Wayne Thiebaud Delights
Ahhhh, group projects, like this Wayne Thiebaud one. You either love ’em or you hate ’em. They’re like an east coast/west coast rap battle: you pick a side and fight to the death for it. It’s akin to the hero-hoagie-sub debate. Which one do you call it? (For the record, it’s a “sub” in this house because that’s its real name).
But subs aren’t the food of choice I wanted to talk to you about. Cupcakes are. Oh yeah, and group projects.
I’ll be honest. I find that the younger they are, the less likely they understand the concept of “working together” when it comes to art projects. So I tend to start out with easier ones where they’re working side-by-side rather than making constant group decisions.
And the older they get, the more decisions they make as a unit, while I hover nearby putting out small campfires. I’m the ‘guide on the side’ in these lessons.
The Art Lesson
I start out this Wayne Thiebaud art lesson using a Brain Pop Jr. video on color. It’s a quick refresher for remembering how to make secondaries from primaries. It also throws in dark and light hues, too. I use it as the catapult in learning to mix pastel colors.
We look at and discuss various examples of Wayne Thiebaud’s artwork, dissecting the colors, shapes, and forms used throughout. I show them part of an interview he did for CBS Sunday Morning which wets their appetite for everything sugary. And then we get down to the nitty gritty of designing our own cupcakes.
I line up the students on one side of the table and spread out a long piece of butcher paper in front of them. Then they trace the plate using a template. This is so they can judge the size of their cupcake against it. Then, we get down to the business of learning how to draw a cupcake.
Once they have their basic cupcake drawn out, they line up at the sink for paint. They tell me what rainbow color they want, I pour in some white paint on top, and they tell me what color it makes.
“Orange and white make light orange!”
“Blue and white make light blue!”
When they get back to their table, they mix up all the paints and begin painting. First the table, then the plate, and lastly the cupcake. Considering the size of each cupcake, it takes a whole period to paint.
At the start of the next class, we discuss what toppings and decorations they want to put on and how to go about overlapping the colors so they stand out against the painted background. (You know, a second grader doesn’t naturally get the concept of painting in layers unless you tell them it might be necessary depending on what they’re painting). They usually come up with the same things to put on each: sprinkles and candies.
The last part of the project involves the students creating a table for their gynormous cupcakes to sit on as well as a background, all of which they do together in total bliss. Hopefully. Well, sometimes. In a dream world with unicorns and faeries.
So this year after the project was completed, I reflected on what we had accomplished. The decorations and toppings portion of the project had me thinking: what if I could help them get the ball rolling quicker by turning this into a fun roll-a-dice game?
After creating this Wayne Thiebaud art lesson, I tried this as a solo project the following year. Each student made the cupcake but rolled for the toppings. I let them draw out the details, if they wanted, because some were nervous about adding all those details without it.
The following year, I gave the students a permanent marker and they outlined everything. Wish I had a picture of them. But those came out the best!
Make Collaborative Art Projects Fun!
So I developed a game that would allow for a more interesting group project. Each student has a chance to roll the die to make either a cake, cupcake, layer cake, slice of cake, ice cream cone, or ice cream cup. And then they roll to decide what toppings and decorations they add.
Check out Roll a Masterpiece: Wayne Thiebaud Art Game in my shop!
How do your students fare when it comes to group projects? Do you love ’em or hate ’em? Are they a necessary (read: state core content curriculum standard) evil or a reason to celebrate? Drop me a comment below.