Sunday, February 26, 2017

DIY: Kid-Created Self-Portrait Dress

Last spring, I found this amazing frame-covered fabric and my head just about exploded from excitement. I wish that were an exaggeration but it's really the little things, like AMAZING fabric that get this girl all head-explode-y. I had really wanted my kids to create selfies on it then and debute their work at last year's art show...but between frantically finishing projects and slapping them on the wall, we just ran out of time. Not to mention, we ended up going with a 1950's diner theme and the kids ended up splatter painting my ensemble instead. So there's splat. 
So this year, I decided to just bust the fabric out for my earlier finishers and leave it as an option for them to create on. It seems I have more early finishers with my kindergarten through second grade. Those are the grade levels that contributed the most. I didn't give much direction other than to draw their portrait with a black marker, color it in and do their best. 
In fact, earlier this week when I said, "Remember, please do your best!" 

First grader: Yes, Boogey.
Me: Who in the world is Boogey?
First grader: That's my mama's love name for me.
I laughed and that's when the rest of the class chimed in: Ms. Boogey!
Me: Let's just stick with Mrs. Stephens, okay?
First grader: Okay (whispering)...Boogey. 

There are so many happy memories tied to this dress! 
 On Friday, I had a kindergartener look me up and down and say, "Why do you dress different everyday?!"
Me, knowing full well what he meant but still...: Don't you dress different everyday?
Kindergarten: Not THAT different. 

Touche, kindie, touche. 
When the kids grew tired of drawing themselves, they started to draw me...or me with them. I'm so loving my big hair day on the bottom left. 
When the kids finally finished the fabric this weekend, I was determined to get it stitched up. I really wanna wear it next week at NAEA in NYC. When I told my second graders that I was going to make the fabric they were drawing on into a dress, they were completely stumped...even though we've done this before.

Second grader: Wait. This {pointing to the floor} is gonna be a dress? 
Me: Yes! And a bunch of other art teachers are going to see it.
Second grader: Wait. {is this a new thing? Why am I always "wait"ing?!} Are we gonna be famous then?
Me: Oh yeah. Totally!
And the crowd went wild. 
Many of my kids had colored the IKEA Coloring Book fabric that I stitched into a dress and they know the drill. They love that dress and have so much fun pointing out the spots they colored. It's my favorite dress to wear when I travel to art teacherin' gigs as the folks at airport security seems to know me based on that dress. It doesn't stop them from going through my luggage of oddities tho. 
Final touch: a French hook to close the top of the dress. We'll see if I ever get around to that. Why do the smallest of tasks seem like mountian-moving to me?!
 I love that I didn't give the kids any direction as it really allowed their artistic personalities to shine. I have highly detailed drawings all the way to scribble-ville and I wouldn't have it any other way.
I was so surprised that I knocked this dress out so fast...tho I should't be. This is only the MILLIONTH dress I've created in this style. I cut the fabric Friday night, got the bulk of the work done on Saturday and today I just added the second sleeve (ugh. don't get me started on slllleeeeeeves), put in the zip and stitched the hem.
I think the kids are gonna love this dress!
I know I smile at the little faces on it! 

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Thursday, February 23, 2017

In the Art Room: Folk Art Still Life Inspired by Kerri Ambrosino

 Next week, I'll be heading to the Big Apple for the NAEA convention (you can check out the dates/times/topics I'll be presenting and co-presenting here). In preparation, I've been working on my sub plans which, as you know, is always a really good time. Because I'll be presenting on folk art, I decided to base my sub plans around that theme. In particular, my students will be learning about the Mexican folk artist Kerri Ambrosino
I'm a sucker for color and pattern. I am using her work to also reteach the elements of art and introduce the principals of art. While I am gone, my students will tackle the first half of the sub plan video and we'll do the rest together when I return. Cuz there ain't no way those kids are using puffy paint without me! I'll be doing this lesson with all grades. When I create sub plan videos, I often do this because it is so much easier for the sub. They become experts at the lesson and don't feel flustered going from one lesson to the next, switching out visuals and supplies. A Happy Sub means Fewer Flubs! Here's the sub video. Feel free to use in your art teacherin' adventures:
Supplies needed:

* Popsicle sticks. I have ONE TRIZILLION popsicle sticks. I always get them donated and I never know what to do with them...until now. Of course, they aren't necessary for this project but they do add a fun three-dimensional element. 

* Matte board/cardboard. This will hold the weight of the sticks. I have a surplus of card and matte board as well so this was a good way to use that up. I cut it 4" X 7".

* Construction paper.  In various colors, also cut to 4" X 7" to serve as the background.

* Scrap papers. For the vase and flowers.

* Foam flowers. Again, another art room surplus. Let's use 'em up! They'll also add that fun third dimention.

* Puffy Paint!
 While I'm away, I hope that the students will get all of their sticks decorated and glued to their background. For my 30 minute classes, they might only get the sticks complete. For my hour long classes, they should have no problem knocking that out. We are also creating large scale flower still lives for teacher my early finishers start on that with their decorated strip for the table. 
 Kerri's work is just wonderful! I love everything about it and I think my students will as well. I'm excited about these small masterpieces. They'll make a great addition to our art show and the perfect presents for Mother's Day...which I know is far off but I always procrastinate. Not this time!
 I will be certain to share a follow-up blog post.
If you give this lesson a go, I'd love to know! Special thanks to my P.E. buddy Ali for working out the kinks of this project with me. 
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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

In the Art Room: NAEA in NYC 2017

Don't forget to join me LIVE tonight over Facebook at 8pm CST. We'll be chatting about the following: NAEA in NYC! I'll share when I'm presenting and would love to hear from other presenters and attendees. The topic of organization came up as well as clean up routines. So we'll have a mixed bag! My favorite kind of chats. See you soon!

I'm so excited for the NAEA in NYC next week! I'll be presenting three times and doing a fun little meet and greet with my fellow Art Scouts. If you are attending, I'd love hear from you. If you are presenting, please feel free to share your date and time in the comments so other folks can hear about it. Here's when I'll be presenting:

Friday, 3/3/2017, 11:00 AM - 11:50 AM
Elementary Fabulous, Fun Folk Art! Energize Your Students With Contemporary Folk Artists
Laura Lohmann, Cassie Stephens, Ginger Pacer, Jennifer Alvarado

Four art teachers collaboratively created thematic units based on folk art, exciting their elementary students to create fun works of art. Leave inspired to ignite your art program and your student‘s imaginations! Lecture Sheraton/Riverside Suite/3rd Floor

Saturday, 3/4/2017    12:00 PM - 12:25 PM
Creating Engaging Art Videos to Change the Way You Teach
Cassie Stephens
Social media has changed how our students absorb information. We need to follow suit. Learn to create video content that engages, educates and captures the imagination using an easy method with on hand.
Hilton/Concourse B/Lower Level

Saturday, 3/4/2017   2:00 PM - 2:50 PM
Advocacy Using Social Media to Advocate the Arts

Cassie Stephens, Laura Lohmann 
There are so many social media outlets available that it can be confusing for an art teacher. Learn how to navigate and utilize them to advocate the arts and your program, and connect with others worldwide. 
Lecture Sheraton/Gramercy/Lower Level

Immediately following Laura and I's presentation, the Art Scouts will be having a meet and greet. We'll be releasing our summer Art Scouts date for Tennessee. Even if you don't plan to attend our Scouts this summer, we'd still love to have the chance to grab a cup of coffee and chat with you. Link Cafe is at the Sheraton. Laura and I plan to leave straight from our session, join Ginger and Jennifer and meet with y'all then. We're so excited!

See you in NYC, friends!

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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

In the Art Room: Introducing the Principles of Art

My first grade students are currently learning about the folk artist Kerri Ambrosino. Here's a sneak peak at their works in progress. As they moved on to the next phase of this project today, I thought it would be a great time to introduce the Principles of Art. We already know the Elements. Here's a video of the simple hand jive I taught the students as well as a sneak peak inside this first grade lesson:
As I've mentioned, I do a lot of call and response, almost too much. But it really helps my ELL students, reinforces vocabulary and, frankly, it's just plain fun. I love hearing my students voices in that video, you can hear each of their fun little personalities. 
Here's a little more on the Elements of Art hand jive. 
My first graders used a similar method to painting and preparing their papers for this collage. You can see more of that process here
Love to hear what fun songs and dances y'all use to reinforce vocabulary in your art room! 
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Monday, February 20, 2017

DIY: Patterned Planters

So my new project of late has been painting what I've dubbed my Patterned Planters. I found these three wooden planters up at Target recently in their arts and crafts isle. YES, they now have an arts and crafts isle...and YES you will buy silly little somethings that you don't need but must have. Please tell me I'm not alone in my thinking that Target pumps some sort of magical air into their stores that acts as a shopping aphrodisiac. I see you Target! I know what you are up to and yet I just can't quit you! 

Refocus. Planters. 
I mean, look at them. How could I turn away from their mid-century mod adorableness? It would be like leaving behind a platter of puppies at a buffet (I have no idea...I saw a Golden Corral commercial today at the dentist and now I'm obsessed with the idea of unlimited proportions). When I saw these, it was like a knee-jerk reaction, immediately grabbing them and tossing them into my cart (fun Southern fact: shopping carts are often referred to as buggies. As in, "Ima fixin to go on down to The Pig {that would be the Piggly Wiggly} and fill my buggie up with Pabst. Ya need anythang?")
I had no idea what I was going to do with these planters and so they sat for a good month doing a bang up job collecting dust and taking up space. After painting this wooden jewelry and really enjoying it, I decided to attack one of the planters one evening.  
I dunno if you are like me, but sometimes I will talk myself out of creating because of the following excuses:

* I don't have time. Which is usually true...but c'mon, those dirty dishes, lesson plans (hahahahaha, what lesson plans?!) and laundry can wait!

* I don't have the right supplies. Then use what you got!

* I don't have an idea. Which, I have found, can often lead to THE BEST ideas. It's having an idea that can be crippling. Letting go is the best way to open your mind.

...and, this one's THE WORST...

* I might mess up. Ugh! Who cares?! I remember one time I had this unpleasant teacher who produced the plays at my high school. When she was trying to decide who to give the lead role in the play to, me or my friend, she wrote us each a "heartfelt" letter. In it she told us both, "it really doesn't matter who I pick. It's not like either of you are going to end up doing anything with your talent." Side note: my friend is an EXTREMELY talented artist, art teacher and public speaker. Thank you very much. I don't know what that has to do with "messing up" but it just came to me and I felt like sharing. You're welcome!
To start each planter, I kinda grabbed a handful of paints from my stash and established that as the planter's color palette. I then painted each flat surface a color, allowed to dry and then attacked each with a variety of pattern. 
 I love to create "after hours"... I usually start around 8pm while watching some mindless something on Netflix that I only half need to pay attention to (I kinda love The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmitt right now) and work until, well, way past my bad time. This creative outlet is a great way for me to unwind unlike something like sewing...where I have to focus or my relaxing time becomes a marathon of seam ripping and creative cussing. It's an Olympic sport.
Because I happen to be a serial plant killer, I decided to opt out of the real deal and use these fun beaded flowers I recently scored at an estate sale. They are handmade. The woman had a beautiful window sill full of them and how-to books in her basement. Y'all better believe I scooped up both.
I went with a more retro colored palette for this planter. Of course, I am always heavily influenced by Mary Blair. I have a couple books of her work and I was constantly flipping through them for ideas. 
Nothing says 1970's Tupperware like this color scheme. Hello, avocado green!
This isn't my first time down pattern planter road. 'Member these cat liter container planters? ( me, follow the link. They are much cuter than they sound, y'all).

So now I kinda wanna attack everything with patterns. I mean, I even wanna glue these three together, run some wires through them and make it into the stand for a lamp. I know, right?!
 Then again, I also wanna frame my palette. So there's that. 
Awright. Thanks for letting me share. Now if you'll excuse me, that buggie of Pabst ain't gonna drink itself. 
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