We created various images of a variety of animals in our Fall 2 Session: Animal in Art. Of all the projects we did, my favorite one had to be the Bear Hug collage that one group of conscientious 6 and 7-year-old artists made over the course of three classes.
In preparation for this project the artists made a large batch of painted papers inspired by the colors and textures found in nature. The goal of this project was to create a wooded landscape with appropriate animal wildlife. Our process began by looking closely at the work of Katharine McEwen in the children's book, Bear Hug. We talked more about the illustrators uses of line, pattern and shape. There was a brief discussion about perspective, overlapping layers, and ways to try and convey depth in their work, but since that is such a difficult concept for artists of that age, I did not spend a lot of time on the topic. I simply sketched several layout ideas on the white board for them to use as inspiration.
Day 1: Each artist thought about color possibilities for their landscapes, depending upon the season; and practiced drawing animals in their sketchbooks, before creating final drawings to cut out for their collages. For the purposes of the lesson, I limited their choice to a bear and a fox, and asked them to include some type of body of water in their landscape. I offered templates for each animal, which a few artists used, but most chose to draw from observation, which made me happy. With all of those pieces in place, they got to work drawing, coloring, painting, tearing, cutting and gluing. For this part of the process we used Crayola crayons, Prisma and Crayola colored pencils and markers for media.
This group wanted to glue down pieces immediately once they were cut. So my challenge, in the second phase of the project, was to keep encouraging them to explore their possibilities, move things around a bit, and be careful not to commit to specific arrangements until all of the objects for their masterpieces were created. To those that did apply glue prematurely I suggested they begin again at the beginning of the following class, and a few chose to comply. ( I never force specifics, I only make suggestions, because I feel it is important for each artist to make their own decisions for their own work.)
Day 2: We did not spend the next two classes working solely on this project. I broke up the process into smaller chunks, because I did not want them to tire of the subject matter; six and seven-year-olds have very short attention spans. The children arrived at the studio thinking that their collages were mostly complete. Their goal was to add the finishing touches and move on, but my goal was to have them slow down and notice the little details in photographs of landscapes. I asked them to concentrate on adding more foliage, and interesting objects to the terrain of their pictures. We spent time talking about texture, and looked at photographs of trees, so we could look closely at the various colors in bark, fields of grass, the leaves of trees, etc. I added additional media to created added interest, and inspired the artists with Faber Castell oil pastels, Crayola metallic crayons, Ooly Chalk Crayons, paint sticks, and watercolors.
Day 3: The final day of this project was reserved for the details. I asked each artist to focus on their craftsmanship, and take time to color in the gaps of their work, for example, or smooth the color application in large areas. I encouraged them to use many colors and vary their use of line to give even more texture to the objects in their artwork, or movement to their body of water. Finally, they used gel pens, fine-tip markers, and faint sprays of watered down acrylic paint for things like the veins in leaves, or snow. The other thing I emphasized was how much better the craftsmanship would be if the made sure to adhere all of the little corners of the collaged pieces, to prevent curling and tearing.
At the end of Fall Session 2, these artists voted to have an art show for their families, so I have included a picture here to show the display of their work.
This was a wonderful lesson on the benefits of persistence. It is an open-ended project that is adaptable to any age group. Below are some images of my artists finished work, of which I am very proud! Each artist was diligent and thoughtful in their approach, and they realized how their efforts paid off once their masterpieces were on display.