Monday, March 11, 2013

Lesson: Mixed Media Nameplates

The birth of a new class:
Borrowed image from
As I began planning over the summer for the upcoming school year, I had a brand new class to prepare for... with a new curriculum... all my own!  Super exciting, and also a bit scary.  The very exciting part of teaching art is that you often have the freedom to develop a curriculum that excites you (no one is telling you to do X, Y, or Z).  The downside?  Developing an entire curriculum from scratch (there are typically no textbooks for art classes, we develop our own handouts, instructions, worksheets, design, projects, goals...)  Mixed Media was a class that was combined with studio art last year; this year it has grown up to toddler status, standing on its own two feet.   There was so much interest, that I had to turn kids away (I started out in September with over 40 students in one classroom)!  My plan was for this class to be a second level art course for students who didn't want to focus on drawing, but rather explore other media (as well).  This is very appealing to a lot of students who feel that they "can't draw" or "can't draw well" or are simply more interested in other facets of art.  We would be focusing on small exercises to learn how to use a particular medium and then combining to create a conceptual, mixed media work of art.  

By July, I had this great, scaffolded, multi-faceted, conceptual project all figured out in my head (which is a later post... Bad Hair Day Self Portrait).  But then, I thought... Oh Geez, Janet!  Do you really want to dive in so heavy in the first week of school?  So, I took a step back which turned out to be a really, REALLY good idea.  

Stepping foot into the classroom this year,  I do see some familiar faces, but I'm not sure what experiences and skills all of these students come with.  They could be students who are taking/have taken AP Photo, or Studio Drawing, or just Art 1 or Photo 1.  They come from all sorts of backgrounds and skill levels- truly these students were achieving an A or B, sometimes even a C in their previous art class, but even more so, these students had to WANT to create art.  I really have a large range of abilities in this class.  How will I be able to get a sense of the way these kids think and work, and how will I be able to develop projects that cater to all of these differences?

Name Plates:
Each year, in both Photo 1 and Art 1, we have the students make a nameplate following some basic instructions/expectations that helps us begin the year, get to know the students, and teach some basic fundamentals to art/photo.  Why not do this in Mixed Media?

So, I did.  The challenge?  Make a nameplate any way you want, using a minimum of 5 different types of media.  I had students brainstorm and create a plan first in their sketchbooks.  They were to show me for credit before moving forward to creating their actual piece.  Mostly, I used this to make sure they were thinking about different types of media available to them as well as seeing if they understood how to apply contrast (which should be a review).  Students had about a week to complete these.  I would probably do this project again, but maybe give a quicker timed deadline.  Another adaptation might be to group the students, and challenge them to create "something" using the materials given.  Or maybe even have them recreate an image (work of art) using the materials given... basically a good beginning project using problem solving techniques while exploring different media.  Hmm, I like that last one- check back for a post on it later!  

Here are a few examples of what I received:

Felt, Charcoal Stick, Newspaper, Acrylic Paint, Sharpie

Watercolor, Marker, Sharpie, Pencil, Newspaper, Glitter, Fabric, Color Pencil

Watercolor, Newspaper, Pencil, Sharpie, Color Pencil

Watercolor, Marker, Yarn, Sharpie

Sharpie, Color Pencil, Marker, Synthetic Flower, Mirror Pieces

Sharpie, Pencil, Watercolor, Yarn, Sharpie

Watercolor, Yarn, Sharpie, Pencil, Felt, Color Pencil

Marker, Sharpie, Pencil, Watercolor, Crayon

Color Pencil, Watercolor, Newspaper/magazine, Pen, Yarn

Newspaper, Watercolor, Pencil, Pen/Sharpie, Marker

Fabric Ribbon, Jewels, Pen, Sharpie, Pencil, Marker

Handout I made to help instruct
the sketchbook Media Bank setup. 

Later, Media Pages were created as a 
BANK of media to be used in the 
Bad Hair Day Self Portrait Project. 
From there, I realized that I really needed to teach and/or review with my students how to use a variety of media.  The biggest challenge I had beginning this class was that my students didn't seem to be thinking outside the box.  They were sticking with the typical drawing and painting materials.  We then set up our sketchbooks using this Media Bank template.  We then spent several weeks exploring media.  This did not turn out how I was expecting.  It wasn't bad, but  I've already decided to change this structure for next year's class.  Truly, this was a great way to start as a newbie to developing what this class looks like.  I could really see what talents my students brought to the table, and what I needed to focus on over the year, and how I may (will probably) change things for next year to make it even better of an experience for my students!

Valentine Kiddie Cards

This is a short little post about the last two year's Valentine's cards from Meara (my daughter) to her family and her friends.  I'm definitely not the best at remembering to give cards to people, nor do I claim to be that crafty mom who does it all when it comes to creative projects with my kids.  Sadly, these are few and far between.  But... we try when we can!  

Last year, I had Meara color all over pink, red, and blue papers using crayons.  Then I traced her hand, cut out multiples, as well as different size hearts from different color construction papers.  I used both the positive space and negative space to create little collaged valentines.  Used crayon to draw more hearts, and sharpie to write little messages.  Then, we tossed them into some little envelopes and mailed them (to family).  

Again, it would be nice to have different types of papers to make it fancy (gotta love more textures!), but I just grabbed what I have at home already.  I try to keep a pack of color construction paper, scissors, crayons, sharpie, markers, glue, etc. around for those last minute ideas.  (Believe me, rarely are these projects planned... )


 This year, I tried to be a little more clever with gifts for her buddies.  I hate the idea of giving more sugary candy (even though I'm always happy to be on the receiving end).  I found these little party sized play-doh(s?) and thought that would be a great idea for 2-3 year olds!  "Bee My Valentine" was the theme and Meara helped me color and glue the bees together.  I cut out little hearts for the wings and wrote little messages on them once glue together.  Meara LOVES gluing things, so she also helped add a dab of fabric glue (that glues almost everything... and being that we were gluing the color paper to the plastic playdoh containters...).  If I actually thought more ahead, I would have liked to put some googly eyes on the bees, and maybe some little antennae (but not sure what I would make those out of since these are pretty small).  Anyway, hope this inspires you... or if you have suggestions or ideas you'd like to share... I can also post them!