Tag: art project

The Halfway Restart, Art Teacher Style

Have Heart, a collage of text and magazines.
A snippet of a visual journal page created by one of my talented Painting class students, Fall 2020.

The day before school started, spring 2021, I laid in bed and felt something I had not felt in the last nine years. Dread.

Dread is a mental state and physical sensation of distinct weight that I often felt at my first art teacher job. Since moving schools and finding a supportive, happy place, I haven’t felt this in years. But, here it was again, reacquainting itself with me. And I hate it.

I love my job, I love my coworkers, I love my school. But, after a tough pandemic controlled first semester, it was hard to imagine going back. I felt more pessimistic about the start of this semester than I did the first semester because I knew what was coming. The combination of in-person, full virtual, hybrid feels like you are juggling and teaching three different classes in one. (Check out my survival tips here)

I hadn’t even closed my eyes and the exhaustion of what to come was already washing over me.

The next morning my husband asked how I was feeling and I was honest, I was unsure and wished I could just call it quits. He told me I couldn’t go in that way, I had to pull through because of my students.

He is so right.

We can’t let this get to us because we are responsible for so many others’ emotions. We provide care, support, and education to very malleable young minds. How we feel matters because it impacts how they feel.

I had to pull it together.

I would be lying if I didn’t admit I lamented with many others. That deep sighs hit me during my drive in and planning period. But, everyday, I will pull it together before my students step foot in my room. That is my goal, my motto for wrapping up this year. I plan to go out with just as much enthusiasm as I came in with nine years ago.

I’ve got this. We’ve got this. You’ve got this.

PREPPING FOR NEW CLASSES

The syllabus, contracts, and bathroom passes I use every year.

This semester, like many other middle and high school art teachers, I have three brand new classes. This means I get to hit the restart button (for better or worse).

Before I left last semester I printed and made copies of all my typical first day of school paperwork. Starting a new class with clear expectations, requiring parent signatures, and holding students accountable for turning them in is an important way to start the semester. (Check out my first day of school pack on my TPT and in my blog shop).

A few years ago I updated my get to know you sheets, creating a unique one for every class. I love using these as a time filler the first day, and I read every one to help me get to know my students from day one.

On the back of each get to know you sheet I always include a brief survey. I ask questions such as, what other art classes have you taken, what is your favorite art material, what is your least favorite project from another class? This helps me understand where each student may fall in terms of experience and gauge interest in different types of projects.

TIP: Include a favorite song or band question on your sheets. Use their responses to build a class playlist using Spotify or similar. Always check song ratings/warnings to make sure the music is appropriate before adding it!

ART KITS, TAKE 2

Art kits and brush tube sets to send home with students.

Before school started I once again prepped my art kits and brush tubes for my students to take home. Since we are starting the semester in hybrid mode, I need them to be able to make art at home. If we ever go full virtual, I know what is in each kit and what they are capable of creating.

All my art kits have paper sheets I have the students use as a check-off when they first go through their kit. If they are missing any supplies, they have to touch base with me to get them. This helps them see what they have in their kit and confirms they got everything (holding them accountable for it all at the end of the semester).

I have been using the brush tubes for years and swear by them. Each student gets their own set of 5 brushes that must be turned in, well cared for or replaced, at the end of the semester.

How to you keep the kids accountable? Give them a grade for turning everything back in. This won’t work in every circumstance but it is the best solution I found.

I am sending as many good vibes and happy thoughts to all you art teachers, general teachers, administrators, and more out there. If we can survive this year, we can survive anything.

Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog. You can read more art teacher related posts here, visual journal posts here, and check out my teaching resources on my TPT and in my blog shop. Thanks for stopping by!

Distance Learning – Visual Journals

A visual journal page of a sign that says "don't stop art."

I recently got word from my school that we wouldn’t be back before April 13th. I have doubts that we will even return the 14th, but only time will tell. This means no students, no hands on learning, no art show, so many other cancellations of events and what we all consider the norm, gone.

Just two weeks ago I walked the line between is this really serious? and will we actually have school cancellations due to an illness? It only took until the end of that week to realize the severity of the situation we are in. I immediately began planning how I could continue to push art into the lives of my students during this, because at a time like this an outlet for our feelings is as important as hand washing (although wash your hands FIRST then start the creative outlet for your mental health).

What is most important to me is that we don’t stop art. That my students continue to flex their creative muscles in this time of isolation. So what do I do? What do educators do? How do we continue to provide for our students without having a face to face with them? These questions are what pushed me into the next phase of dealing with COVID-19, I was long out of denial, it was time to take action.

Luckily, I have a project that fits well into distance learning, visual journals. Before my students left I had them take their visual journals home. If you have not started this project, all your students need is a used hardback book that they (and their family members) no longer want. If paperback is all they have, use it! If a sketchbook or notebook is all they have, give it a go! If they have no bound book option, use a piece of paper. That most important part is getting started and making something.

MY DISTANCE LEARNING PLAN

For the next two weeks I have a solid distance learning plan that focuses on visual journals. Luckily, if we continue to teach and learn from home, this project can be extended. You can find all my resources, including a presentation, handouts, and more, on my TPT here for free. I also have many how to worksheets on visual journaling you can check out here. You can also continue reading below for the general outline of my plan.

TOPIC: VISUAL JOURNALS & COVID-19

For the first week of distance learning my students are focusing on what this current crisis looks like, by reading information on reputable websites such as the CDC. They then reflect on how this crisis is impacting them, their friends and family. Next, they begin planning out a spread (two facing pages) in their visual journal that sums up their coronavirus experience in one image.

My school is using technology already put in place to support us through distance learning. All assignments are posted to our class Blackbaud page. Completed assignments can be uploaded through the same system. This organizes who submitted which assignment when, without me doing the heavy lifting. In addition, we are using Microsoft Teams as a discussion board and file holder to organize all our documents into one place and as a secondary option for students to access what they need for their assignment.

If you don’t have technology in place to support you, it will take extra work, but it can be done. Google classroom is free and an amazing way to connect with your students in one place. E-mail is another option to at least get assignment sheets and information into your student’s hands (or inbox). They can e-mail you pictures of their visual journal pages that you post to a Flickr or similar page where students can check out each other’s work and comment on them. If you haven’t started a class Instagram yet, now is the time! This could be your online gallery of work and community space. Worse case scenario, you could mail packets out, although not ideal, it is an option if it’s feasible for you (heaven knows we need to be taken care of too. Make sure you take care of you!)

At the end of the first week my students only have to submit their reflection sheet and start brainstorming designs for their visual journal spread. I want us all to take baby steps at the beginning so we don’t burn out by the end. I am taking the less is more approach, while still giving my students the opportunity to express themselves.

At the end of the second week they will submit a photograph of their completed visual journal page to me. My students will be graded on all submitted work, not every school is, but grades are great motivation to work, so I am thankful for that.

VISUAL JOURNAL SUPPLIES & HOW TO

To complete this project students can use materials typically found at home to create beautiful works of art. Included in my free packet is a list of supplies they can creatively use they may not think of as art supplies. Below is a basic list to get you started:

  • Used hardback book
  • Magazines
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Sharpies
  • Tape
  • Paperclips
  • A computer to find images and a printer to print images
  • Foil
  • Paper bags
  • Wrapping paper

Because my students are already a couple of months into our visual journal project, we work on them every Friday at school, they have already been introduced to collaging, mixed media, and examples of visual journals and techniques. If you are starting from scratch, send them here to read through how tos or have them Google visual journal or altered books for ideas. Send the visual journal presentation in my free pack. Have the students take the reigns in their art making and find inspiration on their own. The internet provides almost limitless access to tutorials, information, and tips, encourage them to use it.

As your students work on their spreads don’t be afraid to create your own. Video your process, share what your reaction to coronavirus is. Be vulnerable with your students because we are all vulnerable right now. Although my school has prohibited video conferencing of any kind with students, due to the inability to oversee actions and to be free of liability of any inappropriate or poor conduct, I can share videos of me working. Although we aren’t in the classroom together, I believe hearing my voice my instill a sense of regularity into this process.

As we navigate through this unprecedented time, if we continue to be out of school I plan to post a list of visual journal prompts students can select from and create visual journal pages about. I will check in with their progress at least once a week, and have new spreads due every two weeks.

Your distance learning may look completely different from mine, but I hope this at least provides ideas to get you started. It’s overwhelming to change everything we have been trained to do, but we can do it and we can do it together.

OTHER DISTANCE LEARNING IDEAS

If you teach elementary school, middle school, or photography classes I have been working overtime to get distance learning packs put together for you! Read below for more information.

My retired art teacher mom and I created a distance learning pack for K-5 with projects designed specifically with the abilities and needs of each individual grade level in mind. Each lesson pack includes presentations, assignment sheets to help the parents and students, and step by step instructions through demonstration videos and handouts.

I have adapted my traditional artist trading card project into a distance learning focused one that includes a mail trading session between students. I know students miss each other and writing letters, creating art, and keeping in touch with something they can physically touch can make a huge difference. Check this lesson out here.

My coworker and I have put together four photography focused distance learning packs for you. One is a free pack that includes prompts for students to explore while at home. Two lesson packs focus on setting up and taking pictures at home through constructed landscapes indoors and a social commentary on the COVID-19 crisis. The fourth lesson takes an art historical approach looking at photographs that have changed the world. These packs could cover your class for the rest of the semester if needed.

In addition, I have two art history lessons up on prehistoric art. One is designed for upper elementary and young middle schoolers, while the other is designed for late middle and high schoolers. Art history is just as important to art making and could be a good solution to art distance learning for you.

Check my distance learning category on TPT and follow me to stay up to date with new products I get posted!

Ya’ll I miss my classroom, my students, my routine. Before this all I wanted was one snow day, now I would give anything to be back in my room looking at my kiddo’s facing and talking about art, or whatever topic was important in the teenage world that day.

Good luck to you as you go through this journey. Please reach out with questions, comments, or concerns. Click my social media buttons in the right menu bar to keep in touch.

A week ago I was at the beach (practicing social distancing but in a much more beautiful place) and now am I here. I am here and I am going to do this and soon this will be behind us. Thanks for stopping by!

Check out my most recent visual journal post that explains how to create a tape transfer in a visual journal using packaging tape and printing pictures.

Visual Journal Page 55: Bedtime Bear

A collage with a dog and sleeping zzzzs, made for my Kody Bear a German Shepard, Husky mix.

When I realized what visual journal page I was blogging about today I was equal parts heart warmed and melancholy. This visual journal page is for my Kody Bear who lived a long 13.5 years, but went on to puppy heaven two and a half years ago.

Kody Bear was sweet, snuggly *at his discretion,* so fluffy, a close talker, pushy, stubborn, and so very smart. His stubborn/intelligent combination caused a great deal of frustration in college. But he eventually settled into the perfect dog.

Loosing a dog as an adult was different than loosing a dog as a child. I was so close to my family dog growing up. He was my baby. But, by the time he headed up the white staircase to puppy heaven I was two years into college and didn’t see much of the end of his life. Kody Bear was different because I was there, I witnessed his last breath, which I am forever grateful for, but it was almost impossible to bare. I am endlessly thankful that he was sick for such a short period of time after living a very healthy 13.5 years before that. I am thankful I opted to drive home from the beach just in case this was it. Because it was and I was there for Nick and him.

But, this post isn’t just about losing Kody in the end, it was about the sweetness I witnessed those last few years. Kody was a wild pup who took a lot of discipline and training to wrangle. But, he eventually found a balance that worked for all involved parties. He loved being outside, sitting near you (but never touching), and was 100% Nick’s dog. I believed he viewed me as a bonus, but not his person.

I can’t blame Kody for that. After all, when I met Nick he and Kody were already a pair, they came as a package deal. At 19, a sophomore in college, he had inherited him from his sister. I think Nick was the only one who could handle his wild spirit. I think Kody realized he had met his match with Nick and he developed great respect and love for him as a result.

And although for 11 years of his life it was all about Nick and Kody, those last couple of years he settled into some routines with me. My favorite was every night when I would go to bed he would follow right behind. It didn’t matter who was still awake, if a party was going on, or if it was 5 pm. My bear was right behind me as we headed up the stairs together.

It’s the little things that make you realize you are bonded with someone. It’s the everyday, repetitive, tiny moments that add up to such beautiful things. The moments that Kody showed me he cared, by supporting decisions for an early bedtime or laying nearby when I was upset or simply warming myself next to the fire, I truly felt connected to him.

Today, I have another bedtime buddy named Harper. She is about 80% as fluffy, 25% of his size, and is just as wild. Despite her high energy, as soon as I hit the steps heading up to bed, she is right behind me. I like to think that she represents a piece of Kody, a piece of me, and a piece of my life right now.

Sweet dreams Kody Bear.

SUPPLIES

  • Visual journal
  • Mod Podge or Elmer’s glue
  • Book pages
  • Bleeding tissue paper
  • Sharpie
  • Packing tape
  • Laser printed image

VISUAL JOURNAL HOW TO

To create this visual journal page I started with a printed image of my bear snuggled up and snoozing. I had come up with the idea of having snoring zzzs floating around him as I began developing this visual journal page. It was easy to opt for a tape transfer, so you could see the layers of zs coming from Kody and spreading to the rest of the pages.

To create a packaging tape transfer you need a laster printed image, you can also use newspaper or inkjet but they aren’t as successful. Tape strips of packaging tape directly on top of the image. Flip the image over and rub the back with something hard, like scissor handles or a wood spoon. The burnishing process helps stick the ink to the packaging tape. Next, run the back of the image under water until the paper starts to raise up and peel away. Rub the paper off of the tape, leaving only the ink stuck to the tape.

The end result of a tape transfer is a semi-transparent image. Any white sections are completely see through and any dark sections are semi-transparent or fully opaque. Next, I set aside the tape transfer and started working on the background.

I first glued down strips of bleeding tissue paper I had set aside in my visual journal stash. In a previous project I had wet sheets of bleeding tissue paper to stain paper with color. I then set aside the used sheets to dry, which can result in tie dye looking tissue paper.

Next, I began writing the letter Z on pieces of ripped out book pages. I cut each one into a square then glued it down to the background. I filled the area I knew the trap transfer would be placed and slowly spread them out as it moved away from Kody. Once I was satisfied with the way the background looked, I glued the transfer of Kody on top.

Last but not least I wrote out my text on book pages, cut it out, and glued it to the right page.

Check out more visual journal pages with tape transfers here, here, here, and here.

CHALLENGE

Create a visual journal page about a loss in your life. Use a tape transfer to help illustrate it.

Interested in learning more about visual journaling or introducing them in your classroom? Get everything you need to teach or learn about visual journals, plus a ton of printable resources (including my tape transfer how to handout) here.

Thanks for taking the time to check out my post to my sweet Bear. Help me spread the word about visual journaling by sharing with others! Don’t forget to subscribe to my blog for updates straight to your inbox or follow me on facebook or instagram. Thanks for stopping by!

Portrait Colored Pencil + The Memory Project

I have spent much of my life creating art. Growing up with an art teacher mom greatly widened my creative boundaries. She always had art supplies, new ideas, and fun projects for us to work on.

However, while my art making career does reach far back, for as long as I can remember I have also struggled with and have tried to avoid portraiture. In contrast, my art teacher mama spent much of her free time creating beautiful watercolor portraits, and even attempted to teach me her tricks a time or two, but the process never clicked for me.

My aversion to portraiture was tested in college, but for the most part I was able to skirt around assignments. However, my career choice of art education forced me to come face to face with my greatest art aversion, you guessed it, portraits.

I knew that in order to create a well rounded curriculum I would have to teach my students portraiture, and myself along with them. It took years of practice, learning new techniques, and teaching it to others for things to start to sink in. While it still doesn’t come naturally, it comes more easily, and I have added more and more portrait based assignments to my classes over the years.

One new addition last year was The Memory Project. We worked with The Memory Project organization to create portraits of children in areas of need. Once the portraits are completed we send the originals to the organization, who in turn sends them with representatives to hand deliver the works of art to the children portrayed.

Everything about this project touches me to the core. It incorporates my love for art, sharing that love with others, and it teaches students how they can use their talents for good. They have to take time to create a work of art that they will have to give away.

My students and I had such a good experience last year I decided to make it an annual project. Last year we focused on acrylic paintings, you can find the lesson plan for that here, but this year I opted to make myself even more uncomfortable by throwing in another material I don’t naturally get a long with, colored pencil.

THE SUPPLIES

  • 9″x12″ or smaller sheets of quality drawing paper
  • Memory portrait pictures (multiple copies, the same size as the paper)
  • Pencils
  • Colored pencils
  • Pencil sharpeners
  • Erasers

THE TECHNIQUE

My students start by selecting the child they are interested in recreating. I then make copies of their pictures for them to reference. Before jumping right in I have them create thumbnail sketches of different facial features and practice blending various colored pencils colors to get the right skin color. You can find a worksheet to help guide that process here.

After they have some practice under their belt, we get started on the base sketch. Because we are sending these portraits out to the children they portray, I allow my students to choose multiple options to get started. They can use the grid method to create an accurate base drawing, they can punch holes through the picture and make dots to follow on their paper, or they can free hand. You can learn more about these options in my Memory Project painting pack here.

Once they are confident in their drawing and have all the correct information, they get started with the layers. I tell them to start light and slowly build layers up. They block out shadows and mid-tones first, working towards the highlights. I recommend coloring in a circular motion to mimic the soft, even look of skin. They should aim to color along the contour, or outline, of their shapes to give it a three dimensional quality.

I recommend starting with the skin tone first before jumping into the hair because the hair overlaps the skin. I also think it’s important to work on every part equally, rather than 100% completing the lips before moving to the nose (for example). Instead, build your piece up as a whole.

After creating a base layer start adding darker and darker colors, build in the hair, clothing, and other details.

Consider what to do in the background. Did their subject note their favorite color? Is there an interesting background in the photograph they want to recreate? What would enhance, not distract from their portrait?

Similar to coloring in the subject, the layers should slowly be built up. If too much pigment is put down at one time the surface will become burnished and look shiny. It’s hard for more pigment to stick to this burnished surface and often layers need to be removed with an eraser in order to add more color.

While portraits still aren’t my favorite subject to create, I am glad I have developed the skill set and some confidence in introducing the concept to my students. It’s important to offer them a well rounded art education and portraits are a part of that!

Check out a time lapse video of my piece below!

Read about some of my other portrait projects here.

Check out portrait resources on my blog shop (grid lesson here) and my TPT (acrylic portrait project here, portrait with words here, charcoal self portraits here, altered self portraits here).

Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog and read about one of my recent projects! Share the post on your social media outlet of choice and help me spread the word about all things art making. Thanks for stopping by!

TPT Cyber Monday Sale-25% off

It’s Cyber Monday on TPT and my shop blog which means it’s my absolute favorite time of year. The dropping temperatures, cozy fires, holiday shopping, smell of Christmas trees, and way too much eggnog gives me all the feels.

This time of year is also notoriously busy as I try to wrap up my semester long classes and finish up end of the semester projects in my yearlong classes. I am hopeful my students can cut up and display the me-sized laminated section of supply labels in the picture above before the year comes to a close (read more about these below). As a yearbook adviser our second deadline is on the horizon, which means I will soon be cross eyed with editing once again. As a wife and mom I have a lot of prepping to do as Christmas very quickly approaches.

Although life is busy as usual I had to take a minute to throw up a quick blog post to let you know about the cyber Monday sale that starts tomorrow, 12/2 and runs through the end of the day Tuesday, 12/3.

Although the school year has gone into full swing and my life outside of the classroom is always a hustle, I have been working hard on my TPT products. I have a bunch of new projects, bundles, and printable displays to share with you guys. Don’t forget to spoil yourself with a few TPT items this holiday season!

PINHOLE PHOTOGRAPHY

Pinhole photography has been a big theme in a number of my recent projects. I collaborated with my retired art teacher mom, Anne Ward, on a basic pinhole photography pack and an elementary through high school pack with everything you need to set up and teach pinhole.

My mom never ceased to amaze me growing up with her ideas and fearlessness for trying new things in her classroom. I remember when she began exploring pinhole photography in her classes, converting a storage closet into a temporary darkroom every spring. She ended up bringing her pinhole knowledge home over the summers by teaching classes to neighborhood kids and converting a bathroom and my Dad’s workshop into a darkroom.

I remember helping her out during summers in college. Teaching these classes helped us raise money to go on a trip to Italy and France, time that was so precious to spend one on one with my mom. Although she has retired from the classroom my mom continues to teach pinhole to neighborhood kids every summer. I was so excited to work on these packs with her so I could share her years of knowledge with you.

This basic pinhole pack gives you instructions on setting up a darkroom, building a camera, contact printer, and getting started taking and developing pictures.

This pinhole pack has everything mentioned above as well as lesson plans, worksheets, and additional projects for students to work on in elementary to high school. The lesson plan includes specifics on how to adapt everything to each grade level. You will have everything you need to get started with pinhole in your classroom.

In addition to working with my mom on pinhole I also picked the brain of my photography teacher coworker on how she implements pinhole photography in her class. I combined the resources created with my mom with Meagan’s project ideas to create a pack specific to upper middle school and high school age students.

DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY

Digital photography products have been a major theme in my TPT shop over the last year. I had the chance to work with my photographer teacher coworker, Meagan Brooker, to share her amazing lessons and resources with you. Every year her students are recognized in multiple contests for their outstanding photography. Now you have the chance to use her ideas and implement them in your classes.

If you are looking to incorporate traditional photography techniques into your class, but don’t have a darkroom set up, give cyanotypes a try. Use digitally captured and printed images to create fine art blueprints using this classic technique.

This light focused bundle pack includes two projects that cover seven different lighting techniques. From light box still lifes to light painting to using found lighting outside the classroom, this pushes students to think creatively about how they use lights to enhance their photographs.

DSLR photography selfies project

Selfies are an undeniable aspect of current photography trends. Take back the reigns of social media photography and teach students how to create artistic selfies. How can you create a selfie using a DSLR camera? Require the students to take a picture of themselves using self timers, conceptual selfies, and more. Students select three out of four topics to explore, all focused on reflecting themselves.

Start introducing Photoshop basics with this fun “magic” themed photo project, invisibility illusion. Students are tasked with combining multiple images together and cutting sections out to create the illusion of a section disappearing.

A DSLR photography lesson on making ugly subject beautiful.

My latest addition to my TPT store is my making the ugly beautiful DSLR project. Students have to take two photographs that reflect two different topics: ugly subject, beautiful composition and glorifying the everyday. Link coming for this assignment tonight, in the meantime check out my TPT store and be on the lookout for this new addition.

SUPPLY LABELS

Colorful clay themed printable supply labels.

I finally took the time to add to my art pack of supply labels and create a stand alone set for all things clay. Clay supplies are their own special category and they are hopefully included in every art classroom. These are rainbow themed, easy to print, and easy to read. Two different styles are included.

Chalkboard themed printable clay supply labels

In addition to my rainbow themed clay supply labels, I also included chalkboard themed ones. Every classroom style is different, hopefully one of these will compliment your style and help your students find supplies independently. These are also included in my bundle pack of chalkboard supply labels for visual art supplies.

ART CURRICULUMS

It was a huge check on my to do list to A: Update my current AP art curriculums to the new standards and to B: add a 3D Design section to my curriculum. You can purchase this as a stand alone curriculum if you only teach 3D Design or you can purchase it as part of my AP studio art bundle if you teach all three. This is fully updated to reflect the switch to sustained investigation and selected works. Although I have never taught AP 3D, I did take it as a student (back in the day) and I work closely with two teachers who teach it at my current school.

I also finally got around to bundling all of my painting curriculums into one mega bundle. This includes my Introduction to Painting, Painting I, Painting II, and Advanced Painting. The painting I and II curriculums can be found here and here. The Introduction to Painting curriculum is separated out from my yearlong Intro to Art curriculum and the Advanced Painting is separated out from my yearlong Advanced Art curriculum.

After a quick getaway to Hilton Head Island for Thanksgiving I am back in the swing of things preparing for the holidays and the end of the semester at school. Treat yourself to the gift of time by purchasing one of my products and saving yourself all the planning that goes into lesson prep.

Thanks for taking the time to check out this post! If you want to read more summaries of products check out past sales updates here, here, and here. Help me spread the word about amazing art resources by sharing this with others. Don’t forget to follow me on TPT to get updated on new products and instagram for an inside look at my day to day classroom activities. Also check out my blog shop for 30% off all products that are included. Thanks for stopping by!