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.
Art Gives Life
“I don’t like to say I have given my life to art. I prefer to say art has given me my life.”—Frank Stella
It’s May, and almost the end of another school year. This is the time I start looking around the art room to see what supplies I have left and figure out how I’m going to use them.
This is also the time to stop and start reflecting upon the year. What have I done right, what didn’t work, and how can I make it better next year? Since I, like many of you, don’t have a lot of storage, I usually have my kids work on 3D projects this time of the year.
This month we will concentrate on 3D designs, murals and collaborative projects. We will also celebrate Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month, Jewish American Heritage Month, National Teacher Appreciation Week, Cinco de Mayo, Mother’s Day, and Memorial Day.
CORRUGATED CARDBOARD MURAL. This project can be done individually, in pairs, small groups, or as a major collaborative project. And, it’s just three steps: (1) Think of a theme. (2) Get your materials; corrugated cardboard, scissors and glue. (3) Create.
Have students sketch out the design on regular or corrugated cardboard. Have them cut or tear other pieces of cardboard and layer pieces to create the design. The murals can be as small as 9″ x 12″ or as large as 3 feet x 6 feet—o-r even larger. I think they look great when you leave them the natural cardboard color, especially when you have the different textures of the corrugation.
FLOWER POWER. Recycled plastic bottles—big, small, clear or colored—are great for making single flowers or a whole bouquet. This is a great recycling project, especially since there are always empty water bottles hanging around school.
The first step is for you or another adult (for safety reasons) to cut off the bottom of the bottle; I use a utility knife for this. The top piece is used for the center of the flower. Next, it’s time to paint, using acrylics. If you want dots or lines in your design, paint them first, then paint a solid color on top of them. Using acrylics, paint the whole bottle. You can paint in layers too.
Cut the petals by making five or six cuts from the bottom to the neck —I have my students round them off. The petals are made by just bending back the plastic—the petals (the inside of the bottle) will now look shiny. My students think that they look more like flowers when one bottle is placed inside the other.
The bottles are hot glued together and then placed on a recycled cone from yarn or thread. A hole gets drilled in the middle of the bottom part of the bottle and then attached to the flower using a pipe cleaner. These make beautiful centerpieces.
RECYCLE, RECYCLE, RECYCLE—THE IDEAS ARE ENDLESS. By this time of the school year, your classroom will likely be filled with all kinds of recycled materials. Now is the time to use them up and start cleaning up your room for the end of the year. A great recycle 3D project is to make totem-pole inspired sculptures from cans, containers, caps and anything else you can find. Have your students make the pole about themselves or a special cause they personally care about.
If you have and cardboard, wood scraps or anything that can handle spray paint, have students create an assemblage in the style of Louise Nevelson. You can make it an ongoing collaborative project by doing it in shoeboxes and just adding to the construction. (In next month’s issue, Debi West will be sharing her Nevelson-inspired collaborative mural lesson in her “3D Intro Art“ series.—Editor)
Leftover old books? Not a problem! Make them into sculptures, tunnel books, or any kind of altered book. A good source that I have used is Sculptural Booking, by Ann Ayers and Ellen McMillan. (And, be sure to check out “Recycling Renaissance: Books as Art,” on page 12.—Editor)
Another great project is to use cardboard to create a cubist sculpture in the style of Alexander Archipenko.
Do you have a lot of paint that needs to be recycled or recycled paint that has been given to you? Have your students come up with an appropriate theme for a mural for your school.
Once you have an idea and design, it’s time get approval from the “powers that be.” Bring sketches, a budget plan, a long-term goal, and a vision statement including who, what, where, when and why! (For more on murals, see “Alive and Kicking: Artists Up Close” on page 23, and “Creative Collaboration: Up for Auction” on page 28—Editor)
HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Keith Haring (May 4, 1958), Salvador Dali (May 11, 1904), Frank Stella (May 12, 1936), Tamara de Lempicka (May 16, 1898), Mary Cassatt, May 22, 1844), Georges Rouault (May 27, 1871).
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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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