B12 and I are continuing our study of ecosystems with another family so we made the most of the good weather last week to take another field trip. I shared pictures of our first field trip here. Our trip last week was to a local woodland area with many trails which pass through various types of ecosystems. B12 & P12 were on the lookout for the flora and fauna in each different area but ended up being most interested in the birds we saw.
After waiting and changing location a couple of times B & P’s patience with the chickadees was rewarded.
We saw this little nuthatch next.
The highlight of the day came just as we were about to finish our walk. A barred owl swooped through the woods ahead of us. It passed a few feet from B12’s face and then landed in a tree about 15 metres away. We went as close as we could and I snapped a few photos. I’ll include the full photo first to see if you can pick it out; the camouflage is superb. (click on photos to enlarge)
Did you spot it? We wondered what it was doing flying around in the middle of the day. There is a bird sanctuary in the area so perhaps it had a day pass.
For more photos visit my Photo of the Day board on Pinterest
Our first unit in the new year was pottery. We spent three mornings at a pottery studio with a wonderful pottery teacher and the resulting creations were very impressive. As there were just three participants for this unit each student had a wheel to use. On the first week all three made several pots.
During the second class they trimmed the pots, tidying up rough edges and putting a “foot” on the bottom if desired. They also had time to make things by hand if they wished.
The final class was spent glazing which took a while as there were many pots and numerous choices for designs and combinations. We were all excited to see the finished products after their final firing.
Before Christmas we did a short three week unit of coloured pencil drawing. We used both watercolour and wax or oil based coloured pencils. Just as my art teachers had done I had my class drawing fruit. Fruit are a manageable subject to be completed in a short time frame. Even though the time was relatively short I stressed that the longer we spent building up colour with the non watercolour pencils the more depth and realism we could achieve. It was not just colouring in a sketch.
Our warm up exercises before drawing the fruit were to complete several solids concentrating on the light and dark areas, shadows and shading.
The final technique in our printing unit was monoprinting, so called because no two prints are ever the same.
We used leaves and grasses which were readily available outside. (It was a while ago, before the snow came). We tried different methods for making a print including applying ink directly to the leaves, rolling ink on glass then lifting it with the leaves and taking a negative print after the ink had been lifted. The detail we were able to achieve in the veins on the leaves was surprising.
We continued carving and printing our linocuts and designed a second smaller one each as well. Here is a squirrel S12 carved .
The lino cut below shows the amount of carving required to create a design with little or no background. As you can see in the card the finished product looked great. L14 printed it in red ink and sponged extra colour onto the paper after printing. I bought speedball printing ink for our second week and it worked well.
A15 printed her shoe in a few different colours and we are hoping to print it three times in colours which will work in her room then frame them.
My own linoprint is posted on my paintings page
As a lead up to creating some lino prints we spent one week designing potato prints. Although it may have seemed like a step back into kindergarten it was a good exercise to get everyone thinking about positive and negative designs and carving the mirror image of what they wanted to see in their final print. The lino blocks are of course a little pricier than potatoes so the preparation was worthwhile.
B11 created some car logos, cars being his current passion. I carved a leaf and some abstract patterns. There was a paisley design, a few names and letters, an eye and a quite impressive albeit mirrored image world map.
The following week we began by designing our lino cuts. Everyone had to decide whether they wanted to create a negative or positive design. One way you carve your design out of the lino block leaving lino around the design. The other method is to carve away all that is not your design so that it remains at the end to be inked. Once the designs had been transferred or redrawn on the lino blocks everyone started carving. The carving tools are very sharp. A few of the students made me nervous. Band aids were needed!
The first prints were done using Stampin’Up Craft ink and the coverage wasn’t too bad; the smoother the paper the better the print. I am going to get some ink specifically designed for block printing and see what the difference is.
We have started a new year of art and I have a class of four regulars with a couple more students who will join in occasionally. Our first unit for the year is printmaking and we kicked off with two weeks of marbling. For Christmas one year B11 bought me a marbling kit which, until now, has sat on the shelf unused. We had a great time with it and are all keen to have another go at a later date. I will need to find a new source of chemicals having used up the ones in the kit and I would like to try better quality paper and/or inks as the prints are a little washed out.
Marbling involves a bath of “size” onto which you drop coloured inks. The inks spread but do not blend so it is possible to manipulated them into patterns with combs and skewers.
Once the pattern is created, paper which has been soaked in an alum solution is lowered onto the size to pick up the marbled pattern.
During the first week we familiarized ourselves with the way the inks reacted to the size and to each other, creating some basic and random patterns. Above is a print B11 made. The second week we were more deliberate in creating our patterns following some recipes included in the kit. Below are two prints; the pink one A15 made and the other is mine.