Thursday, December 30, 2010

Today's Excellent Bloggy Adventure!

Today was a really fun adventure, as I got to meet my blogger-friend Barb in person! You can find her blog at:

Earlier this fall, we realized that we only lived about 1-1/2 hours apart, me in NY, she in Vermont. We both teach in small rural districts, and seemed to have a lot in common. So when Barb suggested that we get together during vacation, I said "why not?" and today I hopped in my trusty Subaru and drove on winding country roads through crisp bright winter landscapes . We spent some time at the Clark Art Institute, a lovely museum in Williamstown (Massachusetts), just a short drive from Barb's home in Vermont. I ended up making some purchases to use at school, from the book selection at the museum. Here's what I purchased:
I'm planning on doing some portrait projects in January, and we're going to be focusing on both DaVinci and Arcimboldo, so these two books above will be put to use immediately.

And I couldn't resist these other two books:

And here's a couple of images from the special Albrecht Durer exhibit at the museum:

And other random pieces that I found intriguing - the one on the left is by Rodin, and the right is a detail from a gorgeous painting by Sargent:
And more odds & ends...
Thanks Barb, for a delightful day! So glad we had the opportunity to do this!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Sketchbook project - I finally started!

Are you participating in the Sketchbook Project? Check it out at
I received mine ages ago, but it has just been sitting there staring back at me. I guess I've been intimidated by all the bare empty pages.

A day or two ago, Janelle, at posted a "sneak peak" of her sketchbook, and I realized I couldn't put it off any longer, since it is due in about 2 weeks!

My theme is "Science Project Gone Wrong" and I want it to look like the journal of a mad scientist for whom chemistry has taken a terrible turn. So the images should be of bubbling, fizzing, oozing goo with unexpected things imbedded in the ooze.

I began with the cover, which was a lot of fun - I added a bunch of texture, and rubbed on all sorts of paints to make it look like maybe it has been affected by chemical spills and more.

Then, I began glueing together every 2 pages inside (they are very thin and there's too many pages to deal with anyhow), and gluing on scientific scribbles, graphs, and lab notes that the high school chemistry and earth science teachers gave me from their recycle boxes.

And then the fun REALLY began, because I took a candle and burned the edges of some pages, and some holes in others. I controlled the burn with a dunk bowl of water for emergencies.

Now I'm ready to actually draw, paint, and collage some images into the pages. Since I've already "destroyed" the book with all the torn, burned and glued pages, I no longer feel like I can ruin it!

I'd better get to bed soon, because tomorrow morning I'm heading off on a blogger adventure. I'll tell you about it when I return.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Sunday Comic #7 and random extras

My son got me the best holiday gift! I love Scrabble, Boggle, Upwards, and similar games using letter tiles to form words. My new game, being guarded by our sweet cat Isis, is Bananagrams. It took only a minute or two for everyone to catch on, and it is quick and fun. A Scrabble game can linger for hours, but a round of Bananagrams will be completed quickly. It's a great game, and I highly recommend it. Thanks, Ben! You know me so well...

Now here's today's comic:

Another thing - perhaps you can help?:
If you read my blog regularly, and wonder why I keep changing my "this is me" blog photo, let me explain my frustration. I'm not one to like large photos of myself; I prefer to be on the other side of the camera, and I'm sort of embarrassed by the giant photo of me on the blog. I'd rather not have my giant photo plastered all over cyberspace, and I'd rather the focus of the blog be my students' artwork.

But I don't want to eliminate the photo completely, because once when I did, someone assumed I was male. So why can't I get the photo to show up SMALL??!! I feel like I have tried everything. For example, this most recent image is cropped from a much larger image. Then I reduced it in size, again, and again, and again - by increasingly large percentages. But it still shows up BIG on my blog. Can anyone tell me why?
OOH - I just found these photos I never posted, of a fun holiday project. We didn't have much time, so they were really rushed and I think could be much better, but the kids were happy with them. I am anti-glitter, but I do allow glitter-glue and the kids were thrilled to use it to add some sparkle.
Stuff a paper bag, staple it shut, add a construction paper roof, and then have fun! We've used colored bags, white bags, and brown bags to make gingerbread houses with "candy" trim. With limited time, we used teeny bags, and I let the kids decide totally how to decorate them.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Enjoy your holiday, and enjoy this cute video!

Happy Holidays, fellow bloggers!
I got this sweet video courtesy of my son (thanks!). "The Girls" are from Rochester, NY.

Monday, December 20, 2010

More Surrealism - 2nd grade landscapes and clocks

The inspiration for this lesson came from a lesson posted here:

My 2nd graders looked at and discussed Dali's Persistence of Memory. Then we created our own distorted clocks on watercolor paper, outlined with Sharpie and painted with watercolors.
Next we created a simple landscape with 3 wavy lines, and painted by double-dipping 2 colors on our brushes. Then we used a Q-tip to paint some black trees and fences, using size and placement to show depth.
Finally, we cut out our clocks and glued them down, with a little bit of curve.

The Surreal Locker Challenge - grade 6

You never know what you'll find inside!

a few more surreal collages

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Sunday Comics #6 - my favorite art cartoon

Just proof that a Sunday comic doesn't need to be colorful to be funny! I'm teaching Picasso later this winter and I suppose I should have saved this one till then, but no... I couldn't resist!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Surrealism again - 4th grade collages

This is my second surrealism/Dali post tonight! Hopefully next week I can post the surreal lockers made by my 6th graders, 2nd grade landscapes with dripping clocks, and if we finish them, 5th grade surreal hallways.
My 4th graders made these surreal collages after viewing and discussing the DVD Get Surreal with Salvador Dali. As I've mentioned before, educators can get this movie for FREE (does it get any better than that?) from the Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida. The kids totally loved this movie - it's wacky, with a fun song, young adorable narrators, an animated moustache, and some giggle-worthy glimpses of nudity (imagine a statue of Venus that doubles as a "chest" of drawers). And it does a great job of explaining various vocabulary words: surrealism, juxtapostion, dislocation, tranformation, levitation, and even muse and bust. Kids will learn about Dali's fear of grasshoppers, and much, much more!

This collage project, using only magazine images, is introduced in the movie. We cut up old magazines: Ranger Rick, National Geographic Traveler, Adirondack Life, Woman's Day, Good Housekeeping, and more.
I gave each student an 8-1/2 x 11" piece of oaktag, and a Ziploc bag big enough for the paper. The students stored the images they "collected" in this bag, and no gluing was allowed until they had plenty of images cut and placed in their bags.
The rules were simple: take no more than 2 magazines at once, return magazines neatly to the proper box, select some large images to cover entire paper so no white space shows, and cut smaller images carefully to remove all background.
Also: no blood, gore, violent images, tobacco, alcohol,or underwear, and no combining of images in a way that might offend or hurt feelings.

A Dose of Third Grade Sillies!

Well, it didn't turn out quite like I expected, but we had fun! Third graders learned that in Surrealism, artists put together objects that didn't belong together (juxtaposition), put things in places they didn't usually belong (dislocation), and metamorphosed objects (transformation).

They used these methods to make surreal food for our "Salvador Deli". Somehow, it seems a lot of the food has either sprouted wheels or been enhanced by eyeballs.

Come join us at the Salvador Deli, where your food may stare back at you, or even walk, fly, or drive away! I've suggested that maybe the cafeteria ought to have a surreal lunch day, and serve some unusually transformed food, but I'm not sure they want to give it a try. Maybe they're worried nobody will have the nerve to actually eat the surreal food!