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.
Springtime in the Art Room
“A painting to me is primarily a verb, not a noun, an event first and only secondarily an image.” — Elaine de Kooning
March is fun filled, with Youth Art Month, Women in History Month, St. Patrick’s Day and, for many of us, spring break. This is a good time to start your spring-cleaning in your classroom and start taking inventory of what you have and what you need. This month we will focus on some spring organization tips, color media, drawing, and literature and art.
Spring Cleaning Newly retired teacher Mark W. Phillips from George A. Smith Middle School in Quarryville, Pennsylvania, was one organized art teacher! Here are some of his tips to keep your organized and ready for your spring-cleaning.
Keep a card in your desk drawer titled, “ART ORDERS 2016–17” (or whatever the next school year would be). When you notice that you are out of a certain item, add it to the card right away. That way, when order time rolls around, the list is handy to work from.
Always keep an extra supply of paper towels and tissues in the room. Why? Because a custodian is not always available to refill the item when you most likely need it.
Now is the also time to put sponges and cleaning supplies on your wish list!
Literacy and Art When I taught elementary school, I would start teaching pen-and-ink techniques when my students were in fifth grade. I had them do many practice sheets of just lines, swirls, hatching, cross-hatching, and stippling. One year, I read Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are to my students. They were appalled that I was reading them a “baby” book. After reading the book, I had my students create their own “wild thing” using pen and ink. When it was dry, they had to use watercolors to enhance the drawing.
Although pen and ink can be a little more difficult for the younger students, middle- and high-school students should be able to manage this media quite well. With the little kiddos, I had them create their own “wild things” in tempera and write a sentence or two about their drawings.
Giraffes Can’t Dance, by Giles Andreae and Guy Parker-Rees, is another great book I have used as a basis for an art project. Carrie Brooke from North Broward Preparatory School in Coconut Creek, Florida, adapted this art lesson from an article in a past issue of Arts & Activities. She used a different medium for each part of the project. She had the students use yellow and brown watercolor to paint a piece of paper that would later be used to cut out Gerald the giraffe. They then used white crayon and blue watercolor resist to make the stars and the moon, which became the backdrop for Gerald. They also used crayons to make an abstract design that would become the border.
For older students Native American proverbs are beautiful to illustrate, as are poems.
Blind Contour Drawing Many students are afraid to start drawing. I have heard things from “I can’t draw” to “I don’t like drawing.” But, as we know, drawing in art class is a must. I always start my drawing unit with blind contour. I demonstrate on the big chart paper so everyone can see, and I always start by drawing my hand. As I draw, the kids laugh hysterically because, as we know, blind contour doesn’t usually look like what you are drawing. So my hand usually looks a little, or a lot, out of proportion. This makes the kids a little more relaxed and ready to start drawing.
Color Theory CAN be Fun Why do the same old thing? Now is the time to think outside of the color wheel circle and get those kids actively involved in learning about color. One way this can be done is with food coloring, white frosting and cookies. How about using pieces of color pages from magazines, M&M’s®, flowers, objects of different colors (create a quasi-Louise Nevelson sculpture)—or even string or yarn? The ideas are limitless. This can even be a collaborative project with one group doing the primary colors, another doing the secondary, and so on.
Happy birthday to our women artists of the month Theresa Bernstein (March 1, 1890), Elaine de Kooning, (March 12, 1918), Diane Arbus, (March 14, 1923), Rosa Bonheur, (March 16, 1822), and Mary Beale (March 26, 1633).
A big thank-you to Mark and Carrie for your wonderful tips!
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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.