Thursday, July 28, 2011

The usual suspects: Materials i love and get every year!

As I stated in my previous posting, I'm currently in the throes of the annual supply ordering for all of my classes. Before I started at my present school I had zero experience in this area. My first go round of supply ordering took me a month. Kind of excessive? Well, I had a VERY tight budget that year and so that month I took was used cross-checking prices on every single product I had on my shopping list so that I could stretch every dollar I was given to the absolute limit and my diligence paid off handsomely because I believe I saved upwards of $400-500 by ordering between two of my most reliable suppliers - Dick Blick and Nasco. These days I order mostly from Dick Blick since they do maintain very competitive pricing on top of having very quick shipping and top notch customer service but there are some things that I will always return to Nasco for even if it saves me a measly $10. (I mean seriously? Ten bucks can go a long way when you're talking raw art materials and tools and could help me replace/upgrade something that is long overdue for such a thing. Call me cheap or frugal or a vigilante - I don't care because it yields me having a beautifully stocked studio for my talents students to use!)

All this being said, I'm a bit of a materials/supply junkie. (THERE. I SAID IT.)

I'm a huge fan of trying out new supplies in order to get the most optimal results possible in every project I do -  whether personal or in my art classroom. I'm always on the lookout for upgrading things that aren't quite that great to work with but I also have a running list of products/brands that I am incredibly loyal to. The way it goes is if I find something and I like it a lot (not even love it) I will stick with it pretty loyally and not budge. (So suppliers? Do it right the first time and I promise you I will stick with you for the longest haul ever!)

I have at least a dozen tried and true supply that I re-order every single year because they are such a hit in the classroom with the kids, they are beautiful to work with, and they are pretty reasonably priced. Curious what they are? (This might be a boring repeat for those of you who haunt the product and materials review section here on the blog) Here you go...

There is more than just that but that's the most of what I always seem to put on my supply list year after year. The quantity of anything (in case you were wondering about that) is determined by the number of students I have in my classes. Since I teach a a private high school, the students I work with pay supply fees per each art class they take - studio and digital alike - and so this helps tremendously with keeping them in the freshest and highest quality/grade supplies possible. I know that the brands I've noted above are some of the best brands out there and many who read the list will be amazed that my supplies budget can afford the things I have noted year in and year out but it's honestly because of the supplies fees that are collected! (And I know this type of thing is a HUGE blessing when compared with the budgets that have to be juggled in the public school sector or even on the college level when poor college students are charged with getting specific items on supply lists and they always end up trying to "make-do" as much as their wallets can't bear.)

Anyway, I'll update again with more about supplies ordering in addition to specifics with regard to new projects I'm doing this next year! And if you ever EVER have any questions about anything I post here on the blog - be it about the supplies/amounts I have just discussed, specifics about supplies as they pertain to projects/lesson ideas I feature on here, etc. - please don't hesitate to contact me via email at dreampraycreate{at} Thank you!

I'm just getting started

Oh, Hi! How are you? Nice to meet you! And welcome!!

Is it weird that I'm starting a posting like this? Perhaps. But per my blog stats, I'm getting all kinds of new traffic on this here blog and I always feel like it's nice when something like that is not only recognized but also openly acknowledged. And I suspect it's happening because other art educators are doing the same thing I am currently doing. And that is, preparing for the coming school year by gathering inspiration, getting together art budgets so supplies can be ordered, scrapping/saving project ideas that did/didn't work in last year's curriculum. Etc. etc. etc. Better early than late to do this stuff, right? Here is the actual start of my planning for this year. I just took this picture of what is the core of my paperwork/planning notes right here in the teachers conference room of my school...

I started this blog last year because I believe in harnessing social networking and other powers of the internet as a way of helping me to be a more able, open-minded, forward thinking, and contributing member of the visual art and art education world. This blog came about also because I noticed that there were very few blogs/website specifically featuring high school art education and/or galleries of actual student artwork with corresponding lesson plan ideas. I mean, I can come up with plenty of ideas on my own but I will readily admit that it's easy to be stagnant if you hole yourself up and don't make an effort to connect yourself with what's outside of you.

I know I've been remiss about keeping up with student work and lesson plans as I have them but I'm really going to try and make a better effort to stay on top or as far ahead of things as possible this year on the blog. As my blog traffic shows on a daily basis, people are finding what I post here useful and they are returning for more information. I like this if only because I remember what it was like to be in the position of feeling like I just needed/wanted a little more information for what I was trying to do/be as an art educator and GOOD visual artist and if I can help to enrich (even just a little bit) the visual art community with the experience that I have had and continue to have, it's a positive thing that goes far beyond me just establishing a successful blog. I operate from the position that it's not about me anyway and I really believe in doing this for the better of the whole - whenever possible!

Anyway, I wanted to post something about the current state of things with regard to my role as an art educator...

  1. Getting my budget aligned with my supply ordering
  2. My decision making with regard to scrapping/saving projects I've done and shared here
  3. Implementing new project ideas
  4. General beginning of the year planning within art education
But it seems I've waxed on about, oh... I don't know really. But I've also stated what I feel like my newly invented purpose is for the blog, recommitted myself to what I'm doing and feel like I'm called to do in the first place, AND welcomed all of the new visitors who are arriving from all corners of the world - seriously! I'm getting a lot of international hits and that's exciting to me!!

My short term goal is that I will be blogging on all four topics (as stated above) starting tomorrow and leading up to the beginning of my school year - that is three weeks from now for myself and my colleagues and four weeks from now for the students. I might be able to sneak in some images here and there (if I can!) of the student gallery as I put it back together for the school year but I'm not sure since my work doing freelance photography and graphic design also needs to be a major priority before the school year starts. (I've got a wedding album to design, two engagement shoots, a weekday wedding, a senior portrait session, three family portrait sessions, and a major food photography shoot for a local bakery! *phew*)

In any case? I will hopefully see you tomorrow afternoon possibly while I'm amped up on cupcakes that I've both photographed AND had the great joy to sample!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Lesson idea: Apparel as art (a study of Expressionism)

This project is the last one I did with the Interactive Art History class. We tackled Expressionism and it was a project I specifically implemented because I knew it would be the end of the year and I wanted the students to be as engaged and invested in the creative process and fabrication of their projects as possible. It originated from the idea that we would do painted ties (meant for display and not wearing so much) with acrylic paints for them to give to their fathers for the fathers day even though it would be happening long after we were released for the summer. I figured that we had done the mini masterpieces for the moms so doing something for the dads was just as important.

The original idea was to study the work of Peter Max and then have them create designs on neck ties in that style with fluorescent paints.  I picked Peter Max because it's something that I feel like has always been fun to look at and served as inspiration for the students (we have a Peter Max poster in the classroom) and I've also had the great advantage and opportunity to actually see plenty of Peter Max originals via his gallery in Vegas, some pieces in a private collection of someone I used to know, and also a number of pieces on a Caribbean cruise I went on last year (at their art auction). The students loved the idea of Peter Max and the neckties but of course attempt to sway me into a direction that allowed them a little more creative flexibility. Because I love them so much and I aim to please and I'm always wanting to let them push and propel themselves as much as possible, I caved and opened it up to being more than just Peter Max inspired designs and also something more and other than just neckties and they really "hit the ground running" so enthusiastically with the door open to them to pick either a shoe OR necktie. I am so proud of the pieces that they yielded and I didn't have to fight for their attention or investment in their work even in the last days of class. If anything they were trying to find time in the rest of their schedule to be in the artroom to work on their projects.

This shoe was designed by one of my students who is a dedicated dancer. The inspiration was Swan Lake and the shoe was heavily gesso-ed in order to ensure that the ribbons would stay in their sculpted shape as much as possible.

This shoe was inspired by the Wizard of Oz movie and book and the student did such a great job at taking so many of the characters and putting them together to have this piece truly speak of the crew if characters that helped Dorothy find her way back home.

This student took an old bedroom slipper so that it looked like a golf course layout not unlike one that her own dad would spend his early tee-times at.  She did a really great job at using the textures of the slipper to imitate actual landscape elements and she spent a lot of attention really getting specific details just right.

This student used a favorite scripture and heavily gesso-ed her necktie to create the heart shape at the top of the tie knot as a way to complement the rest of the design of the tie.

This student did a great job with a painted design despite the fact that he was forced to use a color palette that was his secondary and tertiary choice.

This tie was the actual one worn by the student's father when he got married. (I KNOW. I was a little concerned because of the sentimental nature of the tie she chose to deconstruct and fabricate for her project!)  The student assured me it was OK though but then used elements of her parents' wedding day in order to inform the design and make a little more of a visual memento of their incredible wedding day from years before. It became something that can now be proudly displayed in the family art gallery space (in their home) instead of being tucked away in a closet. I feel like it was a big risk that was taken but a big win in terms of creative expression and that was the whole point of this project to begin with.

This student ended up painting over this design but I just love it anyway. The quote is so thought provoking and I love how that is juxtaposed by the "doodled" quality of the graphics that surround it.

These shoes were designed/painted by two different students and their goal was to design something "fashion forward" that a sort of Carrie Bradshaw clown would wear. I feel like they nailed it pretty well and even thinking back on the time they spent in class, looking at these shoes really makes me smile.

This tie was just awesome. I did an awful job at photographing it because what you can't see is how gigantic it is. It's a GIANT NECKTIE fashioned from a drapery panel. I encouraged the students to go in this direction and only one really took the idea and ran with it. I was so proud of her and bragged about her to no end that of which I'm sure everyone (but the student herself) tired of. *shrug* A giant tie is AWESOME. I don't care what anyone says. A GIANT TIE IS AWESOME!!!

This student took the idea of juxtaposing a black and white palette with a very colorful one. He was very frustrated (at times) with this project but he did a great job at sticking with it.

And I just love this one because it looks completely illustrated in nature almost like it was lifted right out of a cartoon off the character who was wearing it. It's got such a fun spirit about it and all of the students commented continually about how it was just really neat. AND despite the fact that it is of the primary color palette, it didn't have the very specific "feel" that primary colors sometimes yield - that of which can be very scholastic or school-ish in nature.

Overall I was so incredibly pleased with the turn out of this project and (if anything) I will change it in the future to push all of the kids to "sculpt" giant ties and shoes instead of just taking what could be found in the backs of closets or thrift stores and upcycled.

Thoughts on graduate study

As I mentioned in my last posting, I have been busy gathering everything needed to complete an application to a grad school program in Art Education. The school was the University of Florida and just to satisfy any curiosities of the admissions decision: I didn't get in.

I'm not gonna lie. I'm bummed about this. But I'm also really really confused about what happened to yield this because to start with I had real reservations with applying to the program to begin with based upon the very non-traditional career and academic path I've taken to have the position I currently have in Art Education. Because my current degree is NOT in the fine arts or art education, I'm always immediately disqualified from applying to most all art education graduate programs. U of F is the first program that claimed my nontraditional status would not count against me. The admissions advisor in addition to numerous members of the faculty of the program (to whom I spoke with pretty directly before finally filing my application) all assured me that I should be confident that I was a very solid candidate for this program - I have half a decade of teaching experience (at this point) of traditional classroom teaching, coursework in education on both the undergrad and graduate level (though not enough to satisfy full degree requirements), I have written my own curriculum to standards that have been highly regarded by administrators I've reported to - who are now incidentally working at an administrative level overseeing entire school districts, I've actively maintained and devoted time to a body of work that isn't just for the sack of making art for the sake of art. I could honestly go on and on honestly. But what it boils down to is that none of it was enough and so it only leaves me with the question of what would have been enough then. 

I've already called and emailed my admissions advisor in an attempt to gain the answers to all of the questions I have. Granted, I only applied to this one program and the answer could be that I missed admission by just a hair because I needed one more "vote" from the committee OR there just wasn't room enough for me (but then wouldn't I have been wait listed?) for this next round of the grad class but I just don't know. Honestly, though, I believe that what has ultimately held me back was my personal portfolio of artwork - most specifically: the masks. 

The masks that I've made and continue to work on have been things that I've understood as controversial. They make statements about denominations and practices of faith that are difficult for people to both see and hear. Whether this is because what I've said/shown are true or not? Truth is not up for debate. It's just the fact  that I've said/shown what I have and I have to wonder if the offense that people may have felt is ultimately what barred me from admissions. Being offended is something that is not easily overcome and if someone was offended by the work I presented, well, they wouldn't be able to so soon forget it that they would be clamoring to endorse and support my application for admission.

I really did debate whether or not I should submit those masks. I mean, I don't know if that's what stood in the way of my admissions but I have a gut feeling that they were surely a major part of the denial for admission I received. Still? I feel like it's not a decision I want to regret or apologize for. From my own studies of scripture and following of faith, I've always known that any time I draw in my own assertions of faith and religion, I WILL be subject to rejection and denial. Christ himself was rejected and denied and any support of Him is always something I know will be a point of contention. And I definitely was far from doing anything less than asserting myself as a Christian fine artist and art educator in my application of admission to a  program that was most certainly secular more than anything else. 

Well. What can you do. Of rather, what can I do at this point. As I said, I'm not inclined to apologize or regret or deny the stance that I took. I stand by it and I refuse to compromise it even in the slightest just so I can be accepted by anyone else. I don't want just anyone else's approval and I'm not sacrificing my own personal integrity of faith especially to attain it. I'm committed to going where God directs me and if U of F is not where it is? Well it gives me that much greater wisdom and knowledge and confidence of where I should be going instead.
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