Serving Art Educators
and Students Since 1994
Unit: Hands Around the World - Symbols of Power - Protection - Identity
Lesson Series: Give Your Students a Hand! Lesson ideas for all grade levels
Grade level: Middle School through High School
Submitted by: Grace Hall
Title: Pen and Ink Doodle - Patterns
Grace levels: All level (this example is a high school student)
Students draw contours of hands and fill with pattern, symbols/motifs that will communicate something about themselves. In this example, negative space was painting with watercolors.
For younger students, patterned hands could be cut out and mounted on Construction Paper.
Submitted by: Cecilia Laureys, Marywood Palm Valley School, Rancho Mirage, CA
Project: Fantasy Handscapes Drawings
After drawing of hands from life, students created a fantasy/surreal handscape applying the knowledge gained in the life drawings of hands. Lesson is suitable for middle school grades and up. See Lesson Plan.
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Submitted by: Jan Hillmer
Project: Alexander Calder Wire Hands
Grade level: Upper elementary through middle school (even high school)
See Niki de Saint Phalle twist below
Middle School example submitted by Carol O'Neil
This this lesson is adaptable to middle school and high school. Last year Jan had her 5th grade students do a hand 'self-portrait' - just their hand and some object which tells about them (soccer ball, book, tennis racquet, etc.) These were 8-1/2" x 12" (21.5 x 30.5 cm) , in Oil Pastels. The next activity was blind contour of their hand, posed in sign language, of one of their initials. They drew with pens. After a talk about Alexander Calder, they created a wire sculpture, 3-D, of their blind contour drawing - not their actual hand. We did transfer the blind contour to the tile and traced over that in permanent marker (Saral Transfer Paper can be use for this - use white for transferring to black surface). Twisteez Wire makes a good choice for this project - but any wire that can easily be bent and twisted works fine.
These were mounted on 4" (10 cm) ceramic tiles with hot Glue Gun and Hot Glue Sticks. You can see that on the base of the tiles. Note - the hot glue and the Permanent Markers weren't quite as permanent as Jan had hoped. An alternative mounting technique would be to drill small holes in a wood base (painted ply wood would work) - and insert the ends of the wire. The wire sculpture creates a nice contrast to the blind contour drawing. Creating a work in multiple media is a curriculum objective in many school guides - exploring the limitation of variety of media.
Middle school example - Submitted by Carol O'Neil - is from Sculpture Wire and mounted into wood base.
1. One hand was drawn using pencil tool
Here is my revision.
9. Change dividing line to white if desired (as shown in sample).
Extension to the Hand Henna Tattoo Lesson:
Use the paper hand in a collage showing a merging of cultures - a sharing of ideas. Make a second paper hand with personal symbols and combine both in a composition (maybe showing elements/images from both cultures in the negative space - magazine pictures - whatever - or simply a painted background. See the example from My Place Asia Australia
Consider other Rock Art Cultures - Native American symbols and patterns. Use with Cave Art Lesson See some resources from Bradshaw Foundation
Plaster Cast hand idea from Susan on Long Island:
Plastercraft the writing hand in the position of holding an object. After cast dries, you can Hot Glue Sticks the object in. Hot glue or wire the hand to Illustration Board (painted wood base or Foamboard painted base. Dow board could have a layer of Plaster Gauze). On this board, draw the other hand doing something related or coordinated. Draw a related background. Example: plaster hand holds milk carton in a pouring position. Draw a hand holding a cereal bowl with dry cereal. Background is a table in a kitchen. Example: plaster hand holds a Brushes, draw a hand holding a Palettes. Background- a painting on Easels. Note: These would be striking with the hand left white and the drawing a black line contour drawing (Permanent Markers) on white surface. M. C. Escher's Drawing Hands could be inspiration.
Note from Jan Hillmer: They trace their hands 3 times, overlapping is fine. Then they draw 3-5 lines from one side of the paper to another, breaking up the largest spaces. The students shade each space with Colored Pencils. I encourage my students to figure out their own 'rule' for shading - for example, darkest towards the middle of the page or darkest towards the bottom. Then they pick out a color group and shade! We start this early in the year and keep it available to work on as other projects are completed - instead of 'free art.' (from post to Art Education list serve 9/1/05)
Hand Self Portrait - Lesson by Jan Hillmer
I had my 5th grade students do a hand 'self-portrait' - just their hand and some object which tells about them (soccer ball, book, tennis racquet, etc.) These were 81/2" x 12 (21.5 x 30.5 cm)," in Oil Pastels but any medium could be used. Have students bring in an object that they treasure.
To help younger students understand and to illustrate the difference between warm and cool colors.
I got the idea for this lesson by looking at Blue Magic by Niki deSaint Phalle. You could use any imaginative wire shape. I chose to write this up as a hands lesson. Make a wire hand sculpture (from traced outline of hand and wrist) and hang a symbol in the center - Symbol can made from Moist Clay - Sculpey polymer clay - paper cast - Tooling Foil - - even built up Plaster Gauze on a foil or cardboard armature - for a personal "portrait". After posing the hand - wrap the wire hand and wrist with plaster gauze (or Paper Mache - or bright colored Tissue paper dipped in White Glue/water mix) to thicken it and paint in bright colors (a la Niki De Saint Phalle). Paint symbol with bright colors and patterns and suspend in center of hand with fine wire . Stick wire ends of wrist into a wood base painted white (or light color) and write words on the base about self - or positive character traits. Paint a border design around the base (a la Sam the Dot Man style or Howard Finster) picking up colors of the symbol. An added option could be to wire in words across wrist section and in fingers. Collage printed words onto Poster Board (on both sides) - put small hole in ends with awl - and tie in with fine jewelers wire.
Mehendi (Henna) Hand Design Scratchboard - From Kristen Puhl (student teacher)
My cooperating teacher just did a lesson with Gold or Silver Scratchboard using Mehndi (also spelled Mehndi) hand designs (henna painting.) As far as I know, the students traced their hand and then looked at Mehendi designs to fill in the hand. Then then transferred these to silver or gold scratchboard. Then, they retraced their design onto good White Drawing Paper with brown Colored Pencils so it looked like henna. This hand was cut out, and both the white hand and the black scratchboard hand are mounted on a piece of brown Construction Paper. (5th grade.) They're pretty neat looking, and girls an guys alike were pretty into it. ("It's like tattoos").
Kaleidoscope Cloud Dance - Movement lesson grade K through 4 - from Kennedy ArtsEdge
See Introductory Hand Sculpture idea. Have digital camera ready to take picture of these temporary sculptures. Use this as Interdisciplinary with Science - as a lead in to a unit on Weather.
Paper Hand Cast Lesson- Elementary to middle school
Make a plaster mold of hand - then when dry cast with paper. Lesson has pushing pulp into the mold. Loosely molded sheets of handmade paper may be used too - leaving some paper around the edges if desired. Students could also carve symbols into the plaster mold to be picked up by the cast paper sheets for an interesting relief sculpture. Do more carving into plaster for a middle school lesson.
Hands of Character Elementary
Hands Sculpture in Clay Lesson Plan [Archive] - looking at hands of Rodin Utah Museum of Art - Middle school and up. Expressive hand sculptures - looking at hand gestures.
Hand of the Artist in Clay - by Jeannie Sandoval Create a hand sculpture in clay. Research an artist and decorate the hand using that art style for inspiration. The hand project gives a great opportunity to learn about the style of an artist of interest to the student. Hand could even become surreal.
Submitted by Tina Grimes
A project I did one time was Clay Hands. We rolled out slabs and traced around the students' hands and cut them out, then they could move the fingers around, if they wanted to, or just leave the hands flat and smooth out the edges. Once the hands were bisque fired I had the students paint them in a way that would tell me something about them. One student liked cows so she painted a cow pattern. Another liked baseball so he painted his hand to look like a baseball. And so on. They really had fun with these, and there is the added bonus of having their hand preserved in Moist Clay, so to speak.
For middle school through high school adaptation, roll our thick slab of Moist Clay. Cut out hand. Shape hand into desired pose. Prop up fingers if necessary with wads of newspapers or scraps of clay. Build up palm of hand and add knuckles. Shape wrist and portion of arm by rolling our and fusing a cylinder of clay. Hollow out thickest part of hand and attach to wrist section. Tie in art of Rodin - expressive hands. Bisque fire - then paint to express "self" - or an emotion.
Hands - Photography Lesson Ideas