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Birds and Pastries in Art
Birds and Pastries in Art

by Margaret Skor, Art Teacher

This month we created flocks of beautiful birds and a collection of colorful confections in Art class!

The National Geographic Society, Audubon Society, and other organizations have declared 2018 the year of the bird in celebration of the centennial of the Migratory Bird Act. We celebrated these visually stunning creatures in Art History by looking at how birds have been represented in Art and visual artifacts throughout history. From the owls on ancient Greek coins, to Chinese scrolls full of cranes, to Magritte's surreal doves, we were able to chronicle the history of visual representation and symbolism. We even took a look at Alan Barillaro's stunning animated short Piper, which took three years of developing cutting edge computer animation to create a photorealistic depiction of the sandpiper's feathery texture. "That's not art" one student exclaimed after losing himself in the beautiful animation. How happy I was to contradict him!

The students then took to their papers to create a portrait of their favorite bird. We focused on reproducing the lines and textures we observed in our reference photographs. Upper Elementary focused exclusively on close ups of owls in a square format to really challenge their perception of composition and texture.

After our in depth look at bird art, we switched gears and studied Wayne Thiebaud's 20th century paintings of confections. Students described his art as "yummy, delicious, realistic, bright, mouth-watering, and colorful!" We studied the way he creates the appearance of three dimensional forms using light and dark shades, and the students practiced this type of shading on their own cakes and ice cream cones.

Overall, I saw great progress this month in the student's ability to use what we call their "artist's eyes" in class – which means their power to observe detail and use that detail in their artistic abilities on the page. Great work artists!