Showing posts with label art blog. Show all posts
Showing posts with label art blog. Show all posts

Sunday, September 28, 2014

What the Art Teacher Wore #116 and an Art Project Update

Oh, Flowery Day!: I've already started the long-drawn out process of packing up my summer duds and replacing 'em with fall frocks (which I'll do all over again in two months when I pack up the fall clothing and bust out the winter stuff. The fun of being a clothing hoarder never ends. Sigh). Howevers, since we are learning about colorful Latin America, I wanted to dress the part one more week before saying adios to all my colorful clothes. dress and belt: thrifted; jacket: Lucky Brand; sandals: Frye; big fat hair flower: DIY
And another photo because I just wanted you to see the back of this groovy jacket. I can't take credit for it but it's long inspired me to do the same to some snooze-fest sweaters in my closet. 

Well, hello there, kids! I dunno about you but these past coupla weeks have seemed to swallow me whole. By the time I get home from work, make some feeble attempt at cooking dinner (by the way, am I the only one that will occasionally [and by "occasionally", I mean once a week] have Pop Corn/Ice Cream dinners?) and kinda clean, up it's practically bedtime. Which is driving me crazy because my DIY mountain is piling up. My sewing room currently looks like a studio for a dozen different nut-job artsy types who lack direction and have seriously low standards of cleanliness. Which is pretty much how it always looks, dunno why I'm acting like that's anything new. 

Aside from all that slack-tasticness, I gotta tell ya that my email inbox has been filling up with some super fantastic Costume Contest entries! Are y'all planning on dressing up as an artist or artwork? If so, don't forget to send your photos my way ( to enter to win a feature here as well as spot in SchoolArts magazine! Looking forward to see your costume!
In other news, I'll be speaking at Bowling Green State University Monday, October 6th! I'm excited to share with y'all how I use my (questionable) fashion sense as an inspiration for teaching. At least I think that's what I'll be sharing. Regardless, I'd love to see and meet you there!

All that aside, I thought I'd share with you the start of some Latin American-inspired work that my students began this week. Last week, you saw our inspiration and now here's a sneak peak at our works-in-progress. What in the world are your kids doing in the art room this week? 
In first grade-ville, we're working on our Amate-inspired drawings of floral and fauna. After learning about Mexico, Amate paper and macaws, we were introduced to a lil Spanish by this guy:

That's right, I totes upped my geeky art teacher game and used this giant macaw puppet to teach the kids Spanish as well as the primary colors (thanks, Folkmanis, for that wise choice of feathers!). I picked up this guy from amazon and the kids loved him. They were so excited to draw their own macaws after Manuel (his name) made his appearance.
Warm/Cool Days of Fall: I never know how to dress when it comes to fall. Cool in the mornings, warm by noon, this weather is as moody as me. dress: thrifted; scarf: Urban Outfitters; belt: Anthro 
My second grade artists are working on collage landscapes with the arpilleras of Chile in mind. We worked for several days creating painted papers (inspired by one of my fave blogs, Painted Paper! Thanks, Laura!). Now that our land is complete, it's time to add some fun details. I'll keep you posted on these beauties.
Florals and Frida: Did anyone else scoop up those Frida shirts that Forever 21 was selling? Did you know they have a "Artist Series"? They've featured the artwork of Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat which is awesome. What's not so awesome is that it's usually crop tops and tube tops. Not exactly teacher attire. But I suppose they aren't expecting teachers to shop at a place called "Forever 21", now are they? Frida top: Forever 21; skirt and shoes: thrifted
My third grade is getting ready to embark on one of my fave projects: Tree Weaving. This week they created their backgrounds. We learned how to mix three different values to create space in our landscape. The kids were allowed to use whatever colors they wanted for their paintings which meant some created deserts, fields or beaches. I can't wait to see how their woven tree looks in the foreground. 
Bird Brained Friday: Since my first graders were drawing birds, I thought a bird-themed dress would be appropriate. Not that it could compete with that bird puppet, lemme tell you. They were all, "cool dress, Stephens, now BRING OUT THE PUPPET!" Kids these days, I tell ya. sweater and dress: thrifted
Lastly, we have my fourth graders Metepec suns. These kids used the same method that my third grade students did to create a three-dimensional face. Several kids are creating a sun/moon face (those are the unfinished ones). I borrowed heavily Denise Logan's book Dynamic Art Projects (great book, y'all. Check it.) but I'm planning on having the kids do a little something different for the rays of the sun. For that, you'll have to stay tuned. Until next time!

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Sunday, September 21, 2014

What the Art Teacher Wore #115 and a Blog Makeover!

Starting A-new Monday: Since all things Dot-astic are now behind us, we are now onto our new learning adventure: Latin America! To celebrate, I decided to wear some Latin-America duds this week. embroidered people sweater and Anthropologie dress: thrifted (I know, right?!); shoes: Frye, found on the cheap at Marshall's; necklace: Anthropologie; bangles: gifts from the fam

Hello, there friends! Welcome to my Brand Spankin' New Blog Layout! Y'all, I'm so excited about this. You see, I'm one of those lazy types that absolutely hates tackling new and (seemingly) overwhelming projects. My ole blog has needed an update for, like, ev-errrr. But I dreaded the thought for a coupla reasons: 1. I had absolutely no idea what I wanted and 2. I had absolutely no idea where to start. So after spending a couple of weeks scouring etsy for graphic designers ("a couple of weeks?!", you say. Well, yes. I get easily distracted by all the vintage clothing on etsy and may have purchased a dress or three whilst perusing graphic designers. Ahem), I found Rebekah of Le Charmed Boutique. She had the most glowing of reviews and was so affordable. I have to brag on her as she went through countless ideas and changes with me until I was totes thrilled with the result. Seriously, y'all. If you ever need yourself a custom graphic designer for design services of all types (she's working on a postcard for me now, thanks, Rebekah!), she's your gal. I'd love to know what you all think of the new layout. Once I get those tabs working, I'm hoping it will be easier for you to find whatever it is your looking for (even if that is to find your way outta here!).

On a different note, now that we've finished our adventures in all things dotty, we're moving on to our cultural theme of the year: Latin America! I thought I'd share with you just some of the inspiration for our upcoming projects. What are y'all up to now that the dot dust has settled? I'd love to hear!
Over the years, I've managed to score several arpilleras de adorno of Chile at thrift shops and garage sales. I've always been drawn to them because I love textiles and colors are so happy and cheerful. After a little homework, I discovered these pieces actually have a dark past. You see, on September 11, 1973 there was a coup in Chile. May of the men were arrested, imprisoned, exiled or simply never heard of again. This left the women to raise their children alone without a source of income. The Catholic church formed an organization to help these women find a way to make money. One was by creating these arpilleras (which means burlap as the original designs were stitched on that surface). Many of the original pieces serve as a narrative to show the hardship of these women. These works of art were often never signed for fear of being found out. These days the pieces are proudly signed by the artists that create them. 
It's Not Easy Being Green Tuesday: I found this sweet vintage skirt and blouse a while back but it had yet to make it's debut. That is until a buddy gave me an apron that matched it perfectly. I feel like I outta be workin' at some 1950's Mexican diner. skirt, blouse, apron: vintage; belt: Pin Up Girl Clothing; shoes: Crocs
Located near Mexico City is the little town of Metepec. Because of the rich clay deposits near the town, Metepec has long been home to many utilitarian potters. My fave, however, are the decorative pieces like the suns and the ceramic tree of life candle holders. Many of the pieces are actually created from molds (you can see this especially in the flowers and leaves) which I love. As an artist and an art teacher, you're lead to believe that molds, templates and stencils are bad and inhibit creativity. I think the work of Metepec does a good job of arguing that theory. 
Stitched Skirt Wednesday: Knowing what they do know about stitching from this project, my fourth graders were super curious how this skirt was created. I ain't ashamed to admit that I flipped the hem of my skirt to show them all the painstaking work that went into this number. sweater: Betsy Johnson, Buffalo Exchange; top: Target; skirt: one of my fave etsy shops, SassySenoitaVintage
Amate is a type of paper that has been produced in Mexico since pre-Hispanic times. This paper was produced for communication, record keeping and ritual during the Aztec Empire. During the Spanish conquest, the paper was banned and replaced with European papers. In the 1960's the Nahua people began painting their elaborate pottery designs onto the bark papers as it was easier to transport. They call these paintings "amatl". Each Nahua village has it's own style of painting making each unique.
Puffy Skirt Thursday: I would have to say that most days are better in a puffy skirt with a crinoline underneath...that is unless you are covered in chigger bites (like, even between my toes covered, y'all) and then every swish of that skirt brings on a cascade of itchiness. If you don't live in The South, count your chigger-less blessings as having these little bites on you is a scratch-tastic nightmare. top: Banana Republic, garage sale; skirt: vintage, thrifted
Xavier Castellanos is a Swiss-born, Mexican raised artist whose bright and colorful work I love. I love his "Mexican Landscape" series and can't wait to share this contemporary artist with the kids. This looks like a great inspiration for another mural project, dontcha think?
Mystery Machine Friday: So Friday we hit the road and got a jump start on our Halloween celebrating. To normal folk, it's still mid-September but for us, it's haunted-house, get-chased-by-crazy-people-wielding-chainsaws time. We hit Universal Studios in Orlando a little bit before their big Halloween Horror Nights event so we could hit the Harry Potter area and ride Gringot's Vault. Y'all. That ride was uh-mazing! dress: Anthropologie; sandals: Target

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Saturday, September 13, 2014

What the Art Teacher Wore #114 and INTERNATIONAL DOT DAY!

Happy International Dot Day, y'all!

I thought I'd share with you what my students created for International Dot Day in this here What I Wore post because I'm so stinkin' excited! My lil artist friends have worked so hard for weeks on these masterpieces (I've shared a sneak peak here and last year's Dot Day here)...and their art teacher (um, that'd be me, speaking in third person like a true crazy) just barely got everything up in time for Thursday's Open House. Over the next coupla weeks, I'll post the complete dotty lessons starting with that Dots-turned-Flower-Garden mural that my sweet first grade artist created as it's my personal fave. Or was it the stitched dots by fourth grade? Maybe the metal dots by third...? Oh, I can't decide, I just loves 'em all!

This week our Word of the Week was inspire and our Artist Inspiration was the author of The Dot, Peter H. Reynolds. We chatted about how The Dot has inspired artists all over the world to "create a mark and see where it takes you". The kids and I talked about how their dots can now inspire others throughout our school. It was so fun to hear them encourage each other and drop the "i" bomb (that'd be "inspire") as they know that anytime anyone says the Word of the Week, everyone says "Whoop! Whoop!" 

In other non-dotty news, I've got a ton of beautiful ladies who've made beautiful aprons to share with you this week! The Apron Sew-Along was so fun that I've come up with another sewing project for those stay tuned, y'all. 

Until then, lemme show you something Dot-tastic!
Lemme introduce to you the Kindergarten dot! With kindergarten, I always start the school year with a construction paper line sculpture (you can read all about my kindergarten unit on line here, if you wanna). Instead of giving the kids rectangular construction paper, I simply gave them either a black or white pre-cut (shutter if you like, it was our first day in art. We'll cut more later.) dot and let 'em have at it. 
Our Word of the Week that first week of school was artist. So after our 45 minute art class, we hoped on the Art Train (um, just a long line of kids that chugga-chugga-chuggas to each table). I held up each kid-created sculpture and would say, "Wow! Morgan is an artist!" to which everyone gave her a Whoop! Whoop! There wasn't a single kid not beaming before they left the art room.
Now, you know, kindergarten is notorious for touching the walls. These have stayed unharmed...and I do believe it's because they created them! 
Totally Dotty Tuesday: Lookin' back on What I Wore for Dot Week last year...I gotta say I did several repeats. Tis okay. Don't nobody need to know...unless I tell em in a blog post. Der. sweater: thrifted; dress: vintage; belt: Target; sandals: Anthro
My first graders are so proud of their mural! They've seen the fourth grader's Warhol Soup Cans and the third grader's Magritte mural so they were ready to create one of their own. So I took down The Great Wave that was still hanging outside my door from last school year's Asian adventure and replaced it with these lovelies. I feel like I'm taking a trip down Candy Cane Lane every day when walking in the art room door!
Y'all might recall from my previous posts that the kids were learning about Kandinsky's concentric circles. After being inspired by that piece, we turned our attention to his other paintings that involve line like Composition VIII. The following art class, we made textured and stamped papers...
and used those to create our flower petals! Like I said, more details to come this upcoming week! Not trying to be vague...but I don't wanna spoil all the fun.
The kids also painted many sheets of line and shape patterned papers for the mural. They informed me that they loved painting on those big sheets o' paper the very best.
Squiggly Lines and Dots Wednesday: The temps here have been slowly dropping so much so that I'm currently sitting in a sweater and wearing tights. TIGHTS! I'm so afraid to pack up summer duds this early because it was only a week ago that we were still trapped in the 90's. Not the decade, the temps. Did I really need to clarify for you? Sorry. sweater: Forever 21, old; dress and belt: Target
So last year, all the kids had a coffee filter dot hanging in the window. It was the first time I'd hung art in the window (what took me so long?!) and it was a huge hit. This year, I picked up a buncha pizza rounds that were white on one side. I painted the other side black (to remove one useless step for my mere 30 minute classes)...
And we talked about Kandinsky again. Which is totes perfect for my second grade friends as they are the grade level I'm taking to see the big ole Kandinsky exhibit that's coming to our local art museum The Frist. We looked at Kandinsky's painting Several Circles  and our word of the week was creative. I challenged the kids to only paint dots or circles on this side of the board. We chatted how we'd have to be super creative with such a constraint and they totally nailed it. I love this dotty painting.

On the reverse, we chatted about line and went crazy creating a line design in black ink. The following art classes we added color. I love how they rotate in the window so both sides of the painting are visible. These kids had Double Dot Duty!
Open House Thursday: I still can't believe it's all up -- all 400 plus kids works of art. I really liked having a deadline to get all the work up and I think I might set that as a goal in the future. It forced me and the kids to really hop to it. AND I also snapped photos of (most) works of art and a super mom uploaded 'em all onto Artsonia for me! Yay, I'm thrilled! You can see them here. art supply blouse: DIY here; pencil skirt: DIY here; pencil shoes: DIY here
My super third graders created these foil relief sculpture dots. I'm currently obsessed with Sharpie on aluminum foil (we've seen it before...and yet it never gets old!). I'm plotting a project for my fourth grade using a similar technique.
But we couldn't just leave 'em be. Oh no, we had to dot-afy the frame as well. ESPECIALLY when metallic markers are thrown into the mix. Then the kids were unstoppable. Or, rather, undotable!
They even wanted to sign their name like "Peter H. Reynolds" which totally cracked me up.
Exhausted but Standing, Friday: Not gonna lie, after a long day (and night) at school on Thursday, I was super pooped. But it was a good, big-sigh-of-relief kind of tired. This weekend is gonna involve lots of chill-axing. And not much else. top, skirt, shoes: thrifted
Here's a peak at what the final display of all my fourth grades stitched art looked like together. I paper clip chained them like I did the second grade paintings. I like the way the look all together like some sort of groovy stitched string art quilt. You can see the complete lesson on this string artiness here. 
I had one class finish their's off the very day of Open House. That didn't stress me out. Oh nooooooo. Not. At. Alllllll. 
And there you have it! 

Happy International Dot Day, everyone! I can't wait to hear all about what you and your students have created for the occasion! 

Sunday, September 7, 2014

What I Wore #113 and A COSTUME CONTEST!

Magnificent Monday: Not gonna lie, having an extra day added to my weekend was simply splendid. I clocked more pj's -n- crafting hours than usual which was at the top of my To Do list for the weekend. I did manage to look presentable on Monday but only because I needed to make a craft store run. dress: Anthropologie, old; sandals: Target, old
Whut is UP, party people? I dunno about you but, while I love me a nice long three-day weekend, it does leave me feeling a pinch frazzled and fried. When I got to school on Tuesday, it was like waking up with amnesia. I was all, "Who am I? Where am I? Why do these strange children keep coming to my art room and messing the place up?" I tried putting a CLOSED FOR BUSINESS sign on my art room door but neither the kids nor their teachers were buying it. 

Given my aforementioned frazzled -n- fried state, I only managed to snap three photos of what I wore this week! I started to pile just too many things on my plate as the days went on and, well, snapping pics of my outfits just kinda slipped off the plate, I guess. Howevers, this leaves me more room to share with you a couple of exciting things:

** The Winners of the Best Dressed Art Teacher Contest are recognized in the October issue of SchoolArts Magazine! ** 
I'm so excited for these awesome art teachers and their chance to be recognized in a publication that means so much to the art education world. Congrats, y'all!

** I'm hosting a Dress-Like-a-Famous-Artist/Artwork Costume Contest! ** 
That's right, ya'll! The Best Dressed Contest was so much fun that I thought an Artist Costume Contest would be fab. You know, Halloween is right around the corner. This would give you a chance to come up with something fun to wear in your art room AND share with the rest of the art teacherin' world on this here blog. Not only that, but Nancy Walkup, editor of SchoolArts Magazine has agreed to feature the winners! Here's the deets:

1. Dress like a famous artist or work of art! (duh. That's kinda the name of the contest.)

2. Snap a high resolution photo! SchoolArts can only produce such photos in their magazine. If you have no idea what "high resolution" means, I'm going to walk you though those steps in this post!

3. Submit your photo and a brief description of your inspiration to my email address! (

4. Submissions due by Sunday, November 2nd! 

5. Vote on this here blog! Winner will be announced mid-November (it's too far ahead for me to actually give you a date. My brain is small.)

6. Winner will be featured here AND in SchoolArts Magazine! And how cool is that, y'all?!

I hope you are just as excited about this idea as I am. And I can't wait to see what you come up with! How fun will this be, y'all?!
October issue of SchoolArts Magazine where you just might be featured!
Speaking of being featured, special contrats to the following awesomely dressed art educators (clockwise): Natalie Friedl, Michael Kantor, Lindsey Ostafy and Ashley Hammond. Special Thanks with Sugar on Top to Nancy Walkup for sharing these art teachers with the art ed community in SchoolArts Magazine! In case you can't read the copy, here's what it says: Art teacher and blogger Cassie Stephens is widely known in the art education community for her amazing homemade art-related outfits. This year she decided to hold a contest on her popular blog highlighting the very best of the artfully dressed. In the end, six art educators were named "Best Dressed Art Teacher." Here are a few of the winners. 
Putting a face with a name, here's the also-awesomely dressed Nancy Walkup! I need that zigzag dress in my life when I teach line, Nancy. Hook a girl up! It was so fun meeting Nancy at NAEA...I can't wait for the next conference to chat with her again.
Last Days of Summer Tuesday: Even though the temps here are still well into the 90's (with an extra dose of humidity, thanks to some pop-up storms), the leaves have started to fall and it seems the whole world has become a Pumpkin Spice Paradise. I figured this just might be the last time I could wear this week summer number. dress: Bernie Dexter, scored on ebay; sandals: Swedish Hasbeens, sale at Anthro last season; belt: Anthro sale, now
Now, let's chat photography, shall we? When Nancy and I met at NAEA and I took out this Scotch-Taped-Up ole Canon Power Shot of mine (that's at least 5 years of age), Nancy took a step back, sucked in her breath and said, "Is that the camera you use for all of your photos?!" Um, yep. I ain't fancy, y'all. I'm all about the cheap. Now hubs did upgrade me recently...but I still only travel with this guy. You see, you don't need a fancy camera to take great photos. You just gotta now what you're doing. So, lemme show you a couple things that will make snapping your costume pics a bunch easier. 
First of all, you'll wanna take photos that are high resolution. That means Nancy will be able to use them in SchoolArts without them being too pixelated. To make that happen, press the "function/setting" button on your camera. On my camera, when I do that, it looks like this. Do you see where it says M2 at the bottom left? Use the arrow button on your camera, scroll down to that so you can change it. M2 is the size of the photos I use on this blog but it is not big enough of a photo for a magazine.

Now, scroll across to the L setting. If you look closely, you'll see that L has some dimensions above it: 3264 X 2448. That's the printing size. Meaning that's how big you could print that image and have it look good. If you look at the dimensions on the M2, you'll see it's smaller. It cannot print as large of a photo without getting too pixelated. On my camera, to select this new setting, I press the "function/setting" button again.

You'll also need to adjust your "fine" settings. So on my camera, I just scroll up one and scroll across to the Superfine. Cuz that's how I like to consider myself: supah-fine. Once you've gotten "superfine" and "L" set, you're good to snap away! Now, this will bog down your memory if you go back to just snapping normal pics, you might wanna readjust your settings.

If you are snapping photos on your iPhone, check your settings as well. I do not own such a phone (I like to live in a the early 2000's with my dim-witted phone) so you'll have to play around to figure out those correct settings. Personally, I always think a camera is better than a phone photo but that's just me.

Another tip: Use a tripod! AND use your camera timer! I take all of these photos of myself, by myself. A tripod is great because it can be adjusted to find your best angle (c'mon, ladies, you know it's all about the angle!) and it's STILL. How many photos do you have that folks have snapped that are just too darn shaky? None of that with a tripod. Also, set that timer. I use a 10-second timer on my camera and it works great. 

I hope those tips are helpful! I know if you take the time to make something magical, you'll want your photos to be perfect. 
 Tiptoe Through the Patterns Wednesday: I know what you're thinking, "What kind of art teacher steps on kids paintings?!" To answer your question: The kind who also posts countless photos of herself wearing something wacky every week. You know the kind. Ahem. Speaking of these paintings, my friends in first grade worked in groups of two to paint 'em. It's all apart of the big fat Dot Day mural they are creating. They'll be ready to be hung this week (I don't have a choice, our Open House is this Thursday and I've gotta get 'em on the walls!) so I'll share the finished result with you very soon. top: garage sale; beaded necklace: made by me, DIY here; skirt and belt: Pin Up Girl Clothing; shoes: thrifted

Can't wait to chat with you again!