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Tiki Cups

This tiki lesson was a fun, somewhat simple lesson that the students seemed to really enjoy. After doing coil building, slabs, creating their own templates, we gave them a little bit of a break by providing them with a simple slab template to give them the base of the cup. For this, we used low fire red clay. We talked about creating emotion in art. I talked to the students about how to make someone look angry, mad, sad, happy, excited, etc. We discussed how to be successful in that by shaping the eyebrows, eyes, nose, mouth, all a different way. Students came up with their sketches. During the sketches, I had them choose ONE aspect of their tiki that they wanted to emphasize using color. The rest of the tiki was stained with a black underglaze and then clear.

This lesson was a fun alternative because it showed students a different way to glaze ceramic rather than just coating it with a glaze. After these were bisque fired, I then demonstrated how to stain their tiki. We used a watered down black underglaze and you can even make your own stain! We painted the wash all over the tiki, in all the crevices and textured areas especially. We waited about 5-10 minutes for the stain to dry. Then, I had students use a wet sponge to sponge off all of the extra stain, this left the crevices and textures dark, and created a cool look for their tiki. After staining, the students were able to glaze one small aspect of their tiki using color. Lastly, student applied 2-3 coats of clear glaze to the remainder of their tiki.

Overall, this was a really fun lesson to teach and the students seemed to enjoy it.

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Art History Meets Pop Culture Acrylic Paintings

Yesterday was my last day of the school year, and this year, my kids were focused up until the very end! This year, I decided to start an acrylic painting assignment the last few weeks of school. I gave each student a canvas, and I feel like having a canvas helped. Many of the students had never worked on one before so they were really excited at the opportunity to create something great! Working on a canvas enabled them to stay focused, which is definitely hard to do in the month of May and June!

This assignment is one that I have been doing throughout my teaching career. I think this is the third time I have done this! I’ve taught this not only in high school but also in middle school and I love the results! We talked about Pop Culture and what types of things are popular today. Students brainstorm many ideas and come up with a good list. Then, we research all different types of art and artists! I have had them research in a computer lab, but this past time, a computer lab wasn’t available so I brought in a ton of printables and art magazines and books. I had students work in groups to write down different artists that caught their attention and different art movements that they enjoyed.

Then, students had to come to me with an idea. They needed to tell me what artist they wanted to base their painting off of, what painting specifically, and what they would incorporate into the painting to make it more original and their own.

Another really great thing about this assignment is that you can guide students in a direction that they will all be successful. For example, I had some students who were more successful doing a Pop Art inspired painting, where they did not need to mix colors or do any shading or blending. Some students had experience painting before so I guided them in the direction of a Monet or a Rembrandt painting, etc. This way, all students had different results at all different levels, yet they were all able to be successful!

The PowerPoint that I created for this lesson can be found at https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Pop-Culture-Meets-Art-History-3210234

I have a variety of different examples on the slideshow, all of which I have permission for.

Besides though examples, take a look at some of my examples from this current school year!

What works for you as an end of the year lesson? Would love to hear! Enjoy summer!!

 

 

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Expressive Self Portraits

Quite possibly one of my favorite lesson plans that I do all year. When students hear that I am making them do ANOTHER self portraits, after we just finished up a realistic one, they ask WHY. Once we start working on these, their attitudes typically change and they are a lot more excited.

I like giving the students the option to explore symbolism a little bit further and consider what imagery they can use to show the world more about themselves, rather than just their appearances. The PowerPoint that I created for this lesson can be found here, https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Expressive-Self-Portrait-PowerPoint-3161112

I can thank the wonders of Pinterest for many of those photo examples, but I also chose to incorporate Frida Kahlo into this lesson. Frida has so many amazing examples of symbolism and she is truly such an inspiring artist and person, that I wanted my students to learn more about her. We had discussions about The Two Fridas, and also about one of her self portraits. We discussed the symbolism and imagery in her artwork and how it reflects her personality and mood.

Students found this to be very interesting. We also discussed more in depth realism, abstract, and non objective. I told students to consider how realistic they wanted this to be. They had the option to be more symbolism and do a silhouette rather than a realistic approach that would require them to do eyes, nose, mouth, etc. This allowed my students of all different skill levels to choose a way that would be successful for them.

I also gave them an option in what art mediums they wanted to use. They had the options of graphite, colored pencil, pastel, watercolor, or mixed media. After the presentation, I had students write 5-10 things about themselves in their sketchbooks. These could be interests, personality, mood, appearance, home life, friends, etc. We then broke those down and considered how to interpret them into a symbol or some sort of imagery.

Students brainstormed with the others at their tables and came up with some ideas. When they had enough ideas, they began a sketch of what their portrait would look like. I offered suggestions to make sure that students were challenging themselves enough, and were not doing things too hard. I told students that if they chose not to draw a realistic face, that they needed to put extra details somewhere else, to ensure that all students were still working the same amount.

I graded these using four main components. Subject Matter & Creativity, Use of Symbolism and Details, Craftsmanship, and Effort.

I was SO happy with how these turned out. Here are some of the great examples from my classes!

 

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Realistic Self Portraits

Ahhh self portraits! Some kids love em, some kids absolutely hate em.

I start out by teaching basic cartooning. I feel like this loosens kids up a bit, and it also allows them to consider showing emotions. Cartoons have such exaggerated emotions and I feel like it is great practice for students to consider how to show emotions within their own portraits.

After cartooning, we spend some time focusing on each facial feature. We spent a day on eyes, a day on noses, a day on mouths, and a day on ears/hair. I graded these as progress, so I told students that as long as I saw effort, they would get full points. I took off points if they did not consider value or shading, or if they were misusing their cell phones.

I collected the facial features sketches and we moved on to proportion. To switch things up a bit, I decided to have my students do group drawings. Each group started with a face outline. They set up all of the proportions- we looked at an example on the board of where the lines should be. Where the eyes sit on, the noses, how far apart the eyes go, and where the ears go, etc. These can be found online.

I had students set up the face and then draw one realistic eye. After drawing, they were asked to switch with someone else. The second student drew the second realistic eye. Each time they switched, the student had to consider where each facial feature would go. These ending up looking like really creepy mugshots and my kids absolutely loved them!

This took about two days, because we wanted to make them look realistic and shade well. At the end, we did a critique. Students were asked to go around and identify anything that looked proportionally “off”. Comments included things such as “eyes are too far apart,” “ears are too high”, “mouth is too close to nose” etc. Students got the sketch that they had originally started with and they held onto it for reference.

Lastly, I introduced the final assessment. Students drew a realistic photo of themselves. I asked them to bring in a picture of themselves. I opted to do it this way rather than looking at mirrors because I wanted them to be able to compare and contrast the values and progress of their drawings with the actual picture.

Students had two options for this- they could choose to freehand their portrait or use a grid. We had used a grid earlier in the year for realistic animal eyes, the link for that lesson can be found here. http://www.makemesanguine.com/index.php/2016/12/12/animal-eye-value-drawings/

If students wanted to grid, they could either do an outline first, or go square by square and shade everything completely. As a beginning Drawing & Painting and class, I felt that this approach really helped my students understand and be able to take their time throughout this assignment.

Here are the results!

Realistic Self Portraits High School Lesson Plan

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Altered Books

This lesson was something NEW for my classes, and here’s why-

  • This was the first project that I allowed them to work in groups for. They were in groups of two, three, or four, depending on class size, etc. I wanted them to work in groups because I did not want them spending A TON of time on this project, and also because I have two really quiet classes and I wanted them to get to know each other a bit better.
  • The name of my class is Drawing & Painting, which mainly focuses on two dimensional artworks. I wanted my kids to expand past that and consider how to use their knowledge of drawing and painting to create a three dimensional work of art.

My kids were very excited about this project, being that it was so different. I selected their groups for them, so that I could differentiate between skill levels. For example, I put a girl who definitely knows what she’s doing, able to draw well, could probably be in AP if she wanted to be, I put her with a girl whose drawing skills are not nearly as creative or developed, hoping that they would be able to work alongside each other and offer suggestions.

This was the final project in a Unit I created on Words in Art. We began the unit by discussing how words can enhance or strengthen the quality of an artwork. Students worked and created blackout poetry, along with illustrations that supported their poems. They did this individually for a few days to get them thinking and experimenting with different options.

When I introduced this altered books assignment, I began with A TON of visual examples. I scanned Pinterest and various websites in order to come up with as many great examples as I could find. (If you follow my Pinterest Boards, you will see my “Altered Books” Board, which has a ton of great ideas!

I focused on additive and subtractive techniques, which meant they were either sculpting or carving into their books. I also talked to them about the possibility of leaving the books open versus having them closed and creating a cover page.

After me talking for what seemed like a very long time, I read out the names of the groups and I had my groups get together. I let them select a book and then they began sketching out ideas. Their sketches had to show me:

  • Will anything stand out? Will you create three dimensional works of art from pages?
  • Will anything be carved into? If so, what will you be carving?
  • Will your book be open or closed as a final product?
  • How will you incorporate drawing and painting into your altered book?

(Sidenote) When students were finished with these, I found that it was a great time to introduce Critique. Until this point, my students hadn’t really spent a great deal of time practicing the correct way to critique. I gave them a handout that introduced the 4 Steps to Critique, and we also viewed Starry Night as an example of how to answer each step of critique.

Along with an individual rubric for each student, I also had them write up a 4 Step Critique on another group’s altered book project.

Overall, I really enjoyed this project. It was something different that allowed my students to let loose a bit and bounce their own ideas off of each other.

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Pastel Mannequins

This was a quick lesson that only took a few classes. I noticed my students were struggling with Analogous vs. Complementary Colors. I had students complete an oil pastel worksheet for the first day, where they practice different blending techniques and ways to get different results with oil pastels.

Once we finished, we viewed some examples. We focused on composition and zooming in to really fill up the space. Students sketched 2-4 different mannequin poses in their sketchbooks, complete with shading and at least 7 different values.

Then, students were asked to select their most interesting and favorite composition. They then selected an analogous color scheme of their choice and shaded in their mannequin using the oil pastel. They also were allowed to use black and white to create their shadows and their highlights.

I love these results!!

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Animal Eye Value Drawings

So one of my favorite lessons is a lesson I created using Value. Because kids struggle with value. They are afraid to get too dark. They leave things light.

I spent awhile trying to figure out ways to make them realize the importance of range in value. I played around with different options for subject matter.

I was so set on animal eyes because they are so freaken interesting! Zooming in no an elephant or an owl or an iguana and getting to see all the cool designs, the textures, the range in value. I knew that the students would find them extremely awesome too.

Before introducing them to the actual eyes, I had them create a value scale. They had to create 7 different ranges in value, going from dark to light. They also had to use four different techniques: Hatching, Cross Hatching, Stipple, and Scribble. I graded their value scales as an assignment grade. During this time, we also read some worksheets about shadows, midtones, highlights, etc. This way, students were familiar with the vocabulary and they were able to associate different words to their drawings.

When finished, I discussed how to grid artwork. Since this was the first time students were drawing something, and something realistic at that, I wanted to start slow and let them use the grid method because I really wanted the focus to be on the value. I encouraged them to find the shadows and highlights first, this way they were getting the darkest tones into their drawings.

I gave them the option to either work box by box or to sketch out the basic contour lines and then go back in and shade. Either way, I freaken love the results. My kids understand value and they have really awesome eye drawings that they are proud of!

Animal Eye Value Drawings Art Education
Animal Eye Value Drawings Art Education
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Pinch Pot Pumpkins and Skulls

So it’s almost Christmas… and here I am finally posting about the Pinch Pot Pumpkins and Skulls that my high schoolers completed as their first project! Better late than never though, right?

I wanted to share this project because although it was my high schooler’s first project, I felt that they were all able to succeed in it. I had them sketch out ideas for either a pumpkin or a skull design. They needed to create their design by putting two pinch pots together. For example, a pumpkin would be a pinch pot upside down on a pinch pot that was right side up.

Students drew out colored sketches- they showed me which parts were going to be carved out, where they would add clay, add designs, etc.

After viewing, students worked on creating their pinch pots. I reminded them to keep walls consistent, lips even, and to really work on smoothing out their clay.

As far as glazing went, we stuck to just underglazes since this was their first project. After the bisque firing, we then painted a clear coat onto the top. I am so proud of these results. Please comment if you have any questions regarding this project!

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Finding Mindfulness in Our Everyday Lives

Mindfulness. The gentle effort to be present in whatever experience you find yourself in. Paying attention to the exact moment that you are in. Being aware of your surroundings, what you are eating, what you are listening to, etc. Sounds manageable if you have the time to truly think about it. But what about someone who has a busy schedule, or is living a busy life? As a teacher, I often try to find ways to incorporate mindfulness into my own classroom.

The Many Benefits of Practicing Mindfulness

So why exactly would I want to practice mindfulness in the classroom? First off, there are so many benefits to being mindful. Mindfulness is known to reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and insomnia. It is known to sharpen your memory, to increase focus, improve critical thinking skills, boost self esteem and confidence.

So as I think about my students, some of which even have IEPS specifically for generalized anxiety disorders, I think about how I can incorporate mindfulness into my classroom setting to provide a more enriching and comfortable environment for them.

I love that the art classroom provides plenty of opportunity for creative expression. Typically, I allow students the first 10-15 minutes of class time to work on a Sketchbook assignment (Which I typically will post on the board). Many times they are open ended such as, “Draw an illustration that describes you,” or “Create a visual that is calming or makes you feel good when you look at it.” I find that at the high school level especially, students really enjoy this time. I feel that they don’t have much time during their busy school day to actually stop and think, to reflect on how they are feeling in that exact moment.

Another great technique that I use is listening to music in the classroom. Typically, students in my class do not talk when I play music. They focus on their work, and between the music and working, they find themselves in a very peaceful, relaxed place. I find that this is also when they are working their hardest and concentrating the most.

In elementary schools, I have seen this done with movement. Letting the children have a chance to get up, to dance, sing, learn a routine, etc. Something to take away stress, calm them, let them stretch their legs, etc.

With all of the standardized testing, data, and expectations that our students have to deal with today, I find that we cannot lose sight of the important stuff! Sure testing is important (to an extent), but isn’t mindfulness, learning about oneself, feeling grounded, and being able to focus and learn more effectively, while living a healthier lifestyle just as important, if not more?

What about Mindfulness for me?

Of course! Now that my students are benefitting from mindfulness, I should be able to as well. I have a few things that I do to really connect to myself at the end of the day. Whatever your schedule is like, even if it feels like you never have a free moment, it is important to find that moment, so that you do not lose yourself in a busy world.

For me, creative expression is so important. I love blogging/journaling because it is such a great creative outlet. It allows me to reflect on my thoughts, write, design, etc. I’m guilty of sometimes incorporating my world life into my blog. (Posting lesson plans, classroom ideas, etc).

I also find time to create my own artwork. I went to school for art after all, so why should I stop making art? All day, I am teaching my students techniques, getting them interested in new concepts and ideas. It is easy to lose sight of why I am doing what I am doing. I make sure to spend at least some time during my weekend to draw, paint, just make my own personal art. Think about what. Why are you doing what you are doing? Are you passionate about something? Do you really give yourself time to sit down, concentrate, and focus on the things that you are passionate about, or are you letting your priorities get out of order?

Whether you have hours of free time, or none at all, it is important to just be mindful in whatever situations you find yourself in. Something as silly as making dinner can become a chore, if only we treat it like a chore. But what if you found a new recipe or something that was of greater interest to you? What if you then sat down and really thought about, really tasted all of the ingredients that you put into your meal? What if you made it more of an opportunity to create and experiment rather than an everyday chore that needed to be done?

If you have to run errands each day, why not switch it up? Try to go a different way than you usually go. Maybe stop somewhere and get ice cream. I remember my old route to work was so tedious after awhile. I began to take different ways. I would find beautiful farms and could stop and get out to pet the horses, or I would pull over to take pictures of the sunrise on my way to work.

There is so much to be mindful of. Notice it. Accept it. Even the shitty things. Find beauty in the everyday chores and routines of your life. Appreciate the beautiful things. Incorporate mindfulness into your everyday life and begin to see the world from a new perspective.

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Blind Contour Line Drawings

Soon since last time I’ve blogged… I accepted a new position! I went from K-8, back to high schoolers. I now teach three sections of Drawing & Painting and two sections of Ceramics.

One huge difference I noticed at the beginning of this year was how quiet my high schoolers were! Middle schoolers could care less what people think about them- they came in those first few days loud and crazy. My high schoolers really took (and are still) taking time to warm up in the classroom setting.

We began the year by focusing on three Elements of Art: Line, Shape, and Color. We discussed Contour Lines & Blind Contour Lines. I also gave my students a run through on basic color theory. They learned about Primary, Secondary, Monochromatic, Warm & Cool, Analogous & Complimentary Color Schemes.

To get my students a little out of their comfort zone, I had them partner up and draw their partner using blind contour lines. This means that they were not allowed to look at their paper, but were only allowed to look at their partner. This really got them laughing and interested about the project. I emphasized the importance of taking their time and focusing on all details, because the more detailed the drawing, the more interesting it would be!

Once finished, we discussed composition briefly. We talked about how to arrange things in an interesting way. Students used a light box to trace their new compositions. Lastly, they selected a color scheme of their choice. They added details, colors, patterns, and decorations to their drawings.

As a first project for an Art I class, I am very happy with these results! This was a very fun project, that the students enjoyed, and the results came out very nice!

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