These sneakers are one of the last projects that we did in MizzSmiff's art room this year. It was kind of a culmination of several things that we learned this year and I think that most of the kids did a spectacular job. This year, I showed my kiddos tricks that artists use to make their artwork better. While a lot of it was tedious and I thought that they were going to kill me when I made them do value scales over and over, I reminded them that artists never stop practicing their craft just like athletes never stop practicing their sport. I shared a lot of my own experiences when I was in High School and College...learning techniques and doing what my teachers and professors asked me to do (Mr. Tepper, I am looking at you) in order to become a better artist.
Humility is not a trait that comes easily to most middle schoolers who think they know it all. Just sayin'.
I shared a lot of art that friends of mine, artists in their own right, are doing. Harry, you are a God among men. My kids marveled at your pencil portraits and you made teaching them how to draw using a grid for proportion a little easier when I showed them that you still do it that way. Tony, your amazing paintings of contemporary athletes and sports had my kiddos enthralled. They learned that art is a viable career. Tommy, your incredible background paintings opened up a new world to them that they had never considered and they are now looking for your name at the end of some of their favorite cartoons. Rada, I showed them your neo-expressionist paintings and portraits and well, I need to get you in my classroom next year. They want to meet someone who had a dream and has done his life, his way, outside of the box. I showed them work by friends of mine that are architects, interior designers, art directors and photographers. I showed them pottery and textiles by folks that I have met along the way.
I hope that throughout this year, my kiddos have learned that art doesn't have to be just a subject that we have to take in school. Art is a part of our lives that can follow us all the way through. We can appreciate it or we can make art, long after we leave school and it makes our lives better for it. I hope we learned that art has always been a part of society and that we can learn so much about our past by looking at the art that was done at the time. I also learned that I have a lot of amazingly creative friends and for that I am truly blessed.
Tomorrow is the last day of school and as always, I let my kiddos come down to my classroom to collect all their artwork that they have worked on, and I have held on to, all year long. Usually, I'll get one or 2 to come down and pick up their stuff, the rest of it being left to collect dust in my closet because I mostly don't have the heart to throw it away. Today, I had more kids come to get their work than ever before. I hope that says something about them appreciating and valuing what they do. I found an oil pastel still life in the closet-from-Hades done by the oldest brother (who is turning 20 shortly) of one of my sweet 6th graders (she is the last in a long line of her siblings to pass through my classroom) and when she came down to get her work, I gave it to her to give to him. I hope he gets a chuckle out of it.
So, these sneakers. We started out drawing some simple pictures on a grid, just transferring them from one grid to another. I had several pictures for them to try, from flowers to violins and showed them that, by using a little viewfinder (we called it a window) that had a small 1/2" square cut into it, we could block out the big shapes and focus on the small ones. As usual, the whole ruler, measuring and drawing straight lines made me want to jump off a cliff, but once we got past that part, they learned that by isolating the components of a drawing, and focusing on tiny parts we can make a picture that is in scale and has a level of detail and proportion that is correct like nothing we have ever done before. The look on some of their faces when they realized that their shoes 'turned out right' was priceless and made all the "No, that is the cm side of the ruler" and "So, okay, you kind of have to line the ruler up on those little marks you made so the line is straight" comments worth it. Once our sneakers were drawn, we isolated an area for emphasis and colored that in and then did the rest of the shoe and the background in shades of gray.
I think they turned out great. I had to convince quite a few of them to let me save some of them to display in the office over the summer. I promised they could have them in the beginning of next year. Which I am not ready to talk about yet.
Have a great summer, y'all!