Robin Rhode and Chalk Annimation

Robin Rhode and Chalk Animation

Grade level/age: 8th grade, 13 to 14 year olds

Time needed: 5 class periods

Learning about Chalk animation and Robin Rhode as a chalk artist and how he uses limited resources of chalk and a camera to create really unique stop motion films and still images. It will also teach students to use chalk animation.

a. Analyze how the elements in media arts such as image, sound, space, time, motion and sequence, are combined to communicate meaning in the creation of, presentation of, or response to media arts.
b. Analyze how a work in media arts influencesand is influenced by the personal, social, cultural and historical contexts, including the contributions of Minnesota American Indian tribes and communities.
c. Gain an understanding of chalk annimaiton and how it can be used in the art world.

Motivational Resources

Handmade example of a thaumatrope

Early Example of chalk animation:

Stuart Blackton

French artist Emile Kohl

Example of line Annimation

Directed by David Piel, adapted from Crockett Johnson's children's book 

Example of wall-painted annimation

The artist Blu

Examples of chalk annimation

unable to find artist

from Firekites' album 'The Bowery'. music video co-directed by Yanni Kronenberg and Lucinda Schreiber

Whiteboard Animation

Kristofer Strom

Unknown artist

Robin Rhode Intro Movie

Robin Rhode Animation

Art Materials:
Bucket of water
(can be adapted to whiteboard with Markers)

  Artists have been seeking the ideas of animation since the beginning of art.  Cave artists tried to create the illusion of movement by making an eight legged boar in the Altamira cave's of Northern Spain, and Egyptian wall decorations resemble a comic book or story board (James).  Eventually the development of thaumatropes by Paul Roget began the idea of the persistence of vision which was an essential piece to developing animation (James).  Thaumatropes show one object on each side of a piece of paper and have two strings attached.  When you twirl the strings your eyes sees both objects together even though physically only one side of the paper is in view at any given time.  The first animation really set way after the invention of the motion camera and projector by Thomas A. Edison (James).  One of the first ever animations was actually a chalk animation created in 1906 by Stuart Blackton called "Humorous Phases of Funny Faces" (James).  The first full length animated film was also a chalk animation.  Fantasmagaria was created by French artist Emile Kohl and was a huge contribution to the development of animation as a film genre ("Meep! Meep!").  Today Chalk animation is alive and still used in a variety of ways.  Everything from music videos, commercials, and the fine arts.
  One particular artist who is well known for his work in Chalk animation is Robin Rhode.  He grew up in Cape Town, South Africa shortly before the apartheid ended ("Catch Air").  His origins as an artist come from simple chalk line drawings on surfaces including brick walls, parking lots, and eventually gallery spaces (Hasting, pg 264).  Rhode's work usually includes some sort of live performance in or outside of the gallery space (Hasting, pg 264).  He also documents his work through stop motion films and photographs (Hasting, pg 264).  His work is highly influenced by the racial challenges and identity of a mixed race man in South Africa ("Catch Air").  The aesthetics of his work reflects the graphite hip hop culture by using surfaces that you would find graphite, such as walls and blacktop. He then uses subjects that are connected highly to the hip hop culture like basketball and Music to talk about his struggle and identity as a mixed race man (Hasting, pg 264).  Although his chalk animations are simple and often done in humble circumstances, this aspect enhances his concept even more by using materials and mediums that directly relate to the people he is speaking about.  The fact that his performances are comparable to the work of street performers in his culture is another way he connects his art to his message  (Hasting, pg 264)

Instructional Procedure:
Class 1:  Open class with a short introduction to the history of chalk animation showing early films including "Humorous Phases of Funny Faces" and "Fantasmagaria".  Show more recent movies that use ideas of chalk animation including "Harold and the Purple Crayon", "Muto", "Awesome Chalk Animation", 'Fire Kites, Autumn Story", "Hitchhikers Choice", and "Whiteboard Animation.  We will end the examples with an introduction to Robin Rhode as a fine artist working with chalk as a medium.  Students will then be introduced to their assignment of making their own chalk animation music video in groups of about 5.  Students will pick groups and begin to brainstorm songs and ideas for their music video for the rest of class.  Homework assignment is to have one member of the group bring in the song they will use.

Class 2:  First students will see a demonstration of how you use a camera to capture your chalk animation, and how to measure what will and won't be in your camera lens.  Then Students will meet in their groups at a table to make a storyboard of their animation using paper and pencil.  They will be instructed to think of a particular point in their song they want to animate for which will be about 20 to 30 seconds.  Students will be reminded to think of ways they can add interest to their videos through movement, morphing, and perhaps the introduction of their own body or other objects if appropriate.  The imagery they choose can also be affected and react to the section of music they pick.  They will also be reminded to keep drawings fairly simple, similar to the examples of chalk animation shown in class.  Students will sign up for a time to create their chalk animation sometime during the next two class periods.  If a group feels ready they can begin their chalk animation during the second half of the class period.

Class 3:  The first three groups should start chalk animation, and two should totally complete the animation process (This is If you have 4 groups total, if you have 5 or 6 then the first 3 groups should complete animation.  You can make larger groups if necessary.)  While students are waiting they can continue to develop and practice drawing for their own chalk animations. Once a group is done the teacher will help the group download images and put them into iMovie to create their chalk animation (The Computer should be in close proximity to the chalkboard or you may need student helpers to keep a controlled atmosphere).  They will also find the part of the song they would like to go with their animation from the music source they provide (C.D. or from Flash drive).

Class 4:  This class will be used for completing the last two groups chalk animations and downloading and organizing the last of the photos into iMovie.  While groups are beginning to finish or not have a lot to do they will get to learn how to form the animations by watching the instructor in iMovie.  The Instructor will prepare a D.V.D of all the animations together.

Class 5:  The last day will be a time to celebrate.  We will watch the chalk animations and each student will write three reasons why they think their piece was successful in terms of movement, development, relation to sound, and imagery.  They will also give three things they would like to improve.  The class will end with cookies, punch, and team photos.

Discipline Based Art Education:
   Art production:  In groups Students made a chalk animation
   Aesthetics:  Students learned the simple line drawn aesthetics of chalk animation through      
    the work of Robin Rhode and other examples of line, chalk, whiteboard, and paint   
  Art History:  Students learned how chalk animation developed and how it's being used in the  
    fine art world today through the Artist, Robin Rhode.
  Art Criticism:  Students used critical analysis to evaluated their own work through writing 
    three ways they were successful and three ways they could improve.


Catch Air: Robin Rhode @ Wexner Center.  Per. Robin Rhode and Catharina Machanda.  Wexner Center for the Arts, 23 March 2009.  12 Dec 2009.

Hasting, Julia, design.  Vitamin D: New Perspectives in Drawing. Phaidon: New York, 2005.

James, Patrick.  "History of Animation the Early Years: Before Disney."  Department of Visualization Texas A and M University.  13 Dec. 2009.

""Meep! Meep!" A History of Animation".  Random History. 31 May 2008. 13 Dec 2009.

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This page contains a single entry by halqu003 published on December 11, 2009 8:17 PM.

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