Friday, November 21, 2014

Drawing Multicultural Representations

As an art teacher you are often asked creative favors, and more often than not the favor takes longer than the person who is asking thinks it will take. For me, the reason some of these creative tasks take longer than expected is because of how invested I become in completing them successfully as they often will affect many people.

Recently, my school asked me to redesign a coloring book that they give as a welcome packet to potential Pre-K and Kindergarten students. The book is supposed to show a day in the life and ease the anxiety a four-year-old child may have about visiting a new place. The problem with asking me to make illustrations that represent a diverse student population was that, at the time, I was taking a grad class on diversity and very much in the throes of struggling with all the "isms" of society. Racism, sexism, etc. are tough topics and understanding how they operate subliminally in an educational setting is even more unsettling. I felt like Atlas with the weight of the world on my shoulders when I first begin sketching! How was I going to make effective multicultural representations in a coloring book?!

I based my drawings on many different students
I began by observing my students and watching how they moved and posed. Sometimes I would see a student crouching down with her kilt draping gracefully around her and try to remember it. The biggest lesson I learned is that you cannot create in a vacuum. Sharing early sketches and initiating conversations with peers and kids is a great way to get quick and honest feedback. I even snuck a few copies into my scrap bin to see how how my kids would react to them. Now that the illustrations are finally complete I am proud of them and hope that our diverse student population sees themselves in these multicultural representations.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Art Installation in Windows: Leaf Collages

Last year I got approval from the administration to install a new way to display artwork in the windows of a hallway connecting Lower School to the rest of the school. This space, the breezeway, always inspired me as a sunlit link between the Lower School, the wetlands, woods, and creek. The solution for a simple and elegant hanging apparatus came from The Eric Carle Studio Blog as they too had beautiful big windows where they wished to display art.
If you're walking to the wetlands or woods outside you'll pass by nature-themed artwork

Friday, November 7, 2014

Easy, Beautiful Leaf Collages Inspired by Lois Elhert

I am so excited to share a sneak peak of 1st and 2nd grade's leaf collages! (They will be installed in the windows next week and I'll be sure to share pictures of them en situ.) We read Lois Elhert's beautiful picture book, Leaf Man as inspiration to make our own leaf collages from fallen autumn leaves around our school.

After collecting 5-6 favorite leaves we put on Motown via Pandora and got busy creating in the art room! We used a small amount of glue from a gluestick to adhere the cut leaf collage to a piece of lamination paper. I laminated their creations the same day to ensure they remained flat and didn't get crispy and dry. I photographed them on a light table to show off the gorgeous colors. I emphasized overlapping, color, and shape to create successful representations of animals and creatures. More pictures soon!