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Friday, January 3, 2014

Celebration Figures

It was my goal to design a fun project where my students would be able to learn the basics of how to handle and care for a paintbrush as well as different painting techniques. I was looking thought this book (Below) and came across the work of Nikki de Saint Phalle, specifically here Nanas.

Book: 13 Women Artists Children Should Know by Bettina Shueman
Photo: Nana au Serpent, 1984 found at

I became very interested in her story and how she came to create them. I thought for a long time about abandoning my original desire to develop a painting lesson and creating a 3D sculpture but I kept going and in the end loved the 2 lessons I came up with. That’s right 2! I couldn’t choose and due to my schedule I had a little more time with one of the second grade classes than the others so I tried out both.

With both groups I started with a presentation where showed Nikki de Saint Phalle’s Nanas as well as Impressionist works that show movement and action. Next we focused in on the idea of celebration. We looked at artworks that show celebration and then got right to work creating our own.

With all the holidays that were to come I wanted my students to think about the little things in life that are worth celebrating. So we created Celebration figures to help us remember that every day is worth celebrating.

One class practiced moving around the room and creating poses that show action and celebration. Next students chose partners and traced each other in celebration poses.

In the next class we broke the figures into shapes and spaces using hard lines. Students learned how to correctly hold a large paintbrush and how to paint a solid spaces keeping clean edges.


Next we looked at the Impressionist works and how they used brush strokes to show action.  I taught my students about directional painting and they used this technique to fill the remaining spaces.

In the next few classes we looked at ways to add interest to the paintings by creating layers. Students used, lines, shapes, and symbols, to create designs that broke up the space on their figure.  We finished them with gold painted accents and black hard lines. After they dried we cut them out.

The other project started the same but ended completely different. Instead of life-size human like figures, I guess you could call these “creatures”.

I put out a box of wood scraps on each table and had the students play with combining the pieces to create a small figure to remind them to celebrate life. While we worked we took turns sharing some of the little things we were celebrating.

After developing an idea students painted the pieces in solid colors.

I though the figures would hold up best if I hot glued them. So I had my students draw their figure piece by piece, creating a map to help me put it together. Some students even colored their drawings. 

I made this fun video using the iMotion App to show the class how one of the figures would have been assembled.

In the next few classes we used brushes and the eraser end of pencils to add designs and pattern to the figures. After they were dry I gave them Sharpies to add to the designs by adding an additional layer.

Here are some pictures from our class critique.  

I hope you like these as much as I do.

1 comment:

  1. I am so impressed---especially by the sculptures!! Great authentic work!