Thursday, December 29, 2011

TWO-kelele: Tagging a 2nd guitar

After completing my niece Piper's Ukelele for her 3rd birthday, I thought this would be such an excellent gift for my niece Susanna's 3rd birthday, as well!  My husband's brother-in-law, Dave, plays guitar and I really thought this would be a fun bonding experience for Dave and Susanna.  From what I've seen, Dave and Susanna don't need that bonding time at  all.  She has him wrapper around his finger!  What little girl doesn't have her daddy's heart? 


First, I purchased the little ukelele.  Picking a color proved more difficult this time.  If you remember from my previous post(s), the colors that these ukeleles come in are a bit dark or masculine really.  Brick red, forest green, navy blue, orange... and bubble gum pink!  I asked Brian's sister, Brooke, and the choice was between pink and red as Olivia is Susanna's favorite character (she was even Olivia for Halloween!).  


I went to the Old Town School of Music and picked out the pink little guitar.  Last time, I designed the back using Illustrator.  This time, I decided to just draw it out in pencil as I was more confident as to what the design would look like.  I transferred the design and inked it in. 


The great thing about making more than one is that I tend to add more to the 2nd or 3rd because of confidence.  You can see here how I decided to add to the front of the ukelele with an asymmetrical design similar to the symmetrical drawing on the back.  

The Great Element Debate

As I mentioned in my previous post, students had spent the entire first quarter working on the Elements of Design (Line, Shape, Form, Value, Texture, Space, Color).  At the end of the quarter, I created two culminating projects.

One was called The Great Element Debate.  This project was a way to review what we learned in the first quarter, mainly because about half of my students bombed their 1st quarter exam (regardless of the review packet and the weekly quizzes).  But that's a whole other post.  

In this project, students were divided into groups.  Within their groups, they were assigned one element as well as individual roles of evidence, presenter, and cross examiner.  The evidence teams were to provide a poster of visual evidence for their team.  The presenter was to present the facts about their element.  The cross examiners were to come up with evidence against other elements.  What were they debating?  Which element is the best element of design, and the most important to art!  (Of course!)

Could this project possibly have been inspired by my Jury Duty assignment?  Just maybe!  

The project lasted 6 days in total.  One day to explain the project, 4 days for the students to work, and one day for the actual "court date" debate. This worked out well because we had two 3-day weeks prior to Thanksgiving.  

On the day in which "Element Court" was in session, I assigned a stenographer, a bailiff and 2 court reporters.  The court reporters were equipped with Flip Cameras and were asked to interview the teams both before and after the debate.  My goal is to compile this video into a short and fun clip of what we accomplished.  (So stay tuned!) 

What failed (or better said, What would I do differently?)?
The court date was on the day before Thanksgiving and a lot of students were not present.  Students were well aware that the court date/presentation would happen that Wednesday, so I was very surprised that only one student told me ahead of time that she would not be present.  Students who did not come to school that day received a 0 which significantly affected their grade.  I did, however, offer a make up opportunity in which students could not receive better than a C and only a handful took me up on that offer.  Regardless, it was difficult when students who were assigned the role of presenter (for example) were not present to present for their team.  In one case, the entire team was not present and one student had to take on the entire load!  (Yes, of course, she received an A and extra credit!) 

Also, I find it rather difficult to grade students for group work.  I try to take at least one day of participation.  For example, I will choose a random day to grade participation within the group.  If a student is not doing anything, they have a grade of a 0.  Other than that, I had students record any planning (writing/drawing) in their sketchbooks and I used that to reference when assigning an individual grade for their group participation.  

I also find it interesting how some groups of students will really get into the project- my 3rd period was the most exuberant and really took on the roles as they presented with confidence and cross examined with ferocity!  While my 7th period was a little out of control, and my 1st period couldn't seem to care less.  

Regardless of the students' extro(or intro)verted-ness,  I was fairly impressed to see the thoughtfulness that went into the debate information.  Overall, I think this was a really great review project.  It was interactive and different, and filled up two very awkward 3 day weeks with connected education.

(Again, I will be posting the video soon!  Stay tuned!)

MIA: Inspiration, space, and the issue of time.

Where did you go?
My artwork is always on my mind.  It may not be a top priority every moment, but it is always tucked in that little corner of my peripheral mind popping up at the most expected, and unexpected times.  The most exciting moments happen when I am inspired by other artists, friends, students, loved ones.  The most lucid, and most undesirable moments happen around 3am.  This post, I'm sure, feels like deja vu, as once again I have left you completely alone for months.  The sarcastic me will say that I left you sobbing in the corner just waiting on pins and needles for my return, like that puppy who you thought you would leave for an hour to go to the grocery store, but in fact, you left whimpering at the door for the entire day while you had coffee with your long lost friend.  The self deprecating me will say that you didn't even really notice I was gone because you don't really read this blog that often, if really, at all.  

Realistically, I will say that I gave you some space.  You read about some art, you saw some art... and then you had some time to think, and to reflect, and perhaps to create your own work.  Right?  


Unexpected path to inspiration.
What kind of mother would I be if I didn't
post a brag photo about my daughter?
About two weeks before I was supposed to go back to teaching part time at Maine South High School, I interviewed (and was offered) for a full time art teacher position Kenwood Academy High School, and  I accepted!  This is a Chicago Public School; a very different (some might say completely opposite) experience from Maine Township.  Last spring, when I found out that my job with Maine was cut down to part-time, I was devastated.  I did, however, have several summer months to come to terms with the idea, and was very excited to spend quality time with my one-year-old daughter.  

The unexpected shift to full time at Kenwood really flipped my world upside down.  Thanks to a supportive husband, I have been able to delve back into another brand new job, with brand new situations to anticipate, and a brand new curriculum to build with a brand new collaborative team... with brand new personalities to adjust to.

I have been so inspired by both my colleagues and my students at Kenwood.  I have been so privileged to build such deep and inspiring relationships with these people in such a short amount of time. People outside of this little bubble ask me how work is going, and honestly... I have no words!  I end up seeming aloof as I say, "Oh, it's good."  How do you sum up the experiences you have working with such an eclectic group?  

While teaching at Kenwood, I have been even more inspired to create my own artwork (but of course, with less time to accomplish).  To prepare for my classes, I have been drawing, and collaging and watercoloring.  I have been working in ink and working with construction paper and with magazines.  I glued twine to a pumpkin to demonstrate physical texture, and I drew letters repeatedly to show linear perspective.  I made a 3D speech bubble out of cardboard and tape, and I wrote my name in crazy fonts to demonstrate light source and value.  

Ultimately, what have I done?  I have convinced a student to be to school on time every day.  I have made a success plan so that a junior will pass her classes this year.  I spoke to a mother who teared up as I told her about the beautiful things her daughter sincerely said to me, at just the right time.  I hugged a student who came in to class after being shot.  I genuinely greet my students every day at the door by saying, "Good morning.  It's so nice to see you today."  

Don't get me wrong.  There are days when I think over and over again:  "Why can't you be to school on time?"  "How do you expect to ever hold a job when you decide to sleep in or get McDonald's instead of coming to class?"  "I'm asking you to write a two page paper about your artwork- not a novel! GIVE ME A BREAK!" "How many times do I have to explain this?"  "Is this really what our future holds?"  
Who doesn't feel this way at times?  Am I sounding like an old, crotchety witch?  
I try my best at times like this to say, "You have so much potential.  I would not give you work you could not complete.  I believe in you.  You are smart.  You are talented.  You could not do algebra before you were taught and you practiced, why do you think you should just be able to draw?"  And some times I throw in a "FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!" or "I love you guys, but you are driving me BONKERS!"  

Yes, I say bonkers.  

And my students say, "Mrs. Taylor- say 'OH MY SOUL!'"  

And then, I do.  

And they giggle.  

And we get back to making art.



So what about the art?
I have some amazing coworkers, just as I did last year at Maine.  I am so inspired by the knowledge and practice.  It's phenomenal!  This year, we developed a curriculum that focused intensely on the Elements of Design for the first quarter.  In the following posts, I will share tidbits of success and failures (as I always like to do).  

I also taught another Adult Beginner Digital SLR class at the Brickton Art Center in Park Ridge, IL.  (I thought this over the summer and was asked to teach another one this fall).  I believe this class will be offered again in the spring (March?).  

I photographed a wedding reception.

I made some art.  Many of my personal projects have been put to the side, however, as I focused my attention towards school, and my family.  One major project, that you all know about, is the encaustic project.  I am SO close to finishing this project and will post the completion shortly.  A few other projects I am working on are Christmas gifts.  Keep your eyes peeled for these posts within the next week or so!  

I also will be posting up some props for my fellow artists who I am inspired by and would like you to know about!  



And away we go!