Thursday, March 31, 2016

In the Art Room: Springtime with van Gogh and Charley Harper

So here, in middle Tennessee, we pretty much decided to do winter for about 10 days and move straight on to spring. It's been a mix of rainy, muggy and/or sunny (sometimes all in one day!) every since! For that reason, the first graders and I decided to create these Vincent van Gogh/Charley Harper mash-ups!
Now, I'm sharing this lesson with you in it's in-between/van Gogh-y stage. We started it right before I was absent for several days and then we promptly entered into Spring Break-ville. For that reason, my firsties are actually finishing their Everybody is a Star project. Once that's complete (fingers crossed that we wrap it up this week!), we'll start the Charley Harper portion of the project. 

Ah, van Gogh. It was fun sharing with the kids that I'd seen his work in Chicago while at NAEA. I left out the part about the exhibit being so crazy busy that all I truly saw were the backs of people's heads. If you are like me, you have a coupla fave van Gogh paintings that aren't The Starry Night. Personally, this Almond Blossom painting is one of mine.
You can see the influence of my good friend and fabulous art teacher Laura Lohmann in this lesson what with the painted paper and textures. She's the best! 

Here's a list of supplies we used:

* 12" X 18" paper. We recycled our messy mats but you can use construction paper for added color.
* Paint. Because I see my kids for 30 minutes, I premixed the tints of blue. 
* Brushes, texture combs.
* Sponges or paint brushes for cloud texture.
* 1" X 2" pieces of cardboard for printing.
* Scrap paper for collage.
* Scissors.
* Glue
I created a video that introduces my students both to van Gogh and Harper as well as walks them thru the process. Feel free to use it! I've been creating weekly lessons here so all y'all should subscribe. Like, now. 
Because I see these kids for 30 minutes, I break stuff down into bite sizes for them. On the first day, we were able to get about this far.
Love all of the colors in this one!
The following day, we learned more about van Gogh and printed tree branches!
We did wait a day before printing out flowers and leaves. I thought they'd smear with the brown paint. 
Now, we totes coulda stopped here. But I have a sweet college student who comes to my room every Monday. She said, "Have you seen the Portlandia skit 'Put a Bird on It?' I think they should!"
We put birds on things!
This idea lead me to the artist Charley Harper. If y'all have not been to the Charley Harper website, you need to check it out. I can't wait to share the animated version of his work as well as the studio tour he gives Todd Oldham. I also plan to play this live bird feed from Animal Planet while the kids work. 

Funny/tragic story about Charley Harper: a frame shop was going out of business about 15 years ago and gave me a TON of stuff. Among that stuff, three Charley Harper prints. At the time, I had no idea who he was but I loved the prints. Because two were duplicates...I GAVE ONE AWAY TO A FRIEND (I knoooooow). Wait, it gets better. Then I CUT THE BORDER OFF ONE TO FIT IT INTO A FRAME (TRUST ME, I KNOOOOOOOOW). His prints are worth big bucks. Pretty sure his chopped into ones aren't worth squat. Now I can't even hang them in my house because every time the hubs walks past them he says, "Aren't these the prints that are worth a lot of money? Which one did you cut up again?" UGH. These are the things that happen when you are an idiot. Moral of story: Don't be an idiot. Now, let's move along, shall we?
Grace, the sweet college student, started collaging birds inspired by Harper. This here is a teacher sample. Cuz, if you were paying attention, you'd know my firsties haven't gotten this far yet. 
And here's the one I create in the video. I'll be sure to share with you the kids' creations as y'all know they will come up with so much awesomeness. If you decide to do this lesson as well, I'd love to see! Be sure to tag me here on Twitter or there on Instagram so I can check it out. 

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  1. Love this lesson! Your videos are so inspiring - even a little talk about perseverance. Can't wait to see their finished pieces.

  2. AHHHH! I have done a (very poor) knockoff of that very Van Gogh, and two years ago, I spent more than I should have framing all my favorites from a Charley Harper calendar. What would you call the mashup style of VanGogh organics + Harper...CrazyForModLodge?

    The trouble with things that are supposedly worth bunches, is that in order to realize said bunches, you'd have to part with the thing. Which if it's a Beloved Thing, isn't going to happen. Tell the hubs.

  3. Love love love this project!!!! I will try it my firsties as soon as they finish their current project. I have been a fan of Charlie Harper since I stumbled into a gallery in college in Ann Arbor a 100 years ago (slight exaggeration) and bought a print of his called "Blue Jay Bathing" for $45.00! That was a fortune for me, since tuition back then was $400.00 per semester. I still have it proudly displayed in my home, and yes, it's worth about $1000.00 now, but I would never part with it. You continue to be such an inspiration for me, thank you so much.

    1. Ah, how cool that you have one of his prints!! I know, I should just hang mine and be proud! ...instead of looking at them and thinking "I"m such an idiot!" Oh well!!

  4. Cassie, this video tutorial was so helpful and amazing. I wish you would consider making these instructional videos professionally. There are SO many art teachers out there who could benefit from using these with their kiddos. Why shouldn't you profit from all of your hard work? I urge you to contact someone who could help you develop these types of videos for the marketplace. If I had a dvd like these to pop in whenever I needed one, it would greatly benefit my art program. Think about it!😉

    1. Hey Pat! It's funny you say's actually something I have been thinking about! I just need the time (summer, where are you?) to work on this idea. thank you for your kind words, it inspires me to do so!!

  5. Yes I agree with Pat, your videos are amazing, dynamic and easy to follow. You have such a unique style to go with all too. I only just discovered Charley Harper after teaching art for 15 yrs... I am happy Ive at least known about Ed Emberley.


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