Wednesday, December 19, 2012

How to be Polite- Power Words

Reminder! Being polite never goes out of style.

Most of my students are well mannered and very polite.  But it doesn't hurt to have a reminder every now and then. This is my Power Words posters to remind students how we should talk to each other.

How do you remind students that manners are important? Would something like this work in your class room? I'd like to hear from you.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Chinese Dragons- Oil Pastel and Watercolors

This is an example of an oil pastel and water color wash project that I do based on dragons. This lesson integrates with our 6th grade curriculum.

A comparison

I start off this lesson by comparing western dragons (symbols of warlike evil) to Eastern dragons (symbols of good fortune.) Here is my Prezi presentation that I show my students.

Symbol of Good Fortune

Next we talk more specifically about the Chinese dragon and its deep roots in the Chinese cultures. 

I discuss how the dragon is symbolic of the Emperor's imperial power and strength. I also get into how the Chinese peoples believe that the dragon is able to overcome obstacles until he brings success. The dragon is also viewed as benevolent giver of blessings and will bring rain to their crops. 

At the end of the discussion it is also fun to have the students guess the 9 animals that make up the Chinese dragon. The dragon is a combination of a- deer, camel, snake, hawk, tiger, cow, frog, carp and rabbit.

I let the students create their own dragon using  a combination of body parts from four animals of their choice.The students also have to add at least two textures to the dragon. Lastly, they must have a cool/warm background painted with the water colors. Adding the pearl is there choice, it's not required. A lot of students do add it though. Also, some students like to name their dragons combining the names of the 4 animals they chose. They come up with some very funny sounding names.

Extra Credit

I try to have extra credit options to the projects I do. There are always students who like to go above and beyond what is required. Here's how it's available with this project:

The students can combine more than 4 different animal body parts. Some will make their dragons out of 5 or more combinations of animals. 

They can also add more than two textures to the dragon.

What do you think about this project? Would it work in your art class? Let me know, I'd love to hear.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Reminder! Sign Your Work

It's not something I can always catch before it's too late. But it happens all the time. And it can turn into a problem.

Have you guessed? 

It's students who forget to sign their art work! Maybe this will help. :) It's now hanging above the "Finished Work" folders.

Hopefully, this will solve the problem!

Do you have a way to remind students to sign their art work? I would love to hear about it.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Pop Art Paintings- With a Twist

Comparing and Contrasting Art

 A State Art Standard

One aspect of our state art standards requires that we  compare and contrast art styles. Yikes! How do I handle that?  

Well, here's what I came up with. This is one way I approach that standard. 

A New Twist

After watching a short video about Pop Art and a discussion on Roy Lichtenstein; I let the students choose an old master which they will eventually recreate as Pop Art. After some research, the kids should find the Old Master painting they want to recreate. They then must isolate, and enlarge a section of it  and draw that section in pencil. 

They then begin re-interpreting it  with 'Pop Art' style- using bold, flat primary/secondary colors, thick black line and the Ben-day dots. 

Tempera paint and black Sharpies work well with this project.

Here are a few samples of finished re-interpreted 'Pop Art' paintings.


I'd love to know what you think about this project.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

More Self Portraits

Here are some black and white self portraits that a group of 8th grade students drew.

Albrecht Durer's self portrait, that he made when he was 13 years old, was our inspiration.

We practiced working out the proportions of the face first. Next, on a separate piece of paper we practiced a gradation scale of shading with our sketch pencils. 

When the students were comfortable with drawing different grades of shading, they were ready to start shading in their self portraits.

What do you think about these? How do you have your class make portraits? Would they work in your art room?

Friday, November 30, 2012

Sub Binders- Helping Things Run Smoothly

Routine Ready

A while back I wrote about one of the forms I use in my substitute binder. Well, here are a couple of other forms I use. They contain information about routines, procedure and where things can be found in the art room.  It's all about making things run smoothly if I ever have to be out of the classroom.

Take a look! They may help when you're coming up with your own substitute binder.

Let me know what you think! Would something like this be helpful in your art room?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Simple Way to Get Feedback on What You Do

Back in August I wrote a post about communicating with students. I got the idea about communication after listening to  key note speaker was Joel Manby, President and CEO of Hershend Family Entertainment and author of the book Love Works: Seven Principles for Effective Leaders.

A Take-away

Well, there was another take-away I got from listening to him speak at that conference. It was about letting the people you lead evaluate  and give feedback on how they think things are working under your leadership. I already have an art class evaluation/feedback form that I use in my class. But I wanted to try Mr. Manby's method  because it seemed like a very simple idea. And I am all about simple. And I'm all about getting feedback on what I do. How else can I become a better teacher?

 3 Questions

When Mr. Manby wants to get feedback from his employees about how they feel his organization is working, he asks 3 simple question- What do you want to see 'more of,  less of and the same of.'

I thought I'd try incorporating this into my art room this year. I'll still keep my old art class evaluation/feedback form on standby, but I'm trying this method this year and see how it goes. It seems like a good way to get a gauge of what  the students feel about what goes on in the  art room.

Here is what I've come up with-

Here is the link to the PDF of this form.
Feel free to print it out!

What do you think of this type of class feedback form? Would this work in your art room? You can leave a comment

Friday, November 23, 2012

Pastel Self Portraits- Who Am I?

The Essential Question

Who am I ?  That is the first question I ask when starting this lesson on pastel portraits.

This is a great question to ask middle school students. As they're growing into adulthood, they're in the process of dealing with issues such as: 'Who am I?', 'Who do I want to be?' and 'What's important to me?' all the time. 

For this lesson I introduce various self portraits/portraits  that contain symbolism that reflect the subject of the painting. Self portraits by Frida Kahlo and Vincent Van Gogh; portraits made by Jacques Louis David and Warhol all contain symbolic clues that reflect who's actually in the painting.

The symbolism could be: something they're wearing, something in their hand, or how they hold their hands or something in the back ground. All of which that can be the focus of  discussions with the class before the project is started.

The Steps We Take

These self portraits are all made with oil crayons. We start with a rough draft first, while we review all the proportions of the face. Then, we  practice blending colors with the oil crayons. Lastly, we create our self portrait, cut it out and glue to the background paper.  We then draw our symbols which are cut out and glued on to the background.

What do you think about making self portraits with your students? Would this work in your art class? Let me know.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

What's Your Symbol? Grant Woods in the Art Class

Yea, I know, you've probably seen it hundreds of times, it's an American icon. But do you know what it's really about?

Also, did you know that using Grant Woods' American Gothic is a great way to bring an American artist and American history into an art lesson.

I start off by asking my students- What they think was going on with going on in American in the years of the 1920s?

Which they usually guess- WW I and the Great Depression.

I then ask the students- How would these two events have effected our country?  How do they think people were feeling after such tremendous emotional upheavals as a great war, financial and employment problems? Their answers are usually- fear, anxiety, depression and uncertainty.

Which leads me to discuss with a Prezi how Woods' American Gothic helped to raise the spirits of Americans when we were going through a time of great turmoil. Inside Woods' painting were  the symbols (faith, family and hard work) of the qualities that made America great. They reminded Americans that these qualities (if held on to) could carry our 
country through the hard times it was going through.

After watching the Prezi and discussing the symbolism of the painting, students are asked to think about what 4 symbols they would use to reflect their qualities and make them special. They then create their own "American Gothic" with a 'farmhouse' (any style house, I once had a pineapple house)  and two figures. Their 4 symbols must some how be included in their picture. 

What do you think about this art lesson? Would this work in your art room? Let me know below in the comments.

Friday, November 2, 2012

8 Simple Graphic Design Techniques

Did you ever buy a whole gallon of Oreo cookie ice cream that you really didn't need?  When you get home you asked yourself this question? Why did I just buy that?

I have. What was I thinking?!

It may be because the designer who created the advertisement in the magazine you just read, knows the right way to grab your attention with a gallon of Oreo Cookie ice cream. And you   run right out and buy a gallon. Ugh!

Using cropping, positive/negative, location and color

One lessons that is informative and gets students to really think about what they see in advertisements is to teach graphic design techniques.

I start out showing them examples of how the different design techniques (positive/negative, overlapping, cropping, texture, touching, scale, intersecting forms, color) are used in magazine advertisements. They have great fun seeing and guessing which advertisement uses which technique.

Positive/Negative, Cropping, Touch and Overlapping

After we review all the techniques they decide on a motif or symbol. They choose six of the techniques (and one motif/symbol) to work on for their rough draft. 

A work in progress- using positive/negative, color, cropping and texture

For the final, after they measure out their border and four frames, they choose their top four techniques. All frames are colored in with markers. The broad tip markers work best for coloring these.

A final copy above- using touch, scale, positive/negative, texture

Another final copy above- using positive negative, overlapping, color, scale.

What do you think about this lesson?  How do you teach graphic design?  What works for you? Let me know!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Illuminated Letters- A History and Art Collaboration

An example of the Interlace style of illumination

A Great Collaboration

I love having the students create Illuminated Letters because it incorporates history and art. A great collaboration! I also get to show them examples of some beautifully illuminated old books. My favorite!

As an introduction, the students  watch a  Prezi that has background information on different Illuminated Manuscripts and how they were made. They also see examples of Illuminated Letters (some old, some new). The presentation breaks down the Illuminated letters into three types of styles. 

3 Styles of Illumination

The following are the three styles of Illumination that I introduce the kids to.

1. Interlace Style- using vines, flowers, thorns and leaves to embellish your letter.

2. Figurative Style- animals or people are incorporated into the letter. The letters below have incorporated people into them, but the can also use their favorite animals.

3. Historical Style- having an historical event or scene designed into or around the letter.

A NASA themed illuminated letter in historical style 

The students get to choose the style they want to use. Later on, after they've finished, they have to explain with an 'Artist Statement' how their letter has incorporated that style.

There are so many ways to make Illuminated Letters, either 3D or 2D. I've shown you some examples of using oil pastels and water color and some that are drawn in colored pencil. You probably can think of other ways to create them using different medium.


   Example of Figurative style of illumination

Here's the link to the Prezi I show my class when we start working on this lesson. 

             How do you teach Illuminated Letters? Would this work in your classroom? I'd love to know.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

My Objective

I've been thinking... ( I know, that can be dangerous at times.)

I spend many hours every week teaching, preparing to teach and assessing what I have taught. Why do I do it?

Well,  after all this thought, I've decided!

Here's my objective.

I'm not teaching art to my students; I'm teaching my students to think like an artist.

What do you think? Do you have an objective as a teacher?

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Below The Surface- Art and Science Connection

Here's a fun and educational art project that connects with science- There's more happening below the surface, then what we see.

Let the students explore what goes on underground or under the sea. They'll be amazed that there's a whole world of activity that we never see.

The student can pick an mammal, insect, reptile or fish.  Make a horizon line in the middle of the paper. Then they can create the animal's world above and their habitat below.

Or here's a different take- the arctic landscape below and the aurora borealis above.

I also have the students work with blending analogous colors with this project too.

 What do you think about this art project? Let me know!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Art Objectives- Sticky Note Them!

The objectives the students have to meet are always displayed in sentence form by the Elmo on the front white board. But there is another way of displaying the project objectives.

Read on if you want to find out more.

Sticky notes objectives on a graphic design project

Samples of art projects we're working on are always displayed on the class board. (A lot of students leave their projects behind. Yeah, for me! I always have extra samples around.) One good reason for displaying a sample is for motivation. I figure, if the students see another student who has done a great job, maybe it will get them thinking, they can too!

A sneaky teacher trick.  Some things can be very contagious in middle school. Why not  motivation and self belief?

"Hey, If fill in the blank can do it, so can I." 

Sticky notes on a 2 point perspective lesson

My other reason for displaying samples is to let the students see (again) what the objectives are that they need to meet. This is where the sticky notes come in.

I place small sticky notes on the sample project to highlight what the objectives are for the project. 

For example, on the bedroom below (there's also one up above)- there are sticky notes that point out a door and window  aligned to the vanishing point. They are both an objective. A bed aligned to the vanishing point, which is also an objective. 

If anyone asks me to go up and look closer at the sample, they're welcome to go up and look.

It's a two for one- a sample project with the objective right there.

So you can see, you can easily point out an objective by putting on a sticky note on a sample.

Sticky notes on a 1 point perspective lesson

The giant whiteboard display of objectives are written out in sentence form.  The sticky note display allows the students to see how someone else achieved the objectives on an actual project, but in a visual way. Not text. And they're seeing it up close and personal.

Would this work for your project objectives? How do you display your objectives?  You can let me know in the comments below!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

How to Critique- Using the Three R's

After your class has completed an art project you may want to hold an oral critique. It's a great way to talk about art. It helps students to learn how to develop and defend opinions. It also helps students to form judgements about art.

Here's a guide you can follow when you have an oral critique. It’s the Three R’s-

First review what the objectives of the project are.  Ask the students questions about their artwork to determine if they met the objectives.  You can also ask questions around their own personal objectives concerning the artwork.

Next you should richly praise the aspects of the particular artwork that are well done and meet or exceeded the objectives.  Be specific; avoid vague generalities. Consider explaining why the aspect of the artwork is noteworthy. Encourage students to explain what they see (and why) as effective and praiseworthy about the artwork.

What do you see- What elements and principles are used. How are they used? Are they used effectively? Could they have been used differently?

What you felt- What emotions do you feel when you look at the art work? Can you empathize with the artist? Are you moved to action? Do you experience anger, happiness, sadness or excitement when you look at the artwork? What do you think the artist is intending to say?

After you have demonstrated the Three R's method, let the students take over and have them run the critique.

Will this work in your classroom? If you have a critique format you use, let me know! I'd love to hear about it.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

How to Build a Better Team in Art Class

I graduated from a SEC football college (go Vols!), so every once and a while I like to read about college football. One day I came across an article on how some football teams have a tradition of tapping a sign before they run out onto the field. It's a custom that unites them as a team, inspires them to work together and do their best to reach their goal of winning the game.

Bingo! It gave me an idea. Why can't I have some kind of tradition for my students when they come into the room. A tradition that will remind them that we are a united team working toward our goal- Learning to think and solve problems through the arts.

Therefore- I have a wooden class cow right next to the front door. The students tap him as they walk in the room. I tell the students to tap and think positive. It's a fun way to unite us by tradition at the start of class. The students look forward to seeing and tapping the cow and they know positivity is important in the art room.

The class cow dressed for St. Patrick's Day

What do you think about the class cow? Do you have a  tradition in your classroom?  Let me know if you do!