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Friday, December 12, 2008

Still lilfe Photography

My 5th graders are going to town with photography this year. In thisclass, we talked about photographing interesting still lifes.
We talked about changing angles, closeups, and
just creative set ups that might be different from the normal still life pictures that we see. After looking at several photographs with the still life genre, we discuss different ways we could interpret and set up objects that were placed around the room. Students got all kinds of stuff out of my storerooms, my shelves, my closets and cabinets. Just about any thing they could find to use.
Believe me when I say, they got creative. With only two classes of 50
minutes each, they had to find their stuff, make their plan, set up their items, photograph them and then print them. You can't even imagine what my room looked like at the end of those two classes. I had still lifes EVERYWHERE! But I can't argue with the results. They really had to make alot of quick, quality decisions to get their final results. For the most part, everyone did great!
If you have any other really great ideas for subject matter for digital photograpy, please, please, please....let me know.

Studying Relief

My students really seem to just love this project. It seems so easy but they just get a real kick out of watching it develope into, what looks like, old, tarninshed silver relief patterns. We talk about relief and what that means in art. That it is a form of three dimentional art BUT it is only slightly three dimensional. Most sculpture can be seen from all sides but relief sculpture is viewed like a two dimensional picture. This one is of a tulip and has been created with shirt board, glue, and foil. Wooden stylis were used to etching into the heavy duty foil, after covering our cardboard motifs, which gave us some intricate little patterns, textures and details to enhance the overall piece. We used India Ink for the aging process by putting it on, letting it dry for a minute or two and then buffing it off to our liking. The results are amazing! Definitly a fun one to try!!!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Meeting an Original Highwaymen

One of the wonderful parts about the Orlando Conference was being able to meet one of the ORIGINAL Highwaymen artist and watch him paint. This is R. L. Lewis, one of 26 artists who, in the early 1950's through the 1980's, developed their own style of depicting the Florida Landscapes, selling these paintings out of their cars and vans as they traveled up and down the coast. During that time, an African-American, would not likely find Art Galleries open to displaying their work, so they would take it to the road, so to speak. Today, their artwork is eagerly sought after by collectors willing to pay top dollar for Highwaymen originals.
Duval Art Teachers Association was very blessed to have R.L. Lewis paint one of the wooden palettes that are being auctioned to provide funding for the Leslie Beddard Scholarship Fund. His particular palette is being auctioned on Ebay and has already had an offer of $600. We would really like to thank Mr. Lewis for his huge contribution!

IMing with Iraq - Talk about ART and TECHNOLOGY!

We spent almost an hour IMing with my son James, who is on tour in Iraq, while, part of the time, seeing him through web cam. It is still hard to fathom being in contact with him, half way across the world. But one thing that really struck me was the marriage of art and design with technology that made it possible for this Mama to stay in contact with her boy. We are so surrounded by art being used to simplify and improve our lives that we hardly know it as art! If you have Instant Messaged, you know that there are hundreds of little "things" that you can send through the IM to enhance your words. My Daughter, Morgan, was constantly pulling up these little pictures that did some kind of funny action, when activated, to send with her text. Funny!!!!! Of course, James had to send some back as well. One thing I know......I have an aweful lot to learn! But, I am thankful to be able to keep in touch so often with my son. It almost makes him seem as if he is not so far away.

Clay Workshops at the Cummer

This past Planning Day I was priviledged to be able to teach three clay workshops to fellow Elementary Art Teachers on using the "Hollow Egg" technique of clay handbuilding. What an honor, as my colleagues are amoung the BEST art teachers in the state of Florida. I hardly felt adequate to teach them anything at all. However, in each of the three workshops that I gave, I had many teachers thank me for showing this method as they began to get many great ideas on how to teach this to their students. Wow!!!! Of course, I didn't walk away without new ideas myself! Just goes to show that you can NEVER stop learning. The teachers created the cutest, wildest, and most beautiful pieces using this technique. It was just fun watching the ideas move from the mind to the clay.
Of course, we couldn't stop at just teaching the technique, we had to find all the ways that this project tied in with the various academic subjects. When we introduce clay, we have to talk about how important clay has been in learning about ancient cultures. Because it does not breakdown quickly (not even after 12,000 years) archaeologists are able to learn so much from what is painted on the clay AND what is found inside ( sometimes grains or ashes). Of course, that moves right into how clay is made, naturally, from disintegrating rocks, and water. On to different processes that clay goes through to go from a lump of earth to a solid piece of pottery. Math jumps in their when we have to estimate halves, and then put them together into a whole. I could probably go on and on. Not to mention it is all A LOT OF FUN!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Learning Lots in Orlando

Wow! It is a wirlwind down here! I haven't stopped since I stepped out of the car. The workshops are wonderful, and the ideas are coming. There is so much creativity flowing that I should come back with a new lesson plan or two to try out with the students.
The workshop I gave with my friend, Judi Evans, really turned out to be a huge success. Everyone was telling us how fascinating it was to learn how much a small book can help teach students so much. Not only, art concepts, but concepts they find in their classroom as well. See to see the details on this workshop and see some of the beautiful books created by these teachers.
A couple more workshops to go and then I am heading back to Jax.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Heading off to FAEA Conference

It is that time of the year again, when all kinds of crazy art teachers head off to Orlando for the Florida Art Education Association Conference. All of you who go to conferences know that not only are these large gatherings FULL of information, and learning of new skills and techniques, they are also just fun! Rubbing elbows so many creative minds from all over Florida can only result in tons of new ideas to try out as soon as I get home. My biggest problem is TIME. How to fit in all the neat stuff into one school year. I am willing to give it a shot.

If you teach art, conference should be built into you annual school plans as often, we are alone in our jobs at our schools. We don't always have someone to bounce ideas off of or discuss celebrations and concerns with, therefore leaving us feeling like we are an island that no one understands. At Conferences, whether local, state, or national levels, we are immersed into the whole "art-thinking" thing with hundreds of others WHO ACTUALLY KNOW WHAT WE ARE TALKING ABOUT! It is just as much a time for interactions, making contacts, and building relationships as it is for learning new procedures or how to improve our craft.

I will be presenting this year by doing a workshop on Artist Trading Card books, how to make them, and how to use them to teach the elements and principals of design. I think it will be tons of fun to see what the workshop attendees come up with while designing their own books.

I will also be going to the reception, where all our "very interesting" centerpieces will be displayed. Now, I would really like to be a fly on the wall as people encounter these "interesting" works of art. I'll try to remember some :-)!

So....FYI.....I will be gone from Thursday, Oct, 16th - Sunday, Oct. 19th. Pray I will get there and back again in one piece and that Judi (with whom I am doing the workshop) and I are successful in sharing all our little secrets about ATC Books with all who grace our workshop.

See ya Monday!

Still time to Order ATR!!!

If you have not turned in your Art To Remember, you still have time. Even though the deadline was October 10th, I will be sending in a late order in the next couple of weeks. You should still have your order back in time for the holidays, so send it in. REMEMBER - if your order is below $25, you must send in cash.


Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Art To Remember Project on the Way HOME!!!!

We have completed the Art To Remember Artwork and have them all stuffed in the envelopes, ready to head home. Included on the envelope, should be instructions on how to fill out the order forms so that you can receive all those fabulous items with YOUR child's artwork on them.
This is really one of the greatest projects that we do because nothing is better than getting the artwork of a child, as it is fresh and honest. The following are answers to many questions you might have. If your answer is not there, my number appears on the sheet that is attached to your envelope. Give me a call.

What if my child did not finish their artwork? Well, that is not a problem. They are welcome to finish at home with whatever art medium you have available. Many were completed with crayon or markers, or a combination of both, so either of these would be fine.

What if my child did not do a piece of artwork? There were some students who were absent during several art classes or did not enter the school until after we were finished. They are welcome to do a piece of artwork. You can use a piece of copy paper but you must cut it down to 8' x 10 1/2". If you forget this step, I can cut it down when I get it. Make sure they put their first and last name, their teachers name, and Chets Creek, on the back. Have your child come to the Art Lab and get an extra envelope, which contains all the things you need to order.

What if my child does not like their artwork OR what if I would like them to draw something different? When we introduce this project to the students, we normally allow them (at least the older ones) to pick their own subject matter. We do stress the importance of choosing something that would be nice printed on one of these items. However, sometimes, the subject matter of the work is not necessarily something you would like to see on a coffee mug or a T-shirt. You are welcome to have your child draw another picture on a piece of copy paper (see above instructions) and send the new picture in the same envelope you received.

If I have another child that does not attend Chets Creek, can I have them do artwork and include it in the order? Absolutely! Again, just cut a piece of copy paper down to the size mentioned above and have them include their name on the back, their sibling's teachers name, and Chets Creek. You will have to get a seperate order form so that the company is not confused as to what artwork to print on what object. I should have extras in the Art Lab. You can put the artwork in the siblings envelope when your order is complete.

What do I need to return with my order? The order must have the original piece of artwork, the order form, and the payment.

How do I pay? A district change has stated that Duval Schools can no longer recieve checks for under $25 or over $250. So between those two amounts, you can write a check made out to Chets Creek Elementary. Under $25 must be cash.

Will I get my child's artwork back? Yes. If you make an order, the artwork will be returned with the items purchased.

When is my order due? Orders are due back to school by October 10th. Should you find that you did not get it turned in on time, please send it in anyway. If possible, I will make a late order. If I can't, then you can deal directly with ART TO REMEMBER and make arrangements.

When are we expecting the orders to arrive? This year, we are looking to receive them before the Thanksgiving break. If not then, then right after we return. They will be here in plenty of time for the holidays, especially, if your gifts are being sent out of town.

What if an item I have purchased comes damanged? Not a problem. Send the damanged piece in to the Art Lab. ATR keeps student artwork, digitally, until June. We can contact ATR and they will replace it and send it directly to you.

What if I want to order more items at a later date? Again, if you have put in a previous order, the artwork is stored digitally with ATR and they can simply pull it up and print it on whatever you like. You can work directly with ATR at that point.

What does the ATR fundraiser support? All funds raised by this project go to support the Cultural Arts at Chets Creek by bringing in quality presentations and performances for all our students. It also supports our annual Cultural Arts Week, which is a week long celebration of guest artists and family workshops that allow students and families to enjoy different aspects of the arts. The Arts Extravaganza evening event is also supported so that families can come enjoy and participate in the arts together. Finally, these funds help support the resources at Chets, allowing them to purchase special equipment and/or supplies for our students to enjoy.

Hopefully, your question has been answered. If not, you can leave a comment with a question and then check the blog for the answer in a day or two. OR you can call the number on the information sheet attached to your envelope. Let me THANK YOU for your support of and through this project. I KNOW you will be WOWed by these objects with your child's original art. It make the item that much more special.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Stretching the Brain!!!!!!

What a weekend!!!! I attended a workshop where we had to construct sculptural center pieces out of found objects that were to have a futuristic feel to them for the Florida Art Education Association Conference this year. We had no plan, no example, no nothin' to give us any hint as to what to do. I really got a taste of what my students feel when they are given a pile of "stuff", info, or whatever has been thrown at them, and ask them to make sinse of it by bringing it together into a connected whole. We were basically given a base and a tube and were set on our own to sift through tons of junk, making 100's of decisions about what the piece would look like, what "found objects" would best work to achieve the goal, colors, textures, patterns, and on and on and on. Sounds a little Daniel Pinkish doesn't it? Trying to find a connection between things that appear to have no connections?

This really tried and stretched my brain and left me quite fatiqued at the end of the day, as I had completed two different center piece sculptures. Though, I must say, it was pretty much fun. Many times, during the process, I had to change my plan and take a different route because iteas didn't work, engineering didn't work as planned, and, sometimes, because my outcome didn't match what I had invisioned. This is the way of the creative world. The end products were vastly different amoung the workshop "artists" yet they all hit the goal. Believe me, there were some strange looking center pieces but they were also perfect for the theme.

This really goes to prove how "performance based" art really is. Students, like myself, are constantly making decisions about their project to get it to that goal that they visualize in their minds. I don't usually leave them as stranded as I felt at the beginning of this exercize, but, they do have to use what they have learned and, in many instances, make connections and MANY, MANY decisions along the way to the end. This is where the real critical thinking skills come into play. When there is no set pattern presented nor a specific outcome stated, it leaves the students with their learned skills and their imagination to carry them along. It certainly helped me successfully build two "very interesting" pieces.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Learning A lot from Portraits

Our first graders are beginning their journey with Portraits this year, finding out what makes a portrait a portrait. We have talked about the fact that when we want to recognize someone, we look at their face, helping us to understand that portraits are meant for us to focus on the face. We want to know WHO they are. What else can working through portraiture teach us?? Well, we learn proportion as we look at sizes of the features of the face, we learn shape as we discuss BEST shapes for each feature, we learn parts of the face and how they function, we think about physical differences between people, such as eyes, hair, skin, etc. We also look at how the face is balanced in a symetrical fashion. During the application of color, we learn about shadow and light on the face and how to blend color to achieve specific results. We experiment with texture and pattern as we fill in hair and clothing. Portraits are just too much fun! What are the wonderful ways you can use portrait in your classroom?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

things are moving along.....

Well, Art To Remember is coming to an end soon and we will be getting envelopes stuffed and sent home in October. Instructions will be given along with your class set of envelopes so you will understand how to handle this particular fundraiser.

It will be nice to start on some art plans that Miss Kristy and I have been discussing. We are really excited about some of the projects that will be coming your way soon. Remember to hold on the student artwork until Arts Extravaganz in April so you will have plenty for display during the week long art show. If you don't know about this April event, please ask me or your grade level leader.

While I am blogging, I would like to send out a request. I need to know some ways I can get the students working on the two computers in my room more oftern. I only have them from 40 - 50 minutes and I have 25 - 36 students. How do you handle this in your classrooms? I would really like to see the computers used more than they are. Let me know any suggestions you might have that I can adapt to the art program. All are appreciated!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Duval Art Teachers Association is raffling off Origial works of art on Palettes

The Duval Art Teachers Association is raffling off 8 differenat art palettes that have been painted by local artists in Jacksonville. These one of a kind works of art are worth hundreds but can be bought for $1. Raffle tickets are $1 each OR 25 tickets for $20. Each ticket can be labeled for a specific palette or can be spread amoung several palettes. The drawings will be January 16, 2009 and winners will be notifyed so you don't have to be present to win. All money from this goes to fund the Leslie Beddard Foundations which supports and encourages excellence in Art Education through workshops, education, advocacy and grants. For more information on the Art Palette raffle call 904-390-2677.

Art To Remember Project Underway

We have started off the year with our annual Art To Remember fundraiser, which helps to raise funds for the Chets Creek Cultural Arts fund. This fund helps to provide quality presentations and performances by guest artists of various talents to enhance our students' education and experiences. It also helps to fund activities during our annual Cultural Arts Week and Arts Extravaganza evening event, which is held in the Spring. Monies have also been used to furnish special materials for our various resources. This activity is a wonderful way to effect all our students' lives during the school year.

When you recieve your Art To Remember envelope, it will include an original piece of artwork by your child, a picture list of over 30 items on which you can have your child's work reproduced, an order form and price list, and instructions on how to order. What better Holiday gift for family members than an item adorned with your child's artwork. It is definitly a one of a kind gift. We would ask that each family consider purchasing, at least, a magnet to help bring in quality presentations to Chets Creek.

Start watching for your Art To Rememeber envelope to come home in late September or early October. Revisit this blog to find out the deadline date on which to turn in orders.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

We are in need of your garbage and donations!!!!!

We are getting ready to start another exciting year in art as we continue to explore a variety of media, techniques and precesses. I am always anxious to see the wonderful work that will be created by our young artists as they discover how line, shape, and color work together to evolve into a beautiful composition.

To start our journey, the Art Lab could use a few items to recycle into a variety of art projects. These items can be dropped off at the Art Lab door.

old CDs and DVDs
clean soup/veggie cans
Styrofoam egg cartons
small pieces of scrap wood or metal
bottle caps (metal and plastic)
old broken jewelry
ribbon scraps
silk plants and flowers
imitation fruit and vegetables
old calendars
anything that might be fun and interesting to glue into art projects.

The following are items that are needed in the art lab. Any thing that you may wish to donate will be GREATLY appreciated and will be used in certain art projects and/or used in the day to day functions of the Art Lab.

Heavy Duty Aluminum Foil
wax paper
baby wipes
bars of Ivory soap
liquid starch
copy paper
hydrogen peroxide (for cyanotype photography)
rechargable AA batteries (new)
staple gun and staples

Thank you, in advance, for any and all contributions!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Another Great Ending

I have been quite remiss in writing as you can see by the dates. I probably need to work on time management and get more organized. That will have to be a goal for next school year.

The art year seemed to go really well. A lot of information was covered and now we are awaiting the results of the 2nd and 5th grade's MAP test scores to see just how well the students did. Miss Kristy and I really worked on pounding in the vocabulary so that the test might seem much easier in the Spring than it did in the Fall. We will see if our efforts paid off.

Off testing and on to the really important stuff. The art work! It was truly incredible. The students really worked hard and produced some beautiful masterpieces. We actually had 30 pieces of artwork chosen for The Best in Elementary Art Show this year! That was almost every student who had been entered in the Elementary Library Show, which is from what The Best Of.... is chosen. I was quite proud of our body of work. Congratulations to all the students who were representing Chets Creek in both of these shows.

We even had a 4th grade student who went to the State Level of the PTA Reflections competition this year in the Visual Arts area. She created an outstanding work of art reflecting this year's theme about making a difference. Great work!

Photograpy was a hit with the 5th grade students! Oh my, how they loved roaming around the campus finding the "perfect shot". And, I must say, they really got creative! They had to make decisions about the color scheme of the photograph to best present the subject matter and they really made some wonderful choices. The people who saw examples of their work were amazed at how well they chose their subject and captured the shot. I can't wait to get started will photography next year!

Arts Extravaganza was probably the best one yet! It was so well attended we started running out of the hands-on activities materials. I don't think that has ever been done. The guest artists were fabulous, the student artwork looked beautiful and everyone seemed to have a wonderful time. It will be hard to top it next year BUT we will try.

What a fabulous year! Having Miss Kristy and Miss Spooner made a huge difference in the amount of art time the students received, helping them to be more "artistically minded". The year would not have been near as successful with out them so.........THANKS A TRILLION TO TWO WONDERFUL ART TEACHERS!

Just because it is summer does not mean the art has to stop! There are a lot of activities that students can get involved with that will keep them working artistically. The Cummer Museum and MOCAJ both have art camps throughout the summer. Art Blast at Grace Church in Avondale has a camp all summer. There are other opportunities as well. If you can't do those, then get paper and crayons and "go to town!" If you go to the archives on this blog site, you will find an old article about ways to stay busy with the arts over the summer. Look in June of 2007. Through out the summer, I will try to give some other ideas as well.


Friday, March 21, 2008


Oh WOW!!!!! Are we ever going to be having some fun now. I just received a $2000 grant through Best Buy and have bought 10 new digital cameras, and 5 photo printers (plus a few other odds and ins like memory cards, rechargeable batteries, and ink kits) to start basic photography lessons with my students. Now, we all know that they can teach me more about using the cameras than I could EVER teach them, so my lessons are going to be focused more on the framing techniques and developing an "artistic" eye, as opposed to the point and shoot method. I am really excited about this opportunity and can't wait to get started. Begin looking for our first attempts to soon grace the walls of Chets Creek!

In my grant, I did mentions that the cameras could be used with other projects in the school, such as creating photographs demonstrating ideas in academic areas, such as patterns, habitats, proportions, textures (math/science). In social studies they could be used to record different social events or activities. In Language Arts, they could be used to illustrate. Really, the possibilities are endless. Let me know some of the ideas that might be forming that these cameras could help come to pass. I am sure there are going to be some wonderful, expressive ideas flowing from our kids as this project gets off the ground!

Thanks to Best Buy for making these grants possible. If you haven't, you really should check out this opportunity.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Mixed media collages are coming along.

We have really been moving in the lab, just hoping we can get all these projects finished in time for Cultural Arts Week. We are finishing clay, collage, painting, printmaking, radial designs, drawings, and just about everything else you can think of.

One project which really seems to be going nicely is our mixed media collages with a 4th grade class. I actually borrowed the idea from another art teacher and modifyed it, slightly, for this class. As the plexiglass picture frames began to break really badly, I saved the "box" or bottom cardboard part. After saving up about 40, I had a class use them to create these mixed media collages. First we glued colored poster board on top and began drawing a large, simple still life. We painted in the background areas, adding patterns and texture. We then began using Mod Podge to brush tissue paper onto the drawn table top. Student filled in objects on the table with foil, construction paper, packing peanuts, or whatever media they desired - giving us a lot of textures to play with. The final steps will include using oil pastels to outline, detail, and texturize and then gluing on actual silk flowers and leaves coming out of our vases. Because these are done on the cardboard box of the box frames, they are already prepared to hang on the wall! This is just one more way to recycle some of those old items hanging around the art lab.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

SOAP - The "Clean" Art Medium

Have you ever wanted to teach sculpture, using subtraction techniques, but couldn't find a time-efficient, easy clean-up, done in two class periods, inexpensive, type of medium? Here is the answer...SOAP! With my elementary school age students, I am able to do just that, and at the same time, have them begging to do more. It has been amazing how intense they get while carving and how excited they get when finished. Yes, we have a few casualties as the soap breaks or crumbles where we don't want it to.... but the students seem to come back the next day with several bars of soap in hand to start again! And what happens to the pieces??? We send them home in a baggie to use for washing hands! Recycling at its best. The really great part of this lesson is the students can do it at home, as well as in the art classroom, without having to buy special art supplies. The best soap to use is any soap that is rectangular, so that there will be a flat base so the sculpture will stand. Some soaps are softer than others which does help make carving more easily accomplished. Buy a few different bars and try it out yourself? You may find you are hooked on this very relaxing process. hint: try dollar stores for a inexpensive source for bars of soap.

I started the lesson talking about sculpture and form and how these are three-dimensional and must be observed from all sides, not just one. We talk about positive/negative space and what is meant by "subtractive techniques" (where the medium is"taken away" in various amounts to form the image.) The students trace their bar of soap on a piece of paper so that they can come up with ideas for their sculpture. This gives them a starting point, even if the sculpture changes as they go. I provide one bar of soap per student. If theirs breaks and they can not figure out a way to make it work, then they bring in any additional bars of soap to carve. We use small plastic knives and wooden popsicle sticks as the main carving tools. Other tools can be plastic spoons, forks, and wooden skewers (for helping with internal negative space). There are probably hundreds of other objects that can be used as well. Students begin working on the negative space that is in the interior of the sculpture first, and then work on the outside edges. They can move on to creating different levels on the surfaces for interest, once the main form is established. Encouraging students to create different surface textures, using various tools, can add interest to the overall appearance of the final piece. If the final piece does not stand on its own, then a small block of wood with a nail driven through, allowing the soap to gently be pushed down onto the nail, can solve that problem.

If you try this out in your classroom, please leave a comment and let me know how it went. My 4th grade students have really enjoyed it and the classes that have not done it yet are begging to have a turn at this sculptural process!