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

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Back to School, but NOT back to Normal

This is my life now.  It's Sunday afternoon and I'm looking for images to use for buttons on my Canvas courses that I have to have finished before Friday.  It's easier for me to make transparent backgrounds and download and cut and paste on my mac than it is for me to do on my chromebook at school so I am trying to anticipate what I might want or need tomorrow morning.  I just got out of the shower and I'm in my jammies but I am looking for fun clothes for my bitmoji to wear.  Sigh. Actual clothes are not looking too good for actual me today.

School started back for teachers officially on August 7th this year.  I went in a couple of days earlier that week to pack up my classroom as I was told that I, like all the other exploratory teachers on my hallway, would have to make room for the fifth grade teachers who would be moving up to the middle school to make more room for social distancing in their respective elementary schools.  After I came out of shock from the disbelief of being displaced from my room and being overwhelmed from the thought of packing up and moving 15 years worth of art teacher stuff, I tried to get my head on straight and deal with it.  We are all making sacrifices this year for sure.

My county in NC has decided to go with a hybrid model of returning to school dubbed 'Plan B'.  For middle school, that means that we will have 3 separate groups of students.  Group A students will come 1 week, while Group B students will be learning online from home.  When Group B students are F2F in school, Group A students will be learning online from home.  Group C students are 100% virtual.  Along with other measures put in place such as all students staying in one room while teachers move from class to class,  scheduled breaks for bathroom and water and a shortened school day, we are hoping that this keeps all of us safe and well.  For me and the exploratory team, this means that our classes are 100% online and we will be 'seeing' our students during their 'virtual' weeks via Canvas.

OMG.  Canvas, y'all.  Not gonna lie, I've been a Google Classrooms girl for the last few years and I sort of dug my heels in about Canvas because IF IT'S NOT BROKE DON'T FIX IT and Google Classrooms was perfect for what I needed it to be.  But the powers that be have decided that we needed to use one online platform and be consistent across grade levels, the county, apparently the state of North Carolina and what seems to be the entire U.S. of A and rightly so. I mean, parents.  You poor things.  At least we get an inservice or two. But why oh why didn't I buy stock in Instructure, the parent company of Canvas I am just sayin.  

BUT holy cow the learning curve on this thing is steep.  I'm not a complete idiot.  I used to be the 'Webmaster' at my old school when the internet was still a baby and we thought life was great when we got T1 lines installed one summer.  I think I might be on the upside of it but all I have to say is thank goodness for YouTube Videos, Message Boards, and friends who are just a text away, or down the hall or across the classroom.  There have been so many questions and a lot of uncertainty.

But y'all.  I am kind of excited.  I have the best principal in the world and he is letting me teach different this year.  I had this idea in the spring when life was crazy and we didn't know what end was up and I was churning out projects for my kiddos to do on a daily basis that it would be super cool, if in the fall we didn't go back to school in a normal way (little did I know) that instead of teaching straight 6th, 7th and 8th grade art online, that I could teach courses that fit easily into an online model.  So, I will be teaching Photography, Anime' and Digital Art, Drawing and Crafts.  Students get to choose which section they want to be in for the semester and hopefully this will motivate them to participate, which we all found to be an obstacle this spring.  I hope that I will be able to share some great success with this new project of mine and that I will have made some lemonade out of the lemons we've been handed this year.

Like I said to some of my colleagues earlier today, none of us chose to be in this mess that we are in right now, the least of all our students.  I am bound and determined to give them the best experience they can have in this weird year that 2020 has turned out to be.  All I can ask is that you wish us well, send out some good vibes to the universe and say a bunch of prayers for us all.  We are going to need them, along with your support and a lot of grace.  We are all going to be first year teachers and administrators tomorrow (and in the next coming weeks), even those of us with 30 years of first days behind us.   


Friday, May 22, 2020

Day 39

There are several ways that you can get your work to me:

You can take HIGH QUALITY photographs of your work and email them or text them to me.  You can also upload them to Google Classrooms.  I MUST be able to READ the Artist Research project if you photograph it.  If you would like, I shared a copy of the document that you can type your research on and turn in via google classrooms.  Check your email for my contact information in case you cannot find it.

As a reminder, all work is due on Friday, May 29th.

All artwork that we have created together this year while in class will be available for pick up in the fall as soon as we are back together.

I miss you all and hope you all have a great summer!  I look so forward to being with you in the art room in the fall!

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Day 38

If you are looking for a challenge, you need to look no further than the internet.  You can find challenges that encourage you to donate to a charity such as the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge or the Movember Challenge which encourages men's health awareness or the Below the Line Challenge which encourages participants to 'live below the line' spending less than about $1.50 a day on food in order to bring awareness to extreme poverty.  There are silly challenges sure to annoy your teachers back in the old days when we were in a building together such as the Mannequin Challenge or the Bottle Flipping Challenge and there are some downright dangerous ones that I am not even going to mention here because, well, they are dangerous.

The list of ART CHALLENGES (which are not dangerous or silly) is long.  There is Inktober, which is a prompted drawing in ink challenge that happens every October, Sketch Dailies, which encourages participants to draw characters every day and provides inspiration, The Sketchbook Project which I am participating in myself thanks to a birthday present from my bestie and there are tons of general '30 Day' challenges that you can find just by searching for drawing challenges or photography challenges  and photoshop battles or painting challenges.  All these challenges are designed to help you to be creative every day, stretch your imagination, learn new skills and perfect the ones that you already have.

One of the challenges that has been popular on the internet lately is The Style Challenge.  The Style Challenge was created by a 17 year old instagram artist named Autumn Massaquoi (beautifulness87). The idea behind The Style Challenge is simple: Draw a character in YOUR style and then draw the same character in as many possible cartoon character styles as possible.  Autumn's almost 60K followers have joined the challenge and drawn characters in their style and then, also in the styles of The Simpsons, Fairly Odd Parents, Power Puff Girls, Disney, The Boondocks, Adventure Time, Naruto, Codename: The Kids Next Door, Tim Burton, Gorrillaz, Hey Arnold, Hanna Barbera, Mine Craft, Bubbleguppies, Ed, Edd and Eddy, Bob's Burgers, Rick and Morty, Rugrats, Phineas and Ferb, The Proud Family, and Spongebob, to name more than a few.  

Today's challenge is to draw a character in YOUR style and then draw that same character in at least 3 other cartoon styles.  Take pics of your work, post to our google classrooms (or you can just email or text them to me). Have fun!

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Day 37

You can use a photo collage program or just put a bunch of photos in a grid on a document or slide.

Here's mine:

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Day 36

Fashion designers are artists who apply the principles of art and design to clothing to make it both functional and aesthetically pleasing.  Most artists that want to work in the fashion industry will go to school and study for a Bachelor in Fine Arts Degree in Fashion Design.  If you have ever watched earlier seasons of Project Runway, a reality show where contestants compete each week in fashion based challenges, you will know that seasons 1-13 were shot at Parsons School of Design which is one of the top art and design schools in the world.  On Project Runway, designers are often given a challenge to create clothing using unconventional materials.  Over the years, designers have created clothing out of sombrero hats, newspaper, silk flowers, bird seed, and garbage bags.  Designers visited a candy store and created clothes out of wrappers and the candy itself and struggled with creating something to wear with vegetables after visiting the farmers market.  This was always one of the most fun episodes to watch but one of the most difficult for the designers.

You may have also heard of the Duct Tape prom challenge, Stuck at the Prom sponsored every year by Duck Tape. Every year, Duck Tape gives away $20,000 in scholarships to high school students who create the best prom attire, completely out of Duck Tape.  A quick google search will yield thousands of images of high schoolers in their best duct tape gowns and tuxes.   

Sylvie Facon is a French designer who creates beautiful ball gown out of materials like books and musical instruments.  You can see some of her work here.

Today's challenge is to make an item of clothing out of a non-traditional material.  Use what you can find in your house - look through your recycle bin for things like bottle caps, plastic, catalogs, envelopes and other discarded items.  Use your imagination to come up with an outfit, but don't worry!  You don't need to be able to wear it. You can make an outfit for a doll or a stuffed animal or an action figure.  It doesn't have to be human sized! 

Have fun!  I can't wait to see what kind of haute couture you create!

Monday, May 18, 2020

Day 35

Have you ever been to Tiger World in Rockwell?  If you haven't, I highly recommend a visit!  It opened back up this past weekend.Tiger World is an endangered wildlife non-profit zoo that focuses on education, conservation and preservation.  The last time that I was there, which has been a few years now, they had a liger named Wayne, so I am not sure if he is still there.  A liger is a cross between a male lion and a female tiger which are the same species but a different genus.  In the wild, lions and tigers don't live anywhere near each other so ligers are definitely always bred in captivity.  Ligers are the largest of all the existing 'big cats' today, ranging between 9.5-11 feet.  Wayne weighed in at 800 lbs.  Tigons are a cross between a male tiger and female lion.  Like a mule, which is a cross between a female horse and a male donkey (same species, different genus), ligers and tigons are sterile and cannot breed.  A lot of people question the ethics of creating tigons and ligers that would never be created in the wild because they are often born with health problems, the animals are prone to gigantism and the mother often has to have surgical intervention to give birth because of the cub's enormous size.  You can read a little bit more about the ligers and the ethics of breeding hybrid animals here and here.

Today's challenge is to create a wacky animal hybrid.  We don't need to worry the ethics of creating these animals because today, we are just using our imagination.  If you head over to google and search 'Animal Hybrids' in images, you'll get a page full of wacky animal hybrid ideas that could never exist in reality.  A horse with a duck face, a guinea pig lion, a dolphin kangaroo - there are a ton of them.  The image below comes up on your first search.

If you are having trouble coming up with and idea you can visit hybrid creature generators here or here.  The first link gives you ideas like a lab accident resulting in a strange cross between and rabbit and a lion.  The second link gives you pictures and even names them.  What do you think a Mooyote is?  Draw your hybrid, give it a name, take a pic and share in google classrooms. Have fun, but remember, no lab experiments!

Friday, May 15, 2020

Day 34

In art school, many, many years ago, one of my favorite classes was Typography.  Typography is the art of arranging letters or type to make them attractive and interesting. Back when I was in school there weren't nearly as many font choices as there are now.  Most of you have written a document and played around with the fonts, changing the way that they look, finding your favorite, adding others for emphasis or just because you liked the way that it looks.  Creating a new and original font or typestyle can be very lucrative for a graphic artist, particularly nowadays when it seems that there just isn't much room for a new font.

Before we start, let's look at the different parts of a letter:

  • Baseline: the invisible bottom line on which characters sit.  
  • Meanline: the middle line that is at the top of most lowercase letters such as “o,” “p” and “r.” It is also at the curve of letters like “h.”  
  • Cap Height: the distance from the baseline to the top of uppercase letters like “B” and “H.”  
  • Ascender: The part of a character that extends above the meanline.  
  • Descender: The part of a character that extends below the baseline, such as the bottom stroke of a “g.”  
  • Stem: The stem is often the main “body” of a letter. The vertical line of a “B” and the primary diagonal line of a “V”.  
  • Bar or Arm: Bars are horizontal or diagonal lines of a letter, also known as arms, and are open on at least one side. “E” or “T” 
  • Bowl:The fully closed, rounded part of a letter. Letters A, B, D, O, P, Q, R, a, b, d, e, g, o, p, and q all have a bowl.  

Here's a good example of the anatomy of letters.

There are also different styles of letters.  You are familiar with bold and italic and probably use them often.  You are also probably familiar with other styles as well, but you more than likely haven't given them much thought because you didn't know their names.  

Letters are generally divided into two separate groups: Serif and Sans Serif.  

Letters that are in the serif group have an extra decorative line at the ends of a character.  Examples of serif fonts are Times New Roman and Georgia.  

Letters in the sans serif group do not have that extra little decorative line.  Sans is a preposition that means 'without' so sans serif means 'without serif'.  Examples of sans serif fonts are Verdana, which I type this blog in every day and Helvetica.  

Next, we have cases.  There is UPPER CASE, lower case and miXeD cAsE.  

Finally, there are four different styles of lettering.  
  • Roman Style in which letters have thick and thin parts.  It is usually a serif font.  
Roman Style Fonts
  • Script style in which the letters are connected, as in cursive handwriting.  These fonts can be serif or sans serif and are often used for invitations or for elegant, formal occasions.
Script Style Fonts
  • Poster Style fonts which are usually bold and easy to read.  These fonts are often used in advertising, packaging and print media.  They are generally one thickness but can be serif or sans serif.
Poster Style Fonts

  • Trademark and Creative fonts.  Trademark fonts are usually created for specific company logos and are generally easily recognized and associated with that particular product.  Creative fonts are the fun fonts.  They are usually unique and have a theme and are highly decorative.  
Trademark Fonts

Creative Fonts
The challenge for today is to design a new font.  Decide which group you want it to be in: serif or sans serif.  Then, decide if you want it to be Roman style, Script Style or Creative.  Draw at least one capital letter, one lower case letter and one number for your new font.  Take pictures and upload to google classrooms.  By the way, don't forget to look for the treat that I left for you today in google classrooms.  You will need a printer, but I hope you enjoy it.

Oh, and I hate to be a buzzkill, but when you get to high school and beyond, it's Times New Roman, 12pt. all the way.  Trust me, you will thank me later on and your teachers and professors will love you for it.