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!
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