Thursday, October 31, 2013

Dr. Seuss Drawings

This project is always a student favorite.  At this point in Drawing 1, students have been introduced to shading with graphite.  Yesterday, we moved onto ink and did some general practice shading with markers using hatching, cross-hatching, and stippling techniques.  In this project we focus on using hatching to make shapes appear three-dimensional.  Students start by drawing the tubes and then some guidelines that will help them stay on track as they add ink.
In the top right image, you can see the guidelines I have students add before they start adding any hatching with ink.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Drawing Sculpted Words

At some point in my countless hours of web surfing, I came across this great project idea over at A Faithful Attempt for my Drawing 1 class.  Previously, when I started teaching students about shading in graphite or charcoal I would have them take a strip of paper, twist it, and tape it down to a square base.  Usually, students are able to easily see the variety of shadows that exist on the object.  Then they are required to include the various values on the mini sculpture in a drawing.  I have had the students complete this introductory project in charcoal, graphite, and ink.  But, really, an introductory exercise is all it is.  This time around, I thought I would try the ribbon word idea and it seems the students were more involved in the drawing.  I allowed them to choose the word and the size.  In the end, this little adjustment put a little of the student's personality into a basic exercise.  The only thing I would do different next time is require a minimum width, at least an inch, for the strips of paper.  For some reason, my students right now want to work super small and I found that the thicker the paper, the easier it was to make it look realistic.  Here are some of the finished works:

Left: Haven B.  Top Right: Miranda H.
Bottom Image, Left Side: Tian Yin J. Bottom Image, Right Side: Melinda K.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Ah, Bansky...

Street art.  I love it.  Bansky is one of the most clever street artists alive.  If you haven't seen his (or her?) New York 'residency' then you have obviously been spending too much time grading art projects or living under a rock.  Better Out Than In is the latest series by the artist and it is all great, thought-provoking work.  I absolutely love this artist as a teaching tool for my classroom.  There are so many teachable moments when referring to Banksy's body of work.  Each of his works takes a stance on popular social topics.  Forbes magazine has a great article on Banksy's seemingly anti-commercial/anti-gallery stance, which is all too funny because the artist is worth upwards of $20 M.

The idea that art should be accessible to everyone, not just the wealthy or educated is an important idea, especially for art students.  Bansky creates public art in a way that is sarcastic and in your face.  There are other artists who get their start in street art, Shepard Fairey is one of them (there are MANY).  At the end of the term, I sometimes show my students the movie "Exit Through the Gift Shop", which is about street artists, how they work, a crazy man who calls himself "Mr. Brainwash", and Banksy makes an 'appearance'.  I wouldn't just show this movie to any class and teachers be need to preview it and have a discussion with your students prior to viewing!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

5 Favorite Materials: In The Classroom

1.  Micron Pens
These pens might be on the expensive side, but I just love letting my students use them.  The students really get into the different sizes and develop strong preferences.  The one drawback to using Microns is that some students are hard on materials and these pens don't take a beating well.  To combat this, I usually save them for my advanced drawing students who tend to be a bit more gentler on the supplies.

2. Color Pencils
Last year this would not have been on my top 5 list.  But, one of the perks of being an art teacher is that I can take studio classes for professional development and I had the fortunate experience of signing up for a color pencil workshop.  It was AWESOME!  I learned so much about color pencils, the various types, and how to blend them that I now love using this material in the classroom.  I devote the first half of Drawing 2 to using color pencils. 

3. Gel Medium
I really enjoy introducing students to the magic of image transfers.  It is a technique that I use in my personal work regularly and students always enjoy learning about the process.  Gel medium is a key material in most image transfer processes.  It is also a great material for collage work.

4. Etching Inks
I am very fortunate to have a large printing press sitting right in the middle of my room.  I devote half of my Drawing 3 course to printmaking.  The students are able to experience all kinds of printmaking: mono printing, screen printing, linoleum block reduction prints, and even intaglio.  When I introduce the etching inks, I feel like I am giving students a real taste, and smell, of college print making classes.  The smell of the inks and the burnt plate oil takes me right back to the printing studio at Mt. Mercy University.  The biggest drawback to etching inks?  They are so messy!  We go through box after box of rubber gloves, but it is totally worth it. 

5. Turpenoid
Yes, odorless turpentine is on my top five list.  It has to be, from clean up to blending oil pastels and color pencils, we use it all the time.  It is a key material and if you aren't using it in your art room, you should be! 

Friday, October 18, 2013

Mixed Media Portrait Collage

Here are just a few of the fabulous artworks my Drawing 1 class made for a mixed media project.  I usually do the typical self-portrait halfway through the term...just to introduce basic proportions and then we move on.  This time I needed a change.  Drawing is a class I have taught probably close to 30 times.  The projects in Drawing 1 are pretty much the same...we follow Betty Edwards book "Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain".  It provides a great introduction to beginning drawing students.  BUT, I need some variation!  So, I took a basic project and ran with it and the kids loved it!  I showed them a few different image transfer techniques, brought in stencils, gave them acess to spray paint, and showed them how to build layers.  Every single student was totally into the project.  They spent more than two weeks on it!  That never happens in Drawing 1.  Below are some of the finished pieces:
Melinda K.

Top Left: Jacob R. Top Right: Rian T.
Middle Right: Melinda K. Bottom: Melanie F.D.

The top right image is a detail example of an image transfer process that was really slick.  The students started with a drawing, I scanned it, then printed the drawings out on a laser printer.  We used Xylol to transfer the images to the backgrounds.  In a future post, I will detail this process in a tutorial.  

Thursday, October 17, 2013

It's Comic Time

I can't believe it is already that time of the term!  My Drawing 2 students have been asking about this unit since we started class back in August.  They are pretty excited to get started!  We spend the first day talking about comics, the history and the elements used to create a comic (or graphic novel).  I have students examine different graphic novels looking for elements discussed in Making Comics by Scott McCloud.  It is a great book if you are looking to incorporate comics into your classes.  I then have the students work through several drawing exercises to loosen up a bit.  I find that some students are really into this unit while others can be very hesitant.  Working through the basics helps those students open up.  Eventually, we will take these to the computer lab and edited them in Photoshop.  This is a project that takes several weeks, usually around five.  Stay tuned!  I will keep posting as the students progress through the project.  

A student working on preliminary drawings.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Artists of France and Spain

Yes, you read it right!  The Artists of France and Spain!  We announced yesterday that this will be the next international Art Department trip.  We are super excited to offer this global classroom experience for students!  We have chosen to work with EF for this tour, Mrs. Dvorak has taken students on two educational tours with EF, Italy and New York, and had wonderful experiences.  We are hosting our first informational meeting on Friday, October 18th at 3:00 in Room 237 (Mrs. Schmelzer's Room). 

Check back often for more information about this amazing opportunity!

Sunday, October 13, 2013


Welcome to the new Cedar Rapids Washington Art Department blog!  I have decided to move the blog from an announcement page in Google Sites to the Blogger format for a couple of reasons.  First, it is much easier to post with the Blogger app.   This will help me post work in progress more often.  Second, it seems like there is more that I can do with blogger visually and, let's face it, that is why we are here!

I am still going to be posting student work, but I am looking to post more progress shots as well as more specific information about the lessons and tutorials on creative techniques.  The mission of this blog is to create a place for teachers, students, and artists to find ideas, learn techniques, and be inspired to create art!

This is the link to previous posts from the Google Sites blog page.  If anyone has any insight into easily importing those posts into Blogger, I am ALL ears!!!