Student Teacher Blog
Inspired by our field trip to the VMFA when the Howardena Pindell exhibition was still up, my Art I Honors eighth graders have been learning about artists-as-activists and how they can use art as a platform for social justice issues that matter to them. In each class, we brainstormed a list of issues that they care about that could be starting points for their work, and learning more deeply about what matters to them through that initial dialogue and the conversations we’ve been having as they work has been good, even if some of these are tough conversations to have. We had an in-progress critique to allow them to get feedback on what was working effectively about the ways they were conveying their messages and what steps they needed to take to finish up their projects since we’re nearing the end. I’ve seen some really strong messages and unique solutions for sharing their thoughts with other people through art, and I’m excited to see how they finish these pieces up.
Art 2 began with 4″ hoop samplers to learn the basic stitches for this project: running stitch, satin stitch and couching. Many students also attempted the stem stitch and french knots, which require careful focus! Each person’s designs are unique. They work at different paces and are able to focus in on the details and persist to get it right. I learned something about each student from their work:
After finishing embroidery samplers, they selected a detail of an Impressionist or Post-Impressionist painting and traced it to fabric. Utilizing different stitches, the students are creating texture and dynamism in each stitch. Found objects are incorporated into the composition to vary the media, bringing contemporary conventions, and colors are juxtaposed to play with color theory in the Impressionist style.
8th grade students are wrapping up their still life drawing unit and are moving into working with color. Students are starting their unit on color by continuing to expand how value (shades of light to dark) works for not just drawing with pencil in black in white, but also in color. Students are working on a simple exercise with watercolor and are creating a sphere of value and also a band or rectangle shape of value. It’s fun to see how these students creatively approach the task of creating an image that is real or one that is imaginative, and that incorporates a range of color values.
This past week, our students have been learning Raku firing! They needed to gain these skills for an annual fundraiser. The annual Raku-B-Que event is an art department fundraiser, art show, auction, meal, and a demonstration of a historic and widely used ceramic firing technique. Raku is a ceramic firing process that is a traditional Japanese firing technique which requires a special setup. During the process the kiln is rapidly brought to temperature, the top is lifted, the artwork is then lifted out red hot with large tongs, and placed into steel bins with a burnable material (newspaper or sawdust). The burnable material then catches fire and rapidly the lid is shut, thus depriving the atmosphere in the bin of oxygen, and creating what is called a reduction firing. This is the “opposite” of a normal kiln’s oxidation firing. The Raku firing produces unique metallic surfaces and requires a community effort. This process involves an outdoor kiln powered by propane tanks to get it up to the high temperature of around 2000 degrees. On the left, it shows our test fire that occurred during the school day, and then again, when we did a firing at our fundraiser event at night. The dramatic difference is stunning, and our students did so well with this nerve-racking process. In the back, you can see our students running the firing by moving the lid and getting ready to move work with long metal tongs. We are so proud of their maturity and their representation for our school during this special event.
This week, the 6th grade classes have been working on their personal posters for the “Meet the Artist” challenge! This is a drawing challenge that is popular with artists on social media platforms such as Instagram and Twitter. The classes have discussed how artists can use social media as a tool for sharing their art with a wider audience, as well a way for artists to build community and share inspiration.
For this project, each class first spent a whole day practicing their figure drawing skills. Each student drew a head-to-toe self portrait on sketchbook paper, working on showing realistic proportions and adding detail to their clothing. After this drawing practice, students were given a list of information to include in their final piece, and completed a brainstorming activity in their sketchbooks.
After brainstorming, everyone began their final pieces! Students drew a full-body self portrait surrounded by their own unique information – they were told to think of it like an artist trading card, telling the audience all about themselves. Students started by sketching lightly in pencil, and then traced their pencil in sharpie to create a permanent image. Next class, we’ll learn some watercolor techniques and start painting!
Embroidery is a good introduction to craft art. Embroidery is a kind of fiber art within craft art, in that we use fabric and yarn to make our work. Students can contemplate how embroidery is similar to drawing. Instead of creating color with oil pastel, students use different color yarns to create patterns and texture. Students start by sketching their idea and then transferring their sketch to fabric with chalk in order to plan out their design and colors. Students learn chain-stitch, back-stitch, and other embroidery techniques.
4th grade has been emphasizing the VBCPS Objective: Create a work of art inspired by contemporary media (subject, technology integration, or use of a non-traditional material.)
Students were given the opportunity to hit all three potential points by: designing a robot (a machine that is programmed to do a task or set of tasks automatically) based on its function. Then, students used aluminum tooling metal to transfer their design onto a material that is used in a lot of production robot-making, and then record a “flip grid” video based on their designs. In two days, we earned our badges for engagement time and amount of videos. It was a great way to have a lively and well-rounded artist statement that can be viewed, given feedback, and graded all in one place.
This week, first grade and kindergarten moved from line sculptures to kinetic drawing. I wanted to emphasize movement in the art room by giving them different prompts like (walk like your favorite line to create a border around the table, use your whole arms reach to make circles, put the marker in your elbow and try to draw a spiral…etc.) switching tables, and allowing them to draw very big. At first, I had all the tables using the butcher paper, but I felt like some of it went to waste. So later in the week, I allowed half the tables to do paper and the other to draw directly on tables with dry erase. It was a more hectic clean-up but well worth the excitement, awe, and environmental consciousness. I also used the movement drawings as a backdrop for the line sculptures (so, in the end, nothing went to waste as a one-off activity).
Students break the ice that first week of class with an all-grades sketchbook assignment. We were able to introduce the art room, art teachers, and the students using an appropriately back-from-summer beach ball prompt activity. The students would roll the beach ball, and wherever there pointer finger landed- their table would discuss and respond by decorating their sketchbook covers. The prompts varied from self-portraits and family drawings to “ create your own ocean animal” or “show something you did this summer.” With ten prompts in all, almost every cover is completely unique. Pictured are grades 5th-1st (indicated by color in rainbow order 5=purple 1=orange). The teacher was able to gain many insights into the students’ personalities and lives, as well as gauge drawing ability and behavior! It turned out to be a quick and productive introduction that left time for art room rules and other necessary first day procedure learning. Overall a successful launch into the new year.