Sunday, September 13, 2015

ArtsFest 2015

I am really fortunate that I have had several opportunities to show my work over the last few years. About three years ago, I took my first painting class (more of an exploration of oils with a few tutorials). That fall, I attended the local art association's annual art show and realized that I should be showing my work! While I have had no formal training, and my "studio" sessions are sporadic, I am pretty proud of how far I have come.

Below is some underpainting I did in January of 2014. The final image is above and I only finished it this weekend! To be fair, I have completed several other paintings in between, but this one just kept taking a back seat.

That painting, "From the Beach" (8"x 10") and this one, "Nantucket 2" ( 11" x 14") will be shown this weekend at the 18th Annual ArtsFest in my city. This is my fifth show in two years and I am ready to sell some work!

The art association tends to be a little more traditional, so I have entered my landscapes. I'd really like an opportunity to show a couple of my more abstract works in the future. In fact, I have a handful of other ideas for abstract paintings, with a few completed sketches. It is just finding the time and energy to get them started! 

Oil on Canvas
22"x 28"

Mixed Media Collage
18"x 24"
Thanks for dealing with iphone pictures! 

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Sweet, Sweet Organization

I feel like every summer I tackle the supply closet...
Apparently not last summer though. Or at least there are no pictures as evidence. 

But you almost have to. Last school year about four different people were sharing my closet. By June 30th, I didn't want to look at anything school related and I knew it would still be here in August, so I left it alone. You do your best to put things back, but I feel like if you don't have a system, that is easier said than done.

One of the biggest things I have noticed over the last couple of years at the high school are piles of random sized paper getting tossed back on the shelf. We don't allow students in this closet, so we take out the paper we need when we need it. And then somehow piles accumulate. With better organization, maybe I/we can take that extra step to put it back in the appropriate spot.

I also moved the things we use most often to the front of the closet for easy grab and go. A shoe box full of glue is easy to move in and out for a class or two and if you run out of erasers, they are at eye level right inside the door.

And if that door is propped open, you will be greeted by John Adams, his skateboard and some handy T squares!

Now if only I could find my desk...
I have two more days.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Always Be Hoppy

from today is the first day back for teachers!

I feel like we are the last district in the universe to start. Even after such a disastrous winter and ELEVEN snow days, parents in my community still wanted to start after Labor Day...

And despite the late start, this felt like the fastest summer since I started teaching. In the past, I was working or in graduate school or traveling, and this summer I did very little of any of those things! Yet some how it feels like it flew by.

One of the most exciting events was this pop up gallery where I was able to show some of my work. It was up for about six weeks, featured over 40 local artists, and provided space for different vendors each week. AND, the night of our end of the year staff gathering, our band teacher was performing with his jazz group. It was super cool.
I think The Gallery was an awesome first step in the right direction for the Arts in my city. I look forward to where we will go and hope that I can be a part of the process.

I did a bunch of other things too:

For a while I tried to walk the beach at the end of my street each morning. Yes, that is the Boston skyline! I am one lucky girl! By mid July my efforts kind of petered out. I'll get back into it, I hope, when the routine of the school year gets into gear. 

I tried a bunch of new recipes including Tofu Banh Mi, being prepared above. Summer cooking provided the great challenge of how NOT to turn on the oven!

We saw the Pixar exhibit at the Science Museum. I stinkin' LOVED it! I was glowing with excitement by the end of our visit. I have always loved the art, but to see the science and engineering and match in action, my art teacher self could hardly be contained!

Going along with my art teacher-ness, I attended my first ever Art of Education online conference! It was an intense day that also went by really fast. Lots of great ideas to consider as we head into the new school year. Really loved the Swag Box and the six month access to the After Pass.

After a super, wedding planning intense week visit with my mom (I bought a dress!) we traveled to the City of Brotherly Love for a college friend's wedding. I wish I had more pictures, but I was too busy eating my way through Old City and Reading Terminal.

The picture above was taken from our hotel window. It was perfect walking distance to Independence Hall and many other attractions.

The wedding was lovely and super cool. We rounded out of weekend trip with brunch with some great, old friends and their little one. 

After all the rushing around traveling and family visits, we snuck up to Vermont for a week. The picture above was taken on a trail at VINS, Vermont Institute for Natural Science. We also did some kayaking, grilling, hiking and painting, well at least I did that last part.

We are very fortunate to have spent some of our free time this summer lounging by our pool reading, planning our wedding or grilling. I've tried to keep the lawn green. I planted a little vegetable garden and put in some new flowers in the backyard. It has been a great first year in our home.

We did give ourselves one goal this summer.
Nothing too taxing or difficult, it was vacation after all...
We attempted to go to a brewery a week, some weeks we doubled up, others we didn't get there, but I am fairly certain that we met our goal in numbers.

Between the two of us, we visited these breweries:
  • Nightshift Brewing
  • Cambridge Brewing Company
  • Samuel Adams
  • Harpoon- Boston
  • Trillium
  • Long Trail
  • Harpoon- Windsor Vermont
  • Wormtown

I just love this beer and logo. It makes me so happy and I know thats the point, but it was very fitting as the last brewery of the summer.

Thank you summer 2015
I am going to call it now, summer 2016 will be one to remember!
Here's to the new school year!!

Friday, July 10, 2015

Art Can

Make a Difference!

Before school let out for the summer (a whole week and a half ago (June 29th for teachers!)) our assistant principal presented the staff with a challenge: decorate a bulletin board for the new school year and you could win cash money. We could have our students do it, have our clubs do it; it could be for a department or an organization. It's not like we had anything else going on...

We are the Art Department. I felt the need to participate and show off our skills despite the fact that we had finals to grade, rooms to clean and supply orders to fill. Plus, $$$. 
I found this on Pinterest and with some modifications, made it fit our school and school motto. Thank you Salem Public Schools!

But this little can with a powerful message would have been swallowed by the surrounding white space of the bulletin board. Our awesome long term sub realized this too and asked if she could paint our faces a la Warhol in the remaining space....
Sure, why not?

And that is just it.
Many teachers leave the building, having to pass this space. They were able to see the progress over two or three days and it got people talking. I even got an email from a teacher I hardly know in the English Department, letting me know that Art really does make a difference and thank you for your excellent work. (There are over 100 people on staff, so to be fair I only know a handful, but how cool!?).

Recently the Art of Education posted 7 Things to Know as a New High School Art Teacher. The first thing Timothy Bogatz wrote was "be yourself." That is so, so true. Now, new and old students will see our bright, shining faces and hopefully feel welcome in our art, photography and drama rooms. I can't help but laugh every time I round the corner and see my co-workers face reflected in the windows of the drama room. It is awesome.

And we did win.
First prize and the cash money went right to Art Club!
But for me, the real prize is that people witnessed us working as a team and are now talking about the Art Department like they never have before.

My summer vacation has hardly started, but I am so pumped for the 2015/2016 school year now!
Hopefully see you at the Art of Education Summer Conference next week. #aoeconference

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Expressive Elements Exercise

So if you haven't stayed tune to my sporadic posting lately, I teach high school, full time.
The pacing is way different than middle or elementary school. My Art 2, Art 3 and Portfolio students maybe complete a piece and a half each term. That is something I'd like to work on in the future, but it's where we are at right now. Plus, when they do complete an image, as much as I want to share with the blogosphere, I have a hard time posting the images. For one, I feel like I am way busier than I ever was, and two, my students have put so much time and thought and themselves into these images, that they are no longer mine to share (if they ever were in the first place). So for those reasons, my lesson sharing is a little more in frequent.

Today though, I was just gushing after first period.
I have taught Art 2 during period 1 for the last three years. (that is probably the only consistency with my job over the last four years). The first two years, I had wonderfully small classes, like under 15! This year, at the highest, I was at 25. But, I have been able to do all of the in- process critiques, mini- lessons and presentations just like I have been with the smaller groups. Perhaps it has something to do with being the first (or second) period of the day, but it has been awesome!

Currently with Art 2, students are in the process of finishing their Symbolic Portraits. I totally stole this lesson from Painting with Brains "back in the day." I have given my students a choice in media, and many are working with color pencil on a large scale (16x 20) so class after class can become tedious, especially a double, which is 88 minutes.

So today, being that it was a double and literally the middle of the term, I started my Art 2 with an exercise. (I ask them to keep a sketchbook that is passed in once a term with 6-8 pages or the equivalent of four hours worth of work (which is nothing compared to Art 3 where they pass in 10 hours each term) so this counted towards one of those pages). I felt like some students needed a break from colored pencils.

Very basically, the exercise was to deconstruct the portrait of Picasso (at the start of this post) and reconstruct it in a way to convey an emotion. Students could cut or tear. Add color with color pencils or markers. Use elements of magazine or painted paper. Words were not allowed. Extra copies of the image were provided. All pieces did not have to be used.

I began the exercise with a recap of what students may have learned in Art 1: expressive line and color psychology. I realize that what I was asking students to do was very abstract and unlike anything we have ever done before. But the variety of work that was produced in just 40 minutes was AWESOME! I can only imagine where these students will go in the future if this is the kind of problem solving that I see now. 

Friday, February 27, 2015

Winter Post

It is Friday! Whew. 
This was our first full week of school since February began. In fact, it was the first full week of our third term.... Now that I think about it, we had midyear exams starting January 20th and the schedule has been wacky ever since those were complete.

We have had ELEVEN snow days.
As it stands, we will be in school until June 30th with at least one day to be rescheduled somewhere.

Over 100 inches of snow has fallen in Boston, most within a three week period, and more predicted over the weekend (not a big storm, thank goodness!). I live a bit south and swear we have had more snow than that. The pictures above and below were taken this past Wednesday when I went snowshoeing in the marsh down the street. I live in a city of over 90,000 people and am so fortunate to have this little oasis so close.

I signed up my school to participate in our region's Youth Art Month exhibit that takes place in Boston. But with a week off from school followed by Winter Break, the drop off date came up real fast! Thanks to a team effort, we got it together and I even sent out a press release today.

In addition, we are signed up for the Vans Custom Culture contest. I tried to talk that up this week too. You know, while trying to get back into the swing of things, keep kids engaged in their drawings started weeks ago, start the early finishers on the in between short term projects, and explain how that damned dress can be white and gold AND blue and black (ugh). It has been a balancing act to say the least.

I needed to snowshoe if only to be alone from my thoughts for a while and to instead be surrounded by the light and beauty.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Calder Inspired Wire Drawings


I have wanted to do this lesson for a long time! After weeks of drawing exercises using sighting, guidelines and crosshairs, I wanted to provide my Art One students with an opportunity to use line in a whimsical, playful way.

I pulled together some online resources, including a slideshow from the Whitney Museum and a youtube video of Calder performing his circus, as an introduction. Next, I had students brainstorm a list of people or animals in motion. Then, I introduced and demonstrated gesture drawing. We grabbed some drawing boards, conte crayon and manila paper and headed to the hallway so we could spread out.

In groups of four, students took turns modeling some of the actions they brainstormed earlier in class. I encouraged students to think of lines beyond stick figures. After the first drawing, I gave them advice to look at how the model's shoulders were in relationship to the hips and to take note of the direction of feet.

We had just enough time left in class (a double, 88 minute period) to return to the room and debrief. I asked how gesture drawing could apply to developing their sculpture. Many saw the connection and had a great starting point the next class when they began to flesh out and develop their own ideas.

Students liked the idea of making a "sculpture" but when it came to the actual construction, I was met with some resistance. Instead of having 30 students crowd around a wire demonstration, I found a simple video tutorial. This way, I was able to give individual instruction to those that needed it and let other use the video as a starting point for their own exploration. At that point, I gave students a two to three foot piece of stove pipe wire and a run down of how to use the tools before allowing them to practice making connections and bends.

There was a bunch of complaining that building with wire was too difficult. I honestly think that physically using their fingers and having to plan where connections would be, was the difficulty. There was no formula to follow and that was tough for some kids to get over. I really pushed students to think for themselves and experiment.

For the final sculpture students used more pliable, silver wire ( 18 gauge? I can't remember) I also provided some white and yellow, thin wire, copper wire, buttons and electrical tape. In the end, I am proud of what my students accomplished. I am proud that many pushed themselves outside of their comfort zones and tried something new with many successful products.