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Sunday, August 31, 2014


Funny how a couple days off from work, and my eyes thirstily seek the sublime connections found in my own studio and apartment.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Assignment Hits it all with Wax Resist

The school has tripled the number of available display cases this fall, so that much of the work gets hung before I can properly photograph them. (sorry!) Here is a smattering of student work left in the room...
We had a parent's night last Thursday, and I realized that we have done A LOT in the 3 weeks we've started classes. We've used ink, acrylic, and wax, with sticks, forks and feathers to depict shells, skeletons, shapes, and flowers.
With this particular assignment the students watched a powerpoint about composition and did a sheet of 8 thumbnails of designs out of their head. Some looked at something in the room, some used only geometric shapes... After we conferred on the best compositions, they used forks to scratch into a larger waxed surface. Then they rubbed on and rubbed off a small puddle of black acrylic paint. It showed them how acrylic is water based and will resist wax areas. For a final touch they used the forks again to scratch further and create highlights. We talked about creating "value".

It was a successful lesson because it covered a lot of design issues, technical insights, and each work was unique to the artist. They are happy, and I am happy.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Faces of AP

My class of AP hopefuls brought in their self portraits as the summer homework... here are seven of the nine... see what I have to work with!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Stick figures in the classroom

Because we don't have a sequential program in our art department, (due to restrictions from scheduling the academic classes), we have students of varied skill levels in every class. Some arrive excited to be there... some arrive nervous about their perceived shortfalls...and most arrive with critics in their heads. So my job is to both reassure and challenge each one of them.
This month has been about getting to the bare bones of painting... mark making and relationships between shapes. So. I showed them photos of H. Matisse and B. Marden painting with sticks. That's how we started...
The students studied sea shells and then the class

skeletons. They started the skeleton drawing by taping a marker to the end of a long stick and drawing while standing on their seats. Afterwards I let them use a much shorter brush with black ink and white acrylic. The start gave each of the works a loose feel. These are just samples. I have to say there was something nice about every single attempt. Will do it again.
The kids really liked it, though they moaned a lot at first. When they complained that their work was going to "look bad", I responded how marvelous that they had an excuse of "my teacher made me do it with a three foot stick". That shut them up and got them having fun.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Fragmented self portrait

I am lucky to be able to do what I love. But before I can get into the classroom and share with my students the love , the real passion for exploring in paint or photoshop or mixed media, I have to attend a gazillion meetings and learn new grade tracking programs. There is so much pressure to learn new protocols, write up curricula in new languages, meet new colleagues, get the rooms ready for the start of school, that I can barely think straight by evening. I am no longer the newest art teacher, and I have so many hats to wear this year that I am not sure of how to make smooth shifts between them.
Add hot flashes and power outages and this is me:
And this is my sketchbook page:

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Back to school

Summer ends early in Florida, regardless of the hot weather. Just recently I found myself at the University of South Florida in St Petersburg attending an AP summer institute program. I was feeling pretty sorry for myself since so many of my friends up north have a whole month left of their summer vacation to enjoy. With 32 other art teachers, mostly from Florida, I put my nose to the grindstone, got off the pity pot, and we tackled the ins and outs of developing our own AP studio design and drawing curricula.We also attended the Dali Museum and the Chilhuly Collection as a group.
The most important thing I came away with is that the purpose of the AP is for the student to experience and get credit for a foundation college level course. It's hard work, but not impossible. The criteria are based on understanding of the principles of design or the quality and diversity of mark making, if doing the drawing AP.

Though they say we should encourage risk taking and the concentration should demonstrate exploration, it is hard to fit in the time for failure. The kids have to put out at least 24 works in a calendar school year of... 180 days- that means one work every 7.5 days. BUT- the AP exam is in early May, so, really, they need to produce a quality work every 6.2 days!!
Lucky for me, our fearless instructor Colleen Harrigan, fit in time for us to be creative. It is a balance as an artist teacher to be a taskmaster/drill sargeant and still recall what appeals about art making... the spiritual side of the matter.