Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Days of the Dead

Timeframe: Up to 3- 45 minute sessions

Grade Level: 3rd

Materials: black construction paper, white tag board, oil pastels, black permanent markers, yellow construction paper, scissors, glue, construction paper crayons, paint, glitter glue

Here's what we did:

I read several books about the Days of the Dead to students. We discussed how the Days of the Dead are happy days meant for remembering and celebrating. Some connections that these books helped students to make are that the Days of the Dead are more like Memorial Day than Halloween, that Days of the Dead artwork can be seen everywhere including the mall, and that the Days of the Dead are not scary. My favorite is that the Days of the Dead artwork can represent animals as well as humans.

Students identified a person to honor with their artwork. They brainstormed ideas for how to best represent this person, then began drawing their skulls. They drew symbols to represent their brainstorming. They included flowers because flowers are very common in Days of the Dead artwork. They drew the symbols and some flowers in the margins of the white tag board containing their skulls. They painted their skulls with white and off white tempera mixed with pearlescent mixing medium. After drying, they traced the skull and flowers with a black permanent marker. Then, they used the construction paper crayons to draw flowers on the yellow construction paper. They also used the oil pastels to add a variety of colors and patterns to the skull and tag board flowers. After everything was dry, they cut it out and assembled it to a piece of black construction paper as a collage.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Cows with Local Artist Garrett May

Timeframe: Up to 4-45 minute sessions

Grade Level: 2nd and 3rd

Materials: black construction paper, pencils, oil pastels, baby oil, white school glue

I spent several hours in the spring of 2012 with my good friend Garrett May. We talked about art, and we talked about his cows. I met Garrett May through my brother Don Greenwood about 5 years ago. Both were art students at Mississippi State University at the time. Garrett May is an interesting individual. He grew up on a farm with lots of animals, has a deep southern drawl, and is about 45 feet tall. I have to admit that I had never in my life considered that such a down-to-earth country boy could be such an amazing artist. It just didn't fit with my preconceived notions about artists. However, the more I studied his works, the more I came to appreciate my friend's talent. 

I had an epiphany about using Garrett May to teach a lesson to my students. I really wanted them to understand that artists are everywhere and that anyone can be an artist. I know they usually think of artists as living far away and being like a famous movie star. In other words, they think of artists as being very removed from their situations.

Here's what we did:

Students viewed examples of Garrett May's artwork and worked in groups to brainstorm questions for him to answer. He was kind enough to select a sampling of questions and record a video interview for the students to watch. 

They drew their own cows and outlined with white school glue.

Next, the students used oil pastels to add color.

They used baby oil to help ease the smearing process. It also made the work look more like it was made with oil paints than oil pastels.

Garrett May is from Brookhaven, MS. So, we added that to our art around the world map.

Here is one of my favorite pieces by Garrett May.

I hope this post gives you an idea about tapping into local resources for your teaching! Feel free to leave comments!

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