Monday, November 1, 2010

Troubled Pumpkins With Value

Today, I decided to go where no man or woman has gone before in art class at my elementary school. I made the decision to teach the element of art termed "value".  It's a bit sketchy as far as being easily understood by American students, let alone English-as-a-second-language students. I cleared off other definitions from their minds besides the one I wanted to use for art. What is something of value? We slowly came up with answers; money, gold, etc. 

In art we use the word "value" to mean something different than "the worth of". Value, in art world, is the lightness or darkness of black as well as colors. The gradation of black was my focus. I asked the students to convey three dimensionality of a pumpkin by using darkness going into lightness, then white, in their pumpkin drawings.  I had laid out only white paper, an eraser and one black oil pastel at each student's place. With the fourth graders, I added salmon colored paper for use after the black and white drawing.

Fourth grade value drawings.
I demonstrated drawing a pumpkin, and that is where the trouble began. Since these students had never really drawn a pumpkin before, they didn't quite know where to begin. I asked them to copy me, and I drew slowly. I pointed out the shape of a pumpkin, the stem and the vine to which it might be attached. As I glided around the room, I noticed deflated basketballs with heavy bases seemingly imprisoned behind bars. Well, it's a start, I mused.

Actually, I carefully asked the students with prison bars on their pumpkins to try again, and to curve those bars a bit. I zipped around the room making homemade nubs for blending. They seemed to enjoy the blending process, as if it was magical. I always love seeing that excitement.

Second grader's value pumpkin.
I've decided to post the best work from second grade and then fourth grade, so we can all cheer these new art students on, troubled pumpkins and all!

I think they had a good time, because, once again, it was all new to them. They all wanted to take their nubs home. But, as I gathered up the mostly spent oil pastels, I wondered from where my next batch of pastels would come. I guess I'll have tomorrow's group use brown. One has to be flexible in Morocco:-)
That's the way the oil pastels crumble!


  1. Great post! I love their art work(and the teacher's)-they did great pumpkins and the dish of spent erasers and oil pastels at the end-great conclus!ion for your story.

  2. What wonderful drawings your kidlets made! I'd be proud as punch were these my own drawings. Now I'm thinking I'll go get the pumpkin that's sitting on my porch and turn it into a model for today's drawing. I agree with Marge about the dish of spent supplies... good conclusion and a beautiful bowlful.

  3. Thanks so, so much, ladies and fellow artists!

  4. Morocco, nice. How do you find common ground with your students? Are they reallly interested in art? How have you adjusted to the culture?

  5. Ok, I am catching up on all this Marcia travels. Your blog rocks. I will share with the world as I know it.