Fireflies: Visual Comm: And Then It's Spring...         

Apr 9, 2012

Visual Comm: And Then It's Spring...

Brown, brown, brown! Dull brown earth turns to lush green when seeds are planted. But, still, under the brown, before it is green, there is still life. Who lives in the ground? Which animals are burrowers? How do you make brown? These and other questions tumble one upon another as we look at Julie Fogliano's adorable book "And Then It's Spring." [see book review]

The illustrator of this book, Erin E. Stead first met the author Julie Fogliano in a NY City bookstore while working together. Ms. Stead creates her illustrations using woodblock printing techniques and pencil.

Since woodblock or linocut techniques are not age appropriate for K-3, I decided to bring to life ink pens and crayola crayons in a way that would replicate the look of these fabulous illustrations. Then, to add some fun, I made fingerprint animals, which the kids all love to make! Take a look:

You will need: color crayons or colored pencils, pencils, extra-fine tip marker (I used Pilot brand), full sheet of white paper (with a 1/2" border), 1-2' white paper circles, scissors, black, brown or navy stamp pads.

Step One:

1. First, after looking at the illustration in the book, brainstorm with the children all the animals you can think of that are burrowers, or make their homes in the ground.
I did them alphabetically so our memories might be jogged!

Step Two:
2. Next, I handed out white paper that had a 1/2 inch border drawn around it. I always give my students of all ages paper with borders. This is to encourage them to use the entire space within the border. I want them to use the positive and the negative space and fill the whole page!

Then I talked about the basic element of art called "line." What kinds of lines are there? (Squiggly, straight, dotted, connected, jagged, etc.) I then demonstrated & instructed the students to first draw a straight horizon line near the top 1/3rd of their page.

Step Three:
3. Next I demonstrated how to make three "bumps" on the horizon line that would become our piles of dirt.

Step Four:
4. After that, I demonstrated squiggly lines coming down from the horizon line that would be our animal tunnels. I then doubled the lines to make them tunnels.

Step Five:
5. Next we talked about the element of art, "shape." We said there are organic or free-form shapes and geometric shapes. Shapes that are geometric are generally 2 dimensional and have names like circle, square, rectangle, triangle, etc. I then directed the students to draw three geometric shapes which were rectangular coming out of the top of our dirt piles. Next we drew three organic or free-form shapes attached to our tunnels.

Step Six:
6. After discussing further the illustrations from the book, I asked, "Does anyone know how to make brown?" After some debate, no one knew for sure! I pulled out my trusty color wheel and showed them that the colors across the wheel from one another, called "complements," when mixed, make brown! So when you mix blue with orange, you get... brown! It's magic!

The children then colored the sky blue and the ground orange so they would remember blue + orange = brown. I showed then how to add shading of brown around their lines too if they wanted to. Some of the students wanted to use a different color for the ground. That's okay too. I just thought using orange and blue would help them remember "brown" but that will come later as well and be repeated much over their little artistic lives! Pink or purple dirt is cool too!

Here are the complementary colors shown by the arrows on the color wheel. Perhaps if they choose purple dirt, they could make a yellow sky or green "dirt" could have a red sky. Complements when placed next to each other, make things "pop!" (We will talk about this more in another lesson.)

Step Seven:
7. Next, I handed out dark brown, navy or black stamp pads, three 2" circles of white paper and three small rectangles (for their garden signs.) Each student made one fingerprint on three circles, although you may wish to have them do more so they have extras in case they make mistakes when drawing on them!

I then showed them how to make little animals out of their fingerprints using an extra fine-tipped maker (Pilot brand.)

Step Eight:
8. Finally, when the students had three animals they were happy with, they trimmed their circles if they needed to (so they would fit in the organic shaped underground homes they drew) and glued their cute little burrowing animals into their little homes on the papers they had colored in! They also glued in their little vegetable gardens signs. (For K-2, the students may wish to draw the signs directly on the paper rather than glue them in.)

Don't worry if the animals look like brown blobs with smiley faces that have whiskers and a tail. They are as unique as each child, and the process of making the animals, their holes and tunnels will be something they will always remember and cherish along with the unique story each of their pictures will tell. Learning by example, by exploring on their own, and by celebrating their individuality has never been so much fun!

A Kingdom perspective of ...And Then It's Spring

"First you have brown, all around you have brown..." As we mentioned, the little boy in the picture (at the top of the page from the book) with his ear to the brown ground is waiting patiently for green life to spring forth! Brown symbolizes death, and green, resurrection. In anticipation of the life that will pop from the ground, I couldn't help but think of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. Death came into the world because of sin. Jesus raised people from the dead as a sign of God's power over sin. The resurrection of Jesus is the key victory over death and the beginning of the new creation! We can inherit eternal hope in Him by putting our ear to the ground, closing our eyes, and praying that He wash away our sins and take control of our lives. We, in our own power mix blue and orange things up in our lives and make it a brown mess. Only He can remove the sin and make the ugly brown of our lives green again!

Have you ever tried to undo brown once you mixed it? There is no way for us, once we mixed brown, to make it any other color again. We can try and try, but once it's brown, it is pretty much brown! Jesus takes our muddy brown mess and makes it a message of crisp bright green hope in our life on this earth. He loves us so much, He gives us eternal life in heaven with Him. All we have to do is ask. We have not because we ask not. If you don't know Him as your Lord and Savior, or, you do, but you feel somehow you made your life "brown" and you simply wish to reconnect once again, or, you're maybe you're not 100% sure you are going to heaven, simply ask Him now, out loud, to take your brown mess and make it a life-filled green message; only He can do that! You are reading this for a reason... YOU are precious and valuable and loved!

Prayer: Father, I have made a mess and I cannot clean it up on my own. I have tried and tried and it seems okay for a little while but then I feel I am covered even deeper in brown. You came to this world to give us life and life more abundantly, and I want this life. I want to feel the joy of walking with you and the peace in knowing I am going to heaven if I should die tonight. I want to live for you and give you my heart now. Come into my life, wash me, and make me whole and filled with life again. Breathe into these weary bones and hold me in the palm of your hand. Take my brown mess and give me a bright green message of hope, for Your glory and Your story here on earth, that all may see Your greatness and Your love. Thank you, Jesus, for dying for me. Thank you for loving me right where I am, and caring enough to reach down into this brown I've mixed and pulling me out into the beautiful, colorful light of day where I can grow and flourish into a green, life-filled person who is created to be something marvelous. In Your name I pray, amen.

If you prayed this prayer, you are now a new creation. You are saved! Write this date down on your calendar and rejoice! Join a local church where you can be fed and covered by like-minded folks who help each other. Congratulations! You are deeply loved!

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