Abstract Warm-up

   The first day of class with my 6th graders can be a bit overwhelming. I preach rules, procedures, and expectations. They are usually surprised at the new things they will be expected to do in "Middle School" art and can be a little timid. 
   After all the speeches are said and done I like for them to start creating.  I always begin 6th grade with Abstract Art. I try to find an interesting youtube video to show that gets the kids excited. I won't tell them what abstract art is though. I ask them at the end of the video to tell me. 9 times out of 10 they will get it.
   It is now time to create. As wide a topic and endless the ideas for abstract is, I have always found that it is hard for most students to begin an abstract work. So I help them along with this abstract warm-up:

Markers, crayons, oil pastels, colored pencils, or paint.
12"x18" paper

Teacher reads the directions as students follow along.
Please be sure to allow at least a minute for each step. 

Abstract Warm-Up:
1. Turn your paper in any direction
2. With your marker make three straight lines anywhere on your paper, but start each line on an edge and end on an edge. Lines may cross if you wish.
3. Make three dots any size, anywhere on your paper. Remember to color your dots in. 
4. Place the tip of your marker on one of the dots. Now make a curved line or a lot of curved lines that go in any direction as long as they go to an edge.
5. With your marker make one circle that touches something else on your paper. 
6. You may add to your design by making more lines and shapes if you wish.
7. Complete your abstract work by adding as many colors as you wish. Remember to leave only one space blank on your design. 
Abstract warm up with steps 1 - 5. I always use oil pastel on black paper. 
Wish I had taken more pictures of this lesson... The students always have great success with this project because they are given a little "push" into the creative process. I find that it builds their confidence. 
If you liked this warm up and would like some more ideas, send me your email. I have 3 more equally as popular with the students and greater in difficulty. 
Special thanks to Pam Hickman who gave me these abstracts when I was student teaching.

Sand Pyramid?

I am currently on vacation on beautiful Hilton Head Island, SC. My family and I have been coming here for 21 years and counting. This year was the first time that I set out with a goal that did not include completely draining my head of all thought and just relax... Well, I will of course still do that, but onto the goal. 
I wanted to build some kind of sand castle. I have never made one. I thought it might be too hard to pull off and the rest of my family really didn't seem too interested. I don't blame them, because it is a lot of work. My wonderful husband who is what I would call a "Craftsman" set out with a plan. He also has an engineering mind so I just smiled and nodded when he showed me the plans. 
We decided on a pyramid! Here are some process photos. In the pictures are me, my husband Wes (in the hat), and my cousin Mica. 
1. Build the foundation.
2. Level and smooth.
3. Stair steps that begin at the top. Our approaches to this were all different. My strategy was to insert my tool (plastic putty knife) vertically and and then rotate down (like pulling a lever) so that the tool lay horizontally. This would cut the step and then pack down the sand for the top of the next step. I think my husband would cut in vertically and then cut in horizontally and scoop out. (My way went a lot faster)
 4. Make an entrance by building up more sand and smoothing.
 5. Carve stones in entrance way
6. Feel proud of a job well done!

 7. Even though our steps were not all perfectly level and smooth, it gave our pyramid a nice ancient look. 
 This little crab stayed with my cousin the whole time and then decided he would move in. 
If you're going on a beach vacation and want to.... Build a sand creation and share it!
Happy Building!

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