Sunday, July 24, 2011

First Grade Self-Portraits

Remember that time I went to Shanghai for a "business trip?" It was such a refreshing weekend! I came back with lots of ideas for projects (like that awesome batik process) and connections to many other art teachers at international schools.

Another project I incorporated right away was a first grade self-portrait seen at Shanghai American School. We learned the word portrait, then began drawing our face step-by-step together. Oval face, eyes in the middle, L nose, flattened M and U for the mouth, strong necks (no lollipops!), and broad shoulders. Don't forget the eyebrows and ears!

When finished with their pencil drawings, they traced their lines in black marker. Next, we read The Colors of Us and tested Crayola Multicultural Crayons to find matching skin tones. Looking at four self-portraits by Albrecht Durer in The Art Book for Children, we noticed backgrounds as a way to tell more about ourselves. The students added drawings of their toys (real or the ones they want) in the background. Some also added bits of a room and family members. Lastly, they worked on nice coloring for their clothing and background.

Some of the pictures below were taken before students finished coloring their self-portraits. I am so pleased with the results!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

All Those Extra Things...

I once heard a professor speak about an elementary principal that expected her to create a custom personal Christmas card for him. Apparently the previous art teacher did this favor. She put her foot down and said "that is not my job."

But life over here is different.
And (don't hate me) I teach 12 art classes a week. One PreK, one K, and two sections each of 1st-5th grade. Each class comes to art for less than an hour. I am also required to study two hours of Chinese each week, and every other year, I teach AP Art History on top of my elementary load. (Can I call it a load? It's more like a small handful of classes...) And I'm working on my masters through Penn State's online program.

This year, being a non-AP year, I had a lot of extra prep time at school. Don't get me wrong---I love evenings without planning---but I needed a few extra tasks to keep me going throughout the day. Chaperoning field trips, assisting with in-class artsy projects, reading to students during their library time, and that whole accreditation process. (I was a focus group leader for our WASC self-study and assisted with the editing process.)

But one of my favorite things is pretending to be a graphic designer. Busting out my old school Adobe CS from 2005, praying that it will still cooperate with Vista, and creating some digital work! It is awesome to see your work in print. Flyers, posters, banners, t-shirts, medals, engraved plaques, a yearbook cover, a ceramic mug, a travel mug---the list goes on! If you haven't heard, it's pretty cheap to produce things in China, so we get a lot of customized things. And my design work, that comes even cheaper!

I've already posted about my "branding" of the elementary drama,
but I thought I'd share with you a few more images of my work. It's nothing fancy, but I thoroughly enjoy the design process. I like to be able to assist and I love seeing the finished products. Just this spring, I've designed 4 different t-shirts! So cool to see someone walking around town wearing one of the shirts I designed...

My passion for all things artsy extends to include helping select paint colors (for the school building and coworkers' apartments), then supervising the mixing process or doing color corrections, and other interior design tasks. I've designed drying racks from scratch (aiya! not fun), custom cabinetry for the ceramics studio, and now I'm working on cabinets for our new Early Childhood Center. I've only finished one traditional piece of "art" while in China (a painting), and one while I was in the states last summer, but I am constantly working as an amateur graphic designer, product designer, interior designer and party planner (decorating for formals!). It's not exactly portfolio-worthy, but it's fun and fills a need in our school community. Just another one of the services provided...

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