Friday, April 29, 2011

Favorite Artist Fridays: Salley Mavor

People are often told to indulge in creative activities as a way of blowing off steam and regrouping. I can't tell you the number of times I've been encouraged to go home and paint in order to chill out. I get the kindness that is intended, but I wish people understood the nature of being a creative person by trade.

When your trade is to be a painter, it is job. While I love my job, it doesn't really relax me. I've heard it is the same for most people in support/creative trades. Ministers aren't really re-charged by attending church, because it is their job etc. etc.

When I need to creatively relax, I create using textiles. I'm not a natural three-dimensional artist. I also don't understand maps or written directions. As such, sewing patterns make no sense to me at all. What I'm saying is that for me to create embroidered items and soft-sculptures is a huge, epic, massive challenge. And, I can't really plan it out.

When I paint, I can execute exactly what I see in my head. I'm skilled. I know exactly how good something can look, and I know I can achieve it. I understand the thought-process. Creating in textiles, I'm constantly in the dark. I'm forever forced to change my plans because I have no real idea of what I'm doing. The part where I'm forced to let go and just let creativity happen is so freeing. That is why I play with textiles.

Salley Mavor would be the needle laureate of the United States, if such a title existed. I love looking at her work and wondering how the heck she accomplishes it. I mean, wowza. I'm not going to re-post images from her blog here, because I haven't asked her permission. And, as she is a constantly-being-published artist, it concerns me that reposting her work could have negative consequences for her. I would ask that you please extend her that same courtesy.

But, I am free to post her book covers which can be purchased on Amazon.

Salley Mavor's most recent work is "A Pocketful of Posies;" you can purchase it by clicking here.

She also has a great how-to book out about creating wee fairies and the like. You can purchase it by clicking here.

Do yourself a favor and go check out Salley's blog. Just make sure you have a few hours of free time though, you're sure to sucked into a vortex of admiration.

I Love My Online Educational Community. . . And, Want to Share With You!

I've been simply overwhelmed by the kindness and empathy of your responses to my current situation. Additionally, I'm touched by your own struggles, and want the best for all of you.

In the midst of what is a very hard time for me as an individual, I've been very grateful for my online community -YOU.

In times when things are good, I'm still grateful for this community. Through all of you I've learned more about how to design challenging lessons, bring empathy into the classroom, have a good sense of humor, and much, much, much more.

As art teachers, we are often the lone rangers of art in our schools. Being able to connect with like-minded educators on the web is a blessing. As a child of the technology age, I wonder how my predecessors did it without such community.

So, I want to give back and show my thanks. I'm going to host a little contest:

When I get a job, I'm going to zip all 300+ of my elementary school lessons plans and email them to a person selected at random who comments on this post. You are welcome to share the lesson plans with with your community as you like. This way, the sharing and love can keep on going.

Thank you for all of your support, and make sure you comment!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Hey, You've Missed a Few Posts

I really don't like missing any of my post-dates here. I LOVE posting lesson plan ideas, sharing pictures, and discussing favorites artists in this space.

I personally created this blog and made my own personal commitment to write here. I don't have any great excuses as to why I'm a wee bit behind. But, I do have a great explanation.

A little over a month ago my school, where I have taught for four years, foreclosed. The school has had some struggles in the recent past, but the foreclosure news was a huge shock to employees and parents alike. Additionally my school has been in the news and involved with legal authorities in ways that are not positive (and do not involve me). The school hopes to continue in some form at another -still undecided- location next year. Yet, the school needs a huge -over 1/2 of the current size- enrollment and financial commitment for next year ASAP.

Not a single teacher knows if s/he will have a job at the school -or any other school- next year. The school would very much like for all of us to "commit" so that they can encourage parents to re-enroll because their favorite teachers will be back next year. . .Very few people are willing to do this, because we have no commitment from administration.

You can imagine that gossip is at an all time high, and morale is at an all time low for the faculty.

Many teachers, including me, have been going on interviews in the hopes of securing employment for next school year. I spoke with my administration, and they know I am doing this, and have stated that they understand. Teaching is how we pay for our lives.

I've had three schools offer me a position, and then have to retract it because they cannot get a member of my current administration on the phone to confirm my positive employment. It is all terribly bureaucratic, and the new schools MUST speak with a member of current administration. I don't know why these calls are not answered/returned, and I have confronted my administration about it. Ultimately, I think that they are very busy trying to secure the school for next year. I get that, but I am trying to secure my future as well.

It is extremely frustrating when jobs are so few, to be offered three, and then lose them through no fault of my own.

Obviously, I have a lot of feelings, thoughts, and personal conclusions as to why my school is in this situation and what the future may/may not hold for it. But, as much as I would like to share all of that here, it doesn't seem terribly professional. Nor, is it the aim of this blog to vent/complain/manifest my feelings.

But, I am very stressed out, and just don't have it left in me to stay up-to-date all the time. Sometimes, something has to give, and it is this.

I apologize.

Also, I need a job for next year. I'm willing to relocate to anywhere in the continental United States. I LOVE teaching art. I love it so much. Art teaching jobs in Georgia are few right now. I have a master's degree in Art Education and I want to put that baby to good use! So, if you have/know of a vacancy, please let me know. I'd love to be a member of your teaching team!

You can contact me at

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

From The Mouths of Babes

Middle School Male Student: "What you've forgotten about art, we haven't learned yet."

I think he was attempting to quote "You've forgotten more about art than we have learned." But, I like his version better. What we as educators forget, we can never impart.

And, just to be fun, here's a peek into what I've been creating lately. I love textiles so much. . .And, it is a material with which I really struggle. I like the challenge. . . I think! My inspiration is going to be featured this Friday for "Favorite Artist Fridays."

Hope you're having a great Tuesday!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Favorite Artist Fridays: Margaret Kilgallen

image from here

One of the most exciting parts of reading creative and art-based blogs is the discovery of new-to-me artists. One of the coolest parts of the whole-world consciousness of the internet is this easy ability to learn about lesser-known and/or up-and-coming artists. I LOVE it when other people post about an artist they admire and it isn't someone I've heard of previously. I get excited and inspired.

In fact, I'm so inspired that I'm starting a new feature on Artful Artsy Amy called "Favorite Artist Fridays" where I'm going to post about some of my favorite artists. Knowing me, there will be a whole range from extremely famous to just-getting-started. My point is not to focus on re-writing a biography or critique of the artist's work, but rather to simply share with you someone whom I admire and appreciate. The explanations will be short, there will be plenty of images and lots of links for you to learn about the artist. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Margaret Kilgallen

Margaret Kilgallen's work focuses on the primitive aspects of self-taught sign-makers and commercial designers. Her work has this little ironic twist on what the primitive side of sign making looks like. I love to look at her line work and admire how crisp and clean her lines are, and then know that she was someone for whom a "perfect line" wasn't very important. She knew a great deal about signage and sign-making as she had worked with letterpress and in libraries.

previous three images from here

Margaret Kilgallen passed away in 2001 at the age of 33 due to complications from breast cancer. She has a daughter who was only a month old at the time of her passing. When I look at her work I get a little wistful because I wonder how she would have evolved; she clearly was an amazing talent.

Learn more about Margaret Kilgallen at these sources:

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Lesson Plan Wednesday: Patterned Crazy Quilts

This week's Lesson Plan Wednesday is Patterned Crazy Quilts. A good friend of mine (who is an awesomely talented artist and super-duper art teacher) from my graduate school cohort, The Art Ninja, designed this lesson plan and I put it into my usual format. And, he very generously gave me permission to share it with you! The Art Ninja does not have a blog. . .yet. But, if you would like to contact him with questions and/or ideas you can do so by clicking on his name, which will give you his email address. I would suggest this project for 3rd/4th graders or even older (I prefer 3rd). This is a great intro or review of patterns for elementary students. My students LOVED getting to draw themselves asleep. And, now that they are finished, I think for next time it would be fun to draw a "dream bubble." Overall, the students love them and they learn a lot from them.

Also, please note, I put all of the Georgia Performance Standards for Visual Arts at the top of all of my lesson plans. I print them out, put them in a binder, and then highlight the standards to which the project adheres. If you are not in Georgia, you will probably want to delete/ignore this part of the LP.

**you are welcome to share this lesson plan on your website or blog but please credit Artful Artsy Amy as the source and please credit The Art Ninja (with his email address) as author of the Patterned Crazy Quilt Lesson Plan. Please do not re-publish this lesson plan for profit or for a grade.**

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Music to Encourage the Wild Rumpus

I've posted before about music to soothe the savage beasts in your classroom, but sometimes, I like to play more up-tempo music. It makes the classroom have an air of fun, and it can encourage students when working on tough work, or when doing something monotonous (like coloring for a batik).

The issue is that SO MUCH music is totally inappropriate for the classroom! Even music I know my students listen to on the radio in their parent's cars is not something I want to play for them in the classroom. In order to compile a great playlist for your classroom you have to listen to each and every song because no one wants to be surprised when the music drops a "hell" in the middle of your kindergarten art class! And, that take a lot of time.

I have a great oldies playlist that gets a lot of rotation in my classroom, and it still took a long time to compile that music. You'd be surprised how many oldies songs use "hell" and/or sing about things that I'm not really looking to explain to elementary students (Let's Get It On -hello! etc.). But, the other issue is that I have to live with the playlist day-in and day-out too.

I love oldies, but even I can only handle so many playings in a day of Yesterday before I get a little nutty. Seriously.

Which is part of the reason I love the show Glee so much! I watch Glee every week, and I get to preview songs and be entertained at the same time. Ha! Love it. The great thing about the show is that they use so many songs that reach across genres and have a large margin of likability. The other aspect of the music that is great for my classroom is that it is retooled for prime-time TV, and that means most of the foul language is removed. Sure, there are songs that aren't good for an elementary classroom, but they are more obvious. Which, you probably already know because you watch the show, right? :)

This year, I've been working-on and adding to a more modern playlist for my classroom. The kids LOVE it, and I like it because it helps diversify what I get to listen to all day (selfish, but true). Do you have any playlists for your classroom? I'd love to know what you play! Here are some of my favorites from it:

Rumor Has it Adele
Someone Like You Adele
Zoot Suit Riot Squirrel Nut Zippers
Dog Days Are Over Glee Cast
Fire Glee Cast
Another One Bites the Dust Glee Cast
Hey Soul Sister Glee Cast
The Time of My Life Glee Cast
Ice Ice Baby Glee Cast
Losing My Religion Glee Cast
One Love Glee Cast
Teenage Dream Glee Cast
Valerie Glee Cast
I Love Rock n Roll Joan Jett
Crimson and Clover Joan Jett
Cry Me a River Michael Buble
All Of Me Michael Buble
Georgia On My Mind Michael Buble
Last Kiss Pearl Jam
Under The Sea Squirrel Nut Zippers (great cover of the Disney song)
I'll Stand By You The Pretenders
Don't Stand So Close to Me The Police
True Colors Cyndi Lauper
Crush Jennifer Page
Lean On Me Bill Withers
Ain't No Sunshine Bill Withers
Your Song Ewan McGregor from the Moulin Rouge Soundtrack
Faithfully Glee Cast
Don't Stop Believin' Glee Cast (I have the Journey version too)
Over the Rainbow Glee Cast
Big Yellow Taxi Counting Crows

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Lesson Plan Wednesday: Spring Break!

Sadly, there isn't a Lesson Plan Wednesday posting this week because I'm on Spring Break. I'm having a little stay-cation and taking some much needed time off from school, networking, blogging, branding, job-searching (eep! more on that in the weeks to come, and it is good news) and educational thinking.

I am so passionate about what I do that sometimes I look back and realize taking a breather would do me a world of good. There is a lot to be said for taking time off and then re-applying with renewed energy to life and projects.

Is your Spring Break soon? Are you going to take some time off as well? Are you going somewhere? I'd love to hear about it and either way, I hope it is all you wish it to be.

See you next week!