Friday, March 21, 2014

Ode on an Art Room Cart.

This morning I decided to put my skills (or lack thereof) as a former English Lit/Art major to work.  Take THAT college loans, I got the best out of you today.  Ermmm, maybe not.

Take heed, folks, for the writing below exemplifies the effects of excessive coffee consumption. You have been warned.

Ode on an Art Room Cart
(inspired by Jon Keats' Ode on a Grecian Urn)

Thou mobile cart on rolling wheels,
Thou noble steed of metal mane,
Built of factory-made cold hard steels
A winning companion, organization no longer my bane.
What say you, my silent friend, housing the tools
Of which we mere mortals grasp with hands,
In varying shades of ink, oil, and wax, without them we would be remiss
What hides there on ye' underbelly, away from us fools 
But placemats to protect the tables in our lands.
What echoes down the hallway?  Thy rolling wheels of eternal bliss.

Sorry, but you're not getting five stanzas out of me, thankyouverymuch.  I'll leave that up to Keats.

But, just for kicks, check out my noble steed of metal mane below.  I am super lucky and have an art room to call home, so I am not a wandering art-on-a-cart teacher (bless you, those that are), but I LOVE my carts.  I've got one for my daily supply station, another for the kiln and clay supplies, and finally one for the work that needs to be hung/hanged/hunged....PUT UP?  So much for that English degree.

I recently attached a portfolio to its underside to house the messy mats we use on a regular basis too.

The mini cart below is the Art Cart that usually houses work that needs to be placed around the building too.

As good ol' Keats says, heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard are even sweeter.  I think I unhear more coffee calling my name...until next time, Miss French Fry out!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

It Just Got Surreal.

How many Salvador Dali's does it take to screw in a lightbulb?


Welllll, this joke went way over the heads of my elementary students (like much of my off-the-wall humor does), but I will say, this whole wearing a costume or accessory thing is FAB-ulous.

My students are stunned into silence (maybe a little bit concerned about my sanity too) from minute one.  BEST classroom management tool ever.  
Total twinsies, right?

Best part about my costuming this year, is that the kids are getting into it.  This little friend below was proud to show me his mustache sweatshirt he purposely wore on Art day.

Before kicking off the artist intro, my kiddos were given a few minutes to design their own mustache, which naturally they had to wear for the rest of the day.  Tell ya what, it is SERIOUSLY hard to guzzle coffee with a 'stache.  I had coffee all over my smock!

Surrealist art is our focus this month, so we continued with a little Dali up in this Art Room.

I forgot how totally wild Dali's paintings are...and I also forgot how many undressed ladies there are in his paintings.  One of my fourth grade artists paged through a Dali book at her own home to do some research and (thank the art gods) is a totally mature student, and quietly reported to me that she found some cool paintings, but "gosh, Miss D., there were a lot of ladies without clothes."

Therefore, Miss French Fry had to do some serious combing of images before presenting them to her students.

The Persistence of Memory, 1931

The Elephants, 1948

Check out our 4th grade finished works below:


Those are some vicious carrot-chomping teeth right there.

What a shifty-eyed selfie, am I right?

Annnd the 2nd grade's Dalis in development:

Okay, no more dilly Dali-ing for me.  Off to update my CPDUs online, ugggh.  I don't know what your state's Education website looks like, but Illinois' is super dull.  They really should have hired an Art teacher to jazz up their page, so it's at least a little fun to look at...

Friday, March 14, 2014

I Like My Crayons Naked.

Today, we kicked off a Kinder lesson on Piet Mondrian.  We read Perfect Square by Michael Hall, which is a beautiful story about one square with unlimited possibilities.

The Kinder kiddos loved looking at images of Mondrian's impressionistic-looking work before his style was transformed forever into the pieces we recognize today.  


Trees Along a River, 1907-1908

As Mondrian continued to paint such naturescapes, he realized more and more how everything around us is made up of basic shapes and primary colors.  After this realization, his work truly began to shift.


Composition with Red, Blue, and Yellow, 1930

The young artists started with one tracer of either a square, circle, or triangle, but had to PICK and STICK with whatever shape they selected from the very beginning.  So, if a student chose a square tracer, that was their one and only shape of the day.

After getting their papers, the Kindergarteners had to pick a black crayon from the teacher table and walk back to their seats to get tracing.  I noticed one little girl was still hanging around my teacher table and when I walked over to her, I noticed she was quickly peeling off her crayon paper.

Kinder:  (giggling embarrassedly)  Sorry, Miss D, but I like my crayons naked.

BEST QUOTE EVER.  In fact, that belongs on a t-shirt.

Here are our masterpieces in progress below:

I have an inkling these are going to be pretty Mondrian-licious when they are done.  Naked crayons and all.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Lines and Doodles.

My little Kinder artists recently completed a Kandinsky unit after opening with a Dot Project back in December.  They created some super duper MESSY Kandinsky line paintings after reading The Straight Line Wonder by Mem Fox.  This book is a fun, interactive read aloud as the Kinders loved acting out the bumping, zig zaggy, swirling, and twirling lines as the story progressed.

After reading the story, we also looked at some of the examples of lines I have on a few different worksheets too.

But, here's the best part.  I scored this sweet dress on clearance at Forever 21 (I know, I know, I avoid going in that store as I am allergic to their loud music and am clearly more suited to shopping at a Forever 30).  This dress was perfect and looks so much like my worksheets.  My little Kinders were absolutely mesmerized by the different types of lines on this puppy.

Below are a few examples of their Kinder line paintings.  The students started by dipping small matboard pieces into black tempera paint to draw their lines.  During the next class, students used Crayola construction paper crayons to add Kandsinky-inspired colors to their paintings.

Can't get enough of my Kinder artists this year.  Plus, I sleep really well after a day of teaching Kindergarteners...

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Magritte-a-licious Moon Trees.

Recently, I blogged about my Third Graders' WIPs (works in progress) here, which are inspired by Rene Magritte's 1956 painting Sixteenth of September.

Well, I know you've been waiting with bated breath, so here we go.  Our beautiful Moon Trees are below...

I have been on a major painted paper kick and we painted the heck out of our papers for these 3rd grade masterpieces.

We added a little salt to our backgrounds to experiment with a salty resist texture too.

Our moons were cut out from leftover papers from our Sochi and Suminagashi Lesson.  We have gotten a LOT of use out of these leftovers.  Not like my food leftovers that sit in my fridge foreverrrrr.

Speaking of leftovers, I have a big decision to make tonight: Thai or Pizza for dinner.  Decisions, decisions...

Friday, March 7, 2014

Pointillist Painters.

My wee Kinders have delved into the world of pointillism.  I think my Kinders have a better understanding of pointillism than some of my older students.  The minds of these little artists are truly amazing.

Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, 1884

The actual painting is about 7 feet by 10 feet and housed locally in our very own Art Institute of Chicago.  The Kinders were PUMPED when they found out the painting was here in Chi-town!  One of the wee ones announced to the class:

"This painting is by another famous artist.  Not the guy who chopped off his ear and painted the yellow house."

This is of course, the same kid who declared he was taking "artistic license" with our last project.


I want to give credit to Kids Art Market, who totally inspired this awesome lesson!

The Kinders used leftover sumingashi paper from our Sochi and Suminagashi project (check it out here) to create their little moons.  I wanted the moons to pop out from the paintings, but was fresh out of pop up dots.  BUT, all the leftover scraps were put to use.  I chopped up the scraps because there is still a lot of sticky stuff left on the remaining scraps.

Final pieces were sprayed with green glitter liquid watercolor paint.  When you add glitter to ANY Kinder project, the kids are ecstatic.  Not Miss French Fry so much, because I've been finding glitter everywhere.  I reached over to pet my dog last night and lo and behold, she had green glitter all over her muzzle.

Art (and glitter) really is all around us.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Polar Where?

I am obsessed with all things Lisa Congdon.  She is a wonderfully creative artist and illustrator with killer style (and a hoarder after my own heart).  In fact, she has even turned her collections into art, which are documented in the book A Collection a Day (see hubs, I CAN turn my obsession with milk glass and vintage bowls into something).

Many of her works are often inspired by her adventures, and after a trip to Scandinavia (my favorite place to visit), she created a series of beautiful paintings featuring creatures with some interesting Scandi accessories, such as this little guy below:

After the worst Chiberian winter ever here in the Chicagoland area, I have been trying to turn all this snow and cold into something bear-able (get it, get it?), and this project was a good start.

Check out my 2nd graders' polar bears inspired by Lisa Congdon below.  We utilized realistic chalk drawing with shading, paint, and weaving on these bears.  They're totally adorable, FUR reals.

We used slate gray construction paper for the bears because polar bears' skin is actually grayish-black.  On top of their undercoat, is a thick covering of long, clear, stiff hairs.  They look like tiny clear plastic straws!  Polar bears' fur only appears to be white because it is reflecting the visible light, which in the case of the arctic surroundings, are snow and ice. I gathered this gem from my nighttime habit of watching PBS nature shows before bed. Thank you PBS!

Love this polar bear.  He is extra blubbery...

Can't get over how chubby the 2nd graders made their bears.  So sweet!

Go check out Lisa Congdon's work when you can.  Her paintings are the cure for the winter blues, FUR sure.