Friday, May 30, 2014

Creative Cups!

Well what can I say? All the best artist steal and I would like to thank "The Lost Sock" for springing this lovely idea on me. My 7th grade students were in a bit of a slump. Maybe it's the end of year syndrome or perhaps I need to step up my game, but I just needed to get the creative juice flowing in these kiddos. When I stumbled across this amazing post, along with this video from Sharpie, I finally found the perfect project to get my kiddo back on that creative wagon. Simple enough. Just a styrofoam cup and a bunch of Sharpie markers. The struggle for my kids? I didn't answer ANY questions! I checked their thumbnail sketches and let them fly. To celebrate all their creativity we had ourselves a little party. Check out the photos of these delightful cups!    

This little lady decided to pace on the beverages and picked some flowers for it instead :)

I also have this little video of one of the cups in the round! Check it out and feel free to steal. I did. Thank you "The Lost Sock"

Monday, May 26, 2014

Where Have I Been?

Well geez! It feels like I haven't made a blog post in forever (10 days is forever!) so I wanted to let you all know where I've been. I have been in the blissful Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I got word last week that my beloved Uncle Tom passed away :( The funeral gave a rare opportunity to see family and a blessed opportunity to remember the wonderful man that was Tom Safford.

After the funeral Adam (my husband) and I enjoyed a little vacation at my family's cabin. The time was spent doing one of my favorite things, being with family. Here are some images from our little adventure up in the UP. (or da UP)

Fires are one of Adam and my's favorite things to do at the cabin. Armed with wacky hats we made or our own "American Gothic"

A UP passed time (might seem strange). We got on the score board for the Biggest Stump Burn!

Lots of bugs, but the lake is so beautiful. A little Fog made it better but Adam fogged me instead :(

Look at that fashionable bug net! It's a look, that's for sure. Little baby fish too :)

A little memorial day fun. America. 

So this is why I've been off the grid for awhile. I hope you understand. Sometimes unplugging is needed and now I'm 100% ready to finish off the school year. Two weeks left!

Friday, May 16, 2014

The Walking Gallery

I don't know about you all, but this time of the year I am just not putting Art up in the hallways anymore. This past week I had our annual Art Show and to prepare for that I took down ALL the work I had so nicely displayed in the hallway. It usually takes me about three full hours to change out a display and many more before and after that tagging and passing back work. With only a few weeks left of school I just didn't have the heart to put up the work again to just take it down again in a few days. However, as an art teacher I have this NEED to show off all the talent my kiddos have so I've come up with the perfect idea! I am now getting excited to present "The Walking Gallery"! My students are in the budding stag of this project so this post will need a follow-up, but I was just too excited to share and hopefully get some of you thinking of creative ways to keep displaying when you just don't have the time or energy.

Here's the example I made for my kiddos. An ode to my lovely husband and his rocking (i'll be it exaggerated) beard.

I had so much fun with the first one I decided to make another one with my kiddos. Inspired by the design I used on the cover of the Art Show program. In progress....

Shirts a plenty, in the making!

This lovely shirt is showing some very promising shading techniques. My kiddos rock!

For those of you interested in trying "The Walking Gallery", the process is very simple. Start with a shirt (white is definitely the easiest, but color works too!) and some good old fashioned acrylic paint. Yes you can paint on a shirt with acrylic! The trick is to use a little bit of water or gel medium in your paint to allow it to spread easily. Once your creation is complete, heat set it (I use the dryer or iron) for about 20 min (in dryer) or a couple of passes with the iron. Wash inside out as often as you remember :). The shirt color last for a good amount of time. It's definitely not screen printing, but after time it gets a really great vintage quality. I still have one I made in high school! Also sharpie works great for adding some last minute details. Enjoy!

Monday, May 12, 2014

It's That Time!

Tomorrow is the BIG DAY! I'm so excited to get the display up and share my student's ART with everyone! It should be a really fun time! Hope your Art Shows are as stellar as mines looking! Happy Displaying :)

Saturday, May 10, 2014

What Art Teachers Make

I'm sure you've all heard the fabulous speech  "What Teachers Make" by Taylor Mali. It is so incredibly inspirational and accurate. He speaks no holds barge about what teachers make and I'm NOT talking per pay check people.

After I saw his video I started asking myself, "well what do I make?" So I started writing. Now I am definitely NOT as eloquent a writer as Taylor, but as a sort of 'spoof' on this famous speech I bring you my version called "What Art Teachers Make"

He says the problem with art is 
What’s a kid going to learn about Math and
Science from drawing and painting?
What would the world be if everyone was an artist? 

He reminds the other dinner guest that there’s a reason why they call them “starving artists”. 
How can anyone make a living off of a career in art?
I mean, you’re an art teacher, Annette, be honest. 
What do you make?

I take a deep breathe and hold back my eye roll. 

You want to know what I make?

I make students be more creative than they ever thought they could be
I make test scores go up without teaching one of those “Core” subjects. 

I can make a young artist feel like Van Gogh and the Mona Lisa look like remedial skills. How dare you waste my materials and not challenge yourself. 

I make kids find their own answers and none of my books have the them in the back. How do you think it looks? What do you think this composition needs?

I make students understand that breaking the rules is sometimes acceptable. Yes, you may add that. Yes. you can try that. 

I make students think of ideas they never even thought were possible. 
I make math and science seem easy compared to the problem solving I make my kids do. 

I make students literate in visual aspects.  
I make students critical of themselves and the world around them.
I make a space of safety where difference is celebrated and voices are made visual. 

You want to know what I make? 
I make students connect EVERY subject in ways that they never thought possible          
I make them critique
I make them question 
I make them find inspiration everywhere
I make them struggle
I make them push themselves hard than they have before
I make them erase, erase, erase
I make them try, try, try again until their work is something they are proud of

That’s what I MAKE 
Now you tell me who DOESN’T need that?


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Compassion Project Part 3

Whew! Part 3 of this elaborate project but totally worth all the effort. As promised, I'd like to explain how I introduced my little artist to the four charities our district decided to donate to with this "Art of Compassion" art show. I didn't want my students to just receive the facts as I stood in front of them rattling off all the information about different programs, yada yada. I wanted them to understand what it would be like to actually need the services of these charities; Harbor House, Arc of the Fox Cities, Emergency Shelter of the Fox Valley and NAMI. Since this project was all about COMPASSION, understanding people in need of these services allowed my students to truly understand from another perspective. 

HARBOR HOUSE: Hopefully you are all aware of the great work The Harbor House does for women who are victims of domestic abuse. To help my student learn and understand the service of The Harbor House, I lead them through a true story of dating violence. Cards were handed out to the students with different parts of the story and as we read through each card as the story escalated, the students lead a discussion about warning signs. It seems simple but the students responded so well and really respected the experience they received. 

Here are a couple of the mixed media (drawings on top of painting) projects my 8th grade Studio and Explorations students made as their response to the idea of compassion:

ARC OF THE FOX CITIES: This awesome program works with family and individuals with special needs. I chose to focus on Autism because of the autistic community we have in the district. Students watched the video "Carly's Cafe" where they experienced the world through the eye of an individual with autism. The students followed up with a discussion about what it would be like to live in a world of overstimulation and difficult communication.  

EMERGENCY SHELTER OF THE FOX CITIES: This is our local emergency shelter that helps families and individuals who are homeless and hungry. They offer lots of great programs to help people get back on their feet. To understand what it would be like to use these services, students worked through a poverty simulation. I chose one that related more towards the modern conveniences students would relate to(instead of bills and adultish stuff), but unfortunately the simulation is no longer available. Again, students followed up with an in depth discussion.  

NAMI: This great program works with families and individuals who suffer from mental illness. NAMI also has a program for middle and high school students who struggle with depression. To understand the need for this kind of service, my students went through a simulation in which they experienced what it would be like to have schizophrenia. If you've never done a simulation like this I encourage you try it. It's both incredibly eye opening and scary. My students followed up with a discussion about how they felt during the simulation. This simulation impacted my students the most, I feel. 

Well there we go! Three different projects all dealing with the same topic. COMPASSION. It was such a wonderful, unique experience that I got to share with my students. My students really dug deep on their imagery and they all created beautiful, thought-provoking works of art. Hope you enjoyed as much as we did! 

If your school has participated in the Compassion Project, please let me know. My district is always looking for new ideas :)

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Compassion Project Part 2

Recently I posted a project that I did with my 8th Grade students entitled "Reverse Shading". In this post I mentioned that this had been one of the projects I did with my students for our district's "Art of Compassion" art show that was shown at The Fox Cities Performing Arts Center. This show displayed over 100 pieces from local middle/high school students and each piece was auctioned off to raise money for four local charities. We did this event paired with The Fox Valley Symphony and local musician Corey Chisel. It was such a fantastic event, but what was really amazing was having the opportunity to teach my students about local charities and the power Art can have on raising awareness and teaching compassion.

To prepare my students for the "Art of Compassion" event, I wanted them to understand why it is so important to understand the idea of compassion. To me compassion can come in many capacities. Of course showing compassion for others by understanding the troubles they are encountering is the most common understanding of compassion, but I wanted my students to understand that inanimate things can help us get through difficult times and in a way provide us with compassion. For this reason, I allowed my students to explore a variety of different subject matters.

Along with the "Reverse Shading" compositions that my 2D students did, the 3D students created beautiful tiled scenes that expressed their understanding of compassion. Each tile is built forward to create a 3D effect. The students really did a great job creating depth through their layering techniques. I have also attached some of the artist statements my students turned in with these projects. I feel the artist statements show a deep and personal understanding of compassion.

"I chose a cabin because I have memories of when someone who I had never even met showed compassion to me there when I was younger. I think compassion is having both sympathy and empathy for someone who is struggling and making a point to show them that you care." 

"For my compassionate art project, I chose to show what many of us go through. A lot of us have good days, but when we have our rough times, there are many different ways that help us get through our depressions. There is always that one person or thing that really picks us up and gets us going. No matter how hard or long we’ve been recovering, they have always supported us all the way through. Sometimes, we can never find that light, but we always keep going. Even in the darkest times, you will find yourself again."

"In this project I made two coy fish swimming in a pond. They represent yin and yang. How does this deal with compassion? Well yin and yang represent balance and tranquility. Compassion you need that balance. Some people are struggling with illnesses and they need that someone there to balance them and help them get through it. This imagery means a lot to me because my friends are here for me, and I’m here for them if anything did happen, we have each other to back each other up or help get through a tough time."

"For my project I chose to focus on an experience I’ve had with compassion. I was bullied back in elementary school and that has really shaped who I am today. I focus my artwork around the things that cheered me up during that time. To express my understanding of compassion and my personal experience, I created campfire out of clay. Coming home to a campfire after a hard day at school always cheered me up. In a way the campfire was compassionate to me. I know that a campfire can’t empathize with my experience, but the people around it have always been compassionate to me."

I still have one more project to share and I plan to include more about the process I went through to teach my students about the local charities we were supporting for this event. Please check back!