Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Supporting my School through Art!

This past school year has been full of wonderful experiences, and a true feeling of being part of the school community. I am still part time and travel between schools, so I am sort of the phantom ping pong ball in the system! I know many of you can relate. This year seems to have finally given me some presence. The kids and all of the staff at both schools are beginning to recognize me—HURRAY!  And some fellow teachers were kind enough to reach out to me to include me in some artistic endeavors.

The fifth grade wing of our school has had an ongoing project of decorating ceiling tiles, with themes of diversity and acceptance. I was able to contribute paints, brushes, water pots and my expertise to the cause. I was also invited to the 5th grade classrooms to be part of the fun. My students were so excited to have me visit and support their artistic efforts. They did a great job as teams to make their contributions to the beautification and strengthening of the school community. It was also wonderful to be considered by my colleagues and included in the process.

We also have a wonderful vocal music teacher who has implemented a theater program over the last couple of years. For the production of Disney's Beauty and the Beast, I donated some time to painting sets and props. Brick walls for the castle were sponged and stippled to perfection! A fellow parent and friend helped me construct a deer head out of paper mache, so Gaston could use antlers in his decorating.

I also turned a teacher’s cart into Maurice's wood chopping machine at the last minute! I was so happy to be able to  help the kids put on the best production possible. They were so impressive! And so were the efforts of all of the staff and families involved. From costumes, concessions, ticket sales and more, it really takes an entire community to make these thing happen. And I am so happy to have been part of it!

 Have you had any experiences outside the art room to share?

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Winter Landscapes

Spring has sprung, but I had to share paintings created by my 5th graders. Some of them had the chance to expand on a color theory unit by creating these beautiful winter landscape paintings. The background was produced by mixing various tints of a single color, creating the snow covered hills and the sky. We then talked about aerial perspective, and how objects in the front of the picture plane are larger than ones further back. Students then added some winter objects and painted them in silhouette. Final touches were added by creating snow falling and covering surfaces of things like roofs, tree branches etc. Enjoy!



Friday, February 5, 2016

Art Teacher Finds— Arty Pajamas!

As a new feature here on My Adventures in Positive Space, I would like to share my Art Teacher finds— those little things I see from time to time that I think are out there just for us art teacher types to find, appreciate, and many times take home!

This has been a popular one, and if you spend time on social media, you've seen them already. Over the holidays some pretty art teachery pajamas were being offered at Target. Needless to say, many of us now have an outfit for pajama day at school, and for lounging in at home! Here I am sitting at my kitchen window watching Winter Storm Jonas dump a ton of snow in my garden.

They aren't easy on the eyes. They are loud and busy, but totally comfy and covered in art supplies! Oh, and did I mention tea cups as well? I am a tea in the morning kind of girl, so it just sealed the deal for me.

All I am in need of now are some art-themed slippers. Anyone have any leads? Oh, and although my hands are usually marked up with Sharpie markers or stained with paint, my toes are looking pretty wonderful! This week, anyway.

What are some of your favorite Art Teacher Finds?

Friday, January 29, 2016

Professional Development: AOE WInter Conference

I'm so looking forward to the Art of Education Winter Conference this weekend. Have you signed up? My position at school is still part time, so I haven't been able to swing traveling to the NAEA conventions when they are far away. I LOVED going to NYC in 2012! I can't wait for it to come back to the east coast. 

If you are an art teacher with a limited budget and/or schedule, or if you would like to have more professional development experiences specifically for our subject matter, I highly recommend an AOE conference!

This will be my 3rd conference and I always walk away inspired, informed, and equipped with new classroom strategies, lesson plans, and ways to reflect on and improve my teaching and my students' successes! Oh, and since it's online, I can go back and re-watch my favorite presenters, or things I may have wanted to see more closely as speakers were presenting!

I also just got my box of AOE Swag, which I received for registering early! I will have materials at the ready for experiencing new materials and techniques, and have some freebies to try out on my own. Woo hoo! I hope to spend some virtual time with you this weekend! See you there.

And if you're not registered for the conference, just go visit their site! There are loads of articles and short videos on all things art education!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Koi Fish Sculptures: Watch the Video Tutorial!

So it's a year of firsts, and I've tried my hand at making a video tutorial. Can I just say it is sooo much more difficult than it looks, but I hope to find it easier to accomplish as I continue. I also jumped into learning iMovie to edit things and make them fancy. I came up with this lesson for using Model Magic to create Koi Fish Sculptures last summer during my stint as a summer workshop teacher for my school district. 

The summer workshops for me are a great place to develop a lesson, to see which age groups it works best for, figure out what tools work best or what materials will be needed, how long the lesson may take etc. Not to mention, will the kids enjoy it? Will they all attain a level of satisfaction and success? Can early finishers assist those who need help, or who may have missed a class? These things are more important to me than the writing of the lesson plan. I know it's important, but it's a heck of a lot easier to explain in theory, when you have also accomplished the putting it into practice.  

This was also a lesson which helped me round out a ceramics and 3D workshop. The classes ran for 5 weeks, and towards the end, you just can't begin a ceramics project with no time left for drying, cycles in the kiln etc. Model Magic was a great option for the kids, and I am proud to say this lesson is all mine. I love this blogging community, and I love being inspired by all of your hard work! I am thankful to have the technology to research your successes and failures, and so happy to share this one with you.
I hope you get a chance to take a look. Enjoy!


I’m not fond of using Model Magic in the hotter months, unless the art room is air conditioned. When it is hot, the material becomes soft too quickly.

A clean table top work surface is best, and reminders to students to pick up their projects now and then while working will prevent their projects from sticking. 

If you're creating this project in the classroom, I would plan for one class to introduce the lesson, a class to form the body (closing up projects in ziploc bags will keep them fresh for next time), and one to add colors and final details.

For drying time, I place projects on a layer of plastic wrap, let dry for a day or so, and then turn upside down or on it’s side for the last area to also dry out. A hard, stale marshmallow is kind of what you are looking for when it is completely dry.

If a piece was not properly attached, and falls off, I just hit it with a little bit of craft glue and it repairs nicely.

I attempted to give a finished piece a layer of Mod Podge to glaze it, and it was successful for me. Unfortunately, the little bit of extra time the kids took to paint a layer of Mod Podge over their projects caused the Model Magic to release it's color and bleed into the Mod Podge. Now Crayola does sell a glaze specifically for this purpose, but not in amounts for the classroom, so I haven't given it a try.

This subject matter lends itself to cross-curricular learning! Think anatomy, life cycle, or environment of fish, Asian art and culture, and so on. Not to mention, I used these sculptures for a collaborative lesson and display, which I will share soon! Make sure to check in and see it. Cheers!

Monday, January 25, 2016

Collaboration Drawings

My 5th grade students learned about the art of COLLABORATION, as they each created a small design to contribute to a large community work. Students focused on LINE, COLOR, SHAPE, PATTERN, and the use of POSITIVE and NEGATIVE SPACE. They also learned about the Line of Life community mural collaborations by Ernest English, as well as other artists who create by breaking down images into smaller sections as they work, such as Chuck Close and Romero Britto.

These projects were inspired by several teachers online and in the art teachers group I belong to on Facebook. The first examples I saw were done with Sharpie markers on stretched canvas. I wasn't sure I would be able to afford that many canvases, and then not be able to break down the project to return to each of my students. Then I saw some of my peers using paper for the project, so I had to try it!

I started the project on 11x14 inch paper, masked with painters tape into 10-12 sections, for each of my tables in the art room. I also had a few extra sheets at the ready for groups who managed to fill an entire piece completely, or for tables that were having more of a challenge reaching, sharing, waiting on a more thorough artist, etc.

The Line of Life video was a great enhancement for this lesson. It is a perfect example of collaboration, as well reinforcing to students that anyone, anywhere can contribute to a great work of art. Everyone has value, and can give an effort no matter what their skill set or challenges they may face. 

I also worked on having a fun call-back element in the classroom while presenting and reviewing the lesson by breaking down the word into two parts, so when I said "Collab" students followed with "Oration."  It was a great icebreaker for the first few classes as well. Now here we are in January and if I begin to say the word out loud and in that teachery tone, I get the second half of the word said back to me, guaranteed!

I have to say that removing the tape from the paper was not the most successful component to this lesson, but the final product was still fabulous. My plans for next year are to work on canvas paper. Perhaps it will be a happy medium between paper and stretched canvas. Oh, and I was driving myself crazy walking around the room and grading students as they worked, when it dawned on me that the tape would be removed at the end of the lesson. Ding, ding, ding! Why not have the kids write their names on the tape, with an arrow pointing to which section they worked on! No matter how organized I think I am, there are still things that stare me in the face and take a while to work themselves out in my brain. I figure it out eventually!


The final pieces mounted together were quite impressive and I managed a bulletin board display at each of my schools. I will also be using them for display at the Board of Ed offices later in the year. I hope you try a collab-oration with your classes soon!

To see the Line of Life community mural collaboration by Ernest English & company
that I shared with my classes, please visit this link:

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Snapping Photos at the Art Museum

A fellow art teacher recently shared an article about a museum in The Netherlands, which is discouraging taking photos of artwork at museums, and instead is asking people to take the time to draw an artwork to make for a more appreciative experience. It's a wonderful idea, but it isn't for everyone. And it made me think of occasions when I took the time to visit an exhibition, and was denied the simple pleasure of snapping a photo of the memory all for my little old self.

Monet's Waterlilies at Musée de l'Orangerie in Paris, France.

Don't get me wrong, I love sketching! But I also love getting to take a picture of myself with an artwork I've long wished I could see and traveled to get the chance to do so. Unless I'm a professional photographer with the proper equipment and an empty museum or gallery, I don't see why we shouldn't be able to snap a pic. My image is no threat to them, especially if I'm in front of it. Certain works of art are major destinations for me! 

Keith Haring at the Brooklyn Museum, NYC. 

What if I traveled to Disney World or Niagara Falls, or wherever, and was told I could sketch it only? What if I'm not an artist, but appreciate art and have no desire or skill to sketch things? I've also had circumstances where sketching was only allowed in pencil. How does that help me appreciate great color or brush strokes. And how much longer would I need to stand and sketch something than to look at it and take a picture so others can have their opportunity? Like I said, I love to sketch and do sometimes sketch on a museum visit, but having a photograph to celebrate a wonderful memory for me is different and I feel should still be permitted. Especially to share as a blogger. I would think the museums would like the publicity for their exhibits!

For example, here is an exhibit on Italian Futurism I went to at the Guggenheim. No photography allowed. I took a photo in the lobby, the only place I could that had anything to do with the exhibit. 

Futurism Exhibit at the Guggenheim, NYC.

That same day we happened upon a public piece of art on East Houston Street, and guess what, no one denied me a chance to have a go at a photo! Thank you Maya Hayuk!

Maya Hayuk Mural, NYC. 

Which is more memorable and important to me? My record of experiencing the mural of course. It helps me to remember the weather, what I wore, which was Futurism inspired by the way, and for a blogger, this is a great experience to share over signage!

 On a trip to Washington D.C. I captured the pieces that resonated with each of my daughters at the time. My little one loved the childlike nature of this painting and it made her happy. My older daughter loved the painting that made her think about how much she loved her kitties. I think these are wonderful milestones and can look back on the photographs and remember exactly what their thoughts were, and that I was helpful in fostering their appreciation for art and museums.
My younger daughter enjoying La Ronde des Images by Jean Dubuffet,
Smithsonian National Gallery of Art, Washington DC.

My older daughter enjoying Woman with a Cat by Auguste Renoir,
Smithsonian National Gallery of Art, Washington DC.

And me in front of Alexander Calder mobile in I.M. Pei building,
Smithsonian National Gallery of Art, Washington DC.

So what do you think? In the digital age, should we be allowed to take more pictures of the artwork we view in a formal setting or fewer? Does it devalue the works or make them even more important? Do you have a preference as to whether to sketch or snap a photo on a visit to a museum or gallery? Do you have any favorite photos of your art experiences? If you share some with me via email, I will add them to a future feedback post! Be sure to include your name, the artist and/or title of the artwork pictured, and where it was taken.

 You can check out the article inspiration here.