More Blossoms

I had my last day teaching at the Family Art Studio at Glen Echo this past Saturday. It was an amazing final day. My youngest brothers even came to visit me! I will miss working at Glen Echo, but I cannot sustain a 6-7 day work week forever, so I decided to ask if I could transition to occasional substitute.

However, the classes will still take place without me, so if you have little ones in the DC area, and you want an amazing weekend art activity that is infant, toddler, and kid friendly, visit the Candy Corner at Glen Echo from 10-12:30 every Saturday. It’s $10 per child, and there is no sign up necessary, just drop in! More info at pgip.org20150509_141939

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Interior Design

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This year I decided to amp up the one point perspective room drawing and add another level of design. While reflecting on last year’s “dream bedrooms” I realized that there was a lot of untapped potential in the assignment. I hadn’t thought about what a real interior designer might bring to a pitch in order to show the client and I was excited about adding more design elements to this project. As a result I divided the project into two pieces. The first piece was a focus on one point perspective as a drawing technique. As most art teachers know this can be a tedious and painfully slow drawing technique for most young high schoolers. So to dress it up we had our second piece which was interior design. This involved choosing a theme, fabric samples, a color scheme, and a Pinterest board.

As part of our STEAM initiative to co-ordinate the curriculum between Physics and Art Foundations I lined up this project with the students study of projectiles and vectors. While the studies both involved objects relative placement in space, it was the technical drawing aspects that lined up in these two projects more than anything else.

For a week, at the beginning of November I split our classes up into two parts. I alternated between the technical drawing technique of one point perspective, and interior design. For example we would begin class with a step-by-step lesson on drawing different shaped objects using one point perspective beginning with opaque and transparent boxes and working our way through more complicated objects. We would then transition to designing inspirational boards on Pinterest, or picking out a color scheme using paint chips I had collected from various trips to Home Depot as well as ones brought in by enthusiastic students. We even made sure to look at examples of current practicing artists, and their work. One example was 6th Street Design School, and I highly recommend taking a look at this designer, and blogger.

My thought process here was that if I could alternate between beginning or ending each class with a formulaic drawing technique, and begin or end with open ended design, it would keep students more engaged. This proved successful when I received far fewer groans and moans about one point perspective drawing than I have in years past. Everyone was so excited about creating an imaginary room, with a limitless budget, that I think they hardly noticed they were learning. I was even more impressed with how confidently my young women asserted their individual tastes and styles, without any apparent hesitation of being judged by their peers. However, it shouldn’t surprise me that much since self confidence and industriousness are definitive traits of Stone Ridge girls.

Below you can see some of the stages of the projects development, as well as some finished products.

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Working Weekends: My Second (Third and Fourth) Job(s)

If you’ve known me for a while then you know I’ve worked at Glen Echo Park in Maryland for eight of the past nine summers now, and about nine weeks each summer. I took off one summer to travel to Salamanca Spain, where my father re-married and I studied Spanish at the Universidad de Salamanca. I also took many many painting and sculpture classes at Glen Echo Park as a high school student, which is how I got my summer job many years ago. It is also where I discovered my love of painting and clay sculpture. Two forms of art I still practice today. I took painting with the famous Bartman’s and sculpture classes with Sinclair Hamilton, who owned a summer camp as well and hired me when he heard I was off to Pratt to study art education.

So if you can’t already tell, I am very fond of this place, Glen Echo. So you won’t be surprised to find out that I have taken up a second/third/fourth job here as a part time administrator for a drop-in family art studio run by PGiP, an occasional sales-person/gift shop duties for the Popcorn Gallery, and an Art Party facilitator, where a birthday party of six year olds and I made mosaics, and learned about Antoni Gaudi. It’s not that I desperately need the money, I don’t, but it helps. I am planning to get married this October and if I am going to have all the little extras I want, I need a bit more wiggle room. Also, I believe that before I have kids, and need to dedicate entire weekends to them, and before I get too bogged down with all of the extra work of keeping a house, I see no good reason not to work an occasional weekend. I have always thrived on a full schedule anyways. It’s the same reasn I find work each summer.

Unfortunately, I wont be returning to the Decorative Fine Arts Camp this summer. I will instead be teaching a summer art program called Multi-Dimensional Studio at my current and fantastic school: Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart. Below is the description I wrote for this course:

An exploration in the decorative and fine arts, Multi-Dimensional Studio will challenge students to find new meaning in art through studio work and museum visits.   Materials explored will include acrylic paint on canvas, soft sculptures, mixed media collage, recycled/upcycled art, charcoal drawing, digital photography and film.  Multi-Dimensional Studio is designed to introduce various art mediums, techniques and styles. Students will study the basic elements and principles of art and design, and use these elements and principles to guide and assess their work.  There will also be multiple field trips to mart museums like the Smithsonian’s Freer and Sackler Galleries, as well as the National Gallery of art and the Hirshorn. Students will develop their critical thinking skills while they assess their own artwork as well as famous works of art. 

It is open to all area high school students and I am really excited about being able to offer a summer course. I will, of course, miss Glen Echo and the Decorative Fine Arts Camp terribly. What summer is complete without the sound of the carousel pumping out its barrel organ tunes, filling up the park with an air of excitement. I will miss counting down from three to a room full of twenty-five campers wiggling in their seats, excited for the next demonstration. Most of all I will miss the raw, fearless art of young children, lacking all that self-doubt and un-necessary modesty that teenage girls impose on theirs. However, I am also thrilled at the prospect of teaching a museum, and self-discovery based summer program for teens that will have ideal hours for both travel and studio time that a regular school year schedule just cannot provide.

Moving backwards a bit…

Below are some photographs I took of the Candy Corner building at glen echo where these drop-in family art studio run by PGiP are happening. My colleague Meredith, an inspired  PGiP educator, has been constructing amazing and lovely art activities for families that surprisingly accessible to all ages and vary each week. The space is amazing and Meredith does a fantastic job setting up a welcoming environment for the families each Saturday. I love getting to see what’s new and happening each time I go!

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First Day Back- Clay Attack!

Today was my first day back at Glen Echo, a national park and partnership for the arts that hosts a variety of children’s and adult’s classes in the arts. Today I focused on sculptures and preparation for our color wheels. How amazing are these  sculptures that we made by a few of the young 6-8 year old boys.

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Flashback/Flash Forward

It is getting close to summertime and I am experiencing nostalgia.  I have now worked for 8 years as a summer art teacher at one of the most beautiful national park cites in the US, Glen Echo Park in Maryland. Here are a few gems from last year.

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Summer Kids

Every summer now for 7 years straight I have worked at Glen Echo Park Partnership for the arts. About 5 years ago I became the lead teacher and it has been the most wonderful experience. See previous posts for more information: https://emmastevenson.wordpress.com/2011/07/11/one-of-the-amazing-things-we-do/ or https://emmastevenson.wordpress.com/2011/06/29/camp-has-started/

So this past summer it was once again time to head down to DC for the summer and get things going at Glen Echo. I was only able to stay for part of the summer, because of the summer session at my high school position. Still, I had a blast, and the change from high school back to elementary was energizing!

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Painted Ceramics

On Monday in the afternoon my Decorative Fine Arts Campers create decorative tiles, that become mini relief sculptures. They also create sculptures using the pinching and pulling technique. When it comes time to paint the finished, fired pieces I only do a brief demonstration and then let my students help themselves to paint (at this point during the week they are very familiar with the paint supplies) and get to work.

The Wonder of Fossils

On Thursday afternoons at the Decorative Fine Arts camp, we gather rocks and leaves and bits of plants to bring back into the classroom. Then, with all the lights dimmed, I tell my students the story of how I found my first fossil while canoing down the Shenandoah River. It goes something like, “we all stopped for lunch on a beach made of rocks and when I kicked one over …what do you know! I found a fossil!” I then pass that around. I also pass around a fossil my mothers plumber gave me, another one that belongs to  the camp owner, and another piece of fossilized crocodile poo that my dad got me as a gag gift for Christmas. You can imagine the reaction I get to that one. It is always some sort of collective mix of “ewwwww” and “ahhhhhh” followed by “awesome!” and “gross!”

After we talk a little about how we think fossils are made I demonstrate how we are going to make our own. First we will roll out the clay, just like we did while making our clay tiles Monday. Then we cut out a shape, just like we did while making our clay tiles Monday, except this time we don’t cut a square we cut off a one inch border and set it to the side. (The border will later become a wall) Then we roll the impression of some leaves on using the rolling pin, and press in shells. Using our border we create a wall that will keep our “instant rock” in place while it dries. (Plaster of Paris)

Friday morning after we are done making our accordion books the children discover that a hard white object has covered up their designs on their slabs of clay. “What is this?” “Where is my fossil?” I love these questions because I can always say, “I don’t know, why don’t you peel all of that clay off and find out!” and then TA_DA! an inverted replica of their design has now been discoverd on the underside of the white “instant rock”. I normally don’t like being crowded by students saying “look! LOOK!” but I make an exception for this project. I am happy that I have added an element of discovery to the project.

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