Sunday, September 23, 2012

Defining Graphic Design

My yearly budget for Art supplies is very small.  On average, I have approximately $0.25 to spend per student.  I teach 921 students. . . I long ago learned one of the easiest manners in which to enrich a budget-thin Art curriculum is to introduce and teach Digital Art.

Defining Graphic Design for my 8th graders is easy; by this point in their lives they recognize their consumption and may even earn their own money to support it. They understand their purchasing is often driven by design.  Getting my 6th graders to understand Graphic Design can be more of a challenge. This year, my 6th graders have had very little Art experience (the reason is actually rather complicated), and many of them are still struggling to participate in elementary activities such as guided drawing.

Last week, we (6th graders and me) worked on a wonderful Typography project (I can't wait to share it with you). I'm so proud they truly understand the concept of Typography and can articulate a definition in their own words. This week, we're moving on to Graphic Design. I came across the fantastic video below.  What a wonderful, and succinct, introduction to Graphic Design!


what is graphic design from Steve Quinn on Vimeo.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

I'm a Person, Not a Service

Teaching Art can be a lonely pursuit, and the online community is vibrant and a wonderful resource. One of the main reasons, ArtfulArtsyAmy has continued is because I like to share my experiences in the classroom with other Art teachers. The other reason I blog is because I feel very passionately about giving back and sharing with the Art Education community.

It is important for us to contribute to our community.  Art Education, as a whole, becomes richer when we do so.  I've begun using lessons (and hopefully creating lessons) I might not otherwise due to my online exposure to Art Education blogs. Ultimately, that helps to make me a stronger teacher.

Since the advent of Pinterest, and few other positive reviews of ArtfulArtsyAmy online, I now get a lot of daily email from readers.  On the one hand, I'm incredibly flattered anyone likes anything I do enough to contact me. I've had the opportunity to collaborate with, and and actually meet, quite a few amazing Art teachers because they have emailed me. I wouldn't give up those opportunities for the world.  Yet, more often, I receive rather rude emails from teachers demanding something and/or emails from the technology-challenged who are frustrated about how to download a lesson etc. etc. I've received about five alone in the past week that were just really rude.  So, I thought I'd make a little informational list for when you contact blog owners and/or me.

1. Everything on this blog is free. If you find something of mine online and it has a cost, that is because the website host required it. I also do not actively or knowingly post anything on a website requiring a monetary membership.  If a site requires a monetary membership, it began doing so after I uploaded content.
2. I value sources. I work very hard and very diligently to link back to any source I use both in lesson plans, images, and PowerPoints.

3. I don't have a lot of time. I work approximately 55+ hours a week as an Art Teacher. I attend graduate school (working on my doctorate) full time.  I commute 3 hours round trip to my job. I write 36 pages of lesson plans a week (no really, I do). I want to respond to all of your emails. I take time about once a week to sift through blog emails.

4. I don't monitor my online content after posting.  Once it is up, I rarely go back after the first week to check links etc.  ArtfulArtsyAmy has been around for nearly four years, and has over three hundred posts. I am one person. The internet is a living entity that is ever-changing. I do what I can, and then let the rest fall away.

5.  I cannot help you with specific technology issues.  Feel free to send me an email when something is hard to download, a link is broken etc. etc.. If there is something not working, I will fix it from my end. But, I do not have the time to walk you through how to download online content. And, honestly, 99% of the questions I have about this are from people who simply are not tech savvy. I feel for you, and I'm impressed you're working outside your comfort zone. You should get the media specialist and/or a colleague to help walk you through the process. They can see your screen; I can't. But, I'm a sucker for nice people, and I love teaching about technology. . So if you send me a really nice email, I will probably try to help you.

6. I'm a person, not a service.  About half the emails I get each week read like this:  "I want this resource. Send it to me in this format."  I'm reminded of a line in Dirty Dancing when I get these emails: "I don't just have to do anything for you." I'm human. I like manners. I like the words "please" and "thank-you."  I will never, ever, email anything to anyone who can't be polite. When I get emails like this I read them aloud to my partner, and we laugh and the rudeness.

7. I love to collaborate; I love to help. If you have a collaboration idea or a question, don't hesitate to email me. It may take me a week to return your email, but I will.  I really, truly, do like to be helpful.

From the bottom of my heart I love blogging with and for the Art Ed community. This online community has been one of my favorite and best sources as an educator.  I really encourage you to participate by making comments on Art Ed blogs and/or maybe even hosting your own blog. 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Digital David Hockney Photo-montages

My 8th graders learned all about David Hockney and photo-montages this week.  These are the first few to finish.  Students could either select their own theme or could use the annual PTA Reflections theme which (this year) is "the magic of a moment."

Here is our process (5 class days total):

1. students identified a theme and subject

2. students spent 1 class period taking digital photos -each student needed at least 30 images (you always have a few "throw away" ones!)

3. We had a small lesson about transferring photos and assembling photos into a montage in MS Publisher (a program already installed on computers). Students spent 2 class periods assembling 3 different montages. They used the same theme, subject, and photos, but assembled in different manners.

4. We had a small lesson about saving Publisher files as JPEGs, manipulating montages in MS Photo Editor (contrast, hue saturation, cropping), and manipulating montages with filters in such free online programs as Pixlr, Pixlr-o-Matic, and BeFunky. Students spent 2 class periods on montage manipulation.

5. Students titled and uploaded completed montages to Edmodo group, and had to make at least 5 positive comments on others' work. Each comment had to be in a complete sentence that was specific about the artwork observed. This only took part of one period.

Here are the results (about 1/2 of the kids aren't quite finished as we still have 1 more day to go):


photomonatge 7

passion for books 2


my project 1

logan photomontage4

Landscape Of Pictures

Friday, September 14, 2012

How to Get Over Your Bad Day(s)

My 6th graders earned a "shaving cream party" during the last 15 minutes of class for displaying excellent behavior all week. I wish you could see their faces; it is PURE joy. 

First, I hope you never, ever, have a bad day.
Second, it is likely you'll have a few.

I had a really bad day today at school. While I have "up" days and "down" days, it is rare for me to have a really bad day. . . Which is to say, when I do have a bad day; it is distressing to me.

Here is my secret for you:  When you are having a bad day; it is usually because you chose to see it that way. Of course, this doesn't apply to crisis situations or a scary diagnosis etc. But, if you have a generally bad day, it is probably time to reflect.

I was mostly having a bad day because the kids "were off the chain" today. So, I spent a bit of time thinking about what it was about them that bothered me so much:

- they talk when I talk (fixable situation; try different behavior management strategies)

- they don't listen to directions, and then want me to walk them through the project step-by-step, one-on-one (Dude. At least they WANT to learn! Probably fixable with a different behavior management strategy)

- when the 6th graders got to do their incentive activity they ran around and acted totally insane! (that insanity was pure sensory joy. What did I think was going to happen when you gave them shaving cream?!)

See, what I'm talking about? When you reflect, you give yourself time to understand that what seems so negative, is in reality, a manageable situation.

I came home and found this terrific video (above) about the community of Burning Man. I'm not a Burner, and probably never will be. But, I am fascinated and really appreciate the concepts, art, and passion of Burning Man. And, I really appreciate many of the ideas Halcyon (the video author) shares. I especially like, and needed to hear, these quotes:

"I think the gifting principle is about giving of yourself and being open to others in the moment. And sharing freely without the expectation of return. Sometimes, that's stuff. Sometimes, it's an act."

"We meet with the limited-resource people of our community. Not because we think 'Oh, they need help, let's get them to where we are.' It's more 'Oh, we're from a theme camp that has a bunch of stuff. You're from a theme camp that is living in the street. So let's gift [you] some extra stuff we have!' And, more importantly, let's just be present with these people; this theme camp that is, maybe, a little different than us."

"There [are] always obstacles. But, if you stop seeing them as obstacles and just go 'That is just the task at hand. That is just what you need to do in that moment. . . These are not the things that are in the way of the experience, these are the experience."

As teachers, we are always gifting of ourselves to our students; it is our life choice. I especially needed to be reminded today my chosen profession is a gift to children and I need to focus on sharing joy over negativity. More importantly, I need to be more present and in the moment with my students. Based on their behavior and statements, my class is the only time they feel nurtured and/or have the opportunity to authentically express themselves. Regardless of how they act, I should hold this more sacred.

This is my process for handling bad moods; reflect and process. . . I usually do a bit of inspirational reading/viewing too. It always works.  I hope you enjoy the video, and let me know what you do to turn around a bad day.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Soap in the Art Room: A Cheap Recipe for Success

First, let's take a look at my hands at the end of today:

Over the course of school today I washed my hands at least 15 times and attempted to salve them with lotion just as often. We painted in the first two class periods, dyed our batiks in the middle two periods, and worked on watercolors in the last two periods.

Does your school buy, like, the cheapest soap ever for the dispensers?  Ours is this weird pink goo that reminds me of the ectoplasm ooze from one of the Ghostbuster's movies. I don't know about its antibacterial qualities, but the school soap is really ineffective against Art grime. The kids have to get more than several pumps of it and really work it into a lather for it to have any effect. I thought at first they were being wasteful. . . but no, I had the same issue.

And, y'all, my kids really like to be clean. Oh, the drama we have over Art dirt.

So, there are 2 problems I have with the school soap:
1) it doesn't clean Art grime
2) it constantly needs to be replenished because we have to use so much for it to have any effect.

I long ago started buying my own soap and lotion for the Art room. I know a lot of you do this too because I've never been in an Art classroom that didn't have super grimy bottles of soap milling about. I added the lotion because my students have severe aversions to being "ashy" and make fun others for any perceived "ashy-ness." The lotion is an easy (and cheap), $2.99 for economy size, way of avoiding all of that hassle.

Even though I bought/buy good quality soap, the kids still take too many pumps when it comes time to clean up (habit? teenagers? I don't know). It is frustrating because I'm now buying the soap (and in some case Fast Orange for super Art messes) and they are wasting money.  I've also noticed the students don't always take time to lather up the soap and instead expect the soap touching their skin will cause some miraculous cleaning miracle. Ha. Sooo, I decided to purchase foaming soap.

FOAMING SOAP! It is the only way to go! It seems to clean faster, the kids are more likely to rub it around, and the kids perceive they are getting more product per pump because of the way the foam expands when pumped. It also rinses away quicker than regular soap which cuts down on sink time; a huge bonus. My students love, love, love the foaming soap.
I had to include this picture because I am SOOO proud of how well my 8th graders cleaned up after painting today. Lookit! All the palettes are washed and put away. All the water jars are in the bins. The paintbrushes are stored correctly and according to size. So, So, So, proud!!

The only issue I have with foaming soap is that we go through the bottles (just like we would with regular soap) fast. I toyed around with a few foaming soap recipes I found on Pinterest and modified them until they are perfect for my Art room use. I now make my own foaming soap liquid for about $0.20 per bottle!

Here is my recipe.

You will need:
foaming soap bottle (just buy a bottle, use the product, and when done use this recipe to replenish)
1 tblsp of liquid dish-washing soap (like Dawn etc.)
a few drops of an essential oil of choice (optional)
a few drops of tea tree oil for added homeopathic antibacterial qualities (optional)
a few drops of an emulsifier, like polysorbate 80 (optional). This helps the oils mix with the water. But, this isn't necessary; you will just have to give the bottle as shake before use for the oils to be "present." I only have polysorbate 80 on hand because I make my own body oils, lotions, and body sprays.

1. Add liquid dish-washing soap to empty foaming soap bottle. 
2. Fill the remaining bottle with plain water. 
3. Add 4-5 drops of essential oils of choice -optional step (I like lemon, mint, grapefruit, and lavender)
4. Add 4-5 drops of tea tree oil - optional step (this adds a little extra ooph against bacteria)
5. Add 8-10 drops of emulsifier  -optional (you can still use the oil w/o this step; just shake before use)
6. Place on cap. Shake. 
7. Voila! Foaming soap!  


My Post on Americans for the Arts is Live!

Hey all!

My blog post on the Americans for the Arts Blog Salon for National Arts in Education Week is live! My title is: Common Core Collaboration Key for Fine Arts and Classroom Teachers

Go and check it out. . .And, let me know what you think!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

National Arts in Education Week & Americans for the Arts Fall Blog Salon

September 10-14th is National Arts in Education Week, and I'm really excited.

I'm excited because it is a whole week wherein we can share how vital the Arts are to education. . .And, it is an election year. It seems when budgets get slashed, so do the Arts. Yet, Art is one of the most fundamental and profound parts to being a human. . . In the STEM (STEAM please!) rush, the value of being able to think differently and creatively is getting washed away in favor of more automated learning. I'm all for developing humans who can compete on a world stage, but we are devaluing ourselves and our children when we deny access to the Arts in education. Furthermore, the inclusion of Arts in the push for more Science, Math, and ELA only means more positive outcomes for students.

For example, an artist has collected fractal images on Google Earth. So, from this one Art project we have connections to Science, Social Studies, Math, and Art.

This year, the Americans for the Arts blog is hosting a blog salon, and I'm so thrilled to be a part of it.

The salon will take place on the Americans for the Arts blog from September 10-14th.  It will have perspectives from twenty different Arts educators and leaders about the intersection of Common Core Standards and the Arts.

From Americans for the Arts:
The salon is a biannual event about arts education topics, and this fall’s theme is the intersection of the arts and the new Common Core State Standards. Among the writers that have agreed to make contributions to this conversation are: Yong ZhaoRichard Kessler, and Amy Johnson.

Join us on Twitter on September 12, from 6-7PM Eastern, for a Twitter chat using the #artsed hashtag.

I will link to my bit on the Americans for the Arts blog as it is published. Until then, I really hope you will take the time to read what everyone has to say and (if you are able) participate in the Twitter chat (you can dm me @artfulartsyamy). I'm really optimistic about the positive impact CCS can have on Arts education.

Want to know more about National Arts in Education Week? Here are a few great links:
Info from Americans for the Arts
Info from the National Art Education Association
Info for the National Education Association

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

How to Make Your Own Marbeled Paper


Marbeled paper is a great resource to have in any Art room. The unique patterning of the paper can add a lot to collages and other paper-oriented projects. BUT, marbeled paper is also very expensive. Here is a fun, cheap, and easy way your students can make their own marbeled paper.


You will need:
-white paper (any kind works, but I like sturdy paper and/or finger-paint type paper)
-spray paint in several colors (those little "accent" spray cans are perfect)
-small tubs for water (you will want to devote these tubs to this purpose and/or "art" after)
-a place to dry wet art

1. Fill water tubs about 1/2 full of water and place outside
2. Spray several "spurts" of different colors onto the water surface
3. Place a sheet of paper on top of the water
4. Allow water to swirl for a few seconds (not too long or the paint will dry!)
5. Pull away -the paint will stick to the paper in whatever formation it was in on top of the water
6. Allow to dry
7. Voila! You now have marbeled paper!

diy marbeled paper

My students can earn a "spray paint day" by achieving a set number of good behavior days in Art class.  They LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this process.

We used our marbeled paper this past week to make cranes.