Unholy Material Trinity?

When perusing art education blogs I feel some guilt, along with the inspiration.  There are many materials that I just don't use simply because I have a personal aversion to them. On the top of my list are:

  • Chalk Pastels
  • Tempera (any kind)
  • Construction paper

These may as well be the holy trinity of elementary art education materials... but I just can't bring myself to use them regularly (if at all!) in my classes.

Chalk pastels are messy, break easily, and do not last for the whole year. The work created with them is also so ephemeral, and having no classroom ventilation or convenient outdoor space to fix finished work means too much hassle. 

Tempera goes bad so quickly, dries to a chalky finish, and the dry tempera pucks seem so dull, without a full array of colors. 

Construction paper fades almost immediately once displayed, unless you pay for some really fantastic fade-proof stuff (and if you're doing that, why not spring for nicer paper anyway?) 

Taking a hard look at myself, these are silly reasons not to use materials... and I'm being a bit of a snob. I'm going to challenge myself to craft some lessons around those materials.... because they are FUN, and because kids love them. Maybe I'll even start to love them, too. We'll see how this goes.

Surrealist Art and the Unconscious Mind

Surrealism, n. Pure psychic automatism, by which one proposes to express, either verbally, in writing, or by any other manner, the real functioning of thought. Dictation of thought in the absence of all control exercised by reason, outside of all aesthetic and moral preoccupation.

My third grade artists have been studying the Surrealist Art Movement since September, first working with words – using existing poetry to create remixed narratives. As we begin our painting unit, the third graders are preparing images that employ “Random Juxtaposition,” which forces the viewer to create links between formerly unrelated objects. Through interpreting these juxtapositions, we unlock our unconscious thoughts- one of the primary aims of the Surrealist artists. While the third grade students will be creating paintings, you can easily try this exercise at home using magazine and newspaper clippings:

Choose one item for each category listed below- try to go with your first instinct. Gather images from color prints, magazines or newspapers, cut them out and arrange on a piece of paper until you reach a balanced composition that pleases you. Paste your images down and add extra details in ink, paint or collaged blocks of color. Share your work with a friend and ask them to share the story it tells them!

Example juxtaposition worksheet