I feel very lucky to have so many parents supporting Sandburg Art on our Artsonia gallery.  I love being able to store digital portfolios of students' artwork via the web, and it's so cool to see a student's work evolve over time!

Artsonia has a lot of really great functions.  One of those is the ability to send out newsletters via email to parents.  Last weekend, I sent out my first electronic newsletter via Artsonia.  If you are not signed up as the parent of a student, you would not have received one, so here's what was contained within:

Art Rocks 2010-2011!
from Mrs. Jennifer C. Leban, Sandburg Art Teacher
ARTSONIA - Thank you for your support in using and sharing Artsonia with your families this year!  With funds raised from Artsonia this year, the Sandburg art room was able to purchase an iPEVO usb document camera!

Sandburg Art Blog - Did you know that I have an art blog that I regularly post to?  On the blog, you can find photos of student work, information on general activities here at Sandburg, art opportunities outside of class (or school), contests, or even current art-related events!  Be sure to check the blog regularly.  You can also subscribe to or follow the Sandburg Art Blog directly from the site: http://msmillersartblog.blogspot.com/  Or, follow me on twitter for tiny updates: @msmillerleban

Evening with the Arts 2011 - This time around, our year-end all-school arts event (most commonly known as "Evening with the Arts") will be coinciding with our "Sandburg at 60" birthday celebration!  Sandburg Middle School is 60 years old, and there will be a special evening birthday party, complete with special performances by our choir, orchestra, and bands, along with an all-school art exhibition!  I've been saving one piece of artwork from each student (per term when I have them in class) for display at the event!

There is also a community art project in the works for that night where everyone who attends can be a part of the artwork!  Refreshments will be served, and a fun time is sure to be had by all.  The "Sandburg at 60" event date, originally set for April 18th, is currently being rescheduled - likely for some time in May.  Keep your eyes and ears open for further details!
Just for 6th Grade
Sixth grade art is currently nearing the end of it's fourth term this year.  Time is flying by!  In sixth grade art, students learn all about the color wheel and color theory.  Ask your sixth grader to name three pairs of complementary colors (and the trick to remembering them)!

We also learn drawing techniques, such as how value and shading work when drawing to make something look 3-dimensional (such as a sphere).  We practice drawing textures, patterns, and how to properly apply cross-hatching and stippling to a drawing using ink to create shadows.

Sixth grade art also completes a clay project, which varies.  Some classes make clay shakers inspired by Native American traditions, while others re-create Japanese "sampuru" food sculptures (sample fake food).  These projects may vary due to time constraints.
Just for 7th Grade
Seventh grade art is also nearing the end of it's fourth term this year!  In seventh grade art, students learn all about the elements of art and design, which are: line, shape, form, space, color, value, and texture.  We even take a pencil-and-paper test to demonstrate our knowledge.

Seventh grade art has a sculpture component and a painting component.  Our sculpture component (for most classes) is to make a clay cupcake sculpture that doubles as a mini container!  We are inspired by cake decorating shows on TV and specialty cupcake shops popping up around us.  While making cupcakes from clay, we learn hand-building clay construction techniques of slab, pinch, and coil.

Our seventh grade painting project is a self-portrait done in a monochromatic color scheme.  The students have a photo taken using the digital camera.  This photo is then altered into a four-level grayscale image using Adobe Photoshop software.  Our image is enlarged and painted using a four-level tints or shades color scheme, chosen by the student.  Not only do students learn how to mix paint values, we also discuss how color choice can effect the mood or emotion of an artwork.
Just for 8th Grade
Eighth grade art is a nine-week elective class, and we are currently right in the middle of our third quarter this year!  Because art is an elective course this year, we have a special sculpture concentration.

Our first unit of study is clay sculpture.  We read all about the artist Robert Indiana and his iconic "Love" sculpture and image.  Then, we create clay blocks emblazoned with our own one-word message.  Clay construction techniques are complemented with discussion and artistic decision-making regarding the choice of colors and fonts to best communicate the artist's message.

During the quarter, students will also participate in a pottery wheel experience.  A special guest artist from Ceramics Supply Chicago comes in to show us proper wheel technique.  Then, students take turns trying out the wheel - hopefully (but not always), the experience ends up with a finished piece!

Our second unit of study is all about plaster.  Inspired by the work of George Segal, eighth grade students will create plaster casts of their hand(s) and decorate the finished products according to a pre-determined theme that students map out beforehand.  What starts out as plaster often ends up as a mixed-media extravaganza, using all sorts of recycled and repurposed materials!  Therefore, we often end up discovering a lot about adhesive options and non-traditional art-making construction methods...

Our final area of study for the quarter is paper sculpture.  Eighth grade classes make a huge (but fun) mess when we marble sheets of paper using shaving cream and food coloring!  These sheets of marbled paper are cut and pasted into a star-shaped lantern, suitable for hanging.  If time permits, we also explore options for designing paper toys via PaperCritters.

The only downside to Artsonia newsletters is that I can only send them to ALL registered 6th, 7th, or 8th grade parents... and not to just the parents of current art students.  Artsonia is really good about upgrading and improving functionality, so hopefully soon they might develop a fix for this.  In the meantime, I'm going to keep my newsletter mailings to a minimum so as to not clog up your inboxes!

So far, this is the only newsletter I've sent out this year.  I do anticipate sending out one more as our "Sandburg @ 60" event date is solidified and draws nearer.
Thank you for supporting the arts!
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