Monday, August 31, 2009

Myth illustrations

Homework due Tuesday: Work on myth illustration for 20-30 min. Finish all pencil work.

Please complete and hand in value scales, color wheels, and Right Brain Drawings as you finish them in your free class time. I would like to have them all by Wednesday.

Tuesday classwork: we will complete the myth illustrations by going over pencil lines with black pen, erasing pencil marks, and coloring with colored pencils.

Here are the instructions from the board:

1. Sit with your group. Review and discuss your invented Egyptian myth and skit.

2. Choose your favorite scene from your myth. Who are the main characters? What's happening? Where are they?

3. Get out your Egypt handouts: hieroglyph worksheets and the Code of Art

4. Use the Code to draw the main characters in pencil. Add details to show setting and use some of your invented symbols if they are applicable to the action, characters, or setting of your myth.

5. Translate the characters' names into hieroglyphs and write these in cartouches near the characters. You can also add hieroglyphs to explain the action or setting.

6. Go over your pencil lines with black pen and erase stray pencil marks.

7. Color with colored pencils.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Early Release Day/R&R Weekend

We have done some serious housekeeping today!

Two homework worksheets, five warmup exercises, a simple color wheel, a value scale sheet, and the Right Brain Drawing were all due today. Plus, we displayed the students' Unique Drawings in public areas in the school. Students who finished everything were invited to make a contour drawing using a subject of their choice. All this in 35 minutes per class...Whew!

Sixth grade students: You can take pride in being so organized and working diligently on your art projects. I am certainly proud of you.

Next week we will have two larger projects to complete, the Egyptian myth illustrations and a cityscape like the one in the cafeteria made using colored pencil instead of paint.

Have a restful weekend and I'll see you all on Monday.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Right brain drawing, color, value

Homework: 2 line worksheets are due tomorrow.

Classwork today:
1. Introduction to color. Discussed primary, secondary, and tertiary (intermediate) colors. Students worked on simple color wheels, mixing their secondary and tertiary hues from primary colored pencils.

2. Introduction to value (light and dark shading). Value is one of the visual artist's most valuable tools for making shapes and lines on a two-dimensional surface appear to have three dimensional qualities, like depth and mass. Students were given value scales with examples of different techniques, like shading, hatching, crosshatching, and stippling.

3. Continued work on Right Brain Drawing exercise from Picasso's portrait of Igor Stravinsky.

Planned activities in Fine Arts for Friday: Complete Right Brain Drawing, complete color wheel and value scale worksheets, display Unique Drawings, finish any incomplete artwork.

Tomorrow is an Early Release Day, so classes will be only 40 minutes long and there wil be no lunch break. Students are released at 12:25 pm. There will be no homework assigned over the R&R weekend. Have a great week, everyone!

"Color is the place where our brain and the universe meet." - Paul Klee

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Contour Drawing

Portrait of Igor Stravinsky, Pablo Picasso

Homework: 2 line worksheets due Friday (assigned earlier this week)

Classwork: Introduction to contour drawing. We've been studying line this week, so it makes sense to practice drawing lines to represent real subjects. Our subjects are close by; in fact, they are our non-drawing hands.

The rules of contour drawing:
1. Once your pencil hits the page, don't lift it. You're making one continuous line.
2. No erasing! If you think you've messed up, just go back and make another line that looks more like you want it to.
3. Your eyes and drawing hand move at the same speed - slooooowwwwly.

The second activity today helps people get into their right minds. I'm not joking! In general, the left side of the brain guides our logical thinking, judgment, mathematical and verbal skills. That side of the brain is a big help in most school subjects, but for art, we want to activate the right side of the brain: our creative, free-flowing, perceiving, wondering side. The upside-down drawing activity calms down the yammering critical left brain so the right brain can really see and draw what's there.

Thursday: finish Right Brain Drawings, intro to value and color

Monday, August 24, 2009

Intro to Visual Arts - Line & Shape

Homework: there are 2 worksheets due by Friday. 6B will get these on Tuesday, 6D and 6A already have them. One is a line sampler sheet and the other is a line and shape exercise with an image from an Egyptian Book of the Dead on it. Students asked me to assign them more homework (!) so we'll experiment with assigning all of this week's work and once and allowing students to use their own time to complete it.

1. We talked about the definitions of line and shape. Students looked at a handout on line and drew examples of different line styles on the board.

2. We talked about line directions - vertical, horizontal, and diagonal - and discussed what they mean in visual art with the help of stick figures drawn on the board. A horizontal line, like a horizontal person, communicates rest, peacefulness, reliability. Horizontal surfaces in the classroom are tabletops, the floor, ceiling, seats... mostly things that hold up or support. Vertical lines communicate stability, wakefulness, groundedness. Think of a skyscraper or a person standing straight and tall. Diagonal lines are the most exciting and dynamic and almost always connote movement, speed, change. A person running is diagonally oriented - their torso is tilted forward, their arms and legs are bent at elbow and knee. Think about the Leaning Tower of Pisa - even though it's not likely to fall down any time soon, looking at it creates a feeling of instability.

3. The class started an abstract exercise called "Unique Drawing." A list of drawing directions using vocabulary we covered today is read aloud, one direction at a time, and each student comes up with their own solution to the direction. Every drawing ends up looking quite different, even though they all use the same elements. We will complete this exercise on Tuesday.

Tuesday's activities: Complete Unique Drawings. Begin contour drawing exercises.

Friday, August 21, 2009


Today: All sections performed their Egyptian Myth skits. I saw excellent teamwork and creativity in action.

No homework for Monday. We will be switching to drawing exercises, studying line, shape and color in Egyptian art, and illustrating our myths next week.

I was very happy to meet the parents of sixth grade students during Curriculum Night, and glad to hear that so many students are enjoying the class.

Happy weekend, everyone!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Rehearsing Myths

No homework tonight

Classwork: All groups rehearsed their myths. Each group turned in a sheet with basic information about their myths: characters, settings, title, sequence of scenes, resolution, and what the myth explains.

Tomorrow: Groups will get a chance to run through their plays for the first ten minutes of class, then each group will perform in randomly selected order.

Next week: Intro to Visual Arts, Elements and Principles of Design, Illustrating Myths

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Myth Making

Homework: none tonight

Activities: Students discussed the myths they researched for homework last night in small groups, then the whole class answered the questions:

1. What do you hear in common between the different myths?
2. What sorts of powers do the different characters have?
3. What kinds of places are you reminded of when reading myths?

For the rest of the period, groups brainstormed about the original myth they will create, write and perform.

Thursday: rehearse and refine myths
Friday: performances

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Homework due tomorrow, 8/19/09: Research an Egyptian myth (online or from a book are both okay) and completely fill out the Egyptian Myth worksheet. Do your best! You need this in order to participate on Wednesday.

Today's class activities:
1. In groups, students brainstormed about fairy tales they know and chose one to write about. Each group wrote down as much as they could remember about the story.
2. We talked about tableaus and story structure. Stories have a beginning, middle and end, so we need to show three distinct parts when making our dramatic tableaus (frozen pictures).

1. Beginning/Picture 1: characters and settings
2. Middle/Picture 2: conflict or problem, most action
3. End/Picture 3: resolution

3. Groups worked together to create tableaus that expressed their fairy tales. Audience members were allowed to guess what they thought each group had written about.

4. Explanation of homework assignment

5. Tongue twisters or "This is a..." game if time allows

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Fine Art of Pantomime

Homework: postponed until Tuesday night

Class activities: Groups were given cards at random with different Egyptian activities (building a pyramid, preparing a mummy, rowing a boat down the Nile) written on them and were asked to pantomime the activities.

Tips for pantomime:
1. Take your time!
2. Add details from your imagination that help communicate the activity.
3. Remember the steps of working with imaginary objects: LOOK, FIND, CONTACT, MANIPULATE, and RELEASE. The goal is to make your audience believe the object is real.

Each group performed their pantomime while the rest of the class watched. After each performance, the audience was asked to guess the activity and point out a few things:

- what specific actions did the group perform that told you what they were doing?
- what worked the best?
- what could they have added or done differently to make it more clear?

Additional pantomime exercises:

1. In circle, throw an imaginary ball that each person changes in some way, by modifying size or weight. We got so many great creative responses to this, from transforming it into a golf ball and taking a swing to rolling a big heavy bowling ball across the floor.

2. "This is a..." dialogue pantomime. First person begins with a pantomime object, turns to their neighbor, and starts the dialogue:
1: This is a book.
2: A what?
1: A book.
2: A what?
1: A book.
2: Oh, a book. Takes the object, transforms it, and begins dialogue with next person.

Tomorrow's objectives: tongue twisters for enunciation, tableaus, parts of a story, parts of a myth

Friday, August 14, 2009

Intro to Pantomime

No homework over the weekend.

Today's activities: Drama!
1. Students brainstormed lists of different emotions
2. The class warmed up their faces by expressing emotions using only facial expressions - no bodies or words
3. In pairs, students played Mirror, alternating leader and follower until an outside observer couldn't tell who was playing which role
4. Emotion masks: students went through all the steps of looking for the mask, finding it, making contact, manipulation, and release.
5. (Extra time) Pantomime actions: either the Magic Stick game or everyday actions.

Pantomime is a dramatic form in which the actor uses only her/his face and body to communicate.

On Monday, we will use our dramatic skills to tell short pantomime stories.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Making symbols and myths

No homework tonight.

Today's classroom activities: The classes continued their discussion of the "Myth of Ra" and the picture of Ra in the Solar Barge. Each group chose a question to talk about. Each section had different questions and themes, but in general, many students were curious about the following:

1. Who are the other figures in the boat with Ra? 6B and 6D thought they might be servants, dead pharaohs, other gods, or Ra's friends or followers.

2. How was Ra created?

3. If Ra's spit was magical, were his tears also magical? When his tears mixed with dust to make humans, did they impart some magical quality to humans?

4. How did Ra travel along and inside the body of Nut, the sky goddess?

5. What did humans do to make Ra angry?

The classes broke up into smaller groups to work on creating their own symbols for the Egyptian Symbol Challenge. This is the first step in the process to writing, illustrating, and performing our own Egyptian-style myths.

We also did some breath and vocal exercises to give us extra energy on a cloudy day. Breath exercises are excellent practice for performers and musicians, and they also help students with stress, focus, and waking up.

More information about the Myth of Ra

Many questions are coming up in class about the Myth of Ra, particularly regarding Ra's daily journey in the Solar Barge (a.k.a. Solar Barque, Sun Boat, Boat of 1000 Years). The following links are to websites with a wealth of information about Ra/Re and other Egyptian gods and goddesses.

Egyptian Gods

One thing to keep in mind when studying Egyptian mythology is that the stories span thousands of years. A myth that explains, for example, the rising and setting of the sun would be associated with different deities at different time periods in Egyptian history. The qualities and attributes of one deity would often be absorbed later on into a different deity. That's why you will often see Ra's name together with the name of another god, like Amun or Horakhty.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Egyptian Books of the Dead and the Myth of Ra

Homework due Thursday, 8/13/09: Closely re-read the Myth of Ra

Class activities today: We looked at several images from the Egyptian Books of the Dead and other tomb paintings and discussed the different symbols and hieroglyphs that we recognized in them. The classes talked about the Egyptian view of the afterlife and speculated about connections between the artwork and spiritual beliefs. Many students were able to identify symbols they were already familiar with from previous explorations of Egyptian culture.

The classes broke into smaller groups to read and discuss "The Myth of Ra." Each group was instructed to come up with three questions about the myth. Some common questions included: - Why did Isis want to know Ra's secret name?
- Did Isis want to kill him?
- How did the humans make Ra angry?
- How could Ra travel through the body of Nut, the sky goddess?
- How was Ra created?

Activities for tomorrow: Read and discuss questions about the myth, practice pantomime, start working on writing simple myths.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Symbols, Cartouches, and Noble Self Portraits

Homework due Wednesday: Review the Egyptian Code of Art worksheet. Use the Code rules to sketch a self portrait as if you were an Egyptian noble. You may add symbols and accessories to show more about yourself, if you wish. Items like musical instruments, tools of art, or sports equipment are acceptable; weapons and items from pop culture, such as video games or cell phones, are NOT acceptable. Spend a minimum of 15 minutes on this sketch.

Today's activities: All sections worked on completing the cartouche project, after a discussion about symbols. 6A and 6B participated in a musical symbol exercise.

Tomorrow's plan: Complete any unfinished cartouches, share homework sketches, group work on symbol making.

This week's goals: Read and discuss an Egyptian myth, practice pantomime, create short pantomime myths to perform on Friday.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Egyptian Hieroglyphs

There is no Fine Arts homework for tonight.

Today's activities:

The class looked at examples of Egyptian hieroglyphs and talked about how they were read and written differently than other languages. Each student translated their name into hieroglyphic writing using a worksheet, then transferred their hieroglyphic name to a larger sheet of paper to create cartouches.

Tuesday: Complete cartouches. Discuss Egyptian art rules and look at more images of artwork. Find symbols and stories to tell from artwork.

Friday, August 7, 2009

First day!

The students of 6B, 6D, and 6A did an excellent job with beginning drama games. Objectives: memory, attention, concentration, focus, thinking on your feet.

The classes read the course overview and discussed expectations, procedures and consequences.

Homework due Monday, 8/10/09:
1. Read course overview with parents.
2. Fill out, detach and return form on second sheet.
3. Gather all class materials and bring in.

Next week: Ancient Egyptian Art

Sunday, August 2, 2009


I'm Ms. Donna Blumenfeld, and I am delighted to be the new Intro to Fine Arts instructor at Chandler Prep. I will be teaching sections 6a, 6b, and 6d. I look forward to meeting all of my new students this Friday! You can read a course description below. Please also take note of the supply list for this class. All students should bring their art materials by Monday, August 10th.

Course Description: The purpose of this course is to allow you to practice many of the Fine Arts that you will study while you attend Chandler Prep. You will write, act, draw, play instruments, sing, paint, and sculpt throughout the year. The goal is for you to experience art forms from different periods in history by making art yourselves. The majority of our class time will be spent on group and individual projects, from making scale models of the Pyramids to writing and acting in your own Greek drama.

Class Objectives: We will all develop an appreciation and better understanding of art and the creative process by making and discussing art. By the end of the year, the goal is for students to:

Gain a basic understanding of poetry, music, drama, and the visual arts

Practice creating art in a variety of media

Appreciate the history of art

Learn about and use the elements and principles of art in various mediums

Develop collaborative skills

Class Materials: Students should come to class every day with the following supplies:

  1. #2 pencil

  2. eraser

  3. 1 subject, spiral bound notebook

  4. 12” ruler

  5. medium point black ink pen (gel or rollerball = good, ballpoints = not so good)

  6. 1 set of 12-24 colored pencils. These are worth investing in, as we will be using them for many projects. Prismacolor is an excellent brand, though RoseArt or Crayola will do.

  7. Glue stick

  8. scissors

  9. 1 pocket folder

Arizona Art Supply, Utrecht, and Jerry's Artarama are all excellent sources for art supplies. Michael's craft stores also carry a good selection.

I may ask that some materials be brought from home on occasion for various projects. These will always be easily available items, such as old magazines, paper plates, found objects, etc., and students will be warned well in advance of the project day should such materials be needed.