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

Friday, March 2, 2018

In Like a Lion...

March has come roaring in like a lion.  As we work in the art room at AMS, the wind is whipping around the back fields and I would not be surprised to see a house, a cow or a mean old lady on a bicycle flying through the air or between the goal posts.  It’s hard to believe that we sent home progress reports this week, marking the halfway point of third quarter.  It will be spring break before we know it and then, that long stretch until summer time will be upon us.

Every year, at mid-year, I get a new bunch of students.  I enjoy working on a semester rotation although there are always students that I wish that I could keep all year long.  The point of exploratory classes in middle school is to explore their options, so I have to let them come and go.  I usually intend to do the same projects first and second semester but that is rarely the case.  For whatever reason, last semester was rough and I didn’t enjoy very much of what we did.  This semester, I feel like starting over fresh and new.  

I usually start with line and color and move pretty quickly, particularly with my students in 7th and 8th grade.  They all should be able to remember these simple concepts, so we review and do one project that kind of does a once-over on the elements of art that they have studied previously.  This semester, I chose a simple, non-objective project based on the work of Ukranian/French artist Sonia Delaunay.  It’s fairly easy and I am able to set my expectations for craftsmanship pretty straightforwardly with this project.  It requires patience and perseverance, but there really isn’t anything much to it other than measuring correctly, following the color patterns and being neat and not ‘scribble-scabblely’ with their coloring.  Once we get the lines and circles drawn out, we can spend class time coloring and listening to music.  It’s pretty relaxing and the end product turns out pretty nicely.

Here's a few examples:

We are currently doing an artist research project and I have been shocked and surprised by how excited my students have been to work on it.  Usually, when I bring up the prospect of doing any kind of research, I can practically hear their eyes rolling in the back of their heads.  This time, I made a couple of examples of the finished product and stuck them up on the whiteboard in front of my class.  Several students, in each of my classes asked,  “Do we get to do this?” more than once.  It’s cute, it’s fun and I knew I had them with it.  I’m not gonna lie and say that I came up with the idea on my own.  On one of the several art teacher facebook groups I am a part of, someone posted a similar project where they had their students do a ‘hero’ in a similar fashion.  I just took the concept a little bit further, put some other ideas together that I found on Pinterest and created my own templates that worked for my project idea. One of my most difficult classes was the first class that I taught the lesson to, and I was being observed by folks from county office that day to make matters worse.  Somehow, the luck of the gods was on my side and the entire class was engaged, having meaningful discussions about the project and doing what they were supposed to do.  We are still working on them, but here’s a sneak preview of my examples.  I enjoyed it so much, I made four.  I know, right?  When my students finish theirs, I’ll do another post so you can see them.  They really are so excited about them.  It's so much fun listening to them talk about and discover information about artists for the first time. I love hearing their thoughts-everything old is new again. Also, I remember why I took French in middle school. They have no idea how to pronounce some of their's funny and I am sorry Mary Cassatt and Jean-Michel Basquiat.

Bob Ross, my only Funko Pop! artist character has become our classroom mascot!

Students can choose to do the project in 3D.

Or they can do the project in 2D, like Vincent, shown here.

My examples, Frida, Pablo and Jean-Michel are done in 3d.  Students trace the Funko Pop! outline onto card stock using our light table, color, cut it out and attach it with paper springs.

Pablo is also in 3D.  

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