Tuesday, April 29, 2014

In the Art Room: Ming Vase Still Life with Third Grade

Well, after taking a two week hiatus to create our Chinese-inspired clay dragons (which I'll share with ya as soon as those bad boys are glazed and refired), my artists in third grade land returned to their Ming vase projects and finished 'er off. They were pretty stinkin' proud of themselves and who can blame 'em? They're just about as colorful and amazing as my third graders themselves.
This project, like so many of the ones we do, was a million step process that schooled us on bunches of stuff. Here's how we began this adventure:

Day #1/2 (two 30 minute class periods): We reviewed properly painting with watercolor paint (for details of that kind of chat, go here) and chatted about warm vs. cool colors. The kids were given the choice of painting with either color family. We also chatted about what constitutes an abstract painting (that'd be line, color and shape) and how we might begin that kind of painting. With that, the kids set to work on their 9" X 12" papers.
Day #3/4: Although the kids were painting a Ming-vase inspired kind of design, I wanted to emphasize to 'em that their vase could simply be decorative or tell a story. So I shared with them the Legend of Blue Willow. I'm kinda dorky (duh, like I have to tell you that) in that I really love story telling. So I got all into it in hopes that it would inspire some super vase illustrations. 

After story time, we chatted about what kind of vase or planter shape they might want. Turns out that there are many different Chinese vase shapes that span the history of pottery in China with each signifying a different period in time. The kids learned to fold their papers in half, draw a shape of their choice and cut. Viola! Instant symmetrical vase!

Once that was complete, the kids created their design on their vase. Pencil lines were traced in blue sharpie and color was added with colored pencils. 
Day #5/6: Well...I noticed that when the kids chose to use the cool colors for their backgrounds, their vases blended in. Oops. So to remedy that, and to create a three-dimensional feel to their work, I had the kids create a shadow behind their vase. This was super simple and the kids thought it was like magic. They simply traced their vase onto black paper, cut it out and glued it to the back of their vase, shifting it slightly to cast a shadow. Once the shadow was glued down, the entire thing was adhered to the background paper.

From there, we had a discussion about bonsai and cherry blossom trees. On newsprint, I showed the kids some ideas on how to paint these kinds of trees. I suggested (em, strongly) that they attempt to paint both kinds of trees on practice paper (that'd be newsprint) before painting on their masterpiece.
I am seriously loving both of the backgrounds in these paintings. By the way, when it comes to watercolor paint in the art room, you must use Crayola's Mixing Colors paint. Not the regular Crayola watercolor. This stuff is way better. Look for the box that says "Mixing Colors." It does come with an odd assortment of colors so you might have to supplement with additional pans. But, look at that magenta and turquoise! So pretty!
I love that this artist remembered from our clay lesson that Chinese dragons are often shown with a pearl that is believed to be the source of their strength and power. 
Look out that painting on the right seems to have an almost patterned shadow behind the vase. These third graders are, like, genius.
Day #7: Once their tree of choice was painted into their vase, I gave the kids several choices for finishing off their still life. One was using a variety of green paint and a stubby brush to create a leaf texture for their tree.
Another was using tissue squares to create three dimensional blossoms. I remember doing this in elementary school and thinking it was the best thing ever. You simply wrap a piece of 1" square tissue around the bottom of your pencil, put a touch of glue on it and press/hold it onto your paper. Give it a second, gently lift off and, viola! Blossom! Sometimes, a couple of pieces of tissue were glued together before attaching to the paper.
The final option I gave to the kids was simply painting their blossoms on. I also told them that they could do a combo of all three processes if they wanted. 

I'm so happy these masterpieces are complete. It's just a coupla weeks until our school wide art show so I was happy to scratch this project off the list. Now! Onto glazing dragons, writing artist autobiographies, painting our clay stars...sigh. Fingers crossed we get it all completed in time.

Until next time, ya'll, have a great week!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

What the Art Teacher Wore #97 and Last Call for the Best Dressed Contest!

Feelin' Frida-ish Monday: I have a coupla after school art clubs, in those small groups, we have the most enlightening convos. One girl asked, "We learn about men artists a lot. Aren't there any girl artists?" I had already been thinking about how I'd like to introduce more contemporary artists next year (this guy does it all the time and has me inspired) but now I know that more female artists need to be thrown into the mix. So! What contemporary/female artists do you introduce in your art room? dress: thrift store; necklaces: Forever39, ahem, 21; belt: Anthropologie; tights: Target; boots: Seychelles 
I don't know what life is like on your end of the world but I'm sure it's crazy-busy. Especially if you are a teacher. End-of-the-school-year projects to wrap up, mountains of artwork to sort for our school-wide art show, let's-get-rid-of-this-stuff spring cleaning, the list grows by the day. So this week, I thought I'd share with you just some of the things we've been working on in the art room. Complete lessons on this here blog to come, but for now, you'll have to savor these sneak-peaks.

AND, just so's ya know, Wednesday, April 30th is the LAST CALL FOR THE BEST DRESSED ART TEACHER CONTEST! Yes, I'm shouting at you, that's how excited I am! So many of you awesome art teachers have sent me snaps that left me rolling in laughter (which is a good thing, I swear! Ya'll are the best!). 

What's the Best Dressed Art Teacher Contest, you ask? 
Well, here's the details:

Nominate yourself or an art teacher buddy!

Simply send an email to me at cassieart75@gmail.com with a photo of your best artsy look. High resolution photos preferred, please.

 Please include a short bio about the art teacher and what inspired the look.

Photos and bio will be shared on this blog on April 30th.

Open voting on this blog will end on May 5th and the winner will be announced May 7th!

The winner will receive a magical prize along with an interview on this blog.

So! what are you waiting for? Shoot me an email, you crazy art teacher, you!
So if I'm not found Buried Alive under the 400+ clay projects that the kids have created over the last coupla weeks, it'll be a miracle. These clay stars were created a couple months back. Our original intent was to glaze them and "sell" them back to our parents with the proceeds going to charity. However, due to some personal stuff, that had to get placed on the back burner. But now we're back! And I just knew I'd never be able to get 400+ stars glazed and fired along with all those projects. So I lurked the interwebs for a possible solution and saw something about coloring clay projects with crayons...(well, construction paper crayons were recommended but, in the state that my room is currently in, there was no finding mine)...

We painted over them with watercolor paint (I asked that the kids pick just one color, por favor) and viola! Colorful and completed in a snap! More details about these stars and how they were created in an upcoming post.
Bump-It Up Tuesday: So I had a hair appointment after school on Tuesday (not that you'd ever be able to tell I got my hair cut. I'm such a chicken, I always just get a couple inches taken off. So boring!). Once seated in the hair-cuttin-hot-seat, I proceeded to unravel the following from my 'do: 11 Bobby Pins, 2 Pink Bows and 1 Extra Large Bumpit. My hair dressers reaction, after regaining her thoughts, "Ohmigawd, IS THAT A BUMPIT?!" I live in the South, ya'll! It's Big Hair or Die! shoes, sweater and top: thrift store; skirt and belt: Pin Up Girl Clothing 
Speaking of clay projects...my 3rd graders created these Chinese-inspired clay dragons. Ya'll, this project was such a hit! I would easily do this again with all grade levels. The creativity was off the chain crazy! I can't wait for them to glaze them so I can share the easy-peasy lesson with you. 

Some of my 4th grade students created Panda's with Personality (oh boy, ya'll. Do they ever have personality!) while another group created Asian elephants inspired by the painted elephants in India. Many added jewelry, fabric and flowers to their elephants. I have a feeling these are going to be the most colorful elephants ever.
So Stinkin' Tired Wednesday: Seriously. The end of the school year is near...and my work load only builds as I'm sure yours does as well. This photo was the only one I managed NOT to be yawning my head off in. dress: vintage, thrifted; tights: Target; shoes: Dolls by Nina
After finishing off our clay projects, We Returned to Our Normally Scheduled Program, Already in Progress (said in that officially dorky voice). Which means my 4th graders added either bamboo, cherry blossom trees or pine trees to their large (12" X 18") watercolor painted backgrounds. Lesson to come, promise!

What is Wrong with You, Thursday?!: Wow, this outfit was a let down to the folks, both big and small, in my school! The 4th grade decided that they had never seen me in "short shoes" (um, I'm guessing that means flats?!) and my librarian buddy dubbed this a "too normal" of an outfit. Humph! Time to get outta these Short Shoes and step up my Non-Normal game, I guess! top: Target; skirt: vintage, etsy; shoes: gift; headband: made by me; necklace: The Paper Source
Meanwhile, in 3rd grade, we excitedly finished these Ming vase inspired still lives. We spent a long time on this project but learned so much...I'll be sharing this lesson later this week. Stay tuned, ya'll!

Hittin' the Town, Friday: Almost everyday after school, there's something going on. Whether it's an art club or meeting up with buddies, I'm always running. I had decided that, with art show approaching, I should spend more after school time in my art room...but I just can't! Not with buddies that I need to chat and shop with. Tamara, thank you for snapping this photo at my happy place -- Anthropologie (where I walked out with a not-at-all-necessary $298 dress for $26, eeee!). dress: made by me (go here for the craziest food-processing-foot-cutting story everrr
My 1st grade friends made clay koi fish...and while those dry, they are creating these koinobori (Japanese for Carp Kite) for May 5th which is Children's Day in Japan.

I actually picked up these die-cut paper fish years ago through Roylco and never got around to having the kids create them. This time it worked to be the perfect tie-in, as well as a super short project while our clay drys out. I'll share with you more about this project soon. Ah! So much to share with ya's!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

DIY: Felting a Dress is a Scream!

So the other day, a maintenance dude was in my art room installing what appears to be The World's Largest Flat Screen T.V. (seriously, ya'll. What am I gonna do with this thing, shop on QVC whilst the kids are art-makin'? Hey...wait a minute...). Annnyway, we got to chatting and dude tells me a story about his high school art teacher that is so deliciously demented, I just have to share it with ya. Apparently, this art teacher salvaged her daughter's hair after a hair cut and, wait for it, knitted it into a sweater.

[I'll pause here until you finish with the dry heaves.]

But wait, there's more! Dude then proceeds to tell me that whenever you were working on your masterpiece, the art teacher, forever in her Hairy Hoodie, would lean over to offer advice and, when doing so, the hairs would tickle your face. 

[Again, I pause. Heave away.] 

"Because all art teachers are weird, you know," said that formerly tickled and tormented soul. "Even you!" Mind you, I just met this guy and he's already got me (accurately) pegged.

Why tell you this story? Because I remembered it when I was felting hairs into this dress. Not human hair, mind you, but that of some colorful sheeps and, well, maybe a rogue cat hair or twenty.

And I'm left with the thought: Will my sweet art-lovin' students tell stories of their Hairy-Dress art teacher?!
I scream at the thought.
According to my calculations, there here is my 12th Hairy, er, Needle Felted Creation. For my latest felted -n- foxy masterpiece, follow this linky-loo which will lead you down a rabbit hole of cheeseball needle-felting tutorials and a look-see of my Needle Felted Projects of the Past.

With that outta the way, let's chat about this here Munch-inspired Scream dress, ermkay? I gave ya'll a look-see (as well as a brief history of el Munch-o) in this What I Wore post. I've had my mind set on creating a Scream dress since my Adventures in Making an Artist-A-Month Dress began. And I've had my eye on this years-old (and slightly ruined from a formerly failed DIY) dress as the perfect canvas for this Scream-tastic adventure. I began by drawing my design out in chalk as it's easy to erase with an elbow or completely rid of with a toss in the wash.
Way back in January, when hubs and I took to the Smoky Mountains for some adventuring, I stumbled upon a knitting/weaving/felting shop that had this amazing felt roving. When I saw it, I immediately knew it'd be perfect for The Scream and scooped it up for a mere $14, ya'll. I thought the mix of colors would save me a lotta labor layering colors...which I spent a lot of time doing in this piece.
And in 30 minutes, I had a wee bit of sky in place.
Many more than 30 minutes later, I had made some progress...however, it's become apparent to me that I need to size-up on my needle felting tool as that little bitty pencil-sized thing takes For.Eve.Rrrr.
However, I was determined to finish this super hairy beast. So I strapped on my headphones, jammed out to some rando tunes (I ran the musical gamut from Mazzy Star to Siouxsie and the Banshees and some Lily Allen. I tole you, rando) and worked until the loopeyness set in...

At which point hubs came in to check on me (I wasn't responding to his hollerin' due to said headphone/jam-out sessions). He brought Ashie with him who we promptly styled with a rogue piece of roving. Question: Do you prefer the Conan O'Kitty on the left or the Cat-Faux-Hawk on the right? Let's be honest, this cat looks good in any random roving we put on her head.

When the dress was finally complete, it seriously weighed a ton. I totes wasn't  expecting it to be so hot and heavy, heehee. Ahem. To smash down the roving (and lock the fibers into place), I flipped the dress inside out, as seen, and ironed the crap outta it on the steamiest setting available.
This helped flatten the otherwise lumpy and bumpy look to the dress. Which is never appealing.
By the way, I saved the Scream-y face for last. I was certain I was going to mess it up. And that's like the most important part. Mess that up and you lose the image entirely.
And I did struggle with it a bit. Originally, I created the hallows of the eyes in brown. However, that appeared much darker than is seen on the original. So I toned down the hallows with a very fine veil of peach roving. This worked to push the eye sockets back a pinch and made it so the pupils could come forward. It was a happy accident and I'm excited that I discovered a fun way to play with value whilst felting.
Of course, no post about The Scream would be complete without a dorky attempt at The Scream. I had to channel my inner Home Alone/Macaulay Culkin. My sincerest apologies.

And there you have it! One felted The Scream dress that's hairy-feltedness is sure to tickle the face of some poor student who will live to tell about it to generations to come. And by "generations" I mean their many therapists.

Until next time, I hope your week is a Scream, ya'll!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

What the Art Teacher Wore #96 and Artist/Teachers

Monday with a Side of Cat: We have a lot of wee wildlife activity that happens on our deck. There's the usual squirrels, chipmunks and birds...but lately we've had plenty of visits from the wild turkey in our neighborhood as well as some unwelcome opossums and skunks. It's enough to keep our indoor cat entertained for dayz. dress: vintage, thrifted; belt and boots: Anthropologie; tights: Target; necklaces: DIY made by me, here.
 Hiya, kids! I hope you all had just the best weekend ever. I spent the grand majority of mine hiking with the hubs, watching entirely too many episodes of any and every survivalist show we can manage to find and felting. Oh, yes, looooots of needle felting. I can't wait to share with ya'll the finished mess-terpiece later this week!

Earlier this week, I caught an interesting conversation on the Art Teachers page on Facebook. It was a long-winded convo where, sadly, things got lost in translation and it got a pinch ugly.  Essentially, what it boiled down to was this: a comment was made that drew a line in the sand between "Career Artists" (not my words) and "Art Teachers".  Wait, there's a difference?! It was like you coulda heard all the art teachers suck air in through their tightly clinched teeth.

Maybe Ima speaking for myself when I say this but...I discovered art (and my love for it) first, then art education (and my love for it.) Since finding my love for creating way back in elementary school, I considered myself an artist. I never dreamed of becoming an art teacher until college when my parents (who thankfully footed the bill) suggested an art ed degree. At the time, I was attending Indiana University and currently enrolled in the painting program there. And, boy, talk about a line drawn in the sand! The moment my painting professors found out I was on the path to becoming a teacher, it was like I was no longer a serious artist. The mentality and snobbery strongly reminded me of that Career Artists vs. Art Teachers convo.

Now, in defense of the term "Career Artist", it does mean one that makes a career of creating and selling their own art. And that is not something I do. So, I understand the difference, I get it. However, what I do instead of selling my own art is enjoy creating art for myself and teaching others to do the same. I guess you could call me a Crazy Career Art Teacher. And I'm cool with that.

Do you know of any famous artists that were also great educators? Aside from finding out that Gene Simmons used to be a teacher (wait, whut?!), I discovered that portrait painter Robert Henri was also a Career Art Teacher. 
 Robert Henri, 1907 Wikipedia says that Robert Henri (1865-1929) was an "artist and a teacher," forming the famous Ashcan group (one of my college faves). Robert Henri was a popular and influential teacher at the Art Students League of New York. It's said that he gave his students, not a style (although you can tell some were strongly influenced by his style), but an attitude, an approach to art.
Mary Agnes, 1924 It seems that Henri was always a teacher, a leader, even in his group of artist friends. He urged his friends and students to create a new, more realistic art that was more about their life and surroundings and less about creating Impressionist-influenced works. The paintings by Henri, John Sloan, George Luks, and others that were inspired by this idea became the Ashcan School of American art.

If My Keys Were Always this Easy to Find, Tuesday: This here is the first ever dress I made...with the help of a good art teacher buddy of mine. dress and belt: me!; tights: Target; shoes: Dolls by Nina
 Tam Gan, 1914 In keeping with that notion that artists should be influenced by their surroundings, Henri said: "Art cannot be separated from life. It is the expression of the greatest need of which life is capable, and we value art not because of the skilled product, but because of its revelation of life's experience." I love that. Don't you?

Yes, I Wore this to Work Wednesday: Recently, someone asked me if I actually wear the outfits I post to school. Well...not to sound like an a-hole but the blog post is called "What the Art Teacher Wore". I don't snap too many photos at school because 1.) I find I look less like pooh on a stick first thing in the morning before I leave the house 2.) I take these photos myself with my camera timer. When someone walks in on me snapping away it is Awk.Ward. to say the least 3.) My art room is always a disaster! I mean, look at those mounds of zip-locked clay projects behind me on the floor. And that's the "clean" area! sweater, purple top, tights: Target; skirt and shoes: thrifted; necklace:   The Paper Source
Oh! I interrupt all this Robert Henri-ness say, look who I got to meet up with on Wednesday...none other than Erica, aka Art Project Girl! I met Erica through the wide world of art teacher blogging and was so thrilled to visit with her (and her super sweet sis-in-law) while she was in town. It was so fun meeting up with her -- even though we'd never met, it was like we'd known each other forever. So glad to see/meet you, Erica!

Sparkly Thursday: Oh, gotta love a four day week...I thought the occasion called for wearing excessive amounts of sparkles. As should everyday, really. top and tights: Target; sweater: ebay; vintage painted skirt: Buffalo Exchange

The Green Sacque, 1927 One of the things that really strikes me about Henri is that he wasn't just a teacher to his students but to other artists. I felt weird reading that conversation on Facebook because of that line in the sand. Why is there a divide between Career Artists and Art Teacher? Shouldn't we be learning from and influencing each other? I could learn so much from a working artist that could be shared with my students...and vice versa. I did find that there are actually a couple of online communities that work toward just that. One is called Artists Who Teach and another is the Association of Teaching Artists
Good, er, Happy Friday!: On Thursday, one of my students said, "Tomorrow is called 'Happy Friday'...right?" After that was straightened out, we all agreed that a day off is pretty stinkin' happy. dress: Anthropologie found at Buffalo Exchange; scarf: Orly Kiely; belt: gift; dotted boots: DIY, go here.
 What are your thoughts on this, ya'll? As an art teacher, do you also consider yourself an artist? Or, because you don't sell your work as a main source of income, does that make you less of one? Do you create artwork with the intent to sell or show? Or simply for your own pleasure?

Could I possibly ask you any more questions?!

Oh! Yes, I've actually got one more! Have you read this book by Henri? I've been meaning to since those aforementioned college when I found out the dude was an artist/teacher. Looks like a summer read to me.

Be back with ya soonish!