Thursday, October 6, 2016

Art Teacher Finds: Spokane Schools!

A few weeks ago, my family and I traveled to Washington state for a long overdue visit with family. We flew into Spokane International Airport, and I received the best welcome an art teacher could hope for! As we walked wearily jet-lagged from a full day of flying, we noticed some large glass display cases up ahead.

 As we got closer, I could see that the top of the cases read "Artwork by our Students" and "Spokane Public Schools." Inside were wonderful pieces made by middle school students: sculptures, altered books, collages and more.

Thank you to the middle school students of Spokane Schools, and to their art teachers! And thank you to the Spokane community for sharing the art of your children with all of us weary travelers. A little recognition for the arts goes a long way!

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Ceramic Cactus Gardens & Frida Kahlo

These ceramic cactus gardens were inspired by Hope Knight at Mrs. Knight's Smartest Artists. It was a wonderful project for My 5th graders, as it puts their prior knowledge of coils, pinch pots, attaching pieces through the score and slip method, and glazing to good use.

I wanted to tie the cactus project into another lesson, since on the east coast we don’t live in the desert. Its not an easy 'connection to nature' experience for my kids, unless you count a vacation etc. I wasn’t sure about it until I visited a wonderful exhibit of Frida Kahlo’s work, and the re-creation of her gardens and outdoor studio at the New York Botanical Garden that I knew exactly how I wanted to proceed. We began by looking at the works of Frida Kahlo, and how she included her love of the natural world into her paintings, and her life at La Casa Azul

Our first work day was spent creating coil pinch pots, which the children could make into various shapes. Then into baggies with their name/class until next time. The second class I demonstrated some basic cactus forms, and a simple bloom. They worked on their plants, and into a second baggie they went. The final steps were to attach the cacti to the bottom of the pots, to draw or carve details to the plant life and container, and to add gravel to the bare areas around the base of the plants. They could glaze their pieces with realistic or non-realistic colors, but had to use at least three!

To display the gardens at school, I was inspired by the Aztec-inspired pyramid which was a prominent feature of her garden. So I backed the display case with blue paper, and pictures of Frida Kahlo, her work and gardens.

Then to create the pyramid, which gave the exhibit some nice height, I just covered some copy paper boxes with yellow bulletin board paper, and there you have it! Aztec pyramid!

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?