Tried & True Tips for Art Teachers is a monthly roundup of advice and wisdom
from fellow art teachers, put together by the intrepid Glenda Lubiner.
Winter is Coming
“I think that one’s art is a growth inside one. I do not think one can explain growth. It is silent and subtle. One does not keep digging up a plant to see how it grows.” — Emily Carr
As we get ready for the holidays ahead, winter break—and 2018—here are some great tips to help you through the month of December. This month our focus will be on texture, mixed media, fiber and fabric and, of course, planning for Youth Art Month.
Knitting is NOT JUST for Grandma Anymore. More and more people are taking up knitting as a hobby to make wearables or just for stress relief. Finger knitting is a great way to introduce this classic craft to students young and old; and it is pretty easy! Here is a tutorial on finger knitting that even your kindergartners can do: www.fiberfluxblog.com/2014/04/how-to-finger-knit-photo-video-tutorial.html
Themed Sculptures. Most grade levels have different themes they work on throughout the year. Try collaborating with classroom teachers and make themed soft sculptures. Some ideas could be flowers, butterflies, fish, art materials, historical monuments, and of course there is always food. Introduce Claes Oldenburg to your students and when they see his outstanding, over-sized sculptures they too will be on a roll!
Quotation Quilts. Several years ago, my students interviewed and photographed the people in the neighborhood and local businesses, and came back to class with a plethora of information. They used this knowledge to make sketches and eventually turned each sketch into a quilt square. They used fabric, paint and even bits of the photographs and some quotes.
My students were young and could not sew, but a parent volunteered to sew the quilt squares together. I then wrote a letter to city hall and explained the project. They responded with an invitation to hang the quilt in their lobby for a month! Needless to say, the kids in this inner-city school felt like a million dollars!
Altered Photos. This project is one that even students as young as first grade can do. My first- through eighth-grades students have had great success with it. I have the students bring two identical black-and-white photos that were printed at a photo lab. I give them the option of using one or two photos—some like to make them 3-D by building up part of the photo with the second one.
I introduce the lesson by telling them that they must change the photo to create a new piece of art. I offer options like cutting, weaving, scratching, sanding, folding, bending and crumpling up. I also tell them that they can paint, use markers or paint pens on them. They can add anything to the photo including things like raffia, soda caps, any kind of fiber, wax (for the older kids) and, they can sew or glue things onto it. The only thing they are restricted from doing is having the mat board that the photo is mounted on look like a frame; it must become part of the project.
Got Texture? Learning about texture in a fun way can be done by making collagraphs. Textured objects should be glued (waterproof or hot glue) to a mat board backing in an interesting design. Leaves, flowers, yarn, ribbon, screen, gauze, fabric are great choices. You can also use thin metal objects such as keys and coins, but nothing too thick (under 1/8 inch). The plate is then coated with gloss medium and allowed to dry completely before printing. It can also be sprayed with a shellac/varnish spray to ensure it will be waterproof.
PLAN AHEAD FOR Youth Art Month. March is Youth Art Month and many school choose to have their art shows at this time. Please make sure to advocate for the arts during the whole month – – not just at your show. Here are some great ideas to do during YAM:
• Hang portraits of artists around your school.
• Plaster the walls with quotes about art. (We know how important the arts art, but not everyone does.)
• Hang signs about careers in art.
• Make a list of famous people who went to art school and have art degrees.
• If possible, have a guest artist at your art show.
• And, of course, hang lots and lots of art around your school.
Happy Birthday to Otto Dix (Dec. 2, 1891); Camille Claudel (Dec. 8, 1864); Emily Carr (Dec. 13, 1871); Joseph Cornell (Dec. 24, 1903); and Max Pechstein (Dec. 31, 1881).
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Arts & Activities Contributing Editor Glenda Lubiner (NBCT) teaches art at Franklin Academy Charter School in Pembroke Pines, Fla. She is also an adjunct professor at Broward College.
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