Showing posts with label art day. Show all posts
Showing posts with label art day. Show all posts

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Everyday Art Room: Episode 2

Today is the second installment of my podcast Everyday Art Room and I'm super excited. I'll be talking about my experience teaching art on the very first day some 19 years ago...it was a trip, lemme tell ya. I'll also be sharing the only three rules I have in my art room. Feel free to use the rules in yours! I created these rules images just for you. In my last podcast, I chatted about my 8 routines which you can check out here in case you missed. What rules do you have in your art room?

I thought I'd share the transcript of today's podcast in case you are interested. Before I get to that, I want to share the WINNER of our GIVEAWAY! BIG HUGS AND HIGH FIVES TO ASHLEY H.! You've won Barney Saltzberg's latest book, My Book of Beautiful Oops!
I have been teaching art for close to 20 years and what that means is that I have had close to 20 first days of school. Let me just tell you, they never get any easier. Now, there is one first day of school that I remember like it was yesterday and I bet you can guess which one that is. That’s right, the very first, first day of school. Let me paint a little picture for you. I was hired to teach kindergarten through second grade children in Nashville, Tennessee. I moved from Indiana. I moved not knowing a single soul and never having taught children under the age of 10. Something I may have failed to mention in the interview.
Oh, but speaking of the interview. When I was sitting in that interview the vice principal kept painting this glorious picture of this amazing space that I was going to have to teach in. He kept referring to it as something called a portable. I didn’t know what a portable was, but he acted like it was the best thing ever. A word to the wise, newbies or people going out for an interview, always make sure that you ask to see that teaching space before accepting the job unlike yours truly.
When I saw my space, I was like, “Y’all call that a portable, because where I’m from that’s a straight up trailer.” Now, I will say this it was a very nice trailer and, excuse me, portable. When I saw the inside of the space it was clean. It was nice, but it was very institutional. I thought, “In less than 24 hours before my students get here, I need to transform this space into an exciting place where they will want to come and create.”
Taking a little break from that, I decided to walk up and down the halls of the school and just casually pop my head in the classrooms to see, what does an elementary classroom look like. Here’s what I saw. I saw rooms filled with big bold posters that had words on them like, rules and consequences. On the rules’ poster there were these big happy faced children doing the right thing, raising their hand and being kind to one another. On the consequences’ poster, well I think you can imagine the things that I saw. Those faces on the children, they were not happy. I thought, “That’s what I need. I need rules and consequences posters.”
I immediately went back to my apartment and that night I stayed up until 3:00 AM drawing Vincent Van Gogh’s art room rules, poster after poster after poster. The next day, I shared those rules and consequences with my students and let me just tell you, it did not go over well. They weren’t receptive, because they didn’t understand what it was that I was talking about. The thing is, I didn’t understand what I was talking about either. Here’s what your students need from you on those first days of school. They need you. They need you and your actions and your excitement and love for teaching art to set the tone, which will then help establish the rules in your art room. This is Everyday Art Room and I’m Cassie Stephens.
In the last episode of Everyday Art Room, we were chatting about the eight art room routines that will help you establish a really successful school year. Now, I did mention that when you’re coming up with your own eight art room routines, you need to think of the three S’s. Consider your setup, your situation, and your students. Simply because it works well in my art room with my setup and situation and students, doesn’t mean it’s going to work for you. Now, that being said, during that episode, I bet some of you were wondering, “Wait a minute. On the first day of school, she goes over her routines, but what about rules? You’re supposed to cover that on the first day of school.” I have a feeling might, myself included, accidentally confuse rules and routines. They’re two totally different things. Let’s talk about that difference.
Think of your art room as a masterpiece, a big beautiful painting. When an artist approaches a painting he/she first lays down big broad brushstrokes. I like to think of those big broad brushstrokes as the rules in my art room. The routines, well those are the finer details in a painting and depending on your situation, your setup, and your students you might have a finally detailed masterpiece that’s your art room. If you’re anything like me, a little bit loosey goosey/hot mess express, well then your painting and the routine/finer details might cause it to look a little bit more impressionistic/occasionally attacked by Jackson Pollock. Each one of those is different and unique. Just like the art teacher that each one of us are.
Today, we are going to talk about those rules and we’re going to talk about the top three rules, the only ones that you’ll ever need for your setup, your situation, and your students. Before diving in, let’s really dig deep about what rules do. What do rules do? They set the tone. They set the tone for your art room and your students creative space. That masterpiece where the artist is laying down those big broad brushstrokes, he/she is setting the tone with the colors chosen, the lines and shapes put into place. That’s going to be the tone for the entire painting. Think of the tone that you want to establish in your art room.
Now, with that in mind, I want you to listen to this. I did a little bit of googling and just out of curiosity I googled “elementary classroom rules” just to see what our fellow teacher and buddies were up to in their teaching spaces. I came across pretty much what you’d expect and a lot of rules I’ve used in my art room before. Let me go over the top three.
Walk in the classroom. Okay, walking’s important. We don’t need to be running anywhere except outside and in PE. I can go along with that. Second one, raise your hand to talk. I have most definitely had that as a rule in my art room. Be kind to your classmates. I love that rule. I mean that’s like a life mantra. That’s not just a rule. So, those, of course, are setting a tone. Here are some other rules that I came across, which also set a tone. I’m going to read these to you twice. I’m going to read them to you once and then I’m going to read them to you again with the tone that I think they were written in.
Here’s the first one. Listen and follow directions the first time you are asked! In my mind, here’s the tone with which I heard that rule. Listen and follow directions the first time you are asked! Here’s another one. Do not get out of your seat unless you have permission! Here’s the tone. Do not get out of your seat unless you have permission! The last one. Raise your hand before speaking. Do not shout out! Raise your hand before speaking. Do not shout out! The funny thing about that rule, I feel like that rule is shouting out.
All right, do you understand where I’m going with this? The tone that those three rules set, imagine being a student in that classroom. Imagine the tone and the climate in that classroom. Imagine that being your learning space for an entire year. So, when you’re coming up with your rules really think clearly about that tone. Read your rules out loud and make sure they are going to help you establish that creative, exciting, and wonderful space that you have.
Many people also have a tendency, like I said earlier, and myself included, to confuse rules with routines. They end up with a list of rules that entirely too long. The one about walking into the classroom. I feel that’s more of a routine. You need to show students how you want them to walk into your classroom. This is our routine for walking in. This is our routine for walking to gather supplies. This is our routine for walking to exit. That’s not a rule.
Let me share with you the top three rules. The only ones for your setup, situation, and students that you’ll need. When I was coming up with these I decided to think of it more, not as a rule or a set of rules, but as a life mantra. I want these to be life rules. Rules of life to live by. When I was coming up with these I thought of the KISS method, Keep It Simple Stupid. So, here’s the acronym I thought of using the word ART, of course. A for ART is for Aim. The R in ART is for Respect. The T for ART is Trust. My three rules, Aim, Respect, Trust.
Now, let’s go over what I mean by each one of those three words and three rules. I’ll do this with my student. Let’s talk about the A, which I said is Aim. I want all of my student to aim, to try their best and aim to do the right thing. I can’t ask more of them than to try their best and to do the right thing. The R is for Respect. I want my students to respect themselves, their artwork, their classmates, and the art room. It’s one thing I know about people and students, they cannot have respect for others or what they’ve created or art supplies or space unless they first have a respect and a love for themselves. So, establishing that self confidence and that respect for themselves comes first in that R of respect.
Let’s talk about trust. Trust in yourself. Trust in your ability to learn. I’m currently reading a couple of books on growth mindsets. I feel it’s got a solid connection to what we do in our art room. We want our students to know that they can grow and they can learn. Things aren’t always going to come easily. They never will always come easily in life, but if they trust in themselves, in their ability to learn, then they will be able to grow.
Those are my three art room rules. Ones that I feel like, regardless of your setup, your situation, and your students these would work well in your room. They might be shown or displayed a little differently from room-to-room, but they will most definitely set a tone. A tone that we want our students to create and live and learn within. Thank you so much for letting me share my top three art room rules with you.
Tim: Hello, this is Tim Bogatz, the host of Art Ed Radio. Thank you for tuning back into the second episode of Everyday Art Room with Cassie Stephens. As we told you new episodes will be arriving every Thursday so make sure you subscribe iTunes, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts. If you love the show, please submit a rating and a review on iTunes, because this helps other art teachers find the show.
Also, make sure you check out Everyday Art Room on the Art of Ed website under the podcasts tab. You’ll find the full transcript of this show links to Cassie’s blog, AOE articles, and resources that can help your teaching. It’s all of the artofed.com under the podcasts tab. You can also sign up to receive weekly emails whenever a new episode is released. Now, let’s get you back to Cassie, as she opens up the mailbag.
Cassie: Now it’s time to dip into the mailbag. All right, this first question ties in pretty well with what we’ve been chatting about. It says this, “Cassie, you talk a lot about your art room, but you don’t talk very much about kids misbehaving in your art room. Do you not have kids that misbehave? If so, how do you make that happen?” Oh friend, I could only dream of an art room where all the children were perfect angels sent from above, but let’s be honest, that’s not the case. Each and every art teacher struggles with students. It’s just how it is, but it’s all about how each and every art teacher handles that student that’s causing disruptions in the art room. Let’s talk about that.
First of all, the most important thing to do when you have a student who’s interrupting your art room is to not take it personally. Remove yourself from the situation. Pretend that you are rising above being a little fly on the wall watching the madness happen, because regardless of the behavior, it’s not you. There’s something else going on. Your job is to first of all, stay extremely calm despite the fact that your blood pressure might be rising.
The second thing you need to do is remove yourself from the situation and just know that this anger or misbehavior, even though it might look as though it’s directed at you, there’s something else going on here and it’s not you. Your next action is really important, because all eyes, not just the eye of the child misbehaving, all eyes are on you. Whatever you do, however you decide to handle that situation, it’s important that you do it with extreme calm. Usually what I’ll do is I’ll lower my voice, I’ll talk very calmly. I might ask the student to go take a break. I have a time out area.
These are things that we will definitely be covering in next week’s episode when we chat about consequences. We talked about rules, but we haven’t yet talked about what to do when students break those rules. Don’t you worry, we’re getting there next time. Remember, keep yourself calm. Know that this behavior, this misbehavior is not geared towards you that there’s something else going on. We all have issues with students like this and the key is knowing how to handle that situation, which, like I said, we will be chatting more about next week.
All right, one more question from the mailbag and this question is one that I get quite a bit, which I think is really funny. Here we go. “Cassie, how do you have time to do all of the things that you do? You seem to get a lot of stuff accomplished in a short amount of time.” Oh, man, I take that as a big old compliment and I also take that to mean that I have all y’all fooled. I will let you know, I am a big time waster of time. In fact, that’s what my second grade teacher Mrs. Cheek wrote on my report card, “Cassie Stephens needs to work on her time management skills.” That’s how I read that even though Mrs. Cheek was a lovely teacher and never spoke like that. She had a teepee in her room y’all. A teepee.
I will tell you this, but I do, and I probably don’t even need to tell you this, I do consume a lot of caffeine. I don’t really believe in keeping clean house. It’s an artsy house. It’s got stuff everywhere. I ain’t got time to clean. I also don’t have children, that frees up quite a bit of time and we don’t have cable or a functioning television. Don’t get me started, but with those three things, or without some of those three things, I am able to get some things accomplished.
I will also let you in on a little secret. When I’m doing something, like creating a needle felted piece or painting a picture or sewing an outfit. I’m not doing it for just that reason alone. I usually have several layers to that project. If I’m sewing a dress, let’s say that has a Russo style print on it, that’s because I’m going to be teaching my students about Russo. If I’m coming up with lessons on Vincent van Gogh, we’ll just throw him out there, then I’m probably also coming up with something that I can wear in my hair or an outfit that I can create or a painting I can make from my room that will help reinforce what I’m teaching.
When I put together my passions, like sewing or creating, together with something like what my students will be learning about, then I’m able to do, I guess you could say double duty. Although my students refer to that as something else, but I digress. I hope that helps to clarify, but let me just say, I don’t have a magical time machine and I am a hot mess. So, there you have it. If you guys have any old questions, you feel free to send them my way. You can send them to everdayartroom@artofed.com. Chat soon.
It’s been awesome chatting with you guys today about the top three rules, the only top three rules you’ll ever need for your setup, your situation, and your students. Remember, think of rules as being the tone. The tone that you want to set in your art room. Also, when coming up with those rules, remember there’s a difference between rules and routines. Rules are the big, broad, beautiful brushstrokes, kind of lay the foundation and set the tone for the masterpiece that’s your art room.
Routines, well those are those teeny tiny finer details and just how fine those details are, well that’s up to you and the tone you wish to set in your art room. My top three rules that I shared with you, A is for aim. Your students are aiming to be their best and to do the right thing. R, well that’s for respect. They first need to have a respect for themselves, before they can have a respect for their artwork, their classmates, the art room and the art supplies in the art room. Lastly, the T is for trust. Your students need to trust in themselves and their ability to learn. With those three rules in your art room you will set a wonderful tone for your students to not only flourish, but create. This has been Everyday Art Room and I’m Cassie Stephens.

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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

In the Art Room: Art Room Etiquette


As y'all know, during those first days of art, it's mission impossible to cram in all of the rules, routines, procedures (and more) that we need to cover...while making sure that the kids have fun and create! With 30 minute art classes, the struggle is super real. I hate to bog down each day with too many do's and don'ts without any actual doin'. So I try to build on each day. On our first day of art, I shared with my students this routines video I created with just some of my fabulous and fun coworkers (thank you, ladies!):
But my routines video just didn't cover it all. I mean, we now know how to walk to my art room, enter, take a seat, go "shopping" for supplies, clean up and line up...and that's a lot. However, after showing the video and diving in to my first projects this week, I started taking notes of some behaviors I noticed that I was not too keen on. Here's what I wrote:

* Raising hands. Okay, we all know (kids included) that our students are to raise their hands to talk. But there seems to be some missing information here. First of all, HOW do you raise your hand? Do you wave it all around like you are swatting an onslaught of flies? Um, preferably not. Second, just cuz your hand is up, that don't mean you get to talk, friend. These are things that I took note of this week...and decided to work on improving.

* Interrupting. Ugh, a pet peeve. We lose so much time with this one! So I decided to address that in my video as well. 

* Staying in your seat. I want the kids to talk to me...I want to talk to them! But, as you know, once one kid is up THEY ARE ALL UP and in yo' face. Some of my classes have close to 40 kiddos. We cannot have that many people up and roaming the room. 

* Silent Signal. There are just some times when I need the kids' ears. And there are other times when I need their hands empty and their undivided attention. I decided to address that as well. 

With my notes, I rounded up whoever was available for 10 minutes this morning and filmed what I've dubbed Art Room Etiquette. This 3 minute video will give me a way to quickly address issues. Here it is:

After I play this video next week, I will readdress my rules. Now, like I shared before, I consider my "rules" to be more life rules...not necessarily what I'd otherwise label routines or procedures (or, in this case, Art Room Etiquette). I'll also share this etiquette video which will be followed up by our chat about consequences. More on that next week!

I'll def keep y'all posted...in the meantime, I'd love to hear from you! What do you do at the start of each school year? Are there undesirable behaviors that you are already noticing? I normally just get irritated at these little things...which eventually become big things in my art room. This year, I'm keeping a list of anything I see that I want to encourage and anything I want to change. My goal is to be proactive while having fun. Here's hoping these short videos do the trick!
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Monday, August 14, 2017

DIY: Art Room Decor

If you recall from this post, I recently picked up a bunch of oars (or paddles, whatever you fancy callin' 'em) from a local big box craft store. Initially I was just going to paint the primary colors...but they looked so good, I decided to do the secondary colors as well to create a large color wheel. I finished off the color wheel last week and thought I'd share it with y'all today. 

In case you missed the Paddle Painting Mayhem, here it is in 60 seconds or less:
 If only I could work that fast! I do consume a ton of coffee...but I've not reached Level: Lightening Fast...yet. 
Because the grouping of paddles ended up being so stinkin' big, I had to completely rearrange my art room to find a wall space big enough for it. That meant a complete overhaul of this part of my art room. I was fine with that, as I was ready for a change. In fact, this summer, when I popped by my art room, I noticed some of my displays were falling. In a fit of annoyance, I tore it ALL down. You can see what this area previously looked like here. Getting rid of the previous displays forced me to rethink my space and my displays, making both more intentional. 

By the way, I created a video of my desired art room routines...and showed it today on our first day of art. That's what you see on the big screen. I'll do a complete blog post about that soon but in the meantime, you can check out the video here:
It was a huge hit with the kids today and...IT WORKED! Yay!
Having this big space also allowed me to hang my ART room rules. I shared them recently here. You can hear me go over them a little bit in the video above. I plan to do a more extensive chat about my rules soon...they really tie in with the growth mindsets that we are working toward in my art class this year.
After I hung up the oars, I noticed that I had enough space to allow for the tertiary colors. So I cut out some cardboard with an Exacto knife, painted them and attached them to the wall with hot glue. The oars were hung up with Command Velcro Strips and have worked like a charm!
Over the summer, I managed to pick up several folk art pieces. The Mojo Man and the Big Love signs are by my friend Bebo. The other paintings are by Okra Girl. I painted the Stay Sharp sign using a wooden picket fence I found when shopping for those wooden oars. Here's a video of how that was created in 60 seconds or less:
 I'm currently addicted to painting all things found in the wooden aisle of my craft store! 
 A couple of art teacher buddies have really taken off with these ideas and I love seeing what they create! One buddy painted the saying, "Draw Light Until You've Got It Right"...how perfect for those pencils!
Another painted hers into crayons, hung it horizontally and it is going to display her art jobs. Y'all better believe I'm doing that very same thing! Great minds, I love it.

By the way, if you have not entered to win the book giveaway, GET YOURSELF OVER HERE AND DO IT ALREADY. Please and thank you! 
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Tuesday, August 8, 2017

DIY: Back to Art Teacherin' Dress

Hey there, friends! After a week hiatus, I'll be back with you on Wednesday, August 9th at 8pm CST on Facebook LIVE! We'll be talking about all things Back to School: Rules, Routines and Life After Summer Vacation (sigh). I'll also be hosting a giveaway and sharing some fun news. So be sure and drop by right here (liking/following the page will insure that I pop up in your feed). 

For the last couple of years, I've been making Back to Art Teacherin' Dresses. I thought it was something I'd just recently started doing...but it turns out that this is an ongoing thang. At a school PD today a buddy asked, "How many dresses do you think you have, Stephens?" I didn't have an answer. I'd prob be embarrassed to admit just how many stinkin' dresses I have. I started purchasing vintage dresses many moons ago at thrift and resale shops. When I learned how to sew about 5 years ago, I just added more dresses to the collection...without doing any weeding. I just can't bare to part with a good ole fit and flair number, y'all. 
My very first Back to Art Teacherin' dress was this number. I rarely wear it now as, in my increasingly tacky eyes, it's a bit boring. From there, I've been hooked on creating a dress that helps me get pumped and excited about the new school year. I can't go out and buy back to school clothes as my overflowing closet is evidence that this gal don't need no more garb. However, I can shop for some super cute fabric and make a dress of my own, right? 
Feast your eyes on this mega-goodness. I'm gonna be honest, I'm starting to become a little bit disenchanted with the usual fabric options. Most fabric patterns are cute...but small. Since sewing with the big and bold patterns from IKEA, I've been on the hunt for more Large Marge prints. So I hopped over to Spoonflower and used the search bar to look for a pencil print. And that's when I found this mega-goodness
 Here's a short clip of me twirling in slow mo and fast mo (is that a thing? Who is this Moe and why is he so fast and slow?!). When wearing a circle skirt, it is the law that one must twirl no fewer than 29 times, hourly. Look, I don't write the rules, I just follow 'em. 
Having a deadline, like Meet the Teacher Night, gave me the inspiration to burn the midnight oil (and the early morning, em, oil? Grease? What do they burn in the early morning? Whatever it is, it stinks) and finish this bad boy. Let's face it, that print makes the dress. I LOVE the retro look of it!
It's the best twirling dress this side of the Mississippi. 
Some of my other Back to Art Teacherin' dresses include this number created from fabric found in JoAnn's discount area. I loved it for it's marker-scribble feel. This dress made me happy with the print but I feel like I'm about to fly away with those sleeve things. I don't wear this one very often as I don't find the bodice as flattering as I would have liked. But this van Gogh-inspired dress has all of my fave features: a fitted bodice, a giant waist band and BOWZ. Cuz I like big bows and I cannot lie. 
Everyone has their own way about getting excited about their "jobs" (can we really call art teacherin' a "job"?! I mean, it's like the best thing ever AND they pay us!). My way is sewing up a fun dress. Your way might be decorating your art room, painting your nails in a rainbow pattern, creating a sign for your art room. Whatever it is, dive in! Do it! It will make you happy and, as we all know, Happy Art Teacher, Happy Life...or something like that.
In short, you do you...and bring that what you be doin' to your art room. I promise you that it will not only inspire your young artists but those around you as well. 

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Thursday, August 3, 2017

In the Art Room: Art Room Rules

Yesterday, some pretty big and exciting news was released: I'll be teaming up with The Art of Education in the creation of Everyday Art Room, a podcast dedicated to all things elementary art teacherin'! I sat down with Tim Bogatz, the co-'caster of Art Ed Radio to share the fun news. You can listen to our chat here and catch my very first podcast next Thursday. I'm super excited! I do hope you'll take a listen. 

In one of the first podcasts, I'll be chatting about how I start my school year, which, as you can imagine, is with rules. My rules have changed...drastically...over the years as I learn and change as I go/grow. Recently, with the reading of The Growth Mindset Coach (you should totally join our book club if you haven't already. Like/follow here to stay tuned), I've been thinking of my art room rules as being more like life rules. Rules to follow to become a happy, compassionate and fulfilled person. With that in mind, I created these three art room rules life goals. I thought I'd share them with you in the form of a free downloadable PDF if you are interested. 





But before we get to that, when I shared these paintings on my Instagram, I got a lotta questions about how I hang things on those unstickable concrete walls. My go-to is usually hot glue but that does have a weight limit. It can also damage walls and artwork. My latest love are these Command Velcro Strips. Y'all. These bad boys can hold up to 16lbs and can be removed without damage. If you are hanging something heavier or from an actual hanger, you might wanna check out Hardwall Hangers by OOX. These hammer easily into concrete walls but are difficult to remove and leave behind some holes. Of course, if you are just hanging posters, Blue Dap (aka sticky tack) works great as well. All of these can be found at your local hardware store. 
Here is the download for the letter A

When writing rules, keep the following in mind:

* Keep Your List of Rules Short. The list of rules should be so short that you can easily memorize them. Any more beyond five rules and you might be confusing your rules with your routines/procedures. 

* Know the Difference Between Rules and Routines. Rules are the broad brush strokes. Routines are the finer details. I have 8 routines in my art room. I'll be covering those in my very first podcast that will launch here next Thursday. Confusion between the two can lead to confusion in the art room.

* Keep in Mind the Take Away. When your students reflect on creating, what do you want them to think? Feel? Be inspired by? Your rules should help you create that environment where they feel safe, inspired, confident, successful and encouraging to others.

With those thoughts in my head, I decided to create three rules, based on the word ART. You are more than welcome to use these in your art room. I've created downloadable PDFs of each letter and rule. Here is the download for the painted letter A.  

If you'd rather paint your own version of your rules, go for it! I had a great time coming up with these and bringing them to life in a colorful and exciting way. I scored the canvas panels, which I used for the letters, at Michael's in a package of either three or four. The long canvases were sold in packs of two. 

I picked up my favorite colors in acrylic paint. I laid out the canvases and quickly painted them. I tried not to overthink it...keeping in mind that one can always just paint over it! 
Once dry, I added some dry brushing of paint where I wanted the letter and rules to go. From there, I added the text, details and designs. The beauty of acrylic paint is that fast dry time! I did manage to mess up my spacing of letters so there was some serious repainting...but it was not a big deal.

Growing up in the 80's, where there was a strong resurgence of 1950's style and fashion, I've got a love for all things kitsch, colorful and tacky. This explains my color palette and design aesthetic clearly, doesn't it?!

Let's be honest: with rules like these, some explaining, modeling and role playing will need to be done. When teaching rules, always expect that your sweet kiddos know nothing. After all, what seems like common sense to you, an adult who has been on this Earth years beyond that wee person you are teaching, is news to the petite peeps. Think of everything as new, exciting and noteworthy...it will make teaching what we might deem "the mundane", the magnificent. 
Not even gonna lie, strong Pee Wee's Playhouse and Bebo influence here! 

Tell me if you do this: when thinking of lessons, plans, arrangements, whatever in your teaching environment, do you put yourself in your student's shoes? I do this...all the time. I often think of what excited me as a kid: seeing my third grade teacher in a silly costume; that teepee my second grade teacher had in her classroom; the parachute we played with in P.E. It's with that in mind that I craft my own teaching environment. I know I'm not alone in this...maybe it's for selfish reasons...but I use what excited me as a student now as a teacher. 

And it usually works! I used to think that the notion of bringing what I loved as a kid to my art room was successful because that joy I experienced was universal. I loved XYZ as a kid, therefore all kids love XYZ! Now I know...it was my passion about XYZ that inspired my students. Staying passionate, whether that be by taping into those childhood loves and/or brining what you love to your art room, is what keeps us excited and excitable as an art teacher.
But that just might be the back-to-school jitters talkin'. Let's talk about how you can print and hang these bad boys in your art room! Simply print out the letters and rules as is or blow them up! I did this with some items I purchased on TpT. I just made them as large as I could and then, once printed, taped them together puzzle style and ran them thru the laminator. You can't tell the difference!
Feel free to print and hang where ever you wanna share the love of art. Remember to tune in next Thursday for my first ever podcast, eep! So excited!
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Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Art Teacher Travels: Wayne White in Chattanooga, TN

Despite the fact that I was just a pinch older than their target audience, I spent my early teens living for some Saturday morning Pee Wee's Playhouse. I acted like it was bonding time with my younger brother but in reality I just couldn't get enough of the show. The silliness and childlike behavior of Pee Wee definitely drew me in but what I really loved where the other characters and the amazing set...which all my retro dreams are made of. I know I'm not alone in my affection for all things Playhouse: my art teacherin' buddy Stephanie and I threw our friend Mallory a Pee Wee's Playhouse themed baby shower and I even stitched her up some Pee Wee-inspired bibs! I like to stay in Pee Wee-loving company. 
It wasn't until years later that I discovered one of the creative geniuses behind the look, design and a good amount of the characters of Pee Wee's Playhouse, not to mention the puppeteering, was Wayne White. The documentary about Wayne, Beauty is Embarrassing, was recommended to me and it blew my mind, y'all. If you have not seen it, please do. You can thank me in bowls of ice cream soup
At the end of the documentary, when asked what his plan was to do next, Wayne says that he's going to build puppets...and that he did. But I'm getting ahead of myself. When I heard that there was an interactive exhibit of the history of Chattanooga, Tennessee, Wayne's hometown, created by the artist, I knew I had to go. It's titled Wayne-o-Rama and it's just about the best thing ever. This show closes September 30th so I strongly encourage you to go and check it out. In case you can't make it, here's a short video I created for my students to share this exhibit with them. Feel free to use it in your art teacherin' world:
So fun, right?!
Mitch and I drove there one Saturday. After a pretty two hour drive (hilly east Tennessee is really pretty amazing), we pulled up at an unassuming building. Inside, we were greeted by two super helpful folks who explained the small but mighty exhibit to us. In the first room there was this diorama, I guess you could call it, of Chattanooga.
 If you've never been to Chattanooga, it's pretty famous for it's incline, Lookout Mountain, Ruby Falls and Rock City, among other things. The drive to the top is twisty and turny, just as the diorama shows. Your ears pop; cars swerve out of each other's way; it feels a little dangerous but in the very best way. At the top, you find cottages that have been there for ages next to a brand new Starbucks. Unfortunately, it's a bit of a racket to take a tour of the mentioned sites but, hey, somebody's gotta pay for their lattes, I suppose. 
Mitch and I used to go to Chattanooga quite a bit when we first started dating. Here we are at Lookout Mountain in a photo that looks like it was taken a lifetime ago. I'm gonna say at least 17 years past...he's much hairier and I'm much less mom-jeans-y. Really, what IS that groin bump I have goin' on?! The late 90's were dark days, y'all. Dark.
At the exhibit, we learned that Wayne drew out the sketches and designs for the exhibit and volunteers came in and followed his lead. I was so sad to learn that I'd missed out on such an incredible opportunity to work under the directions of the artist. I woulda come and spent a Saturday painting dude's toe nails if he'd asked me!
This portion of the exhibit also put me in the mind of Mr. Roger's Neighborhood and the vintage rides at Disney. It was retro and magical, a perfect combination.  
 Imagine if kids could learn about history with interactive exhibits like these. They'd love to come to school and they'd never forget the experience!
 In the same room, just off the left, were the giant puppet and displays of other significant folks in the history of Chattanooga. The exhibit was described like this, "Wayne has saved his most personal, meaningful ideas for Wayne-O-Rama with several goals in mind. He wants to bring a sense of play to art, to pay tribute to his Southern roots and to inspire and stimulate the imagination of a new breed of Tennessee artists – from the youngest to the oldest – and encourage and foster creativity in everyone."
To think that Wayne had this dream and goal, laid out his plan, worked like crazy and made it come to life was so inspiring for me. I have some big dreams that I'd love to make happen but I often allow myself to get hung up on the "I don't know how's" and give up too easily. I love that Wayne didn't let that cloud his vision...he just went for it. And went for it big.
 I love that in Wayne's work, there are no secrets. You can see what materials he's working with, how the parts are attached and how they operate. There are no smoke and mirrors, no perfect pieces and clean edges. It's expertly primitive. Masterfully messy. I love that about his work.
The cardboard puppets were some of my favorites. I would have loved to see this work in art school, it would have blown my mind. If only I'd known the artist behind Pee Wee's Playhouse back then! 
 I couldn't stop snapping photos and making videos. I loved that I was able to. I know my students are going to be so inspired by Wayne.
Did any of y'all have to do that ridiculous assignment in your 3-D class in college where you had to create a chair made from cardboard that could both support your teacher and be aesthetically pleasing? Yeah, if only we'd been tasked to do something much cooler, like this. By the way, my teacher totally fell on her rear when she plopped down in my chair. Needless to say, I failed that one. 
This giant telly with the black and white screen was my favorite. This one was made from cut pieces of wood and gradations of gray. 
This one might have been my favorite.
 The giant puppets aren't merely for display. They've been used in parades in Chattanooga. In fact, in Beauty is Embarrassing, you can see Wayne operating some of the puppets. 
I'm not sure what is going to become of the pieces in this exhibit when it closes in September...but I do have some room at my house. Just sayin'. 
After leaving Wayne-o-Rama, we had lunch before heading over to the Hunter Museum where they were also having an exhibit of Wayne's work titled Thrill after Thrill: Thirty Years of Wayne White. This exhibit closes the day after Wayne-o-Rama. Y'all gotta go if you can. 
Lemme just say, I'd not been to Chattanooga in a couple of years and, man, that city is pretty stinkin' sweet. I has a very rich artsy vibe with galleries and smaller museums located near the Hunter. The Hunter is a STUNNING museum that sits on the cliff of the Tennessee River. You could go just for the view, it's that beautiful. Not only that, but they have fantastic exhibits and a surprisingly solid permanent collection. I was all, "okay Hunter Museum. I see you." 
 But Wayne's exhibit was where I spent most of my time. Thirty years of creating...the volume and diversity of his creations was so fun and inspiring to see. 
 Again, they allowed me to film and snap photos like crazy. I loved it. These brothers were my favorite. They are completely made of cardboard. One art teacher friend mentioned that when she took her students to this exhibit, Wayne was there and operated the puppets for the kids. Can you imagine? How fun!
The walls were filled with his sketches and the floor was spotted with his sculptures. 
I think what I love so much about his work is the style...and how you can see his "hand" in everything from his sketches to his sculptures. I guess that's what 30 years of creating gives you: a distinct artistic voice. 
 Unmatted and unframed, these sketches stretched from floor to ceiling.
 Wouldn't this make incredible fabric? 
This house-shaped creature on two twig legs had me all kinds of gaga. Also, check out those puppets in the background...can you believe that scale?
 In Beauty is Embarrassing, Wayne talks about selling his text paintings at a local coffee shop in Knoxville. Man, how fun would it have been to score one of these pieces? 
 The backgrounds are usually vintage paintings or reproductions with his clever text on top. I love this one, "Did it Anyway".
 The grouping of them was very cool. 
 People having fun without you. Story of my life, ha!
 I really loved that top left one, "Uh huh" and "Now Maybe I'll Get the Respect I So Richly Deserve."
 There were also tons of sketches of Wayne's designs for T.V. shows and music videos. Here's his sketch for the Christmas Special of Pee Wee's Playhouse.
 And his design for the show Beakman's Place. Did you know that Weird Al had a show in the 80's? I didn't either...but Wayne designed the set! Seems about right. 
 I think this sketch is my fave. A couch in the shape of a blue cowboy boot and a prairie wagon?! Sign me up!
I'll leave you with this view of the Tennessee River from the Hunter Museum. You can just barely see the kayakers just under the bridge. 

Have y'all been to Wayne's shows? I'd love to know and hear what you thought? They close soon...so pack up the fam and take in a road trip, it's so worth it! 
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