Monday, December 5, 2016

Counting Down the Days til Christmas with Calder's Christmas Tree

I ran across Alexander Calder's "Christmas Tree" and decided to try it with my 4th Graders.  According to my research, Calder did his "Christmas Tree" around 1970.

Below, you can see Alexander Calder's "Christmas Tree".  Calder used primary colors in his work.  I love it.

Directions for our version of Calder's "Christmas Tree"

I talked a little bit about Calder.
I had the kids draw the tree with pencil.
The kids used stencils to make circles, yes, with pencil.
The kids outlined the pencil with sharpie.
The kids used acrylic paints for this project.

Results below-

Although, I could not find any information on Calder's primary color Christmas tree above, I did find some information out about the Christmas tree sculpture by Calder below. 

In 1942 Alexander Calder was asked by a nurse friend to make some things to cheer up wounded soldiers convalescing in a Staten Island military hospital. One of those things: this awesome Christmas tree, cut from a tin can.(

The idea of a nurse friend asking Alexander Calder to make something for wounded soldiers was pretty amazing.  The fact that Calder made something was even more amazing.  In 1942, he had hit the big time.  In 1943, Calder was honored as the youngest artist ever to have a retrospective exhibition at the art most prestigious venue, New York's Museum of Modern Art. (

Calder making the sculpture for the wounded soldiers was pretty cool.  Obviously, the nurse friend felt comfortable asking her friend to make his art for a good cause.

Maybe all of us "art people" need to be more like Calder.
He had a friend that trusted him to say "yes" and make some art for a good cause.  He respected the wounded soldiers and chose to honor them by creating art.

Artists out there, we all get these requests to make this and that for everyone on a daily basis.  Saying no is much easier than saying yes, but saying yes is always rewarding.  I do not ever recall saying, "Oh boy, I wish that I would not have created that art."

The song below does not have anything to do with Alexander Calder.  I just finished watching Season 1 of Stranger Things.  My two college aged kids got me interested in this strange show.  Anyway, the song "Should I Stay or Should I Go" by The Clash was actually in several episodes.  So, here goes...


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