Art Lessons on the Street

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    After the morning assembly, classroom after classroom of kids (most of the elementary school kids) come out to the yard and circle up around me. First thing I do, if they are really little kids, I ask em if they are 5th graders – they squeal pleased and then yell “NO, we are first graders!”

    The next thing I do is give an art lesson right there on the playground. How chalk likes to be used and some other basic foundations of the visual arts. Most of the elementary schools I visit in the northern California Bay Area have NO art teachers – a terrible way to invest into the future! What we want to do is to nurture and help anchor their creativity into their bodies while they are young so that they can grow up and always have access to their creative spirits in all aspects of their lives.

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    AND WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?

    1) I first ask… “If your life depended upon 3 colors, what would they be?”

    Right Answer: Red, Yellow, Blue (primaries), from these 3 everything can follow. (or the right answer would also be whatever they first said!)

    2) I show them the rest of the chalk. I usually use a set of 24 set sold by Koss or Blick Art.

    3) I then talk about the pavement and how it varies from place to place… and then I draw a Circle.

    4) Line/Form/Color: “A line is fine, but what chalk really likes is solid color!” I fill in 1/3 of the circle with a color and then show best how to rub the chalk solidly into the pavement totally covering the surface. I use yellow for the top left, red top right, blue bottom right.

    5) Gradations: I show them how to blend colors and instantly get ooohs and ahhhs because the secondary colors magically appear – orange, green, purple.

    6) Cast Shadow: How to get something to look like it has form – has dimension, is to add a shadow. Imagine that light is coming down from the top left, it crosses over the sphere and casts a shadow towards the bottom right, in a size and shape which relates to the original form. With this ball of color the shadow looks like a crescent moon. 

    7) Highlight: Add a little bit of white on the ball to the top left as a highlight.

    8) Negative Space: And last but not lease – or just as important as the ball itself is the space around the ball. Draw a picture frame around the ball which separates it from the rest of the playground. I sometimes do a demo where I draw a frame and fill in just the negative space which then shows the circle, the kids get this then as real and not just an abstract concept. Showing is more powerful than saying. 

    What I found interesting was that many of the kids then went off and tried what they just saw.

    Below are some of the young artists work.

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