Art teachers were STEAM-ing before STEAM was cool!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Looking at a NH Artist: Don Gorvett


I never know where I am going to find inspiration for my art lessons! A couple of weeks ago, I was browsing a craft fair in New Hampshire (by myself--Yay! MOM TIME!!) and I was chatting with lots of the artisans there. To one couple, I had mentioned that my 7th graders were learning about relief printmaking and they mentioned they had seen a feature on NH Chronicle about a woodcut artist named Don Gorvett. Of course, I HAD to check it out! Boy, am I glad I did! Don Gorvett, a woodcut artist with galleries in Portsmouth, NH and Ogunquit, ME, does these amazing seaside-themed reduction prints that my seventh graders were in awe of.

Another great video about Don's work is "Moonlight Drawbridge"

I showed this video AFTER my seventh graders had completed a linocut project, so they had a bit of experience from which to view this video and process Don's work. Of course, their pieces were 4" x 6" and done using flexible printing plates I had in my new classroom. In contrast, Don's work is done on large piece of plywood and he sometimes uses up to 8 colors to our humble 1 color. After I showed this video to the students, there was silence. And some of them had their mouths gaped open. Seventh grade! :-) Yipes! 

Anyway, fast forward to the weekend. My hubby and I went away on a 23-hour anniversary celebration and we drove up to the Portsmouth, NH area to see the sites, shop a bit and have dinner at one of my, ahem, OUR favorite restaurants. My husband suggested we go to Don's gallery, and who do you think was there? Don himself, working away. He graciously took time away from his work to talk to my husband and I about his work and gave me some tidbits about being an art teacher and how I can foster a climate of creativity and wonder in my students. I am so glad we stopped in to visit! I also was able to post a picture of Don and me on "The Instagram"--the account I have for my students' work and artsy happenings at our school! Having an Instagram account is new for me, but I am trying (10 followers-YAY!)!
Hanging with Don Gorvett in his Portsmouth, NH studio/gallery.
So, I would HIGHLY recommend looking at Don's work as well as taking the opportunity to show the work of local (to you) artists. This can be done by showing the students real work or artifacts, a video from the Interweb, or a video you made yourself, or having the person come to your school for an artist visit and demonstration. BTW: Cassie Stevens just began a new series on her blog called "field trip" where she takes her students on a virtual video field trip to meet artists. Her first installment features a musician and visual artist named Bebo. Check that out too!


Thursday, October 27, 2016

NH Art Educator's Fall Conference 2016!!

The New Hampshire Art Educators Association's (NHAEA) Fall Conference is one that I look forward to every year--"Clear the calendar! My Conference is coming up!!!" I love to connect with old friends, meet new friends, enjoy a lunch that is made for me and that I don't have to clean up after (hey, I do have four kids!), and get my artsy-ness on!! I purposely sign up for hands-on art making workshop choices. While I love me some lecture on art education theory, I don't get to make art as much as I would like, and art school was a-ways back in time, so any chance I have to create and learn new things I can take back to my classroom, I am game!

Interacting with the art at the Currier Museum...

This year's conference was fabulous and inspiring! It was held at the New Hampshire Institute of Art (NHIA) in Manchester, NH. Keynote speaker NH Artist/Illustrator/Author Marty Kelly spoke about his artistic process and how his multiple "failures" have been useful to his creative process. He urged us as educators to create a "culture of failure" in our classrooms where it is OK to make mistakes and take chances (leading students to further growth, risk-taking, exploration). He suggests that failure is part of the learning process and is essential to learning and growth. He encouraged us to change our attitude about failure as well as our students' attitudes about it as well. He explained that if we are afraid to fail we will be afraid to imagine, innovate, explore, and try. Having a classroom culture where failure is accepted and seen as an opportunity for discussion and growth also allows students to begin to accept advice and criticism and use what is right for them. He says that failure is a "pit stop along the road to success." 
Keynote Speaker: Author and Illustrator Marty Kelly
Photo courtesy: NHAEA website (www.NHAEA.org).
This is particularly useful to me as much of what we do in the middle school art room is moving away from product-focused, cookie cutter art to process-focused, student-centered work where the students are encouraged to problem-solve, explore and make the piece their own. This is a tough transition for some and some students struggle when they do not have a teacher-model to "copy" and are asked to try and explore and adapt. I've often have students come up and ask, "Is this an A? Am I done?" The first couple of times this happened I was floored, now I counter with: "I don't know, are you done? Take a look at the project objectives and talk to one of the other students in class to see if they have suggestions for further improvement (or to see if your piece is "saying" what you want it to say)." To me, this part of the creative process is a gradual release as the students' confidence and skill-level increases, ultimately preparing them for the independence and self motivation that high school will require. 

Session 1: Reinterpreting With Recylables. I went on a mini field trip to the Currier Museum of Art and saw the Mount Washington show that just opened. Mount Washington is the highest mountain in New Hampshire and is known throughout the world for its crazy weather. We went downstairs to classroom and Linn Krikorian taught us how we can use the art and artifacts within the Currier's collection as well as from life and other disciplines and have students reimagine them using recycled materials. Resources were shared for places to get interesting recyclables and for using this idea across the curriculum. Then Megan McIntyre discussed how art can be used to facilitate other ideas across the curriculum such as Science, Math, etc. This is particularly pertinent to me in my art room as I strive to develop lessons that are individualized and cross-curricular in nature. This lesson idea (and its spin-off ideas) will be helpful to me as I encourage the students to observe and reinterpret art and artifacts in class but make them their own. 

My take on a Robert Indiana from the Currier's collection.

Session 2: Structures to Sculpture (Bookmaking) This was a wonderful hands-on session led by Erin Sweeney, professor at NHIA (and her student helper Karen) taught us about a number of book-making techniques and led an open discussion amongst the creative educators present as to how we are currently using these structures within our classrooms and how we could potentially use them even more. Connections to other courses were discussed as well as connections to STEM/STEAM. While the pieces we made weren't complete (just the "bones" of the books and not fully developed within), the examples took the 2D linear idea of "book" and transformed it into 3D sculptural forms (easily!!) that could be used in our teaching in a number of ways (assessment, reflection, student mini portfolios, the documentation of a unit or the transformation of an idea, etc.). This was a VERY relevant workshop in that it allows a student to move from 2D to 3D in a seamless and accessible way while allowing them to reflect on a process or subject matter and use the 3D model-making techniques that we strive to teach them in class. This will definitely be applied to my future 7th and 8th grade classes next trimester! 

Busily working at the Structures To Sculpture Session led by Erin Sweeney.
Photo courtesy: NHAEA website (www.NHAEA.org).
After our sessions, we met back in the mail hall for closing remarks, a raffle (nope, didn't win anything this year), and a wine a cheese reception sponsored by NHIA. I went away physically tired, but rejuvenated and with so many great ideas that I can bring back to my students!

And here are some other images from the Currier workshop--the art of my classmates. ENJOY!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Positive and Negative Space Sketchbook Activity/Worksheet


We are moving right along with a wonderful unit on Art Nouveau with the seventh graders (details of the process to come in future posts). Phase One: they are using Blick Ready Cut to create nature prints that demonstrate positive and negative space. I brought out a few fine art images and we discussed positive and negative space and I had them do a quick journal/sketchbook activity that is perfect for developing their print idea (I didn't want to influence the "nature" subject matter of their print design, so we did this exercise with art supplies I had in the classroom).

Positive/Negative Space Scissors

Image source: Matt Klaber at Butler Tech
First, I showed them this great illustration of positive and negative space from  Matt Klaber at Butler Tech.  I then had them:

  1. Draw two boxes side by side on a page of their sketchbooks. 
  2. Select an object from the bin of goodies I provided OR something in the room.
  3. Using pencil, trace or draw that object as many times as they could in the boxes they created.
  4. In one box, color the POSITIVE space using a marker of their choice. In the other box, color the NEGATIVE space with the same color.
Ta-da! Here's some results:
Binder Clip

Glue Stick

Hole Punch

Silk Flower

Masking Tape Roll

Friday, September 16, 2016

Break out the sketchbooks!

My team teacher and I decided to have the students use sketchbooks this year and we are really excited about them. We ordered basic two pocket paper folders with tabs (1 for each 7th and 8th grader) because we felt this was a good option. Using folders is inexpensive and flexible--we were able to use the stacks of newsprint, copy paper, lined paper and graph paper that were in the room already and the folders also have a place for handouts to be three-hole punched and inserted.

We started the first day having students hand letter their names and draw at least three things into the design that told us something about them. I showed them illuminated manuscripts and graffiti for inspiration. I had them use 4x6 index cards and ink and colored pencil. They worked on these for a couple of days and then affixed them to their sketchbooks with glue stick.

We also gave them handouts to keep in their sketchbooks. So far, they have the copy of the art contract we have the students bring home for the parents to sign as well as the "What Will I Learn in 7th (or 8th) Grade?" handout inspired by the Art of Education. See their version here.

We also wanted to have them jump right into drawing in these sketchbooks, so I thought this would be a great time to do Danny Gregory's AWESOME sketchbook activity I learned about during the Art of Education's Summer 2016 Online Conference. Basically, students grab a Sharpie (I know! How permanent!!) and move about the room drawing different things for two minutes a drawing. It was awesome and a very good way to get them to loosen up! Here are some of their pages from the day:

Students were asked to star their most successful piece and explain
in the margin why they thought it was the best.
This was a great activity to break in the sketchbooks. This week students are working on a graphic design piece, so they are adding notes to their sketchbooks, but more sketchbook activities will be coming soon! ENJOY!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...