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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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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Finished Recycled Projects

We finally finished our wonderful recycled art projects. This is my second year teaching this unit and it was so wonderful to see what a variety of results we got just this year alone.

To learn more about this project you can take a look back at what some of my artists did last year here: https://emmateachesart.com/2015/03/21/planet-saved/

Enjoy!

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Happy Holidays Update!

On December 2nd my amazing young volunteers returned to Mary House to update their fall tree. It was repurposed a la Charlie Brown, and the rest of the room was decorated to match. It warmed my heart and was a beautiful way to begin the advent season. I hope you all have an amazing holiday season!20151202_124317

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Volunteerism

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At Stone Ridge we strive to teach our students the importance of helping those in need. Whether it is our community’s elderly, homeless, children, our animals friends, or the environment, serving is treated as an opportunity to make the world a better place. In fact, the social action program at Stone Ridge was one of the first and most significant factors that attracted me to the school. I was brought up in the Quaker tradition, and had a similar program at my high school that ended up exposing me to my future career. Through serving children in my local community I found a love of teaching that has impacted the rest of my life. The opportunity to potentially offer the same meaningful experience to my students at Stone Ridge is monumental.

Sacred Heart Schools are a connected network of Catholic schools with institutions stretching around the world. Over 41 countries. Each of these schools is united by one set of five goals. Simply put these goals are Faith, Intellect, Social Awareness, Community, and Wisdom. Goal three, Social Awareness, is the one I want to celebrate here today.

An outline of Goal Three as published by the Society of the Sacred Heart:

Schools of the Sacred Heart commit themselves to educate to a social awareness which impels to action. The Society of the Sacred Heart developed the following criteria for this Goal:

1. The School educates to a critical consciousness that leads its total community to analyze and reflect on the values of society and to act for justice.

2. The School offers all its members opportunities for direct service and advocacy and instills a life-long commitment to service.

3. The School is linked in a reciprocal manner with ministries among people who are poor, marginalized and suffering from injustice.

4. In our multicultural world, the School prepares and inspires students to be active, informed, and responsible citizens locally, nationally, and globally.

5. The School teaches respect for creation and prepares students to be stewards of the earth’s resources.

It really impresses me that I work at a place that recognizes the need for such a truly well rounded education. I feel like some Catholic schools might just stop after the first two goals, faith and intellect. According to the Sacred Heart Network, “While five goals and their criterion unite the twenty-four member schools of the Network in the United States and Canada, the schools enjoy an even wider affiliation with the people and institutions associated with the Society of the Sacred Heart in forty-one countries around the globe. This truly international character of Sacred Heart education helps to foster an important global awareness in our students as we strive to build a more just world.” I think a more just world is just fantastic!

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Here I have captured only one of many acts of kindness and service I have witnessed in my time at Stone Ridge. Below are photos of the four girls I chaperone on social action days. Every other Wednesday we head down to a local organization called Mary House DC, that serves families. From their website: “The philosophy at Mary House has always been to help others as we ourselves would want to be helped, while providing a safe haven that allows families to reclaim their dignity”

My students help out in the education center. They organize crafting activities, and help maintain the space. The education center serves as the Mary House summer camp and after school program location. Because of this, for our first few months of service my students had never actually seen the children they were serving. (They arrive after school, we leave by 2pm) However, with special permission from our school, and this was no small feet, actually a scheduling nightmare, we were able to stay late one Wednesday, and my students were able to meet the adorable and amazing children they had been preparing crafts for. We threw a little cookie decorating party and it was a hit. My students were touched, and it was an amazing experience for everyone involved. However, most of the time they are working diligently to create lessons and fun that they themselves won’t participate in or see, and I think that is what is truly impressive.

Below, you can see pictures of these compassionate young women doing their best to create a decorative tree for the education center. Each leaf has a helpful and kind behavior and is meant to serve as motivation and positive reinforcement for the children in the after school program. You can also see my students holding up two Thanksgiving themed bags of food they put together to donate to one specific family, as a holiday gift.

Social Action days are truly one of the best parts of my job. I am not just an art teacher I am a witness to the incredible compassion and caring acts of my students.


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Bookmaking with Studio II

“For our last unit, Ms. Cowan introduced our Studio Art II class to the craft of bookmaking. Not only were we creating books to physically use, but our creations were something I had never associated with books before: sculptural works of art. Well-crafted books serve their practical purposes well, but in this unit, we stressed the importance of craftsmanship. We were taught two different kinds of bookmaking through accordion books and binding books with thread.
The theme we focused on when creating was “duality”, which is also the theme of Callithump (our school’s literary/art magazine) this year. Some of my classmates used their newfound knowledge of bookmaking to express duality through the physical books themselves. Others, like me, confined the theme to the pages of the books we created.
In all, it was quite a unique experience! I don’t think anyone who signed up for this course thought that it would include bookmaking. At least, I didn’t, but I’m so very glad we were able to do this unit. Not only was it creative, but also educational in how books are typically traditionally made. I’ve got to say, I have a newfound appreciation for the work that went into any hand-bound book.”
-Hannah
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Studio Two: Student Perspective

In Studio II students have been diving deeper into the elements and principles of art and design. For the first semester there is a specific focus on line and value as well as craftsmanship. We started the year with contour line drawing. This included studies of landscapes, still lifes and the human figure. Here is a description of what we have been doing as explained by two of my amazing student, Lenora and Carter:

“For some of our first sketches in Studio Art II we experimented with a variety of lines. We found that we were capable of capturing inanimate objects or aspects of nature without picking up the tip of the pencil from the paper. The limited amount of time we had made it challenging, however we learned how to control and manipulate the texture of lines to make an object look as realistic as possible. With the control from this exercise, we could further advance our sketches, incorporating cross hatching.”

Thank you Lenora and Carter for a beautiful explanation.

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