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

Monday, December 21, 2015

I'll Get a Smile Out of Him Yet


We all have that one kid.  Or maybe more than one.  The one student that is quiet, does his work, never makes a fuss, and almost seems AFRAID to talk to you.  This year in my class, that guy is Ronnie.  He's a sweet 6th grader that sits at a table with 3 other sweet girls, by his choice, and he doesn't interact with them much either.  I try to encourage him daily and often find myself at their table, trying to get a little bit of conversation going but my friend, well he just sits and does his work and only speaks when spoken to.  Ronnie, Dude, I'm trying to help you out here.  In 4 or 5 years, you are going to thank MizzSmiff, trust me. Turns out Ronnie is the same way in PE.  One day at lunch I said to his Coach/Health teacher, "Hey, what's up with Ronnie?  Does he talk much in your class?" and she responded with a hearty, "NO!  What is up with him?" I don't think he is unhappy, or frightened or anything that a good teacher should always be on the lookout for, I just think he is one of those kids.

Our last project before break was the printmaking project that will never end Printmaking. Sometime last year, I got it in my head that I was going to use some of the old printmaking ink that had been lingering in my disaster of a supply closet for the last forever.  I probably saw something on Pinterest that sparked my interest and I did an example and somehow, it got moved to the back of my brain and onto a shelf and I never got to it.  I LOVE printmaking even though that is the one major class that I never took when I was in college.  I have taught myself how to do silk screening and how to make gelli plates and how to do various other methods by reading about them.  Yes, dear readers, I am way older than youtube, but that has been an invaluable resource as well.  Some summer when I don't have a To Do list a mile long, I might just find a class somewhere that I can take.

So, some time in what feels like the last millennium, I introduced the process to my students.  I showed them a couple of videos and gave them a demonstration.  Perhaps because it was so close to the holidays and even though it's hard to believe, I think that they may be getting tired of me, they seemed to pay better attention to the videos.  This got me thinking that I might just video my lessons and send them in via GoogleClassrooms in the future, all the while sitting at my kitchen table in my jammies with a cup of hot cocoa but THAT is another blogpost.

We painted our backgrounds, did a little tutorial on radial symmetry (an idea that I will expand upon with our next and final project of the semester) and got busy with the printing.

But shall I stray from the original topic at hand, our friend Ronnie was the first one that got to the actual printing of his designs.  His little drawing was perfect and printed very clearly.  His background was bright and colorful and came through marvelously through the printed design.  I was excited!  The other kids were excited when they heard how excited I was.  They all gathered around to watch Ronnie print little square after little square.  There were Ooooooooos!  There were Ahhhhhhhhs!  Someone shouted Coooooool!  The atmosphere in the Art Room was positively electric! Everyone was so excited to get to their work because of how awesome Ronnie's work looked.  I was smiling ear to ear, which my friends is not easy as Ronnie's class is my first class of the day.  I was happy for success.  As Ronnie printed, I smiled.  And finally, I said, "Ronnie!  You are doing such a great job!  It looks awesome.  Do you like it?" and my stoic little friend said, "Yes" and kept printing.

Sigh.

I'll get a smile out of him yet.

Here's the process:
We drew a 3" grid on 12 x 18 white construction paper
We painted a wash of colors on the paper using watercolors.  Some students chose to paint in a checkerboard, others were more expressive in their painting. ;)
After learning about mandalas and radial symmetry, we practiced drawing our own mandalas.  We chose 2 that we liked and transferred those designs to 3 x 3 stickie notes.
Everyone got one 5 x 5 styrofoam to-go containers (I got them at Sam's club), which we cut in half and trimmed the edges off.
We stuck our stickie notes on the flat parts of the styrofoam, and trimmed it to size.  Then using a dull colored pencil, we transferred our design onto the styrofoam.  We pulled off the stickie notes, then went over our lines using a ball point pen to define the lines and add detail.
We did a test print, made any changes that were needed and started printing on our paper.  Some students chose to use both 'plates' after their test prints, while others chose to use the one they liked best.
































Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Hundertwasser Murals

I recently did a group project with my classes.  In all my years of teaching, I've never done a group project because I hated them when I was a student. Things were never fair and someone always ended up doing most of the work.

Looking through Pinterest I found several projects by Friedensriech Hundertwasser,  an artist that I was unfamiliar with and I became fascinated with his work.  His work is whimsical, colorful and fun.  Recently, my district has made it easier to show our students YouTube videos and I was able to find several short videos that featured Hundertwasser and the students were able to hear the artist himself speak about his work, via video. 

I knew I wanted to do something with paint because my students were getting tired of pencils, colored pencils and markers.  One of my fellow art teahchers had recently done a project using black glue and I knew I wanted to give that a try as well.  I had a couple of rolls of butcher paper and I thought that murals and a group project might be a nice change.

I allowed students to pick their groups and they got busy.  They sketched out their ideas, making sure that they included all the elements of Hundertwasswer's work in their painting.  
They worked hard, with the black glue being the hardest part.  I think they enjoyed working in teams and while I don't think I'm going to do that again for a while, I would say that the project was successful.  The students are super proud of thier work and it brings a dose of much needed color to the hallways.