Friday, July 12, 2019

2019 State Fish Art Contest

I've written about the State Fish Art Contest before (see posts here) because I feel like it, along with the Jr Duck Stamp, are great programs that merge art and science. It's always a choice for my students to complete the art and an additional choice on if they want to enter the contest or not. This year I only had 3 students choose to enter... and 2 were my own children! My kids worked on their projects over spring break and it was a good distraction from screens since spring break in Kansas is usually too cold to do much outside.
My oldest son chose the Colorado state fish- the greenback cutthroat trout. He had watched me using watercolors a few months before so he was excited to try out some techniques. He drew the fish and used masking fluid to trace the outline. He used a wet on wet technique to paint the water, letting drops of color fall on the wet paper and then sprinkled coarse sea salt and some table salt on the wet paint to create a pretty cool effect.
When the background was dry, he painted the body of the fish and later used colored pencils to add details.
Showing off his finished painting
My middle son used a wax resist technique, adding watercolor over his crayon drawing of a channel catfish.
Some states have a lot more participation in this program than others. It is not well known in Kansas but it is a worthwhile program, especially if you have students or children of your own interested in wildlife, conservation, or environmental science.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Practicing What I Preach: Oil Painted Portraits

I think it is important to practice what you preach, so I try really hard to make time to make my own artwork. That has looked different in the past year with the addition of my 3rd baby but I feel so much better and more like myself if I do something creative, even if it's only 10 minutes at a time, and I think it is good for students to see me working on my own art. During the spring semester I managed to make 2 11x14 oil paintings of my oldest and youngest sons. I finally found got the right reference photo for my middle son so hopefully I will get that painted by the end of the year. 
Both paintings were made in my classroom. I started the first painting you see here because a student wanted to oil paint a portrait so I decided that would be a great time to start one of my own to demonstrate. I worked on it sitting next to that student and a few minutes here and there when all the other students were working independently. I just found a strategic location where I could see everyone and it worked out great! I also spent a couple of lunch sessions painting after I finished eating and stayed after school to work on it while my older boys played on the play
I like taking progress photos while I work. It helps me to reflect on my process.
I took the painting to Highland Art Day where I added it to the teacher display. While walking around checking out all the artwork I overheard another art teacher making disparaging comments about teachers who have time to make their own artwork. How they (we) must not have big classes and can't possibly have children of our own... I was nearby wearing my youngest in a moby wrap at the time! I was pretty frustrated at the time at the rude comments and chose to go get a snack instead of confronting the other teacher. I may not have classes as large as some art teachers but I work just as hard and trust me, small schools have their own issues. No situation is perfect but I wish we could build each other up instead of putting down others who we perceive to have it easier. 
The two paintings side by side
The next painting showed more of the figure. It fits the personality of my oldest who loves to build and explore, and is not super comfortable smiling at a camera!
This painting was more of a challenge for me. I wanted to use the same style as the first portrait but I had so much more information in my reference photo. I eventually accepted that they were going to have different styles but as long as each represents the subject well, I'm ok with that.
More progress photos
Finished painting
How do you make time for your art? Do you ever work alongside your students?


Monday, July 1, 2019

Fine Arts Night

When I started teaching at this school the art show was held at the same time as the awards and spring activities night. We set up the show during the school day and then my principal and I had to take it all down at the end of the night since it was held in the gym and would need to be out of the way for graduation on Sunday. Last year I asked about moving the art show to the same evening as the spring concert and calling it Fine Arts Night. This year I took it a step further, inspired by art teacher Shawny  Montgomery, and encouraged the advanced seniors to set up a display of their best work from high school. 
Next year I plan to make it part of their final to create an invitation to give to family and friends, set up the display, and attend to be able to talk to people about their art. We may even get punch and cookies- this year it fell the same week I had pneumonia so it was pretty simple. 



Do you do anything special with your seniors at the end of the year art show?

Friday, June 28, 2019

Screen Printing

In the spring semester I gave my computer graphics students several options to complete a design product for a real “client”, mostly for school organizations or events. The design that blew me away was a logo for our band and vocal classes. The student incorporated a treble clef into our cobra logo and I thought that it was so clever. The logo will be printed on t-shirts next year but the designer was about to graduate and wanted a shirt before she left. To solve this problem we broke out the screen printing materials for the first time! We followed the directions and it worked just about perfectly. 
 Next we decided to let art club students screenprint their own t-shirts. I reused an old screen for this and we started to have a few issues. Let’s just pretend we were going for a distressed look. This was the sample I made on construction paper to remind art club about bringing a shirt. 
Feeling overly confident with a new screen I volunteered to make t-shirts for staff members for the last day of school when we play against the students in a dodgeball game. I tried I think 3 times and could never get the screen right. The screen filler washed right off like it had never been exposed to the design. Running out of time and not knowing how to fix it, I followed my friend Tranda’s (Ag Wife Artist Life: http://agwifeartistlife.blogspot.com/2017/03/screen-printing.html?m=1) steps to make a screen using mod podge. I had to simplify the design a bit and it also has a distressed look, but I was still happy with how the shirts turned out and got them completed on time. One of the students saw me in my dodgeball get up and told me I was “so extra!” I totally take that as a compliment.