Friday, October 31, 2014

Self Portraits and One Unhappy Art Teacher

Fourth grade is busy at work, drawing their self portraits like Frida Kahlo.  We're still adding our details, but their drawing skills are so very good this year:

I thought about having them color with colored pencil, but it takes forever and I was really happy with the painted ones from a few years ago, so we'll stick with outlining in ultra-fine-Sharpie and paint.
Fifth grade is also working on self portraits.  After making Queen Elizabeth I, we're making ourselves as president (except one student who's making her mom as president, and doing an AMAZING job).  This year, we took notes comparing monarchies and democracies, focusing on art's role.  Like, with a portrait of royalty, they need to look noble, (ie better than us), smart, powerful and wealthy.  Presidents need to look smart, approachable and in control (but not all-powerful).  We drew with pencil and are starting our oil pastel:

We'll work some symbols of America into the backgrounds.  I also want them to do some writing when they're done, a sort of narrative about themselves as president, what they accomplished during their presidency, etc.

We had to add her eyelids in, she had a bit of a wicked look without them!

Student's mom as president, I can't wait for her to see it,
as her daughter really captured her likeness!
(The chin's a bit long, but we'll work on it)
As for the unhappy art teacher bit, I had a total meltdown in sixth grade yesterday.  Picture it: I had half the room working with gelli plates and our faux gelli plates while the other half was making stamps for adinkra printing when I look over and see students using brayers like paint rollers, just covering their whole papers and LOST IT. "WHY are we doing this?? WHY am I busting my behind dragging all this stuff out and cleaning it up if you're just DOING THAT?"  I explained the possibilities AGAIN and then a student looks right at me and paints his paper with his brayer, using his gelli plate as a pallet, and friends, I had to leave the room.  Get out in the hall for some fresh air.  They're a nice group of students, so it was DEAD SILENT in there and I was losing my mind.  We all survived the class period, (at least I can say that) and when I talked to the classroom teacher at the end of the day she said they came back and said "We made her really mad." When their classroom teacher said "Did you apologize?" they replied "No, we thought it'd make it worse."  Smart kids.
We'll soldier on, and I'll narrow it down some more with the gelli printing to get some decent prints out of this if it's at all possible.  I just LOVE gelli printing so much.  Maybe I should take a day off to gelli print for eight hours. . . .hmmmm, that's really something to consider!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Art Detectives

This is one of those super-fast-by-the-seat-of-my-pants things (and my pants are most likely splattered with yellow paint, I don't know why it always seems to be yellow, but it usually is).  
Kindergarten was coloring their primary and secondary giraffes (an idea from another art teacher in my district) and I was so tired of "I'm DONE!" when they clearly were not, so I grabbed my little magnify glasses and let them be "art detectives" and look for the white spaces they still needed to color:

Worked like a charm.  I only needed to have more magnify glasses!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

You Know You're an Art Teacher When

 You know you're an art teacher when you take a selfie with a huge papier mache sarcophagus and send it to friends.  Seriously, this thing is BIG:

And it "lives" in the basement art room of my second school.  The art teacher who put it there bought it at a garage sale.  I really want someone to hide in it and jump out.  Not to scare me, of course, but scaring someone else would be hilarious!
You also know you're an art teacher when things go horribly, disasterly wrong, and you keep on truckin' right through that lesson even though you want to cry.  Laughing at this point is recommended.
Remember this video? And my plan to have students make their own gelli plates?  Well, we did it:

Aren't you so impressed?  Yeah, me either.  But I'd already poured a million dollars into this (ok, so really only about $175, and PTA paid for it + my generous principal reimbursed me for my out of pocket expense, but STILL) so I was bound and determined to make it work.
We started with the lids from tempera cakes:

And used the 7 packets-gelatin-11/2 cups-glycerin-1 1/2 cups-boiling-water recipe and got this:

But for some reason they didn't set up well like when I did them at home:

And did I check them before whipping them out of the cafeteria refrigerator to have a class of 28 use them??? Of course not! Ain't nobody got time for that! So we ended up with a GIANT mess of gelatin, glycerin, acrylic paint and brayers:

AND my classes are back-to-back, so I had fourth grade and third grade after this disaster.
But NO WAY was I going to let anything like a lesson/experiment going horribly awry stop me!  So I scooped what I could of the faux gelli plates back into the tempera cake lids and microwaved them for 2 minutes (one lid melted a bit, and then I knew to more closely monitor the microwaves) and got this:

See how all the paint mixed in?  So what?  They still work!

There's six like this.  All different colors.  They kind of look like
some sort of coral reef/ocean thing.
Then I decided to actually learn from my mistakes and try it out before having the students do it, and this is what I got:

Totally happy with it.  And if students produce quality work it's all worth it, right art teachers????

Monday, October 13, 2014

Really Awesome African Funerary Figures

We're working on an African unit in sixth grade, and we're working on these funerary figures, based on the real thing that you can see here, here or here.
We started out by taking notes in our sketchbooks (more info coming about our sketchbooks, so stay tuned!):

We then folded a 9" x 12" of paper in half and drew a funerary figure shape in pencil.  Figures had to touch each side at least once, so that when we cut them out, they'd be connected:

They're using these awesome metallic markers to color them:

The markers are kind of pricey, and I was worried they wouldn't hold up to classroom use, but so far, so good (and I ordered them from a supply catalog. Sax, I believe). Students have to color both sides and then glue them together when they're done.

They choose if they want the two sides to be the same or different.  A few students are totally done, so I've hung theirs up in our glass-enclosed office area:

Still coming in our Africa unit: masks or headdresses, granary doors and faux mud cloth.  Maybe another project or two if something catches my fancy.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

In the Age of Assessments and Feedback and More Assessments

YOU ARE AWESOME.  Yes, YOU.  The person reading this post.  Know how I know?  Because you're looking for new things, new ideas, new projects and units and ways to reach your students.  As teachers, we're in an age of less positive feedback for the work we do every day and more helpful criticism.  This whole let-me-tell-you-how-to-make-this-lesson/interaction/student assessment-better isn't making me feel uplifted, and we all need that.  I want my students to do better, I want to reach more of them on a deeper, more meaningful way but let's be real, people: every single thing we do and say isn't going to stick with them.  And I don't know about you, but I don't really have the time (or budget) for them to re-work every assignment five or six times.  There's value in doing that, but not for every single lesson.
Teach on, friends, you're rockin' it.  And I know, because I'm on the internetz blogging here!

My baby boy says "Rock on, you awesome people!"

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