Monday, February 10, 2014

In the Art Room: Creating a Narrative with Fourth Grade

Have you ever done one of those projects where you just knew it was gonna be quick -n- easy, everyone was gonna be successful -n- happy, finish at exactly the same time -n- be ready to move on to that Next Big Thing?

Yeah, me neither.

Take this "quick -n- easy" figure drawing experience. 

My fourth grade created gesture drawings of their classmates roller skating in P.E. The intent was for them to use those drawings as inspiration for a figure drawing of an ice skater. That ice skater will eventually be added to a school-wide mural (I'll keep ya posted).
Sounds easy enough, right? 

Wrong, dudes. Wrong.

Have you ever taught figure drawing to the under-10 set? It's, like, seriously tough, ya'll.
This artist told me her figure is diving for a starfish.
AND it took them For-Eve-Errr. Like three separate thirty minute classes. If you're good at math you know that's an hour and a half, people! Granted, their results were pretty rad and they were pleased as punch with themselves. However, I wasn't about to let their drawings just get glued to some mural. So I made enlarged photocopies of each drawing, passed 'em back to the kids along with their chalk stars and asked them to create a narrative using the two.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's go back to that gesture drawing bit.
Gesture Drawing: If you've not tried this with your kids, you really outta give it a go. My students loved it. We spent about 5ish minutes in the art room chatting about gesture drawings just being quick and simple sketches that are meant to capture movement. I demonstrated a quick drawing of a student running in place. We all agreed my drawing looked terrible by normal standards...but had I captured movement? Yep. We also had a quick chat about how we were visitors to the P.E. room and we were to work quietly and stay outta the way of the skaters. Then we gathered up clipboards, newsprint, charcoal sticks (which they loved) and cloth erasers and spent about 15 minutes drawing as many skaters as we could.

I love their finished results. They are all so different in their style. I really love how so many of them look like Keith Haring people...which gave me all sorts of ideas for future projects.
Gesture drawing was all fun and games until we returned to art class the following day. I told the kids that we were going to be creating ice skaters for a school-wide mural. With their gesture drawings in hand, the kids were to pick their favorite, use a wooden mannequin to model the same pose and draw from there. Which worked for some. Others were still stumped. For those kids, we regrouped and I broke it down a little more: turn your stick man into a thick man by adding lines on either side of the stick drawing.
The drawing on the right shows someone who made their "stick man into a thick man" while the artist on the right used a mannequin. We struggled with proportions and just how the body works...but in the end, I was pleased if their peeps simply showed some sort of movement. And had a head.
From there the kids were to add clothing to their figures and trace with a thin sharpie. It was at this point that I decided to make enlarged photocopies of their drawings...I just knew we'd come up with another project for them.
So, after coloring and cutting out both of their people (small original and enlarged photocopy), I challenged the kids to create a narrative collage.

And they were like: A-Whah-Huh?
So I busted out some Marc Chagall and we talked about how artists often tell stories with their art. We chatted about Chagall's work and some stories that might be behind them. Then I told 'em that they were to create a narrative tale with two subjects: their figure drawing and their chalk star.

At our supply gathering area, I laid out tons of painted, marbled and sparkly papers along with boxes of scraps. I told the kids that they were to come up with a story that they had to present to me before they glued it down. I did this because I really wanted them to cut out shapes, move their papers around and really think about their story instead of just cutting and pasting.
After presenting their idea to me, we'd talk about whether or not their collage really told their story or not. For some, that meant adding a background to set the scene. Often, they were sent back to their seats to continue working on the visual details of their story. There was some grumbling and some "but it's finished!" to which I usually replied "Nah. Make it even more awesome."

Once finished, I asked the students to write up an artist statement to accompany their piece. We talked about how an artist statement could either reveal the entire story behind the work...but how most artists like the viewer to create their own tale.
Which you'll see most of these artists liked the idea of...

(Inside scoop: I was told that this dude is "emo", hence the hair stylin's.)

When I was snapping photos for this post, I came across this funny artist statement by the artist of this collage...
Um, looney toones?! Ha!

Have ya'll taught figure drawing before? Do you have a sure-fire method? I know if I teach this again there will be some mucho tweaking. So I'd love your input. 

Thanks, ya'll!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

What the Art Teacher Wore #89

2-Hour Delay Monday: I dunno about you, but I HATE me some school delays. I get it, the buses need time to warm up, the two specks of snow on the ground need to melt (remember, I live in Tennessee, snow is like our kryptonite here), whatevers. But I'm seriously more off-kilter and wacked-out on these days than normal. I needed a good POP! to get me going. sweater, skirt, tights: Target, they might still have the sweater on their sale rack, got mine for $12!; shoes: Dolls by Nina
So, if I might whine and carry on like a big baby for a minute (because I'm super good at it), this week has pretty much been One Fat Hairy Pain in the Patootie. Lemme give you the run down: we discovered a mystery leak in the kitchen that's causing our floor boards to buckle. So we've had two roofers and three plumbers out to investigate. Of course, the roofers say, "it's the plumbing!" and the plumbers say, "it's the roof!". There was more finger pointing going on than in a kindergarten class. So we threw bunches of money at 'em and our fingers are crossed that everything has been properly patched, caulked, installed and screwed. Insert your inappropriate comments here.

Just when we thought the drama was over, the downstairs heat decided to up and die. Yes, seriously. I've been wearing two pairs of fleece pajamas, three socks, a hat and fingerless gloves since Saturday. I'd snap an outfit photo for you but my camera is frozen. Sorry.

And just when my feel-sorry-for-myself-itis (side effects may include an annoying blog post and hairy legs) was in full swing, I get the news that my blog received...

Wait. WHAT?! 

Seriously, you guys. I was just so thrilled and honored to be nominated, I truly didn't expect to place within the top ten. I mean, did ya'll see who the nominees were? I read and gain so much from each of those art teachers! Please bookmark these blogs and spend some time perusing them. You won't regret it.

Also...I'd like to say thank you very much to those of you that nominated this blog and voted for it. It's meant so much to me, you guys! Especially after this leaky and heatless week!

Now, if you're new to this blog because The Art of Education brought you here, lemme tell you what happens here: weekly, I'll share a peak into my art room either with an art lesson or some other craziness; I'll post some creation of mine (hint: it's usually some tacky ensemble I've crafted); and I'll share what I've worn during the week which is what this post is all about. This week I decided to include my drawings from our One Drawing a Day book club adventure (go here and here to find out more and join the fun, kids!) and some fun-ness goin' down in the art room. If you are new, I'd love to hear from you! Feel free to shoot me an email or leave a message in the comments. Thanks, ya'll!
Drawing #1: A Still Life in Pen. Now, just cuz we are 7 days in to the book One Drawing a Day doesn't mean you can't join any ole time! In fact, don't tell the others, I'm behind by two days, whoops! Hoping to catch up this evening. But, really, the whole purpose of reading this book together is to get us all drawing and creating again. As art teachers, we have a bad habit of neglecting our own creativity. No more, I say!
Again, these tables. Suggestions on how to clean 'em really really well? They are whipped down daily by me and the kids...and still, this. And don't tell me Magic Eraser because I need a Super Magic Eraser to take care of this. In other news, look at that awesome Chinese calligraphy! Years ago I got a grant that paid for grinding stones, ink sticks and bamboo brushes. On this day, the kids were introduced to grinding the ink, properly holding the brush and writing in Chinese...all in our short 30 minutes of art. I love how this student really went to town.

School-Teachery Tuesday: I've been getting these lovely eye infections so I decided to give my balls a rest this week (that'd be EYEballs, ya perv). It's interesting all the (positive and negative) comments you receive from the little people when you suddenly appear in glasses. I also noticed that my wee friends in glasses were especially excited by the fact that I wear glasses too. sweater: Urban Outfitters, last year; dress: vintage; tights: dunno; shoes and pencil hair clip: DIY, go here

Last week, I shared with you the beginning stages of a 2nd grade painting project. This week we painted cherry blossoms on our practice sheet before painting them on our watercolor paper. The added bonus of having a practice sheet is that it's just as lovely as the finished product! P.S. don't you just love that little pinky up?!
Drawing #2: Organic Still Life in Calligraphy Pen. I keep noticing that when I'm drawing, I am either holding my breath or tensed up. I'm such a finicky artist that I'm hoping these exercises allow me to loosen up a bit.
"No Offense But You Don't Match, Mrs. Stephens" Wednesday: "I mean, you have orange on your legs and your shoes are two different colors," pointed out one well-meaning 4th grade boy. "She also never wears PANTS!" shouted one 4th grade girl from across the room. And my classroom management plan proceeded to fly out the window. sweater: Forever 21; dress and tights: Target; shoes and palette hair clip: made by me, shoe DIY here

I decided to try out something new in my art room this week that was suggest at the AOE Conference by Art Blog of the Year Finalist Art Teachers Hate Glitter. Instead of giving the kids "free draw" paper when they finish early (when, in my 30 minutes of art class, that usually means they have less than 5 minutes of free draw time), allow them to draw on dry erase boards. Holy cow, ya'll! This is genius! They absolutely love it and there's no wasted paper in my recycle bin. I found these dry erase boards at Walmart for about $2 each.
Day #3: Draw Someone with a Bamboo Pen. No bamboo pen on hand but I did have a feather quill. I much more comfortable drawing myself than hubs or the cat. I sit still much longer than they ever would.
My Favorite Colors Thursday: The inside of my dream airstream trailer will be covered in salmon pink and turquoise with a pop of coral and leopard print. dotted blouse: Old Navy; sweater and hair bows: Forever 21; dress: vintage; tights: Target; scarf: gift from a student

I started teaching an afternoon sewing class to 4th graders with a couple sewing buddies of mine. We have about 17 kids in the class and they are currently learning how to embroider and cross stitch. I'm excited to see them finish their name and sew on some buttons this week before we bust out the sewing machines and turn these into pillows!
Drawing #4: Use a Charcoal Stick to Draw a Still Life. No charcoal stick on hand but I did have a charcoal pencil. Not gonna lie, I loved working on this drawing of junk from my sewing room.
Drawing Day #5: Draw a Person Using a Variety of Values of Ink Washes. This was me on a Friday off from school so I could entertain the the roofers and plumbers that dropped by. As you can see from the drawing, I wasn't the happiest of hostesses.

Friday, February 7, 2014

In the Art Room: Winter Collage Landscapes by Kindergarten

Alright, to those of you in the Midwest, this looks awfully familiar, amirite?! I have buddies in Indiana whose children have missed so many days due to snow that they'll be in school until the end of June. THE END OF JUNE, PEOPLE! Meanwhile, in Tennessee, we've not had one single snow day. Like not even a speck o' snow. So it's a good thing my friends in kindergarten-land created these masterpieces as it seems this is the only snow we're gonna get.
Now, lemme give you the run down on my schedule with kindergarten. I see them for 45 minutes at a time every 6 days. And on that day, I have three classes of 'em back-to-back-to-Ima-bout-to-lose-my-mind-back. This project took us three of those art classes. Here's what each of those days looked like in brief:

Day #1: We looked at Vincent van Gogh's The Starry Night. We chatted about the time of day he portrayed, what season it might be, how the elements of a landscape are background, middleground and foreground and the back story of the painting. In kinder-friendly terms. Then I asked them what his painting might look like if it were winter? From there, each kiddo was given a 9" X 12" piece of white paper and a paint brush. They were to paint any kind of line near the middle of their paper with turquoise for the background. This was then mixed with white to create a snowy tint. They continued to paint down their paper with a line for middle and foreground. Once those were on the drying rack, we met again on the floor to read a book about van Gogh.
Day #2: I showed up wearing my Starry Night Light Up dress! This got a lot of cheers (and even an applause when I turned the lights on) from my wee friends. This time, we shifted our focus from the elements of a landscape to the sky van Gogh portrayed. We discussed how he loved to use bold lines and shape in his work to convey movement. We talked about how we can create our skies anyway we like...but sometimes it's okay to be inspired by other artists. After all, van Gogh was inspired by Japanese prints! Students were instructed to pick a sky color from an assortment of blues, black and violets. From there, they cut their land from their white paper, glued it to their chosen background paper and created their sky with oil pastels. I encouraged the little artists to practice sketching their moon and stars on the back before tackling the front.

Day #3: On this final day, we covered so freakin' much. Because the students would be using shapes to construct their houses, I did a little pre-assessment at the door. As the students entered, I showed them a colored-in shape. They were to tell me the name of the shape and color. This proved to be a wake-up call to me. Some of them didn't know their simple shapes! Review to do!

Once we were seated on the floor, we did a vocabulary review with a technique I learned a long time ago from my amazing Aunt Kimmy. She's a teacher and when I was a kid, she taught us something called the Number Game (was that what it was called, Kimmy?). I changed it up a bit...and I call it The Clap and Slap. For this, we review vocabulary, read vocabulary and count the syllables in our vocabulary words. It goes like this:

Sitting criss-cross (applesauce, because, after all, this is kindergarten), gently tap your legs twice, clap your hands twice and alternate snapping your fingers. Those alternating snaps will be used to count the syllables in the vocabulary words. For example, we slapped, clapped and snapped out the syllables of: land(snap)-scape(snap), back(snap)-ground(snap), middle(snap)-ground(snap), fore(snap)-ground(snap). After each clap/slap/snap, the children were to hold up the number of syllables we just counted with their fingers. We did this with all our vocabulary: Vincent van Gogh, The Starry Night, collage, scissors, paper, glue, square, rectangle, triangle.
With the review behind us, I introduced the kids to bit of math with their house collages. On their tables were tin trays filled with leftover painted paper scraps (ooooh, pretty! Thanks for the idea, Painted Paper!) I had cut the papers into three different sized squares: 3" X 3", 2" X 2" and 1" X 1". I held up a square and we chatted about how many sides it had, how many angles, etc...and then I asked, how could I turn this into a house? The first response was that it needed a roof. I had them tell me all the ways I could create a roof and then I presented them with this: I want to make a triangle roof but I only want to cut my square one time. Who can I do that?
One genius always guesses: by cutting it from one corner to the other! And, viola! I have a square cut in half! And a roof for me and a friend.

We did the same routine when cutting out a rectangle for our door. Some kids decided to use the other half of the rectangle for a chimney. Then I touched for just a moment on little details like door knobs or window panes...or anything else they came up with. 

Once the details of house making were discussed, we talked a bit about the placement of our houses. What sizes will the ones in the foreground be? How would that compare to the houses in the middle and back ground? The kids quickly picked up on the idea of creating houses in varying sizes. I asked them to create at least three houses in any size they liked.
"All of my houses are teeny tiny because they are in the far away background!" Making houses THAT small takes skill, people! I love this mini-villlage in the distance!
A whole lotta foreground houses.
When I asked this artist why there was a tiny house in the foreground, she said, "That's not a tiny house, that's the DOG'S house!"  Silly me.
I love everything about this whimsical piece, especially that hill and the big starry sky.
AND NOW FOR ONE LAST ANNOYING ATTEMPT AT SHAMELESS SELF-PROMOTION: I'm so thrilled to be nominated for Art Ed Blog of the Year...and I'd be super honored to have your vote. But you don't have to JUST vote for me, you can vote for multiple art blogs. If you've not checked out the line-up, there are some incredible blogs on the list! If you'd consider a vote for mine, I'd be just so super happy. 


 Visit here to check out those blogs and cast your vote.
Thanks, kids! Chat with you soon!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

DIY: Broken Bowl Wall Pocket

You know, every now and then I make a super feeble attempt to shake my hoarder-habit ways. I start going through stuff, making piles upon piles of junk to either recycle, donate or "gift" to some unfortunate soul. In the middle of one said attempt some weeks ago, I went downstairs to grab a drink (of water, people. Although liquor definitely woulda been prefered) when hubs presented me with a broken bowl and a half broken cup.

Hubs: Here. I thought you might want these.

Me: Um. They're broken. Trash 'em.

Hubs: But you could make something out of them. They are broken clean in half. 

(me, taking dishes and walking over to the trash can.)

Hubs: I know you aren't going to throw those away. 

Me (with dishes poised above trash can): I KNOW! I can't seem to let them go (frantically shaking hands holding dishes over can). Argh! I can't throw away anything. What am I going to do with these?

Hubs: Eh, just glue them to a board or something and hang it up.

And, weeks later,  that's exactly what I did.
I found these wooden boards in my spare-bedroom/craft-storage/extra-clothing-space/ hoarder room. What, one of these rooms didn't come with your house? I originally picked 'em up at Hobby Lobby but I've since forgotten what I intended to do with 'em. Turns out, they were just waiting to become wall pockets.
(Big Hairy) BUT...before we get to all that, let's chat about these papers I used to cover my wall pocket boards. Without sounding too much like a bragasaurus, aren't they just the purtiest thing ev-er? Gee, thanks, I made them. I learned a technique where you can make oodles of collage paper with a super cheap supply: Deli Paper.
Back in November, I attended my state's art educator's conference. I took a two day collage workshop with just the coolest lady*. She showed us how to make that mountain of paper and use it for collage projects. However, I got so involved in the painted/printed paper process that I never did use mine to collage which left them available for this here wall pocket project. 

So just how did we create these amazing papers? I'll tell ya. We began with the supplies you see above. The white container is gesso. We mixed dullish/neutral colors with a touch of gesso. This allowed the paint to better adhere to the deli wax paper (which you can find at those Mega-Giant-Buy-the-World's-Largest-Jar-of-Peanut-Butter Stores that you have to be a member of. Which I'm not. I mean, why do I need a jar of peanut butter that big?! Oh yeah. Because peanut butter is the butter of the gods. Delish. Off to make a pb'n'j. Back in a minute).
Okay, I'm back. A dull color was used in the background so that you could build up layers of color and patterns with brighter and lighter colors.
The instructor used a foam roller to quickly cover sheet after sheet of the papers.
The paper had this cool iridescent look to it.
Once those papers were painted, we immediately started playing with the instructor's huge assortment of carved stamps. The deli papers dried so fast that you could print and over print right away.
Or stencil! The entire process was so relaxing and fun. Because we created tons of papers, you never worried about messing any of them up. It was all about experimenting which I loved. I'm looking forward to giving this a go in my art room.
After laying out my mountain of papers, I chose three that I thought would work for my wall pockets. I painted the edge of the boards to match a color on the paper, flipped the board over, traced and cut it out.
I then slathered Mod Podge all over the back of the paper, placed it on the board, smoothed out all the tiny air bubbles and then gave the paper a top coat of  the Podge.
Then I proceeded to adhere the cup and bowls to the wooden base with E600, aka The World's Smelliest Glue. Seriously, ya'll. That stuff smells like someone downed a Rubber Cement/Spray Paint cocktail and then farted up a storm. I huffed it for an hour. I should know (jk, I totally don't condone the act of huffing. Especially this stuff.)
And, done!

The prettiest, albeit the stinkiest, wall pockets ev-errr, ya'll.
 And now...where do I hang 'em?! I'm dying to put them in the kitchen...but I can't seem to justify hanging them there. Which I kinda have to do in my house because there's this dude who lives here that is constantly wincing when I hang stuff up. He's got Cracker-Barrel-Phobia. He just knows that I'm only a random-rake-hanging-on-the-wall breath away from over-decorating the crap outta our house. Bathroom for holding the necklaces I currently have strewn all over the vanity? Use 'em for mini-flower pots and hang 'em anywhere?

By the way, they are currently in the garage as that aforementioned Rubber Cement/Spray Paint Fart Smell has yet to go away. I'll keep ya posted on where they land up. Until then, whatcha suggest?

ALSO! If you enjoyed reading this ridiculous post (and honestly, how could you not?) please consider voting for this here blog for Art Ed Blog of the Year. Go here, por favor, and cast your vote!

* Sorry, her name escapes me and the link I had to the conference is now broken. Does anyone who attended happen to know the instructor's name? I'd love to give her credit.