Friday, March 14, 2014

Nests: Friday Art Frenzy!

Well here it is March already and I think this is my first Friday Art Frenzy post of the year. How did this slip by me?! Just the same, in our homeschool co-op today, we worked on nests. We did an impressionistic version with robin eggs in the middle. 

{Our son Explorer's impressionistic bird nest.}

My intention was to bring it back around to the Leading Idea and Bible Principle as a means to help the children learn how to analyze art (the symbolism of nests). I'd like to take them beyond, "Huh. That's a nice nest. Colorful. Moving right along now..." However, for some of the kiddos it was enough that they created a nest and then they were ready to begin with P.E. And that's okay! We can be flexible like that! (Though I think I'll go back to introducing the Leading Idea and the Bible Principle at the beginning of the art lesson to make sure we cover them.)

The Leading Idea: Nests are used in paintings to depict, nature, homes, comfort, family, a mother and children, closeness, close connections, unity.

The Bible Principle: Deuteronomy 32:11 "As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings:"


Webster's 1828 Dictionary: Nest "An abode; a place of residence; usually in an ill sense; as a nest of rogues. 4. A warm close place of abode; generally in contempt."

Webster's 1828 Dictionary: Weave "2. To unite any thing flexible; as, to weave twigs. 3. To unite by intermixture or close connection; as a form of religion woven into the civil government."

The Lesson Flow:

Someone had passed on a bird nest to our family. I took it around the tables to show the children. They observed it and made mental notes of what they saw so they could take turns sharing their observations. 

"Are birds nests neat and tidy or are they messy?" I asked.

Several of the children replied with, "They are neat and tidy." I had to think about that for a moment. Twigs and moss and lichen and... a gum wrapper... stick out every which way. Looks pretty messy to me. So I asked them, "Do you mean it's clean inside where the eggs would go?" Heads nodded and yeses abounded. They were correct. You'd think there would be signs of inhabitants, but the inside of this nest is indeed neat and tidy. Perfectly shaped to cup eggs and keep hatchlings snug. 

However, I drew their attention back around to how the parent birds weaved their nest in such a fashion that twigs and all sorts of matter were poking about past the edges of the nest. And this is what we are aiming for in our pieces of artwork today. This made some of the kids relax a bit; loose and *messy* lines remove the pressure of *perfection* some kids put on themselves.


When viewing bird nests, the adjectives contained within the Leading Idea may be helpful in comprehending the statement an artist is trying to make. Furthermore, these things are sort of parallel to people. The expression, "Empty nest syndrome" (I know I'm gong to have that badly!!) is a reference to people. Couples will often prepare a "nest egg"; pregnant mothers begin *nesting* as the time gets closer to delivery; parents will "bring their baby home to the nest"; parents help their young prepare to *leave the nest*- just as the mother eagle does. A nest if a visual reference for an abode. 

In addition, when considering the definition of weaving in comparison to a family, there are several parallel concepts. Yahweh weaves people together in a family unit. In a sense, He unites people together who are flexible. How are family members flexible? We understand God's Principle of Individuality- we have give for who we are individually. We are flexible by extending grace and patience to each other. Also, we are united by close connection. Different personalities are woven together.

The Bible Principle gives us the original concept of a nest as an abode, a family unit, etc.

These are things to consider when viewing nests in art. Of course, the visual context may add more information to the message the artist is expressing.

What You Need in order to Record:

We are recording visually. However, encourage your students to take notes from the research and the relating aspects of the lesson!

  • Mixed Media paper (it's sturdier than copy paper and has tooth that card stock does not have).
  • Chalk pastels: brown, black, medium blue, light blue, dark purple, red, rusty red, orange, medium yellow, green. 
  • Visit the art lesson on Master Artist Claude Monet to understand impressionism.

The Steps:

*Many of the kids wanted to get right in there and color in those robin eggs. It's important to save the eggs for last because of the white highlights- they need clean fingers to smudge the blue. So have your kids hold off on those eggs.

  1. Get your brown and use broken lines to draw the outline of an oval shape. Sometimes kids can draw something better if they are familiar with handling an object (think of a chicken egg, think of a football...)
  2. Use the brown to create the outer base of the nest- still using broken lines of different lengths.
  3. If your student would like a branch for their nest, have them create a curvy one (branches are never straight). 
  4. Now, take the light blue and draw the shape of some eggs (I like the look of 3, but your student may want to do more or less).
  5. Grab the rusty red, red-orange and use them in order to paint loose squiggly lines all the way around the nest. Remember, nests are *messy* so the squiggly lines need to extend past the edges of the nest. :-) As we do this, we are literally uniting the colors by close connection. So, in other words, we are weaving them.
  6. The inside of the nest needs some color. So, your student could go in with orange or other bright/light color they prefer- just not the yellow! (Remember, it's impressionistic.)
  7. About this time you can add highlights with the yellow- it's a sunny day after all! So add some squiggly yellow lines toward the top edge of the nest.
  8. Now, go in toward the bottom edges of the eggs with the medium blue. You want a thick line- probably about the width of a pinky. Then gently smudge the blue upward- leaving a spot of white from the paper at the very top (this is the highlight from the sun). If you want to speckle the eggs, use the brown and tap a corner of the chalk several times on the eggs.
  9. We have highlights, so now we need some shadows. Trace the outline of the eggs (very carefully to keep them white). Then gently smudge the black with the pinky finger to soften the shadow's edge. Next, paint in a black shadow where the nest rests on the tree branch. Now, if you want to add a dark black shadow to the bottom of the branch, feel free too. Or, go in with the dark purple to emphasize impressionism. This shadow, too, will need to be softened by smudging it with a finger.
  10. Leaf buds can be added with green, if desired. 

Check out what our kids did!


{Artsy Girl's}

{Song Bird's}

Thanks for joining me today as I shared about how we 4R'd through this art lesson! I hope you give it a try and enjoy creating along side your kids.


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