Tilden’s commitment to developing strong oral and written communication skills extends to the area of visual communication as well. All students participate in a weekly studio art program with an art specialist. They work with a wide variety of media and subject matter, and are introduced to a range of artists and art styles. Each year builds upon previously learned skills and concepts, stretching and challenging each child’s own sense of expression and ability to communicate visually.
Two-dimensional exploration regularly includes work with watercolor, tempera, acrylic paint, watercolor crayon, Prismastik, colored pencil, pencil, marker, soft pastel, oil pastel, torn and cut paper collage, and pen and ink. Three-dimensional work includes creating with wire, found object sculpture, as well as pinch, coil, and slab clay construction. Over the course of their six-year art journey, students also have the opportunity to explore a variety of printing techniques, Huichol Indian yarn painting, traditional cultural paper craft, repoussé, mosaic techniques, weaving, embroidery, quilting, applique, bobbin lace, and sewing.
In addition to building a strong foundation in general fundamental art concepts and skills, the art specialist coordinates with classroom teachers to make direct links to their core curriculum for several projects each year. Connecting art with their math, poetry, writing, science, literature, and art history studies creates rich and unique experiences for the students. Also, all teachers integrate art into many aspects of their primary classroom studies. Students’ art work is honored and displayed regularly throughout the school.
The art program emphasizes many important skills in addition to basic art making skills. These skills include fine motor development, listening, observation, story creation, creating within a set of guidelines to meet a goal, and adding detail to create richer communication. At all levels, students are encouraged to push beyond their own comfort level and beyond their initial feeling of “I’m done.” They are encouraged to review the criteria, take another look at their work, and make changes or additions, just as they would do in their writing and math work. Patience and persistence are practiced regularly!
Kindergarten through Third Grade
Art making in the the primary grades focuses on shape, size, color, color mixing of primaries and secondaries, pattern, line, value, repetition, positive and negative space, texture, tints and shades, complementary colors, and analogous color familiesd. Developing fine motor skills are important in these grades. Pencil and brush control, manipulating glue bottles and sticks, cutting with scissors, tearing and folding paper, bending wire, and managing work spaces and materials are basic skills practiced as students build their experience.
Fourth and Fifth Grades
Art making at the intermediate level features longer and more complicated projects, requiring more attention to planning, executing, reviewing, and editing. The basic skills learned in the primary grades are further refined and combined in more mixed-media opportunities. Quality and expression of line, color relationships, and the concepts of light and dark are explored more thoroughly. Students also play with the idea of implied and real marks, the expressiveness of neutrals, and the relationships between positive and negative space. Highlights of these years are the opportunity to work with new materials and explore new processes such as using carving knives and safety-kut blocks, or building collagraph plates for printmaking; working in larger scale with slab-construction clay forms; painting with acrylics for four- to six-week projects; and creating intricate paper collage pieces.
Art History (Second and Third Grades)
Second and third grade students study art history to gain an understanding of a wide variety of diverse cultures and time periods across the world. Our specific focus begins with preparation for exhibits at SAM, which we attend at least twice a year. Often these exhibits serve as a springboard for further inquiry, piquing our students’ curiosity. Tilden students become comfortable comparing civilizations, and perceptively observing similarities and differences between various cultures, their mythologies, and their art. Our kids enthusiastically discuss ideas and concepts represented by various artists, their times, and their cultures. Learning to use art terms, like composition and balance, helps our students learn to really look at artworks, and to express their perceptions thoughtfully, often passionately.