Sunday, April 22, 2018

My latest Pet Peeves *edited with additional goodies!

Every so often I express some personal opinions here on the blog, talking about stuff that bugs me, usually in regard to art education.  This little post is another one of those, sort of.  You can read previous "pet peeves" posts  HERE (September 2015) and HERE (October 2011).

Today's annoyances are simple ones.  Let me admit up-front that I'm kind of a freak about spelling and proofreading.  Yes, I make mistakes, but I try my best to keep them to a minimum, and to edit them if I am able to, so they don't appear for the world to see.  But there's two errors I've seen made frequently lately (in blog posts, and in several Facebook art teacher groups) that drive me bonkers!

 1) Tempera / tempura
I can't tell you how many places I've seen "tempura paint" written lately, not only in blog posts and on Facebook, but also, surprisingly, in some on-line shopping situations.

I happen to love both tempera (1st pic above) and tempura (second pic above), but they couldn't be more different.  We paint with tempera.  We do not paint with tempuraTempura is a Japanese meal where stuff like shrimp and veggies are fried in a crispy delicious batter.  It's delicious, but it is not paint!  Please don't depend on spell-check when you are writing about tempera paint.  Your phone or computer doesn't know that tempura paint isn't a "thing"!  (And by the way, NEITHER ONE of them is spelled "tempra", though I've seen that lately, too!)  Also, in case you're interested, tempura and tempera are both pronounced differently from each other.  The paintings pictured below, and the cat at the top of this post, are all painted with tempera.  I believe it represents us poorly when we talk about a common art material and confuse it with a food! 

2) Borders / boarders
A boarder is someone who pays you to stay in your home with meals included (hence "room and board").  A border is an edge or boundary.  In art, we usually think of a border as a frame that is built into your artwork, or as a decorative edging on fabric.  But over and over again, I've seen people write about putting boarders on their artwork, or putting a boarder on their bulletin board.  (Hopefully you don't have anyone living on your bulletin board and eating meals there! )
I don't have boarders in my home, but I'm kind of a nut about borders on student artwork.  I think a decorative border can really enhance a piece of artwork.  When I retired, someone collected quotes from my students to share at a retirement dinner.  Evidently several kids quoted me as saying stuff like "put a border on it!" or "everything is better with a border!"  I didn't even know I ever said that!!

Again, you can't depend on spell-check for this, because your electronic gadgetry doesn't know what you are trying to write about! The artwork pictured above and below all have decorative borders, not boarders.
 And the paintings pictured below all have white borders

There's other words that can be similarly mixed up or confused.  For example, palette and pallet both have completely different meanings.  We generally use palettes in art.   Can you think of other words that can present a spelling challenge, or that sound alike but have different meanings with different spellings? 

Since I wrote this post yesterday, I've received many responses about other words that should be on this 'pet peeves' list.  So without further ado, here they are:
  • Complementary/complimentary: Complementary colors are across from each other on the color wheel.  A compliment is a praise or approval.
  • Principal/principle: your principal is your pal.  Don't give up your principles to do something you don't agree with.
  • A tortillon is a blending tool.  It is not spelled 'tortillion'.  And it is not a tortilla!
  • Pollock/Pollack: Jackson Pollock is the artist. Check out the spelling! Sydney Pollack was a film director, producer, and actor.
  • Lose/loose: you lose a marker, you set a wild animal loose.  
  • Jewelry is the correct spelling for adornments like rings and bracelets.  Not jewelery, or jewlery.  
I'm sure there's still lots more common misspellings, but the ones listed above are probably the ones you are most likely to use in an art room!  

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

My Thoughts on Early FInishers in the Art Room

This month's Art Ed Blogger's Network topic is Early Finishers.  I'm retired, and I work now with very small groups, so this is not much of a problem for me these days, but I don't think my opinions have changed much anyhow.
Activities for Early Finishers 700x700.jpg
I'll admit it; I was never one of those art teachers with a 'maker-space' or some other fancy setup for early finishers to find stuff to do.  I think if you have such an inviting open-ended location in your room, it actually can encourage kids to rush to finish early so that they can go 'play'.  I always aimed to have the projects we were working on to be engaging enough that the kids wouldn't be in a rush to finish them; instead, I wanted them to be so engaged that class time would run out and the challenge would be to get the kids to stop working, clean up, and line up to leave.
Still, inevitably, there were kids who were done before others.  With some projects (weaving, and perspective, in particular, come to mind), kids who were very proficient, and therefore could finish more quickly, became helpers for kids who find the process more challenging.  A sign on my classroom wall posted the rule "Ask 3 Before You Ask Me".  The early-finishers were often good people to ask for help when I was not available.
But yes, sometimes there was the possibility of 'free choice' art-making when work was done quickly.  But just as often, early finishers became classroom assistants.  They would be given staple pullers to take down artwork, and then they would sort and stack the work.  Or they were asked to match student work with name tags.  Or to fill glue bottles.  Or clean the white board.  Or clean the sink. [ I suppose I'd better explain the bizzaro photo below.  This is a pic of a student's unusual cleanup procedure.  Every water bucket was rinsed out out, filled with water, and then had a sponge stuffed inside.  Careful and methodical, but not exactly what I expected when he offered to clean up the sink area.]
Or the early finishers/helpers would deliver sorted artwork to classrooms.  Or cover and organize cups of paint in color order.  Or hang the background for a new display.  Or color in signs for displays.  Or sort paper.  Or test markers and separate out those that don't work.  Or scrub tables.  Or wash paintbrushes.  Or water the plants (I had lots of house plants in my classroom).  Or sweep the floor. Or...... I think you get the idea!
Frankly, I learned that most elementary kids LOVE to help, love to organize.  They'll gladly give up lunch time or recess to help hang up an art display or use a scraper to clean dried glue and paint off the tables. And some of them really love to organize, in particular to arrange things in some sort of meaningful order.  They organized the yarn into trays of warm colors, cool colors, neutrals, and assorted crazy yarns.  For some reason, there's always kids who love untangling yarn messes (we call them 'tangle-bombs') and sorting the balls of yarn.
 Look at the spontaneous sculpture created by a student sorting rolls of tape! 
Or this, my personal favorite, a lovely symmetrical castle-like tower of water bowls, arranged at the sink to drain out and dry.  Perfect!
And even now, as I work with my classes of about 5 to 8 students, they will fight over the opportunity to wash the table or sweep the floor at the end of class.  I wonder how many of them like to clean up at home?

Thanks for visiting!  This post is a part of The Art Ed Blogger's Network: Monthly Tips and Inspiration from Art Teacher Blogs. On the first Tuesday each month, each of these art teacher blogs will post their best ideas on the same topic.  You can use the links below to hop on over and visit some of the other blog posts on this month's topic.
Art Teacher Blogs

Participating Art Teacher Blogs:

Saturday, April 7, 2018

A Double Dose of Chihuly!

While in Seattle for the NAEA convention, I had two Chihuly experiences.
I registered early to the convention and scored a coveted ticket to a tour of the Chihuly Boathouse.  The Boathouse is his working studio, and is not open to the public, so this was a special opportunity.  We watched as some of the glass workers created a "Persian", a piece for an upcoming ceiling installation.
And we toured the rest of the facility, which included a swimming pool with Chihuly glass structures under the water.  Chihuly himself swims in this pool, which was incredibly inviting!
There's also an aquarium room, with fish swimming in an aquarium filled with Chihuly glass structures.
And a room made of tin. 
And much more.  Despite the bus driver getting lost on the way there (how does that happen, in this age of GPS?), it was still a fabulous opportunity.  By the way, the bus driver didn't exactly SAY he got lost, but it took 45 minutes to get there.  My map app said it was an 8 minute drive, and the bus driver said it would take 15 minutes in the bus, so 45 minutes was a bit excessive!  We seemingly drove in circles, pulled into a parking lot and did about a 40 point turn to turn around, went back the other way, and drove in more circles...  On the way back, we skipped the bus and took a Lyft to tour the Theo Chocolate Factory (and sampled lots of chocolate), and then took another Lyft back to the hotel, and it was a much easier trip.
Then, a couple of days later, we went to the Chihuly Garden and Glass, an indoor and outdoor museum/installation of his work.
As it turns out, many of the pieces were very familiar to me, from a visit to the Boston MFA (Museum of Fine Arts) in 2011.  The Seattle installation opened a year later, so I believe I'm correct when I say that some of these are the same pieces I saw in Seattle.   I posted about the Boston MFA visit in a post you'll find HERE.
 This past July, I saw a Chihuly exhibit at the New York Botanical Garden, and I posted about it HERE.  I've also posted about a Chihuly tower my students made in my former classroom, HERE, and HERE.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Spammers Beware: Don't Waste Your Time

Someone is trying to post bogus (spam) comments on my blog, and I can be rather prickly.  Actually, a number of someones.  Most of them are just annoying, with links to presumably sell something or take you to a website you'd rather not be at.  Others, like the anti-Jew one someone attempted to post yesterday, can be downright nasty, mean, or frightening. I've seen diatribes against women (in particular, there's a pretty outrageous one floating around out here in the interwebs that rants specifically about American women - perhaps you've seen it), and rants about other topics.

But if you are one of the people submitting these comments to my blog, YOU ARE WASTING YOUR TIME.  Because you see, I have something called 'Comment Moderation'.  Every single comment that someone attempts to make on one of my blog posts, whether a post from yesterday, or one from 7 years ago, has to be approved by me.  I get an immediate email telling me about there is a comment being posted, and I then I am given a choice.  I can approve the comment, delete it, or mark it as spam.  If I mark it as spam, the comment does not get posted, but instead gets reported.  It only takes me a moment to do this, and I check my email regularly, so none of the spam comments ever are seen by anyone but me. I have a discerning eagle eye when it comes to spotting this garbage. 
So - If you post a comment with an internal link to anywhere, or are trying to sell something, you can bet I'm marking it as spam.  (I don't have advertisements or make money off of my blog, so I'll be damned if I let you try to make money by using my free blog platform.)  If you post a comment that is ugly or offensive, you can bet I'm marking it as spam. The ONLY comments I approve are those that are genuine comments or questions that relate directly to the content of my blog post.

But if it's a comment that says "Nice post!  Learn to write professional blog posts at ...(with inserted link to some bogus website)...", it is bullshit and is marked as spam.  Or if it says "Nice to see this!  Have a look! (with inserted link to some presumably bogus website)"  it is marked as spam.  Or if it says "Keep the balls rolling!! Nice posts you have given for us! (with inserted link for travel websites)", it is marked as spam.  It's all just a nuisance, like an insect.  (By the way, those are all samples of actual attempted comments I've received recently). 
I realize some of these (or maybe most of these) spam comments are done automatically, without anyone actually reading the content of the post where the comment is left, and are just harmless.  But they bug me nonetheless. For example, when I posted about painting on roofing felt, I received spam comments from roofing companies with links to buying a roofing product.  This is the result of some search engine finding the words "roofing felt" and automatically posting the comment.  But it's a time waster for both them and for me, because there's absolutely no productive reason for them to leave these posts, and I of course have to waste my time reading them and marking them as spam.

Thanks for listening!  Look for a post about Chihuly coming within the next day! 

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

A Tale of Two Workshops: Tooling Foil and Bead Weaving

I had the pleasure of teaching 2 studio workshops at the recent NAEA convention.  The first was called Wampum-Inspired Bead Weaving for Modern Times, and the second was Oh What a Relief - Fabulous Tooling Foil! The pic above is a piece made by a participant during the tooling foil workshop.  Nice, huh?  This is me, below, by the way.   I probably should update my profile pic on this blog one of these days.... 
Anyhow, for the most part, I think both workshops were pretty successful.  I'm not going to go into full "how-to" details about the projects here, because I will direct you to them elsewhere on the blog, in previous posts and such, because both are projects I've posted about several times.  Instead, I want to tell you about some stuff that happened in each workshop, one good, one not-so-good.
In the bead weaving workshop, I spoke briefly about the need to be sensitive about cultural appropriation.  I made the point that these are not "wampum belts", but instead are a modern bead weaving INSPIRED by the wampum bead weaving of the Eastern Woodland tribes of Native Americans.

A woman in the class spoke up and said she and her companion (both pictured below) were Eskimos, attending the convention from Alaska.  Pictured on the left, Stacey told me she lives in Shaktoolik and grew up in Shishmaref, and is a member of the Inupiaq tribe. (I just looked up both of these locations on my map app, and wow, these are remote locations!)  She asked if she could use her family design (I hope I'm using the correct terminology here) for her weaving design, and I thought it was a great idea.  You can see, above, her graph planning it out, and her completed project. She used a red string for her weaving, which she said denotes strength.   The woman pictured on the right is DeAnn, and is the Alaska Art Teacher of the Year! The pattern in her weaving is not symbolic.  I was tickled to meet them both, and loved their enthusiasm.  I wish I'd had more time to chat, because Stacey was showing me pics (on her laptop), but unfortunately there were 18 other participants to attend to, and the 1 hour and 50 minutes just flew by!  Later in this post, you'll see some other pics of participants in this workshop, and their creations.
You can find my handout with instructions at THIS LINK.  The planning graph for making these weavings can be found HERE.  Please be respectful about giving credit as appropriate when using my materials.

 As a presenter, I was initially more confident about the tooling foil workshop, because I'd twice previously taught this at my state convention here in NY.  But still, it is, however, a challenging project to learn about and bring to completion in less than two hours.  But many participants did, and were successful.  I love seeing smiles!
For the workshop handout, go to THIS LINK.   For videos on the process, you'll find them in the post LINKED HERE.  Again, please be respectful about my ownership of these documents and videos. 
I had many examples, and offered many suggestions, based on what works best in the material.  So I was not surprised to see the robot (above), and the masks (below), because they are themes well-suited to the medium.  I'd love to see how the unfinished ones turn out!
This piece pictured below really intrigues me, as a study in texture and repetitive pattern. I think when complete, it will be gorgeous. The black ink that is added to 'antique' the piece will really highlight the detail of all the unique textures.  Really lovely!
But I had one thing happen during the workshop that caught me off-guard.  As I said, I offered many ideas, both in visual samples I that I brought, and in images and text included in the handout.  But three people in the workshop, rather than using my ideas and suggestions as a resource to inspire them, instead chose to trace one of my pieces while I was helping people elsewhere in the room.  Nobody asked permission; if they had, I would have responded that they did NOT have permission to trace my work, but were welcome to use the theme of the piece and create their own versions.  If you're a long-time reader of this blog, you probably know that I'm generally opposed to the use of templates and tracers, except for simple geometric shapes (circles...).  So I was certainly surprised to see my own original creations used as templates. In the interest of keeping the atmosphere of the workshop positive, I let it go and didn't say anything at the time.  But I'm sharing it here, to remind you all that copying without permission is NOT OK. 

Here's my friend Emily with me, showing her work in progress in the bead weaving workshop, and also a couple of my samples.
And some more pics from the workshop!
I love how wonderfully colorful this woman below is!
Lots of smiles!
If you want to see student examples from both the bead weaving and tooling foil projects, there's lots and lots on the blog.  Make sure you are viewing the web view of the blog (using your browser - Safari or whatever).  Then you'll be able to see a cloud of 'labels' (tags) at the bottom of the page.  You can search the cloud for words like "tooling foil" or "wampum weaving" and it will bring you to a bunch of older posts on the topic. Another alternative, also on the web view, is to use the "Search this blog" tool on the right side of the blog.  Type in whatever you'd like, and it will help you find it!
 Please let me know if you have any questions on either workshop/process that aren't answered in my handouts or in prior blog posts.  Thanks for visiting, and remember to be respectful of the work of others!