Saturday, January 2, 2016

DIY: 15 Favorites of 2015

So I totes wasn't gonna do one of those look-back blog posts as I've done in the past (2012, 2013, 2014) because, I dunno, I had it in my silly lil teased -n- hairspray'ed head that nothing mucho grande had happened in 2015. Until I got all sentimental last night, ventured back in time on el bloggo and discovered that all sorts of shiz went Downtown Julie Brown. And, thusly, I created this super self-indulgent 15 Faves of 2015 for your reading pleasurement. Enjoy and HAPPY NEW YEAR! May it be your very best year yet! 
1. I got to interview Tim Gunn! So I didn't necessarily put this list in favorites order, however, I will say that spending an hour on the phone with the One and Only Tim Gunn was truly a magical experience and my numero uno fave thing of 2015. Special thanks to SchoolArts Magazine for arranging the interview. You can read the 'view in it's unedited entirety here
2. I turned the Big 4-0! Honestly, turning 40 was much easier on me than turning 39. And, let's face it, I don't look a day over 36 so it's all good. I was surprised to find this greeting me on the first day of my forties...
Along with a wheel chair, black balloons and streamers. It took me a while to figure out just who dunnit (turns out my senility has already set in) but it was my buddy Officer Graham, the super duper SRO officer at my school. It truly made my day. 
3. The kids created collaboratives to beautify the school! I've really been riding the School Wide Collaborative train for some time now and I love it (you can read a big fat blog post about SWC's or "schollabs" as I call them here). One creation which was completed this year was out Johnson Elementary has Heart mural with a wee heart created by each child in the school. It proudly hangs in our front office! 
Another schollab was our Village of Kindness installation piece which was home to a town of houses where each door opened to reveal a positive message on the inside. 
My second grade students also worked together to create an installation piece of butterflies! We created these on ceiling tiles and they now flutter down the halls of our school. 
My first graders learned about Henri Rousseau at the start of the school year and created this jungle-y mural that now hangs from floor to ceiling outside of my art room. Which just helps all who enter know: It's a Jungle in Here! 
And, lastly, several grade levels worked to create this backdrop for our winter music program! What I love about this big ole piece is now that the program is over, it hangs in the hallway to brighten up these short cold days. 

4. Barney Saltzberg, author of Beautiful Oops, visited my art room! Y'all. This truly was a surprise and a treat. I'd been chatting with my friend Mark Meckel about Barney visiting my room when he was in town. Y'all might remember that my students had the chance to sing and record the song It's a Beautiful Oops in Mark's studio last year. So it was super fun to have him come, create art and read his book to the kids!
Then they all made beautiful oops-y artwork with him! It was such wonderful memory I'll never forget!
5. I was named elementary teacher of the year for my district and the mid-state region. It's super awesome to be recognized by the teachers who you work with and admire everyday. It's even more awesome when your district recognizes your hard work and names you elementary teacher of the year for the district! And then the paperwork begins. I made it through several rounds (and endless edits) and was just a stage away from the final nine before they found out I was a total hack and cut me from the lot. C'est la vie, y'all! 
6. I stitched 16 art teacherin' ensembles! Okay, it was actually a couple more than that but these 16 fit so nicely together I just went with that number. I did have 8 snow/sew days thrown in there which meant endless days of just me, pj's, coffee and my sewing machine. I am sad that I drifted away from my goal of sewing up a dress inspired by a masterpiece every month (in this collection, I only see the Mondrian and two Monet dresses) so I hereby resolve to get back to that! From left to right: Scribble Scrabble Dress, The Artsy Sew Along Skirt, The IKEA Fabric Portrait Dress; The Mondrian Dress
The Colored Pencil Dress, The Stroke of Genius Dress, The I'm-a-Pencil! Dress, The Marker-Tastic Art Teacherin' Dress
The Anna Maria Horner Circle Skirt; The Standard-ized Dress-ting,   The Dress that will Leave You in Stitches, The Pencil Print and Peter Pan Collar Dress
The Palette Dress and Purse, The Shower Curtain Circle Skirt, Summery Monet Dress, A Waterlilies Dress
 7. I attended NAEA in New Orleans! First of all, New Orleans is just so stinkin' fun. I'd never been before and to be there with a bunch of other art teacherin' types was just about the best thing every. It's the one time of year I get to see some of my fave art teachers from far away like Laura of Painted Paper and Nic of Mini Matisse
I had the chance to present a handful of times on such topics as blogging, needle-felting, publishing and my crazy art teacherin' ways. My favorite part, aside from catching up with friends, was attending workshops and learning from some seriously awesome art educators. 
 8. The kids helped a family in need! Teaching compassion has fallen by the wayside in our classrooms and I can only blame that on the over-testing of our students and over-stressing of our teachers. I try to do some sort of give-back art project each year. When my students were talking about an apartment fire that effected one of our families, I knew we could do something to help. 
So my third and fourth grade students created Houses to Help that we sold to the teachers in the lounge! It was a huge hit, helped out and taught my students the power of art. 
9. I taught classes at The Frist Center for Visual Arts! One of my fave places in all of Nashville-land is The Frist. I love taking classes there and, of course, taking in the fab-o exhibits. When I got the opportunity to lead a couple of classes there this summer and fall, I jumped at the chance!
I taught a workshop both for art teachers and artsy folk. Both were all about needle felting...and in one workshop we made needle felted postcards that we sent to loved ones! It was so much fun hanging out with (and learning from) so many creatively minded folk. 
10. I spent a week of my summer with Laura Lohmann of Painted Paper! If y'all have been around this blog long enough, then you know I spend a week of my summer attending THE BEST professional development around: Tennessee Arts Academy! This summer my buddy Laura was one of the instructors and we had the biggest fun!
You can check out all of the exciting and fun art-room-friendly projects we created here
 11. I did a coupla with the heartbreakers from AOE Live! Oh, this was a fun one -- my time in the AOE Live pod cast spotlight with Tim and Andrew! We had a great time talking about passion and, of course, fashion. I kept good on my promise to make the two dudes bedazzled ties (okay, it was supposed to be khakis but I ain't got enough bedazzles for that!). You can catch all the AOE Live podcasts here, y'all!
Buh-ling, y'all. 
The other podcast I did was with Heidi Easley, artist and teacher behind this blog! It was so fun chatting with her about staying creative while creatively teaching creativity. BOOM. I just conjugated "create" three times. Take that, Shakespeare. 
12. With the help of many parent volunteers, our school celebrated another year of awesome art making at our annual art show! I'm just gonna say it: there would be NO art show without my fabulous parent volunteers! AND my crazy mama who drives the long 7 hour drive each year to help out and be there for moral support (thank you, mom!). I wrote my top 10 art show tips here
 13. The kids created clay masterpieces! The kids really churned out a ton of clay projects this year but, sadly, I didn't do the best job blogging about it (or snapping photos, what?!). However, I did chat about this kindergarten bird project here
First grade fish and sea sculpture project here
And these third grade flower sculptures here
 14. I took several artsy/craftsy classes and loved it! If I'm not teaching a class then I wanna be taking a class. I love taking classes at The Frist and this hat making workshop was easily my favorite
Our instructor, Mark Sloniker is incredibly talented, creative and patient. 
Another awesome class I took at The Frist with some of my fave artsy friends was this printmaking class lead by the genius minds behind Sawtooth Print Shop
I made these tiki head prints and now I'm dying to host a tiki party so I can use these bad boys as my invites. Who's in?
My other fave class-taking destination? Craft South. I took this simple top making class with my buddy Bethany and we had so much fun. Being self-taught, I love to take sewing classes so I can undo all of my bad habits and learn me some new ones! I've now made several versions of this wee top, it's that easy! 
15. I spent time hiking, traveling and watching Downton Abbey with this dude and loving it! We've done our share of hitting the road this year but probably our favorite was our annual trip to the Smokies for Christmas. On this trip, we discovered this abandoned resort town that I cannot wait to show you photos from, it is beyond crazy/awesome/creepy! 

Welp, I guess that just about wraps up 2015 for me! What was your fave memory? AND what are you most excited about for 2016? I have some seriously exciting things in the works that I can't wait to share with you! Until then...
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