Día de los muertos

This year, one of my Ceramics classes collaborated with the Spanish class in studying and celebrating Día de los muertos. This took place over several weeks with 45 students in multiple settings.  

Once students learned about this ancient cultural tradition, they started making things to prepare for November 1st, the first day of Día de los muertos.  From a sugar mixture, students used molds to create their calavera blank. 

The skulls dried over night and then were decorated with icing, sprinkles, glitter, etc... 

The culminating project would be a mini ofrenda where students could honor and remember someone who has passed away.  To help decorate these spaces, students practiced making papel picado, paper flowers, and calavera prints. 

The classroom was transformed for Day of the Dead, with tablecloths, marigolds and many stories and memories of loved ones who have passed. 

Students shared their project with their table and walked around to view others' projects.

We also shared pan de muerto the traditional food item used for Day of the dead. 

Since this class was at the beginning of the day, I left the decorations up so I could share information about this tradition with all my students.  Some classes used the bouquets to draw a still life.

Another class used a video from Youtube to draw realistic skulls. 

Several days before this event, a couple classes did a quick printmaking activity to create flowers for these student-painted calaveras. 

 Though the room was covered in skulls, the images were happy and colorful.  The idea of Día de los muertos is to celebrate those who have passed away.  I also shared the political message behind Posada's La Catrina, which is also a common symbol of Day of the dead.

This celebration was mostly dissected by the Ceramics class, so I wanted them to also consider connections between Día de los muertos and ceramics.  A few students started working on their own interpretation of La Catrina, some created clay marigolds... students came up with several connections.  These are still in progress, we've had to pause them several times for various systemic situations. 


To make this collaborative beehive I did a directed draw lesson to help students add enough texture and detail to their bee drawing.  It took almost a whole period to just draw and trace the drawing with a sharpie.  The next day we added a little yellow paint, then carefully cut out the bee.  

To create the hexagons for the hive, students used the radius of a circle to mark the points around the circle that would be connected to make the hexagon.  The idea is demonstrated in this image... 
Image result for radius of circle hexagon
 I printed out circles on yellow paper and helped students find the radius and mark the points on the circumference.  Once students created the hexagon, we used bubble wrap and paint to stamp a little color onto the hive. 


Students in my one-trimester art class spent some time exploring the seven elements of art.  To practice creating the form I demonstrated for students how to start with a shape, then add shading and highlights to create a three dimensional form.  Some of these forms were drawn together as a class and others students drew on their own.  These were drawn on different colors of construction paper then cut out and assembled to create an impossible stack of balancing forms. 

Color Introductions

Students practiced their color mixing skills this week as we learned about the magical primary colors and the many other color groups/families.  It is really exciting for students to explore color by using only three colors - red, blue, yellow.  Eventually I also gave them white to experiment with tints as well. 

Each student approached this project in his or her own manner.  Students were asked to choose one shape to repeat in their painting, in as many different colors as possible.  

Art with a Message - Keith Haring

Several of my classes learned about Keith Haring this week.  His simple bright style is a great way to help students feel comfortable drawing and "making" in my class. 

After learning about his tendency to make art in response to what was happening in his community, students were asked to create a Keith Haring inspired artwork that also had a positive message. 

Many students focused on "Love" and "Caring".

Some students wanted to send a message of positivity and having fun.

Grid Drawings

This is the third year I've tried a grid drawing project with students -  with possibly the best results yet!  I printed black and white photos for students to draw a one inch grid over, then they drew another grid on a blank piece of paper.  We watched this video to see the grid method in action and learned a little about Chuck Close.  

Check out these awesome drawings by 6th, 7th and 8th graders!

Radial Symmetry

This week students created symmetrical designs based on rotational or radial symmetry.  They began with one design on a small square using geometric or organic shapes and lines.  Then this design was transferred four times to create a final design.