Seasons and Cycles:
Place and Time in Spring

Often we witness spring’s emergence while we focus on the tulip garden. When the tulips begin to grow we know the seasons are changing. We notice that days are longer and warmer, birds are migrating through, and change is happening everywhere. Why not capture more of this wondrous time of year?

Ken Leslie, an artist and Johnson State College Art professor, recently shared some of his works of art with Journey North. Leslie’s art takes the form of books – not your normal books, but art books that tell many stories with the use of sequential paintings or photographs. His books are not only delightful to hold and enjoy but each tells a story.

tulip_photoSpring06 tulip_photoSpring07
Each photograph in Ken Leslie's Art Book, Space and Time, was taken a week apart

You can share his ideas for your own classroom art books that capture something special about spring in your neighborhood. There are many ways you can design and make your own book arts, but here are some basics to get you started.


  • Camera
  • Tripod
  • 4’ square piece of heavy paper, cardboard or cloth (the compass)
  • notebook or journal for recording

The Concept
Stand in the middle of your playground and slowly pirouette in a circle. Now try this holding a camera. Together with your classmates you can take turns to capture the unfolding of spring in a series of pictures taken from the exact same spot each day. Use a large compass to stand on, and with steady hand, aim the camera straight ahead to capture each snapshot.
A tripod for holding the camera steady and level each time will help make the overlapping photo series fit together better in the end.
Keep a journal of the process adding entries about technical details (who took what picture, degree, and time) and phenology details (springtime details, like weather, insects or animals, and plants).

Make a Compass

  • With a permanent marker draw a large circle on the heavy paper, cloth or cardboard and place an “X” at the center point. Now draw lines intersecting the “X.” You will need to label this compass with degree marks from 0 to 360.
  • Use your math skills: First divide 360 degrees by the number of students participating (example: 360 divided by 20 students = 18 degrees). In our example you would need to have degree marks labeled every 18 degrees.
  • The compass should be placed in the same location, facing the same direction each time you use it to capture a picture.

Ideas for Picture Capturing
Use these suggestions for your art book, or brainstorm something uniquely yours using the basic concepts.

  • A Photo-a-day until Spring Comes Your Way
    Go outside daily around the same time and capture a picture. With each picture turn a few more degrees around the center point until you reach the 360 degree mark and you are back to the starting position.
  • A Photo an Hour
    At even intervals throughout the day snap a picture from the center point. Begin early and decide how often you will capture a picture.
    Use your math skills: (x hours in the school day) divided by (# students participating) = time intervals between pictures.
  • Photos Round a Circle
    Try capturing a series of pictures all at the same time. Do this once a week while spring emerges. Assemble and compare each week’s series and look for similarities and differences in them.
tulip_photoSpring08 tulip_photoSpring10 tulip_photoSpring11
Try creating a linear set of pictures to capture spring

Assembling the Art Book
When the film is developed, assemble the photos - overlapping to fit, in a circle or linear design. Think creatively about how you can “publish” or present the ideas from your pictures. Study them for details that reveal the emerging spring. Add poetry, a story or descriptions directly from the journal.

Celebrate Publishing
When you have completed your projects, share them on a bulletin board, or by inviting others to see and hear about how you captured spring this year.

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