Sunday, September 27, 2009

Create Your Own Picasso Painted Collage

Pablo Picasso’s art spanned many styles as he grew as an artist. I have posted about Picasso before and recommended that you try your hand at a music collage in his style. At the beginning of the summer I went to an art exhibit that had one of Picasso’s painted collages. Today’s project was inspired by that painting.

Note: My aunt created the jazzy painting with the brown background, and I painted the picture of the dog walker with the blue background. We used a lot of small pieces because we wanted to have fun with the project, but you can use as few or as many shapes of any size. It would be interesting to create a collage painting using only circles, squares, rectangles, and triangles. You would really start to notice the way objects are just made up of shapes stuck together.

You will need two sessions to complete this project.

Supplies Needed:

Poster board shape tracers
Foam board or heavy paper in the color of your background
Craft paint

The fun thing about this project is that two people will use the same shapes to create completely different paintings. My aunt and I both wanted to use all the shapes available so we could show this to you. You can pick which shapes you want to include in your painting and which you want to leave out.
Choose a sheet of paper or a piece of foam board in the color you’d like your background to be. You could also paint a solid color over the entire paper. Trust me; it’s a pain to paint the background after you’ve traced your image onto your paper. If you decide to paint your background, remember to let it dry before you go on.

Arrange the tracers into a picture on your paper. Move them around until you create an image you like. This seems like it would be difficult, but the shapes will form into pictures if you move them around enough. Remember, the color of the tracers doesn’t matter because you’re going to paint later.
When you’re happy with the layout, trace each shape with your pencil. This is the trickiest part of this project because the shapes can move if you aren’t careful. Take your time.
This is a good place to take a break if you need one.

The final step is to paint. At this point, you’re basically filling in a coloring book page. It’s much more satisfying, though, because you drew the outline yourself.

Allow your painting to dry and then compare it to the paintings your friends made using the same group of shape tracers. What similarities and differences do you notice?

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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Stone Mountain

Last week I posted about Gutzon Borglum’s Mount Rushmore monument to the first 150 years of United States history. But Mount Rushmore was not Borglum’s first attempt at a major mountainside monument. In 1915, Borglum agreed to carve a memorial on the face of Stone Mountain near Atlanta, Georgia.
The completed Confederate Memorial Carving at Stone Mountain, Georgia shows Confederate General Robert E. Lee, Confederate President Jefferson Davis, and Confederate General Stonewall Jackson, all on horseback. The carving is about the size of 3 football fields. It took 56 years and 3 sculptors to complete. None of what you see today was Gutzon Borglum’s work.

The United Daughters of the Confederacy’s original plan for the mountain was a twenty-foot carving of General Lee. Borglum agreed to complete the carving, but convinced them that a 20 sculpture was much too small for a mountain that size. He suggested a carving like the one on the mountain today. In my opinion, it’s still a little small on that huge mountain.
Borglum ran into a problem when it was time to begin work: How would he sketch his idea onto the mountain? He thought about this problem for a long time before developing a sort of overhead projector that could enlarge his sketch and project it onto the mountain. This projector was much larger than the ones teachers use in the classroom but worked in a similar way.

Gutzon Borglum prepared the mountain for carving begin in 1916. In 1923, real work began on the sculpture. Borglum and the United Daughters of the Confederacy did not get along and he finished carving only General Lee into the mountain when he left the Georgia.

Augustus Lukeman took over the project. His design was slightly different but still included General Lee, Confederate President Jefferson Davis, and General Jackson. In 1928, Lukeman blasted Borglum’s carving of General Lee from the mountain with dynamite. Unfortunately for Lukeman, Gutzon Borglum still had some friends working on Stone Mountain who did not want to see Borglum’s work destroyed. Lukeman did not last much longer.

No more work was done on the mountain until 1963 when Walter Hancock took over as sculptor. He decided to keep most of Lukeman’s design and workers cleaned the mildew from the mountain before continuing the carving. The sculpture was finished in 1970 but was not declared a completed piece of art until 1972.

I did not visit Stone Mountain on my road trip this summer, but I have been there. When I was in high school I took a trip to Atlanta, Georgia. In the evenings people sit on grass, listen to music, and watch the laser light show that is projected onto the mountain.

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Friday, September 4, 2009

Mount Rushmore

I mentioned on Tuesday that I did a bit of travelling this summer. In August and September I went on an amazing, 17-day road trip across the country and one of the things I saw was Mount Rushmore. After a visit to the sculptor’s studio, I knew I would have to tell you all about it.
Mount Rushmore is located in the Black Hills in South Dakota:
About 2 million people visit each year and I can understand why. The massive faces of former presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln have been carved into the mountainside in stunning detail that’s impossible to portray in a photograph. It’s tough to believe that the monument was meant to be much larger.

In the mid-1920s, the United States Congress decided to build the monument at Mount Rushmore in order to increase tourism in South Dakota. Sculptor Gutzon Borglum, who I’ll tell you more about next week, decided to take on the project.

Because Mount Rushmore was to be so large, Borglum couldn’t sculpt the entire mountain by himself. Instead, Borglum designed the monument and managed the men who actually carved the sculpture. It was dangerous work. As they carved, the men hung from the side of the mountain in swings like the one shown below!
It wasn’t easy to carve the faces into the solid granite mountain. The men had to blast away a lot of the rock using dynamite before they could begin to carve. They used a jackhammer, like the one below, to make holes for the dynamite.
Below is a man using a jackhammer to create holes in the mountain.
Dynamite was also used to erase mistakes from the mountain. Borglum originally settled on a design for the mountain that put Thomas Jefferson to the left of George Washington. When he discovered that the rock on that side of George Washington wasn’t strong enough to support the sculpture, the men blasted Jefferson off the mountain and began again on the other side of Washington.

Once the basic shapes of the faces had been created with dynamite, the men were able to use chisels and mallets to carve the finer details. Finally, they used a tool like the one below to smooth out the granite. The metal piece slips into the handle and then works like a small jackhammer to chip away tiny pieces of rock.
This process took 14 years; carving began in October 1927 and ended in October 1941.

Imagine how long it would have taken to carve the entire monument that Borglum designed:
In March 1941, Borglum died and his son took over the project. The United States became involved in World War II and Congress decided that we could not spend any more money on Mount Rushmore. It declared the mountain a finished piece of art.
And if this wasn't enough, check out this Lego Mount Rushmore. I did not see the Lego version, sadly.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Create Your Own Thumbprint Animal

It’s that time of year again! I don’t know about you, but I am so happy to be back in school. I disappeared for awhile this summer in order to do some travelling and in the next few weeks you’ll get to see and read about some of the things I’ve been doing. Hopefully you haven’t forgotten about my little website.

I have decided, however, that I will not be posting every day. It has been a long time since I was able to stick to a daily posting schedule and I don’t want to burn out again. You can expect art posts two or three times a week. If you want more (and why wouldn’t you?), check out any of the great blogs listed in the side bar.

And now, on to the art project: thumbprint animals.
I’m sure many of you have seen this project done elsewhere, but I love it. It’s quick and simple, and each child’s art piece is unique and creative. I like it as a beginning of the year project, especially if you’re studying fingerprints and fingerprinting. In Maryland, fingerprinting is often the first science unit that third graders complete, so hopefully this post is timely.

Supplied Needed:

Ink pads
Cardstock or watercolor paper cut into two-inch squares
Choose an ink color. This will be the body of your thumbprint animal. Press your thumb into the ink pad and then onto the center of your cardstock square. You should push your thumb straight down and then lift it straight up so your thumbprint doesn’t smear.
Decide what animal you’d like to create. I made a butterfly, a frog, a spider, and a rabbit. You might choose to make a chick, a fly, or an animal from your own imagination. Draw the face and details with a fine-tipped marker.
Sign your name at the bottom of your square. Frame and enjoy!

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