Art is the only way to run away without leaving home. ~Twyla Tharp

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Agamographs and Art Teachering

I think that one the hardest things about art teachering is actually figuring out how to convey information in a way that my students will be able to accomplish the desired outcome.  I can look at pretty much any kind of project and do it, it’s the breaking it down into simple steps that middle schoolers can accomplish with as little frustration as possible that can be a problem.  I have found in all my years of teaching that if I can break things down into numbered steps, as in ‘1. Do this 2. Do that 3. Do this last thing’ the chances of success are much greater. As adults, we have come to understand that sometimes the journey is more important that the destination.  Middle schoolers, however, are all about the outcome.

I’ve wanted to tackle agamographs again but after my first attempt years ago, I knew that I need to find an easier way to finish them with as little frustration, from everyone, as possible.  I’ve tried several different ways to assemble them but I think this time, my kiddos got it with few mistakes. While the end results aren’t perfect, for the most part the finished projects were successful.  Kids were proud of their hard work and they look impressive displayed in the hallway.

We talked about things that transform, are opposites, are in conflict or competition and then as a class, we brainstormed some ideas that would be appropriate examples.  As much as I hate them, I let the kids use chromebooks to look for source material. In many cases, they traced their ideas. I tried really hard not to lose my mind over that and kept telling myself that I wanted them to get through the steps of creating the agamograph. I tried to find creativity in their ideas and how the two pictures that they used work together as part of our original criteria for the relationship of the images.  Some kids came up with really great ideas and in all cases, I had them explain the relationship of the images to me as they turned them in. In hindsight, I should have had them write a short reflection on their work in their sketchbooks. That will definitely happen at the end of the next project. We had a teacher workday last week and I hung most of the ones that were finished up and students were thrilled to see them when they returned to school on Monday.  I always know a project is a good one when they ask me if they can take it home.

The first few pictures are my example and how I broke down the process.  The rest of the pictures and videos are student work. Enjoy!

I actually changed this step.  I had the kids complete their drawings first, then draw the grid lines.

I drew the most common transformation to get the idea out of their heads.

Finished, before the cuts.

The cutting is the hardest part.

Putting them in order is easy if you label them.

Glued down.

Labeled clearly.

View from the back.

View from the front.

Caterpillar ...



Working hard!

Gluing down and sorting strips.

Working hard!

Rulering isn't easy!

What transformations shall we do?

Wednesday, November 28, 2018


Every day, for 30 minutes we have 'PRIDE' time.  This is a time were teachers can work with students on concepts that need to be revisited and students can catch up on work and get the extra help that they need.  Mrs. Nelson, the band director and I are so lucky to be able to work with a group of 8th graders that don't need remediation as much as enriching activities that push them to think outside the box, work together as teams and get to do activities that they normally wouldn't get to do during the school day.

This week, we are making STAR BOOKS. For this challenge they were given instructions to create the book. There are 7 'pages' and each page is made up of 3 different parts. Part 1 is twice the length of the cover. Part 2 is 75% of the length of part 1 and part 3 is 2/3s the length of part 2. They could choose the size of their book, but it had to be within the confines of the size paper that we gave them. They had to figure out all the proportions of the pages to make the books work. These students have restored my faith in rulering.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

The Fauves and Blue Bulldogs

Well, it’s been a while since I have posted.  I didn’t realize that it had been since the beginning of the school year since I shared anything with you and here it is almost Thanksgiving.  Do you ever do things like compose things in your head and think that you might have sent it (as in a text or email) or posted it (as in this here blog)?  I think that is what may have happened. I’ve been taking pictures of students working and their completed projects and I could have sworn that I posted about some of the projects that we have done but...I guess I’ll just chalk that up to being a tired teacher.

For our most recent project we studied The Fauves and their use of arbitrary colors in their artwork.  We looked at the work of Andre’ Derain and Henri Matisse, among others, and tried to understand the way that they felt about color.  While we were planning our paintings, we tried to understand what they meant when they said “From the moment I held the box of colors in my hands, I knew this was my life. I threw myself into it like a beast that plunges towards the thing it loves.” (Matisse) and "We were always intoxicated with colour, with words that speak of colour, and with the sun that makes colours live." (Derain)

We also took some time and looked at the work of American painter George Rodrigue and his ‘Blue Dogs’.  We learned that while Rodrigue wasn’t technically a fauvist painter, his work has many similar elements.  I always like to start off my projects with a little bit of art history. I feel like we can learn so much from looking at the work of artists, both contemporary and in the past.  I also try to take the time to explain to my students the difference between being inspired by something and plagiarism. I think that in exploring different styles of art, students have the opportunity to see where their strengths lie and perhaps learn something that they didn’t know before.

I’ve done the ‘How to Draw a Bulldog’ step by step lesson before.   The last time, if I recall correctly, we drew them and colored them in to look like the work of Romero Britto.  It’s always a fun lesson and the kids LOVE to draw along with me, step by step and realize what they can do when  they listen and learn how to break things down into smaller lines and shapes. This time, we worked really large and I think that their bulldogs turned out wonderfully.

Here’s a few for your enjoyment.

Friday, September 7, 2018

It's a New Year!

Welcome to the 2018-2019 school year in the AMS Art Studio.  We are about
2 weeks into the new school year and it has been an exciting, whirlwind time!

With every new year comes change and this year has been no different.  Our
schedule is different this year than it has been in years past and I feel like the
day goes by in a blur.  We are fortunate enough to be able to create our classes
during the summer and I think that we did an amazing job putting the right
personalities together.  So far, knock on wood, my classes have been great.
It’s always so much fun coming back from the long summer vacation and seeing
all the new faces and familiar friends.

We are working on our first project big project right now.  To start out, we looked
at big city skylines from all over the world and we are now working on drawing
famous skyscrapers and making up our own buildings. When we are done,
I’ll be sure to post some of our work.

In the meantime, here are some of our mini-masterpieces that we created on
day one.  Students were given a 3 x 3 piece of card stock and were asked to
create a mini-masterpiece of their own choice.