New School Year!

I love the beginning of the school year. Not just because I get a fresh order of art supplies, (and who doesn’t love that smell!) but because I love the air of optimism. I get so much planning and organizing done. The end of the school year is always a powerful time for reflection, but often my energy is not focused on organization. I did do a surprising amount last year, and I’m very thankful for it this fall. Still, in the fall I’m readjusting my lesson plans and setting up all of my plans for the year ahead. I can make adjustments from last year, and tweak lesson plans based on successes and failures.

I also just love teaching color theory. Something I intentionally start the year off with because it is just such a good base for the rest of the year, but also because by October all of my freshman will be learning about the visible light spectrum in their Physics classes. Today a student asked me if I knew that they were starting to learn about light in physics and it made me so happy to say, “Yes! Isnt it awesome!” I am hoping we have more of those moments this year!

Below you can see some quick snapshots of our work so far. We made unique color wheel posters, logos on Adobe Illustrator, we mixed our very own gray, and are using this gray to start learning about value ahead of our still life painting project. You can read about this unit in more detail here.

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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.

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.

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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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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