Tuesday, February 24, 2015

No Fail Acrylic Painting on Canvas. It was fun! Was it Art?

I held a special Modern Art Masterpiece Class at No Corner Suns Art Studio on MLK day.  I had seen this little idea on Pinterest.  Using masking tape to mask off a canvas, and painting over it, and thought that would be a fun thing to try.

A fun thing to try...  yes.  But is it art?

Isn't that the real struggle?  I want my studio to be a learning place, yet I want to appeal to the masses too.  What I've learned is that I can have it both ways.  It is a matter of finding FUN and SUCCESSFUL lessons that do actually teach something.  No matter the age.

This little class began with a discussion of Modernism to an extent.  We looked at some Mondrian, and Miro.  We talked about horizontal, vertical, and diagonal lines too.  Once everything was taped off, we got only the primary colors and spent a lot of time mixing, mixing, mixing!  Then we painted.  It was one hour, it was fun, and look at those faces!  It was successful.

Monday, February 23, 2015

How do you feel about themed art classes? Is The Fine Art of Harry Potter fine art?

Things that I love, like Star Wars, Dr. Who, Harry Potter, Cat Memes, and Jurassic Park just don't get much attention with the K-5th grade set.  I have in the past taught a meme project to 4th & 5th grade, and we used Dr. Who during our van Gogh unit in 5th, and I'm always quoting Star Wars...

None of this impacts my students with as much enthusiasm as it does me.  No one laughs when I say "I have a bad feeling about this..." and no one understands my terrified face when their water cups start to tremble.

I started coming up with themed classes and events for teens that come to my art studio.  I started Fandom Friday in the Fall and it has been very popular. I recently tried adding themes to more of my classes that teach outside of school with varying success.

I just wrapped up a three week class called The Fine Art of Harry Potter.  I planned the mini-curriculum to include headmaster portraits, wand-making, and mini-figure construction.

We began with headmaster portraits.  We looked at various portraits found on the Harry Potter wiki.  I equated them to portraits painted by Rembrandt and during the Renaissance.  We learned how paint with acrylics, mix colors, and generally use our imaginations.

Our second project was Wand Making!!  This was fun.  We used dowel rods and model magic.  We looked at some of the famous wands of the wizarding world.  We were inspired by those, but ultimately designed our own.  Very fun!  Teens love Model Magic.

View the Flickr album to see some pix.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Purple Palaces at the Park District

I just wrapped up an Art Smart class through my local park district.  Kids ranged in age from PreK-2nd.  It was a lot of fun and a cute little group of artists!  On our last day we talked about architecture.  We studied onion domes and pattern and looked at photos of St. Basils and the Taj Mahal.  Then, we designed a purple palace for a prince who loves pattern... and onion domes.  They were so cute.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Kindergarten Mondrian Paintings with Black tape and tempera cakes!

I see kindergarten at the very end of the day for one hour.  It's already February, and it is still a struggle.

However, they really took to Mondrian!  We looked at some of his paintings and watched this cute little YouTube video:

Next, I passed out the black masking tape and let the kids start to build shapes with the straight black lines.  This took them about 40 minutes.  They were doing an excellent job and were very careful with the tape and scissors.

We used Primary Colored Tempera Cakes the next hour to paint in our shapes.  Almost immediately they started mixing - which as far as Mondrian is concerned - is just terrible.  As far as a kindergarten art teacher is concerned - it was fantastic!  "I made Green!"  "How did you make violet?"  "My yellow looks brown!!"  It was fun, and I do not think it diminished the finished product at all.
In the beginning there was red, yellow, & blue.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Rousseau's Jungle in First Grade and two fun videos!

One of my favorite units in first grade art is learning about Henri Rousseau and his tropical jungle pictures.  I always begin by showing a few Rousseau paintings, then watching "Dropping in on Rousseau."

Several kids were very interested in Henri Rousseau's Surprised.  They kept telling me they had seen it on Nick Jr.  I looked up the link, and sure enough, just as they said, two kids go in to the painting and kind of explore.  It's fun!  During my search, I also came across this video, which I decided to share with my classes:

This one was a little more informative.   Plus, it lead me to the entire series of "Your Paintings" which I could probably use in the future!

Our first lesson in our Rousseau Unit is a torn paper jungle collage.  I just love how tearing and gluing paper can turn into something so cool, and how successful each child can be!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Painting like a real artist in 5th Grade.

I started teaching wine + paint events in June of 2014.  When I was prepping for my first 30 person adult party, I kept thinking I had to keep it simple, like how I teach 5th grade.  Well, my 5th graders haven't ever actually painted on canvas, so I thought it was time that they did.

Assembling easels.... kind of a pain.
I purchased a bunch of inexpensive easels from Blick.  The toughest part was getting them assembled.  Regardless, we finally got them put together!  We started by toning our canvas.  

The work the fifth graders were doing was actually pretty simple, and way less involved than a usual project.  I think that since they had the canvas, easel, palettes, and everything - they felt more like real artists.  They were super excited about this!

We sketched our Georgia O'Keeffe inspired flowers on our canvas, and next week we will start adding analogous colors to paint our petals.  They looked so cute all lined up on my floor, I had to take a picture!

Friday, January 30, 2015

Draft Folder Clean-Up: Am I special, enrichment, or multi-level and what makes you so typical?

This post was originally started 11/29/14.  Just 12 days later, The Art of Education posted this article:  Beyond Glorified Babysitters: Jaw-dropping Names Art Teachers Are Called.  It felt like I missed the boat, and would be beating a dead horse. but here are my thoughts regardless. I've edited my beginning ramblings to make a complete post too!

I've always loathed the title "special."  My first few years of teaching, I was the art teacher.  I wasn't grouped with anyone. I always did everything alone.  My second school district, I was a specialist. Elementary Art Specialist.  It sounded fancy.  We were never called "specials" though.  We were the fine arts team, and PE and library had their own thing going on.  It wasn't until my current district that I was referred to as "special."  I disliked it from the start.

Art isn't special.  Art is necessary.

In my district, art, music, PE, & library are special.  It is short for specialist, or special area.  To me, it just reiterates the idea that having art is a privilege, not an expectation.  I came across something recently that reiterated my feelings and illustrated it wonderfully: Every student every day is required to learn math, but will probably not grow up to be mathematicians,   Why do we not require every student every day to take art?  We know most will not grow up to be artists.  It should have the same importance.

I brought up my label at our first day institute with my brand new principal.  I threw out a few ideas and we kind of settled on "multi-level teacher".  I don't mind this label.  I do teach all the levels, and now I'm actually being considered a teacher!  Yeah!  My new principal has been very good about referring to me as multi-level too.  It hasn't quite gained the momentum I had hoped... but it's a start.

Fast-Forward to our next institute day.  We heard a lovely presentation on teaching students with autism.  I noticed right away that the presenter referred to students without autism, or special needs as "typical."  At first, I thought it sounded kind of weird. But, if we are referring to students with special needs as students with special needs, then typical would be the opposite. Calling a student without special needs regular ed is what's derogatory.

Considering my teaching position is referred to as special - I started referring to classroom teachers as typical teachers.  It does seem to make them sound less important and not at all unique, which in turn kind of makes me feel a little special.