I am extremely fortunate to have a very committed, well connected, passionate community that supports the arts in a very big way. Each year they raise funds to bring in a visiting artist that works with students to make a communal artistic experience or project. Sometimes it's a poet, other years it's a visual artist. This past year, I was fortunate enough to have an incredible amount of freedom when planning the Artist in Residence with our PTA (parent teacher association).
I decided to make the most of our budget and go all in. Now, looking back on this - it was a bold decision to create such a large project, much of which rested on my shoulders knowing I would be 9 months pregnant when all this would come together. But, I wouldn't change a thing, The artists that we worked with were incredible and the experiences and outcomes that the students experienced were nothing short of spectacular. Below is the description of one of the three artist in residence experiences that I built for our elementary students.
Artist in Residence 2014 welcomes artist, Bob Fritz
Project: Have K- grade 2 students study the work of Alexander Calder, specifically his circus. Students will work in small groups to design a paper circus that they will later turn into a short film by utilizing the techniques of stop motion animation. Students will work in small groups to develop a scene that includes circus figures from cut paper. Students will coordinate composition, problem solve setup, and receive instruction about basic stop motion animation techniques from Bob Fritz to contribute to a short film that will be put together and shared with the entire Ames School Community.
I knew that a project of this magnitude was going to take multiple weeks to complete. We only had the visiting artist for one week (due to that little thing called a budget). To save time, money, and energy I did all the prep work with students beforehand and saved the part where students were shooting the video for the visiting artist. Our visiting artist, Bob Fritz was amazing and helped by phone conferencing the whole time and offered a wealth of knowledge and suggestions.
I started by introducing students to the artist, Alexander Calder. I didn't have a great amount of time so I did a brief introduction sharing the following slide show and sharing at least one of the books mentioned below.
Information on Alexander Calder
"Cirque Calder is an artistic rendering of a circus created by the American artist Alexander Calder. It involves wire models rigged to perform the various functions of the circus performers they represent, from contortionists to sword eaters to lion tamers. The models are made of various items, generally wire and wood. Calder began improvising performances of this circus during his time in Paris. He would comment in French during the performance."
pointers for a successful animation
Students walked into the room the first studio day to find all the supplies set up and ready to go. As they came into the room they each grabbed a large circle for their head, two white circles for their eyes, and a large rectangle for their body. I had a variety of colors that kids could choose from. We worked together to "build" their bodies and facial features. I wanted the people to appear simple in appearance and built with bright colors. We didn't have time to cut clothes out so I had students use tempera sticks to add color to their clothes. This provided the portraits with great, bold, bright pops of color without the drying time or wrinkling of traditional paints.
We attached the arms with string so it would make it easier to have students show movement while we were shooting the animation. Keeping a small space between the arm and body, students taped on each end. Again, this simplified the process and saved us lots of time … and headaches ( I can't imagine trying to have the kiddos glue the string!)
pointers for a successful animation
-filming your animation-
- Have a plan on how to save and organize files. I didn't do this, and it was a bit of a run around at the conclusion of every sessions, as well as trying to organize all the video at the very end of the week. Whether you use dropbox or your own server. Make someone in charge of downloading and saving video files as you go throughout the day
- Plan on charging iPads or cameras during the day.
- Write out a how-to for volunteers. I started doing this whenever I have volunteers in my room. It's a busy time when people are coming in and out, by having a short blurb telling parents what we are doing and what they are in charge of helped me gain back some of my teacher time and made their job easier.
- Prepare for filming ahead of time. Have everything students will need out and ready to go. I had kept everything in envelopes, they were out with their story lines so kids could get right to work.
- Provide a checklist for students and volunteers to complete. This kept everyone on track. Our checklist included the following:
- Review your storyline with your group
- Assign each group member a job: Director, cameraman, prop manager, and actors (rotate through)
- Shoot your charters coming into the frame
- Shoot your story line, making sure to take at least 100 frames. Remember, SMALL, smooth movements and make your characters blink every so often by putting a circle paper over their eyes for one frame.
- Shoot your characters leaving the frame
- Go back and re-shoot the most interesting part of our storyline, this time concentrating on expressions. Change your characters face, eyes (remember to blink), add a bit of personality.
- Shoot at least two closeups of your scene.
We cycled through the classes over a period of a few days. I kept compiling the videos and would put out these little trailers to drum up excitement. I used the iMovie software to create the one on the right.
Finally we took our raw video and compiled it into the final product below. We had a grand unveiling at the conclusion of the year where we screened it to the whole school. If I had not been out on maternity leave I would have arranged a movie opening night, complete with tickets and popcorn … but, the timing was not right. It was exciting enough to screen it at the end of the year awards ceremony.
We have since entered into a few competitions and the students are excited about the possibility of others seeing it.
And now , without further ado ...
Art In The Community
I'm An Artist
Pre K Ideas
Technology In The Art Room
Tips And Tricks In The Art Room