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

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Painting my WHY I TEACH

 Hey, kids! In my last post I shared that during our LIVE chat, we'd be sharing our WHYs. Why do we teach? It's such a simple and important question that I can honestly say I've never been asked or given thought to. WHICH IS JUST PLAIN CRAZY. 

The question was brought up during our online bookclub chat. We are currently reading The Wild Card by Hope and Wade King. You are always welcome to join our chats, even if you are not reading. This summer, I've been going LIVE every Wednesday at about 9:15pm CST. 

Last week, during our chat, we decided it would be fun to come up with our WHYs, put them in kid-friendly terms and make a work of art featuring our WHYs for our classrooms. I started to paint mine while live last night and, in usual form, it looked like a flaming hot turd. However, now I'm pleased as punch with it! So here is my WHY: 
 I've had this round canvas forever and I thought it would make a fun surface to paint my WHY on. Once I decided upon my WHY, I came up with the palette idea. I finished that off after our chat:
Here's a lil behind the scenes of the process:

I'm THRILLED to see so many other teachers jump on the paint-your-why train. I think it will be so wonderful to share with out students at the start of the school year. Check out these amazing WHY works of art created by other teachers. Be sure and give them a follow on their social media as they are all amazing and inspiring! 
 My sweet buddy Ashley created this precious WHY for her art room. In case you don't know, Ashley is INSANELY talented and known for creating teacher caricatures. You'll have to check out her IG to see more. Side note: her husband is a super talented art teacher also who just opened an Etsy shop with posters for the art room!   
 I love Sarah's WHY so much. The message, the colors and the drawings around the border are just so cute! You can follow more of Sarah's colorful adventures in her art room here.
 Kim's rainbow-tastic WHY is the stuff of art teacherin' dreams. I love how simple and colorful and PERFECT this is!! I want one! Be sure and give Kim a follow. She's fabulous!
 Another rainbow-lover! Crystal's WHY is another one that is just perfectly simple and kid-relatable. That's what I feel is so important...so the kids can read them and understand just why we are there! 
 Isn't this quote just the most amazing thing? I LOVE this so much, Phyllis! Sharing what art means to us and why we value it's place in our student's lives is such an important thing to share with our kiddos. Beautifully put, Phyllis!
 If you don't follow this Disney-loving art teacher, you are not livin' your best life. Everything Mrs. Cook shares is sprinkled with pixie dust including this quote! 
 Over on Facebook, during our LIVE session, folks were painting right along! Check out Raquel's reason for teaching art...the kids are like a fountain of youth!
 Michele's WHY is perfect for the kiddos to see and understand...but my favorite part is the heart, the palette and the 3D element with the paint brushes. LOVE it! 
 Jacqui's art makes me so happy. I know my students would LOVE that happy faced, big-eyed Earth and would probably love to replicate it. I think her quote and image are just magical. 
 YES, Shelby! This is kinda what I was going for too with my quote. You put it into words perfectly...and with a rainbow to boot. 
Hilary, this just makes me so happy. The different fonts, the rainbow order and THE MESSAGE. Y'all...you nailed it!
If you feel inspired to create a WHY, feel free to share it on my IG and tag me, I'd love to see it! 
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Sunday, October 8, 2017

Everyday Art Room, Episode 9: Burnout

This week, over on Everyday Art Room, I am addressing burnout. I know what you are thinking: Girl, we just started back to school, aren't you talkin' burnout a little early? Maybe...but not for me. You see, I've been feeling that weird, overworked/overwhelmed and under-excited sensation for a couple of weeks. I'm pretty good at the fake-it-til-you-make-it biz but it is catching up with me. Thankfully, for me, I'm heading in to fall break. The hubs and I are taking a trip, I'm getting my first every massage and I plan to do a whole lot of crafting, netflixing and relaxing. Since I was feeling a little meh, I thought I'd address it this week because I know I'm not alone. You can take a listen to the podcast here. I'll be sharing the complete transcript on the blog today.
I have addressed Burnout before in this Art Teacherin' 101. I've been to Burnout Town many a time. I'm usually to blame because of the following bad habits: 

1. Piling too much on my plate.
2. Rarely saying NO to anything.
3. Frustration over my lack of consistency and the results that follow in my art room.

I'm truly to blame for my own burnt-to-a-crispness. Knowing that, it's something I work on. Now, enough about all that, let's get to the podcast!


At the beginning of every Everyday Art Room podcast, I start with a story. I personally refer to it as story time. I don’t know if you’ve realized it or not. You might, if you have figured it out, refer to it as torture time. Be that as it may, I’m going to share a story with you right now. Now, usually, I share stories that are of the humorous nature. This one’s a little different.
I would say it was probably in my fifth or seventh, or who knows when, year of teaching. When you’ve been teaching as long as I have, you start to lose track. I was feeling sick a lot, and not the kind of sick where a kid sneezed on you and now you’re just laid flat for a week. No, the kind of sick where I could tell something was on my mind and it was affecting me physically, making me feel ill. I went to a doctor, and I told her that I was feeling stressed. It was causing me to feel unwell. I was getting a lot of headaches, and I was seeking advice from the doc on what I should do.
She was really concerned. She said to me, “Wow, it sounds like you have a really stressful job. What is it that you do?” I said, “I’m an elementary art teacher.” She paused and then laughed at me. I get it. I understood. I understand why she laughed. At the same time, I thought, “This is a person who doesn’t get it.” I know it might seem, to the average person on the outside, that I finger-paint all day, but, as you know, we don’t. Our job can be stressful, and it can lead to something called burnout. I’m very familiar with burnout. I actually was just familiar with burnout last week. Let’s talk about it. This is Everyday Art Room, and I’m Cassie Stephens.
Now, I’m going to be really honest with you guys today. I have actually experienced the joys of burnout many a time. Like I said, just last week, I was really contemplating my life’s choices, so to speak. Probably the most game-changerin’, if that’s a word … It is now … time that I had burnout was back in 2012, and I remember the year well because it’s when I decided to start blogging. Here’s how it went down, Charlie Brown. I was really feeling like I was stuck in a rut. I wasn’t creating. My passion had always been painting. I wasn’t doing that at all. I would come home and watch television, and go to bed, and go to school, and not do lessons that were very inspired or inspiring. I was just kind of repeating things I had done from year to year. I was bored, basically.
I thought, “You know what, I really enjoy looking at blogs.” At that time, I really enjoyed looking at blogs where girls were featuring the outfits that they were wearing, so I thought, “What if I start a blog where I share a lesson that I create, something that I personally have created, a DIY, and what I’ve worn that week? What if I do that? If I do that, it’ll kind of help me hold my feet to the fire and make it so that every week I’m really thinking about a new lesson to share with my students, something fun that I can create to tap into my creative juices and get them flowing again, and to showcase something that I love to do, which is dress like a crazy person.” That’s how my blog, which is called Cassie Stephens … Obviously, I didn’t spend a lot of creative power coming up with that name … came to be. A lot of people used to refer to it as What the Art Teacher Wore because that was a big feature on my blog.
All that to say, that was a real game changer for me. Suddenly, I was excited to go to school because I had come up with a fun project. I was excited to go home and create, not watch television, because I had a really fun DIY that I had a deadline for, that I knew had the week to come up with it and share it. Then, of course, I really enjoy dressing like a fool, so it’s always fun to share that aspect. That’s my journey. That’s what I did. I’m not saying all y’all need to go out and start a blog. What I am saying is that finding your passion, tapping into it, probably something that you’ve neglected … You’ve neglected yourself for a long time, I’m guessing, if you’re feeling burnout … is going to really help you get out of that rut.
Like I said, that’s my journey. Now I want to share with you my top seven ways to get out of burnout. Let’s start with number one. Number one, know that it is okay. You are not broken. You are still a fabulous art teacher. You are just experiencing burnout. It’s natural. It happens to all of us. Sometimes it’s hard to believe when you get on social media that these awesome art teachers that you follow might actually experience burnout, but they do. If they tell you they don’t, they be lying. Don’t believe them. I’m telling you, I’ve been there many a time. Know that it’s okay. Don’t judge your feelings. Listen to them. That’s thing number one.
Thing number two, like I said a moment ago, know that we have all been there. Knowing that, consider reaching out to another art teacher. Ask them, “hey, I’m feeling a little bit burnt out. Have you been there?” You know they have. “What do you do to kind of get yourself out of that rut?” If you don’t have a fellow art teacher and buddy to reach out to, then consider a friend at school. If you’re comfortable with your admin, talk to your administration. They might have some really good tips to help you get out of that rut. They might be able to offer a book for you to read or even some classes to take.
Or just talk to somebody completely removed from the situation, like, tip number three, a therapist. Okay, I’m going to get real with you. Your insurance should cover a therapist. If your insurance covers a therapist and you are feeling burnout, get a therapist. I am a big advocate of talking to a therapist. I spent a long time talking to one. He was fabulous. It was a great experience. It was great to just talk to somebody who was totally removed from the situation, because what he did for me was he offered a completely different perspective. There’s nothing wrong with you or with talking to a therapist. Okay, I’m stepping off my therapist soapbox.
Number four, treat yo’self. Yes. I am a big Aziz Ansari fan, and I firmly believe in his words of wisdom of “Treat yo’self.” If you are feeling in a rut, then take yourself out of the situation. Go somewhere fun after school. One of my favorite ways to treat myself after school if I’m feeling like I just need a break is to go to the thrift store and the Dollar Tree. That is how I roll. That is how I treat myself. Seriously. The funny thing is is that because we can never turn our art-teachering brain off, I get so much inspiration when I go to places like the thrift store and the Dollar Tree. I also find a lot of DIY project ideas while I’m there. Think of what you really enjoy doing. Maybe it’s getting a mani-pedi. Maybe it’s, I don’t know, a massage, something a little bit more elaborate and fancy than going to the thrift store or the Dollar Tree. Now you know how I roll. Treat yourself. You deserve it, and sometimes you really need it.
Let’s talk about number five. This is what I was chatting about at the very beginning of this little convo, returning to your passions. Like I said, my passion used to be painting. I got my BFA in painting in college, and for some reason, I had it in my head that you could only be a true artist if (a) you were painting all the time and (b) you were painting all the time. Seriously, I had a really hard time getting that notion out of my head and just knowing that, no, just creating in general is being creative. You don’t have to go with that idealized version of an artist to be an artist. Just make something, which is now what I do constantly. I am always making something.
The thing is, I’m never painting. That’s the hilarious part. I’ve never returned to that passion. I actually think that I got that one out of my system, but I do really enjoy creating. It’s my passion. I love wearing crazy clothes, so sewing is also a passion. What I have found is that creating is like a ball rolling down a hill. Once the ball starts rolling, it just picks up momentum and it moves faster and faster, and pretty soon you find that you have more projects than you have time, whereas, in the past, I was always stumped for ideas. I never had anything that I was looking forward to making because I hadn’t gotten the ball rolling. Stop and think about what your passions are, and take some time, because it’s very important, to focusing on creating. It’s what brought you to art teachering in the first place.
All right, let’s talk about number six. Go easy on yourself. Think of the KISS method. Keep It Simple, Stupid. I’m talking about in the art room. I have kindergarten through fourth grade students. That means I have five lessons I need to come up with, or do I? Sometimes when I’m feeling a little bit burnt out and I’m feeling like I just am stressed … I’m getting out five different sets of art supplies and prepping five different visuals and videos and lessons … I just take a break and think, “You know what, it is okay if kindergarten and first grade do the same project, and it is okay if second and third, or even fourth, do the same project.” It’s fine. Keep it simple. What will happen is is that you’ll be happier, and as we all know, a happy art teacher makes for a happy art room. If you’re feeling burnt out, relax, breathe, and keep it simple, stupid. Sorry, I said the S word.
Last but not least, and this one is really important, get off social media. If you are feeling burnt out, it’s probably because you’re comparing yourself and your life to others. FYI, what people post on social media is the good stuff. Most people aren’t sharing the nitty-gritty, the bad, the ugly, because people don’t want to paint that picture of themselves. It’s just human nature, myself included. Just take a little social media break.
Put down your phone, enjoy the fam, create something, treat yourself, and keep it simple, and talk to a therapist. I think if you do at least a couple of those things, you’ll find that the burnout starts to ease a little bit and hopefully will eventually go away. I hope that’s been a little bit helpful to you. Hopefully, you’ve gotten a little nugget of info or an idea for you. Thanks for letting me share what’s worked for me.
Tim Bogatz: Hello, this is Tim Bogatz from Art Ed Radio. As you probably know, Art Ed PRO is the subscription service for professional art teachers offered by The Art of Ed. Earlier this week, we released three new learning packs, one on beginning with watercolor painting, one on diving deep in color theory, and one on using games in the art room. All of them are great, and all of them are really in-depth. Each of the three learning packs has between 15 and 20 videos, and all of them also have about a dozen resources that you can print immediately and use in your classroom. PRO members get three new learning packs every single month, and you have 24/7 access to every learning pack in the library. Sign up for your 30-day free trial and check out everything at artedpro.com. Before you go sign up, though, you should probably give Cassie your attention for the rest of this episode. Enjoy.
Cassie Stephens: Now it’s time to take a little dip into the mailbag. This first question comes from Casey. Casey asks, “I’m curious if you have ever considered getting your National Board Certification, and what’s your opinion on that?” Well, I have never considered getting my National Board Certification because I’ve spoken with people who have their National Board Certification and it does not sound like my cup of tea. From what I’ve heard, there is a lot of paperwork, deadlines, and organization involved. Those three words are not my favorite. I do know that people who have pursued getting their National Board education have said that they feel like it has made them a better teacher, they’ve been more reflective of their methods, and improved upon art teachering.
This is funny because it really does tie into burnout. If I were to pursue my National Board Certification, it would be a quick ticket to burnout town for me. For me, I know what works, and I know if I wanted to learn something new or become a better teacher, I would be better suited to take a class, a ceramics class, a sewing class, where I’m pursuing my passion, but also gaining knowledge that I can bring back to my art room. But that’s me. If National Board Certification sounds like your cup of tea, then I say go ahead and drink it, but I also would suggest talking to somebody who’s gotten their National Board Certification, who can speak a lot more intelligently on the topic. Great question, Casey.
My next question comes from Kathleen. Kathleen says, “In the very first episode of Everyday Art Room, you mentioned a game called The Smartest Artist, but you didn’t explain how it works. Can you do that, please?” I would love to. In fact, I have created a video with The Art of Ed that does a better job probably than I’m about to do of explaining The Smartest Artist Game because there’s a visual.
Essentially, this is what we do. My students line up, and once everybody is in line, I pick three students standing nicely in line, a boy, a girl, and then whoever else is standing nicely. There’s a dry erase board on an easel standing nearby, and I give the boy and the girl a dry erase marker. I give the third student something called a sound machine. It’s this tiny little gadget that can make sound effects. You can find a sound machine on Amazon.
I say to the students, “Now it’s time for …” and they all reply, “The Smartest Artist.” Then I say, “All right, this is a question for the girls. Girls, can you please tell me the primary colors?” While they’re in line, the girls will raise their hand, and my friend who is a girl with the dry erase marker will call on one of the girls. If the girls get the answer correct, then they get a point on the dry erase board. The sound effects person with the sound machine … There’s a couple of fun little sounds on there, like a drum roll and an applause, so that’s what that student takes care of. They are the sound effects engineer.
Once the girls have gotten their point, we pass the next question on to the boys. We go back and forth with this usually a couple of times until the time is up, and we do this as a great review, and it’s also great to do if you have a couple of minutes where you’ve lined your kids up a pinch too early, not to mention they absolutely love The Smartest Artist game. Kathleen, I hope that claresified it … Girl, probably not. I hope that clarifies it just a pinch. Like I said, check out that video on The Art of Ed for a visual.
Guys, if you have any questions for me, feel free to send them my way at theeverydayartroom@theartofed.com.
Y’all, thank you so much for letting me share my many voyages to burnt out town with you and what has worked for me. Let’s go over them one more time.
Know that it’s okay. We’ve all been there. In fact, sometimes I feel like I’m the driver of the burnt out bus. Get on board, y’all. Let’s figure this out.
Get a therapist. I can’t recommend it enough. It’s just like talking to somebody removed from the situation.
Treat yourself. I also can’t recommend that enough, although, you know, going to the Dollar Tree and the thrift store might be a little bit lowbrow for you, so find what really will help you feel better and feel treated.
Return to your passions. That’s super important, and that’s really what helped me get out of my rut.
Go easy on yourself. Remember the KISS method when you’re in your art room. You’ll be much happier when you’re relaxed, and a happy art teacher makes for a much happier art room.
Last but certainly not least, get off social media. Take a break. Live in the now, y’all.
Thank you so much for letting me share my many trips to burnt out town. This is Everyday Art Room, and I’m Cassie Stephens.
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Tuesday, September 5, 2017

In the Art Room: Paint Stick Pencil Cabinet!

Last week, as I was piling the day's art bins on the floor around my desk, I managed to accidentally kick one of 'em, spilling the contents, and trip over two of them. I muttered WHY ARE THESE ON THE FLOOR ANYWAY?! I literally barricade myself in them daily. That's when I decided, after 19 years, NO MORE! I'm getting a cart to hold these bad boys. And, thus, the Paint Stick Pencil Cabinet was born! 
I picked up a ton of these paint stirring sticks not long ago as apart of a collaborative the kids are creating (don't ask...I'm still trying to figure that mess out). I had some left over and one night, in a fit of painting all the wooden thingies, I painted them like pencils. And I just couldn't stop! Here's how they were created:
So now I had two things: a need for a bin cabinet and a plethora of pencils. What to do? I'm super lucky in that I'm surrounded by thrift stores where I work. I popped by one and spotted this sad little back T.V. cart on wheels for a mere $2. I had not done any measuring (because math, ew) but I had a feeling it would hold two of my bins side by side. AND it was only 2 bucks so there's that. I took it to school and was super stoked to see that my lack of measuring paid off! A perfect fit! Now to start bedazzling. 
This extraordinarily handcrafted (ahem), pressed board piece was in decent shape but dreadfully dull. My P.E. teacher buddy primed it for me and I used whatever latex paint I had around from this episode. After painting it, I was happy with the color...but still bored. 
 I mean, meh, right?
 So the next day, I brought in the sticks I'd been painting and started hot gluing them on...and suddenly I was diggin' it.
 In just a couple of minutes, the cabinet was complete!
Here's how it looks when the kids enter the art room. So fun! I'll keep my morning classes in the cabinet and then swap them out at lunch with my afternoon classes. These bins came with my art room and they are so handy. Our large work does not go in here...but our smaller pieces do. And now we have a cabinet to hold the bins...so I won't be tripping all over them anymore. 
 You can find out more details of all the newly created decor for my art room here
The top of the cart will come in handy too. Many times, when my students enter, I have them gather supplies right away. This usually means they have to turn the left corner in my art room and go to "the store". Now, I can simply place the supplies on this cabinet and they can grab them there...much faster! When you have 30 minute art classes, every second counts. 
I contemplated painting the pencils at different heights or even alternate flipping them, meaning one upside down and one right side up. But in the end, I liked the consistent look the best.
 Not gonna like, all my new decor makes me super happy...and excited to have a less cluttered and unorganized space. Now...to tackle the rest of my Hot Mess Express of an art room!
 Until then, I have a pretty cabinet to look at, right?
There are pegs for a shelf...but the shelf was missing. Maybe one day I'll get a shelf cut to fit. That way I don't have to stack the boxes. I need a wood shop, y'all!
Thanks for letting me share my latest addition to the art room!
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Thursday, August 3, 2017

In the Art Room: Art Room Rules

Yesterday, some pretty big and exciting news was released: I'll be teaming up with The Art of Education in the creation of Everyday Art Room, a podcast dedicated to all things elementary art teacherin'! I sat down with Tim Bogatz, the co-'caster of Art Ed Radio to share the fun news. You can listen to our chat here and catch my very first podcast next Thursday. I'm super excited! I do hope you'll take a listen. 

In one of the first podcasts, I'll be chatting about how I start my school year, which, as you can imagine, is with rules. My rules have changed...drastically...over the years as I learn and change as I go/grow. Recently, with the reading of The Growth Mindset Coach (you should totally join our book club if you haven't already. Like/follow here to stay tuned), I've been thinking of my art room rules as being more like life rules. Rules to follow to become a happy, compassionate and fulfilled person. With that in mind, I created these three art room rules life goals. I thought I'd share them with you in the form of a free downloadable PDF if you are interested. 





But before we get to that, when I shared these paintings on my Instagram, I got a lotta questions about how I hang things on those unstickable concrete walls. My go-to is usually hot glue but that does have a weight limit. It can also damage walls and artwork. My latest love are these Command Velcro Strips. Y'all. These bad boys can hold up to 16lbs and can be removed without damage. If you are hanging something heavier or from an actual hanger, you might wanna check out Hardwall Hangers by OOX. These hammer easily into concrete walls but are difficult to remove and leave behind some holes. Of course, if you are just hanging posters, Blue Dap (aka sticky tack) works great as well. All of these can be found at your local hardware store. 
Here is the download for the letter A

When writing rules, keep the following in mind:

* Keep Your List of Rules Short. The list of rules should be so short that you can easily memorize them. Any more beyond five rules and you might be confusing your rules with your routines/procedures. 

* Know the Difference Between Rules and Routines. Rules are the broad brush strokes. Routines are the finer details. I have 8 routines in my art room. I'll be covering those in my very first podcast that will launch here next Thursday. Confusion between the two can lead to confusion in the art room.

* Keep in Mind the Take Away. When your students reflect on creating, what do you want them to think? Feel? Be inspired by? Your rules should help you create that environment where they feel safe, inspired, confident, successful and encouraging to others.

With those thoughts in my head, I decided to create three rules, based on the word ART. You are more than welcome to use these in your art room. I've created downloadable PDFs of each letter and rule. Here is the download for the painted letter A.  

If you'd rather paint your own version of your rules, go for it! I had a great time coming up with these and bringing them to life in a colorful and exciting way. I scored the canvas panels, which I used for the letters, at Michael's in a package of either three or four. The long canvases were sold in packs of two. 

I picked up my favorite colors in acrylic paint. I laid out the canvases and quickly painted them. I tried not to overthink it...keeping in mind that one can always just paint over it! 
Once dry, I added some dry brushing of paint where I wanted the letter and rules to go. From there, I added the text, details and designs. The beauty of acrylic paint is that fast dry time! I did manage to mess up my spacing of letters so there was some serious repainting...but it was not a big deal.

Growing up in the 80's, where there was a strong resurgence of 1950's style and fashion, I've got a love for all things kitsch, colorful and tacky. This explains my color palette and design aesthetic clearly, doesn't it?!

Let's be honest: with rules like these, some explaining, modeling and role playing will need to be done. When teaching rules, always expect that your sweet kiddos know nothing. After all, what seems like common sense to you, an adult who has been on this Earth years beyond that wee person you are teaching, is news to the petite peeps. Think of everything as new, exciting and noteworthy...it will make teaching what we might deem "the mundane", the magnificent. 
Not even gonna lie, strong Pee Wee's Playhouse and Bebo influence here! 

Tell me if you do this: when thinking of lessons, plans, arrangements, whatever in your teaching environment, do you put yourself in your student's shoes? I do this...all the time. I often think of what excited me as a kid: seeing my third grade teacher in a silly costume; that teepee my second grade teacher had in her classroom; the parachute we played with in P.E. It's with that in mind that I craft my own teaching environment. I know I'm not alone in this...maybe it's for selfish reasons...but I use what excited me as a student now as a teacher. 

And it usually works! I used to think that the notion of bringing what I loved as a kid to my art room was successful because that joy I experienced was universal. I loved XYZ as a kid, therefore all kids love XYZ! Now I know...it was my passion about XYZ that inspired my students. Staying passionate, whether that be by taping into those childhood loves and/or brining what you love to your art room, is what keeps us excited and excitable as an art teacher.
But that just might be the back-to-school jitters talkin'. Let's talk about how you can print and hang these bad boys in your art room! Simply print out the letters and rules as is or blow them up! I did this with some items I purchased on TpT. I just made them as large as I could and then, once printed, taped them together puzzle style and ran them thru the laminator. You can't tell the difference!
Feel free to print and hang where ever you wanna share the love of art. Remember to tune in next Thursday for my first ever podcast, eep! So excited!
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Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Field Trip! A Visit with Audry Deal-McEver

Last year, I started a series of videos titled Field Trip! The purpose of these videos was to take all of my students on a virtual adventure to meet contemporary artists, see their creative spaces and witness them creating. You can check out my playlist of Field Trip! videos here. If you subscribe, you can also stay up-to-date as to when I post a video. I actually have three more Field Trip! videos recorded that I need to edit and upload before sharing them with you and my students. Please feel free to use these (and any of my videos) in your art room...I think all students can benefit from learning about these unique, creative and current working artists. 

I admit, I fell off the wagon HARD last spring when it came to searching out artists, contacting them and filming them. I was starting to feel super overwhelmed with all things art teacherin': the national conference where I presented a couple of times; our school-wide art show which is a beast of an undertaking and our clay unit which we always kick off in the spring. I will also admit this to you...I am very lazy, not consistent, a procrastinator and, did I mention lazy? I'm lazy. One look at Mount Laundry and you would agree.

But knowing just how much my students benefited from these videos, I knew I had to continue creating them. So during the spring, I attended an artisan fair and picked up just about every business card that I saw sitting out. Once home, I researched the artist, looked into their location (Nashville and just a little beyond is ideal) and sent them an email. I got a great response...artists are so giving with their time and willingness to share! The first artist I scheduled to visit is the one and only Audry Deal-McEver
Look at her beautiful home! Audry's studio is right behind her home and it is absolutely stunning, check it out:
When I arrived at Audry's home, she reminded me that we actually met many years ago (we are thinking about 10-12). My brother, who is 10 years my junior, was in a very bad car accident and was in a coma for several weeks. During that time, my administration allowed me to be with him and my family. Audry's mom, an art teacher, stepped in for me. She taught my classes, kept the students creating and made it so I could focus on what was most important. Her daughter, Audry, came in one day and did a wheel throwing demonstration for the students. I still have the photos of that day and share them with the kids when we chat about clay. What a crazy turn of events, right? My brother, by the way, pulled out of the a coma that they said he would not and is now an English teacher on a Native American reservation. 

I'm rambling...here's the video!
I have to tell you...Audry is an INCREDIBLE teacher...because she IS a teacher. She's taught ceramics and photography for the past five years at a local school. She is now taking time off from teaching to focus on her work. However, she does such a wonderful job explaining every element of working with clay that I feel this video would benefit all students, upper elementary on up to college. 
At the start of the video, you'll find her wedging clay. She explains the reasoning behind that and how to do it. Then she moves on to throwing on the wheel...which she makes look incredibly simple. I could only dream to throw a pot on the wheel that didn't end up looking like Patrick from SpongeBob Square Pantalones. 
I love how Audry shares her inspiration...and the origin of paisley! I had to include that in the video, it was new to me. Also, watching an artist work is always hypnotizing and she does her clay carving so quickly. It was fun to watch.
I was thrilled when she explained how a kiln works and the different types of kilns. I know that can help even us art teachers who might not understand how to operate a kiln.
Audry mixes up her own glazes to create the desired color. Her application process was interesting to see. 
And I loved the results so much, I had to have one of her vases in my home. She also gave me a beautiful mug...I know the kids will love to see me gettin' my coffee on with one of her pieces. 
A big THANK YOU! to Audry for allowing me to visit. Be sure to follow her Instagram as she shares videos and photos of her process.
I hope you enjoyed this visit to Audry's studio as much as I did! Until next time...
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