The Kimbell Stretch

 

I spent four days in late June at a workshop for teachers hosted by the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas. If you are an art teacher reading this, you probably are already mentally recoiling from the mention of in-service workshops. But in my summer The Kimbell Summer Teacher’s Institute is an oasis of art-focused learning and fun. Open to educators of all subjects, it is held in the beautiful Renzo Piano Pavilion museum studio.

Piano Pavilion
Renzo Piano Pavilion , Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, Texas

See these folks? They are happy public school teachers and just people who like art in this beautiful studio space.

Happy Art Teachers

Idea Exchange

I believe this is my fifth time to attend a summer workshop at the Kimbell, which says a lot. You don’t repeat a bad experience. Each year the activities are based on the special exhibition at the museum. This summer it was the Phillips Collection, a rich and varied group of paintings and sculptures from artists like Bonnard, Van Gogh, Degas, Marc, Klee and Picasso. The well-defined structure of the days, access to the special exhibition and incredible museum educators are what makes this workshop so valuable. Each artist and style is first outlined in a lecture by Connie Hatchette Barganier, Education Manager for the Kimbell. Somehow Connie managed to evade my camera this year. While these lectures are necessarily compact, they enrich and inform each gallery experience. Great docents led our little herd of teachers through the galleries. Did you ever try to get teachers to be quiet and focused? Hats off to the Kimbell docents for being friendly and professional while herding twenty teachers (like herding cats) through the exhibitions. Unfortunately photography in the special exhibitions is not allowed, but if you follow this link http://phillips.kimbellart.org/ you can get a glimpse of some of the pieces in the exhibit.

Back in the studio the talented Studio and Family programs Coordinator Marilyn Ivy leads us through exhibit-based art projects. My photos show Marilyn demonstrating a lino plate printmaking project; one of my favorite lessons this year.

Marilyn
Marilyn Ivy

 

Printmaking is not my strong suit, so it was nice to have Marilyn demonstrate. I think I may finally have enough of a handle on the process that I can use it with my students this school year.

The Kimbell provides top notch art materials and we get to try our hand at the painting, sculpture and printmaking activities. Again, happy teachers shown with time to  create.

Beautiful Work

As an added benefit this year the museum had Carol Ivey, a Fort Worth based artist, present a still life from observation clinic and offer a critique of our finished acrylic paintings. She arranged a still life in the studio and we got a canvas and acrylics and got to work. No pressure there, right?  Here’s a link to information on Carol.  My painting is still a work in progress, but in three hours at the workshop and a few more at home, I’m feeling good about it.

work in progress

We also did a mixed media interior drawing with a wonderful black multi-media board I had not used before. Here is a beautiful example by Carolyn. Jessica Montes this Great Dane made me think of your sweet dog. Carolyn, thank you for offering to give this drawing. I hope your family loves it as much as I do.

beautiful multimedia work

The last day of the clinic is invaluable as each teacher presents a lesson plan to the group inspired by the exhibit. I chose to relate to the Degas painting Dancers at the Barre.

Edgar_Degas_-_Dancers_at_the_Barre_-_Google_Art_Project
Dancers at the Barre, Edgar Degas

 

Image courtesy of Google Art project. Public domain.

I chose to break my lesson down into three steps. First, draw the painting upside down to so that my students focus on the shapes only rather than what it is they are drawing. The human figure is very daunting for elementary students. Second, concentrate on the arrangement of positive and negative shapes in the composition. I was really fascinated by the way this Degas painting is composed, the legs of the two dancers are almost at unbelievable angles, but it works. Using tracing paper on my contour line drawing  I concentrated simply on isolating the positive and negative shapes of the composition and how they fit into the format. Finally, the third step is using another tracing of my contour line drawing  to make a paper collage of the piece, using basic tones of paper and adding chalk to simulate the textures of the painting. So you explore three of the basic elements of art in this lesson, line, shape and color.

I’ve included some shots of the other teachers presenting their ideas. That is one of the best things about these days, hearing ideas from other teachers about how they would present a concept. It is always eye-opening and fun to see what everyone comes up with.

You walk away with a catalogue for the special exhibition A Modern Vision: European Masterworks from the Phillips Collection, a copy of all those lesson plans (40 pages in all this year), a flash drive with all the lecture notes and images plus a binder with the written version of all of the resource materials.

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What a treat and a stretch for the right side of the brain at the same time. Next year is Asian art. I can’t wait.

 

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Andy Griffith in the Art Room?

I began studying the Grant Wood painting, The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere, in fifth grade this week. The study of the painting is followed by a student composition that shows their understanding of the bird’s-eye point of view used by Wood.

the-midnight-ride-of-paul-revere-1931_jpglarge

I began the class with an analysis of the painting based on a great lesson plan, from Picturing America, a project from the National Endowment for the Humanities. I asked my class how many knew the story of Paul Revere’s ride.  Not one hand went up. Ready for this I had remembered an OLD episode of The Andy Griffith Show I had seen. I like to use video clips to illustrate my lessons. For this technology-laden generation, anything that appears on a screen captures student’s attention immediately.

My kids were shocked to see a black and white image appear and one young one popped up with, “Oh, my grandma watches this all the time!” Body-blows to my ego non-withstanding, the five minute clip shows sheriff Andy helping history come alive by telling the story of the ride of Paul Revere. In my opinion, a great telling of the story, which made my students look again at Grant Wood’s painting with new eyes. It was a great class.

Wikiart Image

publicdomain

 

Art Elements 101

#mwisdmatters

I found a wonderful beginning art project to explain and practice the seven art elements all on one composition on the great blog https://tinyartroom.wordpress.com/2015/09/02/elements-of-fourth-grade/. So thank you Miss Osborne! I love this project.Art Elements 1

Art Elements 2

A little background. We have a twelve week fine arts rotation schedule in our elementary school. Fourth, fifth and sixth grade students come to art for twelve weeks, music for twelve weeks and technology for twelve weeks. Thirty minute classes, Monday through Friday. It is a great schedule for continuity in the lessons. Students don’t forget what they learned yesterday like they do if you only come to art class once a week. So we hit the ground running at the beginning of the year, to cover as much material as we can. After the have-to’s in any classroom; behavior rules, emergency drills, where does everything go discussions, we get down to art business, which was about Wednesday of the first week.

dsc09789

dsc09790The art elements are a critical understanding in my class. As I tell my students, “They help you interpret new art you have never seen and organize the art that you create today.” This year I built an art elements power point to help us progress through the lesson. the-elements-PowerPoint
The words I use with each slide are on the notes pages of the power point. Plus I used a super art elements handout from Pinterest that focuses on each element in a kind of short-hand way. At this point my intent is more about building a visual vocabulary than creativity, although there are plenty of opportunities to be creative and make choices. My students really seemed to respond well to this beginning and now we are on to a new project with out art elements firmly in mind. Here’s some results:

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Seen in the Hallways

There is magic in the beginning of school. As an art teacher, I am always astonished by the creativity of the teachers around me. Those who profess, “I don’t know anything about art!” or ” I can’t draw a stick figure.” come up with these dynamite bulletin boards and doors. And those who don’t do the hallways spend HOURS arranging their room for the easiest traffic flow, the best group seating arrangements or the best access to technology or reading centers or anchor charts or manipulatives; whatever gives their students the best opportunity to learn. Give a teacher some blue painter’s tape, a few trips to the Dollar Store, file folders and plastic packing crates and you have classroom magic. Architects could not draw up a better blueprint for a learning environment.

Our theme this year is “Travis Students are Blazing New Trails.” Best theme EVER in my opinion. Western theme artwork and messages abound; this is Texas after all and a school in a town like Mineral Wells, rich in a past western heritage. And more importantly those bulletin boards have content. They inspire, they illustrate, they explain, they show respect, love, rules, information and the quality and caring of my intelligent, compassionate colleagues. So congratulations to all those teachers who spent hours in the hallways and in their rooms organizing. While I don’t have a picture of everything you did, I know you outdid yourself again.

#mwisdmatters

Ten Things I’m Thinking Before School Starts

questions

If you are a teacher, your mind is running at warp speed right now. I end up talking to myself. So here I am writing those rambling thoughts down on paper to get them out of my head.

  1. Do First Things First – I’m a big fan of Stephen Covey and while I will never be that organized I still remember to make a list each day and prioritize. What to do first? Things that will help your students succeed and keep you sane. The rest will wait.
  2. Ask the Question – At the Scavenger Hunt to introduce our newly arriving fourth graders to a new building I met a lot of parents and a few siblings I’d had in my class previously. I jokingly asked a big sister if there was anything I needed to know about the little sister. The mother then told me a vital piece of health information that I really needed to know. I would have received that info later with other documentation, but now I know early. Ask the question. “Is there anything I need to know about your child?” You will be amazed at what they tell you.
  3. The Two Things Kids are Most Afraid of the First Day of School – 1) Am I in the right place? I’m a Fine Arts teacher so students come to me from their core room. 2) Will the teacher pronounce my name correctly? School can be an overwhelming place for many elementary school age students. Harry Wong’s great book The First Days of School always helps me remember that. Check their schedule at the door and ask them how to say their name – takes care of Number 1 and 2. Put your name and your class someplace big and visible. Introduce yourself.
  4. Tell them. Practice. Make them tell you. – Imagine a little marquee running across each child’s forehead. It says, “What do you want me to do?” Answer that question. Make sure they understood by having them show you and tell you. Routines are your friend.
  5. Negative People are Energy-Sappers-Stay away from them. And don’t be one. Enough said.
  6. Have Patience and Compassion – Adults and children have reasons for what they do. Very often you don’t know the whole story. See number 2.
  7. Treat the Secretaries and Janitors with Respect – They run the building and can save your life in a myriad of ways. Besides it’s just the right thing to do with anyone.
  8. Teaching is a service industry. – You are there to serve a lot of customers. The students. The school administration. The parents. The community. Serve. That’s what they pay you for.
  9. Communicate – Talk to your coworkers and principals. Tell them what you are doing. Ask them what they are doing. They cannot read your mind and they are just as busy as you are. Listen more than you talk.
  10. Have Balance – Every day know that you did the best you could and that you now need to leave the worries and work at school. The people waiting for you at home deserve your best too. You will not be any good to them if you are exhausted or not mentally there. Be healthy. Do something for yourself every day. Sleep. Laugh. Work with a happy heart.

Like I Said..

dog-1240645_1280It’s a good thing to keep journals when you’re a teacher. That way, when you finally do go round the bend, the docs can read your journal and say ” Ah yes, this was the exact moment she slipped over the edge.”

 

..just after New Years’ a few years back

We were discussing the concept of space in artwork (the area around, within and between objects) in a 5th grade art class. I’m using food as my example because that always gets their attention. I’m talking with one student who is obviously not getting it.

Me: “Tell me the name of a food that has a hole in it.”

Student: Nothing. Silence. Crickets chirping.

Me: “OK, I’ll give you a hint. You eat it for breakfast and you buy it at Dunkin….”

Student:  “Pancakes? ”

Really. You can’t make this stuff up.

Me: “Class, help him out.”

Class: “Donuts!”

I’m trying to make this student feel better, so I say …

Me: “Let’s switch to another art element, texture. Here’s where you can use texture in your drawing. If you want to draw your pancakes with something sticky running all over them. Great texture. What would that sticky stuff be?”

Student: “Butter?”

Me: “……OK.”

Priceless.

..just before Thanksgiving a few years back

A student in my 6th grade art class tells this story as his “one Good Thing that happened to you this weekend” story. We are talking about Thanksgiving dinner at the time and this young man says, ” My Dad likes turkey but he doesn’t like to shoot them, so he catches them in a bag.” I let that sink in for a minute and then say, “Really?”  ” Yeah,” he says.

“We have some property that’s fenced in with tin and we corner the turkeys. But this one got out and it chased me and pecked me.” Laughter fills the classroom as he is enjoying the telling and I’m thinking, “Probably so.” He goes on.” So we kept that one as a pet.” “Really , the one that pecked you?” I said. “Yep.” he says. ” I named it Speedy.”

Priceless.

 

Photo: CC0 Public Domain, Pixabay

 

Artist

bamboo-5065_1280We were doing a very serious painting this week in sixth grade art class. Very serious. Chinese brush painting.

I meticulously set up the atmosphere for ethereal ink paintings of bamboo to  appear. With wood flute meditation music playing softly in the background, I  taught my small class of sixth graders proper brush technique. I broke down the steps to painting the bamboo stem, joints, branches and leaves. We even had real bamboo brushes, tiny wells of black India ink and bamboo pens for details.

In my best Mr. Miyagi imitation I cautioned, “Teacher say, student do.” The room was hushed as they concentrated.

Then from the left side of the room an unexpected arm jostle caused drops of ink to fly and brought this exclamation from one of my students. “Awww,you guys made me ink!”  Perfect imitation of the small octopus on Finding Nemo.

I have not laughed that hard in days. Of course we had to look up the clip on YouTube. The entire class left my room intoning “Awww,you guys made me ink!” Not exactly the cultural experience I had planned, but some of the best art comes from the unexpected.

“Awww,you guys made me ink!”- Andrew Stanton, Finding Nemo

Photo: CCO license https://pixabay.com/en/bamboo-bamboo-garden-aureocaulis-5065/

Writers Quote Wednesday Writing Challenge – “Artist”

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