Thursday, May 25, 2017

Thursday Think Tank: Letting Students Explore Art & Creativity

Coming from a background in elementary art, its hard to think about letting students plan and execute their own ideas. In elementary its all about step by step demonstration and always hovering and helping as many students as possible. Whether its helping a Kindergartner hold a paint brush correctly or showing a 5th grader how to blend oil pastels correctly, you are constantly involved in the process.

This being my third year teaching middle school art I've come to this place where I understand that a part of being an artist is being able to let students be creative on their own. Taking your hands off the process is hard, but in the midst of letting go beautiful art is created.

Some students I can trust to work independently, but others need some guidance. With that in mind at the beginning of the year we talk about Concept to Creation. This is what I call the process involved in creating their own piece of art. 

This project was created by an Advanced Art student last year as a personal project. She was commenting on the idea that women's bodies don't belong to them, and that they are seen in certain ways by other people. It was very powerful. I feel because I was able to let her discover and explore a topic that was important to her, this students artwork became something more than what she expected and more than what I expected.

What opportunities do you give your students to explore their own concepts and creativity? A station? Or a personal project? Let me know below!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Life Changes in an Instance

Spring Break starts tomorrow! *insert teacher happy dance*

Around this time of year I start getting that itch...the urge to begin planning for NEXT YEAR. It's a time for self evaluation and reviewing what worked and what didn't work and what failed miserably. This is the time that I start planning to make adjustments to the curriculum and how to restructure lessons and how to more effectively teach them.

I started this post before Spring's now the end of May and a lot has happened. The week after Spring Break, the day that I hung the Spring Art Show this Mother passed away. Everything came to a screeching halt, I didn't even attend the art show this year. Honestly it's been hard to think about anything let alone what I will be doing next year, but time goes on whether we do or not. I'm doing a lot more with my Dad and that has helped.  Although I haven't been as active on this blog as I have been in the past...I think I'll be updating more as time passes. Thanks for understanding.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Monday Mayhem: Library Night!

Every year our AMAZING school Librarian holds Library nights throughout the year! These nights are basically an open house for us and the elementary schools that feed into our school to come and explore the library. My art club participates by helping create activities and this year we have incorporated face painting! This February our theme was "Love, Your Library" and it was a blast!

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Teacher Talk: How Pinterest has become the Death of Creativity.

Be honest. You spend hours upon hours pouring over it. It's the best thing since cutting out magazines and saving newspaper clippings, a place where there's no such thing as "just one more minute", the site that has single handedly stolen countless hours of sleep from you, otherwise known as Pinterest.

You can find the wikipedia definition of pinterest here. Lets face it though, it's a black hole. It NEVER ENDS. NEVER.

So, why the dramatic title you ask? Think about it. When was the last time you had an original idea that didn't come from pinterest? *silence* That's right, most of the lesson plans, ideas I've had for crafting or party ideas have come from pinterest.

But where is the INNOVATION? 

Where are you as an artist or teacher forming new ideas, thinking outside the box, expanding concepts, building from the ground up, solving problems with creativity? It seems to me like pinterest is growing up a generation of artists who will need others to show them what to do, and how to do it DIY style.

Now I'm not trying to bash pinterest, I love it and its vast array of ideas, creative quotes, new forms of art to explore. BUT in the back of my mind lately as an educator and as an artist I am thinking: When was the last time I pushed myself creatively without referencing someone else's idea? Have I lost all my creative originality? The answer I give myself is: no. If I had lost my creativity I wouldn't be questioning it.

So what do I do to break out of the static of a creativity coma?

1. Take a breather.

You know how you need to cleanse your palette in-between different types of sushi with ginger? Thats sometimes what I need to do after planning lessons for my students to clear my head and get a blank canvas in my head. This might include going to a coffee shop and relaxing alone or taking a walk.

2.  Visit a museum. (Or two. Or three....)

Maya Angelou was correct when she said: "You can't use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have." So creativity produces creativity. When I visit a museum I try to spend the whole day or several ours with my sketchbook just drawing things that catch my eye or make me think. After all art comes when we are responding to something in our life, or a question or a thought or ANYTHING REALLY.

3.  Surround myself with artistic minds.

Again creativity produces creativity! I go to art shows and meet up with the creative minds in my area, talk about art, listen to what they're doing, and collaborate! That always helps me come out of a creativity coma.

4. Start creating. (even if I have no idea what I'm doing.)

I'd like to take a quote from my favorite creativity inspiring children's book The Dot by Peter Reynolds "Just make a mark and see where it takes you." True story: I have a nice white covered sketchbook I got in high school from Walden Books (by admitting this am I showing how old I am?) and I was so afraid to "mess up" that I never had the courage to draw in it. To this day I still have it and it is still blank. Of course, I've learned that even mistakes can become beautiful creations, but I keep it as a reminder that I shouldn't be afraid to just make a mess and see what happens.

What do you think about Pinterest? Has it enhanced creativity or hindered it? How do you break out of a creativity coma? Share below!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Thursday Think Tank: Why I'm getting Rid of Portfolios Next Year

The last three years in middle school art, my students have had "portfolios."

After every project the artwork would find its way into that portfolio and stay there all year long, then the last week of school those would be sent home.

I've made a bold decision not to do that next year.

Here are my reasons why:

1. The parents have no idea what we are doing in class.

2. It wastes valuable paper resources and its expensive.

3. When collecting artwork for the art show it is time consuming to pull artwork and look through portfolios.

INSTEAD, next  year I will changing things up a bit.

1. I will have a digital portfolio(a suggestion from another art teacher), take photos of every students artwork to keep a record of work completed and also as documentation in case of parent concerns. These can be uploaded to an online portfolio, like Artsonia or something else as long as I have parent permission.

2. Art will be displayed after every completed project.

3. Certain artworks will be pulled from the display, recorded for the Spring Art Show and our yearly district wide showcase called iCreate, "matted" and labeled for the Spring Show and stored.

If I do this all though out the year it will save me a lot of time prepping for the art show and save me the time of trying to have students keep their work organized. I've come to this place in my teaching career where I realize that there are certain expectations that are unreasonable for the specific students that I teach. When I pass out portfolios I typically see them in trash cans all through out the school, but hopefully by passing out individual artworks as soon as they are complete, that will help students appreciate the hard work they've put into their art and seeing the results of that...instead of it staying hidden in a cabinet all year.

I'll let you know how it goes, until then more changes are coming for next year!

What are your thoughts on portfolios in the art studio? How do you instill an appreciation for their art in your students?