Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Legacy is Complete!!

My students have finally finished their Audubon projects (well, most of them anyway)!  The students were able to choose what medium they wanted to use to create their artworks- I was shocked at the number of students that chose to do scratchboard!  They really turned out beautifully :)

 I'll be uploading more as I get the pictures taken!

Friday, January 23, 2015

The Legacy Lives On... Stark Museum of Art Exhibit

The students have been hard at work on this particular project, and are super excited by the prospect of their artwork hanging in a museum gallery!  The day after our museum educator came to visit we spent some time researching animals of North America.  I had gone to the school library and checked out quite a few books about animals for the students to flip through, and they also had access to computers to find additional information.

While the museum had a few rules and requirements for the project, I decided to add a few more to increase our "cross-curricular" learning.  I had the students include the scientific names of the animals, what they ate, and some interesting detail about how their animal was suited/ adapted to their environment.  I also let them use the term animal loosely- we included reptiles, amphibian, and insects as possible subjects.

Then it was on to the preliminary sketching.  We created a few little gesture thumbnail sketches to get some ideas on composition.  From there, we picked our favorite one- the one we thought was most striking or impactful (one of the ways the artworks were going to be judged was on the impact of the image).  We then drew this composition to size (9x12).

Next came some artistic decisions- did we want this to look very realistic or did we want it to be more stylized?  What medium did we want to use?  I helped guide students decisions on mediums depending on their composition.  I wasn't about to let them use a medium that I didn't think would suit the composition- that would be setting them up for failure!

Now, on to the final product.  Depending on what medium was chosen, students may have needed to transfer their drawing onto another surface.  If this was necessary I showed them a few tricks of the trade.  Otherwise they just went to town on their drawing.

Check back soon to see the finished work!!!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

John James Audubon

So, this year we have a very exciting opportunity to work with the Stark Museum of Art.  They are hosting an exhibit on John James Audubon called Drawn to Life:  Audubon's Legacy.  In conjunction with the Audubon exhibit they are also putting on a student exhibit called The Legacy Lives On.  This is a juried K-12 art show featuring student work inspired by the art of John James Audubon.  Here's a link to the museums page about the student exhibit.

On Tuesday, we had a museum educator come out and talk to the students about Audubon, the upcoming exhibit, the project requirements, the museum itself, and all sorts of great things.  We learned all about Audubon's process and how he created his "Birds of America" book- which is a 5 volume, double elephant-folio (which means each page is about 2 feet by 3 feet!!).  The museum educator told us that it takes 3 people to turn each page because they are so large (and old)!

Did you know that all of his birds were drawn life size??  That's incredible!  He also discovered 25 new species of birds during this massive undertaking of his.  He drew over 1,000 birds during his lifetime- that is mind blowing!

This is a project that all of my students will be doing.  My Art Club students will each be submitting a piece for the exhibit.  They will be doing 2 pieces total- one composition two different media.  The first will be a traditional pencil drawing, the second will be their choice.  More on that to come later.

My students will be creating just one piece, although I am going to be using several different media choices depending on grade level.  I am going to use scratchboard, block printing, and painting (not sure if I'm going to use acrylics or watercolors yet...).

Monday, January 12, 2015

Kickin' Things Off With a Portfolio!

Our first order of business now that I have my new students is to create a portfolio for them to house all of the amazing artwork that they will be creating this semester.  To keep things as economical as possible, we use plain white poster board for our portfolios.  The students can decorate them however they choose, they will last an entire school year (as long as they are not abused), and I can buy them in bulk.  I use Dick Blick Art Supplies to purchase all of my materials for my students- I find they have the best selection, they ship quickly, and their prices are great!  Check them out at Dick Blick Art Supplies

So, here's the steps:
1. Fold your poster board in half (like a hamburger for all of you elementary teachers out there).  Try and keep the edges as even as possible.  Elementary students usually need quite a bit of help with this, but middle school and high school students can pretty much do this on their own.  Unless you are really OCD and have to have all of the edges just so, I would just let them loose on it.

2.  Staple the two short edges.  Close to the edge.  I cannot emphasize this enough.  You want your staples close to the edge.

3.  Tape over the edges.  I have used duct tape and masking tape.  Masking tape is cheaper, but if you only have your students half a year it works just fine.  If you have students all year long, you teach elementary kids who are pretty rough on their stuff, or you anticipate your students bringing their portfolios back and forth between home and school (which I do not recommend), use duct tape.  Whatever you decide to use, make sure it has some width to it- 2" wide at a minimum.

After the portfolios are made, the students can "decorate" them.  We always start with their names on one side.  BIG.  Make their names big, and bold, and creative, and whatever makes your heart happy.  But easy to read.... With this group I decided to do their names in graffiti style.  It seems to really catch their attention and of course it is really colorful and nice to look at!  I used this tutorial to show the kids how to create graffiti style letters.  And I also created this handout to give the students as a visual reference.

On the opposite side, we usually do some sort of elements and/or principles review.

I also highly recommend using a portfolio record.  I have my students tape it down to their portfolios and fill it out as I pass back projects.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Kandinsky Tiles

This year, I was supremely blessed to get both a full-time, permanent position teaching art and a brand spanking new classroom.  While my classroom is lovely, it lacks personality.  I will be doing some DIY "classroom" improvement projects to increase the functionality and personality of our room.

So, as a farewell project for my students, and as a "classroom" improvement project, we are creating clay Kandinsky tiles.  I will be using these tiles to tile the backsplash around my sink area.  Here's a "before" shot.

So, first I had my students roll slabs of clay on the slab roller.  Then we used a tile cutter to cut 4" tiles (We cut out 125 tiles!!!).  Then we let them dry out for at least a week (one tip- make sure you flip them over several times during the first day you cut them.  If not, they will curve up and you won't have flat tiles).  Next, I bisque fired them, and finally I let the kids loose on them.

The only guidelines were to use Kandinsky's Concentric Circles as inspiration and they couldn't use black in their rings.  The reason for this was that I wanted them to write their name or initials in black when they were finished with the rings.  A permanent reminder of my first group of students here :).  Here's some pictures of them in progress....

Check back soon to see the finished tiles!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Welcome Back!

Well, it was a very cold return to school this morning, with colder weather to come!!!  We are wrapping up all of our loose ends and gearing up for the enrichment switcheroo.  This is new to me, and as I've become fond of my current group of students, I am feeling a little sad about losing them for the rest of the year.  Oh well, I am certain my next group of students will be as wonderful and talented as this group!!

So, here's to the new year and a new batch of students!!