I began one of my favourite units of work today, one which I have carried out a number of times with year 4 students and which we have found has some delightful outcomes.. Linking to the QCA Art unit Viewpoints, and developed through the use of the simplest of graphics packages, MS Paint, our final outcome, built in steps, is a landscape, including reflection and rotations, working in the style of Monet. Throughout the unit the tools that children may use to create the modules from which the final landscape is made up are limited to only the airbrush tool, though the size of the nozzle, its dispersal pattern and colour can be varied.
We begin by reviewing images by the artist, and discussing how they are composed, where was he sitting when he made his sketches, or began painting? How do we know? We also discuss what was hapening beyond the frame, such things as where in the sky the sun may have been, refering to shadows, catches of light and the reflections we can see. Other interesting discussion points emerge around issues such as whether he may have worn a coat or not? Even though many of the images we look at are sunny and bright, there are other clues, like ripples on the water, whisps of mist, shades of dark and light, perhaps the sparkling of leaves, which may infer other conditions in the weather? We also compare two or three similar images such as the Japanese Bridge series, and discuss seasonal changes between them and so forth. I have compiled some of these images and supporting questions into a powerpoint slideshow. I was recently posted a link through del.icio.us to slideshare, wanted to have a go at using this, so I am sharing my first attempt at this here. Alongside the Monet's this show is also a Narrative of Learning and shows a progression through the unit of work.
Throughout the unit, concepts such as layering are introduced through copying and pasting. The final graphic is built up by adding new transparent layers to a background image, by copying and pasting from other open instances of Paint.
In previous years I have used MS Publisher to make Frameable Prints, which were very effective for display and made lovely gifts for their parents. This time around however I am considering an additional digital element, building on the learning story. Playing with Pivot Stickfigure Animator this weekend, inspired me to consider encouraging the students to use their digital monet's as backgrounds on which to take stick characters for a walk. Recent versions of PowerPoint, allow the use of animated Gifs, and I wondered about creating a class show, including single slides made by each of the students using their pivot animation. We might even add speech or thought bubbles, to give depth to the image. The slides could then be imported into one PowerPoint show, to make an animated story using their images, perhaps timing the animation in each image, and inserting a transition as the image motion stops. Seemd like a good fun thing to do, and something which I think the students would enjoy as an extension of their previous animation work.