Musings about the importance and impact of art and art education in the 21st century.

Musings about the importance of art and art education

Simple Notan in 5th grade

♠ Posted by ArtMuse in

I used this project as a kind of "mini-lesson" to introduce positive/negative space to my fifth graders. Now that they've finished it, I'm going to introduce a patterns in nature project where they create  white tree silhouettes surrounded by different designs inspired by patterns found in nature.  Originally, I had hoped that the notan would take one period, but silly me, NOTHING, takes only1 period in art! So here's how the 2-day project broke down:

I began by showing them this PowerPoint.

Patterns in Nature PP

More presentations from Tarabelle

(You can also access it HeRe on authorshare)

In the PowerPoint I had links to two videos: one by the Virtual Artist, on positive and negative space and the other is a video on how to create notan.

2nd Grade Matisse Goldfish Bowls

♠ Posted by ArtMuse in

 Henri Matisse Goldfish

My leave replacement did these, and they look particularly great on the peach bulletin board paper.  I like how clean these came out.  The cut-out shapes aren't to small and they are layered just enough to add depth and interest without being overworked.  The fishbowls were watercolor with salt effects and the fish themselves were cut from textured painted paper using paint scrapers.  Btw, if I haven't mentioned this before, I LOVE paint scrapers!. 

An example of watercolor with salt sprinkled on it while wet:

I've also taught a different version of this project.  You can find it HeRe

3rd Grade Aboriginal Art

♠ Posted by ArtMuse in
I'm not sure why I never thought of this, but pencil erasers make GREAT "dot painting" tools. Here area a few from my leave replacements lesson:The kids really got into making the dots.  I had to stop the lesson and let them know it's o.k. for them to leave some brown paper around their animal, otherwise we'd still be doing this lesson from September!

5th Grade Giacometti Sculptures

♠ Posted by ArtMuse in

This project was done by my fab leave replacement.  I'm always searching for ways to incorporate more sculpture into my curriculum.  I feel like it's very easy to get caught up teaching 2D work to the detriment of 3D work, so I was really glad she was starting off my fifth graders year with this project.

The sculptures are based on Swiss artist Alberto Giacometti: 

"All the art of the past rises up before me, the art of all ages and all civilizations, everything becomes simultaneous, as if space had replaced time. Memories of works of art blend with affective memories, with my work, with my whole life." 

 More information can be found: Giacometti at ArtStory

 The sculptures were done using cardboard bases, thin armature wire (I like it to be thin enough that the students can cut it with scissors and not pliers), paper towels, mache mix, and black, brown, and metallic paints. The project took about 6, 40-minute periods.  

FYI, I stumbled across the site mentioned above while researching a bit on Giacometti The sites mission is to explore art in "a fresh and clear way".  Hmm, it may make for a good resource!
Another great site is the Giacometti Foundation

Returning from maternity

♠ Posted by ArtMuse

I'm not gonna lie, returning from maternity is hard...After 5 months of being home with my little one, getting back to the hustle and bustle of the art room takes some serious adjustment.  Truthfully despite the exhaustion of the first week, I"m surprised at how easily I was able to get back into "teacher mode", but finding the balance between home life and work life is proving to be a bit harder.  The biggest change I"m struggling with is simply having patience and realizing that there will always be things that need to get done as a teacher, and that it's o.k. for those things to take a little longer to happen.  Before a baby it's not such a big deal to get in a little early or stay a little late as needed to tie up the seemingly never ending "loose ends" but with a baby at home, it's not so convenient any more.
On the upside, working in an elementary school means working with predominantly women, almost all of whom are mom's (and coincidentally, many of whom happen to be new moms) and hearing the same struggles from them!  Regardless of the challenges I'm facing now and am sure I will face in the future as I raise my son, I'm happy to be back, happy to see my students smiling faces, and be back to doing what I really love.  The fact that I'm lucky enough to have a job that I"m so passionate about and am grateful for makes all the difference.  As long as the learning is happening, everything else will fall into place.  As the librarian, and my friend, said to me when I first began my teaching career; "if it all seems overwhelming, just take it one day at a time, and if that seems too much, then take it one hour at a time."

* The image above is from the site Talented Ladies Club. It has a cute article on getting back to work after maternity leave: 'Back to Work with a Bang After Maternity'

The lost post-5th Grade Ton Schulten Landscapes

♠ Posted by ArtMuse in
Folliwing a project on Tiffany lamps, (Post HeRe) I introduced my students to the work of Dutch artist Ton Schultn. I got the idea for this project from the blog Mary Making 

Sculten was born in Holland in 1938.  He is alive and is still working today.  His work centers on shape and color and borders on abstraction.  A quote I had the children read about his work:
"My goal is to bring people joy, love and peace, and to show them harmony. My intention is for my pictures to stimulate people to think positively. I hope that they will let themselves be inspired by the colors I use, and derive new strength as a result."

 To begin the lesson we compared and contrasted stained glass to Schulten's work.  We discussed the use of color to create mood and the different effects using organic or geometric shapes has on the overall look of an artwork.  I showed the student a SmartBoard file that contained a variety of objects seen in a landscape/seascape/cityscape. and how those objects are comprised of simple shapes.
  Using the slide as a reference, students sketched their landscape idea on 6x9" newsprint and when ready, transferred their drawing onto 14x17" black paper using pencil or white oil pastel (based on their comfort level).  Before color could be added, the drawn lines had to be thickly traced over with Elmer's glue.  *Note: the transferring of the drawing and the glue need to be completed in one period that way it is dry and ready to be colored the following art class.*

I demonstrated how to blend colors using chalk pastels and gave the students some scrap paper to practice on.  We discussed "overblending", and how the colors become muted if they are mixed too much.  If students wanted to create that effect, it was fine with me, as long as it was done intentionally.  I also always teach "2-finger blending" to prevent them from using their entire hand, which someone always inevitably does anyway, to attempt to keep them from getting covered in chalk pastel. 

I encouraged the students to blend more than 3 colors in each shape and use the colors purposely and thoughtfully.  They did a fantastic job! There's something magical about chalk pastels...if you can instill a little self control using the material, the results are always great.  

Best Non-Essential Art Supplies

♠ Posted by ArtMuse in
Yesterday I posted a list of some of my "essential art supplies, my staple items that get ordered yearly.  In that post I said I'd mention some of my favorite "non-essential", or specialty art supplies.  These are going to be the items that get ordered based on special projects that I don't necessarily do every year or are materials that look particularly fun.  Sometimes I order supplies that look really good and then plan a lesson around them and sometimes the lesson idea comes first.  Here's a few of my fav's:

Crayola Model Magic
If you have a kiln, clay takes precedence over model magic, but this is still a great tool either for early childhood or as a center item.  If kept in a container the stuff lasts pretty long, and if you order the primary colored model magic you can mix them to create a neat marble-like effect, or blend them completely to get the secondary colors. When I student taught, the classroom was kiln-less and so my cooperating teacher ordered tons of this stuff as part of her sculpture curriculum.  It's way better than most air-dry clays, the only downside being that it's a bit pricey.

 "Specialty Papers"
Sold in scrap packages, themed packages or specific patterns/textures/styles in the bookmaking section of your supply catalog, specialty or fancy papers are the type of supply that once you have  you wonder how you ever taught art without them. I've used them in story quilts, as decorative collage frames, in collage lessons, for pattern, texture, and repetition components in my lesson and a bunch of other ways.  I love this stuff.

Liquid Watercolors
Some art teachers use liquid watercolors exclusively.  I like to have palettes as well as the liquids but these are really great.  Nasco's 'Country School Washable Watercolors' are cost friendly and really bright, they last a long time and can even be watered down to extend their life while retaining most of their brightness.

Acetate paper (clear and colored)
I've used this to create stained glass lessons,  It's pretty versatile and coupled with foil and some colored Sharpies and you've got yourself some effects the kids will drool over. If you don't have money in the budget for them, use the clear paper sleeves from the main office, they work exactly the same.

Velour or Velvet Paper 
The kids think this stuff is magic. Use it with chalk pastels and voila! Gorgeous results every single time!

Alphacolor brand Neon Chalk Pastels
In my opinion you can't teach elementary art without busting out the neon's on a regular basis. I LOVE neon.  Whether its, paint, paper, highlighters, or chalk pastels I try to use them on a regular basis.  I've also ordered neon watercolors and neon tempera cakes, (so-so) but the alphacolor brand chalk pastels are fantastic, they're so vivid and yet again, the kids love using them.

Scratch Foam
All you need is a ball point pen or pencil and some paints and brushes.  Scratch foam is a great introductory on printmaking and can pretty much be used for all grades. 

Crystaltex Glazes (or any specialty glaze)
What's the best and easiest way to add pizazz to pinch pots or simple clay projects?   Use a specialty glaze! Whether it's opalescent, textures, speckled, spotted, or mulit-tonal, using specialty glazes makes EVERY project look amazing.

Well, there it is folks. I could probably dedicate a whole blog to art supplies...Art teachers are so lucky to get to use all these stellar materials on a daily basis :)