Saturday, September 17, 2016

Art Teacher Finds: Postage Stamps!

I dropped by my local post office recently to pick up a few books of stamps, and guess what was one of my options to purchase? These beautiful papel picado designs! Aren't they awesome? 

The stamps are actually titled Colorful Celebrations, but I exclaimed: 

"Oh, I want the papel picado please!" The clerk asked, "What?" 
"Papel Picado... that's Spanish for cut paper. The cut paper designs, please." I replied.  "You speak Spanish? I've never heard of that. How did you know?" The clerk was still a bit puzzled. "I'm an art teacher. My students learn about these designs." I said. "Ohhhhhh! Nice. Thanks for telling me about them." So stamp purchase, and mini art lesson accomplished!

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Finding Time for Myself: Ceramics

Glazes: Buttermilk, Oxblood. Reduction firing.

Taking time for myself is something that usually falls by the wayside. It happens to us all, right? Life can be so busy. Well, after trying to find the the time, money and inclination to do something for myself, my wonderful husband pushed me to finally stretch my creative muscles in a way I haven't for such a long time! I have been taking ceramics classes on the wheel at the New York/New Jersey Academy of Ceramic Art in Jersey City. It has been a wonderful experience, and a great way to gain personal and professional development as an art educator.

One of my first pieces, set out to dry.

Working in this professional studio has given me a renewed appreciation for the qualities of clay, the importance of care and cleanliness in the work space, in taking time to work at improving my skills and abilities, and in making creative choices and seeing where they lead me.

Preparing to glaze finished pieces.

It has also been a refreshing change in my ceramics experiences, as working with children in the elementary art room has its own unique challenges, and outcomes. I love when children get to have clay experiences, as for many it may be the only time in life that they have the opportunity. And creating a coil pot, a bowl, or a statue can be a pretty magical experience! Here are my magical experiences shown below, with notes on glazes and firing. 

Glazes: Rutile Blue, Teadust Temmoku. Oxidation firing.

Glazes: Randy's Oribe, Charlie Black. Oxidation firing.

Glazes:Oatmeal, and wax resist. Oxidation firing.

Glazes: Pink Shino. Reduction firing.

Glazes: Mamo White, Blue Ying Ching. Oxidation firing.

Glazes: Davis Red Shino, Academy Mix. Reduction firing.

Glazes: Hamada Green, Randy's Oribe. Reduction firing.

Glazes: Thick White Shino, Oxblood. Reduction firing.

Glazes: Davis Red Shino. Oxidation firing.

Glazes: Iron Oxide, Rutile Blue, Lapis Blue. Oxidation firing.

None of these pieces are perfect, but I love them all. And since taking the time to pursue this art, I breathe a little easier, see pictures in the clouds again and feel like a working artist and student. Teachers should be life long learners after all. Special thanks to my teacher, Frank Bosco. I am so grateful for your knowledge and guidance, and all of my experiences in your wonderful studio!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Supporting my School through Art!

This past school year has been full of wonderful experiences, and a true feeling of being part of the school community. I am still part time and travel between schools, so I am sort of the phantom ping pong ball in the system! I know many of you can relate. This year seems to have finally given me some presence. The kids and all of the staff at both schools are beginning to recognize me—HURRAY!  And some fellow teachers were kind enough to reach out to me to include me in some artistic endeavors.

The fifth grade wing of our school has had an ongoing project of decorating ceiling tiles, with themes of diversity and acceptance. I was able to contribute paints, brushes, water pots and my expertise to the cause. I was also invited to the 5th grade classrooms to be part of the fun. My students were so excited to have me visit and support their artistic efforts. They did a great job as teams to make their contributions to the beautification and strengthening of the school community. It was also wonderful to be considered by my colleagues and included in the process.

We also have a wonderful vocal music teacher who has implemented a theater program over the last couple of years. For the production of Disney's Beauty and the Beast, I donated some time to painting sets and props. Brick walls for the castle were sponged and stippled to perfection! A fellow parent and friend helped me construct a deer head out of paper mache, so Gaston could use antlers in his decorating.

I also turned a teacher’s cart into Maurice's wood chopping machine at the last minute! I was so happy to be able to  help the kids put on the best production possible. They were so impressive! And so were the efforts of all of the staff and families involved. From costumes, concessions, ticket sales and more, it really takes an entire community to make these thing happen. And I am so happy to have been part of it!

 Have you had any experiences outside the art room to share?

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Winter Landscapes

Spring has sprung, but I had to share paintings created by my 5th graders. Some of them had the chance to expand on a color theory unit by creating these beautiful winter landscape paintings. The background was produced by mixing various tints of a single color, creating the snow covered hills and the sky. We then talked about aerial perspective, and how objects in the front of the picture plane are larger than ones further back. Students then added some winter objects and painted them in silhouette. Final touches were added by creating snow falling and covering surfaces of things like roofs, tree branches etc. Enjoy!



Friday, February 5, 2016

Art Teacher Finds— Arty Pajamas!

As a new feature here on My Adventures in Positive Space, I would like to share my Art Teacher finds— those little things I see from time to time that I think are out there just for us art teacher types to find, appreciate, and many times take home!

This has been a popular one, and if you spend time on social media, you've seen them already. Over the holidays some pretty art teachery pajamas were being offered at Target. Needless to say, many of us now have an outfit for pajama day at school, and for lounging in at home! Here I am sitting at my kitchen window watching Winter Storm Jonas dump a ton of snow in my garden.

They aren't easy on the eyes. They are loud and busy, but totally comfy and covered in art supplies! Oh, and did I mention tea cups as well? I am a tea in the morning kind of girl, so it just sealed the deal for me.

All I am in need of now are some art-themed slippers. Anyone have any leads? Oh, and although my hands are usually marked up with Sharpie markers or stained with paint, my toes are looking pretty wonderful! This week, anyway.

What are some of your favorite Art Teacher Finds?

Friday, January 29, 2016

Professional Development: AOE WInter Conference

I'm so looking forward to the Art of Education Winter Conference this weekend. Have you signed up? My position at school is still part time, so I haven't been able to swing traveling to the NAEA conventions when they are far away. I LOVED going to NYC in 2012! I can't wait for it to come back to the east coast. 

If you are an art teacher with a limited budget and/or schedule, or if you would like to have more professional development experiences specifically for our subject matter, I highly recommend an AOE conference!

This will be my 3rd conference and I always walk away inspired, informed, and equipped with new classroom strategies, lesson plans, and ways to reflect on and improve my teaching and my students' successes! Oh, and since it's online, I can go back and re-watch my favorite presenters, or things I may have wanted to see more closely as speakers were presenting!

I also just got my box of AOE Swag, which I received for registering early! I will have materials at the ready for experiencing new materials and techniques, and have some freebies to try out on my own. Woo hoo! I hope to spend some virtual time with you this weekend! See you there.

And if you're not registered for the conference, just go visit their site! There are loads of articles and short videos on all things art education!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Koi Fish Sculptures: Watch the Video Tutorial!

So it's a year of firsts, and I've tried my hand at making a video tutorial. Can I just say it is sooo much more difficult than it looks, but I hope to find it easier to accomplish as I continue. I also jumped into learning iMovie to edit things and make them fancy. I came up with this lesson for using Model Magic to create Koi Fish Sculptures last summer during my stint as a summer workshop teacher for my school district. 

The summer workshops for me are a great place to develop a lesson, to see which age groups it works best for, figure out what tools work best or what materials will be needed, how long the lesson may take etc. Not to mention, will the kids enjoy it? Will they all attain a level of satisfaction and success? Can early finishers assist those who need help, or who may have missed a class? These things are more important to me than the writing of the lesson plan. I know it's important, but it's a heck of a lot easier to explain in theory, when you have also accomplished the putting it into practice.  

This was also a lesson which helped me round out a ceramics and 3D workshop. The classes ran for 5 weeks, and towards the end, you just can't begin a ceramics project with no time left for drying, cycles in the kiln etc. Model Magic was a great option for the kids, and I am proud to say this lesson is all mine. I love this blogging community, and I love being inspired by all of your hard work! I am thankful to have the technology to research your successes and failures, and so happy to share this one with you.
I hope you get a chance to take a look. Enjoy!


I’m not fond of using Model Magic in the hotter months, unless the art room is air conditioned. When it is hot, the material becomes soft too quickly.

A clean table top work surface is best, and reminders to students to pick up their projects now and then while working will prevent their projects from sticking. 

If you're creating this project in the classroom, I would plan for one class to introduce the lesson, a class to form the body (closing up projects in ziploc bags will keep them fresh for next time), and one to add colors and final details.

For drying time, I place projects on a layer of plastic wrap, let dry for a day or so, and then turn upside down or on it’s side for the last area to also dry out. A hard, stale marshmallow is kind of what you are looking for when it is completely dry.

If a piece was not properly attached, and falls off, I just hit it with a little bit of craft glue and it repairs nicely.

I attempted to give a finished piece a layer of Mod Podge to glaze it, and it was successful for me. Unfortunately, the little bit of extra time the kids took to paint a layer of Mod Podge over their projects caused the Model Magic to release it's color and bleed into the Mod Podge. Now Crayola does sell a glaze specifically for this purpose, but not in amounts for the classroom, so I haven't given it a try.

This subject matter lends itself to cross-curricular learning! Think anatomy, life cycle, or environment of fish, Asian art and culture, and so on. Not to mention, I used these sculptures for a collaborative lesson and display, which I will share soon! Make sure to check in and see it. Cheers!