Tag: art teacher blog

An Art Teacher Journey: My Last Day of School

A picture of my first day of school and last day of school.

I recently made a major life change. Last fall, I decided the 2020-2021 school year would be my last year in the classroom. After kindergarten through senior year of high school, undergrad, graduate school, and twelve years as an art teacher, on May 21, 2021, I reached my last day of school.

Pictures of one of my classrooms

I taught for 12 years, at two schools, in four different classrooms. I taught everything from Introduction to Art to Ceramics & Sculpture to AP Art and so many things in between. I had classes packed in at 35 kids per class and classes with 5. I taught with zero budget and with a dream budget. I may not have loved every minute of it, but I loved most of it. Coming to the decision to quit was not easy and it weighed heavily on me, but looking back I know it was the right choice.

Updating a desk area in my classroom.

STEPPING BACK

After teaching virtually for the second half of the 2020 semester, moving to another classroom over the summer, and adjusting to teaching in a hybrid model, exhausted was an understatement. Last year was the second hardest year of my career (check out my post here on teaching tips for hybrid mode and for a letter to first-year teachers, my hardest year as a teacher). Although I had considered it for a couple of years, a few weeks into the school year, the voice saying it was time for a break had grown to an exigent level.

In September 2020, just six weeks into the school year, I began talking with my close coworkers and department chair about the possibility of me leaving. By October I had officially put in my resignation for the end of the school year. By December my job was posted, by January art teacher candidates were coming in for interviews. By February they had my replacement, an amazing artist and art teacher who I know will take care of my babies.

I cried in 3/4 of my sit-down meetings about my resignation. I loved my job. I loved my school. I loved my coworkers. I loved my students. I loved my classroom. I loved being an art teacher. So why was I choosing to leave it all behind?

For me, what it came down to was an imbalance in my life. For eight years I had been building a small business creating lesson plans, curriculums, handouts, and more for teachers and art teachers. I sold products through Teachers Pay Teachers and my blog. I began spending more evenings developing my products, which lead to working on weekends. I had babies, grew my family, and never faltered from building my business. I never dreamed it could become a full-time gig, but starting a few years ago it had the potential.

Although I could have stopped teaching earlier, I never felt the desire like I did last year. Teaching in a pandemic crushed my teacher’s soul. It sucked the life out of me until I could no longer put in the hours I needed to for my business outside of school. I no longer had the energy to be the best mom or wife I could be. I felt like I was drowning and something had to give. But what would give?

Do I choose the career I worked so hard for, the career I studied for and loved, or do I choose the business I made from the ground up, that was so successful and rewarding?

When it came down to it, the decision was easy, I chose to bet on me.

My home office.

BEING SELFISH IS OKAY

I felt incredibly selfish and guilty quitting my job. I hate quitting. I felt like I owed them so much for all that my job had given me over the years, but the truth was, I didn’t owe them anything. I don’t owe anyone anything. When I imagined my ideal day it involved dropping my kids off at school, drinking coffee on my front porch, quality time with my husband, making art when I wanted to, creating the products I have come to love creating for other art teachers.

So I chose me.

I moved out of my massive art classroom and into my tiny dormer window art nook. I make demo videos shoved in a corner and it’s a hot mess, but I love it. I type lesson plans sitting in my bed, next to my puppies, with Harry Potter and The Office on loop in the background. I have lunch dates with my work-from-home husband. I get to respond to questions and requests from art teachers in a timely manner.

I am fairly sure I have the best job ever. I have graduated to being a support for art teachers and all teachers. I can now help the ones in the job I still love and respect. I can still be an educator from a distance by supporting those still in the trenches. Those who are doing the most important work, inspiring, educating, and connecting with kids.

A picture of me on my 35th birthday.

THIS IS 35

This month I turned 35. I have never felt better. I have a happy family, a successful business, a recently renovated home. I get to chose what I want to do every day. I am a better parent, wife, and animal mama because I am also taking care of me. I think this year is destined to be one of my happiest, and I can’t wait to see what new opportunities may come in my new career path. I’m all in on myself, and I am confident this is a gamble I will win.

Thanks for coming along on this wild ride with me! If you want to keep up with my day-to-day life, check me out on Instagram. Check out my TPT shop to see the products that have allowed me to quit my day job (and check out my blog shop, which I hope to polish up and add to this year). Thanks for stopping by!

Guest Post: A Fresh Approach to Art Commissions By Simone Collins

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I’m very excited to have Simone Collins write about her and her fiance’s recent art project, a website built specifically for finding and selling commissioned artwork, called ArtCorgi. As an artist, and wannabe working artist, I truly appreciate their effort to bring fine art and non-massed produced work back to the forefront. As nice as it is to have “art” readily available at cheap prices in the Home Goods and Ikeas of the world, I think it is more interesting and fulfilling to have your own personalized work of art hanging on your wall.

As I explored ArtCorgi for the first time I was very drawn to the clean, fun, and easy to navigate style of the website. Simone and Malcolm obviously took the time to carefully layout their site before launching it, which is much appreciated when it seems the internet is overrun with non-functioning websites. As I clicked through I was quickly able to discover information about artwork that appealed to me, contact information, and even an artist submission form. I love their corgi theme, which gives it a playful vibe, after all art should be fun!

The only complaint I have is a somewhat unfair one. While I love the artwork they already have available for commission orders, it is overwhelmingly comic book and fantasy style. There are some wonderful realistic landscape and portrait options available, they are just currently in the minority. I am fully confident as their website grows their selection of artistic styles will grow along with it. I’m looking forward to following their art commission initiative and seeing how it takes off in the future!

popart1000pxIf you have walked through an art museum, studied history, or admired famous paintings and sculptures, you have come across commissioned art. For thousands of years, people have commissioned original works from talented and creative artists to affirm their influence, solidify their reputations, flaunt their good taste, and perpetuate their favorite styles and concepts.

I think it’s an incredibly fun concept- one that is under-utilized today. During the Italian Renaissance, the Medicis had themselves painted into religious scenes. Why should we not have fun by having ourselves depicted in our favorite television books’, shows’ and movies’ styles?

My fiancé Malcolm Collins actually did something along those lines when he proposed to me this past summer. Knowing that I love art (especially online pop art and fan art), he commissioned 21 pieces of art depicting us in some of our favorite shows’, movies’, and games’ artistic styles and posted the art on reddit for me to discover- much to my surprise and delight! Here, for example, is a commission he made of us in Adventure Time style.

Adventure Time Commission by Amy Liu

Illustration by Amy Liu

Malcolm’s proposal ended up going viral inspiring us to explore the idea of making it easier for other people to commission art from up-and-coming artists. Because artists and friends we spoke with about the idea really loved it, we decided to act on our idea and create a marketplace, which we named ArtCorgi (the thinking being that our cute corgi mascot could act as a friendly go-between introducing everyday patrons to cool online artists).

ArtCorgi features styles of art you can commission alongside up-front prices, set turnaround times, and clear samples. These features spare you from intimidating negotiations and give you very good idea of what you’ll be getting from an artist (even though your work will be entirely original).

ArtCorgi launches today. We can’t wait to see how people begin to use it. Our dream is to see everyday people (rather than large corporations and incredibly wealthy patrons) shape the art worldfineart300px and build their legacies through commissioned art. But hey- we’d also be thrilled to see art commissions become the new “it” gift- something that is utterly unique, super personalized, and highly visible (especially if used as a Facebook cover photo or mobile phone or computer wallpaper).

Most importantly, we want people to feel like they can reach out to their favorite online artists personally, support them in a creative way, and assume an active- rather than passive- role in the online art world even if they don’t create art themselves. With up-front prices, clear terms, and clear processes, we hope ArtCorgi can make reaching out to and working with artists far less intimidating and far more convenient.

Though we’re really keen on making art commissions accessible to people who have budgets like we do, we’re also adamant about making sure artists are paid fairly for their work. Many professional designers, painters, and illustrators struggle when selling work online as many sites have devolved into bargain basement marketplaces where recreational artists sell work at unsustainable prices. By asking artists to set minimum price points, then setting prices at or above those levels, we’ve made a concerted effort with ArtCorgi to ensure that commission prices are sustainable.

If you’re an artist and interested in offering commissions through our site, we would love to hear from you! Check out our artist page and consider filling out an application. I have had a blast getting to know the artists who have joined our network thus far, and would love to get to know you, too.

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Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog and the new art commission website, ArtCorgi. Help spread the word about my blog and ArtCorgi by liking, tweeting, sharing,  e-mailing, and subscribing! We couldn’t do it without your help. Thanks for stopping by!

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