Monday, November 2, 2015

In the Art Room: Candy Contour Drawings

So, if y'all were to ask my third and fourth graders what they totally dig in art class this year, they'd prolly say sketching time. We created sketchbooks at the start of the year and, most art classes, we have a 10 minute-ish sketching prompt before moving on to the lesson at hand. So far, I've tied the prompts into what we are preparing to embark on (self-portraits were drawn before a formal intro; jungle scenes were sketched before learning about Rousseau; haunted houses were drawn because, helllloooo, haunted houses are cool. It's been a great pre-assessment tool). Usually the sketches have been from the student's imaginations. This time, I thought I'd introduce 'em to the world of observational drawing and it was super fun. ESPECIALLY because it involved drawing candy...and then devouring it.
An artist or a work of art is usually included in our drawing prompts. This time I introduced the kids to contemporary local artist Diane Davich Craig. I was introduced to Diane through Nashville Arts Magazine and have the awesome opportunity to field questions from the kids and send them her way. One of her photorealistic pieces were focused on was this one titled Shake, Splash, Sprinkle and Squirt. The kids were in awe of her ability to paint so realistically and had some great questions for Diane. I can't wait to share her responses with the kids! 

After that, I told the kids that they too were going to try their hand at drawing a realistic still life. This freaked a few out a bit. "But I can't draw like that!" I told 'em not to worry, it's just a sketch! And I had some tips and tricks for them. You can see them in this short clip. This is the same process I demonstrated to the kids. 
At the grocery, I scooped up the biggest bags of gluten free candy I could find. The kids were allowed to get one clean sheet of paper and two pieces of candy for their still life. Because our messy mats are, erm, messy, the still life was to be arranged on the clean paper. We chatted about what would make a good composition and an interesting arrangement to both draw and view.
Once the kids spent some time arranging their still life, they set to sketching. Many of them used the finger tracing technique I shared and with great success. I was thrilled with their results and so were they!
In 10 minutes, the kids managed to compose their still life, sketch and shade if they had time. They were told that when the 10 minute timer went off, they could eat one candy and come to the floor for the start of our lesson. However, when the timer went off, most of my classes asked for a couple more minutes to keep working...can you believe that?! Sacrificing candy time?! That's some dedication, y'all!
 I can't wait for the kids to tackle a still life drawing project. I think they will have much more confidence now. I also love how sketching time gets them over the fear of the blank page. When I was a kid I had several sketchbooks that I would draw and erase constantly for fear that I'd "mess up" my book with an imperfect drawing. I like how sketching time gets the kids beyond this fear. 
Although I dunno if any still life after this one will top the Candy Contour Drawing still life!
What tips and tricks to you share with your students when teaching drawing? There are so many styles of drawing and means of teaching it. It's so important to find what works will for the kids...which is hard to do! Just like with anything, we are all different learners and come to the art room with a different skill set and ability. It's most important to make each artist feel successful and at ease. 
I just hope we have enough pages in our sketchbook for all of our awesome drawings!
What sketchbook prompts have y'all had success with? I'd love to hear! 
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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

DIY: El Dia de los Muertos Calaveras

Hey, cats and kittens! I hope this Tuesday night finds you somewhere snuggled under a cozy blanket. It's been rainy and chilly for the last coupla days here and I'm just about over it. At school, the combo of Halloween week, full moon and rain-induced recess-less days has been a trifecta of cray. Did I mention that I've been giving the kids candy to draw as their sketchbook prompt? Yeah, crazy breeds crazy 'round here. 
At school, my kids are neck deep in self-portrait town. However, I did wanna introduce them to el Dia de los Muertos this week so I have been showing this super sweet and short clip to my younger students. 
And if you aren't into cartoon-land, this short clip is also a great intro to Day of the Dead. A couple of weeks ago, I had a buncha artsy buddies over to mi casa to create some Day of the Dead inspired pieces.
Doncha just love 'em? Did I mention that most o' my artsy friends are also art teacherin' types? Yeah, they got mad skillz.
To set the mood, I found some great party decor at Target and in my personal stash. Did I mention that I love hosting craft nights because decorating is so stinkin fun? It also means that I clean the house which is a highly rare occurrence. Just ask the hubs. 
For this craft, we used aluminum foil and Sculpey. In my Sculpey stash, I have tons of white. It's always the last color I use when I purchase the Sculpey packs so this worked out perfectly for our craft night! 
The inspo for this craft came from my new friend Janet. We met at The Frist when I taught my needle felting class. She was wearing this fab necklace and, when I asked, she told me her hubs had created it. Just last week, I received one from her in the mail. Thank you, Janet and Wayne! I love my necklace. 
The necklace is surprisingly lightweight and Janet told me that the reason is that the armature is made of foil! So on craft night, we all sculpted one from a gently wadded piece of foil. 
Using glass jars, we flattened the Sculpey. In my art room, in a pinch, I simply used one of our supply cups. 
Then wrap that bad boy around your foil and, viola! You've got the start of your calavera!
I used my thumbs to create eye sockets and then the rest is up to you! 
My art teacherin' buddy Sara showed us how to roll a coil of clay, flatten it and then roll that into a spiral to create a rose. Those worked out beautifully in our designs. 
 With our clay scraps, we created these marbled dishes with the golden edges. This is a craft from my fave blog that I'd been meaning to try for a while. They turned out beautifully! 
The possibilities of what could be down with these are endless: add a magnet to the back, a pin, use it as a necklace or, my fave idea, frame it in a miniature picture frame and put on display!
No matter what, happy creating! 
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Thursday, October 22, 2015

In the Art Room: Self Portrait Mural Inspired by Todd Parr, Part 1

Hey, y'all! I just had to share with you a project that we are about half way through: A big ole self-portrait mural inspired by the artist and author Todd Parr! It's a school-wide effort but currently only my kindergarten through 2nd grade students are finished. Once my 3rd and 4th grade kiddos complete their self-portraits, I'll add them to the mural and be sure to share the finished product with y'all. 
This unit of study has not only involved creating a colorful self-portrait but also color theory and collage. But I'm getting ahead of myself! Let's talk about the inspo: It's Okay to be Different. Do y'all have this book? It's a super short and colorful read that's perfect for the art room. What better place to emphasize our differences and celebrate them than art class, right?! It's a happy read with a  great underlining meaning that the kids really love. 
And I really love the crazy and colorful result! To walk you through the entire process, lemme tell you how we started. With kindergarten and first grade, that meant this color-mixing lesson and a reading of the book Mouse Paint. 
Kindergarten created these in one class: read the book, did some drawing together and boom! Mixed up some secondaries. I created a more thorough blog post here. A video of the steps is below.
My first and second graders earned a party for their awesomeness and we used our color mixing skills to ice our cookies!
If you'd like to know more about this, you can watch this short clippie: 
Once we'd become paint mixing masters, we created these painted papers! The papers had been pre-folded by yours truly, first in half and then a 4" fold across the bottom. This created two squares and two rectangles on the paper. The kids were instructed to use their knowledge to paint three shapes in the secondary colors and in the last shape, they could paint any color they liked. 
 I loved the colorful result! I need this as some wallpaper, stat!
Now, in this NEW video, I'll walk you through our collage portrait making process. I throw a TON of ideas at the kids and let them pick and choose and, of course, come up with their own! I feel like the more ideas you give them, the more confident they will feel that they can make any of their wild and crazy ideas come true. 
Because I see my younger students for 30 minutes, they spent two days collaging and on their final day they outlined in black paint. In the video, I am using brush painting supplies to help the students keep their "paintbrush ballerina" on her tippy toes. 
 Each portrait was different and, of course, that was okay! 

Y'all better believe I love that crayon hair clip. I wonder where she got that idea...?!
What's cuter than a side pony? Nothing, y'all. Absolutely nothing.
 For my kindergarten and first grade kiddos, I took a different route. After cluing down the head and ears, these kids created their facial features in black paint. 
 I love the variety that they add to the self portrait mural. Cool glasses, bruh. 
Love how this kindergartener created his spiked hair and glasses, so cute!
And there you have it! I can't wait to see what my third and fourth graders come up with to add to the mural. After this mural, we are on to creating realistic selfies as well. 

What are some of your fave self portrait lessons? If you need some ideas, I shared some here...but I'd love to hear some more! Lemme know below, y'all! 
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Tuesday, October 20, 2015

In the Art Room: Beautiful Oops and Barney Saltzberg Visit!

So today a magical surprise happened in the art room: Barney Saltzberg, author of Beautiful Oops dropped by! 

Okay, pick yourself up off the floor and lemme tell you how this amazement went down. 
So this book is every art teacher's dream. It focuses on working through your "mistakes", or oops as Barney calls them, and turning them into something beautiful. This is how creative ideas are born! Isn't this what we art teacherin' types try to teach our young artists everyday? 
So all y'all can only image what a thrill it was to have Barney himself not only read Beautiful Oops to the kids but also talk to them about his creative process. When writing the book, he didn't start with a plan, so to speak, but he created each "oops" illustration and then worked from there. What a perfect method for such a book, don't you think? He shared with us that after illustrating this page, he went into his son's bedroom and saw that he had drawn a similar penguin to the one his son had created! It was so cool to hear his ideas behind each page. 
One of my fave stories he shared was how Amazon stopped shipping his book soon after it was released (don't worry, they've since resumed). Apparently a ton of folks were returning the book because one of the pages is torn and Barney makes an oops out of it. Guess some folk were a lil unclear on the concept and thought they'd received a damaged book!
Y'all might be wondering just how a girl and her students got so lucky. Well, I have Mark Meckel, the dude on the right, to thank for that. You see, last year, my then third grade kids had the opportunity to visit a recording studio and record the song It's a Beautiful Oops. 
Working with Mark and our music teacher, my students learned the lyrics of the song and recorded it in Nashville. 
But the icing on the cake for me was chatting with Barney via Skype that day. So you can only imagine how thrilled I was that he popped by today! Fortunately, when Barney dropped by today, he visited with a fourth grade class, the same group of kids who had sang It's a Beautiful Oops! 
After reading the book, Barney used one of our messy paint mats and created a crazy elephant head sculpture out of it (he named it Elepantish, ha!). Then I passed out the kids sketchbooks and told them to close their eyes and draw a piece of scrap paper from our painted paper box. They were to create something from that oops. I gave them free reign to sculpt, collage, draw, etc. They were thrilled! We spent our last 15 minutes other just oopsing it up!
It was an awesome day, one me and my students are sure not to forget. Thank you, Barney, Mark and Tom! 
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