Friday, November 20, 2020

Black and White Raku

A couple years ago we were able to use Art Club funds to purchase a Bracker Raku kiln. We usually pull it out in the spring but that obviously didn’t happen last year! I decided to do a raku project with my advanced students this fall while everyone was in the building. Who knows what will happen and when it might happen!

I explained the raku process and that anything unglazed turns black in reduction. I challenged the students to design a project that was mainly black and white, using white crackle glaze. We brainstormed a list of black and white animals as a starting point and most students did end up making animal sculptures. 

Raku is always a fun process and it’s even fun to clean them up! This morning we pulled out the pop up photo box and snapped some nice photos so the students could take their work home. 

I’m hoping to squeeze in a quick ceramics option for my intro students in December but it’s so hard to picture what will happen after Thanksgiving break! We will see. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Embrace the Grid

I like to introduce grid drawing to students so they know it's a tool they can use if needed, but I didn't want to spend a lot of time on a traditional project that would take a long time to complete. I was also on a mission to make sure that students know how to use the materials in their personal art supply kits and are comfortable using them. That's how this project was born!
Here is my test before introducing it to the students- a drawing of one of our roosters.
Instead of hiding the grid we embraced it, switching technique or medium in every neighboring square. Students could use their own photo or a creative commons photo. We printed the photos with the grid on them and then drew on one inch grid paper with thin blue lines.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Back to School 2020

Well, my school has been back in session for a few weeks now and it's going ok! For posterity, I'll explain a bit about what we're facing right now.

Last March we went on spring break and didn't return to the building. Covid-19 had hit the US and we didn't know a whole lot about it. We finished the year doing school from home. 

My district is small enough that we are able to open at full capacity. We do have a virtual school option that several families opted for, but most are in the building.
My StuCo kids have a tradition of chalking the walk so that students are greeted with encouraging messages on the first day of school. This year we also added some yard signs and got out "Francis" to make things more fun.

The first change for this school year is that face masks are required for students over 5 and for staff. I am glad that we have this requirement. It makes me feel a bit better about being around so many people. It shows that we care enough about others to try to keep them safe. My room is at the end of the hallway so if we finish clean up early, it's easy to step outside for a quick mask break before the kids go on to their next class.
Sanitation procedures have been amped up this year. I put together personal art supply kits for students to use in the classroom and for me to send home with them if we go remote. I ordered 2 gallon Ziploc bags because they are big enough to easily hold 9x12 inch paper inside along with all of the tools we need. I didn't want to pass out the supply kits until students were done switching classes but since most of my sections are graphic design or computer graphics we just started with some quick digital projects.

I have a classroom that makes it kind of impossible to have all students facing the same direction. The district ordered sneeze guards to divide the space on my tables. In some classes students can have a whole table to themselves since my enrollment is lower this year between virtual families being off campus and a drop to a smaller enrollment with graduating a larger class last year. I do have one class of 18 in a room that seats 24 in a normal year so that feels pretty crowded. We have 4 students at 4 tables and 2 students and a Para at another, which is also the table I use when I need to hook up to the tv for a demo. I'm a little nervous about having 23 kids in that classroom 2nd semester but I guess things could change before then!
Another change is that I am "zooming" in to the elementary classrooms for their art classes. A recently retired teacher came back as a Para and she supervises the class while I teach from my classroom. They were trying to cut down on people crossing between the two buildings so I think it was a smart move. This morning I was the "art fairy" and dropped off paper for the week's classes. The students mainly use the supplies they brought to school so I'm just planning based off of that. Teaching in this way is not that conducive to TAB but I'm hoping I can figure out how to make it work.
This is a photo of the end of an elementary class when the students came up one at a time to share their work. We actually have more instructional time since clean up is faster and we don't have to walk back to the other building so sharing at the end of class is a bonus.
This is my set up when I need to demonstrate something. I have an iPad with the camera pointing down in an opening of an old shelf and hook the iPad up to my laptop. Books hold the shelf up high enough to give me room to move beneath it. When I'm ready to demonstrate, I just share my screen and select the device. It's kind of bulky, but it works. I also use the iPad set up like this but hooked to my smart TV for demonstrations since I can't just call the class around a table anymore.

Here are a couple examples from my advanced class's first assignment. We watched a video from the Art Assignment on the Definition of Art and students wrote their own before creating a graphic in Canva.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Pixel Art at Home

This was my Google Sheets pixel art- I tried to make Bob Ross because I wanted to see how much detail would be required to make it look like him.
One of the options on my choice board last spring was to make pixel art. I had sent a piece of 1/2 inch graph paper home with my middle school students so that was an option I offered as well as using Google Sheets (great tutorial here), websites like, or any pixel art app they might have. 
Student example made with an app
I'm not sure what app was used for the blue diamond. The one on the right was made in Minecraft, which I didn't even know was possible! I had to ask my 9 year old to tell me how it would've been done.
This was my experiment using a smaller size graph paper and new markers- I learned the color of the cap was a bit misleading and I should have tested the colors on a scrap piece of paper.
Here are a few middle school examples

This is by the same student who made the Undertale pixel art above. This is his favorite art style. I'm going to learn more about pixel art so I can push him even further next year!