Tuesday, December 29, 2015

On Old Navy and Being an Artist

 I am disgusted. As if the arts aren't the birth of invention, innovation, and creative thought.  Not to mention, the basis of, you know, fashion design.

One great irony is that this corporation, thanks to style savvy, recently revived itself. But let's not encourage kids to become artists, because where would that get you? Good gracious. As if I am not already spending days combating people who don't understand the value of the arts in education, now I find myself justifying why it is a valid career option.

Let me be clear. As an elementary art teacher, I do not want to knock Presidential hopefuls, nor our world's astronauts (who tend, actually, to be particularly creatively resourceful people). But let's consider six reasons the world really needs artists, and that we'd better have people who aspire to become them.

1. Artists are the reason that we have beauty in the world. The clothes you wear, the art on your walls, the furniture and jewelry and home you so enjoy? Thank an artist. Ditto for your smartphone, television and movies you enjoy, and the music to which you listen.

2. Artists are creative problem solvers, and are not afraid to make mistakes. They are the original scientists, experimenting with materials and observing our world and its phenomena in a deep, meaningful way.

3. Artists are philanthropic. They fill your world with color.  Graffiti and murals, they are all there for you to enjoy, to brighten your day a little with thought and beauty.

4. Artists can create their own careers, either being their own bosses or joining into communities and corporations that need them. Artists show us that they can be themselves and marry work with the creative visions they believe in, since economic success alone does not translate to happiness.

5. Artists can use images to change another person's thinking without words or arguments. Art can open hard conversations and facilitate truth-telling. More laws and rules do not transform the hearts of human beings.

6. Artists create outlets for big feelings- their own, and yours, too. Hoping to raise a child who doesn't bottle up his or her feelings? Try buying him or her a poetry journal, or a sketchbook and crayons. Think of the last song, film, or painting that made you cry.  Artists understand emotions, can express beautifully, and can generate them in us when we least expect it.

So, you want to buy one of those shirts, and hope to raise a child who wants to be President?  Hope you have some artists on that staff to drive the difference between a ho-hum campaign and a dynamic, visually and creatively alive one that grabs voters.

"Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up." -Pablo Picasso

Want to suggest that Old Navy reconsider their approach to supporting the artists who make them a successful brand?  Drop them a line at custserv@oldnavy.com

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Pre-vacation Stations! EES

You really can't do anything too serious the day before vacation.  Kids just want to have a little fun, and frankly, so do I! This means that we wrap up our projects and have a class where students make choices to go to stations.

They have been busy making cards, jewelry, trying computer art programs, free painting, and more!

In the picture above, students are using play dough and tools. Fourth graders in particular loved this station, opening a little bakery where customers could place orders for fancy desserts. I loved to see them loosen up and play creatively together!

The EES art room has two new Buddha Boards students have been enjoying. Using only water and a brush to paint, they are a mess-free addition to the art room.  Think about getting one for home- they are a terrific and fun way for kids to practice spelling words, let go of anxieties, and build fine motor skills.

Classes have been enjoying the blocks, building elaborate cities, and testing out physics laws.

Making a bookmark for a gift
Coloring to relax
These stations let the ideas flow!
This student asked if I had any thick paperboard, and came back to show me this!

Have a fabulous, creative, and restful vacation!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Under the Sea! EES

Welcome under the sea with us!

Fourth grade artists are combining making art with studying the conventions of non-fiction texts. 

Their knowledge is evidenced in their finished artwork.  If they have understood how to use the non-fiction books in the art room to find information, they have included at least two each of things that are plant, animal, and mineral in the ocean.

These fourth graders had excellent discussions about fiction versus non-fiction, and ways to seek content in an information text.  I hate to draw the line so harshly, but these little guys, unfortunately, were out by the rules of the game.
We were unable to find Snork in between shark  and sponge. Spongebob, it was noted, was also missing.
I know.  It's unfair. Who doesn't love the Snorks?  But back to getting real.

Students offered their help to one another using features of books such as the table of contents, index, and glossary to find out about and locate the things they sought.  

Narwhals were one of the most popular creatures, because while they are real (I mean, we think so... but have you ever actually seen one?) they have the aura of magic and mystery usually reserved for unicorns and dragons.  Unsurprisingly, sea dragons (you know, those nifty relatives of seahorses) were a hit too.

Students began with creating watercolor backgrounds to which many people added salt, creating that lovely bubbly effect you see above.  Additional creatures were drawn on separate paper, cut out, and glued on. Many students added real sand for texture as well.  And there you have it, your virtual scuba diving adventure of the day!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Zentangle Repoussé- EES

In their latest art project, Fifth Graders at EES have combined the ancient art of repoussé metal work with the relatively new approach to doodling called Zentangle. 

Students began by looking at examples of ancient Roman armor made by the technique of forming the metal outwards with a hammer, raising images out of the flat material.  This technique is called repoussé. This metalworking tradition has origins all across the world, including not only Roman armor but also ancient Mexican and Aztec cultures, among others.

Students used a thick-gauge aluminum and wooden tools. The metal is pushed into a soft surface, then worked from the reverse to push negative spaces back down. This flipping between the sides continues until the image is raised.

The images that students created began with a series of thumbnail sketches in their sketchbook. Thumbnail sketches are small, simplified versions of a bigger visual idea.  Each student created 4-6 ideas from which they chose a favorite.

After the students finished working the metal, they added color to the whole piece, pushing it into the recesses, and wiping away the high points to enhance the design.

The finished, dry metal pieces were mounted onto backgrounds. These young artists used a variety of Sharpies and paint pens to extend the designs outward from the metal.

Artists really enjoyed creating the Zentangle designs, which they found relaxing, meditative, and which gave them plenty of creative space.

Many artists chose to add highlights of color to their pieces in selected areas, to enhance, but not overwhelm, the patterns they chose.

They did a great job of considering elements and principles of design, such as balancing their lights and darks, and varying line width. Look for them on display soon!