Thursday, February 28, 2013

Throwing clay around...



Just a few snapshots of my 6th grade  potters!  They are doing a fantastic job making one of a kind bowls.

see you soon in the

If you like what you see....follow me.

xoxo, SMocK you.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Visual Literacy

Developing a literacy for art, 
instead of making cute pictures.

I am slowly understanding how to be a blogger and what it all entails.  I have, recently, discovered that I can categorize my pages....I didn't really know or understand that I can have multiple pages.  And although this discovery may not be shocking to just certainly was a wonderful discovery for me.  This may or may not work but here it goes.....  This is suppose to post on the "School Inspirations" page....
Regardless of my lack of....technological innovation and insight, I plan to use this page to share my thoughts, my inspirations and just some good stuff about art education.
I was introduced to  TEACHING FOR ARTISTIC BEHAVIOR at the beginning of the school year by an amazing art teacher, who personifies what art education should look like. 

TAB seems crazy!  Letting the students decide what to do, how to do it and explore their ideas??  But really how crazy is it?  I am not expressing a full overhaul of art classrooms but I am looking at art education through a new lens.  Well, maybe a more focused lens.

There are national educational initiatives that seem to be instilling a bit of anxiety amongst art teachers, "OH NO! how are we going to be literacy teachers"?  Yikes.  But really, what does that mean?  To be literate in a field of study, you have an understanding of concepts and rooted ideas that provide greater insight on what you do, your perspectives on various issues and your ability to use information to conclude on a topic.  As a fellow teacher said this weekend, "If you don't understand how to read then you are just looking at words."  

Well, if art students do not know how to study, interpret and analyze art  and they do not understand what tools, techniques and materials to use, then they are just making cute pictures. 

exploring antARcTica......

3rd grade Travellers have arrived at the bottom of the world!
Yianna and Helios recently sent their suitcases to my wondering and excited students. 
Where in the world would we end up next???  ANTARCTICA, of course.  With a little imaginationa and a bit of magic my students were transported to the snow caps icebergs of the South Pole.  In the suitcase we found a down red vest, enormous gloves and ziploc bags full of glaciel ice and snow from Antarctica.  Of course, the ice and snow "melted" on its way to Palatine. 

The question still remained....are you upside down on the South Pole? 
This question began a very long and argumentative debate that divided the art room in half.  It was super amazing to see my students stand up, give their opinion and support with reasoned , reflective thought.  It was awesome.
Antarctica is full of natural beauty that lends to sculpture.  Our influence came from the immense icebergs and ice sculptors from around the world.   We decided to look at Antarctica through an abstract lens and explore sculpture, individually and as a team of explorers.  

The individual art project focused on creating a sculpture using a white piece of construction paper, a smaller piece of poster board, scissors and glue sticks.  The students need to use all of the white sheet of paper on create their own Antarctica floating around in the blue water.  Obviously, because it's an island.....;-)  For inspiration, we looked at various paper sculptures and the work of Alexander Calder.  His large sculpture installations are perfect examples of how simple paper can bend and twist into caves, slides and roller coasters.      

9x12 blue poster board,
12x18 white construction paper, scissors, glue sticks

What to do:
students explored...
They cut, folded, twisted and shaped pieces of paper using their imagination and creativity.  They created their own little white worlds, surrounded by a blue ocean.  

The team project was divided into three days, comprised of construction, gauzing and painting.  As team of geographical explorers, each group had to "re-create" the land they experienced.  From the caves to the ice-bergs to the mountains to the glaciers...
Being a group project the objective of the part of the lesson focused on how each student cooperated, shared, and solved team issues without much help from their team leader (me).  "Figure it out" was a phrase I used from time to time ;-)

DAY ONE:  Construction                      
The geographical explorers constructed the basic structures of their icy worlds.  They used toilet paper tubes, popsicle sticks, egg cartons, cardboard, pipe cleaners, tape, glue...whatever it took to get their mental image to come to life. 

plaster gauze
There is nothing like rolling up your sleeves and getting a little dirty.  The geographical explorers used plaster gauze (the stuff for casts) and covered their armatures.  As the art class progressed, the abstract landscapes began to take form, slowly exposing mountains, caves and icebergs.

 DAY FOUR: painting  
We decided that Antarctica needed to be visited by a few artists.  The teams of geographical explorers put on their painting smocks and grabbed their brushes.  The goal was to create a new world from their Antarcticas. 

 DAY FIVE: documenting
After such an amazing adventure there is nothing left to do than document all the events that imaginatively happened while pretending to be an inch tall and walking around this new land full of wonder and magic!  OF COURSE! The two concluding parts, before sending off our suitcases to Yianna and Helios was to write them a postcard, describing our adventure and what we learned, drawing their new land and, of course, writing a short narrative of their magical adventure.



It was an amazing adventure, exploring the vast and beautiful continent of Antarctica.  With red noses and frosted hats, we said "brrrr....good bye, we're out of here!"
The question still remains.... 
"Where are we going next?"

see you back in the 

xoxo, SMocK you. 

Friday, February 22, 2013

Friday afternoon fun.....

More works in progress....

I think there is a theme....................................

I really am enjoying carving out an hour of my Friday afternoons (after school) to just create something.  These bowls have become my whimsical effort to just be an artist.  I don't know where they will end up, or who will provide them a good home, but I do know, it was worth 60 minutes of my Friday.

xoxo, SMocK you. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

A work in progess ...

It has been simply a joy to work on the wheel! I was inspired by some vases at Anthropologie.  This one is in the kiln, right now!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

An Art Adventure with Vincent Van Gogh....

1st grade:  Following Anna's Art Adventure

Vincent van Gogh

"I am not an adventurer by choice but by fate."

Vincent Van Gogh, "Wheat Field with Crows"

slide from Anna's Art Adventure powerpoint

In first grade we are half way in our Art Adventure in finding that toilet!  Our pursuit has taken us to a "Wheat Field with Crows" where a 'trembling' man in a yellow straw hat was painting with many glorious shades of yellow.....
Vincent van Gogh.
We started our discussion with a short biography of Vincent van Gogh's life and how his emotions influenced his paintings.  His bold colors and 'shaky' lines were the perfect avenue for my students to look and explore the elements of art.

slide from Anna's Art Adventure powepoint

When we were discussing the various slides from the powerpoint, the focus was encouraging my students to investigate, study, analyze and evaluate (talk about) Vincent van Gogh's paintings in an effort to create a foundation of visual literacy.  Wonderfully enough, my students have become accustomed to looking, listening and talking, so we can spend 45 minutes doing just that!
A lot of the references and questions target the text from Anna's Art Adventure, building my students' skills of recollection and using prior knowledge towards offering answers.
slide from Anna's Art Adventure powerpoint

 Inspiration for this project came from Vincent van Gogh's numerous paintings of his sunflowers.  We did not paint sunflowers.  Rather I emphasized the idea in the book, regarding color to employ what they already know and introduce something new.

Looking at the artwork of Van Gogh really lent to a deeper study of color and the introduction of the color, to help my students understand how all these glorious colors that he used could be made.  We use our prior knowledge of the primary colors, learned much earlier with "Mr. Kelly" and "Mr. Mondrian", but this time we approached them in a very different, very mathematical and scientific way. Just like in math, we learned "ART EQUATIONS" and took notes to help us understand placement of colors on the wheel and reason.


For example:  
1+ 1 = 2  
Primary (1) + Primary (1) = Secondary (2)
Red= Primary= 1
Yellow= Primary = 1
Red + Yellow= Orange (2)
popcicle sticks were used to mix up each secondary color
It seems a lot more complicated than it really is but the students really grasped the idea.  To figure out the answer to each equation, we experimented with mixing the colors.  The amazement and incredible joy the students expressed from figuring it out was awesome!

slide from Anna's Art Adventure powerpoint
Part of the emphasis in the story about Van Gogh is his use of many different hues of the same color.  In the  book Vincent used sulfur yellow, ochre yellow, the pale yellow of lemonade.  So what can you do???
You make the "thirdary" colors....

Highlight: As I was at the board, writing out equations, talking about making another set of colors, out shouts a students, "Like the Thirdary colors??!!"  At that point I understood, that they understood the sequence created by color theory.  So what can you do?  
"Yes, we are going to make the Thirdary colors."

this color wheel was used to emphasize "families of colors"

We proceeded to learn how just a little white added to a little bit of color creates a lighter hue, making them part of the "families" of colors.  Of course this is the very simplified version but it worked ;-)
The students did a fantastic job following the instructional sequence and demonstrated new knowledge acquired everyday.  Although this part of our adventure was long, it was well worth the final results.

oil pastel helps the students organize their painting

oil pastes were force fields containing all the paint

Materials Needed:
white drawing paper
oil pastels
 tempera paints--primary colors 
 white tempera paint
    small brushes


What to do:
This process, of course, will vary depending on your own teaching practice, your students and your style:)
This art lesson took about 5-6 weeks (1 hour per week)

Thinking and painting
1. read page of Vincent van Gogh from Anna's Art Adventure

2. discuss the life and work of Van Gogh, show lots of examples---GET THEM LOOKING AND TALKING!!

painting with really small brushes, really helps
3. create color wheels by tracing paper plates and figuring out where colors go.  Help them understand "family colors" by organizing a big box of crayons

4.  draw their vase with a least 3 big blooms with LOTS of petals (I told them they needed 24 petals for each flower)

mixing "Thirdary" colors for wallpaper and tablecloth
5.  trace their pencil lines with oil pastels choosing colors they will use to paint

6.  paint within their oil pastels the coordinating color from our palette
7.  retrace with oil pastels to find all the lines we lost in the painting process (it always happens but we know how to find our drawings again)

8.  introduce "Thirdary Colors" and use them to create a patterned tablecloth and wallpaper 

9.  sign it! only first names----just like Vincent:) 
WOW!!! how in the world did we make light orange!?

me and my students: demonstrating painting technique
I love to see how engaged and "into it" my students are when they are excited and enthusiastic about what they are learning.  It makes me want to give them more.

Check back for updates to this blogpost with finalized project photos!  

See you back in the

xoxo, SMocK you.