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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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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Summer Fun

I have the wonderful gift of being able to stay home with my daughter during the summer and we had an amazing time going down to the museums and making art together at home. However, I did let grandma take her for a week so that I could substitute for an old friend at the Decorative Fine Arts summer camp at Glen Echo. This is an art camp I worked at for many years during college and my early teaching years. It’s projects are dynamic, engaging, and colorful!

You can see in the pictures below that children get to work with a variety of media through-out the week.

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A Little Cross-Curicular to End The Year

I do not teach print-making to my freshman. I have found that with my ambitious goal of trying to expose my students to everything from ceramics to painting to photography, as well as instilling the elements and principles or art and design, I just run out of time. I might re-evaluate this in years to come, it’s not like my curriculum is a done deal never to be worked on again, but for now, sadly, print-making doesn’t fit. So it was absolutely perfect when one of our world history teachers approached me with the idea of doing prints to compliment her content and add a little visual pizazz to the end of the year. I was happy to help! I believe in cross-curricular work and it’s benefits. You can see some of my cross-curricular work with the science department here.

So as part of the Renaissance and Reformation Unit, 9th graders analyze a series of Protestant woodblock prints criticizing what Protestants perceived were the corrupt practices of the 16th century Catholic Church. The lesson also asks them to consider the impact the printing press and printmaking had in general on the spread and impact of Reformation ideas. So that students gain a better understanding of the process of printmaking, I visited their history class and taught them how to design, carve, and then print “wood cuts,” (we used EZ-Cut synthetic blocks, not wood) protesting social and environmental issues that students cared about. As part of my lesson, I also reviewed the history of printmaking in the Renaissance, ranging from woodblock printing to engraving to etching. Students made three to four prints, one of which they glued into their Interactive History Notebooks. Their Interactive History Notebooks are these wonderful sketchbooks filled with notes, article clippings and art heavy history projects they do in class and for homework through-out the year. They are gorgeous objects, but anyways the block cuts were a success! Please take a look at the photos below.

Drop Molds

“You cannot drop the drop molds! They are made of plaster, so they could crack. Please be careful.”

I am lucky to have a calm, respectful group of young tweens in my Saturday Art School. They respect me and my advice, but since they are kids they often get overly excited and make a goof here and there. Today we had some clay go through the slab roller with no canvas to protect it, and of course I wasn’t really annoyed, but I felt that I had to a stink. I wanted to make it into an example of how important it is that we respect the studio space.They bought it. I stressed that I didn’t care who did it just that it never happened again, and I am positive it wont.

So we created bowls using drop molds. It was a great day for experimentation.

Viva España!

“Hey we finally made it to Spain!” is what one little little girl in my Art Around the World class screamed when she snuck a peak into my big purple messenger bag and saw Ferdinand the Bull, by Robert Lawson. This caused other students to yell and jump up and down and act rambunctious. I realized that I had very effectively built up excitement, in this class. They were soooo pumped to learn about Spain! Spain has castles, and pigs that eat acorns, and they make beautiful pitchers out of clay. Of course then I had to spend 5 minutes calming everyone down and getting them seated before I read Ferdinand.

After our story myself and my 5th grade assistant for the day gave a demonstration. We were all going to make polka-dot pinch pots with handles just like the images I showed on my laptop. I had put together an iPhoto slide show accompanied by Spanish Flamenco music. After Ferdinand we watched it. And after the demonstration we began.

After we finished our pots we took a quick moment to draw them. Lea age 6, told me that she drew her pot how she wished it looked, and not how it really looked in real life. I really enjoyed that she was creating a design for a pot through experimentation, accepting her limits, and still finding a way to express herself. She couldn’t actually make her ideal pot so she drew it instead. I love it.

After that, we took a second look at the castle in Ferdinand and we imagined what our castle would look like if we could build our own.

I do not know why we had so many purple castles… I love how girls at this age use one another’s shapes and patterns and designs. If they see one girl’s pink flower drawn with loops then they will want to make their own pink flower with loops. Women my age still do this, we still see other women doing something wonderful and then try it out for ourselves. We just use clothes instead of purple castles.

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