Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Ain't Nobody Fresher. . .

My undergraduate alma mater is The University of Georgia. . .And, before you yell, “Go Dawgs!” or “Sic ‘em” or some other iteration of communicative school pride, you should know: I only attended one half of one football game and That was Enough of That. I spent most of my four years inside the Lamar Dodd School of Art painting, drawing, digitally designing, and printmaking. Most of what I know about being a solid working artist (including work ethic, composition, participating in crit, running a crit, and looking at art), I learned from the incredible talented and especially formidable Diane Edison

This artist is just 13 years old. . .
Ms. Edison (she always commanded more respect than the Art professors who went by a name alone), only teaches 8 a.m. classes, and as such her courses were usually very small which I appreciated. During my time at UGA, the Fine Art program was full of male professors, and I think one of the reasons I initially signed up for Ms. Edison’s classes was that she was a female teacher. I respect her so much, and her classes are a relentless practice in dedication, craftsmanship, and discipline.  Her crits are something of legend. Crits last upward of two hours. During the crit, the entire class circulates from one artwork to the next. The artist talks about his/her artwork, students voluntarily respond one at a time, and then Ms. Edison speaks.  Only one person is allowed to talk at a time; no one can whisper or make light comments because according to Ms. Edison, crits are scary and the artist has no idea if you are saying positive or negative comments (isn’t that so true?!). I whispered once during a crit; I was cured of that for life with just a stare.  One Ms. Edison speaks; the crit of that artwork is over.  Intense (and so awesome).

Look Ma, No Black Pencil!  The students are only allowed to use complementary colors to create richer dark zones of color.
I can still remember trotting out of Lamar Dodd on a spring day feeling a major sense of accomplishment because I managed to hold my own during crit. And, to this day, when I make art (over a decade after undergraduate graduation), I can hear the advice and criticism of Ms. Edison; it is something that will resonate with me for as long as I create.

This is a new 8th grade student. He told me this is the first Art class he has had since elementary school. Check out this totally raw talent!
Ms. Edison’s medium of choice is colored pencil, so it is hardly surprising the cornerstone of her classes (during my undergrad tenure) dealt with colored pencil techniques. Some of the most valued -and basic- things I learned about colored pencils are that working on colored paper makes the work vibrant, layering color adds richness, and using black sparingly is for the best. She is a master, and it was a rare treat to learn at her feet. To this day, I still have a deep and abiding respect for what you can do with the humble colored pencil.

We are still working on adding more "layers of color" to create depth. . .But, man, can this kiddo draw.
And, I often teach the same skills she instilled in me to my middle school students (albeit we use Prang instead of Prismacolor as that better fitsour budget). . . I am always so impressed with how quickly my middle school students understand it. . . And so grateful I had the opportunity to learn from Ms. Edison and provide my students with the one-step-removed benefit of her knowledge.

"Ms. Z.! Don't take a picture of my work! You know I can't draw" Yeah, right, kid!


Do/did you have a master artist teacher who still inspires your practice? Please share!

Friday, April 4, 2014

My Top Ten Lists for NAEA2014

Whew. I'm back in the ATL, and if possible, the weather is even better here than it was in San Diego. Call me a swamp blossom, but even the balmy 70's of San Diego felt chilly to me; I'm thrilled that we are hitting the 80's in Georgia. I had SUCH a blast at my first NAEA Convention. I've put together two lists that will help you to understand my joy!

Top Ten Best Parts of My NAEA2014 Experience:
10. Like, OMG, just getting to go to NAEA. So, blessed!

09. All. of. the. presentations. I'm still marinating.

08. Getting to support students from my alma mater whom were making their first presentations too. Can you imagine being an undergrad and presenting at NAEA?! Yup, they're pretty impressive people.

07. Taking my mentor out to breakfast at the Hilton. I felt like such a grown-up, y'all. She is the reason I ever think critically about my practice, ever.

06. Presenting at a national conference. I think I did okay.


05. Getting to be a in a picture with these ArtEd blogging giants. Seriously, I'm small-time; I felt very humbled! And, isn't The Art of Ed's booth killer-cool? Plus, Jessica Balsley is a super nice. 
Not my pic. It is by Mr. Balsley, and was original posted on the Art of Ed's FB wall. 

04. Meeting Cassie Stephens. She's even cooler in real-life, y'all.

03. Not realizing I was in a picture with one of my heroes, Ian Sands, until it was posted on social media. I didn't even get to "meet" him. Ian- if you're reading this- OMG I'm fangirling all over you in NOLA. Advance apologies.

02. I met Phyl of There's a Dragon in my Art Room. No words. She is beyond cool and awesome.


01. Meeting and then getting to present with Cheri Lloyd. Cheri is a rockstar, and I'm pretty much humbled by just how kick-butt her art department -which she made- is. Also, I'm not sure if you noticed or not (was my screaming about it across social media sites not enough for you?!), but Cheri was featured in Tricia Fuglested's visual notes from NAEA2014.
Work by Tricia Fuglested

Top Ten Most Hilarious Things I Did/Happened to Me at NAEA2014:
Oh, wait. I shouldn't share that online. Nevermind. But, if you didn't make it this year. . .I hope to see you in NOLA.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Let's Get Ready to CONFERENCE!

I am so excited because in a scant 48 hours, I will be in San Diego at my first NAEA conference. . .At which, I will make two presentations.

My first conference experience will be on Saturday morning at 9 a.m. wherein I will make presentation #1.

No pressure.

I would LOVE to meet some of my online buds. The details about them are below, and I would love to see you there. But, if you can't make it, please drop by before/after and say, "Hey!"

Presentation #1
Critical Multiculturalism through Student-Led Filmography
Saturday, Room 32 A/Upper Level, 9 a.m.


Handouts and presentation outline are here. 

Presentation #2
Collaborating to make Art Accessible for High and Low Budget Programs (co-presented w/Cheri Lloyd)
Saturday, Room 32 A/Upper Level, 2 p.m.


Handouts, presentation, and full lesson plans with visual and PowerPoints here.


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Technology Applications in the Art Room

I'm in the process of wrapping up a professional development course I taught entitled, Technology Applications for the [Visual Arts] Classroom. The course was open to anyone in my district, but I had a special emphasis for Art teachers. While most of you bloggy-readers are pretty tech-savvy, I thought you might appreciate some of the hand-outs from the course. The handouts are pretty nice compilations, and they have lots of fun links. Additionally, I put together some of the student handouts I use when I teach Digital Art in the classroom and shared them with the course participants (and by proxy, you). Enjoy!

Me Reviewing Animation in the Classroom Via ScreenCast-O-Matic:




General Handouts:










Project-Application-Based Handouts:








Print-Outs to Turn Into Classroom Posters:




Monday, March 17, 2014

Check Yourself. . .

The small painting was inspired by an incident during my first year teaching. I was at a predominantly White school; there was only one Black student. One day, several kids were wondering what “crunk” was… They made the biased mistake of asking the only Black student, a girl, what crunk meant… And, her response was priceless. It also taught some very unthinking privileged kids a bit about awareness and their own bias.
The note (which reads):
"You is a bitch! Fuck yo class and fuck you! I hate art. Art is gay + dumb. You ugly gothic lookin hoe Go to Hell! No one lykes your class do just kiss my ass! Have a nice day Mrs. Jhonson."
was left on my desk during my second year of teaching. I worked at a Title I school that had a lot of gang related issues. This student was mad I gave him a detention. He later decided I was ok (he spent a lot of time in Art), and even robbed a convenience store to give me a Valentines Day gift (a hilarious story btw, and I managed to convince the store owner to not press charges).
I keep these items framed together in my house to remind me to be sensitive to others… and to be aware of how my own privilege can limit my ability to teach well. I have to constantly work to be aware of the experiences of others. And to remind me that even those kids who act like they hate you and/don’t care are really desperate for approval and positive attention.
Also, that note is hilarious and I smile every time I see it. 

20 Best Art Education Blogs

Hey! A pretty cool thing happened:  Artful Artsy Amy was listed by TinkerLab in a list of the 20 Best Art Education Labs. There are some pretty awesome blogs listed there, so I'm stoked to be a part of it. You should head on over and check it out!

Image from TinkerLab

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Making Contemporary Art Relevant to Students

I love teaching my students about contemporary artists. . .But, sometimes, the art and/or themes are so sophisticated it is hard for them to relate.

Check out this awesome interview between Jeff Koons and Pharell Williams; it is sure to grab the attention of your students!

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