Taratories Blog

More Than Meets the Eye

Recently I did an art lesson with my art class based on the book, "Over and Under the Snow" by Kate Messner, illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal.  The book takes readers on a trip through the woods in winter discovering the secret world of animals living under the snow.  

I decided that collage would be a good medium of choice for this project.  They were allowed to use a mix of construction papers and pieces from magazines.  I instructed them to start from the top and work their way down, that way they could overlap their pieces without covering anything important.  The goal was to have 3 layers including the background (sky), middle ground (landscape), and underground! I love the affect of the different white pieces from magazines that were used to create the snow.  There is so much more shading and texture that comes from using magazine pieces compared to just using white paper.  

I taught them how to draw a variety of animals that they could draw and put into their scenes.  I showed them step by step how to draw an owl, squirrel, bear, mouse, and a fox.  I love the variety of scenes that they came up with!  As I thought about these underground winter habitats, I thought about how sometimes we are fooled by other surfaces we encounter.  Just like these animals that are hidden from the naked eye, in the same way we are fooled by what we see on the surface of people in the world around us.  Sometimes it takes getting to know people on a deeper level to find out what is really going on inside.  I am guilty of making judgements of people based on my first impressions, but I want to work hard to always give people a chance to show who they really are.

I also have a friend a fellow artist here in Akron named Deborah Shapiro http://deborahshapiroart.com/ who creates works of art from torn pages of magazines.  I shared this video of hers to my students to give them some inspiration for their collages...

"Stacking" with Cardboard

This week in my homeschool art class we are studying the artist Grandma Moses.  I love that she started painting at the age of 78.  It's never too late to start painting!  Her primitive folk paintings were done on cardboard and she painted rural scenes from her memories of her life growing up.  I decided to let the students paint their own winter landscape in Grandma Moses style and I thought it would be cool to let them paint them on cardboard just as she did herself.

I picked up some large pieces of cardboard from our local Pier One (tip: when shipping large pictures in the mail they are the perfect place to get boxes from).  I had to cut 16 pieces out of the cardboard with a knife for my two classes before I primed each one of them to get them ready to be painted on.  

As I was cutting the cardboard, I thought my son Sawyer would enjoy using the leftovers as a play house to cure his cabin fever.  I strategically cut the rectangles out where I thought he would enjoy having some windows, etc.

Of course he wanted to paint his house with his favorite color as I was continuing to cut out cardboard.

My good friend, Megan, once shared a story with me about a time when she was making guacamole in the kitchen while her kids were playing outside in the beautiful sunshine.  Instead of working alone while her kids fended for themselves, she decided to take the guacamole outside and work on it on their picnic table.  In no time she had her kids and neighbor kids surrounding her at the table chopping and dicing and mixing as they helped her make the guacamole.  Not only were the kids learning how to make some delicious food, they were spending time with their mom, learning how to measure ingredients using math, and also exposing their neighbor friends to something that they had never experienced before.  Megan was able to get outside and enjoy the sunshine, be with her children, and educate them at the same time all the while reaching out to some neighbors.  She explained to me that this was her idea of "stacking" in life.  Instead of doing one task at a time, stacking one task on top of another experience, on top of another mission, etc. to create margins elsewhere.

Cutting cardboard this week ended up to be a "stacking" experience.  Instead of fending off my son to stay away from the knife and shooing him into the next room to fend for himself,  I was able to enjoy watching my son get creative and have fun with his imagination, let him experience something he had never experienced before, recycle scraps into a play toy, and accomplish a task that I needed to get done for my art class.  With long "to do" lists and little margins in life, its great to "stack" things and make more time for hanging out with your kids in cardboard houses!