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!