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.