Saturday, May 25, 2013

Annual Conference Workshops - what do you prefer?

This post is especially directed toward my blog-readers right here in NY State, though I welcome readers, opinions, and comments from anyone/anywhere!
What types of workshops most interest you at your annual conference?  Please help me sort out what to present this year!!

This coming November, NYSATA (NY State Art Teachers Association) will be having its annual conference in Albany, and I plan to be there!  For the past 8 or 9 years, I have annually presented workshop(s) at the conference.  In the beginning, I chose to do this because I was dissatisfied with workshop offerings and thought I could do better.  But I didn't expect the perks.  First of all, there's the wonderful people I've met and formed friendships with over the years.  Then, there's the reputation it gives you back in your home district.  How can your administration help but be proud of you?  And then of course, how can they refuse your attendance at the conference when they know you are attending as a presenter as well as an attendee?  And finally, there's the refining of your presentation that you have to do in preparation, that certainly makes you better at what you do.  I've loved every minute of it, so much that over the past couple of years I went from teaching one workshop, to two, and then to three. Which I'll probably do again this year, crazy as I am!

Now, as a retiree, attending workshops may not always be as meaningful to me as presenting, so I'm trying to decide what my workshops will be this year, as the deadline to submit workshop proposals looms ahead.
  Over the past years, I have done several presentations on papier-mache (a personal favorite medium for working with kids), including last year. I've taught an altered book workshop showcasing the fabulous work of my 6th graders, a (hands-on) weaving workshop, a workshop on blogging, and several workshops on multiple lesson ideas (including "A Plethora of Pleasing Projects", "Great Ideas with Recycled Materials", and other variations of easy project ideas).  I've also taught (three times) a workshop on the amazing flexagon, in particular the trihexaflexagon, a wonderful magical mathematical creation.

So what should I present this year?  Below are some ideas I've toyed with -
 *Please note: you will not find me offering pedagogical workshops, or workshops on the Common Core, or anything else like that.  I know you may need to attend them, and that's fine, but I want my workshops to provide a break, a respite, from all the stress and jargon.  I want my workshops to inspire you creatively, to make you smile, and to be a memorable conference experience.  So anyhow, here are some of my ideas:

  • A repeat of the hands-on flexagon workshop, which I previously taught in 2011, 2009, and 2007.  Would there still be an audience?  Would attendees be willing to pay a fee of $1 or $2 to cover the cost of the materials? (Remember, I no longer have a classroom to 'borrow' materials from.)
  •  A hands-on workshop on working in relief with tooling foil.  I think I have had great student success with this material.  Again, I would need to charge for materials.  If this workshop interests you, would you prefer it be a double-session workshop during the day, or a Friday After Dark workshop? (The FAD workshops generally charge a fee of $25 and are a little longer in duration.  If I teach it during the day, the materials fee would be no more than $5.)
  •   A Friday After Dark workshop on relief carving in sheetrock?  (I began doing this with my 6th grade students after attending a FAD workshop on this marvelous process, probably 10 years ago.  So I'd be 'paying it forward' if I presented such a workshop.  But due to time and materials, it would have to be a FAD workshop.)
  •  A workshop presenting various painting and color theory lessons and processes, with a focus on liquid tempera paint management and cleanup.  I suggest this because some of you blog that you don't use liquid tempera because of the mess.  While I have nothing against liquid watercolors (they are great!) or brick tempera, I feel we do kids a disservice when we don't give them the 'real' paint experience of dipping a brush into creamy thick tempera.  There's nothing else like it!

  •  A repeat of the altered book workshop or a variation of some other workshop I've already taught?  Something papier-mache?  Weaving? Another potpourri of stuff?
  •   Something totally different? Something specific to an artist? (if so, anyone in particular?)  Louise Nevelson relief sculpture? (This one could be hands-on, I suppose.) Something based on an art movement? (Surrealism? Fauvism?  Pop Art?)  A workshop on teaching perspective?  Cave painting?  Still life? Collage ideas?  Or something I'm totally not even thinking of?  Perhaps something perhaps you saw me post on the blog you want to know more about?
     So I want your opinions, ideas, favorites.  What would you want to attend?  What have you attended in the past that you've loved/hated?  How do you feel about the Friday After Dark workshops?  What do you wish I would present, and what would you NOT attend?  Please leave comments!!!!

    Wednesday, May 22, 2013

    UPDATED! New Question!! and a big thanks and blogger advice needed

    FYI, the new question has been added at the bottom of this post, in dark red font. 
    Today I discovered that I now have 888 followersWOW!  What a cool number!  That's a lot of people taking a peek now and then to see what I am up to.  I am very appreciative of all of you, more than I can say.  Thanks for stopping by!
    And now, since I have your attention (maybe) I need your help.  Let me explain: I've been doing my best to ignore the changes (doom and gloom) that are coming down the pike, in relation to using Blogger.  Avoidance has been easy, but I know I can't avoid much longer.  In fact, I have discovered that perhaps I've waited too long.

    Unlike many of you, at the time I didn't really care much about the loss of the Google reader, or whatever the name of it is/was, (it's gone already; it left when I wasn't paying attention) because honestly, I only used it when I wanted to hunt for something.  Otherwise, I pretty much use the Dashboard to see what's been newly posted, and if there's something I want to find my way back to, I pin it on my Pinterest page.  However there are some things from way back that I wish I could still find, but... oh well.   And I am pretty clueless about some of the stuff you guys were recommending as a replacement (Bloglovin? etc) and of course, since I  no longer have the Google reader to search for what you were saying, I can't find your advice and recommendations any more.  Dumb of me to wait so long...  I have just spent an hour scrolling through old posts on the Dashboard to try to find what everyone was saying, and with no way to filter the posts, I never found what I was looking for.  So I need some solid advice, written in a way that someone (me) with absolutely NO comprehension about downloading and other technical whoop-de-doo will understand.

    And aside from the need to find a new reader so that I can do searches, there was something else happening / changing  (when?) having to do with blogs that are not Blogger blogs.  Will they all be gone from my Dashboard at some point?  How do I prevent that?  (I have some that I don't want to lose track of.)  And what the heck is Google + and do I want it?  Why? What will it do differently than what I've been doing these past three years?  HELP!  I'm feeling very dumb right now, and I will very much appreciate your help.  I'm feeling a bit alone here in my technophobia.

    Here's the update: 
    So, friends,  I now am signed on to Bloglovin', but am already a little flummoxed.  The Google reader had a search option, where you searched through the blogs you follow for a specific word/topic - for example "Chihuly" or  "color wheel" etc.  Then you could highlight them and get back to them easily.  Bloglovin' has a nice clean format, but as far as I can see, the search option on Bloglovin' searches every damn blog it can find (not just what I follow), thus making it impossible to find that post you are looking for.  I couldn't figure out how to search as I did on Google reader.  Any advice?  Do I need to try Feedly instead?  And what does it mean to 'claim' your blog?  Why would I want to/need to do that?

    Student Art Show 2013

    I spent the day subbing for my replacement yesterday, while she set up for today's annual student art show.  She and the high school art teacher said it was OK if I snapped a few pictures of their students' work to share with you.

    On the left and below are a couple of papier-mache monsters, made by 5th graders.  My replacement had no previous experience with papier-mache, so at her request I came in one day and helped her get started.  But this was the first time I saw the completed work.  

     I believe the coil pots above were made by 4th graders.  The ceramic pieces below were made by some high school students, and the pencil drawing below the ceramics is also the work of a high school piece.  My photo isn't great, but I think the drawing is!
     Grrr.  Sideways photos - all three of the next photos - for my favorite part of the exhibit: 3rd grade papier-mache angry birds!  I'm proud to say that the idea of displaying some of the birds in the large potted tree was mine!  You may remember that last year's art show had a large Chihuly tower in the center of the show, and the year before, my large dragon Lucy sat on a table in the center.  So it seemed that 'something' was needed to anchor the center of the room, and I remembered the tree in a friend's classroom and thought she'd be willing to loan it. 
     And some hydrangea paintings (I think they are made from bubble prints) by, I think, 2nd grade:
     And a couple of cute sunflower paintings:
     And some Klimt trees, I think maybe grade 5:
     And some snakes, made by printing bubble wrap,by grade 1:
     And a glimpse of a part of the room (1/2 the 'big' gym):
     When I finally left school after subbing and checking out the art show, I noted as always how beautiful the school grounds are, and I stopped to take a couple of photos.  Isn't it lovely?

    Saturday, May 18, 2013

    I've got my head in the clouds!

     I don't know when I've been more excited about what I saw on a blog post than by this one right here:  I have so many ideas as a result of this blog post that my mind is whirring.  I've chosen not to copy Cristina's photos to this post as I would not do so without permission.  But there are clouds of white fluff hanging from the ceiling, with all sorts of raindrops - made from stuffed felt, bottlecaps, and more.  There's smaller clouds that look like perhaps painted sponges, with raindrops (foil?) hanging from them.  There's a large table area covered with a painted pond, with ceramic ducks swimming, lily pads with frogs, and again, more. 

    One of my ideas is based on an image from the blog of little wire people with their heads surrounded by white cotton fluff.  It's got me thinking of all kinds of 'head in the clouds' artwork, both 2 and 3 dimensional.  I see so many possibilities!

    I know many of you already are regular readers of Cristina's awesome blog, but if you aren't, you are missing out on a blog by an incredibly inspiring art teacher.  You will be amazed by the fabulous student artwork.   And by the way, for those of you, like me, who aren't good at foreign language, there is a translator button on the blog.  The translation isn't great, but it does help (though it doesn't address the process or materials at all; instead it is more philosophical in nature).

    By the way, I don't like to write a post without photos, so I need to give photo credit/explanation.  The photos in this post are both by my son, shot during his stay at Stellenbosch University in South Africa (Stellenbosch is near Capetown) when he was there for a college internship 3 years ago.  The top photo is him, shot via self-timer. He always takes a photo of himself jumping on tops of mountains.  I wish he had tied his shoelaces better, but he made it home safely so I guess I shouldn't complain!

    Monday, May 13, 2013

    Pretty Pansies!

    In my opinion, there is no better flower than the pansy.  The rich vibrant colors make me happy.  Each year, we plant pansies along a slate path from the back of our house to our driveway.  On Mother's Day, we go to a couple of garden stores, is search of the selection of colors I want (everything!).  It's interesting that what they offer changes from year to year.  Last year, I couldn't find much red; this year there was a lot of red, but no peach or black to be found.  Anyhow, here's a little selection from what we bought.