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Saturday, April 23, 2011

Versatile Blogger Award

A great big THANKS to Mary at MaryMaking for giving me the Versatile Blogger Award!  It feels good to know that other bloggers you admire also admire what you're doing!  I love Mary's creative approach to art projects and her enthusiasm for what she does.  One of my favorite posts of hers is from February, "Indian Elephants".  They are so beautiful, and I can't wait to do this project with my own students.  What a blessing it is to have this community of art teachers to inspire and encourage one another in the best job on earth...making art with children!

Here are 7 interesting facts about me: 

1) I was in the Army for 1 month when I was 18.  I contracted Hepatitis and came home.  I spent 2 weeks in the hospital, 3 months on bed rest and when I got better, traveled to Louisiana to visit a friend.  That is where I met my future husband.  I was not meant to be in the Army.  :)

2) I graduated from college at the age of 42.

3) When I was a senior in high school, my Scholastic Portfolio placed in the top 10% in the nation.

4) I have worked in a grocery store bakery, a hardware store (one of my most favorite jobs), as a room service operator at a major hotel in our area, in clothing and accessories retail stores for many years, and as a faux finisher and freelance artist for 16 years.

5) My favorite movies are Sense and Sensibility, anything English or Jane Austen, and on the lighter side...Elf.  I LOVE Will Ferrel!  My favorite documentary is "Between the Folds", about the art of origami, it is a MUST see!

6) God and family are of utmost importance to me.  

7) I love to cook (when I can) and watch the Food Network...especially the show "Chopped".  What a brilliant show, I can't get enough of it!  My family and I like to do our own Chopped competitions.  We pull crazy ingredients out of the pantry and fridge for one another, or buy them at the store, and we have to make something out of what we're given.  Then  we score each other on taste, plating and creativity.  It is so much fun!!!  And my kids (12 year old daughter, 18 year old son) totally blow my mind with how creative they are!

Pass the award on to 10 recently discovered bloggers:

4) Art with Mr. E
5) My Adventures in Positive Space
6) This Little Class of Mine
7) The Art of Education
8) Art Teacher Blog
9) Use Your Coloured Pencils
10) Studio 220

Congratulations!!!  (Now; tell 7 interesting facts about yourself, pass this award on to 7 newly discovered or favorite bloggers, and lastly, thank and link back to the blogger who gave you the award).

Thursday, April 21, 2011

2nd Grade Georgia O'Keefe Inspired Flowers

     All I can say is...never underestimate the creative ability of a child!  Our lesson on Georgia O'Keefe's style of painting magnified views of flowers, was a simple and easy concept for 2nd graders, one that I thought would be more challenging.  I thought it would be more challenging because children have a difficult time with drawing and thinking big.  This is a concept that I am constantly reinforcing in my lessons.  
    We not only looked at O'Keefe's paintings of flowers, but also looked at real photographs of flowers (laminated calendar pages) to get our inspiration.  I demonstrated examples of how to draw the simple lines and shape of the flower and stressed that they must take their petals off the edge of the paper, just like Georgia did.  I also showed them what I did not want to see them do, by drawing a small flower in the middle of a large square of paper.  They really understood and it was immediately apparent in their drawings.  
    We used 10" x 10" squares of white posterboard (yes, I sacrificed my posterboard for this- I wanted them to have a sturdy surface on which they could build their paintings on).  We used tempera cakes to paint with.  I told them to choose one or two colors for their flowers, that I did not want to see rainbow flowers- with each petal being a different color.  That there are no flowers that actually grow like that (at least not to my knowledge!).  We talked about either filling their space with all petals, or leaving some room between the petals for green leaves.  Also, I showed them how to add white to their paint to make tints of the color they chose.  
    They totally amazed me, as usual, with their art work!  And inspired me.  I love my job!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

First Grade Starry Nights

    Well, first let me start off by admitting something about this did not start off as a Starry Night lesson.  Originally, it was going to be a Snowy Mountain Cool Collage.  We created them before the holidays, when it was cold, then I went away for 9 weeks to the other school I teach at and we had to put it on hold.  When I returned, it wasn't cold anymore, so it felt a little funny making snow pictures.  But, true to my plan, I had a first grade class sponge snow over their cool mountain collages.  I was definitely non-plussed with the results!  I felt that the collages were so nice, but yet still needed something to complete them and decided to hold onto them until I figured it out.  Meanwhile, we went on to a new project.  When that project was finished, I was looking in an art book at Van Gogh's Starry Night, and had a light bulb moment- we'll use oil pastels on top of our landscapes to create our own Starry Nights!  I really love the results.  First graders enjoyed making the swirly broken lines just like Van Gogh, and  added their own ideas... the results are beautiful-just like them!   

Friday, April 15, 2011

Oil Pastel Dogs Inspired by George Rodrigue's "Blue Dog" Series

4th graders learned about the legend of Blue Dog and how artist George Rodrigue came to paint this subject over and over again.  We looked at some of his paintings and read a short bio on him.  Then students followed along as I demonstrated how to draw the contour line of their dogs.  Once their lines were drawn, students traced over them with a black permanent marker.  They could choose to color in their dogs with any color, but whatever color they chose (be it warm or cool), they were instructed to choose the opposite color family for their background.  Some students veered from those instructions, but the ones that followed them had eye-popping results.  All of their dogs turned out gorgeous and they had so much fun using the oil pastels and creating their unusually bright and colorful canines!

Friday, April 8, 2011

"Under the Sea" Recycled Art/Mixed Media

    This is probably my favorite elementary art project to date...for sure my favorite 1st grade project!  Ocean scenes are a great theme in elementary art, incorporating science into the art curriculum.  I also tied math into this project, by reading a great book by Lois Elhart- "Fish Eyes", a counting book.  Lois' books are beautiful in their vivid simplicity, her artwork uses bold color and simple shapes combined for eye popping visuals.  The students loved the book, and as we read I pointed out the bright, beautiful fish they could get ideas from.  
    The first step in this multi-step project, was to create the ocean water.  Using a 12" x 18" sheet of white sulphite drawing paper, green, white and blue tempera paint and a 1" brush, the students created their ocean water by blending the paint on the paper.  I gave them their paint in one small metal pan...3 blobs of each color paint- they shared a pan to a group table.  I demonstrated for them how to pick up 2 or 3 colors with their brush at a time and then blend them together by brushing them out on the paper.  I emphasized they should not stir the paint in the pan, making it into one color- the beauty of the water was in all the tints of blue and green they could make on their paper.  They were to start at the top, painting from side to side, back and forth all the way down the paper- never painting in another direction.  Once they were done with the water, we set the painting aside to dry.  
    Next came the recycled portion of this project.  Laminating scraps that I had been collecting in the workroom for some time were my inspiration for the fish.  I have been experimenting with many different recyclable materials this year, and laminating scraps were one of the most challenging.  (By the way, if you have any ideas or suggestions for using them, please message me, I would love to have your input!).  I tried to warp them by applying heat from the oven, the microwave, a hairdryer, a heat gun- they are not to be warped!  If only!  Dale Chihuly projects were my first thought, and still are not out of the question, but they would have been easier to accomplish had I been able to warp the material.  I have other project uses for these that I will be sharing in future blogs, but I digress...
    Paint will not stick- at least not water based- I do not use acrylic with my elementary students, though I could with the older grades, and that could probably work.  I wanted to be able to color the plastic, so I kept at it.  I found that permanent markers work beautifully, and I had some with wide tips.  They colored large areas more quickly than a fine tip marker, of course.  So, I made some drawings on the clear plastic scraps and one was a project was born!
    Once the fish were drawn on the plastic, the students cut them out and we glued them on their ocean scene.  For some fun detail, we used glitter glue on top of the plastic- sometimes this can fall off when it dries, but I had very few incidents.  Overall, the glitter glue adhered nicely and was a beautiful touch.  The project was going to end there, except for a few white oil pastel bubbles in the water, until a student grabbed a colored oil pastel and without my knowing began drawing some sea plants in the water.  When I saw what they were doing I got so excited!  Oil pastels are beautiful on top of tempera paintings...why hadn't I  thought of extending the lesson with that?  My students ALWAYS come up with better ideas and surprise me with their creativity!  So, out went all the trays of oil pastels and the bottom of the ocean came alive!  
    These projects are so impressive and gorgeous!  The students had a blast creating them and were proud to turn trash into treasure!  I told them that I am a proud dumpster diver...especially when it means that we turn something discarded into a thing of beauty.  :)