Still Slaying the Still Life!

Once again we created single object still life paintings. I swear they get more and more dynamic every year! This project comes as the final piece in our study of color theory. We do this through studying the color wheel, color terms, and finally color relationships. Right before this project each student had the opportunity to design a small logo on Adobe inDesign that showed their understanding of the relationship between two colors and also a presumed emotional reaction to those colors. Finally, we choose an object that speaks to us. Each student is challenged to choose a background color that works with their object to create a color scheme. Then we go over painting techniques and begin! As you can see below, the results are impressive and inspiring.20160920_130121

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Magnificent Sketchbooks

After four years of trial and error in finding the right sketchbooks for my students I think I may have finally cracked it! I order them these beautiful ProArt hardbound sketchbooks that are only five and a half by eight inches. They are easy to cary and somehow incredibly pleasing in their small size. The girls seem to love them, and have already started to customize them.

I use these sketchbooks as a place for warm-ups, note taking, homework and general doodling, but I also want the girls to make them their own. They are not just a classroom tool, but a safe place for experimentation and expression that feels less formal. I have been encouraging them to put them to use in other classes as well as draw in them at home.

Here are some examples of note taking and free draw so far this year:

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Cool Color Wheel Beginnings!

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Just like I have the past 4 years I am starting out the year with having my Foundations of Studio Art class explore visible light and the color wheel! In preparation for our first big project (Single Object Still Life) we spend the first two-three weeks of classes looking at color theory, color mixing and how color relationships can elicit emotional reactions. Our first project in this month of light and color is always amazing. Each group of three has to create their very own color wheel that highlights one color scheme and one color term, which they then present to the class. Take a look at how amazing this new group of freshman are, already!

My new pin board:

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Finally Finals

We wrapped up this amazing school year with another round of independent art projects. Each student filled out a contract that outlined their plan of action, their research goals, and their three most important overall goals for the project. It was their three overall goals that I used as a measure for how I would grade them. This was, after all, their final exam.

Check them out:

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A small street in Puerto Rico.

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The four seasons.

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Lily Pulitzer inspired.

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A Maggie O’Neal reproduction done by another Maggie.

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Hamilton anyone?

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Endangered animals, made with real life cut-outs, and some photoshop skills.

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Love.

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Everyones faces.

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My students did an amazing job embracing their own strengths and interests in these finals. They were aware of their limitations an abilities and strived to create works of art they could be proud of. As a result I am very proud of all of them. Obviously I could not picture all of them here, so you can imagine there are some really impressive works you are missing out on.

Re-Visiting Collage Portraits

This year I revisited my theory that my foundations students should collage for paints sake. You can read more about it here. This is also my diversity piece. And this year I got some incredibly thoughtful responses to the National Geographic article that we read. Below are some quotes from their responses.

“My partner is a mix of hispanic and white. She has beautiful tan skin, brown hair, and brown eyes. When I first started this project, I presumed that it would be easy to find these colors in magazines. However, as I began working, I realized that I could find almost no tan skin tones because most of the models in the magazines had blond hair, blue eyes, and fair skin. Thus I began looking through magazines that featured african american women to find a skin tone that could pass for my partner’s hispanic complexion.  “

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“My partner is Hispanic and she has beautiful brown eyes and dark hair, but most of the models I find are the classic blonde barbies making it difficult to capture her unique beauty.”

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“This article is interesting in exploring the recent acceptance of “multiracial” people. It also raises an interesting question, in that it asks, is defining races at all inherently racist? Or is assigning meaning to those meaningless categories  the problem? My partner [has] brown-haired, hazel-eyed and of European descent. There’s a veritable plethora of similar models in the magazines I was looking through. I can see how it might be a problem for other races, hair colors, and eye colors though. “

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“While looking through magazines, I notice that it is very rare to see any POC (Black, Asian, Hispanic, etc.). If I do stumble across a black person, they are of a lighter shade, and my partner has beautiful dark skin. This is not only frustrating as a black women, but it is disheartening to see that my people are not vastly represented in the popular magazines of our culture.”

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“In the article at one part it was listing the many different ways the industry has been trying to make diversity a bigger focus. I think the industry actually has been doing a better job, though people have different opinions. We have a lot of progress to make but it is a start. I noticed that in the magazines there are a majority of white models. My partner is white so it was not a problem for me but it could be for others. There are so many beautiful people out there but the magazines i have looked in only have a majority of white and black people. My partner is white but of a darker shade, she is tanner than the models i have seen so it has been hard to match her skin tone.”

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Oh and one more thing. This year, thanks to snapchat, we were able to see if we could fool the snapchat face finding algorithm into thinking our collages were actual faces. The results were a barrel of laughs, but also kind of terrifying:

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Art Show

Any art teacher who has the opportunity to host an art show at the end of the year knows, its both a blessing and a burden. It’s an amazing opportunity to display your students artwork. This way of celebrating and recognizing their efforts can give a big boost to your students self esteem. It say to them, “I, your teacher, am proud of you. I love what you’ve done and you should be proud, too.” Of course an art show also means weeks of hoarding artwork with little place to store it, mountains of labels to make and a billion item to frame and hang. Oh and we have to hammer into mortar here… we have no real gallery, but what a first world problem.  Right?

I am so grateful for how all our hard work panned out. Between all of us art teachers here I’m sure we put in about 40 hours just into the hanging, alone. It was a monumental success with wonderful attendance and plenty of fun festivities. We had live drawings being done by students and even some brave students doing throwing demos on the wheel. My favorite piece was all of the wonderful music performances peppered through-out the event. 
20160422_142503Another thrilling aspect was the fashion! My freshman who chose to make outfits for their recycled art project had to wear them to the event, and they looked fabulous!

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En Plein Air

When it was safe to say that spring had sprung my Studio II class so we escaped the confines of the classroom and explored a small bike path and creek by our school. Unfortunately, there was not enough time to finish our paintings, but the experience was worthwhile and something I highly recommend.

*One disclaimer is that in order to paint outside with acrylics, which is what we did, a painter needs to add a significant amount of slow-dry acrylic medium, as well as have some extra on the palette.  This will keep your paint from drying up immediately.

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National Gallery of Art

On April 11th my Studio II class and I  headed down to the National Gallery of Art. It was an amazing day full of wonder and inspiration. As many of you know the majority of the east wing is currently closed for construction which means there was only a very small amount of modern art on display. I think my girls were a tad disappointed, but not dispirited in what they could see.

We have just finished a long unit of self portraits and looked to many of the great masters for inspiration. While we were at the museum I divided my class into two groups: Those students whom I knew to have an affinity for visible brush strokes (my impressionists) and those whom I knew to be very focused on smooth representational, precisely proportioned painting (my renaissance painters).

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My impressionist were asked to find Young Girl Reading, by Fragonard, Jean-Honoré. I asked them to think about what they had learned about the French revolution, and its connected art history. I also wanted them to really connect with the brush strokes. In addition to this my amazing principal who was my co-chaperone reminded them that an image of a women holding a book would have been revolutionary back then. She even helped them make a connection with our founding mothers, who had wanted to create an education for young women. Living through the French Revolution “Sophie Barat was awake to the social, political, economic and religious currents operating in Europe and in the wider world of her time. By her awareness of their impact on the world of education Sophie Barat ensured the Society’s contribution to the education and the promotion of women in her time and into the future,” according to the Society of the Sacred Heart.

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My renaissance painters were asked to find Da Vinci’s Ginevra de’ Benci. I asked them to think about why Leonardo Da Vinci chose to portray Ginevra from the front instead of at a profile view, like was popular at that time. I also told them that art historians do not know exactly who commissioned the portrait. I asked them if they could guess who it might have been, based on the brief history I had given them. A lover? Husband? Family member?

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At the end of the day we convened in the cascade cafe and a few of us had gelato while we waited for everyone to appear. Then it was back to school to reflect on the day we had had. It was an amazing outing.

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There I am in the stripped shirt! Look at these beautiful smiling faces!

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Facing Faces

This March we spent the entire month exploring the art of a self portrait and the value technique called grisaille. The Oxford Dictionary defines as, “Grisaille (/ɡrˈz/ or /ɡrˈzl/; French: gris [ɡʁizaj] ‘grey’) is a term for a painting executed entirely in shades of grey or of another neutral greyish colour.” I think we all know what a self portrait is. 

Anyways my idea was that in order to teach about painting with more emphasis on value and less on color matching we would begin with a grisaille painting and finish it in color.

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I also took photographs of each girl in a pose she was comfortable with, with raking light moving across her face. This gave them more depth in the values they were working with. You can see them holding the photos as they work for reference. Unfortunately there is a lot of natural light in my room. Unfortunately? Well anyways it is near impossible to recreate lighting arrangements because the skylights fill the room with light i a myriad number of ways on any given day, and due to the nature of our rotating block schedule we meet at a different time each day of the week. So I made the executive decision that instead of working from mirrors (like we had with our sketches and drawings in previous lessons) we would work from photographs.

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Only once they had finished their gray could they move on to color. This was an prodigious success, because it prevented them from flattening their faces and making them one solid shade of beige or brown, like I had seen in previous models of this lesson. I would highly recommend this technique for teaching value to an advanced high school art class.

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