Fourth graders continued their study of cultures from around the world with this unit on Japanese art. Students watched an animated video introduction to the history of gyotaku prints. We practiced painting the rubber fish molds with tempera paint and printing on narrow sheets of newsprint paper. Students worked together to share paint, brushes and various fish molds.
On the next day of class, each student printed two to three fish in the color scheme of their choice, warm or cool. To create a lifelike representation, students added white paint to tint the fish's belly. Once each student had printed their fish, the paper was hung up to dry and students helped one another with printing and clean-up.
After students had printed their fish, they were encouraged to complete their composition by creating an underwater environment. Each class used chalk pastels and green tissue paper to depict water and seaweed. We talked about the use of space and balance, and how to create depth and overlap using the tissue paper.
When the compositions were complete, students finished the assignment by adding a red chop print with the Japanese character of their choice. Students carved the character in reverse into a small sheet of Styrofoam, and printed with red ink.
Below are examples of the finished artwork.
To coincide with our Harlem Renaissance unit in the classroom, fifth and sixth grade Art Club students collaborated to recreate an artwork by Jacob Lawrence. Students volunteered last week during their lunch and recess time to paint pieces of Lawrence's "Library" to assemble a 4x5 foot mural.
I removed all color from an image of Lawrence's painting in Adobe Photoshop. I enlarged the image to print across 36 sheets of 8.5x11 inch construction paper. The pieces were pinned to my classroom bulletin board surrounded by figures and works of The Harlem Renaissance.
Students who were interested in participating came during lunch and recess, a total of 42 minutes. We ate together in my classroom and as students finished eating, they were encouraged to select a piece of the mural to paint.
Students used tempera paint, just as Lawrence had used. Each student had to mix paints and identify their placement based on an image of the original painting.
This activity tied in well with our classroom discussion about how the arts reflect and impact communities. The students' creation will be viewed prominently in their own community at the Oregon Public Library this month.
As we continue our study of The Harlem Renaissance, each student will create an original artwork with accompanying written story or poem as well as a personal selection of music. Each class will curate an exhibition of their peers to also display in the community.
I am very proud of how hard these students worked and for volunteering their time last week to participate. The mural looks amazing thanks to their dedication!
The students' mural is now on display at Oregon Public Library!
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