Tuesday, May 28, 2013

From start to finish

One of my absolute favorite parts of my job is seeing each year begin and end. The beginning of every year is always filled with promise and challenge, while the end is full of accomplishments, relief, and the anticipation of a revitalizing summer. The pace of teaching is so strenuous - with about 750 students each week coming into my room, expecting a dazzling art lesson each and every time - there is never a time to be bored or resting on your laurels. The 8 weeks or so we get for summer each year are critical for recharging our teacher batteries. I think I would also be happy with the year-round model too, with built in breaks throughout the year, as long as there is at least a 6 week summer. I just can't imagine a job for me that seems to never end - I love that feeling of a fresh start.
As I close out this year, I am very proud of the accomplishments we achieved in and out of the art room, including our first attempt at Free Art Friday and personally, making it through a year of much transition and change in the professional side of my teaching. We also connected with many students around the country during our Valentine's Day ATC exchange. I am looking forward to a few new ideas, as I am every year - gotta keep it fresh! - including the possibility of expanding ATC's into APP's (Art Pen Pals) and sharing more work in the community.
Enjoy your summer everyone. Recharge those batteries and share what is exciting you for the start of next year... I'd love to hear from you.
This is a (blurry) photo of me with my son Mak, who just finished his 5th grade walk on his last day at our school before he moves on to bigger things at middle school. Next year will be the first year for me to drive to and from school each day by myself - weird!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Packed Portfolios

Parents, as you unpack those backpacks, here are some tips for what to do with all that artwork the kids made this year and has hopefully made it home in good condition. Check out the following two posts from last spring on storing and displaying your favorite pieces from this year.

Have a wonderful, restful, exciting summer! Let's do it's all again in the fall.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

A bite out of summer

This adorable illustration by artist Ben Javens was the inspiration for our last week of art activity. I had originally seen this image on Pinterest, then I saw a lesson similar on "Lessons from the K-12 artroom" blog and I thought it would be a perfect drawing for the last week of school and the start of summer. I added the option of a watermelon wedge for the non-corn enthusiasts (can there be such a a thing?) This was a "draw with me" style lesson, as I have discovered that open-ended lessons are nightmarish during the last days of school, but I did encourage personal choices in the details, patterns and color choices. It was a great review on geometric shapes and overlapping, and the kids find step-by-step drawing very relaxing. Happy summer (eating)!

My demo board after steps are complete

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Epic Prehistoric Unit!

Kindergarteners are finishing up an in-depth unit on art from long, long ago - Prehistoric times! We made cave drawings, studied Stonehenge, imagined a dinosaur landscape, and built fossils. Clay fossils are fun to make by pressing dino toys and bones, plants, and shells into clay slabs, then covering them with "mud" paint and rinsing it away to create the look of a fossil that has been buried for thousands of years.

Stonehenge is a very early example of post-and-lintel architecture. We researched the history of this 5,000 year old architectural site and drew from observation of photos. We created a landscape with a horizon line, a view of the sun, and diminishing size.

Next, we drew more landscapes, this time from our imaginations - what would a landscape look like during the days of the dinosaur? From scientific illustrations, we discovered that they liked wet, warm climates with lots of plant life.

These two are well-accessorized - jewelry, lashes, lips!

Finally, we examined the caves at Lascaux using this super cool virtual tour website. (Thanks for sharing this info, Art of Ed) We drew cave art using portrait sets of oil pastels, which are the perfect colors for clay, mud and ash - the tools of choice for cave painters.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Art of Mexico: Oaxacan carvings

Fourth graders enjoyed the story Dream Carver before modeling our own animals from clay. The family tradition in Oaxaca, according to the book, is for the men to do the woodcarving and the women do the colorful painting.

Greek Pottery Prints

Third graders are continuing their study of Art from Ancient Civilizations. Our Greek Pottery Prints were drawn symmetrically and include a typical Greek theme such as mythology, Olympic figures, or oceanic images. We traced them on printing foam and printed them on orange or gold papers. Thanks for this great lesson idea to The Paper Pear.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Georgia Folk Art

First graders looked at the works of some of Georgia's most well-known folk artists, including Howard Finster, Mattie Lou O'Kelley and Nellie Mae Rowe. Some of the things these artists had in common were: growing up on a farm with a large family, and little or no schooling. They were self-taught artists who painted scenes familiar to them and used materials they had available - notice the sheet of notebook paper as the background in the drawing below by Nellie Mae Rowe - so we used pages from old books that were damaged and in the recycling bin.

Howard Finster

Mattie Lou O'Kelley
We also looked at examples of folk art quilts - another example of reusing materials on hand for art-making - and made a "frame" from patterned paper squares.