Thursday, September 27, 2007

Creativity is in Everyone

My sister and I grew up like night and day. My sister would stay in her room reading Beverly Cleary books or writing these wonderful stories on her non-electric typewriter. You would hear the steady tapping of each key as her stories grew. Me, I spent countless hours riding my bike, counting with pride each new scar I would gain from another mishap, and playing the in the dirt trenches of the addition going on our home.

As we grew up, my sister gained her Bachelors and Masters in History. She took an internship with House researching Bills and later began working in the Senate. Currently she is a Fiscal Officer for the Senate. I can't imagine what it is like to work in the Capital each day. As I grew up, I found a love of the arts, gained my Bachelors and Masters in Art Education, and obviously became an art teacher.

I had always thought of myself as the artsy freespirit and my sister as the total opposite. It wasn't until my sister found scrapbooking, that I found the other side of my sister. Her talents in teaching scrap classes in her spare time and a growing interest in design made me realize that there is a little artist in all of us.

If you are not familar with scrapbooking or think of it as simply cutting and pasting paper and pictures together, you couldn't be farther from the truth. Scrapbooking has become an artform. Altering of found objects, transforming pictures and words into works of art is what it is all about.

My sister's love grew into a love of design. Last year she began a design company called Dude Designs where she designs lines of scrapbook paper. Her paper is now an internationl success. Her understanding of Photoshop and strong sense of design and color have played an important part in her new second career.

My sister has taught me to truly appreciate every student who takes my classes. Some kids think that they have to be known as being artsy to be in my classes, but what I have found is that students who are "mathy", "sportsy", "sciency" (if those were even words) have an artsy side waiting to be brought out and when it out!

Homecoming Week

Today, school was a lot of fun! The students are extremely excited as this week is Homecoming. If you never had the opportunity to attend a smaller school, then you have truly never experienced a homecoming at its finest. Throughout the week, each day is a dress-up day and almost everyone participates. Today was character day. Roaming through my room came pirates, rockstars, clowns, a blueman group member, sitcom favorites, and even a guy riding a turkey! I love these days. The kids are so happy. They have so much fun just being kids!

Friday brings class spirit day and powder puff football in the evening. Powderpuff is something I had never heard of until I came to this school. The girls in each class play flag football at the field. Apparently this is huge and always has been. All I know is the girls are already "trash talking" each other. It is a cute banter as they are all such good friends. Saturday leads to the afternoon football game and the dance in the evening. This year's theme is Under the Sea. The art club students have been helping with the decorations. I promise there will be fun fish everywhere. As for tomorrow I will be wearing each class color with pride...that way everyone is happy!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Latest Assignments

Photography- Portrait Assignments are due in Powerpoint Presentations on Thursday and Friday. New Assignment "A Picture is worth a Thousand Words" or in this case just one. Don't lose your word sheet. Take several pictures and present your strongest image!
Exp Art- Wednesday we begin gridded portraits
Art 1 4th hr- continue working self portraits, due Friday
Adv Art- Working on Homecoming this week
Art 1 6th hr- Grid portraits begin on Thursday
Drawing- Music and Art due on Friday

Monday, September 24, 2007

Drawing with a Grid

Each class is beginning new assignments this week. Art 1 is starting self-portraits. We are going to learn how to grid. I know that a lot of teachers hate the grid style of art, but to me, I think that it can be amazing to student self-esteem. When I was in high school, I never learned how to grid out a piece of art. We did grid activities with premade art that you filled in from a copy, but never really used the grid on its own. My teacher taught us face position and shapes, but I don't remember using grids to every help with drawing the face. I know that eventually I learned how to draw, but I ended up so frustrated at how my pictures would end up...never quite looking exactly the way I wanted them to look. All of the faces that I drew, ended up looking alike. Talk about frustrating!
When I started teaching, I looked at different ways to make my students feel successful when drawing. The grid really helps. It lets students look at a picture piece by piece rather than trying to figure out the whole thing at once. Sometimes that is just overwhelming. Some teachers claim that it doesn't teach kids how to draw and they become too dependant on it. Me, I think it gives them the courage to break away once they get the feel for faces and proportions. Do I teach the traditional drawing of faces...sure...but I don't force it on them.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Art In Progress

My Advanced Art students are a great group of students. They are the students who have taken every art class possible, some twice and now have entered into Adv Art. Before I came to PHS I believe that this class was considered an open studio class. The students worked when they wanted...visited when they wanted. Last year as I worked with them, I found they had a lot of great ideas and a lot of potential, but had no sense of time well spent or wasted in class. They were not completing an amount of worked suitable for a semester of a year. Now we are in our second year together and things are turning around. They are coping with and have even come to accept due dates for assignments! I have found that they each bring something special to the class and it shows in their work. Above is a small taste of works in progress.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

So this blogging thing is pretty addictive

So blogging, who knew I would ever start. My sister used to blog all the time and still does. I always admired her for it. I loved getting on line and reading about my nephews everyday life. The boys live a few hundred miles away, yet I could still find out what happened at school that I was there with them.

I thought blogging looked like the hardest thing in the world to do. I didn't know a thing about it and didn't want to! Then one day in teacher inservice, Ms. Hill, our librarian, spoke to us about new technology. We discussed the idea that here are all of us...old dull teachers...not knowing a darn thing about things like my space and the likes...things are students spend hours on, everyday single day. The idea is that we should adapt to our students rather than our students conforming to us. You have to admit, times have changed! I remember the day they put the card catalog on computer at Eastern and no one could find a darn thing...but guess what, we adapted and we learned. Now I am not sure that I could look up a book in the files.

I don't think that that any of us simply don't like change. I think it is that change scares us. I am an art teacher who deals in color everyday, but deciding what color to paint my bathroom scares me. I don't want to make a mistake and I don't want to look like I don't know what I am doing!

So to adapt to my students has been quite challenging. Challenging...but successful. I must say that blogging isn't hard, it was simply putting aside my fears and trying something new. The students love to see there art online and knowing how things are going in our room. And we as teachers one by one are moving out of our little shells. I love to get on our high school website and see each new teacher who puts up a blog. Even a few teachers that might suprise you...teachers who are adapting!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

new picts from drawing class

These are some wonderful pictures from drawing class. They are done in oil pastel!

Monday, September 17, 2007

So, how do you grade art?

Grading art is not like grading any other subject. It is probably one of the most difficult parts of my job. The first thing I do is give very structured guidelines for an assignment. That is the foundation for the grade. If you follow the directions and work to the best of YOUR ability, that is all I can ask for in class.
Contrary to what a lot of students think, we as art teachers, don't line up student work and give the "really good" projects the "A's", next in line the "B", etc. Rather art is something that is graded not by talented but rather by trying. If you work and you work hard, fulfilling all of the required aspects of the assignment, then you will do great! On our grade rubric for each assignment, there is always a spot that asks if the student has spent time wisely, etc. That counts just as much point wise as parts of the technical assignment.
A lot of students are afraid to take art because they don't feel that they are "good" enough for the class. In my eyes, those students are some of the best I get. They are ready to learn and try new things. So when you think about taking art or taking an art class that isn't in your comfort level, go for it! If you work hard, you will do great!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007


Shading is probably one of the hardest things to learn in art. To some it comes naturally and amazing depth and strength develops in their work. To others it is an impossible task which seems tedious and gives little reward in the end. My Art I students are struggling with shading. It is difficult for them to work from an elementary perspective of cartoon-like images into a world full of depth and illusion. I am not sure how I can better explain to them that it takes time and practice to "see" an image in black and white and grays. When this happens, the magic of art begins and opens a whole new page in drawing.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Shattered Images

Art I recently completed a project entitled shattered images. The point of this project was to introduce shading in an interesting way. As you look at these pieces, there is a subject drawing hidden in the shading...can you find it?

Note to Photo Class

Just a reminder about cameras at school. Make sure that you only have your cameras out for 2nd hour. Please keep them locked up the rest of the time or if you do have them out for a photo shot, please ask the teacher's permission first.

New assignment is "ourtown" Be thinking of images that reflect your life or thoughts about our town.