Thursday, March 31, 2016

In the Art Room: Springtime with van Gogh and Charley Harper

So here, in middle Tennessee, we pretty much decided to do winter for about 10 days and move straight on to spring. It's been a mix of rainy, muggy and/or sunny (sometimes all in one day!) every since! For that reason, the first graders and I decided to create these Vincent van Gogh/Charley Harper mash-ups!
Now, I'm sharing this lesson with you in it's in-between/van Gogh-y stage. We started it right before I was absent for several days and then we promptly entered into Spring Break-ville. For that reason, my firsties are actually finishing their Everybody is a Star project. Once that's complete (fingers crossed that we wrap it up this week!), we'll start the Charley Harper portion of the project. 

Ah, van Gogh. It was fun sharing with the kids that I'd seen his work in Chicago while at NAEA. I left out the part about the exhibit being so crazy busy that all I truly saw were the backs of people's heads. If you are like me, you have a coupla fave van Gogh paintings that aren't The Starry Night. Personally, this Almond Blossom painting is one of mine.
You can see the influence of my good friend and fabulous art teacher Laura Lohmann in this lesson what with the painted paper and textures. She's the best! 

Here's a list of supplies we used:

* 12" X 18" paper. We recycled our messy mats but you can use construction paper for added color.
* Paint. Because I see my kids for 30 minutes, I premixed the tints of blue. 
* Brushes, texture combs.
* Sponges or paint brushes for cloud texture.
* 1" X 2" pieces of cardboard for printing.
* Scrap paper for collage.
* Scissors.
* Glue
I created a video that introduces my students both to van Gogh and Harper as well as walks them thru the process. Feel free to use it! I've been creating weekly lessons here so all y'all should subscribe. Like, now. 
Because I see these kids for 30 minutes, I break stuff down into bite sizes for them. On the first day, we were able to get about this far.
Love all of the colors in this one!
The following day, we learned more about van Gogh and printed tree branches!
We did wait a day before printing out flowers and leaves. I thought they'd smear with the brown paint. 
Now, we totes coulda stopped here. But I have a sweet college student who comes to my room every Monday. She said, "Have you seen the Portlandia skit 'Put a Bird on It?' I think they should!"
We put birds on things!
This idea lead me to the artist Charley Harper. If y'all have not been to the Charley Harper website, you need to check it out. I can't wait to share the animated version of his work as well as the studio tour he gives Todd Oldham. I also plan to play this live bird feed from Animal Planet while the kids work. 

Funny/tragic story about Charley Harper: a frame shop was going out of business about 15 years ago and gave me a TON of stuff. Among that stuff, three Charley Harper prints. At the time, I had no idea who he was but I loved the prints. Because two were duplicates...I GAVE ONE AWAY TO A FRIEND (I knoooooow). Wait, it gets better. Then I CUT THE BORDER OFF ONE TO FIT IT INTO A FRAME (TRUST ME, I KNOOOOOOOOW). His prints are worth big bucks. Pretty sure his chopped into ones aren't worth squat. Now I can't even hang them in my house because every time the hubs walks past them he says, "Aren't these the prints that are worth a lot of money? Which one did you cut up again?" UGH. These are the things that happen when you are an idiot. Moral of story: Don't be an idiot. Now, let's move along, shall we?
Grace, the sweet college student, started collaging birds inspired by Harper. This here is a teacher sample. Cuz, if you were paying attention, you'd know my firsties haven't gotten this far yet. 
And here's the one I create in the video. I'll be sure to share with you the kids' creations as y'all know they will come up with so much awesomeness. If you decide to do this lesson as well, I'd love to see! Be sure to tag me here on Twitter or there on Instagram so I can check it out. 

 photo signature_zpsd10b3273.png

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

In the Art Room: Spring Breakin'/Conventionin'

Hey, friends! Now that the spring breakerin'/art teacher conventionin' dust has settled, I thought I'd share with y'all just what went down in sunny Cali and windy Chicago. I gotta be honest with you tho: I was terrible at documenting both! The lack of photo shooting (and sharing in social media town) was not intentional. I seriously just never seemed to have a moment to bust out my camera/phone! The fun of meeting so many folks, making so many friends and just chatting the night away was all encompassing. And I wouldn't trade that experience for the world!
So what I've got here in this post is a meager offering of images of what was a fabulously good time. I'm actually sharing these pics in reverse order of my adventurin' as we just wrapped up a brief trip to Southern California this past Sunday.
We shopped, hiked and, of course, Disneyland'ed our days away. I could totes live in SoCal if it weren't for the traffic. And the fact that I'd need a mountain of mulah to afford all the amazing restaurants and shops I'd be gettin' myself into. I always feel so happy after a visit to California. I mean, this amazing canyon hike starts in a Ralph's grocery store parking lot. THAT'S HOW MUCH AWESOME THEY HAVE. "Oh, yeah, man. See some canyons get some canned goods. It's how we roll." 
But let's rewind to the previous week when I found myself in the sunny (altho, true to it's name, windy) city of Chicago. The NAEA convention was all that and a bag o' nuts (and by "nuts" I mean Nuts on Clark, y'all. Holy cow! I love the carmel and cheddar mix!). This here photo was taken outside the Lego store during my one afternoon of shopping adventureness. I managed to do some serious damage in the MOMA section of Uniqlo. Y'all should check that out if you've not already. 
So the NAEA conference was held in this enormous and confusing maze of a mammoth called McCormick Place. Y'all. This joint could hold, like, 25 Chuck E. Cheese'es (I have no idea why that is my chosen reference of measurement but 'tis. Mostly cuz I've no idea what the size of a football field is but El Chucko, I do). Need some perspective? Not only could it hold about 5000 plus art teacherin' types but also a C2E2 convention (which is kinda like ComicCon but not. It was explained to me why it's not the same as ComicCon but I fell asleep after the first coupla minutes. I was all, wake me up after the story of Princess Peach, would ya?)
POKEMON! Just now noticed the handy place to hang a badge. #thickneck. #genius.
One of the highlights of my Chicagoland adventures was getting to see my fam. You see, I grew up right outside of Chicago in Joliet. My aunt Judy (who is actually my decipher that fam tree) lives in Chicago and my mom lives in Indiana. We had a great time going out to dinner, staying at mom's seedy dive of a hotel and catching up. My mama even went with me to see the van Gogh exhibit! Along with my three thousand closest friends...
Holy moly, y'all. Who knew folks be so excited to see a bedroom. I wonder if anyone would even pay a dollar to see mine. I can promise you it's not nearly as neat as van Gogh's. 
At the convention, I presented three times which was a thrill. I was ALMOST as excited as my buddy Tracy there in the front row (heeeeey, Tracy!). I presented alongside blogging buddies Phyl and Laura all about, you guessed it, blogging! If you missed out, go here for the deets, y'all. 
I also had the honor and pleasure of presenting with Janine Campbell. We chatted about student legacy projects. Janine actually inspired me way back at the convention in San Diego when she showed one of her legacy projects. Since then, I've been a big fan of big collaborative pieces. She was such a great speaker that I felt like her crazy sidekick. I mean, just look! Does it look as though I am performing an exorcism or what?!

One of the highlights of the convention was getting to lead a hands-on needle felting workshop! Each participant had the opportunity to needle felt an apron (I chose green because the event was held on St. Patty's Day!). Many got a solid start and had a ton of fun. It was like hanging out with 20 of my newest best friends!
After a super brief needle felting intro, each dived right in. All participants had such creative and unique ideas. I loved each one!
 My favorite part was just getting to know each participant. 
 I mean look at that table of colorful awesomeness!
Most folks worked on their aprons but I love that others decided to work on sweaters and even one person even worked on a coat (it looks fab, Lisa. Can't wait to see it finished!).
 I mean. Really? Really. Awesomeness. 

It was such a wonderful experience. I'm so glad to have had the chance to meet so many amazing folk and share what I love the most in the world: ART! (and art teacherin'). 
 photo signature_zpsd10b3273.png

Sunday, March 27, 2016

In the Art Room: An Art Teacherin' Mix Tape

I did my time in high school at the height of Mix Tape Era. I musta made and received dozens of the best doggone tapes my lil Walkman ever played. Tell me I'm not the only one who would put their heart and soul into each mix tape made. Kids these days (OMG, did I really just say that?!) will never know what it was like to receive a plastic case of musical treasures which said everything an angsty teen just didn't know how. 
I'm no longer an angsty teen but an occasional angsty art teacherin' type. Sometimes I feel that, in the course of one day in Art Educationville, I experience all the same emotions I had as a teen: surprise ("Did you really just eat the papier mache paste?!"); happiness ("Y'all, we're actually gonna be on time for P.E. today!"); anger ("Okay. WHO GAVE THE PAINT BRUSHES HAIRCUTS?!"); and despair ("Between snow days, field trips, assemblies and absences, y'all are gonna have exactly two works of art in this year's art show. TWO.")
Despite all of that, we know, deep down in our paint splattery hearts that we have the best jobs in the world. So, for all y'all art teacherin' types, I give you my heart and soul in 12 tunes or less: An Art Teacherin' Mix Tape. 
Now, this here mix is in chronological order, from the start of our wild and wacky day to the sticky-icky, how-did-that-painted-handprint-end-up-on-my-butt end. If you're like me, your day usually begins under-caffeinated and over-slept which means it feels as high energy as this...
1. Breakfast at Pee-wee's
Do y'all love Pee-wee as much as me? He's actually my art teacherin' inspo! Sometimes, when certain stuff is about to hit the proverbial fan, I stop and think "What Would PeeWee Do?" and attempt to just go with the flow. Especially with kindergarten. Okay, always, with kindergarten. 
2. Born to be Wild by Steppenwolf
Nothing sets my drive to school on fire like a lil "get your motor runnin', head out on the highway, lookin' for adventure or whatever comes my way!" I also like to play a lil medley of metal (G&R's Welcome to the Jungle) and rap (Beastie Boy's Fight for your Right) to get me in the art teacherin' mood. I ain't proud. 
3. 9 to 5 by Dolly Parton
Y'all know once you get to school, it's nonstop: preparing paint trays, cutting paper, sharpening pencils, writing your I Can statements, washing paint brushes, unclogging glue bottles, you get the idea. I swear some days, I'm worn out before my first class even arrives. And when they do, y'all know they better...
4. Think by Aretha Franklin
"You better think about what you're saying. You better think about the consequences of your actions." Oh, yeah. Aretha is who I try to channel when I need to spark a lil comin-to-Jesusness in the art room.
5. Respect by Aretha
Getting respect is pretty hard to do when you are wearing a rainbow wig or a hat shaped like a paint palette. But a girl can always try to get a lil R-E-S-P-E-C-T.
6. Celebration by Kool & the Gang
On those days when there isn't a full moon or a highly-contagious, vomit-inducing flu epidemic going around, then you know that calls for celebration! 
7. We Are Family by Sister Sledge
I try really hard to instill this idea in the kids. We're all in this art making, imaginatin' business together, y'all! We are family. 

8. Sabotage by the Beastie Boys
HOW. How do they always know when Ima bout to be evaluated? WHY. Why do they always decide it is then to go all Men-in-Black/flashlight-in-their-face and erase their memories clean of everything taught? I'm tellin' y'all, it's no accident. It's sabotage. 
9. Girls Art Teachers Just Wanna Have Fun by Cyndi Lauper
Evaluations, evalu-shmations. Grades, shmades. Gag me with a spoon, y'all. Art teachers just wanna have fun! 
10. Rainbow Connection by Kermit the Frog
Can you tell I'm an 80's child yet? I love that I got to grow up on a steady diet of The Muppets, The Electric Company, Sesame Street and School House Rock. Kermie wants to know why are there so many songs about rainbows but the art teacher in me wants to know, why aren't there more?! The lover, the dreamer and me will never know. 
11. Shout by Otis Day and the Knights
Now waiiiiiiiiiit a minute! You know you make me wanna SHOUT! Sometimes happily. Sometimes unhappily. Regardless, art teacherin' never fails to bring out the emotions and the hootin' and hollerin'. In other news, this is my second song featuring John Belushi and that would be because I lurves me some Belushi. So deal wit it.
12. Harper Valley P.T.A. by Jeannie C. Riley
Don't get me wrong, I have a fabulous P.T.A. that has yet to send me a letter in the mail about my ensembles. However, this here song is a great anthem for any of those times you find yourself standing up for what you know to be best. Git it, y'all.
13. This is How We Do by Katy Perry
In our house, we love some Katy Perry (read: the hubs really loves him some K.P.). This song just had to make it's way into the mix because the video, y'all. THE VIDEO. I love Katy Perry for the imagination and creativity she brings to everything she does as she has a heavy hand in her costumes, videos and overall look. Love her, love this video. 
14. Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive by Johnny Mercer and the Pied Pipers
We all have those days. When you say the wrong thing. Do what you feel is a lousy job. Struggle to keep your head up. It happens to us all. And, if you are like me, you sometimes allow those negative thingies to play on a permanent loop in your mind. Don't do it, y'all! To end this here mixtape, I leave you with this: 

You've got to accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative
Latch on to the affirmative
Don't mess with Mister In-Between
You've got to spread joy up to the maximum
Bring gloom down to the minimum
Have faith or pandemonium
Liable to walk upon the scene 
(lyrics by Harold Arlen)
That's all, friends! Hope you enjoy this here mix. Love to hear in the comments your fave art teacherin' tunes (or just your fave tunes in general!). Til next time, I'll allow these kitty cats to take it away.  photo signature_zpsd10b3273.png

Thursday, March 24, 2016

In the Art Room: Creating Videos!

Hey there, best buddies! Like most of y'all, I enjoy trying new things: zumba class (um, turns out you have to be able to gyrate your hips in ways that my genetic makeup won't allow); Japanese delicacies (so, like, fish ovary is as tasty as is sounds [drive heaves, again]) and not starting my day with coffee and dark chocolate (that experiment only lasted 10 minutes as it turns out coffee and dark chocolate are the only reasons I get outta bed in the morning). 

Despite my many adventures in new-thingie-fails, one thing that I have been doing lately and lovin' is recording video content for my art room (and for y'all!). I believe some folks call this a "flipped classroom" but edu-buzz words aren't my thing. Now, if you subscribe to my youtube channel (do you know how funny that is to say?), then you know I have created videos for my sub and for various projects as printmaking and embroidery. A whole bunch of y'all have asked me how I'm making these videos and I've totes hesitated telling you because I am...

Like, seriously. Just ask my P.E. teachin' buddies who bust me all the time for never checking my email (but, you guyzzz, they changed the format and it's super confusingggg). Anyway, you've been asking so I thought it was high time I delivered. 
Here's a lil list of what I use. Please note...this is for recording with a camera not an iPad. I can't afford one of those, y'all:

* Cheapo camera. Most cameras have a video record function. I used to use that Canon Powershot before the hubs upgraded me to some other Canon thingie. 

* Tripod or a stack of books. Don't let not having certain tools keep you from getting started. Just do it! 

*Access to iMovie
I recently set up a place to record at home. They were pitching these maps at my school (I KNOW) so I took it off their hands and hung it as a backdrop. It's not perf but it's better than a video of the big booty T.V. it's hiding. 

And here's my school set up. Not the best lighting but it works for what I need to share. The camera you see at the bottom of this photo is on a tripod. 
If you can't position yourself in front of some windows for good lighting, then you might wanna pick up some of those cheapo clamp lights at your local hardware joint. This, of course, would be getting a pinch fancy (if you'd call the above fancy!) as you don't need this to make your video. Like I said, don't let not having "the right stuff" stop you from giving this a go!
When I do my hands-on demos, this is how I sit. It's a great way to see what you are doing on screen the entire time. It's also great because your mouth is so close to the camera that the sound quality is good. My cameras don't have a mic plug in...but it's not necessary when you sit this close. 
If you watch the video, I think you'll find out just how easy making a video can be! I'll go over the steps quickly here but I think I do a decent job explaining in the clip. If I did miss anything, please feel free to drop me a line in the comments. Again, I am a newbie at take everything I say with a salt lick, skip the grain of salt.

1. Upload your videos from your camera to your laptop. Save to your desktop.
2. Open iMovie. Import your videos.
3. Open "create" in iMovie to start making your movie. Choose a theme for your movie. I always go with "no theme".
4. Double click on your film strip (that's the individual video clips you have imported) to highlight them. Now clip, grab and drop the video into the movie strip at the bottom of the screen.
5. Continue to do this until you have all of your content.
6. To add transitions, look to the bottom left of your screen. Double click to highlight then click and drag to drop in between your clips.
7. Add titles in the same way!
8. To save, decide on where you would want it to go. I always save to my desktop and YouTube.
9. Give this part sometime, it might take up to 5 minutes before it to show up on your desktop depending on the length of the video.

(Special thanks to my former student Griffin Phillips for showing me how to make iMovie!)

And there you have it! I hope you find this helpful. Again, lemme know if you have any questions, y'all! Unless it's about checking your email. I can't help you with that one ;)

 photo signature_zpsd10b3273.png

Monday, March 21, 2016

In the Art Room: My Fave Fiber Arts Lessons!

Hello there, long lost friends! Sorry I vanished for a pinch, I was living it up at NAEA Chicago. I promise I'll share with y'all that fun and fab experience (although if you are an art teacher and have been on any sort of social media for a hot minute then you've prolly seen it all!). Today I thought I'd give y'all a smorgasbord of some super sewing, weaving and fiber arts projects!
Every year, when we return from winter break, we start our big fat -n- fuzzy fiberin' units. I think we all have those areas of art teaherin' that we absolutely love and for me, this is it. From embroidery to needle-felting and weaving, all of my students seam seem to eat it up (sorry, that was my sad attempt at sewing humor). Last year, my third graders got a taste of embroidery with the Our School Has Heart mural. My current thirdies are working on a different kind of embroidery project which I'll be certain to share with you soon. Here's an Intro to Embroidery video I made just for them (and y'all, of course!).
Burlap is my fabric of choice when it comes to kids and embroidery because it's inexpensive and the blunt needles work perfectly with this hole-y fabric. However, because burlap is woven, it does like to unravel easily. For that reason, when prepping burlap for stitching, either draw a line of glue around the outer edges the day before sewing (which locks the fibers in place) or simply tape the bottom and top of the fabric with masking tape. Embroidery hoops aren't necessary...but I do love to give the kids the complete experience. For me, that means embroidery hoops! You can find 'em super cheap at the thrift stores or craft shops. Shoot, send out a school email and I'm guessing you'll end up with a stock pile!
Last year I also gave needle felting a go with my fourth graders! Because the kids work with very sharp needles, be certain you work with kids who are responsible. This would also be fun with small groups or with parent volunteers in the room. More here
I remember the summer my grandma taught me to embroider and cross stitch. I was instantly hooked and I do believe that's what's made me such a lover of all things fiber arts since. I have taught several after school sewing classes over the years and this embroidered and stitched pillow was one of 'em
This time gingham fabric, embroidery floss and sharp needles were used. 
And sewing machines! I have been fortunate enough to have about a half dozen machines for my art room. The kids LOVE using them!
Another project I did as a kid that I recently introduced my students to is string art. I remember making one of these in fifth grade and it being just about the best thing ever. My fourth grade students loved making these last year! 
We created these in celebration of Dot Day but I'm pretty sure you could make 'em whenever. I can't wait to do this project again!
What's that? You've never taught fiber arts before? Friend, don't you sweat it. Here's a great project to ease your students (and yourself) into the concept of fiber arts: paper weaving! Not only is this project great at introducing your students to the look and process of weaving but you can also throw in so much math and literacy (there are so many fab books on weaving, y'all!).
Use this loom-making lesson to focus on math skills...and make sure it's a day you are being evaluated. It's all sorts of STEAM-y. You'll look good, trust me!
Word to the wise: some students will understand the concept of weaving immediately while others will struggle. 
For that reason, I often introduce weaving on an oversized loom made from laminated paper. More info here
And I do a whole lotta peer tutoring. The kids are much better at explaining things to each other than I often am!
The following year, I introduce my second graders to circle loom weaving. This project is one that is a HIT with those kids who usually don't dig painting or drawing but do love working with their hands (boys are the BIGGEST fans of weaving, ya'll!). There will be frustration in the beginning but I make sure to warn the kids: This is something new. You've never done this before. Be patient with yourself, me and your friends. We'll ALL get there, I promise!
I have my second grade kids for 30 minutes, twice a week. After spending two art classes painting their plates, we notch our loom as seen in the video above...
And warp our loom. That usually takes us one 30 minute class. 
And then we spend the next couple of classes weaving. Hint: if you use the thicker yarn, weaving goes a whole lot faster! 
 Tree weaving is a slightly different spin on circle loom weaving. I have done this project with my third graders and I love it because I can also teach the concepts of landscape painting. These are always so pretty when complete!

If the kids have completed the circle loom weaving the year before, they'll understand the concept of tree weaving. 
Straw weaving is easily the class hit! I mean, who doesn't love to drink yarn, y'all!?

What to do with finished straw weavings? The kids have made them into bracelets, belts and even little people. Really, the fun is in this making.
Dunno if you have a stock pile of old CDs like me, but I've been hoarding them for this reason: CD weaving!

I was kinda leery of CD weaving for the longest time thinking that the slickness of the CD would cause the warp strings to move. Not so! It's so easy and fun to do. AND it's a quick alternative to circle loom weaving if you are sort on time (and patience as the warping process is MUCH easier).
Ojos de Dios weaving is just as popular as straw weaving in my art room. The kids could crank these out all day long! Once they've gotten the concept down, you might wanna consider expanding on their expertise. Just google Ojos de Dios and you'll see the wonderful ideas out there. 

Right?! Cake! Watch out, you'll end up with mountains of these in your art room.
 Pouch weaving is a project I reserve for my fourth graders. It is def a project you wanna build on from previous years as it's a lil advanced. AND time consuming. I usually allow my students to take this project home to get further ahead on. No videos on this project however, if you follow that link above, I'll hold your hand and walk you thru the process. Weaving the cord is my favorite part...
And it's a nice break from regular weaving. I love having the kids add the cord as it really finishes the piece.
Now if you are feeling inspired (or have older/advanced students), you might wanna try tapestry weaving! It's so fun but does require some focus. However, you won't regret the end results.

And that's all folks! I'd LOVE to hear your fave fiber arts lessons as I'm always on the lookout for more. Please lemme know what you and your students love to create in your art room or at home. 
 photo signature_zpsd10b3273.png