November/December Art News

This gallery contains 6 photos.

Third grade watched a video of contemporary artist, Wayne Thiebaud. Then, they used tempera paint to create a cake picture, including parallel lines in their cake slice. Fourth grade is wrapping up watercolor experiments. In one picture they used three … Continue reading

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October/November Art News

This gallery contains 6 photos.

In Third Grade, we completed two projects: clay pinch pots with faces, and “creature behind my door”. The creature drawings were hidden behind a tag board door design, utilizing small motor tracing and cutting skills. We worked on those in … Continue reading

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Welcome to Art 2014/15!

The school year is off to a cool start at Leighton Art with third graders learning how to draw “Ninja Eggs”, and 4th/5th graders creating “360 Degree Doodles” the first week of art classes! Then, we dove into our regular schedule and third grade drew in their brand-new sketchbooks and started Flip Books, fourth grade finished their positive space/negative space sketches and are nearly ready to make their Radial Prints, and fifth graders are also doing Radial Art. Here is the flip book video we watched for inspiration in third grade (we are only doing 10 pages though, not hundreds):

The fourth grade prints will be made with collograph blocks. Students might even be inspired to try this readily accessible form of relief printmaking at home–all you need is some cardboard, scissors, glue, and your imagination! “Think “collage” when you think “collagraph” and you’ve got the key to this style of printmaking. A collagraph is a print made from a plate that’s built up from anything you can stick down onto a base of cardboard or wood. (The word comes from the French colle, meaning to stick or glue.) The materials you use to create your collagraph plate create textures and shapes, while how you ink the plate adds tone to the print.

A collagraph can be printed as a relief (inking the top surfaces only) or intaglio (inking the recesses) or a combination. The method you use will influence what you use to create your collagraph as intaglio printing requires far more pressure. If something squashes under pressure, the result can be quite different to what you expected!” (source citation: http://painting.about.com/od/makingartgicleeprints/ss/art-printmaking_4.htm).

Fifth grade radial design required students to find circle diameters, divide fractions with different denominators, and hone ruler measuring skills. Of course, the most famous radial designs can be found in nature (artichokes, sunflowers, nautilus shells, etc.), but the artist most commonly associated with radial art is M.C. Escher. Radial design gives learners a great opportunity to use a little math while they are creating, plus reinforces some key terms used in the Math Core Content. I can’t wait to post some of the beautiful art on our digital gallery, Artsonia.

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Summer Symbaloo

Once again, many cool websites to make art without downloads (screenshot below) at
http://www.symbaloo.com/mix/elementary-upartwebmix
Picture 1
May News: Third and fourth grade students used “perspective” to complete colored pencil drawings (“Magic Boxes” in third grade and “Cityscapes” in fourth grade). Perspective drawing involves mathematical principles, ruler and measuring skills, plus reinforces geometry concepts such as “parallel lines”, “right angles”, and “vertices”. Fifth grade students created “Altered Books”, turning donated, out-of-circulation books into works of art using many techniques: pop-ups; pockets; found poems; collage; creative folding. From Wikipedia “Altered books may be as simple as adding a drawing or text to a page, or as complex as creating an intricate book sculpture. Antique or Victorian art is frequently used, probably because it is easier to avoid copyright issues. Altered books are shown and sold in art galleries and on the Internet…
Recycling old books and using them as art journals has also become popular with some art bloggers and proponents of upcycling.”

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April News

April was a busy, busy month at Leighton Art! Third grade students made mobiles, starting with reviewing the concept of SYMMETRY. We carefully folded paper and made intricate cuts to reveal beautiful patterned insects, layering colors of construction paper. We then strung the insects on yarn to make a mobile. Fourth grade created abstract oil pastel triptychs, utilizing VALUE and vibrant color. This builds on prior investigations of value. “Value is defined as the relative lightness or darkness of a color. It is an important tool for the designer/artist, in the way that it defines form and creates spatial illusions. Contrast of value separates objects in space, while gradation of value suggests mass and contour of a contiguous surface.” (citation: http://char.txa.cornell.edu) We have been exploring value all quarter in fourth grade art, which is one of the Elements & Principles of Art.
Screenshot 2014-05-04 10.13.34
(citation: http://www.candcsigns.com/sites/default/files/elemets_principles.jpg)
Fifth grade had 2 projects going at the same time: clay and something called a “Limitation Drawing” In clay, students had a choice of 3 design categories: slab-built vase, slab-built gnome, or pinch-pot constructed “big mouth creature”. Can you guess which one was the overwhelming favorite to try? While the clay was being air-dried, then bisque-fired, students worked on their “Limitation Drawing”. This involved drawing a grid on their paper paper and “multiplying” designs like in a multiplication table. That is the limitation. Then, students used their creativity to add color, pattern, and shading to vary their drawings, using markers and/or colored pencil. Limitations are a catalyst for creative thinking, a concept used in the real-world in industries as varied as medical research, writing (haiku is a great example), and robotics.

Vases, gnomes, & big mouth creatures.

Vases, gnomes, & big mouth creatures.

Big mouth creatures.

Big mouth creatures.

So cute!

So cute!

Finally, we ended April with the Annual District Art Show at AHS, which ran the same weekend as the high school musical. Hundreds and hundreds of beautiful pieces of art were featured, from the HS AP art portfolios to Harmon Middle School to Leighton and Craddock. HS students, our district art teachers, and an LES parent volunteer and their student helped hang the art in the large gym off the HS cafeteria. If you missed this year’s show, please put it on your calendar for next year (always during the spring HS musical).

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Architect Visits 5th Grade Art

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On Thursday, March 20th, fifth grade Art classes got a visit from Mr. Craig Thompson, an area architect affiliated with AIA. He was able to share what he does, the education required, and the cool projects he is currently working … Continue reading

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February/March News

Third grade artists completed a unit using recyclable cardboard (mostly cereal and cracker boxes), constructing cardboard owls and fish. Then, they were painted with acrylic paint, and we made looms with them! Being able to do a little bit of free form weaving builds dexterity and refines small motor skills. Currently, students are designing “two environments” with two animals in each, which will be turned into watercolor paintings. So far, the sketches have turned out great, and students are very excited to be using real watercolor paper for the project.
Fourth grade students completed their clay tiles, based on the theme of “Community”. These are going to be part of a school installation, a tile mural (hopefully put together as soon as summer break begins). There is a lot of behind-the-scenes work needed to pull this together, including getting the materials needed for installing tile, thanks to a grant I wrote from the Aurora Schools Foundation. We are hoping to get some parent volunteers to help out on this very exciting project! Next up, fourth graders are working on their second cartoon unit, designing themselves as a regular cartoon and also as a creative character. We are starting the watercolor portion of this project by gradually building up values, from light to dark, which takes patience and practice! There are wonderful watercolor tips here.
Fifth grade students finished a unit integrating Common Core Language Arts Standards, designing and analyzing graphic novels. All the students worked in teams of three or more, and drew the same story, “Pandora’s Box” (a Greek myth), but utilizing different tones. So some have “futuristic” aspects like Pandora going through a wormhole, others have “fantastical” elements (think Zeus as a wizard), and even “funny” ones featuring Pandora as a panda! We started the process with storyboards, then moved to layout designing, and then the cartooning began. Moving into March, fifth grade artists are so excited to be working with clay! They are using either slab or pinch pot construction methods to make either a “big mouth creature”, “garden gnome”, or a vase.

The year is really flying by! In other news, artwork was shown at the annual Aurora Fish Fry, and coming up in a little over a month, the huge District Art Show, up at Aurora High School during the spring musical. Selected student pieces are also being displayed at local business, “The Latest Scoop”.

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December/January News

Third grade artists completed the first part of their cartooning unit, “Art Dogs” We talked about building our pictures by using the “simple shapes” (square, rectangle circle, oval, triangle), which is a great tool to build confidence and accuracy! Our second cartooning exploration is “Zonkey” cartooning, which still uses simple shapes, but adds a fun spin based on the artwork of teacher/illustrator, Ian Sands. You can watch a video of Ian narrating a Zonkey cartoon creation below.

3rd-Art Dogs
3rd-Art Dogs

Fourth grade artists completed a big integration with Common Core Writing Standards, creating completed comic books in the Manga/Anime Style. Once again, we built upon our knowledge base of drawing with simple shapes, plus added the concept of drawing using proportions. In general, Anime characters in the “cute” or “Chibi” style are approximately “4 heads high”. I created a reference resource for my students on Pinterest–> https://www.pinterest.com/lgirbino/manga/

Fifth grade artists had a blast creating mobiles using some of the supplies so generously donated by the Aurora division of GE: watercolor paper, watercolors, new paint brushes, oil pastels and armature wire. We learned about the patterned art of Hundertwasser and applied watercolor patterns to the 6 organic shapes that students drew and cut-out as the start of their mobile. Then, students did oil pastel designs on the other side of their shapes. In the final studio class, we used armature wire to do three sets of balanced pairs (working from large to small) and stringing them together with yarn. Our inspiration for the mobiles was Alexander Calder (of course), an engineer who became an artist. Here is a beautiful website about his life and work–> http://www.calder.org/ This beautiful art was all sent home right before break. We are now working on observational drawing skills in our sketchbooks and beginning another CCSS integration for Language Arts–graphic novels!

5th mobiles

5th mobiles


5th mobiles

5th mobiles

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November Art News

Third grade students are wrapping up their Warhol-inspired soup can pop-outs. These three dimensional pieces started with brainstorming creative ideas for “What’s in Your Can?”, then moved onto label designing, before construction using colored construction paper and paper engineering techniques. Our next projects involve cartooning with “simple shapes” (square, rectangle, cycle, oval, and triangle), which is what artists use to build up their observational drawing skills. We will start with “Art Dogs”, drawing “pups with personality” (and lots of color and pattern), then move onto “Zonkey style” cartooning in January.

Fourth grade students are working on their big Language Arts integration in their Manga cartooning unit. Manga is a Japanese style of cartooning that is very popular and widespread on channels like Cartoon Network and Nicklelodeon. We started with descriptive character writing, which was the template for their comic book cover and layout pages. I worked with the students on their punctuation, grammar, and descriptive writing skills before we transitioned to some serious cartooning! We look to wrap up this unit soon, then will be moving onto a “Zentangle” 3D paper cube. After break, we have a very exciting project coming up, a collaborative tile mural (much more on that to follow). For those of you interested in learning more on how to cartoon in the Manga style, I have a special board on Pinterest with kid-friendly instructions:https://www.pinterest.com/lgirbino/manga/
Fifth grade students completed their very detailed “Architectural Patterns”, looking at famous architecture examples before using a viewfinder to help them pick out an interesting pattern to repeat and color in with colored pencils. This took a lot of patience and attention to detail, but as the students discovered, “repetition” is a powerful design tool.


Our next project, running into holiday break and beyond is a Calder mobile, using some of the amazing supplies generously donated to our art program from the Aurora division of GE (see our school newsletter HERE).

We are using watercolor paper painting watercolor patterns on one side, then oil pastels designs on the other. Eventually, we will assemble our kinetic sculptures (sculptures that move) using armature wire and yarn. My sample project is below.

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A Little Scratch Programming Test

Thanks Mrs. Gagel for this news: “One week from today is Computer Science Education Week. No, computer programming skills are not on the test, but kids who use computer programming skills are using problem solving skills…By teaching some of the … Continue reading

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