Monday, December 5, 2011

'Tis the Season - The Art of Painting on Windows

                     Recipe for Christmas Windows 101

                          1. Fill egg cartons with tempera paint and distribute to students.
                          2. Add transparent canvas in the form of school windows.
                          3. Queue the  Christmas music starting with  "Straight No Chaser"
                                    (Note to self - delete the "Eggnog" song asap); and
                          4. Let painting the windows for Christmas begin.

                          Here's a sampling of what the kids served up this year:




Brigit17 and Karen1032

Wishing you a blessed Christmas!

Friday, December 2, 2011

It takes a village...

Who says we don't have drama in art class?

The Scene:  Last five minutes of printmaking class, clean-up in full swing
Incident report:  Boy runs into girl with ink palette
Result:  Wardrobe crisis
                   One teacher to retrieve handy stain stick
                   One friend of student to help vigorously rub wet cloth to treated stain
                   One apologetic student to watch stain removal process
                   One friend of apologetic student for moral support
                      ...and a cast of extras (the rest of class) to cheer on efforts

 It takes a village.


Saturday, October 29, 2011

Paint Batik, or The Art of Stressing Out

The unaltered tempera painting by Nate1253

An example of a completely inked painting

The painting after rinsing off the ink

The painting with color reapplied in specific areas and rinsed slightly

The unaltered tempera painting by Michaela1229

The paint batik end product after some rework

The unaltered tempera painting by Brittany5262

The paint batik end product which she didn't need to rework

Here's a recipe to totally annihilate the "preciousness" of student  work:

           1.  Take one perfectly fine tempera painting
           2.  Completely obliterate it in a single coat of India ink
           3.  Let dry for no more than 15 minutes
           4.  Rinse off and totally freak out
           5.  Dry flat and hope for the best
           5.  Jump in and repaint areas for emphasis

Something must have changed in my standard tempera paint's formula.  During the rinsing process, instead of a little paint washing away leaving cool staining affects with India ink, we experienced a mass exodus of tempera pigment.  Paintings bled ink and tempera down the drain to such an extent that the color drained from my students' faces as well.

Frankly, the paint batik process balances risk and unexpected happy accidents.  So, I encouraged my students to repaint some areas to add emphasis and appreciate those happy accidents. I'm not sure I've convinced all of them that the end results were successful.  On the bright side, I think their altered works at least challenged them to think creatively.  When I repeat this project in a couple of years, we're adding a bit of Elmer's Glue to our paint for more staying power.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Pumpkins Please

Jesus Pumpkin "Come Unto Me"

Jesus Pumpkin in the light

Art Club Painting Pumpkins

More Art Club Pumpkins

The houses on Route 619 approaching Hartville are growing ghosts, goblins and ghouls.  A flying witch replete with broom annually wraps herself around a telephone pole on the North side of the road.  You'd think she'd navigate more adeptly after all these years.  Besides the shimmering fall colors washing the trees, I love to see pumpkins standing sentinel on front stoops up and down the street. 

Now, I have to confess that as an art teacher, I'm not a lover of pure orange.  I think it has something to do with traffic cones and they way they stress me out when driving.  However, pumpkin orange elicits a warmer personal response evoking the smell of baking pumpkin pies, and sipping lattes in front of a crackling fireplace.  The iconic fall symbol transcends Halloween hoopla and speaks of harvest and changing seasons.

The carved pumpkin above was completed in about 4 hours using a free pattern from  Sr. High Art Club painted theirs this year to excellent effect. 

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Advanced Art: Connecting literature and art

"What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us." Ralph Waldo Emerson


The "take away" from Advanced Art class this semester involves learning to say something using visual language.  Inspired by the idea of linking literature and art, Emerson's quote gives plenty of room for students to explore their artistic voice.  After a brainstorming session, and submission of a formal proposal outlining  materials and processes, my kids have finally come to the half-way point.


Tape Casting

Clay Mask


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Art of Painting on People

 You have to be quick with a brush to paint a moving target.  Especially giggly targets like young elementary -school students who desire anything from muffins to aliens painted on their cheeks and arms.  My art club kids have manned the face-painting booth for a number years at Lake Center Christian's "Pony Express."  Over time, we’ve streamlined our methods, employing stamps and quick drying paints to good effect.  However, some things will never change, like the smile a kid beams at you for a cool design you just painted on their person.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Sophomores and the Power of Pink

The Power of Pink!

Three things that make me happy during school spirit week:

1.  Daffy outfits
2.  Davenport races, and
3.  Decorative hallways

  All the excitement of streamers, balloons, and team- building games for LCCS' Spirit Week concluded last week.  Remaining in my mind's eye, however, is the penetrating pink glow created by some of my students in the sophomore hallway. They completely transformed their space using simple materials.  Featuring a balloon chandelier and tented lights, their design catapulted them into first place for class color day.  If any class could thoroughly explore the pinkness of pink, sophomores rocked it.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Chalk Festival and the Art of Drawing on Sidewalks

By Isabel1215

By Riley3972

By Brigit17

 I've attended Cleveland Museum of Art's Chalk Festival over the years in everything from  soaked- to- the- skin downpours to bone-crushing heat, so Saturday's  temperate climate felt like a smile spread across a perfect day.  When drawings were completed, some of the kids looked like they were camouflaged in pastels.   Fortunately, rigorously applied baby wipes restored them to their  recognizable selves.   Inside the museum,  my students scoured the art collection in a wicked little scavenger hunt.  It's rather gratifying to see kids reading didactic labels and comparing the merits of various pieces in order to find answers to clues.  Since all four teams tied for first place, my lollipops were evenly distributed at the end of the day.   I'm  really not a competitive person, so everyone "winning" was just fine with me.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Art of the Cart and Kindergarten Parade

Yellow Day Parade with Kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Amann

Big yellow buses cruising my neighborhood signal the change of seasons - and the beginning of another school year at LCCS.    My first two days zipped by in a blur of rules,  procedures, and PowerPoints.  Despite a schedule with shortened periods on Friday, I decided that Art 1 would dive into the first assignment. Strolling into what I thought would be an empty art room with 20 minutes to spare, I met an entire classroom of perky little first graders  raptly listening to our elementary art teacher, Miss R.  I subdued an unnecessary adrenaline rush with the mantra, "Don't panic."   When there are two principals integrating a complex matrix of elementary and secondary schedules for one art room and different  teachers, collisions occasionally happen.  We always work something out.

A quick check with the main office confirmed that we had a double-booking situation.  Since altering the space-time continuum isn't a viable option, I quickly loaded an art cart with supplies.  Proceeding to round up my kids, we made a cozy impromptu classroom flanking the main hallway.

With the added bonus of  new kindergartners parading through our ranks down the corridor, things were  moving forward surprisingly well until I realized that half of my brand new 2B pencils weren't sharpened.  Minor problem - nary a pencil sharpener on the cart, nor in sight.  As a former girl scout, I can assure you that the motto "Be prepared" didn't take into consideration this particular contingency.  Fortunately, I have adaptable kids and a sense of humor,  so we made it work.  Next week we'll be back in the art room, but I wouldn't be adverse to another kindergarten parade past our door.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Summer Vacation in a Word

Ready for our first hike!

Last Tuesday, to the backdrop of a summer storm slapping sheets of water against the windows in rhythmic gusts, the faculty and staff joined together one last time for a year-end breakfast meeting.   Being somewhat of a tornado survivor, I kept a watchful eye on the color of the sky.  If it turned green, I planned on literally chilling out with my colleagues in the kitchen's walk-in refrigerators. If it just stayed grey, I could sit and enjoy the surprising culinary talents of Mr. Beun who was busy serving up tender pancakes swimming in his homemade syrup.

Fortunately,  overcast grey remained the predominant color, so I stayed seated to learn about my colleagues' summers.  Mrs. Roberts challenged each of us to condense our vacation intentions into a single word to share with everyone.  Around the room I heard words like: "family," "relax," "read," "Europe," "Israel," "mission trip,"  "clean," "garden," and "wedding."  Mr. Rittenour's word, "chaos," made me laugh out loud.

 I have many summer plans;  however,  the one that tops everything was also voiced by numbers of other teachers: "Grandchildren."  Oh, the list of things I want to do like paint, garden, read, organize stuff and bake my brains out will fill my days.  But, the overarching joy of this vacation will be spending blue sky summertime with sweetness in a nappy named "Wesley."

Happy trails to you.  Signing off until summer's end.  Mrs. B.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Hellos and Goodbyes

To: Mrs. Jensen   From:  Mrs. Brott
At two o’clock tomorrow, the last locker will slam, and goodbyes will echo down the hallway.  I paint a picture in my head of summer pressing it’s face against my window screen, and can almost catch the smell of fresh cut grass.  The breeze whispers hello warm weather, unstructured days, Colorado vacations, and painting.  It breathes goodbye to grading projects, writing lesson plans and to-do lists that never end.   Yet,  between all the hellos and goodbyes, I’ll still be grateful for the nine months of students, colleagues and classes that enrich my life in so many ways.  So while hellos are the easiest to do, goodbyes rustle in a sense of closure and change that challenges.  
This week I said goodbye to my friend and colleague, Jacquie Jensen, who leaves for the mission field of Africa in the fall. Mrs. Jensen superbly handled 1st through 5th grade art for eleven years at Lake Center Christian School. Sharing an art room with three different art teachers is a dance for space, and Mrs. Jensen is one of the most organized and gracious people I know.  Since our class times would abut each other’s, I was often setting up for class while she was finishing hers. I couldn’t help but observe the respect and love her students showed her, as well as the pride they had in the quality of work they made.   Her bulletin board by the desk often sported scribbled notes and pictures in crayon from students expressing their appreciation for art as well as herself.  If I could add this note to the stacks of theirs, it would say: 
Dear Jacquie,  I couldn’t have asked for a more thoughtful and kind colleague. You have a way of looking at the right side of things and for the best in people that inspires me.  Godspeed on your journey to Africa, my friend.  While I’ll miss you, I know He has great things in store for you as you walk by faith! 
Now there will be two art teachers holding down the fort at LCCS.  Miss Reichenberger, currently our 6 - 8th grade art teacher, will take over Mrs. Jensen’s responsibilities.  I look forward to the promise of another year and a new dance.  

Monday, May 30, 2011

Snorkels and the Fine Art of Inventory

Ready for anything!
I can’t recollect one art education class ever mentioning that at the end of every school year, you had to count all your supplies down to the last crayon, pencil and paintbrush.   They probably didn’t want to scare us out of art education entirely.   It was bad enough that our department resided in the basement of a building prone to flash flooding.  In heavy rains, we were instructed to run up the stairs, or carry snorkel gear.  Learning to avoid disaster instilled in me a keen sense of survival which has served me well during inventory season.   The following are some interesting, albeit, random observations about life and art as a result of the annual inventory ritual.   
1.        On Color:  If all the colors dressed as contestants in a beauty pageant, blue would win “Miss Popularity.” Anything in blue – paper, markers, paints, etc.  gets depleted first.   Always order extra blue.
2.       On Unusual Skills:  It takes years of practice, and bravado to refill glue bottles from a gallon jug of Elmer’s without spilling.  – I’m actually still working on this one;  I’ve got the bravado, but still working on accuracy.
3.       On things we take for granted:  Art as we know it will end if newspaper companies convert to publishing on line.
4.        On supplies:  An art room can’t have too many Styrofoam egg cartons.  They make convenient disposable palettes.
5.       On great unsolved mysteries:  The amount of paint shirts hanging on our storage room hooks nearly doubles every year.  I ruthlessly weed out intruders in May or they’d take over an entire wall.
6.       On dinner during inventory season:  If you have speed dial on your phone, the number one position should read “Pizza Hut” because that’s what your family will eat until inventory is completed.

Due to some unusual state funding deadlines, my inventory and order had to be completed early.  For the first time in 14 years, I’m really enjoying a more leisurely pace as the last week of school unwinds and eating home-cooked food.  

Monday, May 16, 2011

Tape Casting and "Ghost Senior"

"Ghost Senior"



The school days remaining to our seniors can be counted on one hand.  So, last Tuesday I set before my senior advanced art students their final high school problem: As a team, tape casting a human figure and installing him on school grounds in such a way as to reinforce context and meaning.  The project, inspired by modern  installation artist, Mark Jenkins, involved:
  1. Deciding the pose and installation location best suited for a sculpture that would elicit a response from the school community
  2. Wrapping a willing student in packing tape over the course of a couple of class periods.  
  4. Reassembling the pieces/parts so that the figure had structural integrity.
  5. All wrapped up
  6. Securely installing the finished work in the desired location.
With one figure down, and one and a half to go, the pressure remains to finish the other sculptures over the next few days.   We installed the first completed figure Ghost Senior last Thursday using a very tall ladder.    Unfortunately, I couldn’t maintain my balance and exert the force necessary to jam the torso into the duct.  I think the air was a bit thin up there.  At any rate, one of my students took over after I extracted his promise that he wouldn’t fall; and if he did, his parents wouldn’t sue me.  Gravity kept defying us until one of the kids had the brilliant idea of skewering him through the torso with a pole for support.  Poor Ghost Senior, he now looks like he’s not only haunting the hallways, but getting ready for a barbecue.  But for now he’s secure and won’t be going anywhere, let alone a barbecue, until someone else kindly retrieves him at the end of the school year.  

Installation Crew for "Ghost Senior

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Final Chapter: Mural 2010 - 2011


Ribbon cutting


Red Velvet and Chocolate Cake to celebrate - delicious!

Kindergartner stops in the hallway as I'm passing and asks, "Why do you paint on the walls?"
Me:  "Well, ...because it's fun."
Kindergartner,  with a worried tone responds,  "Are you allowed to?"
Me:  "Yes, I got permission."
Kindergartner, adding doubtfully, "OK."

If I'm totally honest in answering the first question,  "fun" plays only a small role in why I muralize wall real estate.  Besides growing my students' artistic skills, the  main reason I keep painting our walls is because art has the power to make us think and question.  It has the power to affect the way we perceive  public and private spaces.

Since I'm a quiet person, visual art is the voice I use to encourage and lift the spirits of my school community.  It's gratifying that the rather dull hike down the hallway formerly dubbed "the tunnel,"  is now an inviting walk towards the newly christened "crossroads".

 Heartfelt thanks go to my art club kids who helped transform our space with their time and talents, and to a supportive administration who really does allow us to color on the walls.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mural Chapter 14: Text and Image

Lettering with a liner brush makes a difference
Text and image, we unfold the meaning of the written word with marriage to a strong visual.  This year’s mural, paired with Jeremiah 6:16 yields a rich and refreshing look at Auguste Macke’s painting “Vegetable Fields”.  The verse reads: 

“Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it...”
This past Friday and Saturday, I painted a portion of the verse across the top and took care of a few minor mural details.  Frankly, lettering isn’t something I do well - I used to watch my Grandpa letter signs for a living,  fascinated by the rhythmic flow of his brush across the surface.  My lettering skills fall short in comparison to my Grandfather’s; I’m just happy it’s legible. We unveil the mural tomorrow!