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 Blogs.amctv.com

     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.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Jack O Lantern Collage

     I had to go present a student's artwork at the Board of Education today.  That's always fun. I get to stand up infront of all the other art teachers, principals, parents, and council members and showcase one of my student's projects.  Sometimes it's difficult to choose one out of the several hundred kids art but this one was fairly easy.  One of my special needs classes made jack o lantern torn paper collages.  First we made rubbings with crayons on textured surfaces.  Next, we used water color paint to make a crayon resist painting.  The next time they came to me I broke the bad news to them.  They now had to tear their crayon resist into little pieces, lol.  Now that I think about it, they really didn't seem that upset about it, hmmm.  After that we glued the pieces into a jack o lantern shape and added a background.  This one was easily the most well put together.  The student really did a meticulous job gluing each piece down.

     Unfortunately, my student couldn't be there to present his art work with me, but it went ok.  I didn't fall down or forget what I wanted to say.  One more thing to scratch off my list, lol.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Here Come the Clowns!

     We're still getting ready for Math Strategies Night next week and as I stated before it's a circus theme.  Today I had my students begin painting the clowns that will be put up all over the school.  I just drew a few quick clowns on some bulletin board paper and let the kids paint them.  They loved working on them.  I've never seen them so focused and on task, lol.  I was actually able to sit at my desk for a couple of minutes before an argument broke out.  See if you can spot the Jersey Clown in that group, lol. 

     I'm going to get started on my next circus mural tomorrow.  Anyone have any ideas?

Monday, November 7, 2011

My Daughter's Portrait

This is another portrait I did of my daughter, Madison.  She's about 2 1/2 in this picture.  I'm not really happy with it.  It looks like her, but I had problems getting her hair looking natural.  The lighting was very extreme and while it looked good in the photgraph, it didn't work as well translated to the drawing.  She looks too washed out.  I tried to match the photo as much as possible but that was probably a mistake.  Sometimes it's ok to change things here and there for artistic reasons.

I may go back and rework it some more.  It just doesn't work like the Fairy Princess portrait from my previous blog.  I'll repost after I've retooled it a bit and we can do a side by side comparison.

All in a Day's Work

     Today, I started working on the decorations for Math Strategies Night.  The theme is the circus and it was up to me to create posters, banners, and bulletin boards to fill up the gymnasium where the event will take place.  Last year, I had the kids draw and paint clowns.  We had a couple hundred of them when it was over and just posted them all over.  I made the opening to the gym look like the entrance of a circus tent.  For some reason, at that time, it didn't dawn on me to use anything other than clowns.  Circus = clowns to me.  This year, I decided to use all the things a circus has to offer for inspiration.  We still have clowns, but we are also making elephants, trapeze artists, lions, etc. 

     This is the first thing I started.  It's larger than it looks, a little over 6 feet.  I plan to do a few more of these type of scenes and also do a few with the faces cut out so the kids can get their pictures taken as the characters.  
     I'll keep you updated with what my students and I come up with over the next couple of weeks.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Keeping up my motivation!

     It's been tough the last few years keeping up with my art work.  During college, I built up a pretty big portfolio of art work.  It mostly consisted of landscapes and figure drawings with a few abstracts.  I was always more interested in drawing people than landscapes although my landscapes seemed to get more attention.  When I started teaching art, I had less and less time to do my own artwork.  Slowly but surely my motivation began to diminish.  I seemed to get my artisitic creativety satisfied through helping my students create.
     A couple of years later, a friend gave me a couple of dozen nice frames and mats.  I used them to frame up nearly my entire portfolio and sold everything.  I made a few thousand dollars and believe me that was great, but I felt a little empty.  My portfolio was now empty.  And to make things worse, my skill had lost its edge.  I hadn't really made and serious art for a few years and found myself struggling to make anything on the level I did before. 
     My daughter was born around this time and I found myself sketching her a lot. 

Ignore my reflection.

     I kept doing sketches of her as she grew.   She was 2 when she really went trick or treating for the first time.  She was a fairy princess.  Sorry my sketch was just a headshot but you can still see her crown.

Again, sorry about my reflection.

     I started getting positive comments from friends and coworkers about my sketches of her and began to get requests from people wanting similar drawings done of their friends and loved ones.  I even started doing drawings of family pets.  Next thing I knew, I had a nice little side business.

     I finally got my motivation to do art work back again and it was thanks to my daughter.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Storybook Art Comes to Life

     I decided to start a blog as a way to reflect on my day of teaching elementary art.  One of my duties at my school as the art teacher is to help decorate for plays and other school related events.  We had a book reading event recently and it fell to me to come up with a way to bring the stories to life.  I was given a list of books that would be read and drew up some sketches of ideas.  One of my first thoughts was to paint a back drop that could be hung up with many of the book's characters.  That didn't work out so I just painted the characters seperate and glued them to cardboard, cut them out and made them able to stand up.

     You may recognize some of the characters from "Where the Wild Things Are" and "Olivia".

     There were a few more from other books but I didn't get pictures of them.  I may go back and get a nice group shot of them all and post it later.  Over all the event was pretty successful.  It was at our local mall and we had tons of kids come for story time.  We set the characters around our designated area.  They were a big hit.  The kids got a kick out of seeing the story characters as the stories were being read.  A lot of them had their pictures taken standing next to the cut outs.

     It was my first time at this kind of event and it was fun.  My wife and 2 year old daughter came by and listened to some stories and got a few books.
     Now that this event is over it's time to focus on the 53 things I have to do to get ready for Reading Fun Night, Math Strategies Night, The Christmas Play, The Fall Art Reception, and who knows what else that I've forgotten, lol.