Thursday, December 29, 2011

More Gestural Detail

So I was digging through my old college portfolio again.  I sorted through some awful sketches and earlier work.  I refuse to post any pictures of them, lol.  I immediately packed them back away and contemplated destroying them...but I didn't.  I did find another one I did that I considered a breakthrough at the time.  The project was to go out and find a natural setting to draw.  I grabbed my equipment and set out to a nearby park.  I always hated going out to draw outside.  Not that I have anything against nature, but I would always get approached by people curious as to what I was making, lol.  Most of the time they were cool, but I would get an occasional crazy person.  I mean the talking to themselves, rant out of nowhere kind that hang out at local parks.  It seems that an artist's life can be dangerous sometimes.  I've been chased off property I thought was vacant trying to get a picture of something interesting.  I had a guy on a golfcart with a gun rack come after me once, lol...I didn't stand around to explain.  Oh off on a tangent.  This particular piece I yet again cheated, shhh.  I was supposed to find a setting and draw it exactly.  Well, I found a couple of settings and sort of combined them.  Those three trees weren't quite so close together.  I used charcoal, wash, and ink, like on the coat study.  It was done just before the coat from the last post.  But I can see myself finally loosening up.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Gestural Detail

     I was going through my old college art portfolio the other night.   Most of the stuff in there is horrible, lol.  The paintings and sketches do show the stages of my improvement I believe.  The jacket one was one that I really loved at the time.  It was part of a jacket study I was doing back then.  I know...jacket study, weird, right?  LOL.  It was made with charcoal and wash.  Wash is just water tinted with the charcoal.  It's actually quite large.   This project was basically our finals in this drawing class.  One of the "fun" parts of this class was that we all gathered around and critiqued each other's work.  My flaws were always that I couldn't loosen up.  My drawings were always too clean and precise.  My original jacket studies were said to look like doll clothes <wince>.  I had to stand back and use my whole arm to draw.  It was one of the hardest things to do at the time.  I was used to bending over my paper and drawing from a couple inches away.  This jacket was my turning point.  It was pointed out by the teacher and other students that I finally broke through that wall that was holding me back and "loosened up".  I know, sounds very over dramatic...but that was my whole world at that point in my life.  I did lose points for not using color.  But I couldn't bring my self to add it.  It felt finished.  Our teacher said it showed "gestural detail".  He meant that I didn't really add any detail but hinted at it.  At first glance, it seems to have a lot of detail but it really doesn't.  I don't the time I thought he made up the term on the spot, lol.  I eventually got a B- on it.  The teacher liked it but I lost points for not following the rules.  Well, here it is.  

     Not exactly hanging on the wall material I wouldn't think.  But I was asked by a friend if I could do one like this for her husband who is in the military.  She wants one like this but with his bomber jacket.  So maybe I can add this to my repertoire, portraits, pet portraits, landscapes and jackets.  

Saturday, December 17, 2011

My Sketchbook

     I tell my students that it's very important to keep a sketchbook and to be always drawing if you want to improve.  It's also a good way to see how much you're improving.  Well, I haven't been as good with keeping up with my own sketchbook.  I had a few half finished sketches in one sketchbook and several ones that I've collected that I haven't put anything into.  Here are a couple that I managed to finish.

I've been working on a series of sketches with old barns as the subject matter.

Right now these are straight pencil sketches, but I may go back and add color.  Or use these as a study and do a larger painting based on these.

And here's the one I'm working on as we speak.  I like drawings where you can see the process.  
     I think I'm going to start taking pics of my work as I'm working on them.  At least I'd find it interesting.  

Thursday, December 15, 2011

2nd Graders Scenic Paintings

     My second grade art students created some paintings made from pictures taken from around our local area.  I had taken some pictures and found some on the internet for them to use as inspiration.  We used watery tempera paint to make some of the water effects.  We talked about perspective and using overlapping shapes to create distance in our paintings.  We talked about color changes to create the illusion of space and distance also.  I was blown away by some of their work.  These are the ones that really stand out although they all did a really good job.  This is one of my best classes.
I'm not sure I could make an ocean wave this well.

The fact that she made the railing appear to be moving away from the viewer impressed me.  Plus the water and atmospheric color changes are really good.

This artist had planned to add a lot more stuff in her painting but I stopped her right here.  I said she could make another one and add boats and planes.

This artist used almost every art technique I'd taught, overlapping, foreground, midground and background objects,  objects getting smaller the further back in the painting they are...she even left a white border around the edge of the painting.  I'm keeping an eye on this artist.

This artist managed to create fairly realistic tree reflections in the water.  He did this drawing a row of trees and folding the paper and making a rubbing to transfer the image on the bottom, then painting.

She wanted to do a lighthouse and I said it sounded like a good idea.  When I got back around to her she hadn't done what I'd expected and that was a good thing.  I expected to see a picture dominated by a light house with a little sky maybe showing.  She made the painting more about the sky and the ocean and then the lighthouse.  I love it when they surprise me like that.

     I loved the variations in color they all got in their paintings.  When your doing paintings of mostly sky and water it can be tricky.  These are definitely going up in the hallway display for a little while.  

Monday, December 12, 2011

Kindergarten Pinched Pots

  So I posted earlier that I broke down and let some of my classes do a clay project before the holidays.  A couple of my kindergarten classes are doing their first clay project , the pinched pot.  Those in the know can tell you a pinched pot is a clay ball that is pinched into a bowl shape.  They glaze the bowls the following week and into the kiln they go.
Due to budgetary constraints we only had 3 colors to work, yellow and white.
     I had them pick one color to paint the inside, one color to paint the lip, and another color for the outside.  Color mixing was going to happen so I wasn't worried about not having enough variation.
The first batch came out nearly perfect.  I may have done a somersault or 2 when I opened the kiln the next day.  I have had issues with clay breaking or exploding in the kiln due to air or moisture getting trapped in the clay and not giving it enough dry time.  The one at the bottom of the pic is not a pinched pot.  One of my students was absent for a while and missed making I let her glaze something I had made earlier.

 I'd say considering we only had 3 colors to glaze with, there was plenty of variation.

      And finally a little teaser of another project I mentioned in a previous post, the clay animals.  I'll show you more in a couple of days.  These are a second grade project and they're working on the habitats for their creations.  Till then...

Thursday, December 8, 2011

My New Holiday Creation!

     After finishing the murals and cutouts for Math Strategies Night's circus theme, I had no time to waste.  I had to get started on the scenery for the Christmas Play.  The music teacher and I brainstormed ideas based on her chosen musical, Flakes!  I began making the props for the show.
The snowplow is on cardboard and is fitted with handles on the back.

     The background for the play had to be big.  It will hang up on the back curtain of the stage.  Here it is in progress.  I start out gluing large sheets of bulletin board paper together.  I sketch it out with a marker, then paint the lines dark with black tempera paint.   After I get it all outlined nice and dark, I start painting.

      I started on it yesterday.  I guess I work pretty fast when I can get a chance.  I was able to work on it while the kids were practicing with the music teacher.  I still have a little bit of fine tuning but this part is mostly done.   I'll post more as I finish.  Wish me luck.  Christmas vacation is almost here, yay!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Funny Clay Faces

I decided to break down and let some of my students do a clay project before we go on Christmas break.  I usually wait till we get back so we have plenty of time to make, glaze and fire them.  Also, storage becomes an issue when you have several hundred clay projects at varying stages of development.  I have specific clay projects for each grade level each year and 5th grade gets the Funny Face project.
Faces after the first session.

I taught the kids about stippling (creating textures, shadows, etc., using tiny dots).  Some of them got very creative with hair and facial hair on their faces.  Even some of the girls decided to make their dads just so they could use stippling to make facial hair.  It's hard to tell from that group shot, but they came with very individual faces.
This one is cartoony.

A more realistic look

I was irritated by this one at first glance.  Then I realized the student made the dots and lines pretty symmetrical.  At that point, I was ecstatic.  Believe me, any time one of my kids uses something they learned from a previous lesson on their current lesson, I start to get all emotional, lol.

 These just show you the wide range of faces we got.

This brown clay dries to a light tan color.  We'll glaze them next week and then its kiln time.  I'm really lucky to have a kiln in my classroom.  I'll show you the work in progress later.  If I have time I'll also show you 2nd grades clay animals in progress.  I have to save something for the next post, lol.   Sorry some of the pics are sideways.  

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Most Despised Art Lesson in the World!

     I love this lesson.  Don't get me wrong.  It's not me.  It's them, my students.  You see, my students are absolute perfectionists when it comes to their art work.  If it doesn't come out looking exactly like mine, many will give up, throw it away or keep starting over till we run out of time.  I try to explain that sometimes happy accidents yield better work.  It doesn't need to be perfect as long as they try their best.
     I found this lesson several years ago and have used it to combat this mentality.  The kids start out curious, grow wary and then look at the final product in horror.  It's called a Unique Drawing Experience.  The kids sit in a big circle.  They each have a sheet of drawing paper and a pencil.  I have them draw a simple thing like a line from one side of the paper to the other, or a zig zag line from the top to the bottom.  Then they pass their paper to the person to their right.  That person then draws a shape like a square, circle, triangle, etc, whatever I think of at the time.  Sometimes I make it up and sometimes I have a list premade.  This goes on until the paper gets back to its original owner.  I then tell them I'm not grading them on how well the design looks but on how well they color it.  I immediately get cries of anger because so and so messed up their paper, or this person drew an ugly shape or line and ruined it.  They had no control over the creation of the design, just it's coloring.
     I have gotten the most beautiful original looking creations from this project, but the students almost all hate it.
     Am I really an evil teacher that delights in the torture of my students?  Is it worth all the grumbling to get through it?  Yes, in the end I believe so...and yes, I probably am evil.  They turn out looking fantastic.  I wish I had one to show.  I'm going to do this project again when we come back from Christmas break and will show some then.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Mystery of The Jaggedotter

     A little background story may be required.  I am frequently asked by people that know me why I chose the name Jaggedotter for the title of my blog.  Jaggedotter is a fairly new handle that I've used here and there.  In the past, I've gone by simply Otter when I was talking to people in the netverse.  It goes back to my initial adventures into the world of computers back when internet chat rooms and computers in general were still a strange and new thing.  I had recently watched Animal House for the millionth time.  It's one of my favorites.
Still from

     I had a choice of characters fresh in my mind from the movie in which to choose.  There was Bluto, Flounder, Pinto, Boone, D-Day, Hoover, Stork and Otter.  I chose Otter from the simple fact that he was arguably the coolest character in the movie and the name just sounded better then the rest.  Now as time past and the seasons changed, I discovered that many many people in the netverse thought the same thing.  Otter was getting more difficult to use.  It was always taken.  One day, I bought an online game and was required to enter a handle.  I, of course, tried Otter and was denied.  It offered me alternatives in the form of various odd adjectives to add to Otter.  Jaggedotter just jumped out at me as a unique enough name that I wouldn't have any problems.  So, here we are.
     Now that that is out of the way, help me choose a new avatar.  I have grown bored with my present one, lol.
Should I go with a fierce otter? Grrrrrrrrrrrr. Do they grrrr?

Do I go with the cute otter? Awwwwwww.
The Evil Genius Otter? 
Or do I stick with my original?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

That Barn Drawing...

I stare at it hanging in its frame all the time.  I want to take it out and try to add a bit of shadow here and there.  I want to add more trees, erase trees, add bushes and grass or take them away.  It taunts me with its imperfections.  Maybe I should make a gift of it to someone so it cant drive me crazy anymore.  Christmas is coming up.  But if I give it to a relative...I may have to still see it when I visit.  Should I try to sell it?  I've actually had people interested in it, but I told them it wasn't for sell.  It wasn't finished.  Is it finished?  Will it ever be finished?  Maybe I should just move on.  It's time.  Start something new.  Maybe another portrait of my daughter, or a seascape, or...maybe if I just darken the value just a hair on the front of the barn...

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Word Up!

     I've had this bulletin board up for a while now and am having trouble changing it.  Usually our teachers change their boards every 9 weeks.  I've had this bulletin board up since school began.  I just like my word wall.  I refer to it all the time.  Whenever I introduce a new art term to the students, I ask them to find it on my word wall.  When we start a new project, I have them point out all the terms that apply.  Sometimes I just gaze at it from my desk and admire its greatness.  I may have to bite the bullet and just change it.  I've been getting some subtle and not so subtle hints that it needs to change, lol.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

When They Won't Let You Paint on the Walls.

     I was asked a while back to start painting murals around the school.  I posted a few of those small murals earlier on my blog.  I was also asked to put something in the media center, but they didn't want me painting on the walls.  Now just to show how everything is really connected in our universe, I just happened to have several storybook characters that I had painted and put on cardboard for a previous school event.  I posted some of those as well.  The ones I showed earlier were from the books, "Where the Wild Things Are" and "Olivia".  I had several more that I'd said I didnt have pics of at the time, but I'd show you later.  Well, here they are.

     Now that I look at them all again, I realize that they are not all from story books.  The farm animals were from one of our plays put on by our music teacher.  I made those to use on the stage.  The giraffe and the dog in a suit are from different books. This is how I got around not being able to paint on the walls in the media center.  I still plan on, at some point, doing more, but it's tricky.  Any teacher can tell you that no matter what you use to stick something to a wall, it will eventually fall down.  Tape, poster gum, sticky tags, hot glue.....they all fail eventually.  It's why I used the cut outs to begin with....well, that and I 'd already had the cut outs made.  If any of you have some ideas, let me know. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Paper Mache

     Just thought Id show you guys a little fixture from my classroom.  A while back, my students were making various paper mache projects.  Some were making piggy banks, others were making vases, and some were making globes.  I decided to show them something new.  I started working along side them and wouldn't tell them what I was making.  They did figure it out at a certain point of its development though.

Guess who.

     They ask me almost everyday if they can have it.  I tell them I may give it out at the end of the year as a prize.  But I dont think I can part with it, lol.  So, as a reward for good behavior in my class, I sometimes let one student wear it back to his classroom.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

My Circus Mural is One Step Closer to Completion

     Some might argue that the latest piece to my circus mural is the most important piece.  It is probably the most ingrained image in our minds when someone mentions the word circus.  When I started painting the circus themed paintings for Math Strategies Night, it was the image I was asked to paint the most.  Of course, I'm talking about the infamous Clown Car.

(No, these are not teachers car pooling to work.)

     I cheated a little bit and found some clowncar clip art online to use for inspiration.  I did one last year for a circus themed event but it was much smaller and even more important, I didn't like it.  So, I conveniently misplaced it. Shhhh, don't tell anyone.
     I also started a juggler with the face blank so the kids can put their heads through the face for pictures. 

(In Progress)

     This one of course is not finished, but you can see the process.  I do a quick marker sketch, then paint in the bright flat colors.  After that, it's all about the finishing touches, shadows, hatching/cross hatching lines, line weight, etc. 
      Only one more day till the event and much work to do.  Wish me luck, I'm probably going to need it, lol.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

My New Pottery Wheel!!!

   I was really excited about our new toy.  Our school's PTO bought the art dept a nice heavy duty pottery wheel and several kids pottery wheels.  I also stocked up and spent a nice chunk of my art budget on clay this year.  We're going to be hitting 3D hard in the next 9 week block.  Pinched pots, coiled pots, tile carvings, human head and animal sculptures to name a few.  My students have been asking all year when we're starting the clay unit.  It's a little difficult lining up the clay projects with the classroom teacher's curriculum.  Whatever the classroom teachers are doing for that week, I have to have an art lesson that previews or reviews that particular subject.  For example, we did a "Parts of a Lightbulb" collage in 4th grade last week.  Now before you make faces and scoff at that art project, they actually turned out pretty good.  I dont have a pic atm though, sorry.  We used torn construction paper to make a collage of a light bulb, then labled its several components.  I was actually proud of how it turned out.  Anyway, back to the subject, our new pottery wheel.

I let the kids take turns trying it out one day.

     Clay projects are definitely my students favorite unit.  I started this clay pot on the wheel and let each student have a turn manipulating it.  By the end of the class, it was pretty much gone, lol.  It's not as easy as it looks.  I was surprised they did as well as they did for their first time at it.  Well, wish us luck.  One other thing the kids found out was that the pottery wheel is very, very messy, lol.


Friday, November 11, 2011

Circus Time!

     I just wanted to post a couple of pics to show you guys what I'm planning to do for Math Strategies Night next week.  I had the idea to paint circus characters with their faces cut out so the kids can get their pics taken.  I just started painting them thursday and managed to get 2 done.  I have a coworker bringing me large cardboard boxes monday so I can make backing for them and make them able to stand up.

 The strongman isn't entirely done as you can see. 

The Ringmaster is made for either a boy or a girl.

     I was thinking about making the human cannonball with their faces sticking out of the cannon.  I guess it all depends on how much cardboard I'm going to have.  Anyone have good ideas for other circus characters that would look good like this?  I want to make several.  These will be the main decorations with balloons all over the actual area.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

School Murals

   A while back I started creating murals for the walls of the elementary school.  I made a few smaller ones for individual teachers.  It's an ongoing process that I'll be working on for a few years.  The first one I made was for the computer lab.

Get it?  Mice and bugs?  oh nm.

     I made another one for outside the gymnasium.  I made this one as requested by the PE teacher.  It was around the time the kids were participating in Jump Rope for Heart.

     I made the next one for the music teacher.  I'm planning to add to this one until there is a whole choir of kids singing. 

     The last one I painted was for outside my art classroom and the kids got a kick out of it.

     Yes, I know all the characters look like rejects from a Campbell's Soup ad, but remember this is an elementary school.  When my schedule slows down a bit I'm going to add more to the existing murals and possibly create more.  I'll keep you updated.