Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Film Decorations for Hollywood Party


With a Hollywood themed prom in the works, I wasn't sure how best to honor our senior class, but it didn't take long to decide that the way to make them "stars" was to put them in the same films clips as Hollywood's golden era celebrities. I printed out horizontal black and white images of Liz Taylor, Shirley Temple, Charlie Chaplin etc. I also found movie scenes such Casa Blanca, King Kong, and  Citizen Cane. Then I took pictures of each of our seniors and printed those out in black and white.  Long pieces of black bulletin board paper were cut into strips that were 14 or 15 inches wide. (It may have been cut in half, because I don't remember any scraps). Then I used a glue stick to adhere each image down the middle with about an inch in between, and small, cut-up white rectangles  of paper to boarder each side and make it recognizable as a film strip. I ended up laminating each 8 foot strip, knowing that it would make it easier to keep from getting wrinkled when hanging, and it makes it look more like plastic film, then bulletin board and copy paper. This kind of decoration added a personal touch and students were able to pose next to their image during the big night.

Thursday, May 11, 2023

Mother's Day Pop-up Cards


Mother's Day is quickly approaching and if you want your card to stand out, why not create a pop-up card? 
Start by folding a piece of card stock (we used 8 1/2" X 5 1/2") in half. use a smaller rectangle of construction paper or card stock  and fold it in half. While it is folded, cut the bottom corners, starting at the center fold, for a 5 sided figure. Then cut just the tiny corners of each side of the freshly cut  diagonal. Open the shape and fold the two little flaps; these will provide the surface which gets glued to either side of the card stock. Make sure the folds align so that when you glue the flaps, it won't prevent the card from folding flat. Then cut out hearts or flowers and leaves to attach the pop-up-structure, or the flat part of the card. You can embellish with markers or colored pencils and write a personal note. Your efforts will really stand out for your mom this year!

May Basket Day


As a kid in the 70's we still created paper flower baskets to give away on the first of May. May Day was also our school field day, so it was something we looked forward to all year. While May 1st is celebrated as Workers Right Day (also called May Day) around the world, our country celebrates those rights on Labor Day. In either case, I like to pause with gratitude for an 8 (rather than 16) hour work day, AND for the renewal of Spring!

I read the NPR article on May Basket Day traditions to my students and we discussed the ever changing traditions in the history of our country. https://www.npr.org/sections/npr-history-dept/2015/04/30/402817821/a-forgotten-tradition-may-basket-day

Then we got busy making our own paper flowers and May Baskets to leave on someone's doorknob or to put in vases to share on tables. Holiday celebrations and gift giving are great motivators for students and I found that as they worked, their demeanors became more cheerful to matched their bright bouquets.

Earth Based Artwork: Landscapes

We think the air is invisible, but the tiny particles and molecules that surround us exist, and the reason things look blurry from a distance is due, in part, to trying to see through so many of them. Atmospheric perspective can help create a sense of depth in a landscape painting by changing the value and intensity of the colors. Generally cooler, lighter colors and blurry shapes are in the background. Clearer, darker, shapes want to move closer to use...at least in in the daylight.

For night scenes, the darker colors are pushed back while the lighter come forward. Basically you want to move in the direction of the color and value of the sky, is the backdrop to all of our landscapes. Overlap, also plays a big role in creating the illusion of space. For my students who were totally blind, they literally overlapped layers of paper for each layer of the landscape and then glued/ decoupaged them all together. No matter how the landscapes were created, they made me want to take a camping trip to the Great Smoky Mountains where atmospheric landscapes rule supreme. I already booked a site at a campground there for next week.  In the words of John Muir, "The mountains are calling and I must go."

Earth Based Artwork: Cloudscapes

 We're focusing our last Art Unit on our beloved Planet. Earth Day, Arbor Day, and May Day all of which roll up to keeping our world clean, planting trees and celebrating seasonal changes.

I started by talking about cloudscapes, landscapes and seascapes: all of which traditionally have a horizontal format. For a mixed media cloudscape we taped paper to the back of a board and propped it at a slight angle. One loaded paint brush stroke across the top of the paper has extra water on the bottom edge of the line. That's the part that the next brush stroke needs to be touching in order for it to all blend together and create subtle gradations and transitions. 

We created clouds using pastel on the dry watercolor, mostly creating fluffy top edges and blending them with our fingers for darker shadows on the bottom. Two techniques in two days created heavenly results.

As a bonus science portion of our lesson, we created tactile cloud charts with cotton balls and feathers. Students labeled their clouds in Braille or Large Print. Score a point for cross-curriculum lessons and kids with visual impairments learning through hands-on learning.

Thursday, April 13, 2023

Spring Exhibition

 We wrapped up our Art History Unit by tying up bunch of loose ends. We glazed our Pop Art sculptures and Screen Printed Campbell Soup Cans. We put together a hallway display comparing and contrasting art movements, we watched "Midnight in Paris" and paused to talk about all of our old "friends as they made cameo appearances in the movie: Picasso, Gertrude Stein, Matisse, Talouse-Lautrec, Gaugan, Monet, Salvador DalĂ­. 

We also had our spring exhibition. I had a few students who were so disheartened at the lack of attendance at their shows, that this year we decided to create a video showcasing projects. The students narrated it, and it included field trips. Looking back, we've done so much! The video was shown at the beginning of the performance by the music department, and I think it's great that we can work together to let all of the fine arts students: music and visual have a chance to shine. As I left the auditorium, the superintendent said, "Mrs. Applebee, you didn't tell us to bring our tissues!" We love our students.

Wednesday, April 5, 2023

Differentiating Assessments for Art Class

I create simple rubrics for weekly student art projects, usually with about four components including originality and craftsmanship. But there's a huge range in what my students can physically accomplish so I like to add other assessments to balance out grades.

A Venn Diagram is a good way to determine if a student understands concepts well enough to compare and contrast, two art movements, for example.  It helps if students are given questions such as, "What is the main idea behind this movement? What kind of subject matter did those artists address? What were the aesthetics? Was there something unique about how those artists made art? What time period was this movement? Where did it take place?" A student or small group of students may have to answer questions about several movements or specific artists before they're ready to make a diagram, but it's important to be able to articulate similarities and differences for real world application.

I made timeline flash cards for students to match artists, years, and movements. The cards were made in Braille so that every student could take turns reading and matching. We created a chant to help them remember an order: Monet, Degas Cassatt! VanGogh, Cezanne, Seraut! Matisse, Picasso, Braque! They sure did paint a lot!"  We petered out by the time we discussed Dada, Surrealism, and Expressionism, but some of my students will take those first names to the grave.

Student presentations were also part of the unit. Every student picked an artist from one of the movements we studied and one that was different from their classmates. They shared facts, stories and a couple of famous works during their brief.  Although I'm always trying to incorporate literacy, we don't use technology enough in my classroom. They did a great job, even though a couple needed me to help them find and describe images because of their visual impairment.

Class participation can be graded for discussions when I start the week with a slide presentation or article to review but I generally save participation grades just for for setting up exhibits and group critiques.

Study games led up to the Unit Test so that there was plenty of chance to review the things we learned months ago. Art class is more than just a hobby craft class. I want my students to have cultured minds and understand humanity a little more than when they first entered my classroom.