Friday, August 30, 2013

For The Love Of Table Paper

I am such a fan....make that....obsessed with table paper in an art room. Having paper accessible at all times to sketch, doodle, draw, and design with lines and color is so important to any artist, even the youngest ones. For the past few weeks we have been testing out the best paper to use based on what would last and be durable even through water spills. Newsprint was a big fail and butcher paper was a big win. 

Once the paper has been 'loved on' a good deal, or begins to tear, I change it out and then we begin to rip it up based on colors or patterns. Today, those piles were filled with yummy patterns and designs. This paper creates a wonderful record of what type of lines and styles the kids seem to love, and then we use it to collage with onto canvas. Here is a new piece that I worked on today in the classroom. I love the personality of this piece and it will hang in the administration office (once the flag is corrected, lol). 

Once we start creating with ceramics I might need to adjust the type of paper we are using but for today, the tables are full of yumminess! 

Next week we will be using some of this paper in our art journals as well, can't wait! 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Count Moments Art Journal Page

There are days when all I feel I do is count things....

I count minutes before I must, I mean MUST get out of bed each morning,
I count scoops of coffee so I can get out of bed each morning,
I count numbers of orange cars that pass by, 
I count events that cause me great pause as a chance to learn something,
I count the amount of notifications in that little red box, 
I count dollars and cents and breaths between the dollars and cents, 
and on, and on, and on. 

Counting is something that must be done, must be part of our daily functions because we record things numerically, whether we realize it or not. 

As I sat down this evening to work on my journal, numbers seemed to be all around me and I knew they were calling out to me...counting the minutes before I acknowledged their presence in my world. The pages I chose showcased two of Leger's abstracts, made with geometric and organic lines, full of patterns which, underneath all of that, held the power of numbers, so it was a perfect choice for today. 

I cut, I pasted, I viewed the numbers and what they might mean to me, and I then chose to release control and allow the numbers to reveal their artistic measure, rather than their numeric. What occurred to me was a conversation I had in my head about how artists tend to get stuck on controlling the outcome, counting the steps to get things right, and I knew embracing the freedom of 'record keeping' was the message I was hear to learn today. 

Life is full of moments, beautiful, tragic, graceful, remarkable moments. If I could go back and tell my younger self anything it would be to value the moments of the mundane, for they are what bind the red letter ones together. I will sit with the numbers message this evening, tinker with it, meditate on it, and learn from it. While I do that I will relish in the realization that art journaling created without expectation of "getting it right," is way more powerful than any forced journal page. May I apply this tidbit of living throughout my moments tomorrow. 

For this page I used collage elements, Golden Fluids, Portfolio Oil Pastels, Painters Pens, and Copic Markers. It is part of an altered book I am working through and you can view some of my other journal pages in this series HERE.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Contour Drawing With Shaving Cream

Say the words "Shaving Cream" to a group of kids and what do you get? TOTAL EXCITEMENT! My 6th graders were introduced to contour lines last week and I knew I wanted to introduce them to contour sketching in real life this week. My choice was to use shaving cream for several reasons: It is tactile, It Is forgiving, and It smells yummy! 

The black plastic 'sketch sheets' are table cloth plastic I purchased from my local fabric store, for less than $2 a yard. The trick to success with this is not giving the students too much shaving cream. About two squirts is all it takes to make a 'thin' layer so that when students make their marks, the black lines show through. They spread the cream with a well loved gift card and then completed their contour sketches with a pointed wooden/plastic stick. 

The main goal of this activity is to teach the students to draw what they see, not what they think they see, which is really challenging for anyone who has never attempted contour sketching. The shaving cream is forgiving, so students can re-spread the cream out, and begin again. When we move into mixed media painting on canvases, they will already have the experience of manipulating a medium with gift card plastic so it preps them ahead of time for that. 

Adapting this lesson is a breeze. Younger students can use their fingers to sketch, practice mark making, and older students can create a much more detailed sketch. If you use Barbasol, the left over shaving cream can be molded into basic shapes and left overnight to dry out. As the moisture evaporates, it leaves a solid type of shape, which fascinates the students. 

(Students can use this process to practice handwriting, spelling, math, you name it!)

Tomorrow we graduate to blind contour sketches.....can't wait! 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Week Two with Kandinsky and Art Centers!

What an incredible second week of school it has been! My students have amazed me with their willingness to step out of their comfort zones and take some artistic risks, a lesson I wish more of us adults could learn as well. Students explored the 5 types of lines, contour lines and line transfers, patterns, mark making, layering to add artistic variety, and the importance of embracing the weird. We observed Kandinsky's use of line in his non-representational abstracts and will take a journey into painting to music next week. 

6th Grade started to use their sketchbooks and I introduced two of our centers, The Lego Wall of Fame and our Collaborative Art Center. I can't tell you how EXCITED I am about these two projects this year and can't wait to see how the students adapt and learn through the use of freedom of line and the unexpected direction of using Lego bricks to sketch with. 

Students are given a challenge such as "Create a Sketch With Stripes" which they complete using Lego Bricks. 

This is by far my favorite project! All of my art students and visitors to the classroom add marks and painting to our 200 yard collaborative art roll. At the end of the year, we will 'reveal the entire painting on the football field! Can't wait to see that!

Students worked on imaginative portraits during week one, showing emotion, using lines and layers, and embraced the weird  by adding the watercolor hair. I had seen a similar lesson Pinterest and must say, it was a riot of a great time trying this out during our first week. 

There is a ton of great things going on in the art room so far and every day I am blessed to walk through the door I have to say a prayer of gratitude for getting to teach in such an incredible place as St. Paul's! 

I started out the year with a study of line and of Wassily Kandinsky.

Teaching students how to enhance their artwork when they think they are finished is so vital! 

3rd Graders studied Kandinsky's use of various lines and made circular patterns with an individual twist! 

On a personal note, I have a new piece of artwork for the 1 X 4  Analogy show at Spring Hill College this coming month. I participated in the Yellow Show and created a hand painted collage while listening to Stravinsky over the week, so I aptly named this piece, "In Stravinsky's Image." There are four venues for this show, University of South Alabama, Spring Hill College, University of Mobile, and The School of Math and Science.  If you get a chance, put this on your list of must sees this next month. 

"In Stravinsky's Image" 12" by 36" collage on canvas

1 x 4: Analogy One exhibition, four venues. Green, Alabama School of Math and Science; Yellow, Spring Hill College; Neutral, University of Mobile; Blue, University of South Alabama. August 26 - Sept. 20.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Lego Sketch Board

Out of all of the art centers that I have set up in my room I think this excites me the most. Kids are naturally attracted to building with Legos so I thought they would be a great addition to build the concept of 3D art and sketching outside the box for my 3rd - 8th graders. I plan on offering prompts for this station, such as "Build an Abstract Work of Art using Only Primary Colors" or "Create a Landscape That Is Only 10 rows by 10 rows," etc. I may pair my students up for some challenges as well. Eventually, I hope to collect enough Legos and boards to have an entire class set, but that will take a while. In the mean time, looking forward to seeing what types of 3-D sketches the students come up with. 

Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Black Frame Curriculum

In less than 24 hours I walk back into the world of teaching the young. If you would have asked me a few months ago I would have said the idea wasn't even on my radar, but the big guy upstairs placed some people in my path that nudge me in the direction of teaching again and the opportunity has become reality. I often tell my adult art students that they must find that place between where their interests and hobbies are compared to what their gifts and passions are...there they will find their true calling. Mine,thankfully, is being creative and teaching. Those two things are a way of life for me and I couldn't imagine a life without either. With great responsibility and excitement I step back into the world that I was placed on this earth to exist in, and I am swooning with glee. 

For the past few weeks the wheels of starting a new job, a new curriculum, a new group of students and a new path in life have been spinning. One of the main realizations about teaching that a new teacher must face is not only how to decorate the classroom but what specifically are the core life lessons one wishes to share beyond the scope of national standards. This can be daunting to a teacher just starting out and these big ideas come over time, but I knew that in the field of art, sharing the concept of living a creative life would be I started there. 

At St. Paul's Episcopal School one of the four pillars is the arts, so I knew my program and ideas would be supported, which excited me. I also knew that I could choose to be a bit more creative in my 'decorations' than I normally would have so that has made the artist in me quite happy. Art posters and instructional aids can costs a lot of money, so when I found about 10 old frames that would have been thrown out, I recruited my art partner Michelle Foreman Leech to give them a coat of paint. As she painted, I thought a lot about the little juicy tidbits that I hoped my students  would gain from being taught by me, and the first one was easy....Embrace the Weird. 

Kids LOVE weird and as a creative, weird is the difference between ordinary and extraordinary. It shows me that life will be unexpected, laughable, strange, odd, and the more I can tap into that weirdness, within reason, as an artist, the more fodder I have to create. I want my students to discover the magic in dreaming, in exploring the worlds they create in their minds, and using that inspiration to create works of art that are true to them. 

The rest of these posters are what I call the Black Frame Curriculum because they will be little gems of ways of life in my classroom. If you notice, they aren't perfect. I grabbed the markers, paint, and paper and handmade these because I am short for time. Yes, I could use a digital program to make them look "perfect," but I actually hope my students can see a little poster like this and realize in some situations, handmade is good enough and perfection is not the goal. That will be a life long lesson won't it? 

Everyone has a spark...and some of us even sparkle. Teaching a child to recognize that spark within them is one key to helping them realize what their passions and gifts are. When they embrace that spark, their life sparkles brightly for others to see. That light is needed in this world. 

This is more than just knowing who's paper it is, it is teaching a child to have ownership in what they create, to be know for their work, and to boldly share it with the world. 

Trees don't really have brown trunks and lollipop green tops. I hope my students learn to see the beauty in variety of life, and the incredible differences that make our world such a magical place. Trees in The Land of Ardithian are rainbow colored, I can't wait to see what the kids dream up for theirs. 

Kids LOVE to make up stories. How does a teacher help a child tap into that imagination in a two or three dimensional form? Teach them to begin their art projects with "Once Upon a Time" that phrase unlocks the rules of fitting into a mold. 

We all make marks, in everything we do we make a mark on the planet, on others, and on ourselves. Making a mark will be the cornerstone for my teaching philosophy this year.

We will make marks, we will make a mess, we will make mistakes and learn from them. In fact, making mistakes will be encouraged in our classroom because there is power in artistically screwing up. We get to learn how to transition mistakes into masterpieces. Most of all, we will make memories, which is what the journey is all about. 

Teaching a child that they are awesome is just as important as teaching them to help someone else feel awesome. We will be doing LOTS of this in my classroom. 

I credit the program of Talents Unlimited in helping me understand that creativity can be taught. Teaching a child to put on their creative lenses no matter what subject they are learning will help them master core ideas and lessons throughout their lives. Lenses are essential. 

As the year evolves, I may change some of these, add to them, or revise them based on my students' suggestions, as well as creating the more 'predictable' posters such as rules and procedures for the classroom. In the meantime, I am excited to start the year off with these as I feel I need to see them as much as my students. 

This journey will be an incredible one and I am excited to be able to share my gifts and my faith with kids once again. How blessed I am. 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Getting Excited!

So thrilled to realize that in 4 days I will walk back into the role that I was born for, teaching art. 20 years ago I began teaching, ten years later had to leave the profession due to medical reasons, and once again, God has blessed me with the opportunity to once again, teach children. Here is a sneak peek of my classroom. I inherited the ceiling panels and graphic design but have been painting up a storm to add my own elements, including the color wheel graphic on the floor. Tomorrow I will add tints and shade circles as well as a value scale, and then will let it rest. Can't wait to put the finishing touches on my classroom and be surrounded by the passionate teachers and administration at St. Paul's Episcopal School. May have to pinch myself. 

I will be posting pics of my new classroom this coming week, can't wait to see it come to fruition!