Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Embossing Foil

A flying pig embossed in foil

Repousse is a metal working technique in which thin metal or heavy foil is hammered or embossed on the back to make it stand out in the front. My students totally understand the idea of embossing as they use braillers to emboss paper all the time. They used plastic pencil-shaped tools to "tool" the foil and create a wide array of images as part of a low-relief sculpture unit.  Some students painted their images with black acrylic and then wiped it away to give it an aged, batik feel, some colored their image with markers and then gently wiped it away for a stained look, some did both. There's nothing quite like hearing kids who have never had vision, feel their artwork and say, "This looks great!"

Carving Clay Slabs

Introducing students to relief sculpture is easy when you have a bunch of clay, a slab roller, and some carving tools.  It was just a matter of having them come up with ideas, and decided how much to take away. Carving is a subtractive process and future ceramic projects will be an additive process, so there is yin and yang in my curriculum throughout the school year.  Each student did some sketches. Rolled a slab, cut out the shape, and by the next day it was leather hard and ready to carve.

Once the pieces were fired and glazed, ribbons were tied through pre-made holes so that they could be hung on the wall. We had some trouble with our first glaze since the kiln didn't get hot enough.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

October Fun! Field Trips and Disaster Relief!

Happy birthday APH! My student took the picture, in Kentucky.
Indian Mound field trip in Georgia
The American Printing House for the Blind was set up by the federal government to make the education of U.S. citizens, who are blind and visually impaired, possible. One hundred and sixty years later, they are still making learning materials accessible.  Each year, I submit student work to APH Insights Art contest, and in the past four years we have had 6 students win awards and 12 others get into the juried exhibition. Even some of the pieces that don't get into the show sell. Last year alone we had 15 pieces sell, which is always a thrill for our students. This year, one of my winning students sold her piece to the vice principal of the Idaho School for the Blind, so it will be hanging there, the opposite corner of the country from us. It is a long ride to get to Kentucky for the awards ceremony and exhibition, that accompanies the annual conference, but it is a thrill for my students to be recognized on a national stage and to get to tour the printing house and museum.

I worked a second weekend in October by helping with a Short Course at the school. Our students went to the Ocmulgee Indian Mounds National Monument; I taught them how to make coil pots and led a drum circle.

From the student paper
I was supposed to present at a state wide training for teachers of students who are visually impaired, but Hurricane Micheal came and shut down the conference along with my power. I ended up spending a weekend in the Tallahassee area with my family and some friends, helping get trees off of people's houses. Between cross country meets for my kids and helping my son get college applications together while simultaneously filling out a mountain of paper work that comes with being named my school's Teacher of the Year (yippee!) I've been pretty busy. I also managed to help sub for 6:10am class several times each week.

My hubby with his amazing Art Department colleagues

And then there was getting my daughter to the state fair, attending artist's talks as well as Wesleyan College's presidential inauguration, volunteering at the children's home fundraising dinner, and my school's Halloween dance. (Breath.) Tell me how teachers don't have to work late nights and weekends again? But seriously, I hope to catch a break now that October is over...maybe after Christmas.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Cut-away Cardboard

For a fun and easy tactile project, students researched high contrast images online of the subject of their choice. Then they printed out a favorite, and cut away the darkest or the lightest areas. What remained was a spray paint stencil. If the light areas were removed, white spray paint on cardboard would replace those areas via the stencil. Some of the darkest areas, or just the back ground shapes, were outlined with an X-Acto knife and then the top layer of cardboard was peeled away, revealing the corrugation.

Some images were done by painting book board, and gluing parts of magazine pages onto the board before reusing the spray paint stencil. This wasn't as tactile, but still made for some interesting visual effects.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Saturation Scale Assignment

 Color has three components: hue (is it blue? red? green?), value (is it light or dark?), and saturation (is it bright or muted?). To help students understand saturation or intensity we made a 12"X18" scale, with shapes drawn on top. Students chose a set of complimentary colors and put the brightest of each on either end. You can't make a bright color any brighter but you can dull it or make it less intense by adding a little of its opposite. So, for example, a little red would be added to the green, and a little green to the red for the stripes next to the outer, bright stripes. and then a little more of each opposite would be added until a murky brown is in the middle. The positive shapes had the same scale going the opposite direction, so if the background went from green on the left to red on the right, then the foreground would go from red on the left to green on the right.

It is harder to mix colors in gradual, even steps, then one might think. But this sort of sensitivity to variations in intensity can only be learned through practice.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Monochromatic Masterpieces

Monochromatic means one color, which sounds pretty boring until you realize that you have almost an infinite number of values.  For this monochromatic color scheme assignment, students picked a masterpiece from art history, and a single color. Tints were made by adding that color to white, and shades were made by adding black to the color. The goal was to match the values in the original painting. The trick is recognizing that color already has value built into it. For example, it takes much less black to make red dark than it would a yellow because red is inherently darker than yellow.

When you fill a wall with a blush Botticelli, purple Turner, and green Gauguin, it stands as a testimony to the value of value.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Color Scheme Compositions

Just because the chances of my students ever becoming high end graphic designers are slim, doesn't mean I'm going to stiff them on any of the good stuff.  Types of shapes, strong compositions, color harmonies are all part of the mix in this assignment, that I first gave teaching 2D Design at OSU a couple decades ago. 
I began by asking students to create three compositions.  One had to use only curvilinear shapes, one with only rectilinear shapes, and one had to use both curvilinear and rectilinear shapes.  Each composition had try to break up space by anchoring those shapes to the edges of the paper, and the size of shapes should vary. I wanted large, medium and small shapes in each composition.

 Then we got to color schemes.  One had to be complementary, one triadic, and one analogous. It's not too overwhelming if you take it one step at a time.  Figuring out which composition made sense for which color scheme, and arranging them latter on a 12"X18" piece of paper in a way that distributed the strong colors logically, was an important part of the process.
I hot glued about half the student compositions after they drew them (by using rulers and tracing stencils with pencils or Wiki Stix). Once a student would decide on a color scheme for a composition, and choose which color to do first, I would put little pieces of wiki stick in the shapes for that color, so that they could find the shape and paint independently.  I was thrilled when a new student told me that she loved coming to my class because at her old school they didn't know how to help blind students work as independently as possible. We're just figuring it out together, but if she's happy with the process and I'm happy with the product, then we're doing okay.