Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Fall-ing for value painting

Please excuse the lame title. I'm kinda lame sometimes.

Anyway, when my husband proposed last April Fool's Day (that's a doosie of a story for another day), I booked a photographer right away. And right away, she referred me to Pinterest. I've been pinning like a madwoman ever since. And now, who isn't? I found this picture on another teacher's pinboard:

Sadly, it linked back to a Flickr account, which meant no explanation, no plan, nada. Last week, I decided to give it a go with my third graders, figuring out what to do along the way.

We began with 12x18" black paper. I went with black instead of white in order to better hide our initial pencil lines. Every kiddo drew three leaves, all connected, some overlapping. Each leaf was sectioned off with a few veins.

Tracing our pencil lines with bottled glue was... messy. Some kids got it, some kids not so much, but we got 'er done. The biggest issue was finding a good spot for 20+ pieces to dry, as all of my drying racks are slanted, which doesn't bode well for gloppy, drippy glue!

Once the glue was dry, we discussed color values. I gave each kiddo a piece of egg carton with white tempera as well as the color of their choice. Everyone mixed their own tints, then shared their cartons with classmates. Each leaf had to be its own color.

We'll be mixing shades next time. So far, so good! Thanks again, Pinterest, you wonderful and cursed black hole of free time.

Hurricane Sandy: Part II

It's Wednesday and already it's been a wild week. With a family wedding last weekend, the big ol' storm, and two days out of school, I'm so out of whack. Please forgive the inundation of non-lesson posts these past few days. I promise to get an actual lesson up today or tomorrow. Until then...

We've weathered (pun!) the storm here in our part of PA. At the Connell house, we had a few small branches come down, but considering our house is surrounded by old, tall trees, we were quite happy with a couple of manageable limbs. Half of the lattice wall on the back porch flew off, too--not a big deal at all. The basement is dry, we have power, our home is in tact. Amen!

There were many who didn't fare so well, including some neighbors. I cannot believe some of the images I'm seeing from New Jersey and New York City. Our prayers are with those who were affected.

On a lighter note, here are some of the ways we got through the howling wind and crashing rain earlier this week:

Contemplated life...
Watched TV...
Snuggled with a slipper...
Took a nap (or two or three)...
Looked around suspiciously...
Hid under a pillow...

Back at school today. On Halloween. After a four-day weekend. NEAT! Should be an interesting day!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Happy Birthday, Bob Ross

Have you seen Google today? It's all Bob Rossed. Yup, Bob Rossed.

I'm a little disappointed that it isn't interactive. I feel like paintin' some happy trees! And I feel sad for Bob that his head is supposed to be the 'G' in 'Google.' No one wants to have a G-shaped head.

Bob's show first aired on PBS in 1983 (a year before I was born). I think the only time I saw Bob in action was when I hung out with my Opa, probably when I was in elementary school myself. Opa was an amateur painter and liked to watch The Joy of Painting for some Rossy tips.

The Connells' costumes are set for this year, but maybe I'll be Bob Ross for Halloween next year! Though I'm sure I wouldn't look this good:

And now, because I'm home from school today with some time to surf (the Internet, not the flooded streets outside), please enjoy this happy little collection of the birthday boy:

Rest peacefully, Mr. Ross!

Hurricane Sandy

For those of you living and teaching on the East Coast like I am, my thoughts and prayers are with you as you endure these next few days. Here in PA, we're off school today and tomorrow as we wait out Hurricane Sandy, a.k.a. Frankenstorm.

We're somewhere under that dark green scariness..

Right now, we're experiencing pretty high winds and lots of rain, though the worst is supposed to hit tonight. Power outages are predicted, as is flooding. My husband and I just bought our home in August--we closed on the first day of school, in fact--and haven't experienced any poor weather thus far, lending to my Nervous Nellie attitude over here. Not sure what to expect. Thankfully, both of us can be home to monitor things, as Mr. Connell is a teacher as well.

As long as the power stays on, I'm hoping to work on a little art project of my own over here, an old typeset drawer converted to a jewelry organizer. That, and reading art blogs! And maybe pinning on Pinterest. And snuggling with my storm buddy:

Rudy, the world's most wonderful weiner dog!

Be safe, friends!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Later, gator!

The second graders are makin' gators!

I saw this cool project over on Dali's Moustache awhile back (Dali's Moustache notes that the original idea came from a Flickr account via Pinterest). Blogger Ren did it with her first graders; I opted to try it with the second grade crew, though I may use it for first grade in the future. (Confession: I have a little bit of weaving phobia, especially with first graders.)

We spent the first day making a 6x9" sheet of sgraffito using greens and blues. It was a good review of painting procedures and parts of the paintbrush, and the kids LOVED the sgraffito effect... mmkay, I love it, too!

Look at that precious face. I live for those moments.
Any early finishers worked on a practice weaving to review the over/under; some of them remembered from first grade and others did not, so they helped each other, which I loved watching. :-)

When the sheets were dry, I chopped 'em up into 6x1" strips and deposited them into students' envelopes (which we use throughout the year when we have pieces likely to go MIA). On the second day, the little ones weaved and then began tracing feet, a head, and a tail. Body parts everywhere! (How appropriately Halloween!)

On the third day (it feels like I'm writing the book of Genesis over here), bodies were completely assembled, wiggle eyes were added, and teeth were added if desired. (Teeth are optional in rural Pennsylvania... hahaha just kidding, PA. I love you.) Then, kiddos used precious gold paint to decorate the non-sgraffito parts of their glorious gators.

Hahaha... I love my job.

This little fella is decorating his gator with Korean writing!

This is probably the most any of the kids' projects have looked alike--I try to avoid 'cookie cutter' projects at all costs. (I do think that kind of assignment has its place--my room just isn't that place.) With the sgraffito, the choice of green paper, and the painting, they look individualized enough for me; when I do it again, I may give more options for painting, including some other metallics, like Ren had done.

The kids reviewed their weaving and learned something new, and they love their lil' gators!

This gator has an afro!
That's some bite you have there...

Gangsta gator with a gold grill!

This gator put her mascara on this morning...

Update: As soon as I put the gators in the hallway, I got a plethora of comments. Unfortunately, some of them were "those are great turtles" and "I love those fish." FAIL. I remedied the confusion with a large and overcompensating sign, "2ND GRADERS' GATORS." Next time, I think I'll require teeth, and make the bodies longer and more narrow. You live, you learn. Till then, I think our gator/turtle/fish creatures are pretty cool.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

African Amulets (and a thank you)

A very big thank you goes out to Phyl over at There's a Dragon in my Art Room (one of my very favorite art ed blogs) for mentioning ARTipelago in a recent post about new blogs! (I may or may not have had a much longer post written, in which I expressed my immense gratitude, wrote that I felt I had just won a prestigious and coveted award, and then deleted it out of embarrassment for being so excited...)

Since I got the shout-out, I figured I should post something today. And so, without further ado, I give you fourth grade African Amulets (in the making)! This is a lesson I've been doing for a few years now, and it's a favorite of the kids and yours truly. I came across it in an old issue of Arts & Activities and promise to give credit to the author as soon as I relocate the mag.

The lesson article was titled "Clay for the Kiln-less," and HELLO, that's me. Neither of my buildings has a kiln, so usually I am forced to use ( hideous nightmare-ish awful) air-dry clay. It cracks, it's brittle, it's my arch enemy. For the amulets, we use salt dough. It's easy to whip up in whatever quantity I need, it's cheap to make, and I can bake it in my regular ol' oven at home.

We start with an intro day, during which we identify some of the characteristics of traditional African art (focusing on masks and amulets). The kids get modeling clay to practice and sort out ideas.

One girl said, "mine looks like my sister before coffee." HA!

On the second day, we use the dough. The kiddos love sprinkling flour on their surface, and hearing about how I take the amulets home to bake, where Mr. Connell smells the dough baking and assumes I'm baking for him, and sometimes samples a project or two (they love any story that involves the mysterious Mr. Connell).

That's as far as we've gotten thus far. Next week we'll stain the baked dough using earth tones, a post for another day!

A shot from last year--more to come.
Thanks again, Phyl! :-)

Monday, October 22, 2012

Circle 2 Art

My husband thinks it's hilarious to call things by alternative or mixed-up names. Sometimes understanding him is like interpreting a new language. Tonight he'll be helping me finish up the Square 1 Art projects--which he calls Circle 2 Art--by gluing all artwork to the 'official' paper sent by the Square 1 company.

To lessen our load, I had my Art Enrichment (art club) fifth graders help out as well:

Notice all the red? Happy Red Ribbon Week!
Work, my minions, work! Mwahhh haha...
Alas, the little minions--er, darling students--didn't get it all done, so Mr. Connell and I have a lot more gluing to do this eve. Good thing we have our Sunday night shows DVR'ed to keep us entertained whilst we glue. Homeland + Elmer's = one rockin' Monday night.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Funding: Square 1 Art

At a PAEA conference a few years ago, I visited several vendors who had information about art fundraisers. Shortly thereafter, as budget cuts became the norm, I decided to jump on the fundraising bandwagon and see what I could do.

For the last three years, all 600+ of my kiddos have been doing the Square 1 Art fundraiser, which is a hit with kids and parents alike.

Basically, the kids create an 8.5" square piece of work which is shipped away, digitally archived, and then available for families to purchase on a variety of items: mugs, coasters, T-shirts, even iPhone covers!

At least 30 percent of the profits stay here for the art program. Each year I've done the program, I've earned the equivalent to my school-sponsored budget, which is pretty great. The best part (in my opinion) is that every kid gets a free set of 20 stickers with their artwork printed on 'em, regardless of whether or not they order anything else. I love that.

It's a significant amount of work for the coordinator (yours truly), but I think it's worth it.

The third grade project is one of my faves--it's simple yet covers a good chunk of curriculum, and the majority of the results are great.

We talk about warm and cool colors, Georgia O'Keeffe, perspective, subject. Everyone does a few sketches:

After drawing final copies, a color palette is chosen: warm colors or cool colors. We review proper coloring techniques: outline or 'trace your space,' then color in stripes, kinda like Dad mows the grass in rows. :-)

To finish, all pencil lines are traced with black Sharpies, and the kids sign their work:

Voila! Georgia!
(The 'pink' on here is truer to purple in person)

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Goodness gracious, great balls of fire

What an exciting day it's been, and it's not even noon! During the early hours of the morning, before school began and before everyone had arrived, a fire broke out in the elevator shaft of one of my school buildings! It was a small blaze and was contained quickly, thankfully (UPDATE: Apparently there were no flames, just enough activity to set off the alarm in time to prevent any real fire). Everyone is safe (as is all of the artwork) and we are proceeding with a normal day. The hallways sure do stink, though.

It was pretty exciting to see the fire trucks leaving as I pulled into the parking lot--I felt like a child at a parade (minus the candy).

Coincidentally, it's Fire Prevention Week. Ha! Talk about a teachable moment.

Don't worry, Edvard--all is well!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Another art blog is born

Oh my goodness, I did it. After far too many hours a few months almost a year some time spent thinking about starting an art ed blog, I've hit the "Publish" button. And I intend to keep it published. Hot diggity dog!

I imagine it'll take me awhile to find my voice, to get the hang of this, to be faithful to blogging. I so appreciate any and all others who may join in on this great experiment.

I had some major trouble coming up with a name for this blog, which sadly is the first step via blogger (thanks a lot, blogger, for all that brain racking).

Then, today, during another in-service day (for which I again was given zero direction, but that's a post for another day), a teacher asked me if I had any meetings to attend today. Ha! With only two elementary art teachers in our little district, and the other chick about to go out on maternity leave, no, I did not have any meetings to attend today. "I am an island," I told him.

And then, instead of cutting paper or hanging displays or writing lesson plans like I should have, I began to think. I doubt I'm the only specialist in a small district who feels so isolated, like her own tiny island.

For awhile now, I've been following art teachers' blogs as a way of staying sane--connecting myself to other people in my (paint-stained) shoes, sharing ideas and frustrations and all that jazz.

Here we are, a bunch of islands, connected. Like an archipelago--a chain of islands.

And ARTipelago was born (cue happy music!).

Ooooo, archipelagos are neat (just like art teachers!)