My fourth grade students recently finished a "figure in action" art project. I love this lesson for the beginning of the year, because it is so successful for every kid, regardless of ability level. It gives me a good idea of where they're at, as an artist, as well as the chance for students to share some of their interests, which allows me to get to know them a little better. The pressure on drawing is taken off, and it's an easy way for me to see if they understand how to create a sense of movement in a two-dimensional work of art. Plus, it flings the creativity door wide-open and allows for so many options!
I started this lesson with a story written by Kay A. Haring and illustrated by Robert Neubecker. And even though fourth graders are getting relatively "old" for picture books and some act like they're a bit too "cool"... I'm pretty sure they love this book as much as I do. Which is a LOT.
I love sharing that the author is the sister of the artist, Keith Haring, and that the illustrations include images of actual artwork that Keith made as a child. The progression is really fun for students to experience!
My students loved the story, and they loved the brightness of Keith Haring's work, as well as the energy, simplicity, and inclusivity. His paintings don't specify race, ethnicity, gender, age... they're just people. (Heck, they don't even have faces!) In many cases, they're moving around and spreading love.
We were inspired.
Here are a few examples of their 2D figures in action...
After this, we moved on to 3D figures in action. For the first time, I've tried using alumium foil. In the past I've used fairly thick wire (14 guage) for a base, which is challenging to manuveur. We then used material, twisteez (colored easy-to-bend wire) and all kinds of other scraps and things to add details, but this is a different year, with different needs. And, honestly, we needed to something a little bit more forgiving, back-to-basics, and FUN. Plus, many of these kids haven't done any sculpture before!
Do you see the girl with a skateboard and a phone? The sleepwalker, gymnast, and dancer? Someone doing a bridge, and sliding to kick the soccer ball? Honestly, I'm in awe. Is it just me, or are these kids brilliant?
I have to add, I stressed PERSEVERENCE pretty strongly. Setting the expectation that it won't look right... right away. It goes through some really weird phases. Sometimes, things tear. But it's okay, because it's a WORK IN PROGRESS. And when we stick with things, we can make them better!!! And isn't that really the lesson we ALL need? Like... always? In ALL areas of our lives?
(Just another reason why art education is so important!)