This past Thursday was the 92nd Annual Scholastic Awards celebrating young Artists and Writers from across the country. I had two National Medalists this year and was thrilled that one of them was able to attend the ceremony at Carnegie Hall! I was also able to attend due to funding from DonorsChoose. In addition to the ceremony, which featured special guest speakers Whoopi Goldberg, Chelsea Clinton, Tom Otterness, and David Lipski, we were able to spend a few days in NYC to tour museums and the city! Here is a highlight reel of the awards ceremony:
I was also excited to see both of my students' works on display in the gallery at Parson's. It is still a little mind-boggling to think that I have student work in an NYC gallery that will also be going on a two-year tour. It was SO inspiring to see the work representing the best of the best our country has to offer and I am so excited to bring back the images from the show in hopes of inspiring my students and sparking new ideas!
Another awesome moment from this trip was our time spent at the MET, Chelsea Market, and the High Line trail. Each offered a different view of the city and I am so thankful I will be able to take the inspiration from this event back to my classroom in hopes we will make it back here again next year with another winner! Thank you again to DonorsChoose and The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for helping make this happen!
I know I say that every year is the best year ever, but really THIS was the best year ever! From dominating competitions to getting involved with community service to completely over-hauling the way art is taught, this year has left me wondering what next year has in store to even come close to it! Here is a monthly recap of the best moments from the 2014-15 year in the BCWMS art classroom:
By November, using choice and inquiry as methods for art making was in full swing. Students were selecting their materials and methods for interpreting themes in their own way. The image above is a work that ended up winning a National Gold Medal for the 2015 Scholastic Art Awards which are being celebrated on June 11th.
It is always flattering when you are recognized for doing something, especially when it is from your peers. I want to thank all of the teachers out there who come to my blog time and again. I hope you find inspiration here and that my students' works help you push your kids to finding their voices as artists.
It is always fun to celebrate the achievements of students and seeing their hard work rewarded with praise. February included celebrations for my students in a variety of settings, most notably leading to two Top 15 finishers for MAEA State and two National Gold Medalists in the Scholastic Art Awards.
To celebrate Youth Arts Month this year, students created images that expressed what Art means to them. It was also a month that included my trip to NAEA in New Orleans where I was recognized at Western Region Middle Level Educator of the Year. Awards are great, but allowing students to realize the above quote is even greater of an achievement I am striving for every year.
For the BCWMS Fine Arts Festival this year, we decided to incorporate student-led workshops. Here is an image of Hannah leading a young BC artist in the wonder that is mono-printing with Gelli Arts. I am so excited to do this again in the future because it is incredibly rewarding to see my students take leadership roles and pass on the joy that is making art!
Up until the very end, students were pushing themselves to use their "much larger arsenal" of skills to demonstrate concepts and ideas. This was a great school year and I so appreciate all of the amazing things that were accomplished. I am not sure how next year we will top it, but we are going to do our best to try.
Today is the last day of school. Students are finishing up and saying good-bye to a school year that was filled with laughter, learning, and lots of messy moments in the art classroom. To finish out our last day together, students showed their learning through exams. Part of the exam was question based. Students were given a series of matching, multiple choice, and true/false questions that quizzed their understanding of the elements and principles of design, artists throughout history, as well as materials we used to create art throughout the year.
In addition to a more traditional means of testing, I also asked students to create a composition that expressed their learning over the semester. It is always fun to see how students interpret the directions and all of the various ways they use the skills they have learned to show what they know. Even better, are the artist statements that accompanies them and explains what they made.
Here are a few examples (the rest can be viewed on Artsonia):
Jewel: I learned a lot of things in art this year and this is an example of just a few. I learned my new favorite media, stippling. It's not just drawing and shading with a pencil. Noli Novak has inspired me to do something different with my artwork and to work to expand my comfort zone. I chose to represent the color wheel in my picture using water color. When I first came into 7th grade, I hated using water color because I didn't know how and what to do with it. Now, I know so many different techniques that I would love to use water color in the future and present. I am showing the color wheel because I never knew what a tint was or a shade, I didn't know the compliment pairs and the primary and secondary colors. Their was so many different things that I learned in art that I could only show the things that I think I grew the most in on one sheet of paper.
Andrew: This piece is a reflection of this whole art semester. It shows some of the many new things that I learned. I came in thinking art would be boring and I would know most of the stuff. I had no idea how wrong I was. There were so many cool and interesting new things that I learned from you. I learned all about elements and principles and the four C’s. I also became familiar with tons of amazing artists that gave me inspiration for my own art like Bansky and Mitchell Feinberg who where probably my favorites. When I first came in I only thought of art as drawing and painting. Over the semester I learned so many new ways to make art that I had no idea existed. Print making, Photoshop, movies, photography, and many others. Now I have a much larger arsenal of art that I can make. I hope to use these great techniques in the future to make over better, more creative art in the future. I learned a ton of new and interesting things in this class and I am very glad I chose to take art this year.
Ana: From the final art piece, I used a lot of shading techniques, but combining a lot of the different shades, then taking Q-tip and rubbing it all over, so that the different would blend in better. I also had perspective in the, but showing a shadow of the mountains and trees. I also had a reflecting lakes to reflect the scene.
Gabby: I learned a lot of things this year in art. I learned many watercolor techniques, as seen on the top of my drawing. I also learned more about cool, warm, and complimentary colors. I tried to add the element of color, which I think I did well, by adding many varieties of color to make my art pop. I really enjoyed this year and learned a lot more about art, such as shading, value, and more about cool, warm, and complimentary colors.
Leah: In this last piece of art I have made for my eighth grade piece there are a few things that did not go as planned. I had the intentions on making a foreground, middle ground, and background landscape piece. For the foreground I made a wave made from oil pastel. For the middle ground I was going to do the ocean made from oil pastel, but in a darker shade to add realism into the picture. Lastly, I was going to do the background as an island to add more interest into the picture. This art piece did not meet my expectations because of a couple different reasons. Throughout the year I have been used to having a week to finish my art pieces and today I was only given 45-30 minutes. Another reason why I did not finish this art piece is because there was not any ideas popping into my head because I have used most of the materials through out the year and the ones I didn’t use would not be done in a day (clay and wilting). I feel that if my intentions went as planned then this art piece would have showed how this eighth grade year has shown how much I have improved. The reason why is because I have done many different things relying on pastel and I have had much practice, also we have learned about the way to set up a landscape art piece and this is what I did. All in all, this year has been a great impact on my art skills and the use of creativity.
The end of the year always seems to be a flash of events. Although I try and be my best teacher self year round, sometimes I make compromises as time runs out. One of the compromises this semester was glazing our clay creatures. The amount of firing time would not work with the amount of days left in the semester, so we used other methods to color the little creative critters. Here are three alternatives to glaze you can use if you run out of firing time, too:
1. Tempera Paint
Tempera paint is a great stand-by for students and teachers alike. This paint comes in a variety of colors and absorbs into the bisque wonderfully. You know exactly what you are going to get because the colors dry the color they look and you do not have to worry about ruining brushes or mishaps on clothes because it is a water-based non-permanent solution. I usually buy the large Gallon Tempera paints and then pour them into smaller bottles (like these from Blick I just purchased and LOVE) for students to distribute on their pallets. I try to give them the rule of pouring "three colors at a time, the size of dime" as to not waste paint.
Watercolor is the paint that solves so many problems! Like tempera, it is a water-based material that will not destroy brushes or clothing and it ends up looking exactly how you view it. Because of the play on opacity, you can layer colors and create so many effects with this material. I use Prang watercolor pallets that are at least a decade old because I like how easy it is to replace colors once they have been used.
3. Oil Pastel and Watercolor
This method is relatively new to me. I first learned of this technique on the Art Teacher Facebook group. A generous teacher shared the results of using oil pastel on clay with a watercolor/tempera wash and I was immediately intrigued. I find that this works best on textured clay, like the creature above (the student used a bright blue oil pastel and then used a darker watercolor over). When you use oil pastel on clay, it acts as a resist to the water-based paint, resulting in a beautiful effect.
In order to make the finishes selected by students permanent, we used a clear-gloss acrylic paint and dabbed it over top. it is important to dab, rather than paint, to prevent smearing. The gloss goes on white, but dries clear and gives the pieces a nice shine while locking in the color.
You can see the full gallery of results on our Artsonia page. Here is an example of each:
Yesterday, 7th grade students and I went outside to create chalk mandalas. Before heading into the sun-filled sidewalk with our chalk, students learned about radial symmetry, Sand Mandalas, and created one out of paper. If you have not seen a Sand Mandala in process, please take a moment and check out the video below. We also looked at radial symmetry in a variety of places like the Rose window at Notre Dame Cathedral, the Aztec calendar, and evenIslamic tiles.
When students see this process, they are often shocked at the ending. In years past, I have always asked students make their mandala on paper, using a variety of color schemes. This semester, I decided to take advantage of the weather and head outside so students could collaborate. And although students knew their works were temporary, they still worked very hard throughout.
Even though our works from chalk will fade over time, we still enjoyed the process of creating - which is always something I am trying to get my students to understand. Here are some tweets from our time outside:
Last week, 8th grade students were asked to look through their portfolios and create something new from a past work. Here are some of the results:
Emily H: This is a piece that I redid from the beginning of the year, where I had drawn a realistic heart then attached to it, had a puzzle piece with triangles and the same color scheme as the triangles in this piece. I was trying to go along with the idea of identity, and how each puzzle piece in a jigsaw puzzle is different, but when they all come together, they create the entire puzzle. This can work for humans too; we are all individuals, like the individual puzzle pieces, but when we come together much like a jigsaw puzzle, we are all apart of the bigger picture: the human race. I reimagined this piece by taking actual puzzle pieces and painting a human heart on them, to better exemplify my idea and to make it more interesting.
Eleni N.: This dragon is an adaptation from my 5th grade piece, "Free Draw & Art Club." The original was an angry dragon sitting atop a hill, protecting it. Taking the idea of a dragon in an area caused me to create this. It's a dragon in its cave. I didn't copy this image over to make it look better, but instead stole the idea and created a whole new piece based off of the original one. I decided to keep it black and white due to the original piece being black and white.
Andrew V.: I reimagined a piece of art that I made at Nickels. The old project was a 2-point perspective drawing of a street corner. The way that I reimagined it was by completely changing the perspective. I took it from a 2-point to a 5-point perspective drawing. It gives the effect that the image is in a bubble or drop of water. I also changed the medium/the way that I colored it. This time instead of just using colored pencils, I used liquid spray paint for the background. Finally, I changed it from a boring street corner to a person holding the image in a bubble. The last one was a plain drawing of a street corner which was not very creative however I changed it to a city that a person is holding. The personal connection that I have with this is that I loved this project at Nickels and I am fascinated by the architecture of these giant buildings in cities like New York and Chicago. The reason that I chose to revisit this project is because it was on a topic that I love and the original piece that I did was not very creative and sort of boring. I wanted to go back and change it so it looked awesome and had my own personal flair to it. I made it more creative and unique the second time around.
Evette P.: I really enjoyed this art project, mainly because it gave me an opportunity to revisit my old art work. It also gave me a chance to see how much I have excelled in creativity and artistic talent in the passing time. I created this artwork going off of that I created last year, in 7th grade. My personal connection to my art mainly goes off of the idea of personally seeing my improvement and my usage of different techniques. One of the main reasons why I wanted to revisit this idea was because of how intriguing it looked in the first place, and due to the materials and techniques used. I have used many different materials through out the year but oil pastel had not been one of them. Revisiting a piece of work and but still being able to use new material this year expands my usage of materials and creativity. Looking back and seeing how I incorporated the usage of symmetry and oil pastel in my work gave me the overall idea to do this work of art related to something old, something new.
Yesterday was our Annual Fine Arts Night at WMS. It has gone through many variations and I think yesterday's might have been the best one yet! It is always hard to know how to make shows like these more interactive and better attended for my students.
With the music classes involved, it is more of a no-brainer. The kids perform and parents show up. With Art, it can be a little more passive which has not helped with attendance. This year, with the help of the STEM teacher, we decided to run workshops and offer students the opportunity to bring family and friends in the STEM room and experience a taste of our classrooms. This was probably the most participation I have been from my students than any other year.
Art activities included a collaborative painting and Gelli Arts Monoprinting and STEM activities included designing and launching bottle rockets. All of the activities were student-led and super fun. You can check more out from the evening in the video below.
It was such a fun night and I am excited to do more of these types of interactive workshops in the future!
Earlier this week, students finished their collages and value drawings and turned them in on Artsonia. It was fun to see them experiment with methods that ranged in scope that included realism and abstraction.
For inspiration, we looked at the work of Chuck Close and Noli Novak. I also came across the work of David Lock, which is perfect for this assignment and I will make sure to reference again in the future with my students. Here are the works I saw last weekend from his Misfit series, currently on display at the GRAM:
I really enjoy discovering new artists when I go to a museum, especially when they are so connected to curriculum already being explored in the classroom. I immediately shared these works with my students as they finished up their collages. I have all kinds of ideas on how to connect this type of work together next year.
Speaking of making connections, I made sure to include Noli Novak in on the creative process by tweeting her some pictures of the students in action. She was gracious enough to respond, making my students feel encouraged and special.
Here are a few process pictures of the students working on each piece simultaneously. I find that when I am offering more than one process at a time, students move freely between them and make decisions on which they would like to spend more time on and which will be completed first.
Here are some completed works of both the collages and drawings. You can find more work on our class Artsonia gallery.
Katie H: I first found the features of the face: eyes, nose, mouth. and then I found skin and hair then I found colors for the background I pasted them in small strips. I like this a lot. what I really like about this work is the background because one that is what i took the longest on and that is also the thing that I think brings out the piece the most.
Porter S.: To make this artwork I used a variety of magazines and put them together to make a face that looks realistic. I think it turned out better then I thought it would. I think that because I thought it would be very plain and simple but I found out it was fun so I started having fun with it and experimented with it and mixed and matched until I was satisfied with my work.
Hannah L.: I think that my work is abstract as most of the pieces are but i suppose it is one of the more "realistic" pieces. So i first started off by finding different pieces for the background then glued them on. And then i began looking for skin tones to use for the face and the neck and glued that on top of the background. After i did that i found eyes, a nose, and a mouth and glued them on to the face on long with the hair.
Kaitlyn V.: I was inspired by Noli Novak and her idea for drawing with dots and not using lines. I had the opportunity of doing this and making in into this piece of art. For the background i did a new technique where I scrape oil pastels on water and it changes everything up. I think that this was a fun piece that I had the opportunity to make and was glad I could make it.
Jordan C.: In my artwork, I used value by having an imaginary light in the top left of my paper. I used darker shades for the spots that wouldn't be touching the light as much. I love this artwork, and the reason I did a colorful background is so it will make things pop out more. I think I did an amazing job at shading were I should have and should not have shaded as darkly, Overall I think it is fantastic.
Jewel R.: I used many different values in my work, Light dark, middle. The usage of a pencil can create so many different things, light, shadows, ext... I was looking forward to do a shading project and we finally did. ^-^ I really love this piece of art work and learned that shading with your pencil isn't the only way to show value. I will definitely try stippling again. Hopefully get as good as Noli Novak!
I am pretty lucky to work where I do. I have great students, a supportive community, and a team of teachers that are the best in the business. Yesterday proved all of that when we presented the accomplishments of our K-12 program to the BCPS Board of Education. Below is a copy of our presentation. You can see for yourself that it was a remarkable year for our students and we are so proud of what was accomplished.
This year marks the fifth year for the annual Sooper Art Competition. This environmentally themed competition asks students to render works based on concepts and ideas inspired by nature. Out of 400 works submitted from 29 schools in the state, BCWMS had four winners from the 48 awarded! It was fun to see the five student works from our district recognized and also enjoy the works on display in the current exhibition at the Grand Rapids Art Museum!
Teaching Visual Arts since 2004 and making images since picking up a crayon.