Thursday, May 16, 2019

Highland Art Day & Sidewalk Chalk Mural

Highland Community College hosts a high school art day each spring and it is an event to which I enjoy taking students. It is close to our league art competition so I usually only take a handful of students. This year we had the 3 seniors who had been for a couple of years and we chose a couple underclassmen so they could learn the ropes and be ready to continue the tradition.

Attending the art day is a good experience because it exposes the students to a big variety of artwork from schools of all sizes. The quality of the work is always impressive and it shows the students what is possible! 

While the show is being judged there are a variety of on-site competitions happening. My students' favorite is always the sidewalk chalk competition with the them of art history with a modern twist.

When brainstorming in the days leading up to the competition, one of the students joked about doing a My Little Pony parody. I told them the first horse painting that comes to mind for me is Napoleon Crossing the Alps. What started as a joke ended up being their idea!

It was starting to sprinkle toward the end so it got a bit rushed but I thought they did a nice job and it was such a fun idea!
We were also thrilled to receive 2 honorable mentions in the art show. The first year I took students was the first year that every school in attendance received an award so an honorable mention is nothing to scoff at. 

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

The Memory Project

I usually try to find one service project that students can help with each year. This year, thanks to a donor who helped with the cost, my advanced class participated in the Memory Project.
If you are unfamiliar with the project, the idea is that students create a portrait of a child living in extreme poverty and the portrait is sent to them as a keepsake. It's all about spreading kindness and global awareness.

We were matched with an attendance center in Colombia and sent photographs of the children. I demonstrated oil painted portrait techniques (it's kind of my thing) and the students either used oil paint or another 2D medium. The majority of my students chose oils with a few selecting colored pencil.

When the portraits were finished, we slipped them into plastic sleeves and mailed them off. The next step was just waiting to hear that the delivery had been made and then eventually we were sent a video that showed the children at their center receiving their portraits from all the participating artists.

This was a good experience for all of us. The students tackled portraits, which they usually avoid, and did a wonderful job. Plus, they were able to spread some joy and felt good about that. We will participate again in the future!

The only bad part of the project is sending them away! I printed copies on nice photo paper for our spring art shows and competitions.
Here is our group picture with the portraits we made.

And here is the video!

Friday, May 3, 2019

Enchanted Forest Prom 2019

One of my roles beyond PreK-12 Art Teacher is Prom sponsor. I actually really love planning the decorations and even get really in to my spreadsheet. I thought it might be helpful to share how we decorated for prom and even my shopping list to save you some time.

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Here are some pictures of our set up. We have 4x8 foot 2x4 frames hinged together in the middle that we use to define the space of the dinner and dance floor without creating artificial walls. We cover the frames with SmartFab. It is more opaque than gossamer and cheaper and easier to cut than regular fabric. I buy the 4 foot rolls and it fits perfectly. We bought dark blue SmartFab and then ran purple gossamer over the seams from the floor draping up to a hula hoop suspended from the rafters.

Since we wanted to incorporate a lot of trees for decorations, we had some saplings cut down that were coming up in less than ideal spots and I cut some branches from shrubs that were overgrown, and those became trees! The stand alone trees had bases made from scrap 2x4s that came out around the bottom in an X shape. We also made a couple of screens by sandwiching branches between 2 2x4s and then adding another scrap piece perpendicular to the row for support. The trees were embellished with ivy vines and wisteria. We bunched up green gossamer along the bottom to disguise the wooden supports.

We have 2 arches that slide together now that a parent donated an extra she picked up at an auction. They are designed to have a satin cover but we left them uncovered so that we could wrap lights and vines around them which fit the theme better.
Here is our entry to the gym with the branch screens on either side and the decorated arch. 
We used purple lights around the perimeter of the room. I picked them up 1/2 off the morning after Halloween. At the right of this photo you can see the 2nd arch which led back to the photo area.
The table runner is 16 inch wide gossamer with our centerpieces- my favorite decoration- on top. The napkin rings were made of a wired vine which we also incorporated on the rim of the jars in the centerpieces.

I LOVE how our centerpieces turned out this year! The students compromised when discussing the prom theme and ended up merging the girls' and the boys' ideas. To tie it all together we have antlers and fairies. There was a log slice as the base of each, covered with preserved moss, which we bought in bulk. We added an artificial succulent for interest near the mason jars sprayed with frosted glass spray paint and filled with battery powered led fairy light packs. An antler shed wrapped around each and we had a silhouette of a fairy against the lights. To disguise the battery pack, we added a 3D butterfly sticker to each. We ordered them to use as decorations around the room but found they had magnets- BONUS!- so that worked perfectly.

The chandelier was a hula hoop with lights, ivy, and roses draped around it. It looked brighter in person. I had my first ever gallbladder attack and ended up needing to leave prom early so I didn't get as many pictures as I usually do. In fact, I did not get any finished pictures of our photo backdrop! It was so pretty. We draped blue and purple gossamer on the wall and hung a swing from the rafters. We covered the cable of the swing with rope, vines, and flowers to make it look more natural and had trees behind. The floor was covered with brown butcher paper and we used green gossamer again to hide the supports and look like plants. I wanted to order artificial terms or buy real ones but that didn't fit in the budget this year.

All in all, this was a really pretty prom and I recommend the theme!

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Artists Answer Essential Questions

Last summer I read The Open Art Room (Purtee & Sands) and got some new ideas to bring to my classroom. I structured most of my Advanced Class based on Artist Behavior units and several of those units came pretty much right out of the book with some tweaks to best fit my students. One of the units was Artists Answer Essential Questions in which the students were asked to brainstorm a bunch of questions and then choose one to explore through their artwork.
I was really impressed with the depth of the questions the students asked and it was cool to see their planning develop. I wish I had taken more pictures of their planning because I've honestly forgotten what many of the questions were since the projects sometimes morphed as they worked.
This student was asking a question that was something like what happens when we use up the earth's resources?

The students and I enjoyed this unit and I think it will be a keeper for next year!