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Art Smarts #1 March 19, 2009

Posted by alwaysjan in Art Education.
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Close-up of art by 8-year-old artist








Black construction paper.  White glue.  Chalk.  It’s that easy.  (Okay, I used pastels instead of chalk, which aren’t that cheap, but you can get a lot of mileage out of a couple of boxes). I’d seen the fantastic artwork done by second graders displayed in the hall using this process.  That art was simpler – a straight line, a curvy line, and a zigzag line, with the shapes colored in between.  Wonderfully abstract images.  Some of my third graders had already “been there, done that,” so I upped the ante.  Since we’ve studying fractions, I had them fold their paper into fourths.  (I’m big on killing one bird with two stones -better yet, pummel that bird with as many standards (er, I mean stones) as you can lay your hands on.

The directions were to draw a geometric shape (a triangle) in 1/4, an organic design in 1/4, and a spiral in 1/4. The last quarter was free choice (that always elicits a cheer). No drawing in pencil first either.  I drew a couple of examples on the board then turned my students loose.

Glue on paper before it's dried

Glue on paper before it's dried

The biggest problem was even though I’d checked the Elmer’s glue bottles, half of them were clogged.  I spent a fair amount of time bending paperclips to try and get the glue flowing.  Note to self.  Next time, have a student test all of the bottles ahead of time!  A few students were a little heavy-handed when it came to squeezing the glue, but overall it went quite smoothly.

I showed students how to carry their papers over to the floor like a tray of cookies, or else the glue would start running.  I hoped that if we laid the papers in front of my big fan, the glue might dry while we were at lunch. Wishful thinking.  This is a 2-day project.

I cordoned off the “drying” area with rope.  One student remarked it was like having an art gallery in our classroom. The children proceeded to crowd the rope to get a better view of their art.   Yes, it did look like a gallery – on the floor and laid out over several chairs.  When one boy decided he was going to be the museum “guard,” I sent them all back to their seats.





By the next day, the white glue had dried so that it was clear.  I gave a quick lesson in how to use the pastels.  Don’t use them like crayons; use the sides. Each table got a paper plate of various colors and  I suggested they complete 1/4 then walk around to see what other students were doing.  There’s always a couple of “Class Artists” who are only to happy to share their expertise.




Trouble Shooting:  1) There’s always those kids who just use the same old colors on the school rug-red, blue, yellow, and green.  I suggested they experiment with blending colors or working with only cool colors and then using one warm color.

2) A couple of kids paid no attention to the raised glue lines.  They just wanted to color in big areas and viewed the lines as “speed bumps.”   I had to get them to slow down and work within the lines.


Considering it was the first time I taught the lesson, I thought the results were stunning.  When the pastel goes over the glue, it takes on almost a metallic or jewel-tone look.  Ooooh!  Ahhhhh!