Thursday, September 28, 2023

Fall Student Art Show

 This year, we started school in August and had our first student Art Exhibition in September. Most of my students only come twice a week, but this year but I only have 10 high school students and 5 middle school students, who I teach daily. This means there wasn't a ton of work to choose from, but luckily every student, whether they were low-vision or totally blind, were each able to produce a couple worthy pieces.

The fact that we've been studying repetition, pattern, and unity made for a coherent and colorful body of work. We used some of our zentangle portraits for show posters and invitations, made commercials for the morning news, and cookies for the opening reception. Turn out was better than we'd seen in years and the students felt great about being able to put together a body of work in a short period of time.

Textured Caulk Paintings

Last year's "caulk on canvas" assignment was such a success that we did it again, except we used latex and acrylic instead of liquid water color, and we created more textures with the wet caulk, rather than just lines. 
 It worked best a few minutes after dried a little on the canvas so it wasn't too sticky and then use back of spoons can create peaks, and combs create waves and lines. Strips of cardboard can push and swirl areas to give it enough tooth that a top coat of paint will stand out from an underpainting.

Mosts of the canvases were covered with spray paint for an even underpainting.The contrasting paint on the top layer gave it a richness that didn't exist when students just added paint to the plain white ground. 
The lines of caulk helped students who are blind feel the edges of shapes, when they were painting. And tactile paintings are always good to have on display at schools for the blind so they can be enjoyed by everyone.


Monday, September 18, 2023

Analogous Rectilinear Cardboard Relief Art

I love using this cardboard relief assignment to teach how mixing two primaries makes a secondary, and that a primary and a secondary make a tertiary. So with just yellow and blue, you can not only get green, but all the yellow greens and blue greens, and they all look great together. Even children with multiple complex needs can choose which color and a shape to paint. After enough students painted enough pieces of cardboard, organized them from mostly blues at the top to mostly yellows at the bottom. I hot glued them into one giant rectangle of rectangular shapes. This lesson also reinforces the Principle of Design: UNITY, through the repetition of similar colors and shapes. Everyone contributes; everyone wins.


Saturday, September 16, 2023

Zentangle Portraits

 To build on our pattern lesson and give our doodles something to do, my students created what I call "zentangled portraits." They used a picture of themselves, a friend or a model in a magazine, cut out only the neck and face, following the hairline and collaged to a larger piece of paper.

Some images took on royal or saintly mantles as the background was broken up with halos, arches, and crowns, and those spaces were filled with repeated marks from black sharpies. Some kept  encorporated colored paper, markers or colored pencil to add another layer of complexity.

Students who were blind, used Wixi Sticks to divide the space, and then stayed within each shape filling it marks such as stripes, O's or X's. I love the pattern-saturated surfaces of Gustav Klimt paintings and I love the way this assignment turned out.

Design Time: Zentangle Collaboration

Repetition is a Principle of Design, which is used to create pattern, textures, and rhythm in art. Some patterns have names: check board, basketweave, zig zag, polka dots, while others are waiting to be invented. It's good to break out of your doodle comfort zone which is surprisingly small for most visually impaired people and try to repeat marks that you haven't tried before.

My students created their own chart with a handful of different patterns before contributing to the larger group composition. Tables were covered with bulletin board paper and when students finished their own work, they could contribute to this group composition. It's fun to work together to learn and create.

Friday, September 15, 2023

Dog Relief Sculpture, Wall Art

DisneyPlus has show, Critter Fixers: Country Vets, which is filmed in Georgia not far from The Academy for the Blind. In fact, we had some students do some work-based-learning with them on a regular basis last school year, culminating in a school assembly Q&A session with the Critter Fixers stars, Dr. Hodges and Dr. Ferguson. Students were able to walk to different stations on campus, petting various animals and listening to their heartbeat through a stethoscope. It was a great day and we all looked forward to seeing the episode when it came out.

Months later, the show's producer came back and, during a tour of the school, stopped by the Art room and mentioned how nice it would be to have a piece of student artwork on a wall of Critter Fixers. Immediately, the parent mentor, who was giving the tour, mentioned Kirby, as a subject. Kirby is the school's emotional support dog. Minutes after they left, I started looking for pictures of the black Labrador Retriever. Students helped me pick a couple of my sketches, and then they traced the projections onto a large piece of paper to use as patterns.  I used the patterns to cut out layers of cardboard, glued together to make a thick structure. 

Two Middle School students made more rubbings with oil pastels on black paper, based on the past assignment, which they decoupaged onto the structures.  To make the relief structures into something that could be hung on the wall, I had made two holes through two layers of cardboard to thread wire through before adding a top layer of the body.