SchoolArts Magazine

NOV 2014

SchoolArts is a national art education magazine committed to promoting excellence, advocacy, and professional support for educators in the visual arts since 1901.

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38 November 2014 SchoolArts Early Childhood Studio Lesson in pencil tones of black, grey, and white sitting on the lap of Whistler's mother; the subject of James Abbott McNeill Whistler's well-known paint- ing, Arrangement in Grey and Black No. 1. I show students an image of the painting and explain how artists and illustrators often borrow ideas and pay homage to each other in their work. The illustrations in the book turn from black and white to a colorful fantasy that takes place in the sleep- ing cat's dream world. Artist Marc Chagall is referenced in the pages that depict cats fiddling and flying over upside-down houses and fractured shapes. I show the class examples of Chagall's paintings so they can look for the elements that the author chose to include in his illustrations. The cats next fly to the lush jungle world of artist Henri Rousseau. Once again, students discover how the author drew inspiration from the paintings of another artist. As the cat I have always been in love with children's books. I enjoy wander- ing the bookstore and library look- ing for new ideas and inspiration, and I have amassed a huge collection over the years. Some books are used year after year, and some wait on the shelves to hopefully be transformed into a lesson. When Cats Dream When Cats Dream by Dav Pilkey is one of my favorite books to use in the class - room, as it is a great way to introduce second graders to the concept of warm and cool colors, as well as delve into some art history. I tell students that they will create a "cool" cat, which is a cat that is doing something a human would do while outfitted in cool colors. Art History Connections While reading When Cats Dream to the class, I call attention to the begin- ning pages, which depict a cat drawn Jennifer Nesson starts to awaken from his wild, color- ful dreams he is rendered in grey tones once again, but this time, he is found relaxing in the lap of the subject of an artwork everyone recognizes, Leon- ardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa. Studio Time Next, students will create large water- color fantasy backgrounds. Before they begin drawing, I ask them to think about what their cool cats will be doing and what kinds of backgrounds will be needed. Where could the cat be? In the sky, in the water, or on a stage? Students draw their backgrounds in pencil on large pieces of oak tag, trace over their lines with black crayon, then use watercolors to paint the entire background. In subsequent classes, students draw and color cats on smaller pieces of paper, cut them out, then use folded pieces of oak tag to attach them to the backgrounds so that the cats seem to pop out. The cool cats jump off the page, bringing them to life and putting a smile on every- one's face. Jennifer Nesson is an art teacher at Arone Elementary School in Brockton, Massa- chusetts. alexnesson@ comcast.net N A T I O N A L S T A N D A R D Creating: Conceiving and developing new artistic ideas and work. W E B L I N K www.publishersweekly.com/978-0- 531-05997-5 COOL CATS

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