Category: Art History

3rd Grade – Wayne Thiebaud’s Desserts

3rd Grade – Wayne Thiebaud’s Desserts

Description of the Unit –

The class will observe and discuss the work of contemporary American painter Wayne Thiebaud, focusing especially on his dessert paintings. Using similar characteristics as seen on Thiebaud’s paintings, students will create their own dessert composition in oil and chalk pastels.

Activity statement –

According to the Jim Kempner Fine Art website, “Wayne Thiebaud (b. 1920) is an American painter best known for his still life paintings of edible treats and everyday objects in his singular illustrative style” (https://jimkempnerfineart.com/wayne-thiebaud.php ). His most popular subject matter includes cakes in colorful pastel hues, slices of pie, candies such as lollipops, cupcakes, and interestingly, the streets of San Francisco. His paintings generally include thick, bold applications of stylized color, highly defined shadows, and cartoon-like line. His approach to painting gives his desserts a tactile, textured feel. Students will consider using these same characteristics to create the composition of one sweet treat (or treats) of their own, while also considering the placement of the light source in their design, so as to properly express a form and cast shadow.

Wayne Thiebaud’s “Cake Rows” (1960’s), and “Confections” (1962)
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2nd Grade – The art of Paper Marbling

2nd Grade – The art of Paper Marbling

Description of the Unit –

Students will learn a little about the history of marbled paper, and will observe the different kinds of designs known to the craft. In groups they will then make their own marbled paper

The Venetian style of marbled paper known as Bouquet
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Kindergarten – Andy Goldsworthy’s Environmental Art

Kindergarten – Andy Goldsworthy’s Environmental Art

Description of the Unit –

Students will explore Andy Goldsworthy’s ephemeral land art, then venture outside to come up with their own environmental sculptures.

Activity statement –

Andy Goldsworthy is known as an environmental or land artist. What this means is that he uses natural artifacts—branches, leaves, rocks, ice, etc.—to create his sculptures and installations. Goldsworthy’s art is also temporary. He never creates anything that won’t eventually be destroyed by waves, wind and natural processes. Goldsworthy invites the viewer to contemplate the ephemeral, transitory beauty of the natural world. His works involve the use of pattern, color and balance. Interestingly, all of the color in his work comes from the objects themselves, never from him painting any of it. So for example, if you look at the image that looks like a tree trunk ringed with glowing light or fire, he simply used fallen gold and orange leaves to give it that effect.

Four examples of Andy Goldsworthy’s environmental sculptures
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5th Grade – Alexander Calder and Kinetic Sculptures

5th Grade – Alexander Calder and Kinetic Sculptures

Description of the Unit –

Students will explore the whimsical, yet ordered and divinely balanced kinetic sculptures of Alexander Calder, using his work as inspiration for their own kinetic sculpture.  

Alexander Calder working on one of his kinetic sculptures, and his piece Antenna, 1940
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2nd Grade – Symbolism through a personal collage

2nd Grade – Symbolism through a personal collage

Description of the Unit –

Students will explore the concept of symbolism in art, and how they can use symbols—images—to represent aspects of themselves. Using magazines, books and other random two-dimensional found objects (such as playing cards or ticket stubs), students will carefully arrange symbolic imagery into a collage within a silhouette of their own profile.

2nd grade silhouette collages
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1st Grade – Pointillism and symmetry with insect designs

1st Grade – Pointillism and symmetry with insect designs

Description of the Unit –

This unit merges a study of pointillism with the practice of symmetry, culminating in insect designs that use pointillism to create symmetrical sides to each insect.

1st grade – dragonfly, using pointillism & symmetry
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Kindergarten – Watercolor “stains” inspired by Helen Frankenthaler

Kindergarten – Watercolor “stains” inspired by Helen Frankenthaler

Description of the Unit –

Students will explore the work and approaches to painting innovated by Helen Frankenthaler, and use very simple soak-stain techniques to apply watercolor onto paper to create equally vibrant washes.

Kindergarten art – Helen Frankenthaler-inspired watercolor “stain” painting
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6th Grade – Emphasis and Distortion in Wire Figure Sculpture, inspired by Alberto Giacometti and Ernie Barnes

6th Grade – Emphasis and Distortion in Wire Figure Sculpture, inspired by Alberto Giacometti and Ernie Barnes

Description of the Unit –

Observing the distorted gestural figure sculptures of Alberto Giacometti (1901-1966), as well as the elongated, rhythmic figure paintings by Ernie Barnes (1938-2009) that both emphasize and exaggerate long limbs, students will create similarly distorted, gestural sculptures primarily out of wire.

Homme qui chavire/Falling Man, Alberto Giacometti, 1950, and High Aspirations, Ernie Barnes, date unknown
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4th Grade – Cubist-inspired Portrait and Figure Studies

4th Grade – Cubist-inspired Portrait and Figure Studies

Cubist-inspired Figure & Portrait Studies

Description of the Unit –

Students practiced aspects of traditional figure study, learning to draw facial features, hands and feet. Students then built on their experience to explore the Cubist approach to the figure, and used what they learned about Cubism to create a cubist-inspired portrait or figure collage their earlier drawings.

4th grade “Cubist” portrait collage
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