Sunday, August 6, 2017

Art & Life: finding inspiration everyday (and a free resource)

Each year I challenge myself to artistically engage more students who may not have had previous interest or exposure. Many kids think that art is just about "making stuff" and don't yet feel confident with their skills in that area, and shy away. When I think about what it is that I TRULY love about art, and how I can share that, it is a much broader picture than just making. This "big picture" approach to learning about art will focus on daily life experiences and choices, and how they have inspired well-known artists and can even inspire us as beginners. I thought about a number of catchy names for my theme but what it really comes down to is life, and students of all ages can grasp Art & Life - can't get much more "big picture" than that, right? :)


This picture is from art teacher Nic Hahn's Instagram - it shows how her garden was very productive while she was away on vacation. All the colors, shapes, textures, and even flavors are very inspiring, and a perfect example of finding art in daily life - her blog, MiniMatisse can be found here.

                                                 Observational drawing of living things

The root of my connection to art is just that, connection - to nature, to ideas, to others - and I am always fascinated by the way artists can communicate these things visually with the simplest of tools like color and line and shape, pencil and paper. As always, we will explore many varieties of media and techniques - painting, drawing, collage, weaving, printmaking, 3-D and tech - and how to use these tools most effectively using the principles of art. At the same time, we will keep at the forefront WHY a particular artist created in this way, WHY we are using certain symbols or representations of our own life experiences. I love seeing students make personal choices in their artworks, and learning design skills at the same time helps them to more effectively communicate as an artist.

American landscape painting inspired by local art exhibit
and student choice

Pet portraits created to raise awareness of the homeless pet
population in our own community

Frida Kahlo will be the first artist we will get to know - she shares so much of her life experience through her self-portraits, her symbolic still lifes, and even her style of dress. In an age appropriate way, we will find out how the  physical struggles of her youth and her brave accomplishments as an adult are reflected in her art.
We will kick off our theme this week with some fun introductory exercises and also a planning sheet for our portfolios that we can refer to throughout the year for inspiration. If you'd like to have your own Art & Life planning sheet, it is available in my Teachers Pay Teachers store  FREE for the month of August. Now get out there and find your inspiration!

Monday, July 31, 2017

Gift card giveaway and SALE at TPT!

Teachers Pay Teachers is having their Back to School sale August 1-2, and I am excited to give away a $10 TpT gift card on Tuesday! Just follow me on Instagram @smartestartists and while you're there, leave a comment on my Instagram post that looks like the pic above that says what you love most about back to school.
I have several new products available for fall that are perfect for the art room, the art infused classroom, and homeschool settings. Please check them out in my store Mrs. Knight's Smartest Artists - and don't forget to use the code BTS2017 for your maximum 25% savings. Have fun shopping, teachers!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

New Art and Writing resources available and SALE

 I really enjoy making hand-drawn resources for my classroom, especially when they involve art & writing. I have a couple of new ones available now which will be perfect for the language arts teacher as well as an art teacher. I am having a summer sale in my Teachers Pay Teachers shop this weekend, on these and everything else. And hey, some things are already free!

Also available is My Goal Plan, an organizer to help students create and keep track of progress with personal goals. It is suitable for any elementary grade and subject area. If your school is anything like mine, personalized learning and student ownership are high priorities, and this resource can help make it fun.
Thanks for stopping by my shop and enjoy the sale! Click here for Mrs. Knight's Smartest Artists on Teachers Pay Teachers.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

3rd grade embroidery - couching stitch

Embroidery for 3rd grade involved the couching stitch and embellishments! Today was the last day of school - would've loved a bit more time for these. Still fun and cute!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

5th grade clay fish sculptures

I was inspired to teach this lesson after seeing these beautiful sculptures on Pinterest, from the Italian website - La Bottega Della Stelle.

I was taken with the simple fish forms and textures, and I really wish I had some of those beautiful neutral glazes, but no luck this late in the year, so we opted for bright tempera. Maybe next year! 
We built these in one session - we started with a thick pinch pot and flipped it over and added a variety of coral, seaweed, starfish, and other details. Then we formed a slab and added details to both sides to create the fish. Lastly, at the end of our 45 minute session, we poked holes in both using a wooden dowel and a slight stirring motion to enlarge the hole for shrinkage. 

After a bisque firing, we painted the surfaces with liquid tempera and added a bit of hot glue. They turned out beautifully! 

 She named this one "Emo Nemo" - clever! Haha

Friday, May 19, 2017

New K-2 drawing exercise

I am happy to share our latest drawing exercise for my younger students, as I usually focus on drawing exercises like gesture and contour with my older kids. In our last few days of art this year, we have been doing "1 drawing, 1 minute" practice, which uses the "drawing from memory" part of our brains. I created an "inchies" worksheet a couple of years ago, that we have used for a number of different activities, and it is perfect for this. Here's how it works:
1. I call out a random object, let's say a hamburger. On the inchies sheet, which has 30 square inch boxes, students will draw a hamburger from their memory in a minute or less - usually about 45 seconds.
2. I call out the next object and the students draw it in the second square. I usually choose a theme for each row of five boxes - first row: food, second row: animals, third row: vehicles, etc. This helps me stay on track and not repeat. Sometimes I do funny ones, like their teacher's angry face.
3. The kids get super into this and are really quiet and focused. It makes a perfect time for me to walk around the room, organizing and packing and tidying for end of year. :)
4. Once the 30 boxes are filled, we turn the paper over and do an observation drawing for contrast. I have a big box of stuffed animals and other toys - the students choose one and do an extended observation drawing, say 5-10 minutes, and we discuss how drawing from observation is different than drawing from memory.
5. This perfectly fits in a 45 minute session.
My "inchies" sheet is available here on my Teachers Pay Teachers page - for a buck-fifty you can skip getting out the graph paper and ruler and making one yourself - haha!  Have fun drawing...

 This guy had inchies all over his shirt!

4th grade embroidered monograms

Fourth graders practiced threading needles, tying knots, sewing on buttons/beads/sequins, and several different types of stitches during our embroidery project this year. We also made paper frames for presenting our work after we removed the embroidery hoops.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

New color experiment

I wanted my kids to go beyond basic color mixing and get to know some of the tricks to getting custom colors, but I didn't want to do the same boring primary-to-secondary sets. So I tried out a new experiment sheet and called it Discover Color. It is pretty open ended and the kids find mixtures they like (and don't like) based on some simple instructions - there is a place to record results and write notes, including a "Yes! or Yuck" vote. My classes are 45 minutes and this filled one session perfectly, but I can see using this before any painting project to work out a palette selection. They had fun with it and created some really nice colors! 
If you'd like to try Discover Color, you can find it in my Teachers Pay Teachers shop!