Sunday, August 25, 2013

Art Teachers should not buy posters

The art room is a place that can be transformed into a communal space of handmade creativity. Students can see the visual personality of the teacher. The teacher can advocate for the culture of the students to be visible to the school. Displaying commercially made posters negates the learning outcome found within the power of hand work. Individuality, time investment, care to detail, and consideration of the people viewing it. Displaying store bought posters sends a message that art is bought in a store.  I am inspired by Waldorf education techniques to provoke wonder and curiosity. 

The following are details from the "Today I will be" wheel as requested by friends and followers. 

I wanted to make a color wheel like the students have never seen. Before, it was just a poster, which I bet most of them ignored or do not remember.  I've since added labels underneath the Primary and Secondary colors. 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Planning a curriculum

On a bright note...
I saved a few of those left-over boxes from unpacking for future sculpture displays! 

It has been bright outside as well. Though I have been inside, planning the art curriculum for the past two weeks...

...And this is what my curriculum planning looks like. I used rail board, separated it into months of the school year, and wrote my lessons on post-it notes so that I could move them around as I planned. I am sure I'll keep moving them around during the year as I get to know my students. The grade is color coded, on the top left, the Unit Theme is in CAPS in the top middle, and the basic points I want to cover as well as the medium I plan to use are written underneath. 
The paper underneath is a similar format, however it covers the basic core curriculum of the Elementary school, which fueled many of my ideas for the Art Curriculum!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Today I will be...

Pinterest. My favorite way to begin a brainstorm session. And to spend some down time. During commercials. And lunch breaks.

I came across this post when searching for art room decor, and I knew it would be a future project.  Here is my interpretation. 
I do not have a Dremel, which is what the original post called for. I used a rotary blade for the center and the dividing lines.  I chose adjectives that were interesting, that might start a conversation, and some that were just plain fun. 
ZEN:  Where you go to find peace in chaos. 

Of course, I painted each space with love and care. I want my children to be as captivated as I was. 

I used a 22" lazy Susan, which I bought for 15 bucks on Amazon. 

Labeling supplies

Am I an office supply addict? I love the look of supplies, arranged nicely together. Not just office supplies, of course. Walking into Dick Blick feels like a candy land. Those of you who feel the way I do...Are you ready for this? 
My small construction paper, drawing paper and copy paper fit nicely in an upper cupboard.

Boxes and boxes and bags of yarn. In cupboards in my office/kiln area, I arranged them by color. The extra yard was stored in the shallow lids of supply boxes, labeled, and stored in the adjacent shelving. 

Crayons were scattered EVERYWHERE throughout the room. As soon as I thought I was done finding them, I'd find more. I have two giant boxes filled with assorted crayons that I have an idea for as a display, which you'll see later. 

Top: Unopened oil pastels    Bottom: Chalk Pastels
Remember the oil pastels I organized in the last post? Here they are, ready to be passed out. 
This cupboard smells SO GOOD. Gotta love Mr. Sketch. The bottom shelf holds colored pastels and sharpies. The white Model Magic tubs are excellent for storage!
My scrap box: Large enough to hold two supply boxes, which I labeled for warm and cool colors. Great practice for the little ones. 

I am aware than throughout the school year, my arrangement might change. So I made labels that were able to change as well. I had collected from a frame shop (They call them "fall outs", the insides of mat openings once cut. Many frame shops don not save mat board thinner than 11".  

I cut the mat board to 9x12" and 4X6", and painted about 4 coats of chalkboard paint on the front. I originally was going to by the spray, as I've used it before and it is fast and easy. The ACE representative insisted on the paint, saying it is more durable. I bought it because of this, and because it would have taken me at least 3 spray cans @ $8 each rather than one can at @ $11.  Worth it.  

It is important to paint one coat on the back of the mat board, so that it does not warp when dried. The labels turned out absolutely beautiful. 

Art Room Organization

Some people think artists are disorganized. 

Artists make it their business to be organized...whether or not it is visually evident. We've got to promote ourselves. We need our supplies and do not want to waste time looking for them. Those countless hours are meant to be spent creating. 

Art Educators facilitate an order-in-chaos environment. If there is not a buzz of excitement, something is wrong. I plan to keep my mind clear by being on top of my room, making sure it is clutter free.  

A cluttered space is a cluttered mind. 

To keep myself from feeling like this during my first year of teaching, I spent countless hours organizing my space. My room is a dream--so many cupboards. The problem is, all of them were packed with supplies from a 30 year career of a (lovely) teacher who has just retired. In order to take account of my inventory, ensure easier prep time, and clear my head, I had to take it all out and rearrange it. 

180 Degree View of the space I have inherited, as it was the first day I received the keys.
My husband was a huge help

The construction paper was stacked in numerous cupboards, mixed up and piled on through the years. The best thing I could do for myself was take it all out and sort it by color. 

This was around hour #2 of organizing by color (that face cracks me up!) What you do not see is the giant stack of paper in his arms. 
7 cupboards filled, each coordinated by color. Success.
The best thing I can do for my room is to keep similar supplies together in the same area. So I moved on to each cupboard this way. 
The inks were arranged in shallow bins, so that they were lying flat and kept from leaking. 
Oil pastels come in an assorted pack. The problem is, after they've been used, some of the packs are missing essential colors. I decided to arrange them by color so that I have at least 6 boxes of each--since I have six large tables. 
And then there were books. Boxes and Boxes of books. Jackie was smart to save anything the library discarded. I have so many resource books and "how-to" books it is crazy. Some are from the sixties and seventies. Until I determine they are obsolete, I am saving them. 
--Sigh--the tables are clear again. After a week or so of arranging, I finally left feeling put together. 
And then, this is what happened on Monday. 

Friday, August 2, 2013

Recycled watercolors

The torch has been passed. I am incredibly blessed to be Saucon Valley Elementary's new art teacher, after the beloved Jackie Roumeliotis's retirement. 

WOW--the classroom is packed with supplies.  I have spent all of July reorganizing the room, which is packed from floor to ceiling with supplies *more on this to come*. I have found things from the 50's on--dating back to a schoolroom that no longer exists to an art teacher preceding Jackie.

There are at least three full cases (I'm taking 200 +) of those old watercolor sets---you know the kind---we've all grown up with them.

 As a professional artist, those cakes make me cringe. I never knew the capability of watercolor's saturated beauty until I began painting with the artist quality tubes later in life. 
Don't get me wrong---for Elementary art, the watercolor sets work very well. Each student is responsible for his or her own set--all in a neat little line. Great to pass out, easy to clean. 

But...How can I recycle my old watercolor sets?

Easy answer. Watercolors are, obviously, water soluble. I make my own liquid watercolors. All it takes is a little time, patience, and some large containers with water. Liquid watercolors are fantastic for younger students, they waste very little if you provide small amounts at a time, and the color is vivid as stained glass.   
I bought plastic bins from the Dollar Store to soak the dried cakes. It took a few hours--and I have a case or so to go still. I plan to store them in jars I've collected over many a pasta dinner (photos of these in the art room to come). I have 8 squeeze bottles, which you can find at either a restaurant supply store or Dick Blick Art Materials to distribute the liquid watercolor once complete. 
I had two other containers of water---one to brush off the mucky old dried paint that did not belong (like green paint in the yellow) to keep the colors as clean as possible. 
I soaked the plastic containers in another bucket to clean. I plan to use these in a future lesson plan. They're great little storage boxes--what a waste to throw them away.
It was a lovely, cool summer evening. Some good music, a comfy pillow and optimism for the coming year has brought me to a successful night. I am looking forward to testing these, displaying them on a sunny shelf, and posting more about it later. 

*** UPDATE ***   After having the liquid watercolors in my room for a quarter of the year--- I've got to say...they STINK!  Literally. Smells like sulfur.  Probably because these watercolor cakes were pretty darn old.  The only color that did not reek was black--which I kept because it will work wonderfully for sumi ink painting.