Sunday, November 27, 2016

Field Trip! A Visit with Camilla Spadafino

For the second installment of my Field Trip! series, I was excited to sit down with the amazing artist and art teacher Camilla Spadafino. Long before I ever met Camilla, I had heard all about her: what a wonderfully kind and warm person she is and what an incredibly inspiring teacher. My best friend Mallory put it best: she's the kind of person who makes you feel good just being around her. So y'all can imagine that I was thrilled when she agreed to take part in our Field Trip! 
With this Field Trip! series, I want my time with the artist to feel natural. I also want the artist to feel comfortable so I have been letting them decide on the format. With Bebo, we watched him create one of his fun and funky sculptures. Being a teacher, Camilla suggested walking us through how she created the portraits for her Miss Camilla's Neighborhood Coloring Book
In the video, Camilla chats about what initially inspired her portraits. Since then, she's created over 100 portraits of friends and family in her east Nashville neighborhood. What I love about her process are the endless ways they can be used in our art rooms. 
While she was sharing her method, I got the idea that my Gallery of Gratitude project could be updated. Instead of the kids drawing the portraits, we could use Camilla's process, thus making the portraits more realistic and, if on canvas, more permanent. Also, the kids could interview the person to find out their interests and their dreams for the future. How fun would a wall of the faculty and staff of our schools be?! 
I learned so many new tips and tricks by hanging out with Camilla. I love how she talks about working quietly to let the art speak to her and finding magic in what she is creating. I also love when she chats about respecting art supplies. Doesn't she do a fabulous job including vocabulary? The perks of interviewing an art teacher.
I love what she had to say about using certain colors and how that is a form of branding. I had not thought of that! But what a wonderful way for the kids to think more carefully about the colors they use. 
Another idea I had came when Camilla was talking about her pet portraits. This year, my school is reaching out to the local animal shelter and working with them on several projects. I have been trying to come up with a way for my students to create portraits of the adoptable pets. With this method, I can drop by after school, snap photos and have the kids use these. I know they will LOVE this project. 
Having the kids create coloring books of the portraits would be a wonderful fundraiser as well. I'm telling you, when I walked outta Camilla's house, my head was spinning, I had so many ideas. She truly is magical.
 When Mitch came home from work that night, I was so excited to tell him about my experience with Camilla. Every sentence started with, "...and then..." 
Camilla also shared her latest project called Paint the Town by Numbers. I learned so much about the back story behind this new endeavor including how she dreamt up this project and is bringing it to fruition. I'll be certain to share that with you in a follow up blog post and video. She was even kind enough to give me one of her paint by number kits which I enjoyed on Thanksgiving, in between plates of food. 
What a wonderful time I had hanging out with Miss Camilla! I'll be certain to share my video'ed lessons to company my visit here. I often update my YouTube channel before I share here so subscribe to stay tuned! 
Special thanks and a warm hug to Camilla for being so open to an interview and being a lovely host. Have fun, y'all!
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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Art Teacherin' 101: Episode 24

Let's face it, we can't always be "on" for each and every kiddo and each and every art class. And that's okay. It's perfectly fine to every now and then be the World's Okayest Art Teacher.
The key is to realize that being an "okay" art teacher is only okay if it's temporary. You can only scoot by at level 3 for so long before you and the kids start to lose interest. That's when you gotta punch that art teacherin' energy level back up to a 10 (okay, let's be honest, a 8.25 will do).
In all seriousness, if you are feeling meh, try not to beat yourself up over it. Just the fact that you are aware of it means you care. If you are experiencing guilt-free meh, then, yeah, you might wanna hang up the apron and call it a day. I remember I used to come home and tell my husband that I felt like I wasn't doing my best, that I was doing a disservice to the art education of my students. He said that even on my worst days, what those kids are getting is better than no art at all. 
So on those days that you are feeling just okay, you might wanna focus on accentuating the positive at both the beginning and end of your art classes. Like I said in the video, I start each class with that little "Hello, my most amazing artists!" call and response. I also love ending it with a little "I love you" send off. It helps to bookend my classes on a happy note even if what happened during our art time was just okay. Listening to this song, a fave of mine, always lifts me outta my okayest funk. Because you ARE awesome, bringing creativity and light to your students!

I hope y'all have a wonderful Thanksgiving! Know that I think you are much better than Okay, but seriously The Best. 
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Tuesday, November 22, 2016

How a Clock Inspired Me to Decorate! (and a Review)

True Confessions: I have decorating-phobia. I know, it seems kinda strange, the art teacher who takes wild and wacky fashion risks has a fear of hanging a single thing on the wall, but it's true. I am fully aware that my taste level is questionable, at best. The beauty of fashion is that you can take off that rainbow wig, those cat eye glasses, fish net tights, faux fox stole and that telephone print dress (you think I'm making that outfit up? Get yourself here) and try again tomorrow. With decorating tho...well, things are a little bit more permanent. I guess that means I have a fear of commitment. Don't tell my hubs.
So when Regency Shop, a modern design retailer out of Los Angeles, contacted me and asked if I'd like to review their Nelson clock, I readily agreed. I flippin' adore anything mid-century mod and, after taking one look at that clock, I fell in love. The problem was: where was I going to put it? Most of my house is decorated to the point where I'm kinda happy (is it just me or is decorating a continuous work-in-progress? WHEN WILL IT EVER END.) However, we do have a spare room that sits over our garage which the real estate lady called a "bonus room". Over the last seven years, I have referred to it as "the bogus room", "that room the cat likes to vomit in", and "that space where I occasionally attempt to exercise". This past summer, it became "the book-writing room" and, having spent months creating in this open space, I realized I really enjoyed being in the bonus room. What I didn't love was the look of the place. But I had no idea what to do about it or where to start. 
When I got the Nelson clock in the mail, I was immediately smitten. It put me in the mind of Mary Blair and the Disney ride she designed It's a Small World. The painting I created inspired by Blair was one of the few things I'd actually got around to hanging. I decided to pair the two pieces together and see how that worked. 
Just seeing this clock and thinking of Disney makes me smile!
As soon as the clock was hung above the painting, I was inspired! I started pulling out all of my favorite thrift and estate sale picks from over the years and playing around. 
One thing I always struggle with when decorating is a color palette. I know you need one...but I love ALL THE COLORS. As strange as it may sound, that clock helped keep me in line. I used the burnt orange, black, gold, shades of sky blue and avocado green as my guide. It really helped me decide what worked (according to my wacky vision) and what didn't. 
After putting together this wall, I decided to create a gallery wall along the stairway. I've always wanted to make one and I had stacked of framed works of art ready to go...but, again, decorating phobia stopped me.
I was so inspired by how well my wall had come together, I thought, what the heck!
Again, I used the colors in the clock as my guide. Those amazing molas and the basket were thrift store finds, if you can believe that. The prints are REAL and signed Charley Harper prints which I got a decade ago when a print shop was going out of business. In the stacks of matte board they gave me, I discovered these signed prints. I had no idea what they were until years later. The wall sconces are from Anthropologie's sale room (do they have any other rooms in that place? Because my wallet says they don't) and the LOVE signs are from my friend Bebo
This is the view from the stairs. I spent a whole lotta hours at that table this summer, working in air dry clay, writing and snapping photos (I'll keep you posted on dates for the book as we get closer, eep!). I purchased an extra large foldable table a year ago as an inexpensive and expansive work space. I love to cover my work surface in oil cloth because it's happy and easy to clean. By the way, did I mention that I like color? And prints. Love me some pattern-y goodness. 
This area was given an update as well. When my husband and I first bought our house, our main priority was to pay the house off. (My hubs is very monetarily minded. True Story: the day I met him in the computer lab where I taught, he asked me two questions. One, "do you have a boyfriend?" and two, "do you have any college debt?") That meant very little cash was left for much else. For that reason, almost everything in our house is from the thrift store, a discount joint (we love Big Lots) or homemade. That ottoman on wheels? I made that with some lumber, foam, wheels and IKEA fabric. 
Of course, anything we do spend cashola on has to be Asha-colored since it's sure to become covered in cat hair. When we went furniture shopping, the hubs carried around a tuft of Asha hair to make sure that it would match. I can't even make this stuff up.
One decorating phobia I DON'T have: overdecorating for Christmas. I just can't stop!
Storage in a craft room is a big deal, as y'all know. I love using this vintage sewing box for my paint stash. Also, that chest of drawers is filled with art makin' supplies. 
Our bonus room has a wet bar which is never used. In fact, we filled the wine area with our books!
Y'all don't even know how happy this room now makes me. I still have a couple more projects I want to do to make this room feel complete but, for now, it's in a really happy place, I think. 
 Thanks to this guy. By the way, the clock operates with a single AA battery. The white base is metal and rock solid. The entire clock feels heavy and solid, not flimsy or fragile. I'm in love. 
And so thrilled with my new space. Just had to share with y'all! Happy Thanksgiving if you are stateside and have a wonderful week!
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Sunday, November 20, 2016

In the Art Room: Romero Britto Inspired Selfies by Fourth

Hey, kids! I'm just back from a FABULOUS conference in Texas that was seriously a whirlwind of fun. I'll be certain to share that experience with you soon but before I do, I thought I'd let you in on how that Romero Britto-inspired selfie project went down. In a word(s): colorfully amazing! 
I've been sharing with you a ton of self portrait projects of late as that's what I'm sending away to be framed for our Artome art show. In case you missed, check out the Royal First Grade Self-Portraits, Second Grade Super Hero Selfies and the Third Grader's Sandra Silbertzweig Portraits
I wanted my fourth graders to learn how to draw a face with correct proportions but with a playful and colorful twist that reflects their personality and interests. And that's how I settled on this Romero Britto-inspired lesson. Complete video'ed lesson here: 
 By the way, I update my videos multiple times weekly...if you wanna stay up to date, subscribe here
The video provides a quick introduction to Britto and his work, just enough to give them a taste for how colorful and pattern-y his work is. 
The kids really respond well to learning about contemporary artists and pop art seems to be their fave. 

This project took us 3 one hour classes to complete. The students used 9" X 12" sheets of drawing paper as that is what the Artome framing format allows. On our first day, we watched the first third of the video. We drew our faces along with the video, traced over our final drawings in Sharpie (I gave the kids plenty of time to return to their seats with mirrors and alter their drawings to their liking) and used lines to break up the background. Here's what we had after day one:
The following art class, we watched the middle portion of the video where I chat about pattern. I really wanted the kids to create patterns that reflected their interests. I did provide idea sheets of simple patterns like the ones Britto uses. After 30 minutes, we watched the final portion of the video and had just enough time to explore color. Here are the results after the second day:
By the third day, we'd watched all of the video and knew what we had to do to complete our masterpiece. I really thought this would be a two-day project...but with all of the details the kids created, it lasted a pinch longer. 
 We used both colored pencils and Prismacolor Art Stix (a class favorite for their vibrancy) to color. Art Stix are like the lead of colored pencils in oil pastel from. They are richer in color than your average colored pencil. I talk about them somewhere in this clip:
Sorry, not sure when, but I know they are in this clip somewhere!
 The kids and I both were really pleased with their hard work. So often, older kids struggle with self-portraits as they want them to look "just right". Doing a self-portrait in a guided drawing format really relieved stress and insured that all selfies looked fabulous. 
You know that the 10 year old crowd can sometimes be tough to please...but this one was a crowd-pleaser. 
Even my students who sometimes struggle with fine motor skills or sticking with projects for long periods of time shined in this lesson.
You know they feel good about themselves with the "too cool for school" fourthies give you hugs at the end of art class. 
 My favorite comment: I never knew I could draw like this!
I'm shipping all of these out to Artome tomorrow and our art show is at the start of December. I'll be certain to let you know how that goes. This will be our first Artome show...I'm really excited!
Y'all know we do a HUGE end of the year art show where everything that every kid has made is hung up. I'm super stoked that for this show, I don't have to hang a thing!
I hope y'all have a fabulous week leading up to Turkey Day! I'll be in and out on this here blog with lots to, during your break from stuffing runs, be sure to drop on by. 
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