this leopard-print tape.

I think my four-year-old was inspired by his brother. I helped him put on the ears, nose, mouth and feet. Notice he drew spots on it too!

Exploring line with clay and wire was so much fun! I love this butterfly that my seven-year-old did! It was all his idea!

These are my abstract creations. Exploring line with wire and clay.

My four-year-old asked me to shape the clay, and he wanted to do the same thing I did. These are his wire creations. I love them!

Well, that concludes this long series about formal art lessons in our homeschool with the bonus column about our field trip to the art museum, at least until we do our next art project! If you missed any of the earlier ones, they are all listed with links in my introduction: 1st Grade Art Explorations.

April 14, 2014

Homeschool Art Lesson: Making a Color Wheel

So far I have had more fun doing the suggested activities from Amy Hood’s fantastic e-zine, Art Together. Her first issue discusses color. Who doesn’t love color?

As I wrote in my main post about art, 1st Grade Art Explorations, I have wanted to introduce some artists and their techniques to my son. We do a lot of art and building around here, and my son is developing his creativity tremendously from the way we homeschool. I hope these occasional formal lessons will give him more to think about as he continues on with his own creative work.

As Amy points out in her magazine, you can spend a lot of time studying color and the rules that go along with them. For my young children, I wanted to start simple. Before this exercise, we had already done a lot of fun color mixing over the years. My children are familiar with how you can mix colors to make new colors. But I had not introduced them to the color wheel.

Amy has a great tutorial on her website for this exercise, so I’m not going into great detail here. Click here for her instructions.

We made a simple color wheel with only the primary and secondary colors. The primary colors are red, blue and yellow. You can’t get these colors from mixing other colors together. The secondary colors are orange, green and purple. You get these colors from mixing the primary colors together. (You can figure out which ones to mix together by looking at the color wheel – each secondary color has its two primary colors that you need to mix to get it next to it.)

This was my very first “formal art lesson.” I wondered if my boys would have the patience to complete the exercise, especially since they are used to painting whatever they want. But when I told them to wait for my instructions, they were very good, and I love their color wheels! I think they make great art for our activity room wall!

My goal here was to simply point out how we can use a color wheel to find complementary colors. Colors that are opposite each other are complementary colors, and when we’re drawing or painting with colors (or even photographing), we can use these colors together to create more contrast. That is, the colors will seem to pop when used together. (I highly recommend reading Amy’s magazine because she goes into more detail about this and offers examples to look at.)

Have you made a color wheel with your children?

April 11, 2014

The Georgia Museum of Art

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Photos courtesy of the Georgia Museum of Art

Note: This column was published in the Barrow Journal on April 9, 2014. Believe it or not, I wasn’t planning this field trip when I started writing my art series. It’s serendipity at its best!

My boys love to produce lots of original artwork. I keep their supplies out where they can reach them, so art happens almost daily. This year I also have done a few formal lessons in art. For example, we’ve looked at some of the artists from the Renaissance, and we’ve talked about color and line. I had them make a color wheel, and we did some fun activities to explore how everything is made up of lines!

I didn’t think my boys were old enough to visit an art museum, though. I imagined my seven-year-old hanging onto my arm and asking, “When are we going home?” and I imagined my four-year-old running up and down quiet hallways and knocking over some precious sculpture.

Then my sister came to visit us for a very short visit on her spring break, and the weather was not ideal for hiking, which is what I was hoping to do while she was here. It also seemed silly to drive into Atlanta when she was here for such a short time, and we were going to have to take her to the airport the next day anyway. And there are not many indoor places around here that’s fun for both kids and adults. But my sister loves art – she even teaches at a special school that emphasizes art, so we decided to take a chance on our boys and visit the Georgia Museum of Art.

The Museum is located on the University of Georgia’s East Campus. It is free for the public, though you will need to park in the Performing Arts Center parking deck and pay for parking when you leave. We were there for about two hours and paid $2 for parking.

The museum is kid-friendly. Upon entering, we were greeted at the visitor’s desk where our children were offered a bag with some activities they could do while they were visiting. They also could have taken a sketchpad and drawn pictures in it while viewing the artwork, though all these items needed to stay at the museum. My seven-year-old was happy to receive a little button he could wear on his shirt that said, “Art for Everyone.”

It had been years since I had visited the museum, and it all looked new to me. This is because in 2011, a 16,000-square-foot expansion was added to the museum. It is beautiful. There is a huge permanent collection with artwork from the Renaissance to Modern times. Some of my favorite discoveries were a portrait painted by Mary Cassatt and a small painting by Renoir.

I was happy that my boys behaved themselves, and for at least the first half the museum, they were engaged and enjoyed looking at the art. I squatted down by my four-year-old and asked him what he saw in the abstract art, so that helped him focus, but eventually, he did try to run around the big, airy rooms and hallways. (It’s tempting even for me to want to run in such lovely hallways!) But we kept him in check, and he was good boy.

GMOA

Eventually my seven-year-old did grow tired, but that probably had more to do with the leisurely pace at which the adults were moving through the museum. He enjoyed a lot of art, especially the Belleek Porcelain collection. He loves working with clay, so the delicate porcelain sculptures with such fine details were impressive. He also was taken with a special, temporary exhibit that the museum staff called “the floating pen,” but according to the museum’s website, it’s called “Machine Drawing.”

Tristan Perich, a contemporary artist and composer based in New York City, is the artist responsible for the “Machine Drawing.” He created the code that operates a machine that controls a pen, held by hooks and wires, and over a six-month installation, this “floating pen” will make a work of art on a 60-foot wall in the museum. It is fun to watch!

There was a good chunk of wall already covered in pen markings, so we thought the “floating pen” had been working for a long time. We were surprised to hear that when we visited the museum, it had only begun three days earlier. My seven-year-old wants to go back and see the wall in a few months to see what it looks like, so we’re planning to do that. (We also asked them how often they have to change the pen – the answer was everyday!)

If you would like to visit the museum, it is open Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 10-5p.m., Thursday from 10-9p.m., and Sunday 1-5p.m. It is closed on Mondays. For parents, you may be interested in looking at their calendar and going on a Family Day, which is once a month on a Saturday and free. We have not tried that yet, but it looks like a great activity for kids.

The museum’s website is georgiamuseum.org. Click here to go directly to their page about upcoming Family Art Days.

April 7, 2014

home / school / life magazine has launched!

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I’m very excited to announce that subscribers to home / school / life magazine received the very first issue in their inboxes today! So if you subscribed, be sure to check your e-mail!

If you haven’t subscribed, you can view sample pages by clicking here.

Did you subscribe? Please tell me what you think about the magazine!

April 5, 2014

Homeschool Art Lesson: Tommasso Masaccio

Above: After he had his profile traced, my four-year-old painted it. I love it.

This is the third art lesson we did using the book Discovering Great Artists: Hands-On Art for Children.  I’m not going into great detail about the artist or details on how to do the activity because you can get those details from the book, but rather I want to show you what my children did and what we learned from it. For each lesson I read the brief introduction about the artist to my son, and we looked up images of the artist’s work online.

As I wrote in my main post about art, 1st Grade Art Explorations, I have wanted to introduce some artists and their techniques to my son. We do a lot of art and building around here, and my son is developing his creativity tremendously from the way we homeschool. I hope these occasional formal lessons will give him more to think about as he continues on with his own creative work.

As the book tells us, Tommasso Massacio was famous for his portraits during the Renaissance. He also liked to add details such as hats and jewelry.  This was a fun activity in which we all took turns sitting sideways in front of a wall, and I set up a flashlight so that a shadow of our profiles appeared on the wall.  We taped a piece of paper to the wall and then we traced our shadows.

I traced my seven-year-old’s profile, and he traced my four-year-old’s and my profile. However, that is as far as he wanted to go with this activity. He was not into painting the profiles at all.

But my four-year-old painted his own profile, and I think it has become one of my favorite pieces of art in our house! Look at that color! I love it! I think Massacio would approve, don’t you?

He inspired me to paint my seven-year-old’s profile with lots of color too, which you can see below on the right, although I don’t like mine as well as his. I told my seven-year-old I was painting his brain – indeed, I think that his brain is full of wonderful color and imaginative things!

Above: My four-year-old inspired me to make a colorful profile of my eldest son. (on the right)

Meanwhile, my seven-year-old busied himself with his own art. He’s very much into dragons right now, and he’s been very interested in learning about (and building) the Mayflower too. So he decided he wanted to paint a sea dragon attacking the Mayflower!

My seven-year-old was not so interested in this exercise, so he painted this picture of a dragon attaching the Mayflower.

Please share a link with some of the art you’ve made lately.

April 3, 2014

An Interview on Days With The Grays

If you’d like to learn more about me and my creative work, you can head over to Days With The Grays where I participated in a Creative Mothers interview. All the interviews in that series are inspiring to read! I hope you’ll read them and then find the creative spark within yourself. You can do it!!

Thank you, Megan, for letting me participate. Click here to read the interview.

 

April 1, 2014

Project-based Homeschooling Preschool: My four-year-old’s projects

Note: This column was published in the Barrow Journal on March 26, 2014.

Sometimes I worry that I don’t give my four-year-old enough attention, but then again, sometimes I worry that I don’t give my seven-year-old enough attention. In truth, it’s probably about even.

For three years, my oldest son had all my attention, but his younger brother has had to compete ever since he was born. I have to remind myself that my four-year-old got a lot of things his older brother didn’t get. Since he was a baby, he’s been carried along to play dates whereas I didn’t know many mothers with infants and toddlers when I first had children. He’s also been taken to his older brother’s classes and been around big groups of children of all ages from day one.

He was also born into a home with lots of toys and art supplies, and when he was a baby, we converted our dining room into a school room, so he is very comfortable going in there and pulling down books or puzzles or blocks and other building toys. Now, he sits at the table and listens while his older brother works on his lessons. Sometimes he wants to draw or do something else, but I’m surprised how much he’ll just watch. (Not exactly quietly, but not too distracting either.)

Even though he’s not getting the direct one-on-one attention my oldest son got from age one to three, he is absorbing so much information from his brother and me. (I can’t forget to mention daddy either. He’s always been around for both of them.)

Right now I’m very focused on my “first grader.” Reading lessons, math lessons, book time, computer time, conversations about history and cultural events, and most of all, his projects. We are project-based homeschoolers, which means that I set aside time for my son’s interests and use some “tricks of the trade” to get him to study deeper than the surface of those subjects.

My four-year-old has interests too, and lately I’ve been considering how I can make more time for his projects and lessons. I don’t think that at four-years-old, academics should be a priority, but by letting him explore his interests, he is learning everything a four-year-old would typically learn in preschool anyway.

Right now he loves letters and numbers. He hasn’t mastered the ability to identify all the letters like my oldest son did at an early age, but he’s taking a different approach. He loves to sing the ABC song, and by singing it with him every night, he has mastered it.

He loves to count everything, and we often overhear him counting when he’s playing by himself. He loves to play our math games even though they are too hard for him, and sometimes he’ll play by himself when no one else is available. He uses some tiny little, rubber vehicles (manipulatives) to help him add and subtract.

His favorite subject is dinosaurs, and whenever we go to the library, he asks for dinosaur books. (I’m really tired of reading about dinosaurs!) He watches dinosaur shows on T.V. with his brother, and we’ve taken him to museums to see dinosaur bones. He has asked me to draw him dinosaurs, make a dinosaur out of clay, and his father tells him a story about “Dig Dig the T-Rex” every night before bed. I have never thought about it before, but I guess you could say that he has an ongoing “dinosaur project.”

Whenever he tells me to draw or make him something, I encourage him to try to do it himself first. He never wants to. I guess he knows his own limits. I started to get frustrated about this, but then I remembered all the “art” he makes on his own. You might call it “abstract” art, but it takes some time and thought. He is very calculating about applying different colors of paint all over one piece of paper, drawing line art, or cutting and taping paper together to make interesting shapes. I’m glad he’s felt free to “create” whenever he wants to, and I have a nice collection of his work to save in a memory box.

When you have more than one child, it’s easy to worry about whether or not you’re giving them their fair share of your time, but in many ways, both boys have benefitted from not having my full attention. They occupy themselves. And when I stop to chronicle everything they do, I’m pleasantly surprised that quite a bit gets accomplished without me even trying.

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By having all our materials accessible to both of my children, I’m very happy to see how my youngest son has picked up on the “creating” “building” “art” vibe of his house. I will often find him in the activity room, scribbling away on a piece of paper. Sometimes, he pretends he’s writing. Other times, he wants to paint, and I love how he carefully applies different colors to his work. What I love most is when he’ll gather a bunch of supplies, such as paper, pen, markers, scissors, glue, string, beads, goggly eyes or what not, and then he says, “I’m gonna make somethin!” Here’s a slideshow of some of my four-year-old’s art and “writing.”

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March 31, 2014

Quick Magazine Update

I’m excited to tell you that the premiere of home / school / life magazine should be out sometime next week! I’ve had an awesome time collaborating on this beautiful magazine (it’s beautiful because Amy, editor-in-chief, is soooo talented at page layout!). I don’t know about you, but when I’m reading something, whether in print or online, it’s gotta look nice or I skip to something else.

Today is the last day we’re offering a discounted rate on the digital subscriptions ($12; reg. $15). If you’re trying to decide, we’ve posted the Table of Contents on the website. (We will be posting information about print subscriptions soon. Unfortunately, that has been delayed because we’re waiting on some things to happen first.) If you buy a digital subscription and later decide you’d like a print subscription instead, we will gladly make the switch for you and apply what you’ve already paid toward your print subscription!

You can also read about our regular departments and their descriptions here.  If you have any questions at all, please ask me!

March 29, 2014

Homeschool Art Lesson: Fra Giovanni Angelico

This is the second art lesson we did using the book Discovering Great Artists: Hands-On Art for Children.  I’m not going to go into great detail about the artist or details on how to do the activity because you can get those details from the book, but rather I want to show you what my children did and what we learned from it. For each lesson I read the brief introduction about the artist to my son, and we looked up images of the artist’s work online.

As I wrote in my main post about art, 1st Grade Art Explorations, I have wanted to introduce some artists and their techniques to my son. We do a lot of art and building around here, and my son is developing his creativity tremendously from the way we homeschool. I hope these occasional formal lessons will give him more to think about as he continues on with his own creative work.

Fra Giovanni Angelico, according to Discovering Great Artists, was an Italian monk who was one of the greatest painters of the early Renaissance. The book also tells us, “Artists of this era often gave halos to the angels and people in their paintings…. Halos were often made with real gold, not with gold paint. Gold metal was pounded into a very thin sheet called ‘gold leaf’, then glued onto the wall or canvas or varnish. Young artists paint beautiful pictures with “silver leaf” decoration using everyday aluminum foil.

My four-year-old wasn’t interested in this exercise, but from this photo, you can see what my seven-year-old and I did. He did the dragon on the right. (He’s really into dragons right now.) I did the sun.

He made the dragon’s wing out of aluminum foil and then tried painting over it. We discovered that this didn’t work so well. The paint dried and began to flake off. He also messed up something around the feet of the dragon, and I filled in that area with white paint, trying to show him how he can blend his mistakes in, making shadows or light. I think his painting turned out quite nice.

March 25, 2014

Homeschool Art Lesson: Giotto di Bondone

“Motorcycle” by the seven-year-old using egg tempura paint

This is the first art lesson we did using the book Discovering Great Artists: Hands-On Art for Children.  I’m not going into great detail about the artist or how to do the activity because you can get that from the book, but rather I want to show you what my children did and what we learned from it.

As I wrote in my main post about art, 1st Grade Art Explorations, I have wanted to introduce some artists and their techniques to my son. We do a lot of art and building around here, and my son is developing his creativity tremendously from the way we homeschool. I hope these occasional formal lessons will give him more to think about as he continues on with his own creative work.

Giotto di Bondone lived from 1266-1337. He was an artist of the Italian Renaissance.  As the book tells us, “Many paintings of Giotto’s time were made with egg tempera paint on special panels of wood. There were no art stores, so each artist had to make paint by grinding minerals, clay, berries, or even insects into fine powder and mixing this pigment with egg yolk and water.”

Painting by the four-year-old using egg tempura paint

I like Discovering Great Artists because it tells just a little information about each artist, which is all my seven-year-old and four-year-old care to know! (So for older kids who want to delve further into an artist’s life – this is not the book for them.) My seven-year-old does seem to enjoy looking at art by each of the artists on the Internet. (The book does not provide examples of the artists’ work, but there are plenty to be found online.)

We didn’t mix egg yolk and insects, which would have been quite interesting! We followed the book’s instructions and used egg and colored chalk.  I thought the colors turned out quite nice, and we were all pleased with our artwork.

My seven-year-old is prone to outbursts when his art doesn’t look exactly like what he sees in his head. While he was painting his motorcycle, he messed up the back wheel.  I have been trying to encourage him to turn mistakes into something else and also realize that it doesn’t have to be perfect. Someday I may tackle this issue in a post of its own, but for now I’ll say that I think perfectionist kids need a lot of encouragement, and they need to be shown how other people have made mistakes and work through them, but they also just need time to mature too.

Painting by an adult using egg tempura paint

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