Happy to be back in the art studio!

18 08 2013

I am so happy to be back doing what I most love to do.  I’m lucky because I know this is what I am meant to do with my life and I can do it, plus I get such joy from being an art teacher.

This year we started a new schedule and longer class periods.  I love it!  I get so much more from my students and they are more connected to the exploration of the lesson because of the longer period of time.  Of course I always want more time…not a great time keeper.  Well- this is what we have been busy at creating on the first three days of school.

Line

Line

 

In drawing class we dived into exploring Line and Mark-Making.  I feel it is super important to get the students engaged and hands busy right away.  We do discuss and cover compositional layout and elements and principles of design but I make it alive and active.  I started with vine charcoal and having them understand how to hold the charcoal and stand up to use their whole arm to make grand gestural strokes.  I then have them blend and erase with a kneaded eraser to move the charcoal.  I want them to understand  what is a ground and not to be afraid of a blank sheet of paper.  I give them instructions on how to build volume to one of the many looping lines they have created.  We rotate our paper and explore the possibilities of what we see.

Mark Making and Volume

Mark Making and Volume

I engage my students by showing them additional gestural mark-making artists compositions.  We strive to add variety of line and values, plus implied texture and movement.  After one day we review our peer’s compositions and share what we liked about one another’s drawings and what we thought the pieces “said” to us.  After we explored for a while I passed out block charcoal and let the artists add deeper blacks and see what the difference is between block and vine charcoal.  I loved the conversations at the art tables and the beautiful experiments that the students explored.  The abstract nature of the images provoked more discussions and it challenged students to want to create images with depth.  It was a great start to drawing.  My students found the lesson exciting and a few who did not think they could draw, found out they enjoyed it.

 

 

My painting class is smaller and I have had these students for several art classes already so I know them well.  I created a challenge for them and it has been fun watching them problem solve and enjoy each other’s company.  I wanted to review color theory and compositional layout.  I happen to have a very large sheet of paper so we traced everyone’s body or portion of their bodies onto the large surface area.  We over lapped the shapes with some sense of movement, emphasis, and selective placement.  I then scripted directions and provided the students with  tempera paint and only the primary colors plus black and white.  This is the progress we have made so far. Final results will be revealed at Back to School Night!

Tracing Bodies

Tracing Bodies

 

 

Large Color Theory  Mural Progress

Large Color Theory Mural Progress

The next class who has made progress is my AP Art class.  These talented students, I have had for three years and this is my fourth. So we are comfortable with one another and we can get down to business really quickly.  So let the Exquisite Corpse begin….I selected a surface for everyone and all the materials  are organized to  dispense at a prescribed time.  This process is adapted by me to help get my students ready for the first lesson and to interject excitement in the studio.  I give verbal prompts and they create, pause and pass the paper along, verbal prompt, work for a while and repeat.  Eventually the original artist gets their paper back and has time to embellish with new media to doctor up the paper to suit them.  Nothing is sacred and anything can be covered up.  Finally we have to connect and unify the whole class compositions together.  I love watching and listening to this process.  Leaders emerge and some just jump in and tackle the pages without asking but almost always, the artists will bend and approve of one another’s contributions.  The final piece is showcased outside the studio and they get to see and hear people comment on the final piece.

Progress

Progress

Exquisite Corpse

Exquisite Corpse

Now with all that going on, I also have my work with the Clinton Foundation.  I was asked to present at the Arkansas Educator’s Reception about how and what is available for educators.  I shared some ideas and about what I have done with my students.  The room was full of 350 educators’,  I was nervous but I was able to capture the audience.  The executive director even mentioned she thought I should present all over the state.  (Very nice compliment)  Another educator said my speech moved her and even choked her up.  I do feel it was an  honor to speak and share my excitement about the opportunities I have had at the Presidential Library.  I do hope teachers take the time to use the wonderful Arkansas Educational Resource.

Educators Reception Clinton Library

Educators Reception Clinton Library

Love this view out the Presidential Library

Love this view out the Presidential Library

Swag bag including Homes for Haiti created by my students

Swag bag including Homes for Haiti created by my students

 

Lastly – I received a very nice and surprising email from an elementary art teacher that I met briefly between sessions at NAEA13.  We shared some thoughts and ideas.  I gave her some advice on how to manage building a relationship with other art educators in her district and how to elevate her art program.   She emailed me to let me know she took my advice and it was successful.  I am so very happy I was able to help a young art teacher and help make a positive change in her district.  We are now communicating more about other ideas she has and wants to try.  I am thrilled she wants to hear what I have to share.  All teachers need a sounding board and support.  Sometimes it’s just enough support to create a wave of change and a world of difference.

More stories about my other classes …they just did not get far enough yet to share progress.

Hope you are having a wonderful start to your school year.

 

 





Opening up a new school year!

10 08 2013

When the teachers return to the school, to begin reopening for a new school year, it usually follows just after several restless nights and weird dreams.  It’s just one of those things we learn to expect before we actually get into our classrooms.  Strange dreams about showing up in pj’s, or for some reason we cannot find our room, and we are late to class.

Well, that has passed for me, (thank goodness) so now I am twitchy with anticipation of seeing my students and getting into new exciting lessons.  I spend my days in meetings about school housekeeping and then the remaining time organizing my studio.  At night, I brush up on my ice breakers and revamp or recreate new lessons to engage my students.  I strive to add new twists to how I start my early assessments.  Not only to inform me as to where my students skills lie in each course but to design experiences that heighten the engagement of my students to tap in to their dormant creativity.

My Studio

My Studio

This summer I found and purchased a cool Balinese street puppet and this has reignited my interest in puppets and marionettes.  Thankfully, I have a Sculpture class with some really great students who will latch onto this assignment and run with it.  I will share the progress we make on our Global Exploration of the art of puppets and marionettes.

Bali Street Puppet

Bali Street Puppet

I am also excited about having a new sewing station in my studio for the first time.  We have a full scale Curbside Couture Fashion Club so this is a good addition.  And by popular demand I have launched a Photo Club with new photography challenges to execute.   I am really blessed to have such enthusiastic art students who like to spend time with me outside of school.

Pink Sewing Machine Station

Pink Sewing Machine Station

This will be my 24th year of teaching and I am feeling really great about the direction of my program, students, school, and volunteer activities.  I will be doing several speaking engagements this year.   Two at the NAEA14 Convention in San Diego, California.  I am so happy to be able to share the success I have had with my students.  I am also going to present at the Clinton Presidential Library for Arkansas Teachers on the benefits of the educational opportunities that are offered.  Plus, I will be presenting a book review to our Upper School faculty about Teach Like A Pirate.  I like how it has inspired my teaching and how the book offers new ideas; hooks to add to the teaching experience.

This is going to be an interesting school year with a new head of school and a new 7 day week- 5 period day schedule.  Each class will now be 65 minutes which will offer so much more time to immerse into the work we do in the studio.  I am also mentoring a new MS art teacher; I am motivated to have the experience be positive and a smooth transition for the art students.  In addition I am sending my only child off to college and my husband and I will be “empty nesters”. – Weird but we are adjusting.

The final bit to what makes this year a career benchmark year for me is the Teachers Award,  I received at the end of last year.  Still unreal to me…. but also pretty Awesome!

Outstanding Teacher Award Plaque

Outstanding Teacher Award Plaque

I wish all of you a smooth start to your school year.  I hope you find inspiration and share it with your art students.








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