Category Archives: Lessons

Under Pressure

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I just had to put that as a title.  However, my students were not under any pressure.  Pressure was the latest theme for my Art 2: Painting/Drawing students.  This was an interesting theme.  The students had some wonderful ideas, but a few just never hit the mark.

I added into the mix printmaking–both collograph and block.  I also addedpainting–watercolors (paints and pencils) and acrylics.  Funny thing was, almost every student chose to use block printing.  I asked them about it after the fact and some said they really liked the carving aspect, but some said they thought they had to do block prints.  I looked at them with a questioning look on my face.  We discussed, again, that they could use any medium they wanted for their work.  Hopefully they get that now.  I am unsure what I said or did for them to get that impression.

I have 6 life skill students in my class.  Most of them chose to do block prints.  I want to highlight Noah’s.  While I am sure that what he did had no ties to pressure, I love this piece.  He has been scribbling since day one and he has developed so much.  I love this piece.

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This next piece is also by a life skills student.  Deven is one of my more advanced LS kids.  He plays football and much of his work is centered on it.  His pressure piece is no exception.

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This piece had so much potential when I talked with this student.  We talked about the pressure from people looking at us and watching us.  I think the execution missed the mark.

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The rest are pieces that are super successful.  These are my favorites from the group.

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You Can Go “Home” Again

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Our third theme in Art 1 this year was “home”. This proved to be a harder theme than anticipated…and one that many thought was uninteresting. I knew some students wouldn’t be able to get past doing a drawing or a painting of their house, no matter how much we discussed different things that “home” could mean.

I challenged them to look beyond the obvious and look into their lives and show me what home meant to them. Many took this challenge. Many succeeded. But, many fell short. However, that doesn’t mean they didn’t learn anything.

A new “station” was opened on this unit. I introduced them to paint. We looked at watercolor pencils and watercolor paints. We also looked at acrylic paints. I could see the sparkle in the eyes of the few that explored the world of acrylics. I watched the frustration. And I saw the perseverance of the few that kept working and working until they were satisfied.

While I am unsure if I will use the theme of “home” again, I am pleased with the results. Here are some of my favorites.

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To see all the artwork, visit The Barnett Blog.

Rice, Panty Hose, and Soft Molds

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Intermediate and Advanced ceramic students are learning a new technique.  They are learning about hump molds, and in particular soft molds created by using a rice-filled panty hose leg.

I found the idea on pinterest and I followed the link to here. I thought this type of mold would be a wonderful addition to our ceramics studio.  They would provide much versatility and would prove to be much more inexpensive than plaster molds.

Today the boys filled the stocking with rice…40 pounds to be exact.  Tomorrow they begin to lay slabs on them.

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Art 2 Work In Progress: Interior/Exterior

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Art 2’s newest theme is interior/exterior.  They have really explored this theme and their ideas run the gamut.  They are all so different and I am so proud of them and their work.  They work so hard and many come in with ideas so they are ready to go once they finish practice sheets.

Here are some of the works in progress.

This student did a smaller sample first to figure out how he should color his mango.  We both liked the look of the sketch so much, he tried to replicate it in a larger form, finger prints and all.

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This student is big into soccer, so he is doing an open stadium located in Madrid.

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I really like his concept of switching up the ball and the court.  This student’s work is improving so much.

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I am not quite sure what is happening in the mouth, but it isn’t “mouth parts”.  Today he and I had a discussion about what color the inside of our nostrils are.  He went so far as to use his camera to find out.  I love the way he is using the oil pastels.  He has never used them before.

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An “inside”look into someone’s eyes.  And, it is said that they eyes are the doorway to the soul.

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I eagerly await the finished artworks.

Man / Machine

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Our first TAB unit is coming to a close.  Art 2 finished last week, and Art 1 is just about done.  The theme the students were challenged with was MAN/MACHINE. As a class, we talked about what “man” could mean, what “machine” could mean, and what connections/interactions/relationships they could have.

The students were limited to a black and white drawing no smaller than 8X10. We talked about different techniques including hatching, cross-hatching, pointillism, and scratchboard.  The students practiced these along with charcoal and using white pencil on black paper.

I couldn’t have asked for a better first theme.  The students gave it their all–well, 98% did.  They learned so much about the artistic process.  Many sketched first before committing to a final drawing.  Others went through 2, 3, or even 4 ideas before settling on something.  Some even started final works, reflected on what they were doing, weren’t happy, then started over again.  Kids researched drawing faces and learned how to draw wood grain.  I don’t think my classroom has seen so much independent learning in one artwork in an art 1 class, ever.  Art 2 amazed me with their thought processes and choices.

Interpretations were all over the map.  Here are just a few.

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On "aged" parchment paper.

On “aged” parchment paper.

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On newsprint, like a comic.

On newsprint, like a comic.

I have to admit that I was nervous putting them up in the hallway to display.  I was nervous that my colleagues would think my students weren’t as talented as in previous years.  I wrote a carefully worded email announcing new artwork in the hallway.  I always do this because the fine arts hallway is out of the way for many.  This time I explained what the students were learning, TAB, and the authentic art making happening in my art room.  My worries were not necessary.  I received…well the kids received so many complements.  In fact, one of my AP’s complemented me on the artwork, the wonderful email, and the exceptional learning going on in my room.

Bringing in Some Art History and the Digital Age

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A fellow art teacher posted this link to our FB art teacher group.  I thought it was awesome.

Basically, this middle school art teacher in Georgia shows a carefully selected group of artworks to her students and has them add text over the images to create memes.  But, she takes it a step further and then has the students research the original context of the artwork and when they post the meme to their edmoto page, they write about the original context in the comment section.  Then students are asked to comment thoughtfully on 3 of their classmates memes.

I think this idea is great.  And, I am going to incorporate it into my art 1 classes.  I think once every other week, the students will pick from the list of artworks and create the meme.  They will then upload it to their blog and add a description of the original context of the artwork.

It is a great way to tie art history with technology.  And, using the meme makes it relevant to the students and their lives.

Thanks to Artful Artsy Amy for sharing her blog.  I hope you don’t mind me borrowing your fabulous idea.  😉

Altered Books Revisted

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My Art 2: Painting/Drawing students finally finished their altered books, and let me tell you what… they are fabulous.  (As a side note, I think I have been in Texas too long if I just wrote the phrase “let me tell you what.”)  Anyway, I knew some were going to be a home run, but I wasn’t prepared for almost every book having at least one amazing page.  Normally I get some great books and a few that could have been great, but were never finished.  And, of course there are the ones that should have never been allowed to become artworks.

This year, I had a hard time deciding which page in several books to display.  It makes me feel so good as a teacher to see such exploration.  And, throughout the process, my kids just weren’t learning from me or on their own…they were ASKING OTHER KIDS about what they were doing.  And some of the kids didn’t even like each other.  AWESOME!!!!

I will be doing this again, but much sooner in the year as I think it really opens up the definition of what can be done with art. In fact, perhaps I will introduce the Altered Book to Art 1 towards the end of next year.

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Art 1 Final Project (Part 3: In Progress)

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We have been working on the final project in art 1 for 4 days now.  And, let me tell you, it has been a blast.  After making monoprints, I introduced the idea of surrealism.  Then, as a class we talked about the “requirements” of the final project.

I talked about composition and how it was important to invite the viewer in and keep them in by creating an entryway, “lines” that help the viewer to move around, and depth to keep them there.  I told them that an artwork is a 2-way street–both the artist and the viewer are important.  Not only can you use the artwork to say what you, the artist, had to say, but you also want to create something that the viewer wants to look at.  I told them that they could have this horrific subject matter, but if they created depth and interest that the viewer could get lost in and move around in, then they have won.  They have solved both problems and their artwork is a success.  I told them of a painting I saw in Vienna that was so bloody, but had so much depth, that I went and stared at it for over a half hour, just lost and wandering.  I never showed them the painting, although I have thought about it.  I can still just stare at it for quite some time and get lost.

“Kreuzwegstation”, Hermann Nitsch, 1961. (Translation, “Station of the Cross”)

But, back to the art 1 assignment.  The last part of the assignment was the use of multiple mediums.  I told the students that I wanted them to explore mixed-media art.  I let them know they could use any technique or material we have used.  I told them they could try new things we haven’t used.  I was open to anything.

And off they went to collage.  And, off I went to collage. We have been having a blast.  The kids are loving looking through magazines and having me make photocopies.  Every piece is so different.  Some are serious.  Some are fun.  Some are just plain awesome.  I can’t wait to see where they end up.

One student today said to me as I was walking around looking and asking questions, “I don’t know if I am doing this right.  Is this what it should look like?”  “It looks exactly like what it should look like,” I said, ” Yes you are doing it right.  I am coming up with mine as I am going along.”  He seemed very pleased with this answer.  I know he is working hard and I can see he is making carefully planned out choices.

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A serious piece about words that hurt us–I think she is still looking for the “right” eyes.

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Yesterday, she said she wasn’t sure what to do.  All she could come up with was trees.

P1030942Today I was joking around with the bottom half of some penguins I added to mine and told her to glue them to look like the feet were hanging out of the tree leaves.  She did.  And now she is painting in a volcano under the tree that the penguin will fall into.  I told her this is awesome.  It is so not serious, which is so different than her normal work.

 

This student has been inspired by both the highest point, Mount Everest, and the lowest point, the Black Sea.  She chose the former.

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Simple, at least for now, with just a set of eyes.  Can’t wait to see what the conte will bring.

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I have one student that pulled about 5 monoprints.  She is creating multiple mixed media pieces and then will decide which one is the most successful and will turn that in.  Here is one of them.  I love the energy and her intensity with which she is working.

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I have been having a blast, not only watching my students create and make choices and collaborate, but also creating mine.  I think that the energy I am bringing to making my piece has rubbed off because the energy in the room is different.  The way the students are working is different.  And that is a good thing.

The students are funny.  They are like, “Who are you?”  “You are never like this.”  “You’re examples are never this crazy/weird.”  I told them, “Not weird, Awesome!  My artwork is just awesome and you are jealous of it’s awesomeness.”  Of course, this is all in good fun and they jab me right back.  (Then the whole penguin thing occurred, so….um….yeah.)

But, here is my example, just in case you were wondering.  Yes, that is a duck ship.  Yes, it is beaming up an armadillo.  And, yes, that condor is shooting laser beams at the unicorn. But, no, I don’t know what’s up with the monkey.  And, no I don’t know which side the fish are on.  I just know it is Animal Armageddon in Penguin Town.

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The students have 5 more class, plus their exam period to complete their surreal mixed media artworks.  Every day I look forward to my 3 art 1 classes.  I can’t wait to see what they do next.

 

 

Art 1: Final Project (Part 2: Monoprints)

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I had planned to start on Monday, but an unexpected Mother’s Day gift from my son (stomach virus) caused me to start a day late.  While I felt bad taking time away from my students to work, I think they are strong and will not let it affect them.

Today was part 1 of the project:  monoprints.

Several years ago at a conference at UT, I learned how to create monoprints using water and tempera paint.  It was messy and tons of fun.  At the time, we used the paper to make paper kimonos.  Cute, but not really my thing.  I have used the technique another time as a background to learn about symmetry using the Maori Moko Tattoos.  I have since stopped that lesson, but I thought the monoprint technique was a great base for this artwork.

As I stated in part 1, I find that many people, myself included, have a hard time making those first marks on clean, pristine, white paper.  So to help solve that issue and hopefully allow the kids to jump right in, we created monoprints.

Our “plates” for this were my tables.  I covered three tables with water and 2 colors of tempera:  blue/yellow, red/yellow, and red/blue.

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Next the students would lay down their paper and pull their print.

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Some of the kids liked the process and made several monoprints.  Others were not into the mess or just didn’t want to make art today.  But I am happy with the outcomes and I hope they all have a great base for their multimedia artwork.

Now, the worse part of this activity is the clean-up.  I did have newspaper every where, but there were still a lot of dripping from walking the prints over to the counters.  And, unless you ask the kids to help, no one will.  They will all just sit and watch you clean and wipe up the floor on your hands and knees.  I was disappointed that out of my 65 students, only 3 offered to help clean.  I guess the brightside is it was cleaned to my standards.

Here are some of the fabulous results.

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Art 1: Final Project 2014 (Part 1)

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Originally, I planned on being able to have one last project in art 1, spending a day or two reviewing for final exams, and then having a written test.  Not exciting, but it is what it is.  Then STAAR happened.  I didn’t really take into account that state testing would take kids out of my room for 3 days (and me for one to administer), thus having me lose almost a whole week and pushing back my plans.  There wasn’t really much I could do that could be done in less than 2 weeks that was meaningful.  And, I couldn’t just let them do nothing for 2 weeks.  Plus, I really didn’t want to write an exam.  It’s not my favorite thing to do.  So, I came up with a final project that would also become their exam grade.  I call it “”.

Over the next few posts I will document our exploration through the multimedia process.  I am not sure of the outcome, but I am excited about the journey.

First we will create monoprints using tempera and water.  I have done these before, albeit 6 years ago, for a project on symmetry and the art of Moko Tattoos.  This will become the “ground” or base for the artwork.  I have found that often students are intimidated by the white surface.  It’s so clean and error free.  Hopefully having this monoprint background will help break that fear.

Second students will find several images from magazines.  I suppose if a student really wants a certain image from the interwebs I will allow it.  They image will then be in b/w unless the student has a color printer at home.  I am hoping to halt images at 3 or 4 so it doesn’t become too crowded.

While I was out administering the STAAR test, students did 2 Arts & Activities reading about composition and leading the viewer through a composition. Here and here.  We will review the major concepts from the readings and I will expect them to create their artwork with the concepts in mind.

Students will then be asked to add more to their collages using a variety of other media: pencil, colored pencil, marker, sharpie, pen, paint, and well, I guess anything else we have used this year.  I am hoping they will had additional layers of depth and interest with the additional media.  I have created a pin board for them with some collages, but I really am unsure what to add to the board.  I don’t know what to search for to find examples to show.  But, maybe that is good as it will leave the door wide open and they won’t have preconceived notions of what this “should” be.

Pack your bags and join me on the journey to places unknown and unfamiliar.  My art 1 kids are always surprising me, I hope they do here as well.  (And I hope they will be able to work in our short time frame–this is the most nerve-racking part of this.)