Sketchbook Progress

This year I have moved from teaching Foundations of Studio Art to teaching all levels of studio art including our AP level studio classes. As a result of this and the virtual then hybrid format this year, I was excited to start more in-depth sketchbook work, especially with my advanced students. Sketchbook work is an opportunity for students to really experiment. They can also pursue personal interests and gain confidence while feeling safe to take risks or just be OK with failure. It’s just a sketchbook after-all! Below I have picked out a few examples of responses to my prompts from 10th through 12th grade students.

The students are given a list of propmts and they share progress periodically throughout the school year, but only as photographs. I do not want to physically take their sketchbooks. One, because germs, but two, because I want the sketchbooks to feel like their own personal journals, and a safe place to experiment. I have explained to students that in my prompts a “spread” refers to a design taking up or happening across two pages in their sketchbook. Each assignment asks them to complete either a spread or a page. I have also said that it is also acceptable to glue in drawings on other pieces of paper with the hope that some awesome doodles from science or math might come live in the sketchbook, too! My goal is for them to fall in love with this sketchbook, make it awesome, and make it theirs! I want them bursting at the seams by the end of the year!!

Here are some of the prompts so far:

  1. Read the following article (https://www.kooness.com/posts/magazine/21-black-female-painters) on black women painters and in your sketchbook. You will choose just one artist from this list. Then you will research this artist and either paste two images of their artwork onto a spread in your sketchbook or recreate them yourself. You will also include important information such as their birth/death dates, place of origin, 5 other interesting facts about your artist. Then decorate the page in a way that’s inspired by your artist or mimics their style. Please include an abbreviated bibliography for example theartstory.org or metmuseum.org (NOT Wikipedia!!)
  1. Read the following article by your teacher’s favorite Washington Post writer Sebastian Smee: https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2020/entertainment/claude-monet-la-grenouillere/?itid=ap_sebastiansmee You will then further research this artistic movement, Impressionism. Then, you can either paste two images of impressionist artwork onto a spread in your sketchbook or recreate them yourself. You will also include 10 interesting facts about impressionism. Please include an abbreviated bibliography for example theartstory.org or metmuseum.org (NOT Wikipedia!!)
  1. Check out a “virtual tour” at the National Gallery of Art in DC https://www.nga.gov/ (or go on a timed visit with your family if you can) and dedicate an entire page (one page) in your sketchbook to recreating one of the works of art. It should be fully rendered, and represent about 1 hour of drawing. One the opposite page, complete the spread by adding the details of the work of art: Artist, Date, Medium, Size, Exhibition, and 5 facts about the piece or the artist, along with a small detail you really enjoy or a recreation of the color palette, or some other kind of visual note on this work of art. 
  1. Take a piece of writing you are reading for class right now, or read last year. Find a significant quote from this work and copy it onto a spread, and then illustrate this quote in whatever style you would like. 
  1. Take BEAUTIFUL notes in your science or math class and fill an entire spread with them. This should be colorful, with illustrations that demonstrate your understanding of this subject matter. 

Here are some of the results:

Summer Through a Screen

This summer I had to approach the Decorative Fine Arts camp with a new approach. Thanks to the global pandemic, camp was going to have to be online, and inspired by a few supply kit options I had seen in the past I immediately started thinking of ways to create a camp that came in a box, or at least a camp that came complete with everything a camper would need in order to complete each activity. I had this idea that families who love Glen Echo, live close by, and want to support the park, would be willing to drive over on a Sunday in order to pick up materials. And thankfully, they were!

So just to give you an idea. The camp experience came in three parts: materials, zoom and videos. Each Camper would receive a box of all of the art materials they would need (and a few extra treats!), as well as paper instructions, and a bonus project. With that box they would also be emailed a link to instructional videos, and there was one for each day of the week. Those are hosted here on my website on a password protected page called “Box Videos”. Finally, we would also meet on Zoom to doodle and draw together. I also answered questions and gave extra tidbits of advice for each project. My hope for this camp was that each camper would be busy for approximately 45 minutes-2 hours a day, for 5 whole days! The two additional camps I designed after creating the Decorative and Fine Arts Camp in a box followed the same structure, and you can see more about them below.

As I write this I am currently teaching my 8th week of camp. It has been an incredible experience. It has not been a lucrative endeavor, but it has helped me stay connected to the park and to the families and campers I adore! It has also meant that I will be able to re-open in person next summer, God willing.

I also ended up developing a box version of my Carousel of Animals Camp for slightly older kids. This was a HUGE success, especially because I was sent the most beautiful images of final products.

And Finally I was able to create basically the camp I wanted for my 3 year old daughter: the Beachy Art Bundle! It was a camp for the youngest campers and I really enjoyed watching my daughter do it, especially because her incredibly talented pre-school teacher hosted live story times for this camp. I was only in the instructional videos, and was a mom of a camper the rest of the week. I was so impressed with how this camp showed me some of the possibilities for a virtual preschool experience. I had previously been a bit skeptical that it could be more than a zoom call but thanks to the talented Miss CAT it was a blast!

Thank you ALL who have supported this endeavor! It has been fun, and really lightened the overall mood for me this summer. I hope to see all of my campers again (in-person) soon!

A Virtual Summer

This year the Decorative and Fine Arts Camp is coming to you… in a box! Your child can create fantastic objects, fossils, miniature clay sculptures, and color wheels on real canvas. Learn fundamentals like color, shape, line and texture! The box will have 5 fantastic projects, that come with five instructional videos, one for every day of the week. Included are Zoom classes Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings. Boxes will be available for contactless pick-up under the Glen Echo Park marquee Sundays from 10am-1pm. The box will be $125, Ages 6-12, Includes one box of art supplies, five instructional videos and Zoom classes Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, 10:00am-11:00am, Weeks of June 15-July 6 (August TBD)

Register here: glenechopark.org/classes

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Homeschooling Take Two.

So, to be totally transparent I am doing a ton of these activities with my kids. You can see a lot more of my attempts at this, warts and all, here, on my personal instagram. However, I have taken the extra step to properly document some of the projects that have required the most effort on my part or been the ones I am the most excited about. This one, is the project I had been most excited about leading up to it, and it did not dissapoint! As you’ll see…

My Homeschooling Attempts #socialdistancing

Since the coronavirus has me at home with my amazing children I am trying my best to enrich their lives with art-making. However, I feel like all the toddler art activities I find on Pinterest leave out all of the yelling and crying… so I made a more realistic toddler art demo. Enjoy.

Here are some of the results, and other art project attempts:

We started our social distancing with a cupcake decorating “project”. This was a fun way to engage both of my children in the creative process. It did require mid-day baths.

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Then of course there was the classic PAAS egg dying Easter tradition. This went really well and nothing spilled because my one year old was trapped in his high chair, watching from a distance. 20200407_12154420200407_121608

Then there was our “stained glass” egg making. You can see how “easy” this was in the video above. ^20200409_10281220200409_102831

A few other Easter themed activities included cutting out my kids paintings into the shape of an egg. (highly recommend this one, very easy) and covering eggs and paper bunnies in Mod Podge and having the children “help” me decorate them with leftover scraps from our stained glass project. Mostly they selected the scraps and sort of stuck them on. If I’m being honest these were more like my projects I let them watch me do…

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Feel free to try these yourself! For my friends celebrating Passover, Hag Sameah v’ kasher! I think you could modify the stained glass eggs to be a three hole punch Haggadah cover, or a cool Afikomen hiding box!? Anyways, happy high holidays all, and stay safe this year!

Amy Sherald Inspired Portraits

Amy Sherald is an artist from Baltimore, Maryland (my place of origin, too) and she is known for her achromatic portraits of African-Americans with colorful backgrounds and clothing. I introduced some of her work to my students and then should them her portrait of the former First Lady Michelle Obama. The colors she chooses for her backgrounds, and her emphasis on the outfits of her models are a way of explaining the identity of her subject. Similarly, I asked my students to choose a background color that fit the personality of their subjects. Students were asked to partner up with another student, photograph them and then grid their portraits so that they could scale them up to twice the original photographs size. This gridding technique also helped my students maintain proportions. We used charcoal and chalk pastels to do our work, because we have already painted this year I wanted to maximize my students experiences with different medias this year.

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SHE ALWAYS BELIEVED THE GOOD ABOUT THOSE SHE LOVED, 2018, 54 x 43 inches, Oil on Canvas, amysherald.com .

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The finished works turned out beautifully and will surely be a hug hit at the Spring Arts Festival at our school.

Finally, to finish up and reflect on the project I decided to try something other than our traditional critique format. Instead, students left “constructive compliments” on post-it notes on each of their fellow students artwork. Similar to what they would have done during a critique, but in a very efficient way. I have larger class sizes this year, and while it is really important to me that my students learn to have a traditional critique, I also want to maximize the amount of feedback each student gets and this felt like a nice way to do it.

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Back to School Classroom Tour!

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Our new sink!

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Our printing press, large screen, and amazing view!

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Work tables.

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Display board and supplies cart.

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Drawing cart

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Still life materials.

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Our library.

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Our printing and scanning station. We have a one-to-one laptop program so we only have one classroom computer.

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Storage!

Carousel of Animals Camp

For one week every summer I will put a pause on my Decorative and Fine Arts Camp and switch gears. From 6-12 year olds come the 12-18 year olds. We spend an entire week creating large scale carousel animal inspired sculptures. The campers design their animals, I build them wooden armatures, and then they cover them in chicken wire, papier maché and paint. Unfortunately the historic carousel was closed this summer for renovations while we held the camp, but before they tore up the roof of the carousel pavilion we were at least able to have a nice photo shoot!

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Clay Explorations

Every week at the Decorative and Fine Arts Camp we start off the week with painting in the mornings and clay in the afternoon! It’s always a big hit. We have a clay tile relief sculpture project with more specific instructions and then campers also have the freedom to do free experimentation and sculpture making. These small sculptures usually reflect their own interests, such as foods, animals or fictional characters!

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Bart Simpson

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A villager? (If you’re familiar with Minecraft you’ll understand.)

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Mushy Maché

We are having so much fun with papier maché and recycled materials this summer at the Decorative and Fine Arts Camp! Students help us amass a selection of cool shaped recyclables like berry containers cans and paper towel rolls and transform them into papier maché sculptures.

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