Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Kindergarten Line Fish

Paul Klee's The Golden Fish was the inspiration for this project.  I like starting off the year talking about lines with Kindergarten and since we had a fish theme school-wide, Klee's painting was a very appropriate starting point!

Source: dl.ket.org via Katie on Pinterest

When introducing or reviewing lines, my favorite thing to do is draw a line on the chalkboard then we draw the same line in the air with our fingers.  I haven't read a whole lot about "whole brain" teaching, but I've been told that incorporating actions activates a different part of the brain.  If nothing else, I figure it helps students with different learning styles. (And it's kinda fun.)

This was a two class period project.  I always forget how long it takes just to get names on papers at the beginning of the school year with Kindergarten.  So half of the first class was labeling papers and introducing lines.  We looked at Klee's fish paintings and pointed out all the cool lines we could find before the students drew their own fish.  I asked them to only draw lines and shapes, not to color anything in with their pencils.  I did not show students how they had to draw a fish.  When the "I-can't-ers" and the "I-don't-know-how-ers" acted helpless, I pointed out how Klee used simple shapes to make his fish.  Next, I showed the students how to trace over their pencil lines with crayon trying to press really hard.

In the second class, we reviewed lines again and the students used blue crayons to draw lots of different kinds of lines around their fish to represent water and mimic Klee's painting.  I also showed them a couple different ways to draw "ocean plants" at the bottom of their papers.  To create the resist, students painted their papers with large brushes and watered down tempera paint.  I wish I had been brave enough to give them black instead of blue because I love the contrast in Klee's paintings.  I was afraid that their lines would totally disappear since most of the Kinders don't quite have the hand strength to press hard enough with crayon and had to really be encouraged to go back over their lines.  This is a project that I thought was just turing out awful until I came back after a couple days at my other school and looked again.  I think it has potential, but if I do it again, I will probably wait until later in the school year and let the students use whatever paint colors they want with watercolor.
My Monday classes once again had to do a shorter version of the project so they just had crayon drawings with no paint.


Why, oh why...

...do I plan messy projects back to back?  It's really not a smart thing to do when there is no time built in between classes.  I had 2 first grade classes back to back making abstract expressionistic paintings today which were too wet to move off my one drying rack so then when my two Kindergarten classes for the day came immediately after I had to put butcher paper on the floor to hold their wet paintings. I'm hoping they'll magically be dry enough to stack before I head home in approximately 15 minutes since my room is used for a social skills group during lunch on Thursdays when I'm at my other school.

This is what my sink counter looks like, as clean and organized as I can manage right now. I really need to keep working on better ways to use my space.  By the way, don't order cheap tempera paint.  It's not worth it.  I thought it would be pretty similar to the more expensive brands but there is a HUGE difference.  It has a weird viscosity and is definitely not opaque.  When you squirt it out, the colors look bright enough but they do not cover well and are not very saturated on paper.  The only thing I can think of is to try mixing them with better paint so it's not a total waste.

I think that at some point today, almost every paint brush in my classroom was dirty.  I once again underestimated how much time my Kinders would need to do the steps planned for the lesson today so I just gave them new brushes for the second paint color. I want to really take time to teach them how to clean paintbrushes the right way so that will have to happen on another day.

In case you were wondering, the purpose of this post is to remind myself to think about what ALL my grades are doing when choosing a medium for a project!  And to warn others about cheap paint!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Celebrating Art

Last year I read a post on someone's blog (if it was you, thank you!) about Celebrating Art.  Celebrating Art lets you submit photos of student artwork (or students can submit their own from home) to be considered for publication in a really nice hardback book.  I submitted work for each school on their website (you have to create an account to keep track of all your information) and ended up with several students getting work accepted.  I actually had quite a few but lots did not turn in the permission form, and since we didn't get them until a few days before school got out, I didn't get the chance to remind them.  There are two deadlines a year, one in November, and one in April.  If you get enough students published, you get a free copy of the book for your classroom.  I went through and found all of my students but I haven't even had a chance to check out all the other awesome artwork yet!  I did make sure to mark pages with my students' work so my principals could find the right pages when I left the book for them to check out.

I thought I would just try the contest once to see how it went and overall, I'm very pleased with my experience!  If you have any questions, the company is very quick to respond.  I had a question about permission and they answered the same day.  *I wanted to make sure that you don't have to get permission to submit and they confirmed.  Parents only need to give permission for work to be published in the book.

Below are some photos of pages that featured my students' work with the links to posts about the project.

Forgot to post about Kindergarten self-portraits...
...and forgot to photograph 2 more projects published in the book: one of my 3rd grade Architecture 2 Ways and 1st grade Circle Printing

 More 4th grade shape paintings and Aboriginal-Inspired animals

Check out this blog...

I just wanted to share a new blog written by another 3rd year art teacher, Painting With Brains!  I've enjoyed it so far, especially this post called Dump your Frump that discusses the dilemma of how Art teachers dress at school.  Check it out!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

3rd Grade Origami Fish

I explained in my last post that my K-3rd grade school started off the year with a fish theme.  I had the idea to make origami fish and put them on a cool painted background.  I taught an origami boat/Monet water lilies lesson last year that went over well so I figured the fish idea would work.  It did work, but in the future, I won't be doing origami for the first project!  I'll let those little minds get used to following directions first, and hope they'll get over the "I can't"s before attempting origami.

I had never made an origami fish before but I figured it shouldn't be too hard to find a pattern that was doable with students.  It was a little harder than I anticipated to find a good pattern.  I tried out several and came up with two that I liked.

My schedule was weird again due to Labor Day.  I knew that my Monday classes would have a class and a half instead of two, my Tuesday classes would have two full class periods, and my Friday kids would have two classes as well.  After I made the plan, I found out that my Friday classes would be gone on a field trip so they ended up with only one class, which is why there are 3 different versions of the project in the first photo!

I started my Monday classes on this Pureland Fish (Pattern by Marc Kirschenbaum) at the end of the first class after the expectations and procedures review.  We finished it at the beginning of the second class then after discussing fish habitats, the students were given cool colored tempera paint to create a background and for added interest they drew a line with glue which they sprinkled *sand on.  Students also used sharpies to add details to their fish.

*I may be a little obsessed with sand.  But it's cheap, it makes texture really easy to understand, and it's lots of fun!  The students would put sand on every project if I'd let them.  They get super excited and ask "Is it REAL sand?"

 I used the cooler/more complicated pattern for my Tuesday classes.  It starts with a pinwheel pattern so I had to look up how to make those as well.  It took quite a while to complete this fish- at least a class and a half.  The students were not left with little time paint their backgrounds so no time for sand!  I don't know if I would try this pattern with 3rd graders again, at least not until much later in the year.

 Friday classes had to move really quickly!  We used cardboard tubes and styrofoam cups to print blue and white paint on blue construction paper then made the fish while that dried.  The students had just a couple minutes left to glue down their fish, add details to their fish and background, and glue down sand.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Klee-Inspired Geometric Shape Fish

My K-3rd grade school started off the year with a "Fish" theme.  The Kindergarten teachers suggested it last spring and we all just kind of went with it!  I planned a fish project for each grade.  Up first is 2nd grade, just because I finished editing their photos first!  Check out the Artsonia exhibit here, and please don't judge me for the colors being really funky, I am finding that editing with Artsonia's website is time saving since I can do it at school but not the most true to life when Auto correct and Brighten are the only ways to adjust color.  But enough about that, read on for my jabbering about the project.

  Paul Klee is an artist that I honestly didn't know very much about before starting this project.  I knew the name and knew that shapes and abstraction were involved in his work but besides seeing some lesson plans based on him, I never gave him very much thought.  I got ahold of some Art for Children books that the library was discarding and one of them was about Paul Klee.  I looked through it and mentally filed away a few ideas.  For the fish project, I showed the students three of his paintings.  
We started by looking at Klee's painting, Castle and Sun, and discussing the shapes which the students were able to identify as geometric.  (I always remind them that geometric shapes are the kind they learn about in Math class and that seems to help them remember.) I explained that they would eventually be making pictures of fish so with that in mind, the background was going to be made of squares and rectangles printed in cool colors to remind us of water.  I used my handy dandy box cutter to cut squares and rectangles out of cardboard.  I didn't worry about using a straight edge or measuring, I wanted a little variety.  The students painted tints of purple, blue, and green on the cardboard and then stamped the shape on their paper, black construction paper.  I think the added white helped the paint show up better.  The little art history lesson, introduction, and printing took the first 40-minute class period.

The best way I found to handle the paint was to put a little tray of each color at each table.  I put it on top of this weird vinyl-y stuff that I have packs and packs of.  It made a pretty good placemat and contained most of the mess.  My tables usually have about 5 students at them so I put two brushes in each paint color.  I asked the students to keep the brushes with one color so I didn't have to worry about water.  The cardboard pieces just stayed on the vinyl stuff when not in use.

During the second class, we looked at two more Klee paintings: Fish Magic and The Golden Fish.  We saw how Paul Klee used geometric shapes to construct his fish.  I actually used a Pinterest board I created about Paul Klee as a way to organize the images I wanted to show the students.  It worked really well.  I just pulled up the board at the beginning of class and it kept track of the "bookmarks" for me.  (The Philadelphia Museum of Art's website was really great because it lets you zoom in to focus on details of the paintings.)  Next, we brainstormed some different geometric shapes and I was going to draw them on the chalkboard for reference when I remembered I didn't have to!  Instead, I projected a poster that I had saved on, you guessed it, Pinterest, and the students could just look at it for ideas!

Afterwards, each student was given a quarter page black construction paper and asked to draw a fish as big as they could fit on on the page made out of geometric shapes.  Of course I had lots of students tell me they didn't know how so I just reminded them that they were imaginary fish and they could keep it simple like an ellipse and a triangle.  The "I can't"s and "I don't know how"s seem to be a lot worse at the beginning of the school year...

After they finished drawing in pencil, construction paper crayons were used to fill in the shapes then the fish were cut out and glued down on the printed papers.  There ended up being a little extra time in most classes so I let them have the "bonus step" of adding some sand (yes, REAL SAND) to their artwork.  They get so darn excited about sand... and I do a little, too!  Calling it a "bonus step" seemed to be really motivating.

My schedule can end up being a big mess if I don't change some lessons for classes on certain days.  My Tuesday classes hardly ever miss but days off school tend to be scheduled on Mondays and Fridays.  Labor day was obviously on a Monday so my Monday classes had 1 1/2 class periods instead of 2.  They drew their fish at the end of the first day and colored and printed on the second day.  There was no cutting involved.  Here is a result from one of those classes:

Saturday, September 17, 2011

How to Watermark Photos and Make an Action in Photoshop

I know there has been some discussion lately amongst bloggers about Pinterest and how to protect your property.  Yes, Pinterest does save the original source and it does send people to your blog, but there is one problem.  In the last week, I suddenly noticed a whole bunch of photos from my blog on Pinterest that were not showing my blog address, but a really weird url, like http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-8ZjlWKEqYL4/TeBYUfk7ydI/AAAAAAAABtM/LzcF-uWXSEc/s1600/DSC_0222.JPG.  I think this happens when someone pins an image after clicking it to enlarge in a new window.  I am going to try to start adding a watermark or copyright notation on photos I post (this may not happen all the time) and thought I would try a little tutorial on how to make the process a little quicker.

What is with this weird url?

If you have Photoshop, it is super easy to mark your photos.  You can create an "action" so that after you do each step once and save it, you can apply the action to automatically mark other photos.  If you have a program like Adobe Bridge, you can even batch edit to mark a whole folder's worth of images at once.  *I'm sure there are ways to batch edit with other programs so if you don't have the same program as me, just do a quick search and I'm sure you'll get plenty of results.

Recording an Action to Watermark a Photo in Photoshop
Enlarge for arrows that point to the different tools.
  1. Open up a photo that you want to watermark in Photoshop.
  2. In your Actions window, create a new action.
  3. Name your action.  I chose "Blog Watermark".
  4. Make sure your action is recording.  The little circle at the bottom of your actions window should be red.
  5. Create a text layer and type in whatever you want.  I typed Katie Morris ArtTeacherAdventures.blogspot.com.
  6. Adjust the text arrangement and size.
  7. In your custom shape tools palette, select the copyright symbol.
  8. "Draw" the shape wherever you want it to show up on your photos.  You can either put it in the middle or record different actions for horizontal and vertical photos.  If you put it in the corner on a horizontal photo, it may be cropped when you apply the action on a vertical photo.  Hold down the shift key as you make the shape to keep everything proportionate.  
  9. When you have everything how you want it, stop recording by clicking the square next to the record button.
  10. When you open up other photos that you want to watermark, you should just be able to open your actions window, select the action you want, and hit the play action button. 
*If you have photos cropped to different sizes, it would be a good idea to include resizing to a similar size as part of your action to avoid the watermark being cropped, depending on the desired placement of your watermark.
This bulletin board will look soooo much better after I find time to paint the frame!

Actions are something that I don't utilize as much as I should.  If there are things you do over and over again in Photoshop, consider using actions as a time saver.  Hopefully this was helpful!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Sunflower State

This time of year, it's easy to see why Kansas is called the Sunflower State.  Sunflowers happen to be one of my favorite flowers- they're just so darn optimistic!  I enjoy the native sunflowers growing in my back yard and along the roads, as do all the butterflies and other insects.  Last year I took some sunflowers to school for the students to observe and draw.  The timing won't work out right this year since we are jumping right into some Southern African projects for Multi Cultural Heritage Week, more on that later!  In the mean time, I hope you enjoy some of my photos.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Bending, Breaking, Blending

I just read an article from the Houston Chronicle that I really enjoyed!  "Brandt: For sake of society, young minds need art" talks about the difference between automated and meditated behavior as explained by  David Eagleman (<---neuroscientist) in his book Incognito.  Automated behavior is often unconscious and meditated behavior is innovative. 

I really like the section about how creativity requires alteration of some kind, based on the work of scientists Mark Turner and Gilles Fauconnier. Copying is not creative. The examples of alteration they give are bending, breaking, or blending. This is something that we should think about as Art teachers.  I, as I'm sure most Art teachers do, try really hard to emphasize being inspired by others' artwork (whether from Art History or a contemporary artist) without copying it.  I give my students the requirements by the assignment and encourage them to be creative within the confines.  Of course some are always going to get too hung up on my example being the "right" way to do it and copy it even from memory if I take it down but I keep encouraging them to find their own way.  Anyway, I just enjoyed the article (it's fairly short) and thought I would share it!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Back to School

I only see my 4th-6th grade students every other week.  Needless to say, we won't have finished artwork to display in the hallway for another 3 weeks!  I didn't want to walk through empty hallways until then and we needed an activity for the second half of the first Art class (first half= introductions, seating chart, rules, procedures) so this is what I came up with!  I went through all my Art History posters and pulled a whooooole bunch, looking for diversity in time periods, styles, media, cultures, etc. and hung posters in the hall.  We discussed how to act in a museum (don't touch, be quiet and respectful, act like ladies and gentlemen) and went on a tour in the hallway.  I gave each student a die cut shape, a sharpie, and a piece of masking tape.  Their instructions were to look at EVERY poster hanging, then pick a favorite and 
"Stop, Look, and Think" about WHY it was their favorite, then write a sentence about it on their piece of paper.  After writing, the students stuck their shape on the wall close to the poster.

I gave much clearer instructions after the first class when I got sentences like "It's my favorite because it's awesome" and "I like it because it's pretty."  I started reviewing the elements and principles and asking the students to be more descriptive and specific.  I also modeled a detailed, specific sentence for an imaginary art work.  The writing really improved after that.  I guess next year I'll have to add that the sentences should be something positive.  I did not read each sentence, I trusted the students enough not to.  I did have students point out that somebody "wrote something inappropriate" so when I checked under Grant Wood's "American Gothic", I read "I like it because it looks like he's going to stabe (stab) her with the pitchfork."  I put the original and a blank die cut shape in his teacher's box with a note asking him to write a different sentence.  I was back at that school yesterday and students had found another, almost identical sentence written by someone else.  Did the same thing with requesting a re-write.  Found yet ANOTHER almost identical sentence, this time with no name.  Moving on...

If I were really smart, I would have chosen one color for each grade level.  My reason: the shapes created a strong visual that showed what the students are most interested in.  It would have been nice to know if there were trends based on age.  I think it will give me some guidance when I plan for later lessons.  The two most popular posters were an Op Art painting and a FSA Landscape painting.

Scroll down to see some more pictures of our hallway "museum"!

Written about a Jackson Pollock painting