Sep 22, 2010

School Begins, and Art is being made!

School is now in full swing, and I feel like I'm setting into my new position very nicely. I can barely even begin to describe how nice it is to teach in ONLY ONE classroom, and to not have to pack up and cart the art supplies around. Also to actually have supplies readily available without having to hunt them down or order them is also incredibly lovely (my new art room was very well stocked when I arrived!). I feel like I could write a lot about the school year starting, and most of it would probably be your run-of-the mill school starting stories, but I just felt like remembering this one moment from today:as a student was leaving today He thanked me for today's class. It was really nice because I didn't even feel that today was a particularly amazing teaching day- it was fairly average as far as I am concerned, so it's nice to know that at least one student appreciated me enough to thank me for what I do.

I will be posting some new assignments soon, once there is some finished work to post.

Jul 5, 2010

Summer is here, and my new job awaits!

School has ended!! With the school year ending, the art program that I ran ends as well. It will not be returning next year. The division decided they didn't have the funds for it next year (at least that's how I understand they came to that decision). The art program had only a short run- I started only in February as the division's only full-fledged art teacher, teaching art to Senior High students in three different schools. I loved the job, but really disliked all the travel involved-I wasn't willing to move closer to any of the schools for only a 5 month position, and having already lived in Ashern, Manitoba for a 10 week term I have decided that at this point in my life, rural living is not for me. With that in mind I decided that I would rather drive for long periods every day. My shortest drive was 50 minutes, and my longest about an hour and 40 minutes (but thankfully the longest drive only happened twice a month). As well what I disliked was packing and unpacking the supplies every few days (or even every period) since I shared many classrooms between all the schools. I am sad for the students of Lakeshore, especially those who really love and flourish at art. There are a few students who loved art and really recognized that the pull-out art program was unique from the rest of their education, because they would occasionally thank me at the end of the day for coming (I love those moments!).

For me at least, I am moving on to greener pastures. I am starting at a new school in the fall, and am very excited to actually have my own art room! Also my new school is about an hour closer to home. I visited the school and met with the art teacher who just retired and am so stoked to actually teach an already established art program in a room that is actually well stocked! I could go on and on just about the room itself and the things that make me happy about it, but I will list just a few items that make me excited for teaching in the fall:
A Kiln!
A potters wheel!
Exacto knives!
Silk Screen Machine! (Which I need to learn how to use...)
Wall to Wall windows!
Books and resources!

For my summer reading and planning I took home a huge stack of binders and books to help me plan out the courses, one of which is pictured above. Titled "Engaging the Adolescent Mind Through Visual Problem Solving," it was written by Ken Vieth. I have only just flipped through it, but it appeals to me because it has great colour photos, and I feel like it's been a while since I've actually been excited to read a book about education(sorry to say, but most of the assigned readings during my education degree didn't hold that much interest for me.)
Here is an amazon link to it:
I'll have to let you know my opinion of it once I finally get the chance to read it more thoroughly.

Jun 30, 2010

Watercolour Assignment:
Illustrate a Song, Poem or Story

You will be choosing a song, poem, story or legend to illustrate. You do not have to make up the text, but if you choose you can create a story to illustrate.

You will be making a watercolour painting to illustrate your story, song or poem. You may decide to illustratate only one line from the song, poem or story, or you may decide to include a lot of imagery from the song, poem or story.
Think about the colour scheme!(what colours will give different emotions related to the song? )

1. Start by finding a story, poem or song.
2. Create sketches for what your images will look like and the layout of the page.
3. Lightly sketch the image on watercolour paper.
4. Paint the images carefully on the watercolour paper.
5. As the final step Include the text either on the page itself, by drawing it on, or print it on the computer to glue on, or Print as a separate page to be shown with the work. (If your writing is not neat, choose to print your text on the computer).


Watercolour Song Illustration Evaluation

Use of Images: Images enhance and illustrate the text well. Images show evidence of planning and thought to the final design (Hand in sketches). Images are interesting to look at, and are original designs. There are a variety of viewpoints or angles, or different types of scenes. Creativity and strong composition are demonstrated. 21 (7 per page)

Use of Medium and color choices: Watercolours were used with accuracy, skill, blending of colours, variety of shades and tints. Background painted first, then the foreground. 12 (4 marks per page)

Quality of Workmanship: Neat, clean, accurate, using care and attention on piece. 9 (3 per page)

Text is included or attached to images in a way that is appealing to the design and images. 3 (1 per page)

Total: /45

Artist Research Project

Here is an artist research assignment I had my students do. (On the worksheet I had included pictures of the artists self portraits, but I couldn't cut and paste it...) It can be left as a worksheet, or I have also used these same questions as a guide for students to use for a powerpoint project. With the powerpoint research project, they had to put the answer to each question on a slide.

Self Portrait Artist Research
Working by yourself, choose one self portrait artist from the following list and answer each question about the artist on the following page.

Choose from the following artists:
Chuck Close Rembrandt Vincent Van Gogh Francis Bacon
Frida Kahlo PabloPicasso Andy Warhol Albrecht Durer
Max Beckman Yasumasa Morimura Lukas Samaras

Do a google search in google images for the artist to get an idea of what their art typically looked like.

You can use one of these sites as references, or use other sources:

For quotes try using

Answer in Complete Sentences and In your own words
1. Where is this artist from originally, and where did they live for most of their life?
2. What kind of work is this artist known for making? What style of art do they make, and what art movement are/were they a part of?

3. Describe how they portray themselves in their selfportaits in your own words- (What kind of images do they use? Are they realistic? Are they highly stylized? What kinds of colours do they use? Are they paintings, drawings, or photos? Are they serious or is it lighthearted or funny?)

4. What has the artist said about the art they create?(find a quote by the artist about art).

5. Describe something about your artist’s life (Examples include: were they married, were they friends with other artists, did anything significant happen to them throughout their lives such as an accident, or were they recognized in any significant way for their art?

6. What is something that you found surprising about this artist?
7. List your references or where you found your information.

*With this rubric, students were expected to create at least 8 slides.
Powerpoint Artist Research Project Evaluation

Use of Information: Point form. Appropriate amount of information. Used own words. Answered each question appropriately( 2 marks per slide). Slides show a general knowledge of the artist. Sources cited.
/2 /2 /2 /2 /2 /2 /2 /2

Use of pictures: Used at least 5 pictures throughout or more.
1 2 3 4 5

Layout and General Presentation-Images and text are displayed in a way that is appealing and makes sense. Powerpoint features were used to enhance information and images. Logical flow to each slide. Consistent layout, fonts, texts, etc.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

Total: /28

Jun 14, 2010

Figure Sculpture Project

An assignment I have done with several classes this year is a figure sculpture assignment. Students create a miniature figure using tinfoil, plaster bandages, plaster, and paint. Some have turned out really well. For many students it is an enjoyable project because they get to use different materials, and each step along the way is a little bit different, so every class brings something new, there isn't time to get bored with it(for most of them...).

Starting with a lesson on doing some figure sketching, I then lead into the project. Depending on the time I have with each class I may spend more time drawing the figure and focusing on that before starting on the sculpture assignment.

Supplies needed:
plaster bandages
plaster of paris
Pieces of wood to use as a base
nails or screws

1. To begin students are to decide on a emotion, or theme that they want to express with the body language of their figure. They then do a few sketches to get their ideas down and so that there is a goal in mind.
2. They start with a piece of tinfoil about 1 foot or a foot and a half long. I found that thicker tinfoil works best, and you won't need as much for the whole class. Make several slits in the tinfoil as a basic template as to where the arms and legs, and head goes. Smush, crumple, and shape the tinfoil into the shape of a person. Be careful about proportions, thickness and height.
3. Attach tinfoil character onto a nail on the wooden base. You may need more that one nail to keep it steady and free from wobbling. Sometimes I will have students attach the tinfoil to the screw threw the calf, and then add another nail where the foot will go so that you can build up the foot around the nail.
4. Cut plaster bandages into strips up to an inch wide, and about 5 inches long. Dip in water and cover tinfoil with bandages. You will probably need at least 2 layers of bandages. Make sure that where the weight of the sculpture is there is enough layers of bandages so that it cannot bend or break.
5. Use plaster of Paris to fill in any gaps, or to smooth out areas. Let dry.
6. Take Sandpaper and sand down any areas.
7. Prime sculpture with acrylic primer. If you don't prime it the paint will end up flaking off of the bandages.
8. Paint sculpture with acrylic paint.

Sometimes I need to add some glue to keep the sculpture from wobbling or moving around. Glue gun glue works well for this. I have also done this project using chicken wire instead of tinfoil, but found that it was too hard to shape. Tinfoil allows for more details. If you went larger then chicken wire might be needed.

Figure Sculpture Evaluation
Use of materials: The figure was built up well. The student makes good use of the materials. The student followed directions on creating a sculpture base, using plaster bandages, plaster and paint. The student demonstrated skill in the use of these materials. Figure structure is sturdy. Student has learned the basics of sculptural design.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Proportions, Figure stance, Theme and Creativity The figure shows emotion or the theme it was intended to express. The figure is proportionally accurate, or the proportions of the figure add to the significance of the theme. Sculpture demonstrates creativity.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

Final Product, Process and Workmanship: The final result of the figure is interesting to look at. The colours and the paint enhance the sculpture. The student has demonstrated neatness and accuracy. The student has demonstrated consideration for all aspects of this piece. The student has shown skill in creating a 3-dimensional sculptural piece.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Total: 25

Jun 1, 2010

Human Rights Painting Project

I sent an email out to a teacher who was on the lookout for teachers who promote social justice or human rights issues within their school or classroom. I thought I'd share about this painting project that I had my grade 9 art class do. Students were to take a human rights issue and promote, uphold, or show an original perspective on that issue through a painting. They were to think about what kinds of symbols and imagery they could use to represent issues based around the Declaration of Human rights put out by the United nations. I suggested they start with a quote by a famous human rights advocate, and try to come up with some relatable images. This was a challenge for most of my students, and in retrospect this may be a project better suited for a grade 11 or 12 class, but there were several students who really took the project to heart and ended up with some really nice paintings. The pictures shown above are student examples. I decided to do this project because of a Canada-wise painting contest that was open to high school students.

I started the assignment by showing students video about the Declaration of Human rights. This was useful not only to inform students, but also to get them thinking about possible symbols and images(and that their images did not need to be elaborate to show the idea). I also supplied a handout of quotes by Human Rights Leaders to get students started.

Here are some video links that I showed in class:
Declaration of Human rights:

Martin Luther King Jr. Video:

Here is the handout that I gave students:

Human Rights Perspective
Painting Assignment

You will be creating an image that promotes, upholds, encourages, or shows perspective on a human rights issue.

Human Rights Definition:
pl.n. The basic rights and freedoms to which all humans are entitled, often held to include the right to life and liberty, freedom of thought and expression, and equality before the law.

You will be creating your image with acrylic paint on illustration board. You can reflect on the past, present, or even think of potential issues for the future.
To begin this assignment:
1. Brainstorm about what kind of human rights issue is important to you.
1. Complete an Internet search for a quote regarding a human rights issue.
Use a quote as a basis for your ideas. OR if you have a good idea to start with of what images you want to use then start sketching.
2. Begin some sketches about what kinds of images and words you will use. You may choose to illustrate the quote, and include the words, or work only with images.
3. Sketch your image on illustration board.
4. Paint your image.
5. Write a paragraph reflecting on what images you chose to use and why, and your opinion of your finished piece.

Some Human Rights activists who may inspire you with their quotes: Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr, Mother Theresa, Ghandi, Jimmy Carter….there are many more…

Human Rights Painting Evaluation

Workmanship-Neat and clean. Time, effort, process and planning are demonstrated

Creativity and Composition- Images used are creative and original. They are arranged in an interesting way that makes good use of the space. /10

Use of theme-Human Rights issues are evident in the painting. Images and words promotes, upholds, encourages, or shows perspective on a human rights issue successfully.

Use of Paint and colour choice-Paint is blended well and is evenly applied. Colours used enhances the piece. Colours are mixed well. There is a variety of darks and lights. Colours have been blended to create a variety of colours. More than one layer of paint is applied where needed.

Total: /30

May 18, 2010

Alliance for Arts Education Conference-"How to grow an Artist"

I attended the Alliance for Arts Education in Manitoba conference today, and it was really great to get out of the school(s), and see some really great presenters, and just be re inspired about why arts education is important. I had this fear when signing up to go that there would be more of a focus on Drama or Music, and that actual art-making would be a minor part of the conference(I'm not quite sure why I thought that might happen, maybe because that was my experience in university when they talked about "arts" education). I was pleasantly surprised by a good assortment of disciplines being offered with sessions and thought actually that maybe art education options were a little more widespread at this conference than the other disciplines.
Keynote speakers included:
Tracy Bone-Aboriginal singer/songwriter with a country flavour. Credits include being a 2009 Juno Award Nominee, and recipient of the Aboriginal people's Choice Music Awards 2010.
Kal Barteski-Artist and Blogger with a new art book, "Love Life."(She though perhaps being the most disjointed from arts education was my favourite speaker because of the passion she has for being an artist, and she had a lot of spunk on stage for someone who maybe in the real world would just be classified as "normal". She spoke with what appeared to be no notes, and just used her simple PowerPoint slides to guide her as she spoke. Also I found it inspiring that she was so humble about belonging or not belonging on stage alongside the other speakers.)
Rhian Brynjolson-Art educator, illustrator, author of Teaching Art:A Complete Guide for the Classroom.
Al Simmons-Children's performer extraordinaire, recording artist, and Juno award-winning entertainer.

I attended two workshop sessions. One was lead by artist K.C. Adams whose work has recently been acquired by the National Gallery in Ottawa, The Winnipeg Art Gallery, and also an Aboriginal Gallery in the U.S. She taught us about making wintercounts. Wintercounts are traditionally a history of the people of the plains that show significant events that took place each year. They would have whole lifetimes recorded on one hide using one symbol that represents one year from first snowfall to first snowfall. With that in mind, we made our own versions of wintercounts on brown paper, but instead of recording our whole lifetimes, we focused on just the past year. The image that is included is my work from that workshop. This was an activity that could be adapted to almost any age, depending on how much time you would want to devote to it. I believe K.C. typically would use this project with students in grades 2-4, but it could work with any age; all adults in the room were completely engaged. It reminded me of a life map, or almost a visual journal, where we each put our own faces in the middle and then included at least 4 major events that had occurred in the last year. We had first cut the brown paper into the shape of a hide(I decided to give mine a bird head). I realized that I have had a lot of things happen in just the last 6 months, I didn't even need to go as far back as a full year. I have started two different jobs, worked in 4 different schools, taught a total of 130 high school students and about 70 elementary students, rented and moved from a house in the middle of the Interlake, hired for another job, ventured to Cuba, and just dealt with life.

The afternoon session was spent listening to a few principals and artists from the Artists in the Schools program talk about what they are doing to include arts education in their school in a major way. It was really nice to see and hear about initiatives within schools, and with administration that was completely on board, enthusiastic, and committed to making sure the arts is a part of their students education.

The day ended with students groups sharing about their appreciation for arts programming-there were some high school students attending the conference who had their own sessions separate from the educators.
All in all, I was inspired, I do feel a little recharged as an art teacher, and also even feel more validated as an artist.

May 6, 2010

Trials and Tribulations

Yesterday had me setting up a display of student work in a cabinet in the school hallway. I was nearly finished setting it up, and was thinking to myself about how great all the art looked. There were sculptures, self portraits, human rights paintings, and a self portrait symbolism project. It probably took me about an hour to label everything, put the shelf up to hold the work and get everything just so. Then suddenly as I was about to slide the glass doors shut and lock it up in satisfaction, there was a huge CRASH as the glass shelf collapsed off of the hooks, SMASHED into pieces and landed on my student's sculptures. Now not only was my display ruined, but the sculptures were broken and there was broken glass everywhere. Administration as well as a few other people came out from wherever they were to see what the crash was all about, to find me staring devastatingly at the destruction that had just occurred.
We got it all cleaned up, and the sculptures weren't as injured as I thought they were, but I had to spend a little time to mend them, and you can barely tell they were damaged(thankfully!). All paintings looked like they survived ok as well. Now on Tuesday I have to start again with the display and this time try again to properly put the glass shelf up on the rungs.

May 5, 2010

Rationale for this Blog

I decided to start this blog because I commonly do Internet searches for ideas for teaching art classes, and decided that I should be sharing my projects and ideas too. As well, I have moments from time to time where a student makes something great, or comments, or discovers something, and only other art teachers out there would be able to relate to.
An example of this was yesterday when giving a student an online research handout. He was to choose a self portrait artist and answer questions about the artist. Choosing from a list of thumbnail images, the student chose Chuck Close because as he said, "He looks like a Hobo." He was referring to the large black and white Chuck Close portrait. I told him very briefly about Close's portraits, and the student went on the computer, and then exclaimed from the wikipedia site, "Whoa his paintings really are Huge!!" Somehow this was a satisfying moment for me to have a student make discoveries about a recognized artist. Then as he took closer looks at the varieties of Close portraits, it was a nice moment to have students learning about art.
I teach a new art program to somewhat remote schools that either do not offer art normally, or if it is offered, someone without a background in art is teaching it. I teach high school art at three different schools, meaning that my students only have art classes either once a week or once every two weeks. Given the limitations of the frequency of art education within this division, I am excited that with the limited time I have with them I can promote and help to create enthusiasm for art.