Hello! This was my first piece back after almost 2 weeks of no proper painting. I sketched a bit, but I was too busy for anything else. Whenever I tried to paint, I was just frustrated with the outcome and didn't finish. However, the busiest time of the school year is over now and slowly, but surely, I am getting back into my art.
So last Sunday, after finally having a complete day of rest post-student art show, I sat down to start over. I decided I was not going to be to hard on myself because I hadn't painted in a while and went for a food item in the mixed-media technique that I started with all those months ago. Below I will explain a bit more about the process. For this painting, I used Strathmore Watercolor Cold Press paper (300 Series).
I am usually terrible at doing real preparation before painting. For this, I actually took the time to clean my Koi watercolor box in order to use it as a palette and made the color mixtures for my painting. This picture shows the first phase of my usual mixed-media approach, which is the watercolor phase (by this point the painting already has a couple of layers of watercolor).
Here is the watercolor phase completed (except for the background shadows). You can see how I went on and on with layering until I felt ok with the values. Then, I left my painting to completely dry for a several hours.
This is what the piece looked like after I had already worked in most of the Prismacolor values and textures. I made a point this time to really select only the colors I would be using. Usually I am all over the place. After I finished with my Prismacolor Soft Cores, I went back in with watercolors to add my gray shadow under and around the panini. I allowed this to dry for about an hour.
To finish up, I used some white acrylic paint for final highlights.
Hand drawing practice I started with on Sunday before my mixed-media piece. I want to continue with my basic sketching of things I find difficult, which I started on Spring Break.
Hey all! So nice to have you here! If I could offer you some coffee I totally would.
Here are some pictures of yesterday's event. Another very successful student art show! Everyone was so happy. The weeks of hard work definitely paid off! With this, I end my final year as full-time Art Teacher at this wonderful school I've been working at for the last five years. My work here is done and I am off to start with personal art projects full-time as soon as I turn in my classroom keys.
It's all very bittersweet for me, as I grew SO much, at both personal and professional levels with this job. However, I am eager and excited to get started with so many personal projects that I have! Please enjoy the following pictures and if you are an Art Teacher do not hesitate to take ideas and/or get in touch with me to ask any questions about specific projects or Art Show prep. Simply click on the "About Me/Contact¨ page and write me a message! I'd love to hear from you. :)
In my opinion, an amazing Art Teacher is one who, aside from all obvious teaching responsibilities, makes time and is continuously seeking ways to advocate for the Arts within the community he/she teaches in. It is hard, especially when we work in a society that doesn't give the Arts the importance that they deserve.
If you are an Art Teacher, and you are as unfortunate as I am in this department, this means that you will be constantly fighting for time, resources, and validation from students' parents, and even co-workers that seem to think that what you do is easy and/or not as important as their subjects. You may even be the ONLY Art Teacher in the entire school, as I was for several years, which means you are entirely on your own.
My advice? Don't get discouraged and don't let any of this stop you. Continuously seek ways to engage students and educate the rest of the school community about how engaging in creative processes is nothing to joke about. Help both students AND adults understand that thinking of an idea, creating something from scratch, and putting it out for the world to see is probably one of the most difficult things in the world. It is imperative for people to understand that these kinds of classes will help students develop skills that more "academic" classes won't and will be essential for their future success.
Living in a society that sees the Arts as something secondary (or not at all) only means that, as Art Teachers, we should use our position to wake people up. Even if change is slow, I am convinced that through hard work and consistency, you will start changing people's minds about the subject. I have definitely seen a change after five years of working at my school. Throughout these years I have managed to help establish a Fine Arts Department that offers Music and Visual Arts extracurricular workshops after school. Before, it was only offering Sports classes.
I have also really improved the quality of student Art Exhibits and have incorporated different things into them that have helped transmit the importance of Art Education to the school community. These exhibits are what I will be giving you some ideas about today. Student Art Exhibits are amazing opportunities to show everyone about the learning processes that happen inside the Art Room. Moreover, they are a great opportunity to transmit the fact that creating an artwork isn't just about making something pretty, but about planning, experimenting, persistence and communication.
My 5 Main Tips for Creating Amazing and Effective Student Art Exhibits
1. Before starting the semester (or school year), establish and organize what projects you will be working on with each grade you'll be having. Depending on the amount of classes you will have with each grade and the time you have each class, set a tangible amount for you and determine what techniques you will be using for each. I love incorporating a variety of techniques for each grade because this gives them a chance to experiment with different supplies and get to know what types of art projects they enjoy the most. I create combinations of painting, oil pastels, mixed-media, collage and do my best to work on a 3D project with each grade. This variety in techniques and supplies really impacts the audience at the time of the exhibit as well. With all this in mind, be flexible and understand that, even with a laid out plan, thing can change.
2. Give yourself PLENTY (and I mean PLENTY) of time for preparation if you want to keep your sanity, especially if you will be receiving little to no help throughout the organization, project preparation and mounting, like myself. I personally start with project titles a month and a half before the exhibit on my off time from work. During class, I focus on students and continue working with them on their projects until literally the week before the exhibit. But I realize I am an insane person. By this point, I focus on students which require extra attention in order to arrive at the two pieces they will be exhibiting at the event. I like including two pieces per student even though I have over 250 student each semester. Again, I realize I am an insane person. Previous teachers at the school only did one.
3. Presentation is EVERYTHING. I dont know if it is my inner Graphic Designer speaking, but the way you decide to display student projects really transmits the level of importance you give to your students artwork. It tells people that you value your students work and others should value them as well. I decided early on that I would be cutting and pasting selected student projects on colored cardboard to create a margin for them. Yes, this means cutting them all myself in weekends. I pick different colors for different projects. Both the projects and their title (more about them in a bit), have the same color. I try not to repeat colors in one same grade.
4. Find ways to incorporate technology into the exhibit and use it to help get the message across. In my exhibits, each project has a title that includes a QR code leading the viewer to videos of my students explaining a bit about their projects. In them they talk about what they learned before starting projects, parts of the process, etc. Yes, I record these videos during classes. Yes, I edit these videos. And yes, most of this is done on my off time from work. After the event, I set up links to these videos in a blog that I made for my Art classes years ago in which I post pictures of students at work throughout the semester. This way, parents can find them and view them again at home after the exhibit. There is usually a lot of noise during the exhibit and they ask me where they can view them later. *Awesome suggestion: I love sending an email to my administrators with the links to some of these videos so they can see how much students learn in my class.
5. Include brief project descriptions that tell viewers what knowledge students gained from this specific project, what techniques/supplies were used and what part of the Art Curriculum is being covered by it. This helps people understand that, yes, you also have specific curriculum topics to teach and that there is a reason behind everything you do in the Art classroom. I have found that this also helps parents understand that there are specific things that are graded in each project. The more you get the message across about how there are specific, objective things you grade in each assignment, the less you'll have to deal with parents asking why you took of points off from their child's beautiful work of art.
That's it! It's time for me to make time for my own art today. Which, in itself, is another important thing. Share your own projects with both students and co-workers and show them that art is important to you. Show them you take art seriously and are constantly working on improving your own skills.
If you have any questions or comments, shoot me an email through the About Me/Contact section of my site. I'd love to help you out! Also, if you'd like to view more pictures of past Art Shows, click on the "Art Shows" button in the Categories section of the sidebar. My students' Art Show is next Friday and I will be posting pictures on Instagram all throughout next week of what I am doing in terms of preparation!
Cheers my friends! Thanks for reading!
Hello all! Thank you for visiting.
This past week was intense and I really don't feel like it is the weekend because I have a lot of social commitments to attend and am even going to school to advance Art Show work tomorrow (Sunday).
I had very little time to work on personal drawings and paintings this week. One of them actually frustrated me and I gave up on it. I gave myself a break because I was very tired and, at least, I am doing my best to keep going throughout these very busy times. Small progress is better than no progress!
Have a great weekend!
Hello! The countdown has started for my students' Art Exhibit and these are days at which I usually start disappearing due to so much work. General logistics, project preparation and mounting for my 250 students is done entirely by myself, from project selection, to getting organized with the Systems and Maintenance departments in the school, to designing the invitation and getting it to parents, and SO many other things. I also include QR codes on the project titles which take the viewers to student videos explaining each project. Of course, I get asked for EACH of my 250 students to appear in one of the videos, so this is a TON of organization for me to do when recording, as well as a TON of video editing. This is all done while students are still working on projects. There will be 19 projects displayed in total, 3-4 different projects per grade I have this semester. I will be including pictures of project titles in my next post, as well as some other things which may interest other Art Teachers out there.
Even with all this going on, I am committed to improving my artwork and doing whatever I can, whenever I can in order to move forward with my personal projects. Here are some sketchbook entries I did last week.
Here is a piece that I worked on during the week, after arriving home from work. I decided to do a painting that included a variety of things in it, as opposed to focusing on only one. Even though this may sound more complicated and usually the painting takes longer to complete, I have found it helpful that you can bounce around from one thing to the other in order to let the previous watercolor layer dry. This was something I struggled with in the beginning. I wanted to just keep going! After having understood this, I would rather work on several pieces simultaneously so that I can continue one while the other is drying.
I knew before starting this piece that I wanted to use only watercolors for this (I sometimes add Prismacolor to deepen values and create textures), but I did end up using some white acrylic paint at the end for highlights. Also, people usually ask me if I eat everything I paint (which usually is fast food and sweets) and I wanted to make a painting of foods I actually eat everyday. I want to make a part 2 to this that will include things like avocado, cherry tomatoes, other types of nuts, and perhaps popcorn? I like to eat very healthy, for the most part! I simply find desserts very pretty to look at because I love their combinations of colors and textures!
Thanks for popping by! Here are a couple of pictures I had posted on Instagram of the process. Have a wonderful weekend!
Perfectionism is the worst! It almost killed me and I don't recommend it to ANYONE. You see, I am naturally kind of an obsessive person. I tend to put way too much of myself into everything I do to the point that I have ignored my own health and well-being until after I have completed tasks to the absolute best of my abilities. And I mean WHATEVER task, not only art-related. A couple of years ago, I didn't know how to say ¨no¨ and didn't stop working until I was completely spent, always striving for perfection. At one point I made myself extremely sick and ended up in the hospital for the first time in my life. This is one of the reasons why some time ago, I made a promise to myself to put my own priorities and health first, before anything or anyone else.
I think my little perfectionist demon was already alive somewhere inside of me, but studying Graphic Design also contributed to its growth. I remember the first semesters were extremely tough because professors took off points for nearly non-existent pencil/eraser marks, etc. So I learned that, to be a designer, I wasn't only expected to find super creative and highly effective visual solutions to problems, but also that they have to be presented in a professional and organized manner. Presentation, presentation, presentation! After graduating with a BA in Graphic Design, I worked in agencies and advertising firms for several years. I was surrounded by very talented people, many of which seemed to view minimalism and cleanliness as the way to go. I don't regret having studied Graphic Design at all and am extremely thankful for the amazing opportunities I was given to work at these companies. I learned A LOT both professionally as well as personally.
Then came a HUGE shift in my professional life in which I decided to take a position as Art Teacher in a school teaching around 250 students each semester. At the beginning, my mind kind of imploded. It is safe to say that neat freaks would not last in this kind of job. Trying to get 25 students at a time to advance their art projects in a period of 48 minutes (clean-up included), while also grading and managing behavior problems, is INSANE. Managing an Art classroom with no assistant at all and everything that comes with being an Art Teacher is very, very difficult. Perfectionism, cleanliness and neatness was simply not a priority. There is constant chaos going on, no real breaks to look forward to, and it is up to you (and only you) to make things work. I learned to let go of a lot of things or I simply wouldn't be able to get through the day. All of this while being patient and always well-mannered. You are an example for your students after all.
Many things have happened throughout these five years on this beautiful art-teaching rollercoaster. For one, I watched my perfectionist demon die slowly (which was ultimately a good thing). I learned that life is more about the journey than the destination and that we should value progress over perfection, ALWAYS. I learned that fear of failure only hinders our professional progress and that life is too short to spend in a constant state of worry/anxiety. This experience has helped me understand that I should acknowledge my fear and use this energy to move forward instead of letting it stop me. If we let fear stop us, we risk wasting our precious time on this Earth and not doing everything we are intended to do. I honestly can't think of a sadder thing.
In this time I have been teaching Art and exploring all sorts of traditional media (yay! mess!) I have also learned that I love Art and Illustration perhaps even more than I like Graphic Design. Throughout these years, I have drawn, painted and experimented with different types of media much more than I ever did before. I have discovered my passion for traditional media and working with my hands. I have found beauty in imperfection and in being human. Finally, I have learned that we should embrace life as an opportunity to progress towards who we want to be and what we want to create, always remembering (and not being ashamed of) the work we put in to get there.
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