Lines, Lines and More Lines

Possible Classroom Concepts: Mathematics – Geometry (Lines)

Language Arts – Literature

Possible Art Concepts: Art History – Paul Klee, Bridget Riley, Wassily Kandinsky

Elements of Art (Lines, Colors), Nonobjective Art, Primary and Secondary Colors

“Now for the next installment of Integrating Art and Geometry.”  In my last post, we talked about a point or dot. The next logical geometric concept is line. As artist, Paul Klee, put it, “A line is a dot that went for a walk.”  In geometry, a line is described as an infinite number of points that extend infinitely either direction. The two theories are similar wouldn’t you say? In art, a line is one of the “elements of art”. The other elements being shape, form, color, space and texture. Art teachers teach the elements just as classroom teachers teach the alphabet and numbers. The  elements are the building blocks of all works of art.

While talking about points, we looked at Op artist, Bridget Riley’s dot paintings. It just so happens that Riley also made line paintings. You can see one of her line paintings and those of other line painters here. (This includes a line painting by our friend, Paul Klee!)  Since both geometry and art include the concept of line, why not combine the two units of study? I’ll scratch your back if you’ll scratch mine. Find some nice interactive line activities here.


Wassily Kandinsky’s “Composition VIII”

You could also examine Kandinsky’s “Composition VIII”. As you can see, Wassily has included many lines in this nonobjective composition. (Nonobjective means that the artist is not trying to reproduce a person, place or thing. I always told my students the prefix non means no, so it means no object.)  This piece can be used as a review for line concepts or at the end of the entire geometry  unit. This painting is a gold mine, containing lines, shapes, and  angles. First, play “Eye Spy” with the class to see how many line concepts Kandinsky included in his painting. (i.e.: line segments, intersecting lines, perpendicular lines, parallel lines, etc.) Okay, I know that the short lines are not true line segments because they do not include a point at either end. These thoughts can be pointed out during the class discussion. How are these lines the same and different from geometry lines? Students can then prove their understanding of line concepts by creating their own black crayon nonobjective line compositions. To enrich this lesson further, read  The Noisy Paint Box by Barb Rosenstock or watch this reading  from youtube. To brighten up these line compositions, the students can add color with watercolors. Students could also use only primary colors (red, yellow and blue) to discover or review the secondary colors they make where the colors overlap. You could even play some music while they paint just like Kandinsky did. After the works dry, students can turn over their papers and compose a written explanation of the  line concepts they included. Or, students can trade papers and see how many line concepts each neighbor can point out. You can see Kandinsky in the process of painting here.

For this lesson have “No more pencils, no more books!” Let’s have crayons, paints and music please! Give it a try!

Come by again real soon!

The Point.

Possible Classroom Concepts: Mathematics – Geometry ( Point, Line, Shape)

Language Arts – Literature, Science – Molecules, Social Studies – Countries Around The World (Australia)

Possible Art Concepts: Art History – George Seurat, Bridget Riley, Victor Vasarely, Yayoi Kusama, Chuck Close, Ben Heine

Elements of Art – Shape (Circle), Line

Positive/Negative Space

The next couple of posts will be devoted to how art and math correlate. There’s an excellent book entitled Math at the Art Museum by Group Majoongmul which can give you some great ideas. 

In honor of “International Dot Day”, which is quickly approaching on September 15th, let’s start with the smallest math unit, “the point”.  In art, we would call a point a dot or very very very small circle. Most of you are probably familiar with the picture book,  The Dot, by Peter Reynolds. If not, buy it, check it out of the library or view the story in this video. It’s a must see for so many reasons. Here are some mathematical concepts you can “point” out as you read The Dot  for literature on Dot Day or any other day.  The very first mark that Vashti made was a representation of a mathematical point. Later, Vashti goes on to create larger dots which represent the shape of a circle. One dot is even a negative shape of a circle. I love this book because it shows Vashti thinking, brainstorming and using her imagination. This is a continuation of a concept I recently talked about in this post. At the end of the book, Vashti encourages the young boy to make a line (the next concept after a point in geometry). You might encourage your students to predict what will happen next in the story, to use their thinking skills and brainstorm what the boy will do with line (how he will use his imagination).  Students could also choose a different geometric shape and see how many different ways they can depict it.


George Seurat’s “Saturday Afternoon on the Grande Jatte”

The evolution of dots in art history closely follows Vashti’s dot journey. George Seurat started the whole trend with very small points/dots repeated over and over again. This movement is called “Point”illism . In the 1950’s, the dots got bigger in a movement called  Op ArtBridget Riley and  Victor Vasarely really embraced the dot. Japanese artist, Yayoi Kusama also made dotted art at that time and continues to create dot art to this day in paintings, sculptures and installations. She sees dots as part of the universe going into infinity, like molecules make up objects and planets make up a universe. This is a scientific way of looking at dots. Chuck Close and Ben Heine are contemporary artists who make dotted portraits. For more dot artists and dot art ideas check out my Pinterest Circles board here.

The Australian Aboriginal culture also uses dots in their paintings. Examples and the story behind them can be found here and a video can be found here. This would be a GREAT addition to a social studies unit on countries around the world.

So, whether you’d like to celebrate an entire Dot Day including many subject areas or in a small way with one subject, I hope this post has been helpful! Have you ever celebrated Dot Day? If so, please share what you have done. I’d love to hear. Simply, click on the title of this post and scroll down to the comment section.

I hope you’ll visit again real soon!

Happy Labor Day!

Happy Labor Day! I never much thought about the significance of Labor Day until a few minutes ago when I checked out Google’s logo for today. It was always a day off work to me. After looking into it a little, I saw that the day recognizes the labor movement and the contributions made by American workers to our country’s economic growth. If you are studying or will study community helpers or careers, this week may be a good one to talk about what Labor Day  means with your students. Need some ideas? Check out this post I’ve done in the past.

Hope you enjoyed your holiday!

Come back real soon!

Teaching Creativity

Possible Classroom Concepts: Language Arts – Reading (Literature)

Social Studies – History (People Who Make a Difference), Science – Ecology

Possible Art Concepts: Art History – Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock

Painting Techniques, Drawing, Automatism, Action Painting

The other day, I was perusing Pinterest and ran across this Cindy Foley TED video on fostering creativity. Her talk reminded me of an art history course I took last semester. Our instructor highlighted the artists whose ideas/works changed art in each century. These are the kinds of students Cindy Foley wants us to develop, the thinkers and doers.

A few days later my daughter texted me a picture from the Vancouver Art Museum, where she was about to enter the  Picasso, The Artist and his Muses Exhibit. I thought to myself, now, Pablo Picasso is Cindy Foley’s ultimate “Master Builder”.  Through the years, his art changed more than any other artist I know. His art changed so often that it’s labeled by periods. There was the Early Period, the Blue Period, the Rose Period, Cubism, the African Period, Classicism, Surrealism, War and the Later Period. He also worked in many different mediums: drawing, painting, collage, mixed media, sculpture, printmaking and ceramics. He was inspired by animals, birds, people, war, African images, music, other artists and, as evidenced by this latest exhibit, his muses (wives/girlfriends). “Wooooo!”, what a mouthful! Wouldn’t you say that he was an idea man who wasn’t afraid to use them?  A great Picasso web site that shows examples of the ways Picasso manifested all these “ideas” can be found here. (I thoroughly enjoyed googling each muse’s name and finding a special page for each lady on the above mentioned Picasso website . It was intriguing  to see the paintings inspired by each woman.)  An excellent book for introducing Picasso to intermediate level students is  Pablo Picasso, Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Artists by Mike Venezia. It’s great for introducing some of his periods. “Nude Alert! “Yes there are some nudes in this book. Simply skip those pages. Venezia has written a whole series of Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Arts books. I love how informative they are and the bit of humor he puts in each one. For the younger folk, Picasso’s Trousers by Nicholas Allen shows some of Picasso’s periods. Again, “Nude Alert” and again, skip those pages. It doesn’t take away from the story. I’ve also talked about some of Picasso’s different ideas in the following posts: Family ChangesThe Dog Days of SummerArtist’s Cats, and Pigeons/Friend or Fowl (Pun Intended!)

Now that I’ve expounded ad nauseam about Picasso, let’s talk about ways we can help students become thinkers and doers. After viewing a few more of Foley’s videos, I found that her museum no longer provides lesson plans for teachers.  Instead they offer mini think tank type workshops. She talked about one her son attended where the students planned and created a haunted house. Students brainstormed what they would include and then researched how to complete the things they didn’t know how to do. This format would tie in nicely with research projects. For example, in my post, Pigeons/Friend or Fowl (Pun Intended!),  I suggest that students design their own endangered species or extinct species museum. If you are studying an endangered species and plan to do a research project anyway, why not combine the two? Foley suggests looking into Harvard’s Project Zero. I would choose one of the Artful Thinking questioning techniques  found here. I’ve seen teacher’s in our district using See/ Think/Wonder. Cindy also suggests using the same questioning technique at the end of the project. So, what is a student’s favorite museum? What do they like about it? Is it hands on activities, computer games, statues, etc?  (For Younger students who have never visited a museum, you might read Maisie Goes to the Museum by Lucy Cousins. For older students, From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs Basil-Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg would be a good literature book to read to the class and then visit this Met website.) Depending on your time restraints, students could merely design or actually construct a classroom museum. So basically, I think Cindy is saying try more open ended projects in themes that interest your students. The motivation will be there and help with the “fear of ambiguity” concept. Let the students be the idea generators and the teacher the facilitator.

I was also thinking, we need to try to do more projects where we allow our student’s to use their imaginations. Remember when Foley’s daughter got the “mud” image incorrect and said it was “art”?  You could do a project built around different interpretations of accidental or unintentional images. (By the way, do you know the first artist to make accidental art? Why it was  Jackson Pollock . Love this Pollock Mati and Dada video.) A great book fostering this kind of thinking is The Oops Book  by Barney Saltzberg. [If this book had been around while I was still teaching, I definitely would have  used it at the beginning of each year to teach the ecology skill of reusing or repurposing.] Students can see that there is more than one way to interpret an image. Some accidental or oops techniques may be found herehere  and here . You can also find many more unintentional painting methods on my painting Pinterest page found here. After creating some accidental art pieces, students can study them and brainstorm what their image looks like. Students can then use markers or paint to outline and create details and bring their image to life.

We all want our students to be the best they can possibly be. In this time of accountability in education, it’s often difficult to find time to teach in this fashion. After reading this post, I hope you can see the importance of creative thinkers for our future and that of our children. Hopefully, this post has provided some small ways to foster creativity. What ways do you encourage creativity in your classroom? I’d love to hear. Simply click on this post’s title , scroll down to the bottom and leave your thoughts in the comment section.

Come back soon!