Wee Authors, Wee Illustrators

By Gurney, Mary Ann | School Arts, April 1997 | Go to article overview

Wee Authors, Wee Illustrators


Gurney, Mary Ann, School Arts


I wanted to give my first grade artists the opportunity to experience a wide variety of art media and techniques with the objective of learning through experimentation, discovery, and expression of meaning. My intention was for students to become familiar with the materials, and more importantly, to discover what they could express by using them. There was so much to explore: paper, watercolor, colored pencil, tempera, and oil pastel to name a few. Students created dynamic collages, paintings, prints, resists, and rubbings! They were highly motivated, concentrating on manipulating the media and discovering the results as opposed to intending their works to imitate specific objects. These activities resulted in a series of non-objective artworks. But that soon changed.

I believed students could benefit further by creating something concrete and meaningful from these abstract images. Having demonstrated much effort and skill, we decided to incorporate our works into books. We were progressing to attain higher, expressive goals!

Abstract to Objective

We read and viewed several books containing illustrations of the same media we had used. Leo Lionni was one author/illustrator whose works were great exemplars. We compared and contrasted Lionni's collages to ours and realized his illustrations were different because we recognized them as specific objects. In order for ours to become objective, we had to learn to look at them in a new way, to see them from a different perspective. To visualize this, students were encouraged to gaze at the clouds and brainstorm the images they envisioned. Students expounded upon each other's ideas broadening their imaginations.

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