Tuesday, May 31, 2016

In the Art Room: Route 66 Diner Signs

I'm one of those horribly annoying people that get a whole bunch of ideas at eleventh hour. Prior to said eleventh hour, I tend to suffer from severe Idea Constipation. How do you know if you suffer from Idea Constipation? Warning signs may include: slack-jaw staring at walls for extended periods of time; the watching of exactly three dozen cat videos on YouTube; the sudden urge to clean an entire kitchen just to avoid real work (this is only in the most extreme of cases as everyone knows that cleaning a kitchen is STUPID.) I am a victim of Idea Constipation. Only at the very last minute do I have exactly One Million Ideas and little to no time to bring them to fruition. I like to call this the And-And's (mostly because Idea Diarrhea sounds disgusting) and I suffered a severe bout of both just prior to our thematic school-wide art show.
You see, once I settled on the idea of having a kid-created 1950's diner, I got the idea to have them create diner signs. Of course, this was just mere weeks before the big day and we were in the thick of finishing projects (I seriously had one fourth grade class inform me, "We CANNOT start any new projects, Mrs. Stephens! We have so many to finish!" They are so bossy, y'all). So, like, we had no time atall (please read that last word with a British accent as that's the only way it is meant to be read). Then I got this IDEA...
Due to reasons too boring and annoying to share, our end-of-the-school-year statewide standardized testing was cancelled just days before it was to be given. This meant that our third and fourth grade teachers, who had planned to test all week, now had to scramble to come up with lessons for their students. Well, that's when I stepped in. I volunteered to make them a video of this project for them to show and teach in their classrooms. This benefited me because the kids created these fab-o signs and the teachers because it gave them something fun and educational to do with their students. SPECIAL SHOUT OUT to my awesome colleagues who took on the challenge of being the crazy art teacher for a day. I seriously work with the best people. 
And just look at the results! These classroom teachers are giving me a run for the money. I provided them with the supplies and just a day later, they delivered the kids' masterpieces to me. 
Of course, we then had to use puffy paint to neon-ize our signs. That final step we did in my art room...because I like to watch the usage of puffy paint like a hawk. Kids love the puff...almost too much. 
In the video, I had the chance to chat with the kids about the history of diners and it's influence on artists and their work. We chatted about Edward Hooper.
 George Segal and his diner sculpture.
 Local and contemporary artist Diane Davich Craig and her paintings of, among other things, diner signs. 
 Not too far from our school is the world famous Loveless Cafe (those of you that visit Nashville, don't be fooled into thinking that Loveless is in Nashville. It's actually quite far from it and usually has a line that snakes around the building). Many of my students have been there and recognized the sign. The video worked well to introduce the concept of diners to them, artist influence and get them excited about the art show AND making their own sign!
The kids and their teachers were very proud of their work. A couple of the teachers even made their own signs along with the kids.
 I kinda wanna make one too. 
And I really love how the parent volunteers paired the student's diner signs with the diner ads they created (another eleventh hour idea). 

In other news, in order to prevent another bout of Idea Constipation, I've already started plotting and planning the theme for next year's art show! 
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  1. These are so much fun! You come up with such original ideas. Having just visited Disney's California Adventure, they remind me of some of the "Cars Land" retro signs.

    1. We were just there too!! I ALWAYS get so much inspiration from Disney! I was completely inspired by Cars Land :)

  2. OMG! This is awesome. I love the art history - Hopper & Segal in creating the diner signs. Definitely gonna work this one I next year. I use use George Segal examples & art history with my 8th grade plaster hands

  3. I love the diner signs, and as a pre-service teacher, I really appreciated the opportunity to see how other include art history etc. in their lessons - not just 'being crafty'. Thanks so much for sharing!
    Oh and I too am an 'eleventh hour thinker!
    NT, Australia


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