Crochet a Coral Reef

It's almost time to return back to school from winter break. I'm at home with a cold (booooo...) but thinking about art class when we return.

Mrs. Bensfield and I are planning to start an after-school club for textile arts! Our project is "Crochet a Coral Reef," which is a really sweet mix of math, science, and visual arts. We're going to learn basic crochet skills to create incredible pieces of "coral" made from yarn!

Want to see some more photos of what we're thinking of? Need more information? Check it out here or at the Institute for Figuring, who were the originators of the idea.

In order to run our club, we need help with supplies.  Can you donate, or do you know anyone who might be able to?  Please share this link with them: http://www.donorschoose.org/donors/proposal.html?id=493031 -- this is our "Donors Choose" site to raise funds for our project.  Any and all help is greatly appreciated!

If you're interested in joining the Crochet Coral Reef Project at Sandburg, keep an eye (and ear) out for information posted at school when we return!  Tell your friends, too!


Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays!
Animoto had this cool holiday theme for a video - it has stop-motion-like animation, so I chose to use it as a background for a 2 minute video with our 8th grade typography sculptures.

Today is our last day before break. We'll see you again on January 3rd! Stay safe and have a wonderful relaxing break!


Music and Art

This morning I went to music class and was an audience member for the 7th grade class. They were performing original compositions inspired by the work of contemporary composer John Cage. He made really cool "abstract" music, including one that is made up entirely of rests - no "sound" at all! Cage also altered instruments to produce new and strange sounds, and used non-traditional objects to make music - like household appliances! I later learned that John Cage was inspired by artist Marcel Duchamp and worked with painter Robert Rauschenberg. I love when art and music connects... it's two of my favorite things!

Here's a video of a performance from one of the groups. I believe the title was called "A Day in the Life." Enjoy!


Preview of 8th Grade Photoshop Project

This is a preview of what's to come for 8th grade art.  After the holiday break (which starts after this Friday!), we will be creating Photoshop images using our typography sculptures and some background photos of the school I took back in the fall.  Thank goodness I took those photos back when the weather was nicer... I wouldn't want to be out in the snow right now!

I used a photo of my typography sculpture and placed it onto the background image.  This is done using the "Magic Extractor" tool in Photoshop - we'll learn it in class, so don't worry if you don't know how.  If you do it once, you get the basic idea, so you'll repeat the process to add a couple photos of yourself into the image.  I used one sitting and one standing, but you could do all sorts of things: fly in the air, climb the building wall like Spiderman, sit on top of your sculpture... you get the idea.

In preparation for this project, I took some nice photos of finished 8th grade work, which will soon be up on our Artsonia gallery.  But for now, here's a few of my favorites to come:

Are you excited for this project?  I am!


Spirit Week!

This week (Dec 13 - 17) is spirit week at Sandburg.  Today is "Hat Day:"

This is my DEVO energy dome hat.  You might recognize it easier if it was red - those were the hats that the guys in the band DEVO wore in the video for "Whip It."  I got this blue one at their concert this summer and have been saving it just for hat day!  How fun!

Here's the schedule for the rest of the week:
  • Tuesday, 12/14 - "Color" Day: 6th = Blue, 7th = Green, 8th = Red, Staff = Pink
  • Wednesday, 12/15 - "Holiday Character" Day
  • Thursday, 12/16 - "Crazy Hair" Day
  • Friday, 12/17 - "Dress Up" Day
Personally, I always wanted a spirit day that was "Favorite Band T-Shirt" Day.  That way a bunch of the boys automatically participate whether they like it or not.  Ha ha!  Also, I have a good excuse to wear my Def Leppard t-shirt to school...  oh well.

Do you have any good spirit day ideas?



Most of the time, the art curriculum stays the same for most of the year and I spend time repeating the same project across a grade level.  If you're a student, you never know because the project is always new to YOU.  However, I start to get bored after awhile.  It's not that the project isn't fun, I've just seen it way too many times! 

So, when it comes to displaying art, I have to be careful that my displays don't start to look like "the same thing, over and over" either.  I switch it up.  I have a few things that I do that I'd like to share, because it can help other teachers, or if you're a student, maybe you can use these ideas for decorating your spaces (like your room) or for making interesting school presentations!

Mrs. Leban's Tips for Non-Boring Displays:
  • Have an interesting title.  Maybe the choice of words is interesting, or it's how you visually present it that's interesting.  I switch things up: sometimes I print it out on the computer, use a different font, use a different color paper - or don't print it out at all!  Sometimes I draw it, sometimes I cut each letter out of paper... you get the idea.
  • Backgrounds.  Make that interesting too.  I have a bunch of old (donated) discontinued wallpaper that makes a great background for bulletin boards.  I also painted the cork on the bulletin boards black, and sometimes I make the background striped or checkerboard:
(Find out more about this project here and here.)
  • Consider matting/framing each work of art in the display.  Sometimes its as simple as stapling a bigger piece of construction paper behind each work of art.  Make sure it's not the same color as the background if you do this, though.
  • Unusual objects and 3-dimensional details: What can you add to a display that's unexpected and will make people look twice?  Once I used yarn to "sew" borders between each artwork so the bulletin board looked like one big quilt.  Do you have any interesting paper, like foil or holographic stock?  What kind of 3-dimensional details can you add?  Once I made a 3-D "film reel" out of cardboard for a display about student films.
  • Do you have access to an electrical outlet?  If you do, congratulations!  Nothing attracts peoples eyes like a good string of twinkle lights.  I have an electrical outlet in my main display case outside the office, so I regularly switch out string lights.  I also have a small digital photo frame on a timer to run a slideshow of students working in the art room and student work.  Even when the display itself is empty there's something to see on the frame.
  • Hang photos of students working on the project that's being displayed.  This helps people who haven't created the project understand how it was done.  Plus, I find that students like to look at pictures of each other and find their friends in group photos.
  • Hang or include materials and equipment that you've used to create the work.  A display case of printmaking looks cool if you include a carved plate, a tube of ink, a brayer, and some carving tools.  People once again gain a greater understanding of how the work was done.
  • Vary your display locations.  Because I repeat projects, I won't put one group of hand sculptures in a case right after another class' sculptures have come out.  If you do that, people sometimes don't even realize the work is new.  If you move work to another location, it looks fresher and people notice.
  • Use negative space well.  I'd rather space out the artwork so it's pleasant to look at instead of cramming all the work on one bulletin board (if I can help it).  Sometimes I put up one main display, and then the overflow goes to a smaller board or case in another spot.
  • Include a description of the project, at least the first time it goes up for the year, so people can read about the skills and concepts involved in the project.  Many people don't realize how smart art class is, so they need help - tell them!
  • Have fun with your displays.  Some of my favorites have been hanging lanterns in the main office and library, large tape sculptures that sat in various locations throughout the school, or the typography display where I spent hours crumpling pages from books to make a really awesome textural background... yeah, that one might've been a little overboard, but it looked great!
Here are a few more examples of how to vary displays:

Above: Student portraits hanging on a strip along the basement hallway.  Pretty standard.  They look good, but...

...how about this version?  That's some of my old wallpaper background (I love this pattern) and each artwork is stapled on top of a paper "frame" I cut from larger construction paper.  Then, I took famous art quotes and pasted them into speech bubbles which were then printed and cut out.  It looks like the self-portraits are talking!

To see more about this self-portrait project, view our Artsonia Gallery.


Printmaking Color Wheels

Sixth grade art just finished a really cool printmaking project.  They made their own stamps by carving out printmaking material into a letter shape of their choosing.  The stamps were then arranged in color wheel order.  The secondary and tertiary colors were made by layering stamped color together to see how they mix!  We used ordinary Crayola markers as our ink.  I think they turned out pretty awesome.  See our whole gallery of color wheels on our Artsonia art gallery for this project.


Finding inspiration.

If you're in art class right now, you know that Miss Bruzzini is student teaching right now, so I end up having some extra time on my hands.  Most of that time gets filled with boring stuff that I need to catch up on, but occasionally I have some time to make some art!

I've been teaching myself to make little fun crafts and accessories.  The latest are fabric flowers - made from all kinds of fabric scraps.  The above flower I made out of crushed velvet, but I found that t-shirt material works best!

Today, I sat in the library for about 30 minutes and just cut t-shirt material.  I ended up with a ton of flower petals, so I have a lot of flowers to make! 

When I work, I prefer to listen to music.  I zone out with my headphones on, or when I'm at home, I have the radio or my iPod on in the background.  Do you like to listen to music when you work?  What kind of music do you like to listen to while working?


This is not my artwork...

...I didn't make this, but Mr. Leban did.  He has a project where students take logos and change them into their own names.  He showed me some of the really cool examples, but I hadn't seen the one he made until now.  Don't you think it came out cool?  Did you figure out that it's a spoof of the LEGO logo?  I think that's perfect for him, since we both love legos, both the toys and the video games!  Have you played Lego Batman, Indiana Jones, Star Wars, or Rockband?  I love them all!

I hope he won't mind sharing so I can use this image here at Sandburg too...!


QR Codes

Mr. Leban has been doing a lot of stuff with QR codes lately, so I feel like I'm not doing my part if I don't try it out myself.  If you have a smart phone (such as an iPhone) you can download an app that allows you to scan and read these little square jumbly pictures - otherwise known as QR codes.  I read that QR codes are Japanese-created bar codes, and that the QR stands for "quick response"

I made one for the art blog here that takes you to the Sandburg Art home page:
They're surprisingly easy to use.  Just hold up your camera on your phone to the code (yep you can do it right here on the computer screen) and the app "reads" the information contained within the code.  Sometimes it's just text, other times it's a link to a website or video or something else! (FYI - I use a free app on my iPhone called "i-nigma" if you're looking for which to use)

Mr. Leban and I are always on the lookout for QR codes.  We even found one on the back of a tag from a packaged tiny eraser - it took us to the website of the manufacturer!  Even though the website was in another language, it was neat to see how a company might use QR codes to get people to interact with their products more.

This year, Sephora used QR codes in their holiday catalogs!  Next to photos of products to buy, there were QR codes that (when scanned on your phone) take you to how-to videos or short commercials for the products.  I had a ton of fun interacting with the catalog when it arrived in the mail.

Have you spotted QR codes anywhere?


Personalize your holiday gifts & cards!

Just a friendly reminder that Artsonia is a great place to buy holiday gifts for family and friends while supporting your school!  15% of all sales at Artsonia go back to your school for purchasing art supplies to keep the program running.

(I am currently saving up to buy an iPEVO camera for the classroom!)

Consider sending personalized student art holiday cards, t-shirts, mugs, keychains, or even ornaments with your child's artwork on it!


Attend the School of the Art Institute!

Did you know that the School of the Art Institute Chicago has courses and programs especially for middle school students on weekends?  They have courses on fun things like digital design, animation, drawing, and fashion illustration!

You can check it out here, and make a request for additional information: http://www.saic.edu/continuing_studies/msp/index.html

The Spring 2011 session starts in February, so start thinking about expanding your art skills now!


Holiday ART gifts 2010!

I just finished up two evenings of parent conferences, and one of the most-asked questions was about how to encourage a student who loves art but (unfortunately) doesn’t have art class the whole school year?
One of my favorite suggestions is to give art supplies as gifts – especially for the holidays! So, I browsed through my favorite art supply catalog, Blick Art Materials, and came up with a list of some of my favorite items to give to your favorite students:

1. Blick Studio Artists’ Colored Pencils:

I have these in the art room myself for students to use. They come in a nifty metal tin, which makes it easy to stash in a backpack or artists’ carrying case. The colors are smooth and easy to blend. I would say they’re a good student-grade, student-priced alternative to Prismacolor brand. I recommend the 24 or 36 pencil set, unless you want to really go big and order the 72!

2. Blick Studio Drawing Pencils:
All artists deserve a good set of sketching and drawing pencils.  I like this set because of the tin (again) and because of the full range of hardness/softness, from 6H to 6B.  It gives students a chance to experiment and see what kind of pencil they most enjoy working with, which can change over time and depends on what type of drawing they're doing.

3. Prismacolor Colored Pencil Sharpener:

Once again, this is what I use in the classroom. The unique shape makes it easy for travel.  This sharpener holds a small amount of shavings as well, so you can use it in the car or anyplace not near a garbage can!  The blade on this sharpener is awesome for colored pencils as well as regular pencils.

4. Maped Pencil Eraser:

This is my personal favorite type of eraser for general drawing use.  It's white, ergonomically shaped for comfort, and the triangular curves are slim for accessing small areas.  Also available in an oval shape.

5. Blick Art Gum Eraser:
This eraser, lovingly referred to as "The Blick" by my art students (As in, "Hey, do you have the Blick?  Who took all the Blicks?!"), is the one that I have in the classroom for students.  It's a great all-purpose eraser, but this version is only sold in packs of 12.  Luckily, they're not too expensive, and if you lose one, you're not too sad since you'll still have 11 others.

6. Alvin Nylon Utility Bags:

You can't have good quality art supplies without something to protect and carry them all in, right? These bags from Alvin are my pick from what Blick has to offer.  Simple black design made from sturdy durable nylon are just the right thing.  I own several different zipper bags for art supplies, and although I always want the pretty decorated ones, it's the workhorses like these ones from Alvin that really last.  Besides, you want it pretty?  Buy yourself some metallic Sharpies and go to town!

7. Sharpie Retractable Fine Point Pens:

Speaking of Sharpies - this is my new all-time FAVORITE pen!  I've been drawing with it endlessly, especially for my Sketchbook Project book.  It doesn't leak through paper, even the thin pages of my Moleskine, and it has a retractable point.  No more losing caps!  It's lightweight and feels good in your hand - plus, it's got a nice grip which makes it comfortable to hold, and the point is always solid and even. Buy at least one 3-pack, because people will want to take them!  You can even try out a Sharpie pen virtually at Sharpie Uncapped.com

8. Canson Field Sketchbooks:

I love the hard cover and spiral binding of this sketchbook.  It's durable, but can be opened completely and folded over for ease of use anywhere.  If you really mess up, you can tear out the pages and no one will be the wiser!  My favorite size for sketchbooks is smaller, 5" x 7" for everyday use since it pairs well with the size of my pencil pouch and is easily slipped into a bag for travel.  Here at school most students have 9" x 12" since we draw on full-sheet size for assignments.  Nevertheless, I typically have several sketchbooks going at one time, so a few of these little guys is just right!

9. X-Acto Gripster Knife:

You might be thinking that it's weird for me to be recommending a knife as part of an art supply collection, but this X-Acto Gripster knife is perfect for all kinds of assorted art tasks - especially collage and other precise cutting needs.  The rubbery coating on the handle makes it easy and comfortable to hold, and the plastic cap makes it safe to slip into your art bag (see #6) - I have one in my personal art case always.  Be warned though, that this supply is for responsible artists only and should not be brought into school for fear that it may get into the wrong hands.  Same thing goes for home use - make sure it is kept away from younger brothers and sisters!

10. Blick Studio Marker Sets:

Blick Studio markers are an excellent student-grade marker, comparable in product to its Prismacolor counterpart.  They're double-ended: a fine tip and a wider width capable of producing multiple line thicknesses.  I like markers for outlining and detail work, and this is a great set for a variety of drawing needs.

Art supplies are always an awesome gift for students at any time of the year.  The items listed above are just a sampling of what I enjoy using both at school and at home.  I recommend good quality art supplies because they will yield the best results for students, boosting their confidence and pride in their work while teaching them to value and care for art supplies properly. 

I hope everyone has a great holiday season - do something artistic!


Portraits Video

I made a short video with Animoto featuring student work from 7th grade B Term art classes. These are self-portrait paintings, and I thought they turned out really awesome. This video is also posted on our Artsonia page. Looky!


National Board Certified!

I am very excited to share with all of you that I have earned my National Board Certification!  I just found out last Friday.  It's a pretty cool accomplishment.  Read below for more info:

What Is National Board Certification?

National Board Certification is an advanced teaching credential.  It complements, but does not replace, a state’s teacher license.  It is valid for 10 years and is a voluntary program.  Teachers earn National Board Certification upon successful completion of a program designed to recognize effective and accomplished teachers who meet high standards based on what teachers should know and be able to do.  As part of the certification process, candidates complete 10 assessments that are reviewed by trained teachers in their certificate areas.  

(Above adapted from http://www.nbpts.org/)

As part of this program, I had to videotape myself teaching class and write papers (usually 10-15 pages each!) that examine and reflect upon what we do in the classroom.  Then I had to go to an assessment center and take a 3-hour written test!  Phew – what a lot of work!  But it was worth it in the end when I logged on to view my scores and discovered that I had passed!

I am very proud of my accomplishment and happy to share with you!


Shops of Emerson

Hi!  Next week I'm going to be at Emerson Elementary School for the Shops of Emerson PTA event.  I'll have a table where I'll be selling some jewelry and hair accessories that I've made.  Come and visit me!


Fine Arts Summer Camp!

Looking for something fun to do this summer?  How about a summer camp that's ALL about fine arts?

A representative from Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp came to talk to band, orchestra, and choir classes this morning about the camp.  Several students were surprised to discover that it's not just a music camp, but also a camp for VISUAL ARTS!

Interested?  Please visit their website for more info: http://www.bluelake.org/


Artsonia Update

I received this message from Artsonia on Sunday:

“Taylor11130 from Eisenhower Middle School has been named 7th-9th "Artist of the Week" for November 7, 2010 - November 13, 2010 based on the number of online votes received.  During the contest, your student Tess157 received 206 votes, while the winning artist Taylor11130 received 1947 votes.”

I’m thinking we never really stood a chance… I mean, 1947… REALLY?!
Oh well.


Please vote for Tess!

Great News!  Tess157 from Sandburg Middle School, has been selected as a finalist for this week's "Artist of the Week" award for the 7th-9th age group on Artsonia!  The finalist who receives the most online votes between now and Saturday November 6 will be selected as our "Artist of the Week." 

To view the finalists and cast your vote, simply click on the link below.  Voting is limited to one vote per computer per day for each age group!
The "Artist of the Week" will be featured on the Artsonia homepage and will receive a commemorative plaque from Artsonia.  In addition, Blick Art Materials has generously donated $100 gift certificates to the winning teachers and $50 to the winning artists. 

Thanks for your vote!


Project Runway

I love Project Runway. The only thing that made me a little sad this season is that the shows are 1 1/2 hours long each week, which is a long show for me... so I usually DVR it so I can skip through the commercials.

I didn't get around to watching last week's episode until last night, so I didn't know who was going to the finale until just yesterday. (So don't spoil the winner since I probably won't see it until later!!!)

My favorite contestant all season is Mondo Guerra.  If you haven't watched the show, here's a clip of some Mondo moments:

My favorite moment by far though was last week when the show visited Mondo working at his house. He talked about being in school and being younger and how he never seemed to fit in. Here's what he had to say:
"You might doubt that you're cool because you draw or you paint and you're not outside playing baseball... you know? You ARE cool!  ...It just might take a little while..."

What I love about this quote is that Mondo (now as an adult) realizes that not everyone fits into a specific category of what's "cool" or what's "normal" or what's "weird."  Everyone has their own likes and dislikes and preferences, and what really matters is that you like yourself.  That's what might "take a little while."  It's hard to remember and to really believe this when you're younger and you're trying to fit in... sometimes "fitting in" isn't the way to go.  But of course, as an art teacher, I don't fit in either... the difference is that I'm okay with that and I like it that way!


8th Grade Video

Check out this cool slideshow I made on Animoto! You can also view it on our Artsonia gallery site.

Create your own video slideshow at animoto.com.


Steff Bomb.

Hi.  I'd like to tell you about this really cool local artist today.  Her name is Steff Bomb, and she makes little plush guys (mostly).  They're really fun, because they're things like carrots, corn, tree stumps, and mini hamburgers (called "grumblebuns").

I've seen her selling her art at a few local art shows, and if you get the chance to see her, say hello because she's really nice.  I found this video that shows how she makes a plush carrot.  It's pretty cool, so check it out if you have a minute:

This is how I make a carrot! from Craig Shimala on Vimeo.

Her stuff is for sale on her Etsy site, if you were interested, too.


6th Grade Art Contest

The Illinois Department of Transportation Traffic Safety Division is holding a contest for student artwork to be put into a calendar.  The theme is "See Orange. Slow Down. Save Lives."  Twelve winning designs will be selected to be a part of their calendar.  Students from grades K-6 are eligible to enter.

Although we will not have time to do this in art class, parents can still enter student work individually.  For more details, and/or to enter the contest, visit the contest website here: http://www.dot.il.gov/trafficsafety/wzs/wzscontest.html

Good Luck!


The Sketchbook Project

The Sketchbook Project: 2011

Mr. Leban and I are both participating in The Sketchbook Project.  When you choose to participate, you must fill an entire sketchbook with art and send it back for the traveling exhibition.  The theme of my sketchbook is "Secret Codes," and the theme of Mr. Leban's sketchbook is "Revenge."  I am very nervous to fill a whole sketchbook and send it away for stranger to see!  I am also worried how mine will compare to others.  But, I am doing it to tackle my fear!  I think I will come out a better artist for having done this.  Come talk to me about it in class - I've got a lot of drawing to get working on!

(my book, untouched by art supplies - blank, and full of potential!)


Crazy for Cupcakes

Today is the last day of our 6-week "A" Term session of art for 6th & 7th grades.  I'm really going to miss those classes!

Seventh grade finished their cupcake sculptures.  You can view them all on our Artsonia gallery, but I thought I'd feature a few of my favorites here:

To celebrate the last day of class and in honor of our cupcake sculpture project, Elizabeth made personalized red velvet cupcakes for everyone in our 2nd period class!  Look how cool:

I really enjoyed the cupcake project, and I think students did, too.  The best part is that I'll get to do the project over again with a new group of students with all new ideas!  I'm looking forward to the creative themes they'll come up with!


Something cool.

I have to share something non-Sandburg related today, and it's my husband's webpage for his school.  He bought his own custom domain, so it's easy to get to his website:
...and it's awesome!

Mr. Leban teaches Applied Arts at Gwendolyn Brooks Middle School in Oak Park.  He's an art teacher, but he teaches in a wood shop.  Nope, he's not a "shop" teacher either.  Most of his projects are sculptural and functional, they make fun things like marble maze games and boxes.

He has a student teacher right now, so he's been putting up some really neat things on his webpage, like videos and photos done with his iPhone.

Check this out:

Pretty cool, huh?  Do you think I should go buy mrsleban.com?!


Tour of the Art Room!

The art teachers at The Teaching Pallette have gathered a collection of art room photos from teachers all over, which I was happy to be a part of!  See the photos on the Flickr photostream here.  You may also take the art room tour right now -- see below!

 Above, you can see the supply counter where we keep colored pencils, scissors, rulers, erasers, markers... the daily stuff!

 Here are all the manikins!!!

 We have a digital projector, which is really helpful!

 The kiln (although old) is a real workhorse.

Four pottery wheels are over here, and the slab roller.  Sculpture storage is on the left.

 Smocks, drying rack, and four more pottery wheels!

 Here's my desk!  It's a colorful place.

This is the overall view when you first walk in the room.

Thanks for visiting!  Come back soon!



...and THIS is why you don't want to have air bubbles in your clay!!!



Monday - Wednesday this week, eighth grade students are on a rotation to use the pottery wheels.  Since I only have 8 wheels, my class can't be split into two days in order for each student to have a turn on the wheel - we have to split it into three!

So, no big deal, right?  Well... we're also in the middle of a plaster hand-casting project (see last year's version of the project on Artsonia here) and painting them!  Paint, clay, plaster... Um, THREE different media and ONE teacher?  Yep... it's nuts... to put it lightly!

But it's also fun.  Students cannot wait to get a turn (no pun intended) at the wheel!  I was thinking today that I should work out a sign up sheet so that on "extended seminar schedule" Tuesdays, 8th graders (current art students) can sign up to use the wheel in the morning during extended seminar.


More wheel photos

In honor of our first day working independently on our pottery wheels, here are some more photos from Judy Huppert's visit:

...special thanks to Mrs. Riecker from the District 205 Foundation for taking photos!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...