Monday, March 30, 2015

In the Art Room: NAEA 2015 Convention

Well, helloooo there, friends! Long time, no bloggity-blog. As you art teacherin' buddies of mine mightah guessed, I was at the NAEA convention this past week. It was a thrilling experience as those of you that attended can attest. I was determined to blog about my experience in fur realz time, but you know what? As soon as I got there, the phone, camera and laptop went away and I just dove right into the moment. That's right, y'all. I did the unthinkable: I lived in realtime. And I think my experience was all the better for it. Howeverness, I gotta tell ya, my photos are rather lacking and for that, I apologize. 

I do wanna give a shout out to all of you that attended and snapped a photo with me. Thank you! I loved meeting each and everyone of you and I was thrilled that you wanted a picture with my wackiness. I love y'all!
So in this here blog post, I thought I'd break down for y'all my experience. I had so much fun attending sessions and presenting (a whopping four times. Someone. Please. Remind me next year just how crazy I am, ermkay?). If you weren't able to attend, don't you sweat it, sistah (and brah), Ima be creating blog posts on my presentations (10 Exciting Ways to Introduce Vocabulary and Tiptoeing into Blogging) later this week. So stay tuned!

And without further ado-ness, I present to you NOLA NAEA 2015!
So the amazing Tim Gunn was our keynote speaker. And he was seriously just that: ah-freakin'-mazing. Like, there was laughter, there were tears, there was loud coughing into the microphone by the interviewer (whut was that, y'all?!), it was ab fab. As y'all might recall, I interviewed Tim waaaaay back in December for the April issue of School Arts magazine. So, I gotta tell you this hilarious stalker thing I did after Tim's talk: I was standing around outside the auditorium with a bunch buddies rehashing the dude's awesomeness when we spot him! He's chatting with a small crowd of folks and my friends were all, "OMG, there he is! Let's get him!" And, being his new BFF, I lead the troops to introduce ourselves and say hellllllo. Did I mention that one of the buddies in my group was wearing a dress completely decked out in Mardi Gras beads? Well, imagine this if you will, we start walking towards Tim but he's leaving! So we start walking faster. Next thing you know, we are chasing the man and I can hear the SWISH! SWISH! of the beaded-dress girl behind me. Now, least you think I'm a total fool, the dude WITH Tim was waving us on! He was saying, "Hurry! C'mon!" So our behavior was totally encouraged, warranted and justified. When we finally reached Tim breathless and swishy you can tell poor dude is in a rush. He rapid fire shakes our hands and poof! disappears. I was mortified. I shook my clenched fist at the man who encouraged us and said, "You told me to hurry! You told me to c'mon! Now he's going to reissue his restraining order!" 
Shortly after that awkward exchange, I was in Tim's class (so, duh, why didn't I just wait to talk to him then, right?!) which, I gotta tell you stressed me out, y'all! It was basically a condensed version of Project Runway. We worked in groups (I had The Best Group. Just sayin'.) and were given a table full of supplies (rubber bands, tape, scissors, clothes pins, highlighters, velcro, etc). Tim came around and handed each group a paper that said things like "T-shirt to Zombie Apocalypse", "T-shirt to Runway". Ours said "T-shirt to Purse". We had 30 minutes and managed to pull that cute thing together. I had to walk the runway which also made me a nervous wreck (whuuuuut?!). All that to say, after that experience, I had no nervous energy left for my presentation!
See that teeny tiny speck in the background? That's me talking about teaching vocabulary in a 25 minute session. I was thrilled that so many folks showed up (thanks, guys! Y'all made my day!). It was standing room only. I was worried I wouldn't get through everything so I told everyone I was gonna talk fast and I finished in 15 minutes! So I opened up the floor and so many awesome art teachers shared their vocabulary cheers, chants and tricks. I couldn't have planned that better!
Now I gotta tell ya, this is like my 5th conference or something. And when I first went, I didn't know anyone. Which can be pretty lonely even when you are surrounded by thousands of other like-minded folk (in fact, it can feel even lonelier!). If you had even a pinch of that at the convention, I'm so sorry! I know I felt very shy (imagine) and intimidated when I first started attended and hardly spoke to anyone. If you attend, please don't let that be you! Strike up a convo with everyone! Talk, share, swap war stories and phone numbers. The connects you make are priceless (me with my buds Laura and Nic!). 
After the vocab session, I waited in line a long line to meet Tim Gunn. Again. The poor dude. All kidding aside, he stood and signed autographs for well over 3 hours, y'all. That's after being the keynote speaker and leading a session. He's perfectly awesome. AND he signed this here article! 
On Friday, I presented a session about blogging with several other art bloggers. That was a tremendous amount of fun! But as Phyl of There's a Dragon in my Art Room pointed out, it's too bad we couldn't have attended each other's presentation to learn from each other! Again, I'll be sharing my chat in a blog post later this week. 
After that, AOE hosted a blogger meet and greet. It was so fun to chat with the AOE team (so much awesomeness! Jessica has some great taste!), meet blog readers and chat with bloggin' buds. Some of these bloggin' buddies of mine feel like long lost friends (Nic! Laura! Phyl! Hope!) and new best buds (Tim! Andrew! Sheryl! Theresa!). I love this meet up. 
Thank you so much, Jessica, for arranging this fun!  
I love these two ladies! Being around so many art teacherin' besties is good for the crazy soul, I tell ya. 
Of course, I had to get outta that convention center for a lil bit. I roomed with a couple of friends of mine from Memphis (thank you, Debbie and Kim for being the best roomies everrrr). On Friday, I did manage to skip away with them and another buddy to do some serious credit card exercising. Trashy Diva was my fave place to shop on Magazine Street!
On Saturday, I decided to hit the French Quarter with some buddies. We met some incredible street and gallery artists (this city is so full of talented folks, it's nuts!). Of course, eating a late lunch of seafood gumbo and monkey bread pudding on a balcony overlooking Jackson Square was a must! 
 That evening I taught a ticketed event on needle felting. I do believe I officially got 25 lovely ladies addicted to a new craft. To introduce needle felting, I had each create a palette hair clip (as you often see me wearing...DIY post to come).
 I love how this artist had a "mixed colors" palette! So clever!
Then each was given a blue apron to needle felt their individual design upon. We also had give aways, crazy story telling, chocolate was a big time all around. Special thanks to all that those who missed part of the masquerade ball to attend.
If we look a lil cray [that's cuz we are], we are trying to show you our palette hats! None of the ladies finished (felting takes longer than just an hour or so) so they took home enough roving to finish their masterpiece. Hey attendees! When you do finish, email me a photo so I can share it here, please.
After that, we decided to crash the ball with some other buddies! It was so fun, I'm so glad we went. The night may or may not have ended with some serious Hurricane consumption...I'd give you the full story but what happens at an art convention stays at an art convention.

Until next time! 
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Saturday, March 21, 2015

In the Art Room: See you in New Orleans!

Hey, y'all! Please pardon my absence on this here blog...I've been crazy busy spring breakin' and preparing for the art teacherin' conference in New Orleans! Which one of y'all are going? I do hope to see y'all there. There will be plenty of chances for us to get together and chat as I foolishly decided to present a buncha times. In case you are interested, I thought I'd throw my prezi dates and times out there for y'all: 

Thursday, March 26th: 

2:00 - 2:50 PM
Write? Right! Publishing to Advocate Your Art Program
Pam Stephens, Nancy Walkup, Cassie Stephens, Nicole Briscoe
Join four published authors to explore publishing your art-teaching ideas and then turn those ideas into advocacy for your program. Includes practical suggestions, tips, and writing guidelines. Interactive Discussion
Hilton Hotel/Chart B/Riverside Building

4:00 – 4:25
10 Exciting Ways to Teach Art Vocabulary They Won’t Forget
Cassie Stephens
Learn new methods of enriching student vocabulary in fun and innovative ways. Songs, word games, call and response methods, and sign language are just a few of the exciting methods introduced. Best Practice Lecture
Convention Center/Meeting Room R05/Second Level
Friday, March 27th:

11:00 - 11:50 AM
Elementary Carousel of Learning: Teacher Art Blogs
Nancy Walkup
Four accomplished elementary art educators from across the country will share their successful art blogs for their art rooms. Phyllis Brown of There's a Dragon in my Art Room, Laura Lohmann of Painted Paper, Sheryl Depp of Primary Art with Mrs. Depp and Cassie Stephens of that blog with her name because she wasn't creative enough to come up with anything else.  
Convention Center/Meeting Room 216/Second Level

1:00 to Wheneverness
Meet Art Ed Bloggers in the AOE Booth!
Meet up and chat with some of your fave art ed bloggers in the AOE booth in the vendor's hall! I know I absolutely loved meeting my blogging heroes and well as chatting with the 5 folks that read this here blog! Drop by and let's chat, y'all!
Saturday, March 28th 

7:00 - 8:50 PM
Design Your Own Curriculum-Aligned Clothing Line
Cassie Stephens
Instead of simply talking to your students about famous artists or their works of art, why not become the three-dimensional element that brings the experience to life? In this workshop, you will learn the art of needle felting and apply that skill to the creation of an apron. This apron will be designed with your own curriculum in mind and will be ready to wear in your art room. Armed with this new method of altering clothing, as well as other techniques introduced, you will be able to design your own curriculum-aligned clothing line. Hands-On Workshop Studio (2 hours) Ticket Required. (Sorry, y'all. This one is SOLD OUT.)
Hilton Hotel/Rosedown/3rd Floor

And there you have it, kids! If you aren't able to attend this year's NAEA conference, don't you fret. I'll be sure to post both what I shared and all that I learned right here. If you want minute by minute action, you can follow me on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Looking forward to chatting with y'all both in for realz life and via the interwebs. 
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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

DIY: WPA-Inspired Smoky Mountain Paintings

When I first moved down to Tennessee from Indiana, I didn't have any intentions of staying. I mean, I was fresh outta college and was looking for a job and an adventure. When I got a job offer in Tennessee I was all, "huh, why not?" with plans to move away in a coupla years (as a kid, I had this crazy notion that I'd live in each state, one year at a time). After settling into Tennessee and meeting my hubs, we realized we just love this place too much to move. And now it's home.

Over the last coupla years, I've been Tennessee-izing our house. You can see my first attempts at TN decor here and a painting dedicated to Nashville made from maps of TN here. Recently, I decided I needed a coupla new paintings for a sad little area at the top of our stairs and was inspired by some WPA paintings of the Smoky Mountains. 
So the WPA program (aka the Works Progress [or Projects] Administration) was established during the Great Depression to give jobs to millions of unemployed Americans. Their job was to work on public works projects like public roads and buildings. Many schools, libraries and government buildings were constructed during this time. An offshoot of this program also employed artists, musicians and actors to do works for the public.
Incredibly talented artists were employed such as Romare Bearden, Thomas Hart Benton (one of my personal faves), The Soyer Brothers (also a fave of mine), Stuart Davis, Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning, just to name a few. Without this program, millions of people and their families would have been left destitute during this difficult time in our history.

Some of my favorite work created by WPA artists are the national parks posters. I love the almost paint-by-numbers/propaganda style of these works. They are ab fab. In fact, these paintings here are my SECOND time to copy a WPA painting; you can see my first one here. Now, on to the latest ones...
 I started by adding that yellow ochre color to the top and creating texture by scrapping the wet paint with a chopped up plastic card (I have a mountain of hotel key cards just for this reason). Then I began sketching out my plan in chalk.
And then I really went at it paint-by-numbers style. I love painting this way! Y'all, it's so easy and I personally dig the flat look to the painting. Side note: I use our glass dinner plates as palettes. If you ever dine at mi casa, kindly check your plates for paint before eating.
This painting was pretty basic so it came together quickly. I work with acrylic which dries super fast. I like that because I could move on to the next portions of the painting without waiting forever (ahem, oil paint).
 I added a lil bit of texture to the ground by using a super crappy, paint-dried-on-the-bristles brush. Sometimes those brushes have their purpose too.
And last came the trees. Since this painting was super basic (and is going to hang next to one that is uber busy), I decided to add the lettering to the top and bottom. 
Y'all. I hate lettering. It involves measuring and math and both make my abnormally small sized brain hurt. But what's the worst is painting lettering as I always screw up with letters that gradually get bigger and bigger as the painting goes on. So! My solution are Sharpie brand paint pens. I loves them! They work great and create a clean even line. 
The neighbor to my first painting started much the same. Chalk outline (ahem) and color blocking. Cake.
 Howevertown, this painting has a whole lot more details. Which were super fun to paint but did take me a while. So I power watched old episodes of Project Runway and just blasted through.
 (One of these days, my dining room table will be used for...dining.)
 Although it's super busy, I do love how this painting turned out. The colors are my fave part. But I also love how it does remind me of the Smokies. 
Now to get 'em up on the wall! I'll have to share that snap with you when I get to it. Later, kids!

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