I just finished a unit with my 5th graders based on the art of Heather Hansen. She is an interdisciplinary artist, who combines her work in dance, choreography and drawing to create large-scale kinetic drawings.
We talked about Heather Hansen's work, and I showed them a brief Youtube video to give them a bit more information as well as a glimpse into how she works. We made connections to creating snow angels, and talked about the meaning of the term kinetic. We then saw the work of other artists who utilize movement in their work, like Alexander Calder, and Bridget Riley.
Then we began work on our individual drawings. The kids worked with chalk pastels, which I divided into trays, with two pastels of two different colors. They worked with the same pastel color in each hand, concentrating on creating a drawing that was symmetrical, showed various lines and movement, and used at least four colors. As a final touch to their work, students could create "smudge lines" using their fingers. I had them repeat after me, "fingers, not hands" and showed them the difference between creating lines with our fingers, and making mud with our hands. Some chose also to include thicker and thinner lines by utilizing different sides of the pastels.
Space is always an issue since I push into several rooms, so we prepped two 18"x24" sheets of drawing paper with a masking tape seam along the back. Each day as we finished our work, our paper was carefully folded in half to store it for the next class.
For our collaborative drawings, I assigned partners, they prepped paper, and wrote their names, each on one panel on the back. This way I could grade the finished piece, as well as their individual contributions to it. Also, we could just separate the two halves of the artwork at the end of the unit, so each student could keep his or her own work.
My students were so engaged, and discovered that creating a nonrepresentational work of art can be even more challenging and rewarding than one with a concrete or representational objective. They also reflected on the differences in working on a individual drawing as opposed to working with a partner. I couldn't have been happier with their efforts. Their drawings demonstrated a great variety of line, movement, color, and symmetry. Individual drawings conveyed their choices and personalities. And their collaborative work showed their attention, communication skills, and expression of the lesson objectives as a team. Here are some of our final pieces:
Individual Drawings in Pastel
Partner Drawings in Oil Pastel