Thursday, December 13, 2012

2nd Grade "My Ancestor + Me" Portraits

2nd Graders have been working on a drawing unit based on the Blueprint Standards for Visual Arts (the NYC art standards). We started the unit by doing an oil pastel exploration in which students explored the various ways we can manipulate oil pastels (blend, mix, layer, smudge, etc.). 
After this, students discussed ancestors and learned that an ancestor is "someone that has lived before us". Students then made a list on the SMART board of all the ancestors in their life that are important to them. We then discussed how students have been learning about Hispanic heritage in their classroom and learned that even if we are not Hispanic, we all have a heritage. We then discussed our heritages and made a list on the SMART board of all the places our ancestors come from. Students then looked at the art of Chicano artist Carmen Lomas Garza. Students learned that she often makes art to honor her Mexican-American heritage and her Mexican ancestors. We looked at various paintings of hers. 

Carmen Lomas Garza, "Tamalada"

Carmen Lomas Garza, "Sandia"

After this, students looked at the art of various artists that create portraits of their ancestors to honor them. We looked in the book, "Honoring our Ancestors: Stories and Pictures by Fourteen Artists", edited by Harriet Rohmer. 

Next, we discussed an ancestor that is very important to us and filled out worksheets to help us brainstorm about our ancestor. Students then sketched their ancestor in pencil. 

The following weeks, students worked in oil pastel to create portraits of themselves (using mirrors to work from observation) and their ancestor (working from a photo they brought in or from memory)

2-225 Working from observation with mirrors

Junior, 2-225, working on his portraits
2-212 working

2-212 working
After students finished making their portraits, they made a background (a place they might go with their ancestor). The final week, students were given checklists to help them make sure they had accomplished all of the goals for the project. They used ebony pencils and scratch sticks to add details, like eyelashes or hair texture. 

Luis, 2-107, work in progress

We hope you enjoy 2nd Grade's Drawings!

Brandon, 2-225

Briannie, 2-212

Jaeden, 2-212

Junior, 2-225

Kira, 2-212

Michelle, 2-225

Rosalia, 2-225

Thomas, 2-225

Xavier, 2-212 

Bethany, 2-212


NYC Blueprint for Teaching and Learning in the Visual Arts
Strand I: Art Making, Strand II: Developing Art Literacy, Strand III: Recognizing the Societal, Cultural, and Historical Significance of Art - Connecting Art to Other Disciplines (social studies and Hispanic Heritage Month)
Common Core Standards
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.2.1 Ask and answer such questions as who, what, where, when, why, and how to demonstrate understanding of key details in a text (text being the art we looked at by Carmen Lomas Garza and the artists in the book “Honoring Our Ancestors”).
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.2.8 Recall information from experiences or gather information from provided sources to answer a question (did this to answer ancestor worksheet at the beginning of unit and reflection worksheet at end of unit).
CCSS.Math.Content.2.G.A.1 Recognize and draw shapes having specified attributes (shapes in the faces of our portraits), such as a given number of angles or a given number of equal faces. Identify triangles, quadrilaterals, pentagons, hexagons, and cubes.

PS Art 2012 Video!

For the past three years, students from PS 250 have been chosen to be a part of a wonderful city wide art competition and exhibition called PS Art (Check it out!) This past year, a fourth grade student was chosen from our school, Jesenia Davila. Her work, "The Wolf", is an oil pastel Trip-Tych:

This past September, I was asked to be interviewed about the PS Art competition. I am a huge believer in students being given an opportunity to exhibit their work and feel the accomplishment and pride that comes with such an opportunity, so I was delighted and honored to be asked. The video has recently become available and I wanted to share it with all of you! The entire video is fantastic, and really gives a good glimpse into this amazing competition. My clip is toward the end, around the 10:45 mark. Enjoy!


Friday, November 16, 2012

5th Grade Abstract Chalk Pastel Explorations

5th Graders have been learning about abstract expressionism. Abstract expressionism was an American Post-World War II art movement. The abstract expressionist movement was characterized by expression of the artist’s emotions and feelings through color, shape and line. The paintings are abstract, so they do not depict recognizable forms, like people or places. 5th graders learned about two abstract expressionists in particular, Hans Hofmann and Sonia Delaunay. 
"Song of the Nightingale", Hans Hofmann, 1964
Image from
"La Prose du Transsibérien et de lat petite Jehanne de France", Sonia Delaunay, 1913
Image from

After looking at, and discussing, multiple works of art by these artists on the Smart Board, students considered how they could use different elements of art (line, shape, color, volume) to compose a work of art.  Students were directed to choose one shape to fill their paper with in any way they wanted. Some students chose to draw a 3-D shape, others chose to overlap their shape to create new shapes.
HC-316 students in-progress

Michael, HC-316

Students used graphite sticks to create their compositions, then worked on filling in the shapes with color using chalk pastels. Students focused on adding value by blending and layering the chalk pastel to create the illusion of volume in their compositions. 
Please enjoy their beautiful compositions!
Joaquin, "The Magic's Triangles", 5-308

"Mixed Colors", Andy, HC-316

"A Triangle Party", Lucy, HC-316

"Square's Colors", Vanessa, 5-308

"The Crazy Squares", Xinchen, HC-316

Paige, 5-308

"The Moving Shapes", Adam, 5-308

Thursday, September 13, 2012

HAPPY NEW (school) YEAR!

Welcome back! I can't believe summer is already over and we are once again beginning a new school year! This is my fifth year at PS 250 and I am so excited for all of the projects and plans I have for the artists at our school this year!!
The art room is all ready for the new year:
Front of the Art Room

Back of the Art Room

Students have been spending the first art class of the year learning (and reviewing) the rules and procedures of the art room. Students all received seats at my tables (labeled by color) and have learned that they need to work together with their tablemates to follow the rules so that they can earn gems on my behavior chart. They can earn gems at the beginning of class, during work time, at clean up and at line up. If they receive all of their gems, their table earns stickers! They have learned that it is always important to be listening and following the rules so that they know what the directions for art making are for the day.

Positive Behavior Chart

This year, every student is going to create a pencil self-portrait the first day (or days for the younger grades) and last day of art class. I want everyone to have a chance to see the progress they make during the year, but I also feel self-portraits are a great way to get back into the art-making groove. Self-portraits force us to sharpen our observational skills (when we're looking in mirrors), think about the various types of lines and marks we can make (i.e., thick, thin, curvy, light, dark, etc.), as well as how we can re-create what we see in a mirror, with a pencil and line on a piece of paper.
Here are a few students working hard to create their realistic drawings:
1-105 working hard



Here a few samples of the fabulous self-portraits students drew:

Lucas, 4-312

Kira, 2-212

Nathaly, 3-228
Jaden, 5-327
Joseph, 5-327
Nicholas, 5-327
Andrea K-B01
Elijah, K-B01
Stanley, 1-107

Matthew, HC-305

Next, students will be discussing how artists keep track of and care for their artwork by making portfolios, which they will use to store these portraits (and all of the other art they make this year) in. By the looks of these portraits, I know this year will be a FABULOUS year for our artists!!!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Legacy Project


Photos property of BRIC Arts, 2012
At the end of the school year, PS 250 was very fortunate to be chosen by BRIC Arts (a non-profit arts organization here in New York City) to receive a residency that culminated in the creation of a legacy project. Check out BRIC here. The project was a mural of individual portraits (drawn on glass) created by every member of the school community (every child, teacher, support staff, etc.). The project was the brain child of BRIC Artist Ellie Balk. She was assisted by artist Erica Kermani, who also documented and put together a video of this project. Check out the video:

PS 250 The Legacy Project from BRIC Contemporary Art on Vimeo.