Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Art teacher vacation

I've been missing reading all my favorite art ed bloggers since during summer the pace is so much slower and life seems unrelated to the classroom. Summer vacation has been a welcome recharge to my batteries, but I kind of miss my kids and the business of being creative every day with them... On the other hand, I'm not the type to sit idle, so I've been recharging my batteries in other ways too.
First off- I finished a week long graduate course at Tyler on working with special needs children in the art room. It was an intense 5 day- 8 hours a day class jam-packed with information, artmaking, and discussion. I have some insight into some of the characteristics of specific disabilities and some practical tools to take back into the classroom with me next year. I got certified to teach right before the state changed requirements to include special ed coursework in art ed- so this class filled some gaps for me.
Secondly- I've been a Pinterest madwoman, collecting new ideas for my classroom management and projects so I'm not just recycling last year's ideas. If anyone is curious, here's a link to my rapidly increasing boards.
Thirdly, I've been making an effort to get out and see some art exhibits, like "Infinite Mirror"at the Michener museum in Doylestown. This was an amazing exhibit of artists all over the country exploring patriotism, identity, tradition, and family. I bought the catalog, and hope to use some ideas from their education guide for a project or two next year.
Fourthly, I've been experimenting with some printmaking ideas I'd like to try out with 4th or 5th grade next year:
This past spring my 5th graders used softcut blocks and linocut tools for their adinkra symbols, and I was very satisfied with their maturity and skill with the tools. I think a more ambitiously scaled relief cut project could work. So one idea is to do a 2 color reduction print of an animal. Above is my first layer including a frame and the shape of a peacock printed in turquoise. The white negative space between frame and bird was carved away. The outline of the frame is actually the complete size of the block. I made an edition of 8 on the first layer. Then I carved back into my block to create detail.
 I didn't have any plexi in the studio, unlike at school, but here's my setup for layer 2. My carved block is on a waste sheet of paper to catch any stray marks from the brayer, a clean brayer for printing is at center, along with water-based block-printing ink from Speedball, a wooden spoon as a printing option, and an inking plate and brayer. I think organization when printing is very important to reduce mess and keep things efficient.
Et Voila, my 2 color reduction relief print of a peacock. The only problem I foresee with this project is time. It would require a minimum of 4 class sessions for my students to complete something like this, and probably more like 5. Do I really want to dedicate that much time to it? Anyone have tips for doing this kind of project efficiently?

I'm teaching some art camps at Fleisher Art Memorial the next 2 weeks, and then headed to Montana for an artist-in-residence program. When I get back I expect to plunge into curriculum planning before school starts at the end of August. I hope everyone is enjoying their summer break!