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!