Fourth grade learned about Victorian Era silhouette art. This popular and affordable style of portraiture required only a black piece of paper, scissors, and careful observation on the part of the artist. Some artists even built elaborate machines to make the process easier. Students used Makerspace to invent their own machines for capturing each other’s silhouettes. Then, using pictures taken in profile, students cut out their silhouettes and traced them to white paper. They filled their images with words that describe themselves.
With the advent of photography, silhouette art became less popular. One of the most direct ways to capture a photograph is a method called cyanotyping. All it requires is paper coated with the correct chemicals, an object, and 30 minutes in the sun. Students cut their silhouettes once again, this time out of black paper. We lay the cut silhouettes on top of the cyanotype paper and left them in the sun. The silhouettes act as a kind of stencil, preventing light from passing through to the paper. After 30 minutes the paper is washed in water to remove any residual chemicals, and left to dry. Some students added leaves and other natural materials to their cyanotypes as a kind of wallpaper to their image.
Face jugs, also known as ugly jugs, date back to the 14th century. They were a common form of art among African American slaves living in the North and South Carolina’s during the mid-1800s. Some historians speculate that the grotesque features of the face indicate that they were used for spiritual purposes. For example, to ward off evil spirits. This theory is backed up by archaeological findings, which have shown that a large proportion of face jugs were buried at the entrance of former slaves’ homes. It is possible that this location was designed to prevent evil spirits from entering the home.
Fourth graders used red clay and the pinch and coiling techniques to create the head of their vessel. Additional red clay, with accents of white, were used to add features to the face. After an initial firing, the jugs were lightly sponged with brown glaze, and fired once more, to give them a dated appearance.
Fourth graders learned about Colonial American embroidery. We looked at images of embroidery samplers, which are mostly composed of letters and numbers. These samplers prepared girls for the kinds of work they would perform in the home, while simultaneously schooling them in letters and numbers. Women of the higher class would go on to create pictorial embroideries, which might show images of things they hoped to attain in the future.
Using primarily the running and back stitches, students embroidered a design of their choice.
In conjunction with their state projects, fourth graders created these relief prints, which feature their state’s bird and flower. The relief process involves transferring a sketch to a rubber, stamp like material, and using special tools (called gauges) to carve the light areas of the image away. Ink is then applied to the rubber block and the image is transferred to a sheet of printing paper.
Fourth graders began this project by creating their own color wheels. We learned about the primary, secondary, and tertiary colors, by mixing them ourselves. These paint swatches were cut into pizza slices and arranged to create the color wheel.
Then students completed an exercise where they had to identify the three primary, secondary, and tertiary colors in Wayne Thiebaud’s* iconic painting of gumball machines.
Finally, students returned to their color swatches and used them once again to create an image based off of Wayne Thiebaud’s paintings. They could choose to either make a gumball machine or a series of ice cream cones, combining cut paper with oil pastels.
*Wayne Thiebaud is a west coast painter best known for his colorful images of sweet treats. These paintings utilize a technique called impasto, in which the paint is applied very thickly.
Fourth Graders learned about the American painter Grant Wood. While many artists of the early 20th century were interested in post-impressionism and European Abstraction , Wood helped pioneer a new style of painting called Regionalism. Artists working in this style investigated themes related to rural America, and as such, many of Wood’s paintings feature his home state of Iowa.
Using Wood’s paintings as inspiration, students created cut paper collages. First, we painted our own paper, using special tools to add texture. We discussed the importance of a foreground, middle ground, and background. Then we used this information as we layered our painted paper, creating rolling hills and structures of various sizes.