Monday, October 20, 2014

Art Enrichment: Altering Maps post 2

 The altering of the maps is going along well. I am really impressed to see the creativity happening as the Art Enrichment students cut and paint and collage their maps for the backgrounds of their tree project with no limitations on what they can create.

Check out the first post on this journey here 

2014-15 Yearbook Cover Design Contest

Ooh la la... take a look at the yearbook cover entries for this year by our fabulous fifth graders!

Mrs. Prosser spent the morning hanging the entries in the display cases. 
Our school community has the next two weeks to vote for their favorite cover. Hard choice, so many great ones!!

 Here is a small, random sample of the entries

Great job 5th graders and look luck!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Best Things in Life....

Great news for our school community today. We get to keep our Ox! The 5th grade committees from 2014 and 2015 worked together to fund the generous gift. Dexter Philip Oxford, III "Oxie" went for $1,700. What a huge gift!

A colleague just texted me that we won the ox and here's my response:

I do feel pride and relief that our ox will stay at home in front of the school but more so than that, I genuinely appreciate the connectedness of those in our school community who made this happen. I felt that the gift, was already given once I knew that the 5th grade committees were planning to bid on and win the ox. 
The bigger picture, the connectedness, is the real gift for me. Knowing that the painted ox meant enough for others to bid and win this piece of sculpture for our school. It means a whole lot to me. 

The best things in life are definitely not things...the best things in life are's memories and being connected with those around us.
It looks as though all of the schools will be keeping their oxen as well. Huge relief for us all!

A special thank you to the 5th grade committee and Britt Dominick for making this happen for our school. 

Friday, October 3, 2014

Our Art Enrichment Journey Begins with Maps and Trees

 I am really excited that a new year of fifth grade art enrichment began this week. It is through this after-school class that I get to know each student differently and explore ideas and art in general together as a class.

Our journey began this week with a drawing of a tree that we are watercolor washing. My students really seem to be enjoying the free nature of drawing a tree and adding character to the tree with texture using lines created with permanent marker. Watching the kids pull from techniques for drawing branches last year with the van Gogh 'Almond Blossoms" lesson was awesome to see. The delicate nature in which many students added branches that stretched and twisted and grew in all directions was personally fulfilling. 

I have been slowly collecting maps and atlases for a couple of years.. Tucked away in a tupperware container I have maps that were in some glove compartments well over a decade ago. As a child, I enjoyed reading maps as we took family trips. I wonder if maps are even for sale on the racks at pit stops anymore now that technology has diminished the paper versions.

Using watercolor, I painted a map of the Greater New York area. Next week, my students will alter the maps by not only adding color to their own but by cutting them in a way that can create a beautiful, mixed-media background. 


My main interest in maps has been the collage potential while using them and the pride that I took as a child in having a good sense of direction and being able to read maps well. A longtime colleague of mine from Grounds for Sculpture, Aylin Green, has used dress pattens in her gorgeous mixed media contemporary art that I have always admired the quality of.
Aylin Green
When I saw the work of Australian artist, Loretta Grayson, I felt the same interest in the quality of her work and the use of beautiful, collaged papers to communicate to the viewer. The colors of the maps coupled with the arrangement of the assembled portions is simply beautiful.
Loretta Grayson 

Loretta Grayson
Stay tuned....

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Grade 5 half portraits and Clean Watercolors until January 6th...

My 5th graders are doing half portraits right now that are coming out pretty neat. They are doing a great job mixing skin colors using 2 or more different combined colors. More details on this lesson soon. 

We use a lot of different types of paints throughout the year interchangeably. Liquid Watercolors are a personal favorite but we frequently use tempera cakes in two varieties, liquid tempera, acrylic, mixing mediums and watercolor palettes. 
The watercolor palettes require the highest maintenance because they are smaller, more delicate and the wells are so close together. The lids are a perfect space for mixing colors BUT you have to clean them off. Usually we use plastic paint palettes for mixing colors for this reason. If the watercolors are, well, really watery and the kids close the lids and turn them in any direction, the paint runs to the lid and all over. You get the idea. Check out Exhibit A below.....
Two of my classes are using watercolors right now. They were so excited to use the new, 16 color sets. One student gasped seeing the beautiful new colors. I showed my classes the old watercolors and then the new watercolors and we discussed how to use and care for our brand new sets. 
The biggest difference in how we're handling the watercolors is in leaving them open to dry. My quality control checkers and I can take a peek at the watercolors at the end of the period to see how clean they look or where a little bit of attention needs to be focused. We set a goal of January 6th as the date we hope to keep our watercolors in new looking condition. Why January 6? Well, one student came up with the date as it's her birthday and is a few months away. 
It's early,  but so far so good. Here are the sets after 2 weeks of use by several classes.

Communal supplies are a true lesson in care and respect. Who knows, maybe our new watercolors will continue to look so until January 7th.... :)

Monday, September 29, 2014

The Art Store

I'm loving our new "Art Store" for a couple of reasons. 
1. The name is catchy and the kids are right in synch with it and 
2. This counter area is staying super organized and neat due to having a specific purpose. I chose this long counter because it is an under-utilized, central space in the room. 

The Art store isn't new, but the name sure is. We've always had a "supply table" but how blah does that sound in comparison? I found myself reminding the kids where the particular supplies were and now they just gravitate right to "The Art Store" for those dry, everyday supplies like rulers, tape, colored pencils, Sharpies, oil pastels, paper, etc. Who doesn't love to shop? I told the kids to leave their wallets at home because the art supplies are for their use, free of charge. We all kind of daydreamed a bit about shopping at a free store....
Thanks go to Tennessee Rock Star art teacher and fellow blogger Cassie Stephens who has a similar name for her supply area which is where I got this neat idea. I think she calls hers "The Art Supply Store". 
Check out her blog:

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Grade 2- Cubism, Self- Portraits and Painting Set-Up

Why would we draw lines through our faces to fragment them? It's all making sense to my students as we explore Cubism more. Georges Braque's "Violin and Candlestick" helped more so than Picasso's work since we are working to abstract our self-portraits by painting in segments that divide the background as much as the actual face.
My second graders are doing a nice job. We talked about how delicate watercolors are and how to treat them carefully. Mrs. Finnegan's class was the first to use the brand new watercolor sets for the year that have 16 colors. Students gasped as they saw the beautiful color choices in the set. I have to say, I was quite impressed as well.

What supplies do you need for painting? It was a joy going over materials needed and the uses. 

Violin and Candlestick

Last week we looked at some of Picasso's work and then drew a self-portrait that was "a little bit off". We used rulers to create lines all over the paper being careful not to create too many spaces. Next up was a Sharpie, erasing and painting. students will work to finish in the next two weeks.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Schedules, paperwork and praise

It's amazing that September will be over so shortly. I feel as though I have spent half the month on paperwork-either doing paperwork or reading it!
It's been a relief and a bit fun using existing posters and things and tweaking them. Here are a few things that routinely make life easier for me.

Schedule: My huge schedule has been so great. Each year, I unstick and rearrange where my classes, lunch and duties fall in a week. It's big enough that I can see it from the other side of the room. The kids also can look to see if the room is empty during their recess if they have something they want to work on in here.
Huge Schedule
 Art Jobs: A few years ago, I had 5 tables and 5 jobs. Things worked well and then I decided to combine tables and make 3 large tables. I bounced the 3 tables around in the 5 jobs last year but decided to create 3 main jobs. (Hope you're still with me!) After some discussion, we decided on the 3 jobs we're using this year and I created the new chart. I penciled in "music volume" under "Noise Monitors" because I have to try it out a bit first. 

Old jobs chart
New chart

Praise: When I was a child,  remember getting "Happy Grams". Very few of my colleagues seem to remember these (perhaps it was an 80's North Jersey thing) but I love to give these yellow forms with a smile on them out. This is the GOOD, FUN kind of paperwork. Other forms that I have given out in years past have been slips that say "Art Rocks and so does_____!" with a little handwritten note.
Happy Grams :)
Now, here is my saving grace! Probably the one thing I can't live without. Forget seating and job charts. Forget my plan book (just kidding).. this shelf keeps my sanity on the busiest of days. I was nervous that this year having two additional classes that I would not have enough slots but I did! I write the HR teacher name and day of the week on colored masking tape and each class has a nice, organized, roomy shelf. The students 2D work goes in colored table folders and right on their shelf. 3D work of small size goes in a copy paper box lid and on the shelf.
Art Storage

...And, the return of my art letters. A-R-T. 
Last year I discontinued using my ART letters on the dry erase board because a retired art teacher who I consider the-most-phenomenal lady came into my room and we discussed so many things. One thing she said is that my removing a letter when the kids are not doing X-Y-Z, it sets a negative tone. Basically, I was keeping tally of the classes that kept the A-R-T on the board and they earned something. 
The kids liked the A-R-T but I wanted to keep the tone positive each moment. After a year of thought, I decided to do the reverse... I am giving the kids each letter as they work wonderfully. The reward is in knowing and feeling how great our 57 min together were. Naturally, I can give little bonuses along the way but generally speaking, the BT art room IS a fun enough place already without additional rewards. I'm sure the kids could think of a ton of things they'd love me to give them though.

Desk, bye bye!
I finally got a nice desk last year and sat at it ZERO times. I didn't need a big clunker just for show so at the start of the year, I got rid of it and downsized to my little table at the front of the room. 
More so than space, what I gained is one less "hot zone" to get cluttered. My new little space is just the right size for my laptop, writing instruments and a few papers. I'm on my feet all day so I can crash here when needed. 

Out with the old....
 Ah, less is more! 

The school year is off to a wonderful start and in part to these little, organizational parts of my everyday. 

What organizational tips help you through your day?