Sunday, February 1, 2015

Here's what I've been up to.....

Not so good prints
To begin, yesterday was a fabulous day, I posted myself in front of the big screen to view the AOE Winter on-line convention.  I can't think of a better way to spend my day than being connected with fellow art teachers from all around the world, getting inspired and well, uh, educated.  It's the next best thing to actually attending one of those face-to-face conventions like the one coming up in New Orleans in March.  One day I'll be able to do that, too.  Many weeks back I ordered a Gelli Plate.  I kept reading about them, viewing all these wonderful instructional videos and seeing some amazing prints so I just wanted to give one a try myself.  I ordered the 5 x 7 size and I am happy with my choice.  Upon it's arrival I immediately opened the package, read all the directions and sealed it back up leaving it to sit on the side table in my living room where it has been for weeks.  But today, inspired by all the wonderful of yesterday, I gathered up all of my tools and miscellaneous gadgets that might work for texture and headed to the kitchen table to finally try out that Gelli plate.  After a few refresher videos to refocus on the process I began to "play".  And, yes, it really does feel a lot like play.  First I attempted just inking the plate using printing ink.  Some of my ink has been around for awhile and either was too cold from being stored in the basement or was about to dry out because I really struggled with spreading it.  I used bubble wrap, a onion bag, and some stencils I found in a craft drawer to see how I might do with masking.  Quickly I discovered that I had jumped ahead of myself and I should be making my foundation prints using only color.  I think I learn best from my mistakes, it sticks with me longer and as we all really know "There are no mistakes in Art only opportunities for creativity"!  I eventually got the hang of the multiple layers of printing and masking to produce some of the effects I had seen in the videos.  Oh, and thanks to the Sargent paints in my AOE swag box, I was able to make some really effective prints using acrylic paint.  I did like the way the paint moved on the plate much better than the inks.  I don't truly know if it was because the paints were fresher or if paint is really an easier medium to use this way.  The yellow paint also stained my plate but it didn't add residue to subsequent prints so no bother.  I read that it would come off with mild soap and water but it wasn't that bad of a stain and I didn't attempt to clean it.  What was a surprise was that the plate picked up the ink from the newspaper I had laid out to protect my work surface.  It does not appear to come off but again did not transfer to the prints.  I had moved the plate off of the plastic surface I had it on to wipe up some ink and it was only on the paper a second...lesson learned.  Clean up was very easy.  I enjoyed attempting to pull as many ghost prints off of the plate as possible so there was not much ink or paint left on the plate to clean up.  I can't wait to gather up some more stencils and other items to use for mask and try it all again.  I do want to make sure I have a wider variety of colors available for the next round of printing.
Work in progress

Used for Ghost  Prints

Used for Negative Prints

Even the paper used to clean the brayer looks interesting
I like the weight of the watercolor paper for the prints much better than the lighter sketching paper.  Lastly, a few of my getting there prints. I had cut notches out of an old plaster credit card to use for the subraction printing, the curved lines, and the dots are from bubble wrap.  I cut hearts out of the stencil sheets just using small craft scissors.  So, there we have it.

Starting to get the hang of it.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Winter Value

I am very pleased with the work this young
man is doing this year.  He seems to
have discovered his inner artist!
Fourth grade students have been exploring methods to create with value this month.  Previously they created "valupillars" using model magic clay.  For this assignment, they experimented with paint to create value.  Students were given a choice in how they would lay down the steps of value to create a background for a winter scene.  Once dry, oil crayons were used to add simple bare trees to the backgrounds.  Many students also attempted value with the oil crayons while some opted to create just a dark barked tree.
There is an eerie feel to the trees in this
composition.  This guy always does his best
work on every project.

This young man was really intimidated by drawing his trees
He practiced first on a scrap paper and was really  delighted
with his success once he drew on the painted paper.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Kindergarten Snow People

My kindergarten focus each year is on shape and color.  I hope that students will easily draw, color and cut basic shapes and also have a mastery of primary and secondary colors.  With that in mind, kindergartners trace circles and sponge painted to create snowmen.  For week two, they explored basic shapes and how they could combine to create the parts of their snow people.  For example.  Two rectangles of different sizes could create a hat or a rectangle with a triangle could create a different type of hat.  Cutting circles for the eyes and buttons is also a skill they are working on.  Students had complete control over the finished look of their snow person as long as they used cut shapes to create the collage items.  Here are a few of the really precious results.

Advice, guidance, ideas.....

The head of our school positive behavior team approached me the other day looking for ideas for a school mural.  The idea is to start small with a just an handful of students working on it and then add to the mural each year.  The focus would be on belonging.  I thought maybe depicting a connection of hands in a circle for the beginning and then adding around it each year.  Also, I visualized hands reaching upwards unified to a common goal.  Maybe children of different ethnic backgrounds holding hands.  I need some ideas!!!!   Has anyone done something like this and have some great ideas they could share?  This would be painted on walls that are cinder block and the idea is that students would do the painting.  I'm thinking I could project an image on the wall with my document camera to transfer the drawing prior to painting.  I even considered throwing it out to students to generate ideas but wonder if that would really be too overwhelming.  I have awhile to come up with an idea but thought my fellow art teachers might have been where I am and have some wonderful experience as well as great ideas.   Please Share!!!!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

It's Art Ed Blog of the Year Time!

It's time for nominations over on AOE for the blogs of the year.  You can nominate a blog here.  I've already nominated about a half a dozen of my favorites that I follow on a daily basis.  The process has changed a bit for this year with categories for nominations.  Click on over and nominate your favorite blogs!!!!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Success or Failure??

student work
I wanted to attempt something a little different with first grade students this year to introduce them to warm and cool colors.  After surfing through some blog post and perusing Pinterest, I decided I wanted to try the bleeding tissue paper to create a background for a winter tree composition.  This would be similar to a project I have previously done with first grade but with a new twist.  I pre-cut squares and rectangles of the tissue paper in the warm colors and had students to cover their papers with any pattern they chose.  Meanwhile, another piece of paper was painted only used cool colors with watercolor paint.  Week two I supplied students with triangle tracers in a variety of sizes to use on the cool color paper.  They needed three trees in three different sizes.  When I peeled away the tissue paper from the warm color work, I was disappointed with the coverage or I should say lack of coverage.  I couldn't imagine how the project was going to turn out to be anything near to what I had envisioned in my planning.  Here are a few of the results.
student work

student work

I decided to shift my focus to perspective and introduced students to creating space in their composition.  They could overlap or use size to demonstrate the illusion of space. They began by drawing curved lines on the tissue painted paper to create three different lines in space.  We talked about the outline of mountains and imagined what that might look like.  Then students glued their trees, one on each of the different levels.  They were reminded to place the smallest tree in the background and the largest in the foreground.  They finished up by adding black crayon lines to create the trunks and the limbs of the trees.  This is definitely not what I anticipated this project would turn out to look like but I am really drawn to the abstract qualities of the work.  The goals and vision changed but I do feel like the project is a success.