Sunday, June 25, 2017

Papier Mache Dolls

I did this at my house one year! It was so much fun. 

We started with a toilet paper roll. We used plaster wrap to create the round shape of the head and to smooth the head and toilet paper roll together. 

Then, we used newspaper and glue to continue building the shape of the animal. It took chatted and giggled while we worked. So, it didn't seem to take that long. It was messy though!

We painted and used old fabrics (tshirts, pillowcases, etc.) to create the clothes. The photo shows one of the girls tracing a small paper plate to create a skirt. We didn't have any actual patterns for the clothes. We just made it up! That was the fun, creative part about this.

I love the way they turned out. Here are just a few photos that I was able to capture.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Lee Darter: Art Advocacy in Your Classroom

Everybody put your hands up for this week's guest blogger, Lee Darter. That's right, Lee Darter of the Art Room Blog. The Art Room Blog is a favorite of mine. I love how Lee shares so many lesson ideas so frequently. She has the perfect mix of personal and school posts, too. She writes about advocacy in this guest post. 

Hope you enjoy!

Art Advocacy In Your Classroom
By Lee Darter

When I first became the art advocacy chair for the VAEA (Virginia Art Education Association), I was not sure what kind of presence I would have on the board. I really did not know very much about art advocacy. I always assumed someone much higher up and much smarter than me would handle all our state’s art advocacy needs. This mysterious person was always there lobbying state officials and creating policy on behalf of all the arts. I did not think it was something I needed to worry about. I realized that I was not alone in thinking this way. I discovered most art teachers tend to let others worry about art advocacy for them. 

I also realized that I could no longer stand by and allow others to tackle art advocacy issues for me. With so many art jobs and arts funding being cut all across our country we as art teachers have to do everything in our power to make sure our students understand the impact of a really great art education program.  

Art advocacy does not have to always mean beating down your legislator’s door. Art advocacy can be as simple as teaching the principles and elements of art, and it is just as important. Art advocacy is something you can do right from your classroom. 

It always surprises me when students say, “art is not a real subject” or “art is not a real job”. To this I say, “look around you, everything you see here was touched by an artist in some way”. 

If you ask your students to simply look around the room and start removing everything an artist had a part in creating, you would be left sitting on a mound of dirt outside with no clothes on. I ask my students to consider these things; the rug under their feet, the signs on the walls, the video games they play, the movies they watch, the package design on their favorite toy, the menu at their favorite restaurant, the photos of their sister’s wedding, the plates they eat from, the building that surrounds them, the car their parents drove them to school in and the clothes they are wearing right now. These are all things created by artists. 

I am not sure how or when it became acceptable thinking that art is not a real job or a real field of study. Even if you are not looking for a career directly related to art, the study of art will help you be more creative in whatever path you choose. Having the capacity and the ability to think outside the normal constraints of your job title is something artists do every day. Why wouldn’t everyone want to strive for that in their own lives and work…even doctors and rocket scientists?

There are several things you can teach your students in the classroom to ensure they become responsible art advocates. 

  • First, make sure to include a related art career with every lesson you teach. Students benefit from seeing the impact of what they are learning being used in real world applications. 
  • Second, make sure that you are promoting your own art program. Let your students, parents and community see the benefits of your program. Show your school administrators that children grow from learning how to think creatively as opposed to learning what to think for a given test. 
  • Also, make sure your state legislators know that art is much more than cute pictures hanging in the hallways of their local elementary school. Let them know art is a career in and of itself. Let the world know art also prepares our future workforce to think creatively in order to solve real world problems. 
  • Most importantly make sure your students know and believe that what you are teaching is a real subject every time you stand in front of them through your own enthusiasm and love art. 

You are art’s best advocate, and it begins right in your own classroom.

Lee Darter is an elementary school art teacher, an artist, a business owner (Doodle All Day Art)and the president of the Ron Abney Educational Fund charity. 

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Artist to Know Right Now: Chandra Savaso

I love to learn about new artists. I love makers, shakers, and creators. I love to see people using their creativity. I love to chat with these people, especially when I am intrigued by their artwork. I found one such artist on Instagram recently. I commented on one of her works and asked if she'd let me feature her here. (She said YES!)

I wanted to be able to share her artwork with other art lovers, art teachers, and art students. I think it is important that students see that art is about creating. I grew up thinking that I had to achieve some mysterious level of success to be a "real" artist. (I may or may not also have been under the impression that I had to be an old white man to be an artist...I wish you could see my face as I type that...anyhooooo...that's a journal entry for another It took me well into my adulthood to understand that an artist creates. That's it. Period. Even if an artist doesn't share their art with anyone ever, they are still an artist. The need to create is an innate thing for human beings. 

Even so, I think it is important for students to see art as a viable career option. In fact, I think they need to learn that most careers involve the arts in some form or fashion. The critical thinking that the creation of art builds is invaluable to any path a person chooses. In that spirit, I also think students need to see artists who create for part-time income and as a hobby. 

I believe it is our responsibility to make sure everyone has access to the arts. I don't think it is fair to wait and see if/hope and pray that people will get lucky and find a way to be creative. I believe in giving opportunities!

So, I am using my little artsy blog space to show the vast ways people have the arts in their lives. This is what this post is about. 

It is my pleasure to introduce you to Chandra Savaso. I asked her the following questions, and she has responded for us to gain insight into her work. (Her responses are her own words.)

1. Tell us a little about yourself: what you do, where you do it, where we can follow you, anything else you feel like sharing! 

My name is Chandra Savaso I'm a 47 year old wife, mom and Southern California native. I'm sort of an accidental artist. I worked in finance for years, got married, worked as a makeup artist on weddings, film, tv, and runway.  I don't have a website but I'm on Instagram: RusticResouled and on Facebook under Chandra Savaso Art. 

One night (a year and 1/2 ago) I dug up an old paint brush, craft paints and a sheet of watercolor paper out of my kids craft supplies. I had fallen in love with an angel painting I'd seen online and wanted to see if I could  paint something similar. (Without a lot of hope). I finished it in about 20 minutes and thought, it was "okay" although it didn't look anything like the one I loved by that artist. My family and close friends saw it and encouraged me to keep painting.  

So now, a year and 1/2 later, I'm self teaching, (self taught sounds like you're done learning and hopefully that's never the case!) I try to learn and improve a little everyday.  I paint in my "studio" (aka, the kitchen or dining room) when everyone's asleep. I use acrylics because I've not learned oils YET!

2. What motivates you to create? What inspires your color schemes? I notice a similar color scheme throughout your work (the New Orleans one is different), and I find this interesting! 

I'm motivated by the desire to create something that reflects what's in my heart. The things I love most. God, family, country life (even though I'm a suburban girl). I paint angels often because the thought of them watching over us has always been comforting to me. 

The color palette I seem to gravitate to most is neutral tones of muted blues, greens and cream. But over the past year and a half I've started to appreciate and love more colorful and even more abstract styles of art. I read and study about artists (Old masters and current living artists) every chance I get.  As my knowledge and appreciation of art has grown,  so has my taste in different styles of art. I think at first I was attracted to art that I thought I could maybe replicate.  Now, I am at a junction of frustration, due to my lack of experience and skill.  I want more of myself than my skill level can deliver. But, It's impetus to keep me going to work and be better today than I was yesterday. I want to work more color into my paintings. 

3. Who is your favorite visual artist and why? Which piece is your fave by this artist and why?

One visual artist, the creator of the angel painting I love so much is Deann Hebert. Her work is so skillfully and purposefully unstructured! Her color palette is just 'comfy'. Like a favorite blanket or quilt that's been washed so many times that it's soft and faded to perfection.  I saw one of her Angel paintings and I swear, it's the first time I saw an art piece and thought, "How can I find a way to put that on my wall so I can look at it everyday?"

I respect realism and the skill and patience it takes to create it. But the type of artwork that captivates me most is the kind where an artist can translate something real he or she sees and paint it in such a way that you see it from inside their heads, a completely unique viewpoint. I also love artists that give hints but let you come to your own conclusions about what you're looking at. The artist Dan Mccaw, is such an artist. His work "Figure with Umbrella" is one of my favorites. His ability to convey light is such a gift. 

4. How do you feel about arts education? Do you advocate for arts education in anyway? Do you think it's important for others to do so? 

You are the first person to ask me this question! I believe that arts education is invaluable whether it be visual, music, dance etc.  I've only advocated for arts education in verbal conversation with friends and fellow artists. Mostly in stating that I dream of the day that I can attend school to be formally art educated!  I do believe it's so valuable (It's not a necessity, because creativity has no real rules or boundaries, but it is so valuable). 

I think that if a person has the opportunity to receive an art education, .... carpe diem!!!! What's the old saying " Learn the rules, so you can break them beautifully". Something like that. 

5. I found three pieces that I really love and admire: The Last Supper, The Bored Farmers, and New Orleans. Could you tell about those: what inspired them, how did you create them, anything else you feel is relevant? 

Thank you! I was inspired to try my hand at the Last Supper because I had Jesus heavily on my mind.  I wanted to paint something that would glorify God and His importance in my life. Like when a child draws something and shows it to mom or dad and waits for that smile from them. 

The "New Orleans" painting was originally a completed angel painting. An ugly one.  I hid it in the coat closet. One night, in the spirit of recycling, I took a healthy blob of gesso and painted over it. I do that a lot, even on paintings I've spent hours on. Sometimes you just need to let Jack go.

I decided to try a limited palette of only primary colors in both cool and warm undertones. (Because artist Mark Carder of Draw Paint Mix suggested it in a YouTube video). I had nothing in mind. I squeezed some paint straight out of the tubes onto the canvas (a sort of no no I guess?) and just started painting. It was just for fun and it ended up looking like Jazz musicians and felt like New Orleans to me. 

Bored Farmers was inspired by the original "American Gothic" by Grant Wood. It's a funny piece. It's quirky. I've pondered it.  Is the woman ticked off? Are her kids getting into trouble while she's standing for hours being painted? The man almost looks bewildered or hungry. But they don't look happy. No one did in photos back in the day. Smiling wasn't en vogue.  I bet if you ask 10 people their opinion of what the two are thinking, you'd get 10 very interesting answers and probably all different! For some reason I see Steve Jobs (in mine) every time I look at the guy. I should have put an apple or an iPad in his hand. 

Be sure to follow Chandra on Instagram and Facebook (see above for FB info).

Let's talk about ways we can use her story and her work to teach our students!


(Thank you so much for doing this, Chandra. Your artwork is beautiful.

I have shared this bit with you, but I'd like to share it here as well:

I have followed Deann Hebert for a long time. Your work caught my eye on Instagram because of the angels. It made me think of her. What made me reach out to you, though, was your subject matter. Deann, an artist I really love, sticks to a comfortable range of subject matter. It works for her. It brings more beauty to this earth. I love her for that. However, where her subject matter is predictable, yours is exploratory. THAT is what I wanted to learn more about!

I am so happy to be able to share this with my circle of folks.)

Art Around the World Display

I found this post sitting in the drafts of the blog. It is from my very first art classroom. So, it is like 5 years old. I must've never hit publish! I've grown so much as an art teacher since then. When I opened this, I was like "awwwww" in endearing granny voice. "Awwwww" like a first grade teacher getting yet another weed from the playground to put in the class vase. 

I remember that I didn't have a printer. So, I had to hand letter every.single.thing. It was terrible. I hate hand lettering anything. Anyway, I like this concept. It is still a good idea. Since my current classroom is being painted over the summer, and I had to take every.single.thing off the walls, I might make a new "Art Around the World" poster. It would be nice to have a visual anchor for every place that we discuss next year.

Share your ideas!

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Mark Rothko Boxes Part 1

I got really infatuated with Mark Rothko while I was expecting my second child to be born. I have no idea why, but it was like an itch I couldn't scratch for a while. I realized I had to figure out a project we could do in my classroom once I returned from maternity leave. I told our PTO president that I intended to teach Rothko. I knew if I made it public like that, I'd make sure I found a good way to do it! 

So, while I was on leave (sometime around October 2016), I put out an all call on social media asking for tiny-ish boxes. By tiny-ish, I mean boxes that were no bigger than 3 inches. I had everyone from my grandmother to the principal saving everything from drink packet boxes to medicine boxes. I had people shipping these little boxes to my school from all over the great state of Mississippi. 

When I returned from leave, I had enough boxes for every fourth grader to make a mini canvas for a Rothko-inspired colorfield. I taught them all about colorfields. I made them discuss how color provokes emotion. They had to choose a color scheme intended to provoke a specific emotion.

This was how we built the tiny canvases for these colorfields. I will share how we painted them in another post. Stay tuned.

That's painters tape. We just made sure our boxes would stay shut.

They covered it in torn newspaper using regular white school glue.

They covered all of the sides. The boxes were small so this took some mighty fine motor work. It was so worth it!


Van Gogh- Inspired Irises

This post didn't start out as a Party in the Art Room TpT promo. I really just meant to share the awesome artwork my students created. However, I guess I can't pass up the chance to tell you about my resources. I really do use them to teach this lesson. They work for my classroom, and I think they would be an asset for other classrooms as well. 

These look a mess during the process. I make sure to tell my students to expect that. Of course, I learned that the hard way. The first couple of times I taught this the students flipped out about how messy they look. I kept promising the work would come together in the end. It always does!

These are the actual irises at my school. I didn't plant these, but I love that the kiddos can see these as they work on their own paintings.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Why Speaking and Listening are Essential at the Elementary Level

One of the easiest ways for me to integrate the English Language Arts curriculum into my teaching of elementary art is through the Speaking and Listening standards. I highly value these in my instruction. I build "talk time" into my instruction by giving the students prompts to discuss with partners and small groups. I usually provide a set timeframe for their talking depending on what topic I am giving them. I walk around to monitor they are on topic and being respectful. 
We practice listening as well. Kids know how to talk, believe me. They know how to make words come out of their mouths. They need to know how to make those words meaningful and how to listen to the words of others. These are life skills. These are skills they need in every single thing they will do every day for the rest of their lives. They are invaluable. I can't say enough things about how important these are. Sadly, I think they get overlooked in favor of things that are "tested." 
So, imagine how excited I was to read a Facebook post describing why a classroom teacher focuses so intently on the Speaking and Listening standards! My friend and colleague, Erica Webber-Jones is a top notch educator in Mississippi who also spends vast amounts of her time serving the Mississippi Association of Educators. 
I asked Erica to turn her Facebook post into a more detailed blog for me to share with Party in the Art Room readers. Below, you will find her words on why Speaking and Listening are essential at the elementary level. What Erica writes here is the core of why our schools are important. When I first read this, I felt a lot of emotion because I know she is right about all of it. I totally agree with her that educators must push for the Speaking and Listening standards to be viewed as essential. 
Be sure to join me in thanking Erica for this. Hope you enjoy!
Why Speaking and Listening are Essential at the Elementary Level
By Erica Webber-Jones
     Decoding words, describing the overall structure of a story, and comparing and contrasting versions of different stories are considered essential English Language Arts Standards at the elementary level.  There is one standard that I feel far surpasses these: speaking and listening.  In the age of smartphones and a wide array of digital devices, developing speaking and listening skills early on is essential.  
       Speaking and listening are life skills.  Our students must be able to engage in conversations.  Many educators may shy away from this standard, but this standard must be addressed early on.  I often discuss the importance of speaking and listening with my second graders.  I stress the importance of acquiring this skill early on.  We discuss how possessing this skill will get you through life whether you're presenting an important court case or launching a new business plan.  Students must be given an opportunity to engage in conversations with their peers often.  Too much time is spent preparing for a test.  No test is greater than the test of being able to effectively get your views across.  
      Speaking and listening skills learned in our classroom this year were able to diffuse potential fights. I watched eagerly as my students talked their way through disagreements. In a society where individuals are quick to reach for a gun and not likely to talk through disagreements this is vital.  Embedding speaking and listening early on allows for students to practice this skill.  Students are able to speak openly on various topics across the curriculum.  
    Educators must include speaking and listening activities daily.  Practicing wait-time, providing turn and talk sessions, and introducing speaking prompts are just a few ways that educators can include speaking and listening into an already jammed-pack curriculum.  We must push for this standard to become one that is viewed as highly essential.

Erica Webber-Jones
State Coach for TLI
Mississippi Association of Educators

Art Teachers are Artists Too! #1

I really think it is important for art teachers (well, any teacher) to maintain their own artistic livelihoods. I spent so much energy and time building my art program for several years that I almost lost my own artistic self. Truly. I felt it slipping away. 

So, about two years ago I decided to make an intentional effort to create my own artwork whenever and wherever I could. 

My point is that we need to be true to our own artistic selves. We need to remain artists as much as we need to focus on being art teachers. 

I love a good quote graphic. Especially a pink one with polka dots.

One way I began to work on this for myself was by taking classes and engaging with others online. Those are easy enough, right? You can do that too, right?

Of course you can. I will support you! Let me know how I can help!

In the meantime, here are some photos of a few of my own personal artworks. I have more to share, and you can look for more posts on this topic to come soon.

Please share your own experiences related to your personal artwork. I'd love to hear from you! 

I used like favorite thing create these glass pieces. I know you see those polka dots on the one below. That's right. I figured out how to get polka dots even into a work of glass. These haven't yet been fired in the photos.

These photos of ceramics are pre-firing. I know you see those polka dots. I was so proud of that Mississippi. 

This is something that I created after my uncle passed away. It says "May the work I've done speak for me." That's my own personal motto. I try to live my life by that. It was also embroidered onto my uncle's casket. So, this is especially meaningful to me. As soon as I find the rest of the photos of this, I'll share more pics!