Thursday, December 28, 2017

Theme: Nature/Science

Last year I debated between choosing nature or science as a theme in my intro high school class. There was so much overlap that I put them together. I showed students how a bunch of different artists have approached the theme as a way to get them thinking about different possibilities. As I talked to students about their ideas, I showed some new techniques we hadn't covered yet that might be of interest. There was a ton of variety in the students' work and this was a good early theme- broad enough that it could go in many different directions but safe enough that it helped students get used to more freedom. It will be the first theme for this year's intro classes because it was so successful last year.


Wheel thrown and hand built teapot


 I did a needle felting demo and several students played with the technique
 The Northern Lights
Weaving that incorporated sticks
 Lidded vase

Illustrations of animals were a popular choice
This student made her own embroidery pattern 
 This is a drawing of neurons.
 This drawing went on to earn 1st place in the Kansas division of the State Fish Art Contest!
 Right across the hallway is the biology room with lots of live animals. This student photographed a salamander (I think) and then drew it.
 This student brought in her rock collection and explored with wet on wet watercolor techniques to illustrate a few.
This was an 11x14 inch stippling made with different colors of sharpie based off of a photo of soap film seen through a microscope. It took a long time but she never got in a hurry and somehow kept her patience!

Thursday, December 21, 2017

littleBits in the Art Room!


Over the summer I got to attend the NAEA Western Region Leadership Conference. It was awesome to meet and work with leaders in other states' art education associations and they even planned cool workshops for us including kinetic sculptures with littleBits! I knew I wanted to figure out how to get those kits into the hands of my students.
Thankfully our school librarian was able to purchase a few kits with some grant money and we were able to use them in my 8th grade art class the last week of the semester.
I showed the students some videos of the kinetic sculptures made in the Western Region workshops and the rest was pretty much learning by doing. Students don't get enough opportunities to learn through play and exploration so I showed them the kits and suggested they start by just putting the pieces together to find out what they do and how they work. There were books with each kits in case students wanted to read first but most were happy to just explore. I asked the students to brainstorm how the parts could be used to make sculptures do different things and that was how they came up with their ideas.
The students had simple materials available- cardboard and other recyclables, tape, wire, and hot glue. I just asked that they were careful to attach the circuit parts with tape so that they would not be damaged. The project was lots of fun and even the students who are not normally that "in" to art were engaged.
Since the projects had to be temporary, we made a record with video which I posted on our YouTube channel.





Since we only had a few kits, not all the students were able to participate at the same time due to groups getting too big, so some chose to try out stop motion animation instead. I just posted a Donors Choose project to try to get two more kits so that the amount available would work better with our class sizes. I also want to ask our awesome librarian to host the new kits, when hopefully the project is funded, so that they can be shared with other classrooms. If you'd like to contribute to our project, here's the link!

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Theme: Story

STORY was one of my favorite themes from last school year. We got some really cool artwork out of the theme and it was broad enough that there was lots of room for different interpretations and the students' interests.

After the introduction, I asked students to research a myth or legend that they were unfamiliar with and write a paragraph summary just to get them thinking about new possibilities. A few students used the research for their projects and the rest moved on with other ideas.

I didn't do a printmaking bootcamp but offered demos when students were trying to come up with something new to try. These two prints were both inspired by a myth or legend.

Clay was a popular choice during this unit. Some students fired and glazed and others added in different materials such as moss, stones, sticks, and glass.
This student made a hobbit hole.
This was kind of like a fairy cottage. It was super cool.
This was one of my advanced students last year. She found an old story she had written and created a box from the story. It even has her own language carved into the side.
These students chose stories that are movies but did a good job moving past copying a movie cover.
I love looking around and seeing all the variety in the classroom!

This student joined the class at semester so made basically her first painting for the project using water soluble oil paints- not a fan of the medium, by the way, regular oils are SO much better- and she worked to get lots of information from the story into one composition.
This was inspired by a song I think called Granddaddy's Gun or something like that. The student incorporated small copies of family pictures of them hunting together on the drawn mantle.



Saturday, October 28, 2017

KAEA Conference 2017 & What I Wish I Knew When I Started Teaching

Last weekend I attended the Kansas Art Education Association Fall Conference in McPherson. I so look forward to the conference every year and it always seems to have good timing, right when I need to recharge, get some new ideas, and reconnect with my art friends!

This year I presented 2 workshops on my own and was part of a panel for new teachers.

The first workshop I presented was on tactile paintings inspired by Andy Lakey.
The second was on layered monoprints with gelli plates.

I took some awesome workshops as well, including one about different ceramic surface techniques and one on black and white dry brush painting.

The panel I was a part of was "Help, I'm a New Teacher!" We had a good group of first year teachers and pre-service art educators. We started off by listing 5 things we wish we knew as new teachers or have learned since. Here are my 5.
  1. You don't have to fit one label/pedagogy. Listen, learn, and pull what works best for you, your students, and your school.
  2. Find a way to advocate and advertise your program, whether it's through social media (like my school instagram), Artsonia, your district newsletter, or local newspaper. Focus on the students- it's easier to brag on them than on yourself.
  3. Not everyone is going to like you all the time, even if you haven't done anything wrong. You are not pizza, you can't make everyone happy.
  4. Don't be afraid to ask for things. Be prepared, state your reasons, and do you best. If they say no, at least you tried.
  5. It's ok to change your plans if something isn't working!
What would be on your list of things you've learned?