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.

MORE ZIP ZAP ZOOOOOM!!!

So things are going well in Zip Zap Zoom land. We looked at my friend, and published cartoonist Lamar Abrams. We read a short story from his book: Remake, by Lamar Abrams, and the boys (because I have no female students in this class) LOVED IT!! We worked on covers and created 8 panel stories. We also had this amazing book, that was once my mothers, Ed Emberley’s Drawing Book of Animals. Mine is a first edition, unlike the one you can now buy on Amazon.com. Just saying.

The Very Hungry Artists

It is lessons like this that make any teacher just smile and pat themselves on the back, and then thank their lucky stars. My Hudson Heights class is made up of a group of siblings who all love making art. This week we read The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle. We looked at how he used painted paper to create his beautiful collages on each page. Then we made our own decorative paper by creating rubbings. This was so much fun once we realized that our shoes had fun patterns on the bottom! (Except for mine, I had boring grown-up shoes) Then we cut out designs from our decorative paper and glued them down to make postcards. our postcards were sheets of bristol I had cut into 6×9 inch rectangles.

I also brought some pre-cut shapes made of colorful construction paper, in case anyone wanted to add solid colored shapes to their collage as well. What was so flattering about this Sunday lesson was that no one artist wanted to stop. They were surprised when they realized I had picked up the crayons, and ecstatic that they could keep the remaining decorated paper.

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