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!

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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