Sunday, October 4, 2015

Artists Observe

One of the first assignments for the year after reviewing the Elements of Art, was to spend some time practicing observation with 8th grade and high school graphics students. Students chose from any of the still life objects I brought from home or anything they could find or set up in the classroom. We probably spent about a week on these drawings starting with a contour drawing and then developing value through shading with pencil. This straight forward real life drawing helped me to gauge the students' observational skills, drawing abilities, and persistence. Allowing the students to choose WHAT they wanted to observe (real objects for this project, not photos) helped some be more engaged and was very practical as my classroom does not have a good set up for a central still life that all could observe.
An old cowboy boot was one of the most popular items to draw. It was set up in the middle of a crowded 8th grade table so it was drawn from many angles.
The lines may have been a bit warped on the tin can above, but I was impressed with the shading.
We had live models for part of the project- black swallowtail caterpillars!
Two students drew a stuffed animal Cat in the Hat.

Some dried starfish were great for practicing texture.
A few students set up blocks to draw.

Glass jars are always a challenge. A thermos from my collection was shaded with cross hatching.
Art tools and supplies can make good models for observation.
Another popular model was a deer skull I borrowed from a friend. There are a lot of challenges involved but students handled it pretty well.

What is your favorite way to handle still lifes?

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Elements of Art

I think this was probably the longest I've gone without writing a blog post since I started teaching! As a PreK-12th grade art teacher/StuCo sponsor/Art Club sponsor/Jr Class/Prom Sponsor/Grad student/Wife and mom, it's been a little busy. I have been posting pictures more regularly on the Instagram account I made just for my school's art dept. so feel free to follow along there if you're interested in more regular glimpses- @JHArtClass.

The Elements of Art are not my favorite thing to teach. It's good to be able to use the vocabulary, but I don't like to spend a bunch of time on them in isolation. I wanted to do a quick review project at the beginning of the year for 8th grade and my graphics classes to get it out of the way.

8th grade students had to represent each of the Elements on a piece of paper using whichever supplies they wanted.

High school graphics students could use one piece of paper, make Artist Trading Cards, put together a photo collage, or come up with a different idea. Projects were graded on how well each theme was communicated, craftsmanship, and unity.
 Students were allowed to use their phones for photography.
This student used a collage app on her phone to put the photos together in one document.
This student printed off her photos as ATCs.
It was kind of a test to see how they did with a starting point and some choices but the project took a little longer than I wanted it to. Next year I may just do it in one day with a group photo challenge.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Painting with Light

In preparation for taking school pictures, Computer Graphics students have been learning about photography. Yes, I said taking school pictures. My school district started that plan several years ago and it's been successful for them. The art students take the photos (we are part of the CTE pathway) and the business classes handle the orders. School pictures start tomorrow and will be held every morning this week.

I'm a fan of etymology and I think explaining root words can help students better understand the meaning and get better at discerning the meanings of unfamiliar words. If you break the word "photograph" down into its roots, photo means light and graph means writing so photography means light writing. It makes sense- early photographs were made by exposing silver particles on treated plates to light which recorded the image. In our photography unit, we watched a TED-Ed video about the history of photography, watched a video about aperture settings by Jared at FroKnowsPhoto, practiced aperture and shutter speed settings outside, attempted forced perspective photography (more on that later), had a trial run of school pictures, and painted with light.

One fun way to really drive home the point about "light writing" is to "paint" with light.We made our light paintings by going into a totally dark room and taking a long exposure photograph while we used lights to write, draw, or paint. The path of the light and anything it shows is recorded on the image. We used a tripod for our 10 second exposures and tried out different ideas. You don't need a fancy camera to try light painting, you just need to be able to change the shutter speed and put the camera on a tripod.
Students took turns directing and posing, even though some needed a little encouragement to get involved.

 Above left, a student discovered that he could shine a bright light from underneath one of the tables to make a cool pattern on top. Above right, a student used the multicolored screen on her phone as a light.
It took a few tries but we finally got a pretty good sword fight photo.

For now, I'm just planning on this being a one day exploration. If students develop some ideas, we may reserve another day in a few weeks to go back to the basement for more light writing. I also may check out digital cameras to students who wish to do light painting or night photography at home.

Light painting lesson plan available on the smARTteacher:

Here's a video we watched about light painting the day before the activity:

The history of photography video we watched on the first day is here:

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Collaborative Mascot Mural

It has been SOOOO busy getting my new classroom set up, finishing up curriculum plans, learning my new schedule and responsibilities, and everything else that goes along with switching schools.

I wanted to take a few minutes to share the project we used to kick off the year and transition into art class. I used the same process a few years ago (I use that term loosely) at one of my previous schools and thought it would work well for high school. Each high school and middle school student completed one square for each class in which they are enrolled. Some finished early and drew extras. I put the lesson up on the smARTteacher for their August challenge so you can read about the whole process there.
The small sections look cool on their own but I really like what we accomplished together.