Thursday, April 19, 2012

In the Artroom: Full Moon Rising

Every year my school hosts an end of the year art show. Throughout the year, I hoard all of the masterpieces the kids create. A couple of weeks before the art show, my Army of Amazing Moms start to mount, sort and organize. Once completed, each teacher is given the mountain of masterpieces for their class. They recruit their room moms who then hang all the works of art.

I teach 420 kids. Each of them makes roughly 5 works of art.

That's 2100 pieces of artwork that fill the hall's walls of our school.

And it freaks me out every year...will I be able to get everything ready in time? What about those absent kids who need to finish? And where on earth did I put that class' paintings?!
As I was making a feeble attempt to organize for the show, I stumbled upon these beauties created by my genius fourth grade students. They painted these masterpieces at the beginning of the school year and I'd completely forgotten about how amazing they were. It was a great lesson for the start of the school year as it allowed me to introduce the elements of art and a couple of the Big Name artists.
So I thought I'd share it with you!
For this lesson, we used the following:
  • charcoal sticks
  • large rectangular sheets of paper
  • black tempra paint
  • naked crayons (our name for crayons sans paper)
  • Crayola watercolor paints with the addition of turquoise and magenta
  • watercolor brushes
  • color diffusing paper in leaf shapes
Here's how we went about creating:
  1. We started the year learning about Leonardo da Vinci. Using charcoal sticks (because Leo would have used 'em!) and the element of art of line, we drew a tree branch from observation. 
  2. From there, we drew a circle for the moon anywhere on our painting and painted over our charcoal lines with black tempra paint.
  3. Next, we chatted about Leo's love of nature and did some leaf rubbing. This introduced organic shapes, texture and color. 
  4. Finally we were ready to paint. First warm colors were introduced with the leaf painting.
  5. For the background, we used the cool colors and a variety of values.
  6. During this time, Vincent van Gogh and his love of line, texture and movement were introduced. I'm sure you can see his influence in some of the paintings.
I love the variety of lines this artist used on her tree branch.

Just like any lesson, you've always got the Early Finishers and the Pokey Little Puppies. I myself fall under the PLP category, so I don't like to rush the kids. For my early finishers, they were given the format of a cinquain poem and told to use their artwork as the inspiration.

There are a couple of different ways to go about a cinquain poem. We wrote ours like this:

Line 1: A noun
Line 2: Two adjectives
Line 3: Three -ing words
Line 4: A phrase
Line 5: Repeat Line 1

The kids wrote their poems onto these leaves with a sharpie. These leaves are made from what's called a color-diffusing paper. After writing their poem, the kids used warm color water based markers to color their leaves. Then they simply painted their leaves with water and viola! A beautiful poem-y leaf to accompany their masterpiece.
Because of the dark sky in this painting, the artist used white to paint their tree branch to make it more visible.

I love how this branch seems to hug the moon!
And there you have it! A great addition to our art show. When it all finally comes together, I'll be certain to share photos of the show with you. Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

DIY: The Rock Star Apron

Dude, am I in tune? Oh, wait, I'm the lead guitarist. I don't have to be for the ladies to love me.
So I was recently asked how I managed to keep my clothes clean in the art room. Firstly, lemme just say that I have a very loose interpretation of clean. As long as you don't get too close to me, I always look relatively presentable. But, just like a specimen under the microscope, up close and personal, it's a whole 'nother dirty, dingy paint-splatterly story.
Hey, man, can we turn down the bass? And the drums? And maybe the vocals? No one can hear my sweet riffs.
Secondly, what I've failed to show you in my outfit posts is that I wear an apron daily. I've been wearing aprons since my first year teaching when one of my sweet hands-covered-in-paint kindergarten friends decided to give me a hug...and left two paw prints on my tooshie.

But I grew tired of the traditional kitchen apron so, several years ago, I made this one. That's right, this is an oldie. But just like Classic Rock, it's yet to go outta style. Says me, anyway.
Wanna make a Rockin' Apron? Just get your groupies to collect the following:
  • Pair of old jeans (I thirfted these little girl my rock star fantasy, I got the hips like Jaggar)
  • 1/2 yard of felt for the guitar
  • 1/4 yard of felt for the guitar
  • A heavy cotton fabric for the apron itself
  • Buttons for the guitar
  • Some sweet rockin' fabric for the shirt
Okay, I didn't go about this sewing project the traditional way. I was too busy at the School of Rock to pay attention in sewing class. So, this is a hot mess of an assembly. Just follow my lead, man.

Puttin' it all together:
  1. Lay your favorite apron on top of the background fabric and trace around it leaving a couple inches for the hem. Fold hem under and stitch around the entire apron.
  2. Using your funkiest fabric, create a shirt. Lay your apron over the shirt fabric, trace around leaving a couple of inches, fold under and sew this to the apron.
  3. Cut off the back of the jeans. Lay this on top of your apron but do not sew yet.
  4. Using a sheet of large thin paper, lay this over your apron and start sketching out your guitar. Once you have that sketch complete, cut it out.
  5. Lay this guitar sketch over your apron (which should still have the jeans on it). Trace where you plan to add the guitar onto the jeans and cut off this portion of the jeans. If you don't do this, you'll end up with a lumpy guitar. Chicks aren't into that. Pin jeans into place.
  6. Trace your guitar onto the felt and pin into place. Do the same with the neck and the white part of the guitar (I'm sure it has a name, but when I asked a guitarist, he didn't know it either). Use a zigzag stitch to attach.
  7. Add the strings with a zigzag. Sew on your buttons.
  8. Sew your jeans to the apron.
  9. Add straps for the neck and waist ties. I used an old belt to give it that guitar strap look.
I added a little flair to my jeans. Notice the paint splatter.

For being several years old, this apron has held up pretty well. I wash it occasionally on a super gentle cycle and allow it to air dry.
What does a lead guitarist use as birth control? His personality.
Well, man, I do hope you'll give this Rockin' Apron a go. It's super easy and very fun to wear. Though I do know what you're thinking...this apron needs more Cowbell.

Rock on, dude!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Weekend Adventure: An Identity Crisis

"May I please get my picture taken with you?," says me, attempting to bat my eyes. "Sure, but you gotta hold my musket," says dude in the white gloves trying to figure out what's wrong with my eyes.

Yesterday hubs and I decided to take a little adventure to what was supposed to be a Pioneer Festival. But then the Civil War reenactment dudes showed up. Who were followed by the vintage car show folk, the crafty booth people, the dip-your-hand-in-wax guy, the funnel cake carts and the I-have-a-donkey-if-you-want-a-ride dude. Basically it was a festival with an identity crisis. My favorite kind.
The festival was held at Cannonsburgh Village which is in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. It's a village which is supposed to represent 100 years of early Tennessee life from 1830 to 1930. On the property there is a gristmill, a school house, a caboose, a wedding chapel, a doctor's office, you get the idea. The above was the general store.
The best part about the festival was that all of the buildings on the property were open. Inside of one home I was able to see the bedrooms, closets and wedding dress worn by the former owner. The tour guides were two young girls who looked like they'd just walked off the set of Little House on the Prairie. They eloquently explained all of the details of the home and it's former occupants.
The doctor's office...if I were a patient, one look at that frightening array of torture-inducing instruments would suddenly have me feeling MUCH better.

These bottles were on display in the doc's office. They look just like the bottles that Mitch (that would be hubs) and I found when we stumbled upon a vintage landfill on one of our off-trial hikes. You better believe I loaded up my backpack with old Coca Cola and 7-up bottles.
The only pioneers at the Pioneer Festival.
Excuse me, I have a question...does one actually have to become a Hillbilly Clogger in order to obtain the petticoat-astic dress and tap shoes? If so, sign me up.
These dudes kill me. They make it look so stinkin' easy.
I was so excited to see this old loom as my third and fourth graders are weaving right now. I told them the story of the giant loom I wove on in college in my terrible textile class...and how I accidentally cut a warping thread...and didn't fix it...and got a C in the class for it. But I digress. This Loom! They will love it.
The Wedding Chapel.
Snapping creepy photos in the bedroom of one of the colonial homes. I swear the giant black moles growing on my neck and Mitch's left eye are marks on the mirror.
And that concludes our adventure at the Pioneer/Civil War/Craft Fair/Food Cart/Clogging/Face Painting/and Henna-Anywhere-On-Your-Body Festival. Next time a festival of this kind is in your neck of the woods, I highly recommend you drop by.

Friday, April 13, 2012

What the Art Teacher Wore #12

Welcome Back, Monday: sweater: ancient thrifted find; dress: anthopologie; belt: made by me; tights: Target: shoes: Urban Outfitters flats made into Mary Janes  with leopard print fabric by me...they didn't want to stay on my feets otherwise.

Well, hello! Long time, no weekly outfit post. I dunno if you noticed but I kinda went on a weekly-outfit-post hiatus during my Spring Break. Mostly cuz I didn't really think you'd be interested in the jammies-and-house-slippers-til-well-past-noon look. And if you were, well, you could simply drop by the local Walmarts (oh, too harsh?).
Can you believe these shoes? I went in search of flats and found these bad boys on the Urban Outfitters website. I was asked several time is they were some of my DIY shoes!
But this week, we returned. And I'm so glad because I missed those kids so much. Even if this happened...

Kid: Mrs. Stephens, what is that smell?
Me: I had beans for lunch.
Chorus of Kids: Eeeewwww.

(five minutes later)

Kid: Mrs. Stephens, can I have some more green paint?
Me: Sure. (half empty bottle of paint makes farty noise).
Kid Across the Room: (whispering) Ew, did you hear that? Must have been those beans. I feel sorry for the kids at that table.

I get no respect, I tell ya.
Tinga Tinga painting from Tanzania.   Don't you love this? Tinga Tinga is the name of artwork made in something called the Tinga Tinga Cooperative in Tanzania. The co-op was created by the family of a man named Edward Tingatinga who painted in this style back in the 1960's. Artists in the co-op today are strongly influenced by his style.


In other less gassy news, I really enjoyed matching my outfits with masterpieces as I did in this post, so I thought I'd give it another go. It's been a lot of fun as I would have never stumbled upon the artwork above otherwise. I do hope you enjoy...


And might I make a polite recommendation....


The next time you decide to enjoy some lovely beans for lunch, have it with a side of Bean-o. Just sayin.

Turquoise Tuesday: sweater: ebay; dress: vintage, thrifted; belt: made by me; sandals: Sseko sandals with straps made my me
Ordering Spring, Janet Fish, 1996
Flamenco Wednesday: sweater and fishnets: Target; dress: vintage, found in San Francisco; shoes: Indigo by Clarks; belt and flower clip: H&M
Erhem, don't ask.
I adore this the contemporary artist Daniel R. Gerhartz.
Chlorine Blue Thursday: dress: found for a couple of bucks at an antique store, eep! belt and flower: H&M; shoes: Indigo by Clarks
David Hockney, John St. Clair Swimming (from Twenty Photographic Pictures), 1972
Greetings, Friday! 'Bout time: dress and sweater: vintage, thrifted; belt: gift from a sweet friend; shoes: Frye, found at the discounted shoe shop Martie and Liz
Just realized this is another Daniel Gerhartz painting.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

In the Artroom: Monet's Waterlilies

Me: You painted both snails the same didn't want to use variety? Student: Well, it's a Mama Snail and a Baby Snail. No one will know that if they are different colors. Me: (mental head slap) You are a genius.
This week back to school has been so exciting! Everyday, I walk into my room, open the kiln and gasp at the awesome creations of my students. This week we've been glazing the clay projects completed before spring break and the students have been totally rockin' it. I thought I'd share with you this kid-approved lesson.
I was told that the Tooth Fairy likes to chill in Monet's Garden on her off nights.
We've been learning all about the artist Claude Monet and just finished completing our Mammoth Monet Mural before break. During that unit of study we also chatted extensively about ponds and waterlilies. The kids were thrilled when told they were going to create a clay waterlily of their own.
I shared the photos of Monet's Garden with the kids that I snapped while at the Moma in March. The best question yet, "Where did his mom get paper that was so big?"
A lovely lily close up.
Pac Man vs. Sponge Bob's Buddy Patrick.
 For this project, you'll need the flowing:
  • An Army of Amazing Moms
  • Tons of clay
  • A class set of clay mats
  • Skewers
  • Waterlily and Lily Pad templates
  • Mayco Wonderglaze
  • Toothbrushes
  • Cups of water
Okay, about that first thing on your list, I'm serious about that one. Let me tell you why: I have 1/2 hour art classes. Many teachers wouldn't even attempt this kind of crazy with such short classes. But with an Army of Amazing Moms, anything is possible. Now, I have The Best Moms in my room, but I'm sure you've got some pretty fabulous ones in your school just dying to help out. All you have to do is ask, it's really that simple.

This lesson is a version of one originally created by one of the most incredible art teachers I know, The Clay Lady. Not familiar with her? Watch her demos on youtube, she rocks.
 To create the waterlilies, the kids need to do the following:
  1. Pound out clay to Oreo thickness and trace a waterlily and lily pad as seen in top clay photo.
  2. Bend two points of the star upward (as shown above), over lap and smoosh clay together.
  3. Continue bending points of star upward, overlapping and smooshing until entire lily is complete. It should look like a closed flower.
  4. Use fingertips to gently bend flower pedals outward.
  5. Toothbrush the bottom of the lily and a place on the lily pad and attach.
This artist used the back of her brush to create "perfect dots" and stripes on her bumble bee.
After that, I explained to the kids that they could add one or two creations to their lily of their liking. I did a little snail and insect demo but they had much bigger ideas. "How do you make a hummingbird? The Toothfairy? A Tarantula?"
A frog chillin' at his pad.
I told them this...anything can be created out of clay with three things: a sphere, a slab and a coil. So, stop and think about what you want to create and decide which of those three things would be the best for the job. And, just look at this variety! They got it.
I was told that this is a one-eyed version of Sponge Bob's buddy Gary. Meow.
Now let's chat about glazing. This Stoke and Coat glaze by Mayco is where it's at. The colors are vibrant and the consistency is very fluid. I dole out the glaze in styrofoam egg cartons along with cups of water for brush cleaning.
A first grader created this hummingbird. I know, right?
 Before glazing, we have a nice loooong chat about my two rules:
  1. Do not glaze the bottom (it'll stick to the kiln).
  2. Do not layer different glaze colors.
Another hummingbird.
Because of the countless choices of colors, some kids go a little bonkers and just want to glaze their project to death. I give them free reign to add patterns like dots and stripes but I stick hard and fast to that no-overlapping-twenty-colors-on-your-piece rule.
And the end result? Nothing short of adorable, says me. And my new friend, Happy Buggy-Eyed Snail.

Thanks for dropping by!