Friday, February 25, 2011

Bird Houses and 150 readers!

Wow I hit and passed 150 followers at some point in the last few days! I can't really wrap my mind around it so all I can say is thanks for reading:) I wish I had a stockpile of cool books to share in a celebration drawing like Phyl did . However, I don't. Instead maybe I need to put one of the onesie I make into a drawing...seems like lots of people have little ones.....let me know if anyone would be interested.

Anyway, a few weeks ago I showed photo's from my clay class (the clay heads) and I have another fun project to share today. Clay birdhouses. But first a memorial....
Alas poor kiln, I knew him well. The "district" has decide my kiln is beyond repair and even if I came up with the money to buy a new one they will not install it because the ventilation in the room that held the old kiln is no longer up to code.

Since I can't afford enough air dry clay to do this lesson I really hope someone else can use it because it is so simple, fun and cute cute cute!

My sample is about a foot and half tall and made around a section of tube that I think came from a carpet store. The teacher suggested making smaller scale bird houses using coffee cans or Pringles cans. I think using Pringles cans, and the basic technique in this project, that you could make amazing individual totem poles.

So we started with slabs of clay that were about 2ft by 2ft (remember you could make these smaller)

Our teacher had rubber texture mats that we pushed into the clay with hand rollers. The most popular textures were wood and stone. I choose wood. The mat was about 10 inches tall and 14 or 16 inches wide. This is the size slab we cut to make the birdhouse.

I cut out the textured part of the slab and made the photo really dark so you can see the texture if you click to enlarge the photo
you can also see the cardboard tube we will use to make the birdhouse, a hand roller and a tool for scoring.

**** I forgot to photograph an important step here. You need to wrap the tube in a sheet of newspaper and tuck the ends into the tube. You MUST do this step. You can see the end result in the next photo*****

Here I am wrapping the slab of clay around the newspaper wrapped tube.

And now I've scratched the edges that I want to join and have brushed some water on. I'm sealing the edges of the clay with a hand roller.

Ok now I have placed the tube upright and cut a circle of clay by cutting around a yogurt container lid that is a little wider than the base of the tube. Then I put the tube on top of the circle and do a little slip and score and seal the circle edges up onto the clay tube.

Remember when I said you need to wrap the cardboard tube with newspaper. Now you will see why. Un-stuff the top edge of the newspaper from the cardboard tube and lift the cardboard tube out. If you need to do this project over two classes stop now. Put the tube in a large ziplock bag. Even if you keep the clay nice and moist it is going to start to shrink so you need that cardboard tube out so it doesn't crack. If we are going to keep working on the lesson go ahead and take the newspaper out of the clay also.
the house of our birdhouse

Now for the roof. Cut a 8" circle and lightly draw on it to divided into fourths. Cut out one fourth of the circle. This is going to make the lid for the birdhouse. Slip, score and join to make a cone.

I smoothed the joint and pressed texture into the roof to make it look nice. Then I cut a hole in the house part for the bird (not on the joint) and popped the lid on to see how it looked.

and I decorated it with a tree branch and apple or cherry blossoms. If I wanted to hang my birdhouse from a tree I would need to make two holes in the bottom and two holes in the lid and add wire to hang after it had been fired and glazed.
Yippie yet sigh. I really like mine and wish I could fire and glaze it.

Only a few ladies showed up to class this month so I have less examples but here is three more

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

the complementary color of brown

Sometimes my students are so smart. Today my 6-8th grade class completely stumped me and I need help finding the answer to their question. We are working with complementary colors and I told them if they mix a complementary color set it should make some version of brown. So the kids then asked....what is the complementary color to brown?

Well hum...... Brown is not on the color wheel so is it a neutral? In that case it would not have a complimentary color right? I started pondering the visible light spectrum to answer the question and realized brown must be in the spectrum somewhere, somehow, or we would not be able to see it.

Ok so my smart readers what, or is there, a complementary color to brown?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

sort of free cardstock supplies...bwahhaa

(look at my cute doggies and feel happy)

Ok in my last post I mentioned that I will not receive the 2nd half of my budget this year. There were some great comments, teachers in similar situations, teachers in ickier situations, people with good ideas for finding funds. I've found 3 ways to get more supplies in the last week that may work for you also.

1. Really look around your really really look. I found a box of glue bottles in the janitors closet (what?) got the teachers who have been at the school for a long time to release some of their stockpiles (as one reader's their student's who I am using the supplies for!) And most suprising of all, when I told some 7th graders who came to barrow paintbrushes for a science project that I was really low on paint they told me the science teacher was hording paint and construction paper in her room! Well that was fixed mighty quick today.

2. Call the high school art teacher....they are not going to send you the fancy stuff (acrylics paint) or even the sort of fancy stuff (oil pastels and watercolors) but they sure seem ok with sending over the half used bottles of tempera paint, crayons and Elmer's glue (and a teddy bear from $1 tree?)

3. The number one item we use in my classroom is 90lbs paper (lightweight cardstock) we use this as watercolor paper and our "good" paper for most projects. I have to buy this paper from my budget (in reams) and we had five sheets left. I was lamenting this to the school secretary who got really smart. She said that no one ever sends orders to the district print shop and as a school we have several hundred dollars of print shop credit. Last year we left $300 of print shop credit unused. If I get my copies from print shop I can request to have things printed on 90 lbs paper and not have to pay for it out of my budget. Soooo....I wrote
in the corner of a sheet of paper and sent it over to print shop with a request for 1,000 copies. Yes 1,000 copies. I should have 1,000 sheets of 90lbs cardstock in my classroom by the end of next week nice and blank on one side and pre-headed on the other side. BWAHAHAHAHA!

Ok now to get the donnors choice grant for printmaking supplies up and online and find $1,200 to buy a new kiln...that one is going to take some serious grant writing. Although I should probably wait and see if they plan to keep me next year before I got to the work of geting the school a new kiln.

Next up a really cool clay birdhouse from the send class of the clay workshop where we made the clay heads last month. Thant and the wonders of a material called Aquavar.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

money makes the world go round

maybe i can print my own money....
Dear reader,
Some of you will find this post tacky or whinny but it's my blog and I want to lament about my lack of budget. In my district art teachers are so far and few between that the district does not have an art budget. It is up to each school to pull from their general funds to create an art budget. This means some schools allocate several dollars per student while other schools allocate pennies per student for materials. Without a doubt the SES of each school's community impacts the art budget.

My school is on the low end of the SES scale and over the years our student body has grown and our PTA has disbanded. This year I was allocated .88 cents per student to buy supplies. By the request of the school principal I used half of my money at the start of the school year. I was told I would receive the other half of my budget to use on February 1st. I prepared my 2nd supply order and turned it into the office on the 1st. On the 5th I was given my supply form back with a note that said that there was no money left to buy supplies.

That's impossible, I thought. My budget is in a special account and only I can access it. Obviously there was confusion about how much money I had used that year. Turns out my budget money was never put into my account and was left in the general fund and used by the whole school. Unfair or not their is no money left to order supplies for the rest of the year. The school will continue to provided photocopy paper till the end of the year and nothing else.

There are two major problems here. First, I'm missing half of the supplies I need to get though the year. Second, and even worse, I have not been frugal using our current supplies because I fully expected to replenish everything this month. At this moment I have two bottles of red tempera paint to my name.

I have spent the last week trying to find ways to get money or supplies.
I wanted to have a art room fundraiser but the leadership team has said no. It was decided at the start of the year that we would refrain from fundrasing this year. Since 94% of our students are free/reduced lunch they do not want to burden families by asking for money in these tough times. There goes that idea.

So I will have to get money elsewhere. I have a donors choice project in the works that hopefully will get me some supplies and I'm searching for other small grants. I'm hoping to tade my 200lbs of unused clay with other district art teachers for some tempera paint, glue and construction paper. I hope I get some more amazing ideas because .44 cents per student is not going to cut it as a acceptable budget for this year.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

color and composition

5th-8th grade spent several classes working on color theory and exploring composition using organic and geometric shapes. We also learned what a triptych is and practiced our watercolor painting skills.

I like aspects of this lesson and other parts I feel could be stronger. Maybe you all can help me improve it for next year.

First I gave the kids some cardstock and asked them to draw five organic and/or geometric shapes. They were to make the shapes at least as big as a silver dollar. I forced a lot of kids to re-draw their shapes larger.

Next I cut a letter size piece of watercolor paper into thirds for each student and started teaching the word triptych. We spent a good amount of time discussing what makes an interesting composition and the ideas of variety, unity and balance. On each of the three pieces of paper they were to use all 5 of their shapes to make three distinct compositions. I encouraged overlap, allowed the shapes to run off the page and be allowed the shapes to be repeated as often as wanted.

After the compositions were created we reviewed basic color theory for warm and cool colors. I asked students to paint one part of the triptych in the warm colors, one in the cool colors and the third was student's choice. Finally the three parts were mounted on black paper to create the final work of art.
(the strongest of the bunch I think)
Next time I think I will make the students either draw the shapes even larger or make 7 shapes. I also will require them to use at least two of the shapes more than one time in each composition. The examples with just the five shapes done once are a bit boring. We also need to work on the idea of balance in a composition more. I feel they are still a bit lacking. Any ideas?
(she kind of does her own thing, but I'm ok with that. How many 7th graders do you know that have a clear "artistic vision" as she calls it.)

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Chalk pastel stuffed animals

A while back I asked for tips on using chalk pastel with my students for a drawing project involving stuffed animals and beanie babies. Thanks to your tips this ended up being a really successful project. Using watercolor paper and layers of hairspray helped with the smudging.

The chalk pastel was perfect for making the soft fur of the stuffed animals. The students liked how easy it was to blend and add shadows with the pastels and how quickly they could lay down color. Believe it or not, our less expensive pastels ended up working best for this project.

Some students brought in stuffed animals from home and others used my collection of stuffed animals and beanie babies that were donated by staff members.

As always these represent 6th through 8th grade students that vary from one month of art with me to three years non stop everyday. I like seeing how the kids I have spent a lot of time with the last three years have progressed. I would recommended this project as a high interest project for 5th grade up!

I put these up in the main office and the secretaries say they have been receiving a lot of positive reaction from both student's and parents that come into the office.

I don't think my photos do these project justice!
An 8th grade student I've had a on an off over the last 3 years. I can see that she has learned a lot over the years. She had no art instruction before I received her as a 6th graders but was interested in art and had natural talent. I feel she is using color and value particularly well. I feel very comfortable sending her to high school with her current skill set. I think she will be as prepared as the kids from the higher income schools in our area.

6th grader who is working very hard to develop her skills. You can see she was trying to mimic the work being done by the 8th graders above. She is well on her way. She is obsessed with fantasy artwork (dragons and such) so she pushed herself to work from a realistic still life.
not the most advanced artwork ever but I think the animal is cute and she created a lot of personality with it and the planet in the background.
Very interesting perspective/composition from one of my autistic students.

As an aside at all three schools I have taught at I have noticed my students from Russia and the Ukraine are particularly talented artists. A disproportionate number of them have parents who have art backgrounds. Not only are they hard workers with their art, they seem to have impressive natural talent, especially in drawing. Is this just a coincidence? I don't know much about Russian culture but is art highly valued? My students from Cuba also seem to be particularly talented/interested in art. Has anyone else noticed similar trends in their student populations?

Monday, February 7, 2011

projects for technnology class

Images are an integral part of my art room. The possibilities for integrating digital cameras, digital images and photo editing programs are endless. In the past I have relied on art prints, books and lesson samples for visual resources. This has been limiting as my print collection is sparse and checking out/buying art books is time consuming and expensive. When I received a projector and document camera last spring I started to change how I presented my lessons and visual resources. I hope to transition from print resources to digital resources for examining works of art, studying artists and presenting different art making processes. Furthermore I hope to educate myself so that I may teach my students how to use digital programs to increase their digital literacy and expand their art making opportunities. With these goals in mind I have created three ways to incorporate digital images into my classroom.

The first way I would like to use digital images/ editing software is to update a 6th-8th grade required lesson. Our district asks students at the middle school level to create a self portraiture painting each year. 6th-8th grade students are also required to demonstrate a mastery of creating value in a painting. Finally they need to be able to create an abstracted work of art based on a realistic object or image. Typically these three goals are demonstrated through three separate projects. I would like to fulfill all three goals at once using digital images as a springboard.

I plan to take a photo of each student with a digital camera and put those images in a folder where each student can access their image. Then using editing software I want each student to crop the photo, take out any background images, switch the photo to gray scale, and finally simplify and abstract their image using the equivalent of the "posterize" effect. I would then print each students altered image and have them transfer the shapes of their abstracted self portraiture onto Bristol paper. Next I would have students look for the different values of gray in their altered photo and label those areas 1-5 (one being lightest, five being darkest) on both their photo and Bristol paper. Next I would have them mix five values of paint to correspond with their labels. Finally I would have them paint their abstracted image using the photo as a paint by number guide of sorts. This project would merge traditional painting skills with modern digital images and altering.

My second idea would be a project with our K-4th dual immersion program. Our kindergarten immersion class is 80% native Spanish speakers who are learning English at school along with conducting most of their day in Spanish. By 4th grade the dual immersion students are proficient in both English and Spanish. I would like to have the current 4th grade immersion students use their knowledge to create picture books for the kindergarten students that have text in both languages.
4th grade students would use digital cameras to take photos illustrating different alphabet letters and sounds. I like an alphabet book because there are about 26 4th grade immersion students so each student could be responsible for one letter of the alphabet. Each alphabet book page would have an image that applies to that letter and have the word that goes with that image in both Spanish and English. We would take all 26 images. laminate them and bind them into a book for the Kindergarten class. (For example: The letter Z could illustrate the word Zapato. The student assigned to Z would photo graph one or more shoes to go with the letter, the word in Spanish (zapato) and its English equivalent (shoe).

My third idea for using digital images in my classroom applies to both my lesson preparation and student assessment. I try, as often as possible, to demonstrate art lessons and techniques under my document camera so I may project my demonstrations in large format making it easier for students to see what I'm doing and follow along. However, several types of art media either do not fit or are not appropriate to put under my document camera. Ceramics and printmaking being the most problematic.

My 5-8th grade students are slated to start a month long printmaking unit at the end of February. I would like to take digital photos of the five printmaking processes (collagraph, linocut, monoprint, stenciling, and etching) that I teach and turn these photos into five slide presentations. I would like to also include digital examples of each of these methods in each slide show.I hope that by using digital photos I could crop, zoom in and add text on the slides to help students better understand the details of correct printmaking.

I would also like to take digital photos of the basic equipment that we use for printmaking and print these photos and add them to my word wall so that their is an image to go with the description of the material or process. I feel I could also use these images, and the definitions I already have, to create a matching game to use as a pre and post assessment. I am particularly interested in this project idea because I could easily incorporate aspects of SIOP (Sheltered Immersion Observation Protocol) a program that my school is currently working to integrate into each classroom for our sizable population of ELL students.

Each of these project ideas would allow me to learn how to use digital images, editing software and presentation methods to enhance my students learning in their day to day art lessons.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

clay faces

On MLK Day I went to the first of 3 free clay classes offered at our local clay store. I'm really excited I got a spot in the class as I have been on the waiting list for 3 years! 9 other ladies, all in art education, and I spent the morning learning how to make clay heads and the afternoon perfecting our kiln firing technique and knowledge. (P.S. I learned why it is really not a good idea to glaze before you bisque fire even if it is more convenient)
With permission I documented the process of making my clay head. I had a hard time with this project. Some of ladies also struggled and some had no problem. This was introduced as a beginning project but I question that. It took all of us a good 2 to 3 hours to complete our heads. One step has you push a hole into the head from the neck area to hollow it out and help form the face. I had a hard time with this step, my finger were too short and I have normal size adult hands.
So I would save this one for students who have either more time to work, or more clay experience or maybe are on the older side.
Enjoy laughing at the photos of my attempts!
start with 2 one pound blocks of clay

make one into a ball

use your thumbs to press indents for the eyes and push clay up to make the nose. Use your nail or a pencil to draw a smile.

make the eyeballs to go into the eye sockets (about marble sized)

put a coil of clay across the top and bottom of the eyeball to make the eye lids, smooth them on but leave a strong "brow" bone. Use your finger to start pulling the lips apart

add coils for the lips and try to smooth into the face and keep a natural smile look (ummm....that is way easier said than done I found)

ok now we took the 2nd piece of clay and made it like a hollowed out boat. Flip it over. Attach the head to the upside down boat and pull clay from the back of the head and under the chin to create a neck . This is the only part I feel I did really well. Lots of people's heads tipped backwards but mine was looking straight ahead. Oh and you have to push your pointer finger up into the head to hollow it out a bit. You are supposed to push the cheeks from the inside out but my fingers were not strong enough to accomplish that goal so I had to build mine up with clay.

an hour has passed since the last photo. I got so involved trying to get done before time was up that I stopped taking photos. I used a pen to make the nostril holes and the pupils. It took me about 15 min to deal with the mouth but I still am so so on it. Then I added the hair with the garlic press. She had kind of snotty/judgmental look on her face so I decided to make her a high society lady and give her a little mink around her neck. That is my favorite part and was super fast to make compared to the face. The mink is also helping support her head.

And now for my classmates people (photos taken with their permission!)
my table-mates project

she did a great job with the hair and neck and shirt

look at the character she created! His ears and hat are amazing!

love the baseball hat!

and then we all saw hers and felt like a big bunch of losers. Can you tell she is a professional artist that does art classes on the side. I just love the mask. She reminds me of something from a Midsummer Nights dream.