Thursday, April 11, 2019

Warm and cool colors for painted paper!

My DragonWing Arts students have been making painted paper, to use in sunshine collages we will be creating during late April or early May.  Everybody painted 4 sections of an 18x24" sheet of paper, so there will be lots of choices to use for the sun and its rays.
We painted with brushes, scratched lines with the back of the brushes, stamped with foam circle stampers and also with slices of pool noodles cut in half, among other things.
We also painted smaller pieces of paper (12"x18") with cool colors, to use for our skies.  We used the same methods and tools.
 I found a rubbery waffle place-mat at the dollar store, and cut it in pieces.  The kids enjoyed using them for stamping texture onto their papers.  It was especially fun because their hands got so messy in the process.
 Stay tuned; next month I'll post the process of putting together the collages and the final product.  I've got some fun ideas for them - hopefully they'll be great!

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Presenting a workshop - why YOU should submit a proposal!

It's THAT time of year for art teachers.  Here in NY state, proposals are due soon for workshop presentations at the annual NYSATA convention, held in November.  And I expect that soon, it will again be time to submit proposals for the NAEA annual convention, to be held in Minneapolis in March 2020.

Today, there was a conversation on Facebook about whether or not there were enough elementary workshops at the NAEA in Boston.  My immediate reaction was this: were the people who wanted more elementary workshops willing to present a workshop?  Because, after all, we who attend the convention ARE the convention!

I've been presenting annually at my state convention for at least a dozen years, and nationally for about 5 or 6.  So, I want to tell you why, despite the inconveniences, I continue to present workshops, even now, in my 7th year of retirement.  I'll explain the many benefits of presenting a workshop at either your state convention or at the NAEA convention, in hopes that maybe YOU will take the leap and submit a workshop proposal.  And for full disclosure, I'll explain the negatives as well.  I hope you'll find the positives outweigh the negatives and you'll take the leap and dive in!

Presenting a workshop helps you to meet lots of awesome people, and make meaningful connections.
Years ago, before the internet was such a big thing, my region of our state organization (NYSATA) was inactive, and, teaching in a rural school on my own, I knew nobody, and wasn't good at making easy connections in crowds.  I decided to present a workshop at my state convention.  The workshop was a major success, and I suddenly had people inviting me to sit with them at meals, hang out at the Saturday night party, and so on.  They became my friends, and my workshop groupies; I was no longer all alone.  The connections I've made as a result of teaching workshops have been lasting and meaningful. 

Presenting a workshop is a fabulous advocacy tool.
After I presented my first workshop, I brought copies of my evaluations, which were excellent, back to my administration.  They were so proud that I represented my little rural district so well at such a big event, and shared the evaluations with the school board.  It made them value my program, and ME, as the reason the program was successful.

The bonus of this was that, each year afterward, when I requested to go the convention, and they turned down my request, I told them I already had a workshop proposal approved, and they changed their mind and allowed me to go. EVERY TIME!!!  And they made sure that my registration fee, and sometimes my hotel (depending on the year's finances) were paid for.  They wanted our school district to be noticed!

Presenting a workshop helps you to refine your presentation.
We get used to talking to kids.  But adults can be a more challenging audience.  As a result, I've discovered that figuring out how to present successfully to adults helps you to refine your presentation to kids.  You HAVE to be organized and prepared.  If you are not, you'll bomb.  Even in a good workshop, if something goes wrong, you will learn from it.  Last year someone wrote something on an evaluation of one of my NAEA workshops that made me reevaluate my presentation.  I took it as a challenge to improve.  The workshop had been successful but still, there was something to fix.  So I presented the same workshop this year, and tried to hopefully right my wrong!

Presenting a workshop will make you feel appreciated and proud.
At the state level, here in NY, presenters receive a certificate, and a little token certificate for the NYSATA store, to use for something like a t-shirt or an apron.  Nationally, you don't get those perks, but you DO find that people will remember you, and will show their appreciation. Maybe they'll approach you in the vendor hall to tell you you are appreciated.  Maybe they'll offer to help you with your stuff.  Or maybe they'll 'friend' you on Facebook after the convention.  Whatever the case, even without a certificate or token for goodies, you WILL feel appreciated!  And that's something we all need!

It feels good to give back.
Yup, it feels good to share your knowledge with others.  It's as simple as that!

Scheduling of your workshop(s) will define your convention schedule.
You probably won't be attending a workshop before your presentation, unless you want to attend the workshop that will be in the same room where you are presenting.  And you probably won't be attending a workshop after your workshop, because by the time your laptop is back in your bag, or your supplies or visuals are packed back up, you really have to hustle to get to another workshop (unless, of course, you want to attend whatever is in the room you've just presented in!).

Also, workshops at NAEA can be at wacky times.  This year, I taught a studio workshop from 6-7:50pm, which made it more challenging to make dinner plans.  Or maybe your workshop might be right smack in the middle of the day at NAEA, when all your friends are heading to a museum for the afternoon with free admission, and you fear you won't be back in time.  These challenges are not unmanageable.  This year, even with the timing, I still made it to the Boston MFA, and still managed to grab dinner with friends!

You will probably have stuff to transport, beyond your suitcase, and that can be an annoyance.
You'll likely need to bring your laptop for a slide presentation, and maybe you are bringing visuals or examples of some sort.  For a hands-on workshop, you'll need to transport materials, too.  If you are presenting at a distance and need to fly to attend the convention, rather than driving, that can present a challenge.  Nationally, NAEA will pay to cover the costs of shipping your  materials for a ticketed studio workshop.  But they do not cover the costs of shipping anything back home afterward.

Also, you might find yourself dragging your stuff around the convention for a while in order to keep yourself from missing anything, if you aren't staying in a room near enough to quickly drop off your materials/laptop.  Convention centers rarely have lockers where you can put stuff temporarily.

 SO... note that I've listed FIVE positives and only TWO negatives.  Be brave; next time you have the opportunity, offer your expertise!  You won't be disappointed!

Monday, April 1, 2019

Keepin' it Easy: Thumbprint Pussywillows!

I was out for a walk today by a local pond and wetland area, and discovered some pussywillows growing, which, at least around here, are the predecessor of all other spring growth.  They are a favorite of mine, and made me recall a favorite one-class art project that I did annually with my kindergartners until I retired.

I think it is important to remember that a good art project doesn't have to be complex and take a long time to do to be worth doing.  There's a lot of value in the simplicity of this project.
Each year, I'd bring a batch of pussywillows in to the art room.  I would give my kindergartners time to touch them, feel their softness, and stroke their cheeks with them.  Then we'd look at the shapes of the branches, and how the little soft pussywillows grow along the stems.  The kids would also observe the dark little seed pods at the base of each fuzzy bud.

We looked at various vases I had placed on the tables, and how they were shaped.  Students each chose a sheet of colored construction paper (I usually offered a menu of various springtime colors), and began by choosing a shape for their vase, and drawing it using crayons.  Crayons were also used to add the stems and the little dark seed pods. Each table also had some real pussywillows on it, so the kids could use them for reference as they drew their stems.
Then I lightly mixed a blend of white paint with some silver and a touch of black, that I placed in a shallow dish on each table.  The kindergartners used their thumbs as stampers to stamp pussywillow buds on top of the seed pods.  And that's it!  Cleanup is as easy as a wipe of the thumb with a baby wipe!  Easy-peasy observational project that can be completed in one class period!   

 I did a similar annual one-class project with my first graders, when the lilac tree in my backyard bloomed each year.  Again, we looked at the flowers (and of course we sniffed them, too!).  We noted how they grow in clumps, and we looked at the shape of the lilac leaves.   We drew vases, this time including a table surface, and again we drew stems, adding leaves as well.  I mixed a selection of lilac colors, using varying amounts of white, purple, magenta, and blue, and the students used cotton swabs to paint their flowers.  Disposable paintbrushes = easy cleanup!  For more info, and much better  photos than those below, check out this post from June 2016.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

NAEA Boston - my 2 workshops

I taught 2 workshops at this year's NAEA convention - Get Deep Relief with Totally Terrific Tooling Foil and Using the Unexpected
The first, Get Deep Relief with Totally Terrific Tooling Foil, was a 1 hour and 50 minute ticketed studio workshop.  I'm amazed that the attendees were able to complete such fabulous pieces in the time allotted.  The time seemed to fly by very quickly! 
 I believe the attendee who made the adorable sheep (or is it a lamb?) below plans to add color to help identify his eyes.  I think it will be really cool!
Here is the class, learning the basics, and getting started.
The pic below is someone looking at some of my samples.
And a few more fabulous pieces made by attendees.
Some attendees didn't have time to do the 'antiquing' process, using ink and steel wool.  I hope that they will send me pics of their pieces when they are complete!
I'm not going to go into process details here, because they are posted previously on this blog.  You can find my video tutorials for working with tooling foil HERE, and you can find a link to a handout called "Oh What a Relief" on my Document Weblinks tab, HERE.  To see pics from last year's tooling foil workshop at NAEA, go HERE.
Tons of samples / examples!

My second workshop, Using the Unexpected, was a slide presentation, where I talked about using materials such as toothpaste for an imitation batik resist (example in the pic below), roofing felt as a painting surface, Sheetrock for relief carving, sand as a textural medium for paint, shaving cream for marbling, and more. 
It was a nice big room with most of the seats filled.  I didn't count, but based on the number of rows of chairs, I think there were about 150 people there!!  To access the handout and a PDF of my slide presentation, you can again find them on my Documents Weblinks tab on this blog, HERE.
I really enjoyed teaching the workshops this year, and I think my attendees were mostly quite happy!  But unfortunately there is always a downside, and I want to share that with you as well.  In my tooling foil workshop, during the hectic closing minutes, some visitors stopped in and looked around, and took some pictures.  I should have chased them out, but I thought perhaps they had friends in the workshop.  Unfortunately, I learned the next day that one of them had stolen the kit of materials from one of my attendees.  How awful!  With 6 or 7 thousand art teachers at the convention, there'd be no way to ever find or identify them. 
Then, the next day, someone placed a recording device on the front table in my workshop, to record my presentation, and forgot to pick it up at the end.  It's usually me that leaves things behind and loses them at conventions, so I feel very badly for the gentleman who was recording my presentation to bring back to the rest of his department.  I hope he is able to recover it!

Thursday, March 21, 2019

NAEA Boston, part one!

I spent the past extended weekend in Boston, at the annual NAEA convention, a gathering of thousands of art teachers from all over the country; actually from all over the world!  So much to share, I'm going to divide it into two posts.  This first post is an overview of the convention experience.  The squirrel pictured above is one of a number of sculptures by Okuda San Miguel, which are stationed along the median of a street in Boston.  Pretty cool, huh?  Getting to see these, as well as the installation Prismatica (part of which is pictured below, right) was one of many fabulous experiences during my days in Boston.
Over the space of four days, I both taught and attended workshops, visited the vendors and tried out new materials, attended an opening night party and danced my feet off, spent time with old friends and new friends, ate fabulous Italian food, seafood, and sushi, attended a fun meet and greet courtesy of the Art Class Curator, saw really cool street art, visited the MFA (Museum of Fine Arts), walked thousands of steps, and took hundreds of pictures. Whew!  It was a busy whirlwind, and I came home exhausted but happy.
(By the way, the silver-haired lady in all of these photographs is me.)
Boston is a lovely city.  My son lives nearby, so I've definitely visited the city a number of times, but still, every time I'm there, I see something new, like this.
The side of that building is flat, by the way.  It's all an illusion. 
And yes, I took a lot of pics, but I did NOT take a lot of photos of people, so the images of people in this post are all borrowed from friends - thanks everyone for doing what I neglected to do!  I hope its OK that I'm using your pics.  Above, yummy dinner at Giacomo's, and below, eating with friends at Legal Harborside.
And at the meet-and-greet.  I wish I took pics of the sushi we ate afterward!
Look at these photos below of artists Janet Echelman (1st pic) and Amy Sherald (2nd pic). I was lucky enough to get to hear them both of these inspiring women speak at the convention.  Do you notice, they seem to have the same pair of glasses?  Maybe I need to get a pair like them!
I'm sure you know who Amy Sherald is, right?  (If you don't, she's the artist who painted the official portrait of Michelle Obama for the National Gallery).  But maybe you don't know about Janet Echelman. Her floating sculptures flying in the air over cities and such are amazing.  I posted about her work when it was in Boston in 2015, referring to it as a psychedelic hairnet in the sky.  You can see that post HERE.  Her talk was engaging and enlightening - I loved hearing how happenstance really changed the direction of her life and art-making in such a fabulous way, and how science and mathematics are such a big part of her art-making process.  Here's a pic from her presentation.
One of the cool things about NAEA conventions is that they usually include the opportunity to visit local museums for free.  I'd been to the MFA before, but I was glad to have the opportunity to return.  Below, some pics of favorite things from the MFA.
This painting below, of the Lincoln children, by Susan Catherine Moore Waters reminds me of the creepy twins from The Shining.  Is it just me, or do you see it too?
This painting below is what this past winter felt like.  Hopefully, now that it is spring, we won't get too much more snow (though some is predicted for Friday).
I'm going to juxtapose two paintings from the MFA by Charles Sheeler with photos that I took while in Boston.  Do you see the relationship?  Cool, huh?  I think I need to learn more about Charles Sheeler and his intriguing compositions.
 Just a few more from the MFA...
So much more I could show you, but I've already included enough for you to see this time. In my next post, I'll tell you all about the two workshops I taught - the good and the bad (mostly good!).  I'll close with a pic from my hotel.  Isn't it cool?  I walked past that several times every day!