Wednesday, May 15, 2013

In the Art Room: Cats and Dogs

This sculpture just makes me wanna say, "Aw, who's a good boy?! Are you a good boy? Oh, yes you are!" in my most annoying talking-to-doggies voice.
Hi there. Remember me? I'm that blogger that used to post a weekly DIY. That was before the school-wide art show ate my life. Thankfully, almost everything is hung up and on display and ready for the big day tomorrow. And, since I'm blabbering about the art show (of which I will most definitely snap endless photos and share them here), I'd like to give a super huge cyber hug to all the amazing moms that help out in the art room. Seriously. They've hung 5 pieces of art for each of my 400 students. I don't like math, but I'm no dummy. I know that's a whole lotta artwork.
This is like one of those super cute kitties that the moment you turn your back on them they hiss at you, claw your legs and hack up a hairball in your purse. When you turn back around...all you see is this creepily sweet face. Shivers.
Since my life has been swallowed by art-showy-ness, I thought I'd give you a sneak peak at my fourth graders clay projects. You might remember from this post that my students have created dog and cat sculptures this year. This was apart of our art service project as donations will be collected on the night of the art show for these sculptures and the proceeds will be going to Happy Tales Humane.
Your typical dog and cat: Dog does goofy stuff. Cat looks on in disgust.
In years past, my students have participated in Empty Bowls, a wonderful using-art-to-give-back opportunity. I'm trying to instill in these little art students of mine just how powerful and helpful their work can be.
Someone please play fetch with this sweet little pup.
Now each one of my grade levels did a different version of an animal sculpture and I've gotta admit, I liked these the best. Each of my fourth grade students had such great ideas that it really was exciting to watch and teach. I just taught them the basics and they went from there. If you are interested, here's what I showed 'em:
  • To begin, chose a texture for your base. I've got a wide assortment of doilies, burlap and textured surfaces for them to use. Fabric works best for this as it won't stick to the clay. 
  • Position your grapefruit-sized piece of clay on your texture. Using the bottom of your fist, pound the clay into the texture until it has a thickness of a cookie.
  • Peal your clay from your texture and prepare to be amazed. Move your texture off of your surface and cut out a shape for your base. To save time, I give my students several base shapes to chose from: circles, rounded squares and a floral kind of shape.
  • With the excess clay, roll out four legs. I tell the kids these should be as long as their finger but twice as thick. Because my classes are a half an hour long, this is usually where we stop for the day. The clay is wrapped in a damp paper towel and placed inside a ziplock back with the child's name on the front.
  • The following art class, the students create a body with a thick piece of clay. The legs are attached by using a little water and some scrubbing with a toothbrush.
  • To make the face, I tell the kids to sink both of their thumbs into an oval shaped piece of clay. This becomes the eye sockets.
  • The mouth is created with a skewer stick wiggled into the clay horizontally.
  • The nose is pulled upward away from the clay.

  • Eyes are rolled from two spheres and pupils are given with the back of the skewer stick. Here's my rough and dirty example. I've found that by making my example far from perfect, it removes they "I could never do that!" idea. 
  • Now, like I said, that's the basics. What I really wanted to emphasize to the kids is that they are unique artists so their work should reflect that. I wanted them to really explore all sorts of different ideas. So that they could make their ideas come to life, I told them that anything can be created out of clay by using three things: spheres, slabs and coils. I asked them to give me some ideas on what they'd like to make so see if  my theory was true. They told me: frisbee? Sure, a slab. A dog bone? A coil. A sombrero (yes, there's a dog with a sombrero and a mustache)? Let's see, a slab and a sphere. Coil for the 'stache.
I love the windblown ears.

This beagle was created to look just like the artists own. I love the cat on the right. Notice the palette and paint brush in her tiny paws.

The texture on this dog is awesome but my favorite part are the crossed paws.
This student meticulously glazed the rug on which her cat sits...and it's stunning. I love all of the depth and texture in her piece.
Isn't this how every cat sees himself? Royalty. Or a royal pain. You decide.
When it came time for glazing, these kids were so invested in their masterpiece that they spent an entire hour glazing. I love the effect of Mayco's Stroke and Coat. But mostly I just love these creations. I cannot wait to see their parents reaction tomorrow night at the art show. Until I recover from that, enjoy the rest of your week!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

What the Art Teacher Wore #65

Hubs and I bright and early at the Eiffel Tower. We thought we were so clever by getting there early to "beat the crowds". Yeah, it's the world's most famous monument. There is no crowd-beating.
 And just when you thought I couldn't possibly share any more Parisian vacation photos, I load up some more. I'd apologize but this city is just too amazing not to share. I've also got a smattering of Germany photos as well...but I'll save that for a future update. For now, let's focus on La Tour Eiffel.
I'd read in my travel book that some of the best views of the tower are across the river Seine from the Jardins du Trocadero (that's be Trocadero Gardens to you). Turns out that every tourist on the planet owns a copy of said book as we encountered each and every one snapping away. But really, who could blame 'em?  I mean, even naked statues gotta stop and stare.

 By the way, since this is kind of a "what I wore" post: scarf: Target; sweater: made by me, DIY here; bird blouse: Old Navy; velvet pants: Anthropologie; boots: The Walking Company. We managed to get a couple of photos that didn't have a tourist or twenty in the view. It was actually fun watching them taking photos as they did all sorts of cheesy things like pretending to touch the top of the tower or holding it between their hands. I thought I was so above all that until hubs snapped this photo of me...
 If I told you that this was completely unintentional, would you believe me? Seriously! I had turned my head to do some lipstick-on-my-teeth clearing when hubs snapped this shot. So it turns out I'm just as cheesy as the next tourist. As if that wasn't obvious.
 Nothing can describe the awesomeness that is this tower. Nor can anything describe the insane amount of people there. Thankfully, I'd done a little homework and found that the line to climb the 669 steps to the second level, where one could purchase a ticket to the top, was significantly shorter than the two hour long straight-to-the-top elevator line. The trick was finding the correct line. If it's one thing I noticed about Paris, it's that they don't make anything easy. After asking a half dozen other confused tourists (bad idea, by the way), we found our way to the correct ticket booth and huffed it to the second level. Walking the steps of the Eiffel Tower was very exhilarating for me.
Aw jeez. I can't even look at this photo without feeling a little light headed. After we purchased our tickets to the top and crammed ourselves inside the glass elevator with two dozen strangers, hubs and I both realized we have a fear of two things: heights and small spaces. "Then what are we doing?!" I asked. Hubs said, "I thought you wanted to!" This is the view of the Parc du Champ de Mars. And the view of all the tour buses that visit the tower daily.

And this would be the place where we took those photos seen at the start of this post. We didn't stay at the top too long. For one, I swear I could feel the tower sway in the wind (this is unlikely as the thing is pretty doggone sound. It only moves 9 centimeters max). And I found this constant announcement unsettling: "Ladies and Gentleman, pickpockets are active in the tower. Please guard your belongings. Thank you for your vigilance." Yikes!
 Once back on solid ground, we toured the Parc du Champ de Mars. Everything was blooming so beautifully.

After the tower, I wanted to explore the Latin Quarter (called such because the students of a local university spoke Latin until the Revolution). Just moments after getting off the metro, I was thrilled to see this famous cafe. Sadly, their vegetarian menu was limited so we dined at another cafe just down the Boulevard Saint Germain.
After lunch, I wanted to explore those famous booksellers that my tour book bragged on and on about. I did enjoy strolling this area and even picked up a French fashion magazine from 1937 for just 4 euro.

Have you heard of the Paris love locks? It's this thing were lovers can show their undying love with a lock inscribed with their names. This is a view from the Pont des Arts. That bridge in the distance is Pont Neuf, which means New Bridge. Which is kinda funny since it's the oldest surviving bridge in Paris, having been completed in 1607.
The following day, I wanted to explore Montmartre. This area is the one made famous by artists such as Toulouse Lautrec, the above joint being his fave hangout. But before all those artists descended upon Montmartre, it was an area of mills and vineyards. Currently, there are only a few of the original "moulins" or mills still standing. And this one is still a cabaret.

We took a self-guided walking tour of the area which lead us to the apartment of Vincent van Gogh and the villa for homeless artists that once housed Renoir. I loved this area for it's steep roads and amazing views of Sacre-Coeur, the Church of the Sacred Heart. Since we had to leave our kitty at home, I wore her around Paris (which was met by more than a few odd glances). Crazy cat lady sweater diy here.
Sacre-Coeur sits on a hill above the city. So the views are killer. Just ask any one of the bajillion tourists. The church was built as a memorial to the 58,000 French soldiers killed during the Franco-Prussian war (thank you, tour book). I was a little wore out from all of my waiting in lines at the Eiffel Tower to do the lines to venture inside. Maybe on my next trip.
 What I really wanted to see where the artists at place du Tertre. In fact, before we even made it there, the caricature artists were walking the streets, looking for subjects to draw. One gentleman came up to hubs and said, "Ah! You look like van Gogh! Let me draw your picture." Needless to say, my van Gogh declined.
Holy French Fry, can we just pause for a moment and talk about The Sweets in Paris?! I've never had better. And, if you know me personally, than you know I know my sweets. I've got a little reputation for partaking in dessert first. However, neither I nor my sweet-toothed hubs were prepared for the amazing delights we sampled. My favorite were the macaroons. His was the freshly made raspberry waffle. Or was it the scoops of gelato atop a freshly made waffle? Or the chocolate croissants? Dude, I'm drooling.
I think my favorite part of our trip was this part of town called Marais. A girlfriend had told me that it was a less touristy area full of cafes and boutiques. Walking around here, I actually felt like I was a Parisian. Minus the unchic cat sweater and my hillbilly French. I do believe we sampled every treat and I dove into every boutique this area had to offer. When we found this sweet cat eying us from his spot on the window sill, we couldn't help take a picture (okay, 15 pictures) of the little dude.
Usually we rent a car where ever we go. Which, in Germany, meant a sweet BMW. However, after reading that the Parisians were some of the world's worst drivers, we opted to take the metro. And it really wasn't too hard. Which was good because sometimes help was hard to find. I'm just gonna come on out and say it: I didn't find the majority of Parisians we encountered to be particularly friendly. But, to be fair, I've not always been treated warmly in NYC either. Or any city for that matter. Regardless, we got around without incident and that was nothing short of a miracle for this directionally challenged gal.
On our last evening in Paris, this was the last photo taken: La Defense. It was the most amazing trip to the most incredible city. I've got a huge list of things I want to do next time...but I have a feeling that might be a while. Until then, au revoir, Paris! Je t'aime!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

What the Art Teacher Wore #65

Monday in Paris: Just moments after landing, we mastered the metro and made our way to the Arc de Triomphe. This here is me on the verge of a complete "oh my gah!" meltdown. coat and velvet pants: Anthro; dotted scarf: Target; boots: The Walking Company
Well, bonjour, kids! I do believe, after passing out last night at 7:30pm, that I am finally over jet lag and ready to tackle this mountain of Parisian Photos. I took so stinkin' many (erm, 1067 to be exact) that I just want to share them all...but don't worry, I'll spare you a few. And, since I'll be sharing so many, I've decided to break this post up into bit sized bits. So stay tuned for 587 photos of La Tour Eiffel. Au revoir!
When we landed, we found the weather to be perfect. Little did we know that it could be as moody as the Parisians themselves. Soon after these gorgeous photos were snapped, rain clouds rolled in, did their sprinkling business and rolled out. Frankly, I coulda cared less. I was in Paris! Standing in front of the very monument I'd taught the kids about at the beginning of the year.
I never realized just how large the arc was until standing right in front of it. I was completely blown away by it's size and beauty. Hubs and I paid a handful of euro to take the tiny spiral staircase to the top. An American dude in front of us asked to take the elevator to which the French ticket-taker replied, "Why? Are you pregnant? No! You are healthy! Take the stairs!" Love it.

Will you think me a complete sap if I say I got a little teary upon this view? Even looking at this photo, I cannot believe I was actually there. Such an amazing sight to see. I loved using the binoculars to see the ant-sized people at the top of the tower.
So did you know that there are actually three arcs? The Arc de Triomphe is in the middle while the one in the photo above is the most modern arc called La Defense. All three arcs are connected along the same street.
To get to the arc, one cannot simply cross the road. Because the arc sits in the center of a roundabout with twelve roads radiating away from it (hence the name etoilee or star), one would surely be creamed by one of the five lanes of insane traffic. So you gotta take this underground walkway to get to the arc. Once at the top, watching the Parisians drive without incident is nothing short of a miracle.
From the arc, hubs and I walked down the Avenue des Champ-Elysees and the Avenue Montaigne which is home to the Christian Dior boutique among many drool-worthy others. Then we walked down to this stunner of a bridge, Pont Alexandre III.
More What I Wore Monday: I know, me in pants is a rare sight. But knowing that temps could be as low as 40 degrees, I wanted to be comfy and warm. The day before we flew out, I found these velveteen pants at Anthro (originally $99 and picked up for $9!) and scooped up a maroon and a navy. pants and top: Anthro; sweater: DIY; boots: The Walking Company
So this city is just full of the most amazing statues. I think on the first couple days, I most have photographed each and every one. By the third day, I was sadly statued out.
After bridge crossing, we stumbled upon the Tuileries Gardens and...
The last arc of the day, the Arc de Triomphe Carousel.
The gateway to this ole place, the Lourve. By that time, jet lag had hit us both like a ton of stale croissants so we said au revoir and went in search of our hotel and much needed sleep.
Tuesday found us in better shape and ready to take on Notre Dame, Saint Chapelle and Disneyland Paris. I loved that the subway to Notre Dame stopped off at this lovely flower market.
Oh, Notre Dame. Built about a thousand years ago? I hope I look this good when I'm that old. When chatting about this church with my students, I explained to them that it took 170 years to build. This was met with, "people lived to be 170 years old back then?!" They found it fascinating that people who worked on this church didn't live long enough to see it's completion. Imagine that in our instant-gratification society.
 My neck still hurts from all that lookin' upwards, mouth agape.
After Notre Dame and a tour through Saint Chapelle, we took the metro out to Disneyland Paris. Which I'd like to dub "Bizarro Disneyland". It was so close to being like Disneyland California...but not. While I enjoyed it, I gotta tell ya, I like our homegrown version best.
 Although their castle was pretty sweet.
When the rain came, hubs went all haute couture and fashioned this hat out of his souvenir bag. Tres chic!
 I know...I've only gotten through two days worth of photos! I'm sorry, I hope this isn't absolute torture. But I just loved this vacation so much, I feel like I need to share every last bit of it. So stay tuned!

Monday, May 6, 2013

In the Art Room: Royal First Graders

 Well hello there, your majesties! Long time, no bloggie'ness. I know you might have been expecting some Parisian photo-heavy post but, to be honest, I'm kinda overwhelmed by just the thought of downloading all two million of the photos that I snapped. And that was of the Eiffel Tower alone! So you're gonna have to wait for the European Vacation Slide Show and check out these amazing first grade self portraits. Cuz they're royally awesome, dude.
 This project involved many mini-lessons as most of my projects do. I just can't seem to do a weaving project or a lesson on symmetry. No, it's gotta be a self-portrait-drawing-, symmetrical-crown-making-, textured-paper-weaving-, analogous-color-mixing-, and pattern-designing- kind of montage.
 Wanna attempt a project that involves that many steps? You sure you can handle this kind of party? Cuz it ain't for the short attention-spanded. But if you and your little friends are up for the challenge, here's how we went about mastering these pieces:
  • Week 1: As you may recall, as it's mentioned every blog post, I only hang out with my wee artist friends 30 minutes, twice a week. So I'm going to break this down by week. Now this lesson was apart of our unit on the United Kingdom. After a chat about their monarchy and a close look at several paintings of royalty of the past, the kids were introduced to the idea that they'd be portraying themselves as kings and queens. This was met with the usual squeals of delight that one only hears when teaching the littles. To start, we used 8 1/2" X 11" sheets of paper, traced a head shape in pencil, added a neck and ears and proceeded to paint using colors that matched our own skin tone. Once those dried, we used oil pastels to create out likeness. That's after a pretty extensive how-to-draw-a-self-portrait chat, of course.
  •  Week 2: Once the oil pastel self-portraits were completed, they were cut out of the small sheet of paper and glued onto a clean sheet of 12" X 18". Once glued down, the kids used mirrors to check out their 'do and painted hair onto their self-portraits. For the boys, hair painting, as we called it, took all of two seconds. But for the ladies, well, let's just say we enjoyed the beauty salon time. During the second half of our weekly art lesson, we used metallic paint to paint and add texture to small 6' X 9' pieces of colorful construction paper.
  • Week 3: With our fancy paper, we created a loom for weaving. To do this, I have the kids fold the paper in half and fold a small crease at the top open edge. We have a mini-math lesson that involves cutting the paper almost in half, making sure to stop at that top crease. We then proceed to cut the paper almost in fourths and then eighths. Once the paper is unfolded, it creates a loom. The following art class was spent weaving on our looms.
  •  Week 4: Crown making! This proved to be a bit hit with the kids...and it also helped me empty out some contents of my storage closet. After cutting out their preferred crown shape (the kids were given three different crown shapes to trace from), they added foamy shapes to create their design. They were informed that they only had two rules to follow: the crowns had to be symmetrical by shape and they could not stack more than three shapes on top of each other. Once complete, crowns were spray painted gold and more foamy shapes could be added on top.
  •  Week 5: We began the process of putting it all together. Crowns were glued atop heads. Weavings were glued under chins. Sleeves were added with rectangles of paper embellished with metallic oil pastels. Fancy collars were coffee filters folded in half with the center circle cut out. And necklaces were created with construction paper and metallic doilies found in my storage closet.
  •  Week 6: Finally, we began to approach light at the end of the tunnel. The kids were given water soluble oil pastels. They were asked to use two analogous colors and create lines that radiated from their self portrait. The following day, water was painted over their line drawings and their masterpieces were complete. Finally.

 I don't know if you noticed, but some of the kids took liberties with the coffee filters, creating fancy sleeves. And some of the ladies added earrings with the metallic doilies. Who am I to deny royalty of their magnificence?
I do believe the kids fave part of this project is when I passed their work back. I called on the kids as "Your Royal Highness" and "His/Her Majesty" to which they always giggled, curtsied or bowed. And who can blame them? After all this hard work, they are most definitely Kings and Queens of the art room.