Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Leonardo Portraits

Everyone loves a good portrait lesson right? We just wrapped up a huge Leonardo Di Vinci unit. The before drawing were done before the kiddos learned how to grid.

LESSON TITLE:  ¾ portraits with Leonardo
GRADE: Middle School 8
CONCEPTS, KNOWLEDGE, & SKILLS to be covered in this lesson: Grid Drawing, Value, Realism
SUPPLIES: 1 sheet poster board per student, access to a printer (b&w), a variety of drawing pencil (or a #2 if that is all available), one 2”X24” strip of poster board  per student.
1.The students will draw pre assessment portraits
 2. The student will Enlarge a photograph of themselves using the grid method
3. The students will  add value with a variety of pencils
4. The students will explore the art of Leonardo Di Vinci including what makes the Mona Lisa so famous
1. The teacher will use a written assessment about the Leonardo and his paintings
2. The teacher will evaluate gridding technique 
3. The teacher will  evaluate correct value techniques

TEKS for Visual Art:
8.1 (A) The student is expected to  illustrate ideas from direct observation
8.2 (A) create artworks integrating themes found through direct observation and personal experiences
8.4 (B) The student is expected to analyze artworks by others to form conclusions about formal properties, historical and cultural contexts, intents, and meanings.

Interdisciplinary Connections:    History


1. Connecting/Motivating: Students will need to complete a pre assessments without any instruction if possible.  Students will be introduced to Leonardo’s Mona Lisa via a short youtube video. Discussion Questions: Who was the Mona Lisa most likely? What are some theories on her identity? How was the ¾ pose revolutionary? What intrigues you about the Mona Lisa?

2. Teach, Model, & Demonstrate: Students will compare two Leonardo paintings and evaluate how art advanced in the Renaissance via PPT (attached). Students will be introduced to grid method and teacher will demonstrate grid worksheet. Teacher will also model how to grid a photograph and a poster board. (1 45 minute class)
                       Gridding a portrait the easy way: Student will use a 1” wide ruler and line it at the top of an 8 1/2 X 11 vertical photograph of the student’s portrait. Draw a line underneath the ruler with pencil. Slide the ruler down and line it with the first pencil line and draw another line under the ruler. Repeat step until you reach the bottom. Repeat steps horizontally on the photograph as well. Next, use 2” strip of poster board and line it at the top edge of the poster board vertically and draw a line underneath. Repeat step down vertically, then horizontally to form a grid. Count the rows of boxes on the photograph and trim down poster board until the photograph and poster board have the exact same number of boxes.

3. Try It-Tests-Practices: Students will complete grid worksheet individually while a designated student (or teacher) photographs class members in ¾ pose. Students need to make sure they display any jewelry or other objects that may symbolize their identity.
4. Create:  After checking student’s comprehension of gridding by evaluating practice worksheet. Instruct students to outline main facial contours with a bight colored pencil to help them see the lines. Students will then begin to work independently to enlarge their photograph to the poster board. (2-3 45 minute classes)

Once basic contours of the face have been drawn, students will begin to add value with a pencil. Remind students to push values (use value chart). (3-4 45 minute classes).



Friday, August 31, 2012

Welcome BACK!

Wow, Is summer over already!!!!

What is your first project? I like to start with an upside down Picasso from Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards. Absolutely a MUST read for any art teacher!

By drawing something upside down we transform the way in which our brains compute the information. I find that kids really get in the "zone" AKA, right side of the brain, for this activity. It is so neat to watch them!

What you do:

Igor Stravinsky by Picasso
Put this image on the screen upside down. Don't show it to them right side up until after the entire class is finished. Show them how to copy the lines and make sure they work from TOP to BOTTOM. Tell them when they get to the middle and bottom (try not to use the words "hands" and "face") to break it down it to simple lines. Play soft music and don't talk to them. Let them get into that zen zone. Even the rowdy kids quiet down and focus. Don't interrupt them, I repeat, DO NOT INTERRUPT THEM! Tip toe around and answer any question with a whisper. Make sure to make copies for the kids that can't see the board. If you have never done this you will be amazed!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Are you an artist, or just an art teacher?

"Are you an artist, or just an art teacher?" We have all heard it, it has all made us cringe, and it has made us all defend ourselves as artists. Why is it that the majority of people don't view art teachers as "real" artists? I mean, why else would we devote our lives to teaching about art? 

With budget cuts, art programs and teachers are being cut. In many cases, general ed teachers are given art classes part time. Although I am sure that these gen-ed teachers are doing the absolute best they can, I can't help but to think that as this practice of replacing art teachers with gen-ed teachers continues, it will lead to hearing that phrase, "Are you an artist, or just an art teacher?" much, much, more. 

Unfortunately, once we get out of college and start working full time, art making can be a daunting task. For years at art school I made a piece of work at least every two weeks. Now that I am a teacher, I have made only 2 large scale paintings in an entire year. I attribute this mostly to "creative-block" as a result from being burned out from art school, but still, it keeps me up at night. 

As an art teacher we MUST keep practicing art. And no, doing student project examples don't count. Enter local art shows, keep a journal, or make it a point to paint something over the summer. I know this is easier said that done, but I am going to try and follow my own advice. 

 We have to be role models for our students. We are life long artist and teachers. Being an "Artist" and being a "Teacher" are equally important. So the next time someone asks you, "Are you an artist, or just an art teacher?" proudly reply, "I am an Artist-Teacher, come to my classroom and I will show you my personal art and my student's work." So, of course, make sure you have something awesome to show them :)

I ran across this article on yahoo news today. Gregory Euclide is an "artist and teacher" who finds time in his 25 minute lunch break to make inspiring art on his white board. Mr. Euclide, you are an inspiration not only to your students, but to artist-teachers everywhere. We may not all be as accomplished as you, but you are a  strong reminder of how we can inspire as teachers. Please look at his photo gallery, and thank you yahoo news for covering such a story.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Ask 3, then me

I am hooked on the TeachingChannel on Youtube. It is a wonderful resource for all teachers (not just art teachers.) I find it's tips useful for new teachers- it's like having a mentor at your fingertips. "Ask 3 then me" is something I want to incorporate to my classroom management next year. Has anyone else used this technique? Please share your thoughts!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Anthony Heywood inspired animal junk drawings

Here was another lesson the kids enjoyed last year: Animal Junk Drawings!

In an effort to incorporate a lesson about "green art," I came across an artist named Anthony Heywood who makes huge elephants out of garbage.

Anthony Heywood
My 6th graders absolutely loved looking at Heywood's work and we played a little game of "I see..." They got super focused and those hands shot up when they found something a classmate had not yet!

I always like to include many expamplars during a lesson. I shared some videos of other green artist. These two on Wyland were a huge hit:
Wyland is amazing. He is a huge inspiration to young kids. His mission is to help children fall in love with the ocean and preserve it for the future. 

The last artist I chose was Treiops Treyfid. He is a contemporary artist who makes works from recycled material. His "Animals of the Furture" series is about how unless drastic changes are made, exotic animals will die out and the future animals of earth will be animals like pigeons and rats who easily adapt to human life. This video was a little deep for a 6th grader, but they enjoyed it. Also, it allowed them to see what gallery life is like. 

So here was the project: First I gave students a hand out of a sheet of various animal silhouettes (google: animal silhouettes). 

The challenge for them was to enlarge a small drawing to a large drawing. I showed them how to break the silhouette into quadrants and to draw one quadrant at a time.

Then I had students make a list of 50 items of junk. They moaned a little about this part, but it is essential if you want to avoid students whining that they can think of anymore junk to add to the drawing. I let students share ideas at their table to cut down on time.

Now the fun part! Students added all 50 items of junk inside their drawings (like Anthony Heywood sculpts). This was a great start of the year project because I got to assess their individual drawing skills. The kids loved it because it was creative and allowed them to basically doodle!

Both examples by C.M.

Art Show Display DIY

At our school, we have two art shows a year: one in the fall, and a large one in the spring. Hanging hundreds of pieces of art can  be a huge challenge so I want to share with you how we hang our work. Our large DIY displays are simple to make. Here is what you will need:

    CHEAP black fabric (our panels have sheer stretchy fabric that is opaque) How much you need depends on the size of insulation board you get but you will probably need around 7 or 8 yards per double panel.
Gaff or Duct tape (Gaff works better but is more expensive. Our maintenance department has given us Gaff tape- so ask yours!)

 Foam insulation boards (about 1 to 2 inches thick) You will need two insulation sheets per panel. These run around $10 dollars a sheet.

Cover one side of each foam board with fabric and secure the fabric on the back side with Gaff tape. When you have two covered, place them side by side, fabric facing down, and tape their seam together. Stand them up like an open book and you have your display panel. Its easy, cheap, and quick!

Here is what our art show looked like:

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


I was just informed that my workshop proposal "Pinterest 101: How it will change your lesson planning forever" was just accepted for the 2012 Texas Art Education Association Conference! I will be outlining how to get the most out of Pinterest for art educators for lesson planning and resources. If you haven't already, "follow" me on pinterest by clicking the tab on the right side of the screen. I would love to follow you as well.  

Street Art- 7th grade

Lets face it, kids are more exposed to street art than museum art on any given day. Artist have used this reality to bring their art to the people: to the streets. This unit was all about street art. We learned the difference between "street art" and "graffiti" and the history of both dating back to cave paintings and ancient Rome. 

Cueva de las Manos (Spanish for Cave of the Hands) in the Santa Cruz province in Argentina
Graffiti From Pompei
I was inspired to do this project after watching Exit Through the Gift Shop, a documentary by Bansky about the art world and street art. Exit Through the Gift Shop is not, I repeat, NOT suitable for students!!! I found this to show them instead:

The kids LOVE Banksy. They love the fact that he is an exclusive, elusive, top secret artist. We had several awesome discussions about vandalism, the value of art, and how art can be political. 

I made it VERY clear that I was not encouraging them to go out and make street art illegally. We even drew up a contract that they signed promising they would not use their graffiti skills for evil. So far, I have not had a problem with it.

Ideally, of course, I would have wanted to take the students out to make some real street art. I had several limitations ie large classes, lack of supplies, and lack of space to create a public work (and the fact that our school is pretty new so there was no chance in a million years they would let us paint the walls.) 

So.... I decided I would teach them to draw graffiti letters. I looked on youtube for tutorials which I modified for them. I made them use what I taught them and create their own alphabet. That process took a lot of time I will admit, but I think the practice really helped their final project. 

They had to include a gradient (to show blending), their name, and a positive character trait (I throw in Character Ed whenever possible). Oh, and all letters had to be 3-D. Here are some examples:

Cyborg Self Portrait- 6th grade

Drawing a self portrait can be one of the most important art works a middle school student can accomplish. Their parents expect it, you want to teach them about correct proportion, and most of all- they ask for it! I try to do a different self portrait for every grade. This past year for 6th grade we did "Cyborg Self Portraits." This project was one of my absolute favorites. By adding a Si-fi element to the project, students were more comfortable taking risk. What I loved was the huge success rate I had. not only were kids learning how to draw a face correctly, they were learning how to make dynamic, intricate, and detailed art.

 I found it helpful to use The Virtual Instructor. 

We practiced drawing eyes, lips and noses for about a week (I only see them every-other day).  I have found that when teaching proportion, I find more success when teaching it kinesthetic way. For example, I will have students take their index finger and their thumb and measure the width of their eye and apply that measurement to the space between their eye. "What do you notice?" I say, and they all shout, "It's the same size!!!"

For this project I pulled up a few examplars. We watched a very cool video by Honda about their robot development. It lead to a great discussion about the future role of artificial intelligence. We discussed what the "uncanny valley" was and they had to decide how closely they wanted their portrait to resemble a human.

 I could not think of a well known artist that drew cyborg portraits so Googled "Cyborg portrait", "cyborg self", "robot portrait" and "robot self" and came up with a ton of good examples. 

Here are some examples of how the project turned out. We used pencil on 8 1/2 X 11 drawing paper. This project, with pre-practice, took about 3 1/2 weeks

Here we go...

School has been out for 3 weeks now and life is good! Even though we are enduring 105 degree heat here in Texas, I have been soaking up the sun and reflecting about the last year. I love my school, I love my kids, and I love my co-workers, what more could a teacher ask for? Today I am going to post some of my favorite lessons from last year. Please feel free to share, use, pin, and comment. I would love to know if you have done a similar project and how it went. I am constantly looking to improve! (Please subscribe on the right hand side of the page.)
TMS has Character series, Art club
We primed cardboard boxes and applied a gradient using tempera paint. Then students thought of the words they felt represented TMS students and came up with body gestures that reflected the word. Students used a old overhead projector to cast a shadow on the boxes to trace. Black paint filled the outline and lettering was painted on. This project was the brainchild of Ms. P (I was just there to supervise). The kids loved it, it was cheap and easy, and it made a great piece for our school's showcase!

Welcome to Less Talk, More Art

I have wanted to start a art ed blog for sometime now. If you are an art teacher like me, you are constantly scouring the web looking for project inspiration. I have found that most art ed blogs today are by elementary and high school teachers. I feel like middle school art is under-represented and I want to help change that. 

We all know that it is hard to find the time to keep up a blog- that's why I decided to start mine this summer. I will not start posting new projects until the school year starts of course, but I will be posting projects that I tried last year, and lessons and resources I will use next year. 

Please "Follow me," I can't wait to get started!