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Alicia Osborne

April 25, 2017

Wire Sculpture Self-Portraits: An Alexander Calder-Inspired Lesson for Grade 2

Domains: Aesthetic, Physical, Cognitive, Emotional

Content Areas: Art, Language/Literacy

Massachusetts Arts Curriculum Framework:

1.1 Use a variety of materials and media

1.2 Create artwork in a variety of two-dimensional (2D) and three-dimensional (3D)
1.3 Learn and use appropriate vocabulary related to methods, materials, and
1.4 Learn to take care of materials and tools and to use them safely
2.2 For line, explore the use of line in 2D and 3D works. Identify a wide variety of
types of lines in the environment and in artwork
2.4 For shape and form, explore the use of shapes and forms in 2D and 3D works
3.1 Create 2D and 3D artwork from direct observation
3.2 Create 2D and 3D expressive artwork that explores abstraction

(MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, November 1999)

Learning Objectives:

Students will create a continuous line drawing.

Students will create a self-portrait.
Students will demonstrate using variety of line in wire sculpture.
Students will demonstrate the use of wire and wire manipulation as a sculptural
Students will examine wire sculptures created by Alexander Calder and identify
similarities with their own artwork.


Twisteez soft colored wires

Pipe Cleaners and craft wire
Wire cutters and pliers
Construction Paper Cut in Squares
Sharpie Markers
Alexander Calder (Getting to Know the World's Greatest Artists) by Mike Venezia
Various books about Alexander Calders art
Printed pictures of Calders wire portraits
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1. Students have begun learning about Alexander Calder and thinking about some of
the media/materials that he used in his artwork.

2. I will read Alexander Calder (Getting to Know the World's Greatest Artists) by Mike
Venezia and stop after the page that discusses Calders wire portraits.

3. I will show students some examples of Calders wire portraits, including a self-
portrait, and explain the vocabulary self-portrait, contour drawing and continuous
line drawing.

4. I will inform students that they are going to create their very own continuous contour

5. Students will divide a piece of paper into fourths to practice their drawings 4 times.
They can choose to use a marker, crayon, or colored pencil to create their practice self
portraits. I will explain the rules for the drawings: Once you place your pencil down on
the paper, do not remove it until your drawing is complete. You can go over the same
lines more than once to create lines of varying thickness, but do not break the line. I will
explain that I do not want them to use pencils for their drawings because I do not want
them to do any erasing. I want the students to embrace the imperfections in art as well
as see how their drawings develop with practice.

6. I will encourage the students to try drawing both a front face view and a profile. I will
have an area set up in the room where children can use mirrors to look at their faces
and look at examples of Calders portraits.

7. Once the students have drawn four practice self-portraits using continuous line
drawing, they will be invited to take a square of construction paper and a sharpie marker
to create their final drawing.

8. After students have completed their self-portrait in sharpie, they will begin
reproducing it with wire. Children will choose 2-3 30-inch sections of Twisteez soft
coated wire in whichever colors they would like to use. Pipe cleaners and craft wire will
also be available as options for students. Wire cutters and pliers will also be available
for the students to use with teacher support. Visuals on shaping and securing wire and
pictures of Calders wire portraits will be available for children to reference.

9. Students self-portraits will be included as part of their Artist Biography Scrapbooks

that they will be creating during the unit. They will title their artwork and write a
description of it.
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Pipe cleaners will be available if any student has a particularly difficult time with
manipulating the wire. Craft wire that is more difficult to manipulate than the
Twisteez wire will be offered as an extension for students.
Students that complete their self-portraits sooner than others will begin
independent research on Alexander Calder.

Assessment Plan:

I will observe the following components:

Did the student follow the instructions for completing a continuous line drawing?
Did the student successfully create a wire sculpture composed of contour lines?
Did the student demonstrate problem solving in manipulating the wire to the
shape of their drawn self-portrait?
I will provide the students time to share their wire self-portraits and compare the
different ways they manipulated the wires. I will ask students to share some ways that
their artwork relates to Alexander Calders artwork. I will ask students to title their work
of art and write a description of it.

Continuous Contour Line Drawings in the Style of Alexander Calder Lesson Reflection

During my takeover week, I implemented an integrated curriculum unit on the artist

Alexander Calder. The unit integrated social studies, art, language/literacy, math, science and

technology. The lesson that I created and was observed implementing on April 25 was creating

continuous contour line drawings and self-portraits out of wire in the style of Alexander Calder.

I began the lesson by reviewing some of the things that the students had learned about

Alexander Calder, his art, and the materials he used to create his art and read from the book,

Alexander Calder: Getting to Know the Worlds Greatest Artist by Mike Venezia. I spoke about

and showed examples of Calders wire portraits of himself and people he knew. I explained the

process for how students would create their own wire self-portrait in stages. I did a quick

activity to go over the vocabulary involved, which included the terms continuous, contour,

portrait, and self-portrait. I described the first stage, which was to practice continuous contour

line drawings. I modeled and told children to fold a piece of paper into 4 quadrants and practice
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drawing an outline of their face 4 times without picking up their marker. Most children grasped

the concept right away and were excited for the challenge. I explained that after the students

had practiced 4 times, they would be able to complete their final version on construction paper

with a sharpie marker.

Once students completed their final copy self-portrait, they were allowed to choose

wire to replicate their self-portraits out of. Students experimented with different ways to

manipulate and twist their wires. A number of students utilized supporting materials that I had

arranged for them, which included photos of examples of Calders wire portraits, mirrors, a

diagram with examples of how to twist, shape, and connect wires, and pliers. Students

discussed findings and challenges with one another about manipulating the wire and were very

engaged in creating these self-portraits.

I feel that my foresight to have students practice their contour line drawings 4 times

before creating one to replicate in wire paid off in allowing children to take pride in their work

and show them that practice and perseverance pay off. Each child was able to complete their

own self-portrait in wire with minimal adult support, which I believe evidences both that my

instructions were clear and that students had freedom to express their creativity. If the unit

was not only a week long, I would have had students next create standing sculptures out of

wire of animals or human forms. I think that further exploration of wire, tools, and combining

wire and other materials could be a fascinating and enriching art activity.

Children had the opportunity to add both their contour continuous line drawing and

their wire self-portraits into an Artist Biography Scrapbook that they are each creating.

Students were responsible for coming up with a title for their works of art. This is a lesson that
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I would enjoy teaching again. In this scenario, I wanted children to create something small

enough to fit in their Artist Biography Scrapbook, but in the future I would have children draw a

larger self-portrait and extend the time to work on the wire self portrait so that could create

larger and more detailed works. Group discussions and writing activities were used as

assessment of students learning about Alexander Calder and the vocabulary that was

introduced during the unit.