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Posts from the ‘art’ Category

First graders’ claymation brings “The Snowy Day” to life

In 1962, Ezra Jack Keats, a Jewish immigrant, published a simple story about a young boy going outside to play in the snow. The Snowy Day was one of the first children’s books featuring an African-American character that wasn’t about race, segregation, marginalization or inequality. His iconic, red-suited boy, Peter, represented universal winter experiences – smacking a snow-covered tree with a stick, dragging your feet slowly to make tracks and plopping down to make a snow angel. It is a book about childhood wonder, curiosity and innocence. Who hasn’t experienced that feeling of disappointment when you discover that you can’t preserve a snowball in your pocket?

From the collaged backdrops, plasticine figures, expressive narration and special features, such as floating bubbles and falling snow, my first grade students staged all of these scenes, moved the characters inch by inch and used the Koma Koma app to document it all, one photograph at a time. Pretty extraordinary! They widened their life lens as they built paper cityscapes of a New York neighborhood and molded characters with different skin tones from their own.

I am often asked what my “favorite” project to do each year is. Honestly, I don’t have a perennial favorite.  The Snowy Day ended up being an unexpected jackpot as it fused creativity, collaboration, diversity and literacy skills. We are so proud to share our efforts with you. Enjoy watching on this snowy day!

– Sarah Dawe
First Grade Teacher

Click to watch: A Snowy Day
Password: snowyday

The Creator and the Story Behind Fluffy the Three-Headed Dog

I first met with Debbie Gantt (Performing Arts Coordinator), Alex Edwards (Lower School Music Teacher) and Andrew Luman (Music Teacher) at the beginning of October, and it was there that Alex showed me her drawings for the set and asked if I would be interested in making Fluffy the Three-Headed dog. In her drawings she had three heads coming out of the wall as well as the front legs. I was intrigued by the idea but asked if perhaps it could be the entire dog. Andrew gave me the parameters, and I went away to stew on the idea. Exactly a month later I presented them a scale model of my proposal. The model, made of pink foam rigid insulation, was exactly to scale and showed a five foot girl walking under the legs. They were sold.

December 6, a month later, I sent them a picture of the first head with my daughter Bimba standing next to it to show them how big it was going to be. My hope was at that time they would call me in and say it was too big and we needed to reconsider the project. Instead all I received was their praises. For the next two months all I did was work on Fluffy.

I used almost 1000 sq. ft. of two-inch rigid foam insulation to create the entire dog. Each head takes about 135 sq. ft. Thirteen cans of spray adhesive, seven bottles of Gorilla Glue, and three gallons of paint were used. The body has a core made of two-by-fours and plywood. The front legs have a steel frame which was then covered with the foam. In my studio I built the top half, the heads and top of the body first. I then took them off raised the body to the ceiling of the studio and built the lower half. After spray painting it a golden yellow, I took it all apart and delivered it to Brookwood in three trailer loads. It was there that Alex brought Fluffy to life with her paints. It took all of Friday and part of Saturday to assemble it on the stage.

The most difficult aspect of building this was figuring out how it was going to stand up and be guaranteed that it would not fall down. The solution was the steel used in the front legs and the triangular support I built behind the wall to carry the hind end. I needed to be sure that the dog could not fall forward or push the wall over backward. The other aspect of the project that required the most thought was the tail and how to make it wag. Debbie was determined that the tail had to wag. It is very simple, but it took me a long time to get there.

The sheer size of this could make it very scary to young children, so to tone it down I made the heads to resemble Mr. Peabody’s and gave the body the playful pose of a puppy about to spring forward. Alex then added to that with soft expression around the mouth.

 – Sebastian Carpenter ’79
and Parent ’13, ’14, ’17

30 Drawings in 30 Days

February is of course the perfect month for fun activities like sledding, skiing, ice skating, and snowshoeing. At Brookwood it’s also the time for drawing.

This month, the entire school community – students of all ages, faculty, staff, and parents, and grandparents – is engaged in the 30 Drawings in 30 Days Art Challenge, which runs through March 4. All who are participating take a break from their routine, tap their creative energy, and draw daily in a sketchbook that the Art Department has supplied. It’s an entirely voluntary undertaking – sketching is not assigned.

According to Visual Arts Coordinator and Art Teacher Kathy Stewart, the reasons for the shared community undertaking are many: “It promotes great, creative habits of mind.  It’s good for the soul, helps to calm a chattering, busy mind, and honors the many artists in our community.  It helps us to build observation skills by slowing down and really noticing the world around us, and it’s fun to try something new.”

“The idea comes from a book that I’m reading, Art Before Breakfast by Danny Gregory,” explains Kathy. “As artists, drawing each day helps us to establish a positive creative habit – practice makes you a better artist.  It is taking time for yourself to do something that you enjoy.”

Need some inspiration? Look to This Week at Brookwood, where Kathy shares weekly thoughts, sketch ideas and prompts. Some of her ideas so far have included:

Do a sketch of the ultimate tree house;
Design a three-tiered birthday cake for your pet;
Create a stylish spacesuit for your first trip to Mars;
Show your little one how to draw something or have them show you how to draw something;
Do a drawing using one continuous line;
Draw with your other hand;
Draw to music with your eyes closed;
Illustrate a poem or book;
Sketch a loved one.

For more inspiration, Kathy suggests these websites and books:

dannygregorysblog.com
craftwhack.com/20-drawing-ideas-kids/
Tangle Art and Drawing Games for Kids, by Jeanette Nyberg
Art Before Breakfast, by Danny Gregory

Be sure to stop and enjoy some of the work that’s being created and displayed on the 30 Drawings bulletin board in the lobby across from the Faculty Room.

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