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!

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Theme: Music

Music was the last theme that my high school students worked on before spring break when EVERYTHING changed.
I don't think I know anyone who doesn't like music. Everyone can find a style they like. In addition to March being Youth Art Month, it is Music In Our Schools Month so it seemed like a good time to make connections between the arts.

Here is the slides presentation that I used to go over the big ideas:
The big questions for this unit were:
How can artists visually express music?
How can color convey feeling?

After the discussion, the students warmed up by using 10 minutes* to capture the feeling of a song in a nonobjective painting. The majority of students wanted to keep working so they spent the rest of the class period on the task. I let the students listen to the song of their choice using their personal device or headphones and their school computer.

Students had choice of media.
Eventually, students came up with a plan for a project inspired by music that they could complete in about 2 weeks.
This student painted on old records and then riveted them together to form a wall hanging.

The inspiration for this experimental painting came from the title of the sheet music. I have a couple of old sheet music books I rescued from being recycled.

This painting was inspired by Weezer's Island in the Sun

These two friends made paintings the complement each other.

This drawing was by our Italian exchange student who really loved to draw. I like how you can see where she erased on the left side.

Here are the Visual Arts Standards and Graphic Design Competencies we addressed through this unit:

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Mosaic Bowing Ball Reflecting Ball Tutorial

Several years ago, ok maybe like 10 years ago, a friend gave me a few bowling balls thinking I could use them for a project. I wanted to make a reflecting ball for my flower garden and finally after 3 kids and a move I was able to finish one!

Here are the materials you will need:
  • A bowling ball
  • Pieces of glass, mirror, tiles, etc. (I used Mosaic Mercantile Crafter's Cut from Dick Blick but you can use any precut pieces or cut them yourself.
  • Adhesive- I used a silicone adhesive I purchased at my local Walmart. I've also heard that E6000 works well
  • Foil- optional for filling in the holes of the bowling ball
  • Glass cutting tools- optional if you buy pre-cut pieces, though handy if you need to make one smaller
  • Something to cover your table with
  • Some type of ring to set your bowling ball on so it won't roll while working- I used an old roll of masking tape
  • Grout, as well as a container to mix the grout in and something to stir with
  • Sponge
  • Grout sealer and small paint brush
Adhesive, cutting tools, and glass tiles I used.
I sorted my glass pieces by color before I began. I also had a lot of mirror pieces which I cut off of a large mirror removed from the house my grandparents purchased. Since the mirror was free, mixing them in with the pre-cut glass majorly cut back on the cost.

Here are the Steps!
1. Wash and dry your bowling ball. I just got a tub of warm water and dish soap to put the bowling ball in and scrubbed it since it had been sitting outside. It dried in the sun quickly and I was able to start working. If your glass pieces are translucent, you may want to spray paint your bowling ball white before you start so that the colors show up. My pieces had a coating of color on the back so I didn't have to worry about that.
2. Decide on a rough concept for your reflecting ball. I wanted to do radial designs that would overlap and fill in the gaps. I think I want to do another one that is pretty random. It would have looked funny to change my style halfway through.
3. Set your bowling ball on a ring- I used a roll of masking tape- so that it won't roll as you are working.
4. I did not think of this in time, but you could wad up aluminum foil and stuff it in the holes of the bowling ball so that you can put glass right over it and not have to leave a gap. You could also use caulking or spray foam insulation to fill it in but you'd have to wipe off the excess.
5. Begin to glue pieces on the top and work out from there. Leave a small gap between the pieces- aim for 1/8-1/4 of an inch- and when the pieces start trying to slide because of the slope, wait a bit for the glue to set up before you rotate the ball and continue. I found that it didn't take a ton of glue, just a little blob is sufficient.
6. Continue to rotate the bowling ball, gluing pieces on the part that is facing up. For the pieces I cut myself, I found that triangles or slight trapezoids worked the best. You may have to trim some pieces to make them fit in the gaps when the different part of your design start to run together.

7. After you have covered the entire surface, make sure everything is dry and do one last check to make sure you don't have any gaps that are too big for your liking.
8. Mix up your grout- I used whatever I had on hand leftover from a tiling project. I mixed it in a tub until it was a yogurt like consistency and then began to apply to the bowling ball. I poured it on and used a scrap of pasteboard to spread it around, making sure it got down between the pieces. I had to rotate the bowling ball, pausing to make sure it set for a few minutes before I put that side down. As I moved the grout around to fill in the gaps, I made sure to spread around the excess.
9. Wait about 20 minutes and use a large, damp sponge to begin wiping off more excess grout and revealing your glass underneath. My mirror pieces were thicker than the glass I purchased so I made sure that the glass all got uncovered. When your sponge gets dirty, rinse and ring it out. I had to do that several times.

10. When the grout has dried completely, wipe down AGAIN with a clean, damp sponge. You may have to repeat this step again to make sure that all traces of grout are removed from the surface of your glass.
11. When the grout has completely dried, apply a grout sealer. I used a cheap watercolor brush to apply it between the pieces of glass, and when I got lazy, I poured it over the top and spread it out to speed things up. I was able to wipe away the film left on my glass.
12. Display your reflecting ball! I used a small metal stand. The light really catches the mirror pieces and I love the reflections.

Thursday, July 9, 2020

New Work on Redbubble

I posted back in January that I was trying out Redbubble and had posted some sticker designs.

My Happy Little Squirrel sticker has been my best seller by far!
Just a tip- Redbubble allows you to search for the artwork or the product. So if you see a design you like in a search but you're like "well that's cool but I don't need Mr.Rogers on a throw pillow" you can almost always view that same artwork on dozens of other products so you can find something that's more your speed and budget!

When I saw an announcement that they were going to be adding masks as a product option I got really inspired and started making a lot of animal face mask designs, as well as adding some other digital art that I thought would work well on a mask.
 Link to Raccoon Face Mask Link to Siamese Cat Face Mask
 Link to Cheetah Mouth Face Mask Link to Pig Mouth Face Mask
I even made a cobra face mask design based on my school's mascot at the request of one of my colleagues!
 Link to Cobra Face Mask

Yesterday I started playing around with a loose color wheel idea and then made a bunch of different designs that I thought might interest art teachers. I got those uploaded last night.
 Link to color wheel products Link to color wheel products
There are so many cool products that you can get designs printed on from stickers to clocks, shower curtains, bags, leggings, shirts, dresses, and it goes on!
Just pretend the apron is surrounded by art supplies instead of baking supplies!