Thursday, May 2, 2013

Art Instruction makes the Nightly News!

I have to share a newscast I just heard about featuring an elementary school in Roxbury, Mass. The headline reads: Principal fires security guards to hire art teachers — and transforms elementary school
Bravo! Take the time to watch, you will be inspired!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Manga Club Final Projects

The most recent session of Manga Club was a blast! We studied the kawaii style and for a change of pace, we created a 3-D project using model magic and recycled vegetable trays to create our own kawaii bento boxes. All of the students finished a one page manga this time around as well. Usually when we do a one-page assignment, I have copies made so each student has one copy of each work. Then for last class we read each others stories, critique and color the black and white designs for fun.
Great work everyone!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Watercolor Landscapes

Students and I looked at landscapes painted by Grant Wood, and used his works to discuss foreground, middle ground and background. We then planned our own landscapes to include plants, water, rolling hills and sky. We marked the side of our paper at the halfway point, and then again one quarter of the way and three quarters of the way to act as a loose guide for spacing of each of the elements across the page. Images were planned out in pencil, and then gone over in black permanent marker. We painted with a large set of liquid watercolors for a greater range and intensity of colors. Aren't they breathtaking?

This lesson was adopted from the Apex Elementary Art Blog.
The students' works were completely inspiring! Thank you Mrs. Haake and class.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

"Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me" Collages

I'm sure all of you love the wonderful children's books written and illustrated by Eric Carle. This is my first lesson using Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me, and the idea was inspired by an image I found on Pinterest credited to Artsy Miss M. If anyone knows her, tell her thanks! This lesson also continues my efforts to include literacy in the art room. The format of this book is very small, so in a larger classroom you may want to read using a smart board or projector.

The children first created their nighttime sky using shades of blue tempera paint and combing patterns into the color. Next we used large lids as tracers for the moon on a second piece of paper. We used white, gray and turquoise paint and added a face to our moon as a finishing touch. Each child was given an index card to create the person trying to get the moon in their collages. I told them to think of the letter H when depicting their person reaching up and climbing the ladder. We used scrap pieces of textured paper to cut and glue all of the parts together. Once a person was complete, we cut away the excess index card.

The moons were cut out and glued to one of the top corners of our sky paper. We used craft sticks and craft glue to adhere our ladder to the composition, and were told to add the ladder to the opposite corner on the bottom. People were then added to the ladder with craft glue as well. Stars were the last cut outs, could be any color but blue, and added anywhere they saw fit. Some children cut out their own stars, which can be quite a challenge, others used a tracer. Enjoy!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Philosophies, Employment, and the Rocky Path

Hello readers, colleagues, artists and virtual friends.

Once again I have been re-evaluating my path as an art educator. I am not giving up by any means, but wonder what my best options are to make more progress. Lately I feel like I keep hitting the same wall and getting extremely close to full-time employment, only to have things not pan out one way or another.

A friend suggest I try to open up my field of vision around that goal to seek more opportunities as well as a larger community of artists, educators etc. It has been an interesting experience. I visited a local art school, the oldest in New Jersey, which serves the community in a number of ways. I took a tour, attended the annual high school art exhibition, and have started to attend open studio time for ceramics and figure drawing. These things have been personally and artistically fulfilling.

A colleague connected me to an art education director for a nearby university.  He was kind enough to speak with me and we had a very interesting conversation about different philosophies of teaching. He was a proponent of a psychology-based approach, and not only did he think that DBAE was inappropriate, but actually harmful to children's creativity and artistic growth. I wasn't entirely sold, but he did bring up some very thoughtful and justified evidence of his approach to teaching and to teaching students in the field of art education. He also diplomatically said that even though I have a teaching  certificate, and am intelligent and a good communicator, that he still doesn’t see me as qualified.  And I do see his point.  We were only having a phone conversation. We didn’t meet face to face, and he didn't view my resume, or see anything that I have done as an teacher, so there was nothing to persuade him otherwise. I told him to hit me with his best shot and he did.

We also discussed the options of waiting it out for a job to then take alternate route classes required the first year of employment, or taking a post baccalaureate program, having a better chance of getting a job, and then not needing classes to take up time in my first year on the job. Neither path guarantees me employment. I am still at an impasse. And now I am questioning whether we should knuckle down and pay for me to go back to school, or knuckle down and keep trying for a position! I mean, the alternate route path is an option offered by the state of New Jersey, and does in theory qualify me to be hired by a school district. 

Perhaps my studio is just what I am destined for. It has been a wonderful experience, and the community is very supportive and happy with the art their children make, and the progress they show. Then I think that maybe I should try for a retail location to grow on what I have established, but that seems downright impossible. If it were financially viable there would be one in every town, like nail salons and take-out food. So as much as I find it extremely important in any community, I am in the minority.

What are your thoughts? Is DBAE already an outdated and harmful approach in the classroom? Is it still just a terrible economy to be successful in gaining employment? I am I not qualified to teach? Is there a stigma attached to the alternate route educator? Should I stay put in my home studio and not pursue full-time employment? Comment and share your ideas with me. And I wish you all well in all of your art education endeavors!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Cardinal Collages Inspired by Charlie Harper

My students recently learned about the art of Charley Harper, his love of animals and nature, and the use of symmetry in his work. After looking at his artwork, and some photographs of cardinals in the wild, we set out to create our winter scenes. We cut and pasted colored construction paper, then used markers, crayons, white tempera paint, and glitter to complete our collages. We talked a lot about symmetry, as the shapes of our cardinals, bird baths, and leaves were created. The bright colors and winter theme were a big hit! The children had lots of choices throughout the lesson. They had a variety of background colors to select, and the choice to create a male or female cardinal. They could use a selection of templates for the cardinal and/or bird bath shapes, or they could fold and cut their own symmetrical designs.

Inspiration for this lesson came from Shine Bright Zamorano, one of my favorite Art Ed blogs! 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A Visit to the Guggenheim

We recently took a trip into Manhattan to visit the Guggenheim Museum. They were having an exhibit of black and white works by Pablo Picasso, and we were all excited to see it! Here are some photos of our visit and sketches that we created while there.

Thank you to the Guggenheim for still printing postcards of current exhibitions! A lot of the museum shops have turned into design oriented gift shops that have nothing to do with the art being shown. A postcard is the perfect memento, especially for kids, without having to purchase a full sized catalog.

The museum is also a chance to discuss Frank Lloyd Wright and his brilliant architecture! If you get the chance to visit, remember to take the elevator to the top floor, and walk the galleries by descending. And locals, our library has a museum pass which you can borrow for free admission!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Stained Glass Inspired Self Portraits

I have a student and friend who is nearing her college years, and intends to study art. We have been working together and with my family to create some new pieces of artwork that may be added to her portfolio. Here is our first endeavor.

We took inspiration from stained glass panels to create these self portraits in ink and concentrated watercolor. We first sketched our self portraits in pencil, trying to fill the page with as much face and as little background as possible. Then with bold strokes and waterproof ink, we painted the initial outlines of our pieces. Watercolor was then used to fill areas, and non-realistic colors where encouraged. A second round of ink and watercolor wash were added, as well as waterproof markers to add details and render color areas further. As you can see the stained glass reference was loosely observed, but I think helped give us the opportunity to think in a more graphic style. Did I mention how much I love making art with others? Great job everyone!