You know how once in a while you need a reminder of why you were such a fan of a certain artist’s work? Well, with my 4th graders, I am finding that reminder about Grand Wood. Goodness, do I love talking about the appreciation of Iowa farm land and farm life. And I really think my students, who live in the city, are starting to feel similar. I can dream, can’t I?
While, needless to say, I wanted to find a way that students could add some detail to their Grant Wood Landscapes without taking away from the monochromatic feel that they had done such a great job creating.
So today we talked about Depth – Detail and Contrast. Depth, as in how we created our space to feel three dimensional with our hills getting smaller. Detail and Contrast together, we attacked head on today. I simply asked the students that if I were to draw an orange barn on my orange hill, would it stand out? “NO!” they say to me! Of course not – so I found this a perfect time to introduce line drawings as our detail piece.
Students and I talked about how a line drawing requires the opposite of what art projects often ask for and that is less detail, no shading, and lots of line! They are black and white, and often simple and similar to a cartoon! We had a great discussion on what you would and wouldn’t find on a farm (“I don’t find it likely that you would find a Ferrari on a farm, Miss J,” a student explained. And he’s probably right.) so that we could narrow down our goals. After this, I sat with the students and showed them how simple shapes like rectangles, squares, circles, and ovals are the shapes most often found on a farm. Some of the students said barns looked so much like houses – this is simple to fix, have them add the big “X” on the door of the barn and it becomes the signature symbol of many barns in Iowa.
So at this point, students are given a narrow strip of paper (helps their drawings stay small for the oil pastel project) and start by drawing their images of farm life in pencil. Once they fill the strip, they can get a black sharpie and outline it. If they are done before the end of class, they simple start another strip with more images. “You have plenty of space on a farm so let’s fill it up!” I will say to them.
I’m excited by some of the details coming out already – one student brought up scare crows and that was a big hit! Next time, they will cut their images out and glue them on the appropriate hill (small in the back, large in the front) on their drawing – showing perspective!