Thursday, February 16, 2012

DIY: Wishful Winter Wonderland

Let's just forget that it's spring in less than a month, shall we? 'Cuz this winter mural is finally finished! Note to self: start winter mural on first day of school.
Well, Happy Wintery Day to you! And, if you are here in Tennessee, this year's wintery has meant rainy, tornado-y, and weirdly warm. Nothing like our winters of the past two years which managed to produce enough snow to provide us with some delightful snow days. Not that us teachers like snow days. Oh no! We just spend the whole day missing the our front of the t.v. ...with a tub of ice cream...catching up on Jersey Shore. Sigh.

But I digress. I'm here to share with you the mural that the artists at my school just finished! For which I can take little credit. I originally got the idea for a winter mural over at this website; the woven houses were seen on pinterest; and the ice skating figures was a lesson taught by my incredible student teacher. So, basically, I just did what I always do: watched my little artists work and be amazed by the results.
We hung the mural on Monday just knowing that it would bring us the luck of a snow day the weathermen had been predicting. No such luck. Next week we are creating Weatherman Voo Doo Dolls.
The bulk of the work was done by my wee little kindergarten friends. We studied van Gogh and his love of lines and texture. Using the cold colors and water color paint, we created our own night sky. The following art class, we chatted about texture and creating tints of color. They created the ground pieces by painting their colored construction paper white and using a textured comb on the white paint.
Er, is that green smoke coming out of that chimney?
My first grade buds helped by creating the little collaged houses for the background and the snow covered trees. This was no small task for these guys as cutting out small bits and pieces can be a bit tricky for the under-6 set. But just look at 'em! I'd totally live in that pink and yellow casa.
I love the little cat in the window...reminds me of my house! 'Cept the cat looking out my window has a 15 lbs weight advantage.
Second grade was about to begin their circle loom weaving unit. I thought it might be a good review for them to create these little woven houses. Because they had woven before, they were able to whiz right through it. This allowed them to have more time to work on their houses...and it proved to be a great pre-assessment for their circle loom weavings.
Our school has the best P.E. program around with two incredible teachers. These ladies are absolutely devoted to the health of our students. I have learned so much from them...I just cannot say enough good things about them!
This year, our students spent two weeks learning how to roller skate. The students had an absolute blast. I knew I wanted to get my fourth grade artists in the gym to sketch the skaters...I just didn't know how to make it happen. Thankfully, Lauren, my awesome student teacher, created a gesture drawing lesson. The kids spent one half hour class creating drawings of the skaters.
Tiger-striped skating pants? A girl after my own heart.
These drawings were then used as the starting point for their figure drawings. Students learned how to draw a figure in proportion and in action. Ice skater details were added to complete the look. Once the drawings were finished, they traced over their lines in skinny sharpie, added color and cut them out.
I loved watching the kids create gesture drawings. Many of them resembled the gesture drawings I created in college.
Lauren assembled the mural -- thank goodness. I have this terrible habit of starting a project and petering out when the work becomes unfun. And gluing the whole thing together seemed very overwhelming to me. But she dove right in and got it put together. For the ice, she used foil painted with a thin coat of white paint for a frosty, less reflective look.
This would be me on skates. All wobbly limbs and "woah-woah-wooooah!".
Two proud art teachers.
Our last contribution came from our third grade students. They have been studying Wassily Kandinsky with Lauren. They created the miniature concentric circles that you see along the sides of the mural.

FYI, I just checked the extended forecast. The weathermen are predicting thunderstorms and 50 degree temps. I am so looking forward to those Voo Doo Dolls!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

DIY: Glitter & Leopard Print

I have settled upon a new life mantra: All things are better covered in leopard print and pink glitter. It's true. I sprinkled some glitter on the dirty dishes in the sink and, for once, they sparkled! I'm heading to the bathroom with my gallon o' glitter next.
Well, hello there! If you are reading this here blog on Valentine's Day, I thank you! It means you are not unlike this girl. I love the decorations, the candy, the flowers (I hear people give flowers on this that true? Would you mind letting my husband know?) but I think the whole idea is kinda silly. We all know it's just a big fat hairy way for Hallmark to make a couple extra bucks. But I'll take any ole excuse to get tacky and girly, thank you very much.
You don't have to say it. I know what you're thinking: daaaaang does that girl have big feets! Yes, I do. Thanks for noticing. Jerk.
 I began with these shoes. I've had these thrifted Nine West shoes in my closet for a couple of years and, while I love the wing-tipped retro look, I could never seem to find a way to make them work. The weird silly-putty tan just never appealed to me. So in my closet they sat.
The idea for covering the shoe in fabric came from this fab website:
Until this weekend. I took a little trip to the craft store and picked up some hot pink glitter dust, an Exacto knife, Modge Podge (for whom I should totally be an endorser) and Aleene's Tacky Glue. I painted the glue on to the shoe and covered it in some leopard print from my stash.
Silly Putty Tan, goodbye. Me-Yeow, Leopard Print!
 After the glued dried, I used an Exacto knife to cut off the excess fabric. I was really nervous about this as I thought it might be tricky, but it was a piece of cake. To prevent the fabric from fraying, I used a little brush and scrubbed some matte Modge Podge along the edge of the fabric. The extra fabric along the top was trimmed down, folded under and Modge-Podged. See, I even verbified their product name. I should so totally be an endorser!
Not all glitter is created equally. You must use glitter dust for this. Now I feel just like Edward, sparkling in the sunlight...
 Next came the glitterization of the shoes. In a small throw-away dish, I mixed a small amount of glossy Modge Podge with a ton of glitter. I painted a thick coat of said concoction onto the shoes. Once that was dry, I sealed it again with another coat of Modge Podge.
What's better than glitter shoes? Why, glitter fishnets, of course!
 And my shoes were complete! When I was making them, I actually thought I should stop after just covering them in leopard print. "Show a little restraint for once, Cassie. For the sake of all things non-tacky and civilized." Ha! Thankfully that was just a fleeting thought. Me, civilized? I don't think so.
My completed Valentine's Day look.
After completing the shoes I realized I had no other plans for my Valentine's Day outfit. So yesterday, Lauren (the cute girl you see featured in the weekly outfit posts) and I went to Goodwill after school in search of Valentine's Day attire. She spotted this leopard print skirt. What luck! And then I started noticing a ton of leopard print and I said, "Oh...maybe this is too in style right now...?" I pride myself on being very out-of-style, you see. However, as soon as I said those words, I realized my silliness: I was shopping at the place where people sent their unwanted wares! Whew! No worries, I'm wearing the most unwanted of clothing. Perfect!
Oh those bangs. Some days they just look so Squiggy (of Lenny and Squiggy Laverne and Shirley fans know what I'm talking about). And that crooked collar/bib. Oui.
The collar is one I made based off of the same idea I used for this outfit post... 
I happened to have a bit of pink glitter leftover from my shoes. So I cut out some cardboard hearts, glittered them and glued them to a barrette. And, viola! Happy Valentine's Day all. Now, if you'll pardon me, hubs just walked in with a ton of chocolates and trashy magazines. Oh, forget those flowers. This man knows me too well!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

DIY: You're Such a (Soda) Jerk!

I went and did something I promised myself I wouldn't do. I painted this here Valentine's Day canvas. I knew it would take me forever and that I'd just barely finish it in time to enjoy it...and...yet... I managed to convince myself to do it anyway. Here's how the conversation between Delusional Cassie and Sane-ish Cassie went down:

D.C. : Aw, look at all of these cute vintage Valentine's that keep popping up on pinterest! I should so totally paint one for the house.

S.C. : Absolutely not. You take forever to paint anything. Besides, it's kinda cheesy. Aren't you like thirty-seven or something?

D.C. : It's not cheesy, it's cute! And I swear, it won't take me that long, I'll just sketch it out and block it in. Piece of cake for this, ahem, thirty-six year old.

S.C.: You say so, Crazy.
After perusing pinterest for the perfect vintage valentine, I found this one. I absolutely love the girl (the hair! the red bow shoes! the heart shirt!) and the fact that she's chillin' at a soda fountain...but the rest of it was kind of lacking. I mean, I had to read the bit about being a working girl a couple of times before I got it (did I mention there is a Slow Cassie as well?). She just seemed too lonely and sad for a Valentine.
So I started sketching out some ideas. Instead of a poor working girl, I wanted a man-eatin' go-getter. Hence the fishnets and box of chocolates. And I wanted the object of her affection to be some cute -n- clueless soda jerk.
So I did some google-image-searching and found a plethora of soda jerks. After I created a sketch that I was happy with, I decided to tint and texture my canvas. I mixed up a warm yellow ochre and slathered it onto the canvas. Once dry, I sketched out my scene in pencil and started blocking in the colors.
Sadly for this dude, his flesh is a little multi-colored. Too much time in the tanning booth will do that to you, I hear. By the time I noticed his flesh inconsistencies, I was too tired of working on the painting to care.
Once I had the colors blocked in, I started going detail crazy. I decided I wanted the counter top to have a formica pattern so I attempted to paint tiny boomerangs with a one-haired brush. They ended up looking like hearts...which I kind of liked. I just had to add the fishnets as they are my favorite thing to wear. And what's a diner without a checkerboard floor? All of the outlining and lettering was done with a black paintbrush pen.
I have a small collection of vintage Valentine's that I picked up from an etsy shop last month. One thing I noticed about them is that they all have a play on words. As I was plotting and planning, I came up with the "So-da one you love is me?" My only regret is that I don't actually have him making a soda but what looks to be an strawberry shake. Oh well, hopefully the idea for that and the "fountain" reference at the bottom is still clear.
One of my favorite discoveries while soda-jerk-searching online was rediscovering this Norman Rockwell painting. When I became interested in creating art in high school, I found these sweet images so repulsive. I was just entirely too cool for nostalgic Rockwell paintings. Now, having the love for all things vintage that I do, I just adore his work. Especially when I discovered a collection of photographs that he snapped to create his paintings.
This makes me smile. Great, isn't it?
Well, would ya look at that, Sane-ish Cassie? It's finished! And hung right at the foot of my stairs for me to admire...for the next two days. Oh well. It did take much longer than expected but it was pretty fun regardless. Happy Valentine's Day!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

What the Art Teacher Wore #5

Hands-On-Hips = Don't-Mess-With-Me Monday: You know you're getting a little heavy handed with the cat-eye eye-liner when one of your students says, "Are you wearing your King Tut makeup today?" (click here to see me as Tut: ) sweater and dress: thrifted; belt: gift from a friend; fishnets over mustard tights: Target; long-lost shoes: Sofft
Hey kids! It was a good week in Art Teacher Land. Weeks ago I lost a bag full of my favorite things: the shoes I'm wearing in the photo above, my gallon can of Big Sexy Hair hairspray and my makeup bag full of lipsticks. I'd given them up as gone-for-good when I just happened to be in our school's communal kitchen when what do I see? My bag o' stuff! I couldn't believe my luck...then I couldn't believe no one returned the bag to me. I mean, I know it didn't have my name on it or anything but who else in the school wears a honkin' size 10 in Funky Shoes, requires a jug of hairspray to maintain bumpit perfection and would have that many lipsticks?! Oh well. I'm just glad it's all back in the right hands. 

In other news, here's what Lauren and I wore this week. Check out her handmade belt and splatter paint shirt. Adorable! Enjoy your weekend, all.

Student Teacher Lauren perfecting her Hands-On-Hips look: she told me that she gets most of her cute clothes from Target. I love how she puts things together, don't you? Her color combos are very clever. Mint green and deep purple? Yes please and thank you!

Soldier of Love and Killer Boots Tuesday: And by killer, I mean they just about killed me. tights: Marshall's; boots: Buffalo Exchange; belt: made by me; dress: thrifted, altered by can read more about that alteration here:

Could-She-Get-Any-Cuter Tuesday: Not only is Lauren modeling an adorable dress on loan from her sis but she's also wearing lipstick she was gifted from a student! We were both given tubes of red lipstick this nice to have miniature stylists.

Evaluation Wednesday: My big day...I was being observed to make sure that I was actually educating children and not just letting them huff sharpies and roll around in finger paint. Thankfully the kids were their usual awesome selves and all went swimmingly. sweater: has the sweetest label inside that says "Made With Love by Ester"; dress: BCBG, a rare new-item purchase; tights: Target; shoes: John Fluevog

Look at that bow belt! Aren't you in love? Lauren whipped it up that morning with sweet little train fabric she thrifted in Holland. Gah!

Crayon Shoes Thursday: All week one of my kindergarteners asked me if I'd wear my crayon shoes on her art day. So I got all crayola-ified from head to toe only to have her say upon walking in, "No, I said I wanted you to wear your pencil shoes!" shirt and sweater: Gap and Ann Taylor, thrifted; skirt: etsy; tights: Target; shoes and crayon hair clip: made by me

Look at that shirt! Lauren made it the night before using the secondary colors so that it would aid in the color lesson she's doing with the third graders. Genius.

It's Friday, Let's do an Irish jig: When all else fails, just pose like The Lord of the Dance. dress and belt: made by me with the help of a very good friend, blogged about a couple of years ago here:; red fishnets over blue tights: Target; shoes; Dolls by Nina

Lauren can rock a pencil shirt. She said she snagged this one at Target. And her shirt was made by her boyfriend. Happy Friday from the Art Room!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

In the Art Room: Walk Like an Egyptian

The Land of the Dead: A collection of my third grade art students sarcophagi (sarcophaguses?) laid out to dry. The kids dubbed this area of the floor The Tomb.
Last week most of my third grade students finished their Egyptian sarcophagus. We had a lot of fun with this looong project and I thought I'd share it with you. It began way back at the beginning of the school year. I remember it like it was yesterday...
Don't mess with Tut. I can't decide if I look mean or just constipated. Either one is unpleasant enough, I suppose.
I spent the first week of school dressed as King Tutankhamun (aka Tut). As King Tut, or Mrs. Tut as the kids referred to me, I introduced all of my classes to Ancient Egypt. During this introductory lesson, my third grade students learned how to write their name in hieroglyphics and create a cartouche. If you look closely at the bottom of their sarcophagus, you'll see their rendition.

After that, we got a little side tracked with other projects: a field trip to the local art museum to see an Egyptian exhibit; a school-wide t-shirt tie-dying project; and a fall leaf-relief project. With those out of the way, we were ready to return to Egypt.

When I was in 8th grade, I had art for the first time. My art teacher showed me how to draw nostrils in a way I've never forgotten: like the handle bars of a bicycle. I demonstrated many different ways to draw a nose and this student looks like he went the handle bar route.

We began with a self-portrait drawing. After a chat about portraiture, we looked at some recognizable portraits (the Mona Lisa and American Gothic) and compared them to the paintings found on the Egyptian sarcophagus. Then we proceeded to begin our own Egyptian self-portrait.

Each student was given a copy of the head above. The copy was on a clipboard and the students placed a blank paper over it. After a discussion about head shape, we traced the shape of the head onto our paper. That's right, you heard me, we traced. Scandalous, I know. We also used the dotted line as a guide in understanding the placement of our features. We used mirrors to capture our own likeness.
After looking at many Egyptian examples, students were given the opportunity to add a nemes (that's the cloth headdress), a beard (even Egyptian Queens wore them during ceremonies) and a collar necklace.
The following art classes were used to trace over our pencil lines in Sharpie and add color with colored pencils and metallic oil pastels. We had a chat about how the Ancient Egyptians created paintings that were very two-dimensional. However, we were going to learn a bit about shading and creating a drawing that was three-dimensional.

Understanding the concept of shading is a pretty advanced skill. I introduced it to the kids anyway because I don't like assuming they cannot do something. I demonstrated by choosing a flesh tone and shading my forehead and bridge of my nose in a light value forming a letter T. I then used a dark value around the outside of the head creating a letter U. That dark value was gradually lightened as I colored toward the center of the face. The sides of the nose were shaded a dark value like two capital I's. When the students got confused about shading, I could remind them by saying, "Light T; dark U; two dark I's". This seemed to help.

A very clever student and her wadjet eyes.
From there, details of the students' liking were added to their face and headdress. Metallic oil pastels were used on the headdress. Once complete, students were ready to cut out their sarcophagus.

For the sarcophagus, students were given a 3' (maybe a pinch longer) piece of butcher paper. They folded that paper in half lengthwise and placed half of a sarcophagus template on top which they traced and cut out. From there, the kids glued down their heads and their cartouche. Then the fun of planning their sarcophagus began.
This student paid a great interest to patterning detail. I love her designs.
With a piece of vine charcoal, students drew hands, crook and flail and, if they wanted, Isis, the winged goddess. Then I asked them to divide break up the space of their sarcophagus with a series of lines. Once completed, students took their sarcopha-guys to the floor and painted over their charcoaled lines in black paint.

In hindsight, painting on the floor should have been done with some sort of floor cloth. I owe my custodial friends some chocolate for that mistake.
In between the lines the students painted, they were asked to add patterns in black paint. Once the black paint patterns were complete, I broke out the jars of metallic paint which proved to be a big hit.
Not all metallic paint is created equally. We used Liquid Metal by Sargent sold through the Sax catalog. It was expensive but cheaper than spending money on junky (and often odorific) craft store metallics.

Like I've said before, I only see my kids for half an hour. Some day it was a real struggle giving directions, passing back the work, getting out supplies and then turning to the clock to see YIKES! TWELVE MINUTES TO WORK! But we managed to get them finished. And, seeing them all displayed in the halls, make the kids and I see that our looong project was well worth it.