Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Whoops! There went my head...

Did you catch that blog posting yesterday about quick sculpting? The one that had the pictures and then basically no explanation about them? Well... I had queued it up to post  but *heh* didn't finish it entirely and it just posted just like that. #facepalm

Anyway, just wanted to let you know that I updated the post with a little bit more information to explain things and you are welcome to revisit it! Also, just wanted to state the obvious which is that with this being the last few days before Hairspray opens, I am pretty much LOSING. MY. MIND!!!!

Seriously. I mean... I don't even want to go into the half of it all - I will recap perhaps next week once the show opens this Saturday - but just trust me and know that I barely know what day OR what time it is lately because I am eating, sleeping, and BREATHING the set design and production or Hairspray. It's always a little crazy just before a stage production opens but this one? Well... it's particularly challenging. *sigh*

Anyway, I am going to go ahead and just give myself a bit of an intermission here on the blog for the remainder of the week so I can focus and devote as much of my spare time to finishing up the major odds and ends of the show so in the meanwhile? Hang tight! I'll see you next week!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Quick Sculpting is AWESOME for Summative assessments

[This is from a while back but it's taken me a bit to get caught up so pardon me.]

 Do you do pre-tests/assessments in visual art?

This is from the very first assignment for the 3D Design class as a way for me to assess where each of them was starting from - skillsets, general understanding of art and design, etc. The inspiration for each of the sculptures was for them to sculpt what it feels like to look at a rainbow. Essentially, they were each sculpting an emotion which was challenging for some but at the same time many of them enjoyed the challenge and really sought to tackle it well. They were only allowed to use paper and simple adhesives like tape and white glue and they were instructed to do their best to make it as clean in construction as possible.

After they spent about three days working on it I had another class (a 2D Design class) critique and visually "read" what the sculpture was attempting to communicate while the 3D Design classes critiqued and read the 2D Design pre-assessments. All of the students were very interested in find out what the other students read from their work and I was able to read where they were in their art understandings and abilities! It was pretty successful overall.

Friday, February 22, 2013

YouTube is the BEST :: Drawing with Anna

How often do you use this youtube? Never? Well... allow me to possibly change you mind about that!

Back up a little bit: Do you ever remember your days in school when you would walk into class and standing at the front of the class where the teacher would be was the coveted and adored A/V cart? (A/V=Audio Visual). You know what I'm talking about, right? The tall metal cart that had a television and VCR (and later DVD/VCR combo) secured to it that basically meant one thing - VIDEO DAY IN CLASS!!!!!!!!!

Well, using Youtube videos are just about the equivalent to having a video day in class for any kid. Seriously. They almost don't even care if the youtube clip is hokey or not. Most of them will watch just about anything you present to them AND enjoy it AND remember it. Which is the BIG kicker!)

For the purposes of visual art instruction, I am a hardcore believer in the power of demonstrations. I mean, what better way to explain something than to SHOW them how and what to do, right? But in all honesty, demos kind of drive me crazy sometimes. For whatever reason, they require an immense amount for me to set up for both my classes and myself to experience together. I mean, I suppose I could just set up the demo and do it and have the kids do nothing but sit and watch but I have found that to be unproductive to a point because they will get side tracked and just generally do their own thing and waste materials. Also, if they need/want me to repeat a certain step after I have gone beyond it? Well... most demos that I do are very prohibitive of that being able to happen.

Enter the Youtube's Drawing with Anna!!!!!

Perhaps you already know Anna very well and I am behind the times but if that's not the case, join me and get with it!!! Drawing with Anna is AWESOME!!!!! She has only a handful of instructional videos but they are very useful and I have recently used two - the Continuous Line Drawing video and the Blind Contour video:

I used both of these videos in the 2D Design class that I am currently teaching and while Anna can be a little hokey for high schoolers - she is honestly pretty sweet, an awful lot like someone's really nice mom, and she does a pretty decent job at teaching the general jist of both Continuous Line drawing and the Blind Contour drawing. It was also nice to be able to have a video that I could stop and start and back up as I needed to in order to specifically speak about different things that are relevant to what I am doing with my students and their project work currently.

So there you have it! I am a fan of Drawing with Anna. And now you can be too!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Lesson Idea :: Cartoons in the Round :: 3D Design

As an art teacher I get bored easily with lesson and project ideas. Does this happen to you?

For this reason, I do my best to not repeat lesson and project ideas if I can help it but if that has to happen, create an iteration of time to happen such that there is at least a semester or even entire school year in between repeats.

That being said? A favorite of the 3D Design class I teach is clay sculpting cartoons. I like to do this with them as a bit of a final/finale project and (in turn) a reward for all that they have learned and hard work they have invested through the whole semester. And while I usually love/hate dealing with clay because I have a shared studio classroom, by the end of the semester I usually have full confidence in the skillsets and individual investments of each student to know that they will not waste any of their time or high quality materials that they are provided.

The last time I did this project was at the end of the Fall semester of 2010. It is such a favorite project that I try to let at least one 3D Design class do it per year but as it ended up happening, it didn't work out last year because of the budget. This year though, I was able to make it happen and it was quite a success. Here are the finished pieces from this year...

This one started out as Bambi but structurally it just wasn't working it out so I helped the student artist to steer it this way.

I had the students do a few different things this year than I have in previous ones. One of the major ones was they were required to make armatures and then cover them with clay in order to ensure that each of their finished pieces were a little more structurally sound and less likely to break apart. Doing this sort of worked in teaching them that the inside part that you don't see is just as important as the outside that you do see but not all of the armatures worked out so well. I attribute this to the fact many of them didn't use clay thick enough to fully encase the armatures and as the clay shrunk when it set, the armatures were popping and pushing out in weird ways.

Some of the things that remained the same though were the fact that we used boneware clay as we always do, we fully utilized clay sculpting boxwood tools that you can buy in a class set for a really reasonable price, and the students were each required to draw a front view, side view, and aerial view of their design ideas in order to help them better visualize what they would eventually have to do and then for me to be able to help them if they had issues rather than relying on their verbal directions that go something like this, "Well... it kind of has this thing that goes around and then comes back again and it's kind of big but not really." o_O  Seriously. I cannot help a student artist who is going to give me that kind of information to go from in order for me to be able to help them.

All of this being said? I continue to very much like this lesson idea to keep using it in years to come.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Behind the Music(al) :: Hairspray :: The REAL star of the show

So here's a little trivia question for you:
What do highways and the musical I am currently working on have in common?




Give up?

OK. I'll tell you. The answer is: a SONOTUBE.

If you don't care to click through the link above to find out what a sonotube is, let me just tell you that it's a gigantic form used in highway, bridge, and building construction to pour giant concrete pillars. Pretty cool, eh? But what in the world could we possibly use something like that for in a musical production, right?

Well, let me clue you in with a picture of the sonotube that we have been using in action...

Does it closely resemble anything to you? How about a giant sort of something that might be a real centerpiece type prop for the production of Hairspray that we are doing. How about a giant HAIRSPRAY CAN?

Ah yes! Now you see it, right? *high five*

I am extraordinarily blessed to work at a school where we have quite a very well developed, established, accomplished, and respected performance art program. There are some families that actually send there kids to my school because of the performance arts even! Because of that, we have talented kids out the wazoo and parents and their families who are very VERY committed to supporting the performance art dreams and aspirations of their kids. The great blessing that comes with that is that we have quite a bit of students whose parents have their own contracting and construction companies and every year there is some family that steps up to help spearhead the building of the incredibly elaborate sets that I am so blessed to be able to adorn and decorate and we are able to use to showcase the performances more incredibly.

This year with Hairspray we knew that one of the big main pieces of the set would be a giant hairspray can that one of the characters would be able to actually climb into and pop out of in the finale. Research was done for pre-production to determine how it would happen that we would have a convincingly real giant hairspray can but ultimately we ended up going the way of the sonotube when the brilliant set engineer and builder parent spearheading things this year suggested it. Add a circular pond liner found at any home improvement super store and a white plastic bucket sans the metal handle? And voila! We've got the most realistic giant hairspray can you could possibly imagine encountering in real life!!! Here it is in the process of being hand painted by yours truly...

As you can see, it opens up french door-style for the purposes of popping out and surprising the audience.

Two students helped me to prime and roller paint everything on the ground and I did everything that required major climbing of the ladder. I also hand lettered and and painted all of the embellishments.

I put the bucket "nozzle" back on top before I left today. It's not securely affixed because decisions are still being made for the purposes of a special effects to help assist in making a BIG finish happen at the end of the show.

I don't remember the original dimensions of the sonotube but I would say that the finished hairspray can from base to nozzle is well over 15 feet tall. It is also on casters that are hidden at the base where there is a recessed floor made of planked plyboard.  The can is mostly finished and the only thing left is for me to finish painting the asterisk pattern all the way around the sides to the back. The goal with the painting of it was to adhere as closely as possible to the can designed for all of the printed materials of the show and I think I managed to do that pretty well. My department head/the director originally thought I would put the wig design on the label but the original Hairspray production uses the Ultra Clutch brand name and so that made more sense to me and when people saw it like that instead of having the wig, everyone was more than pleased.

We keep saying that we don't know what we are going to do with this thing once the show is over because we have no place to store it whatsoever. There is major discussion (that is probably going to happen) about selling it to another theater company once we are done with it but I will tell you something, I secretly wish I had the space at my house to take it home with me. Seriously. I would TOTALLY put it in my house and upholster the inside and make it some weird hideaway in a corner of my house. I have always had a secret obsession with anything that might be unusually small or unreasonably large and this giant hairspray can? Well, it totally fits the bill for something that I would LOVE to call my own for the rest of my days. *sigh* So, despite the fact that it was like the dickens to paint, well... I (now not so) secretly loved every moment of it!!! I mean seriously? Even before it was painted I would look at it and it would just make me chuckle in a totally non-conspicuous way and then I would just feel all smiley and happy inside. And if I had something in my house like that? Well now - if I ever was having a bad day? Surely it would be swiftly quelled with just a glance of the gigantic hairspray can taking up space in my living room and if that wasn't enough I could crawl inside of it and I would probably feel better almost immediately. (How weird do you all think I am now? I don't care. I DON'T EVEN CARE!!!)


So, perhaps you have some serious cash to buy this off of my school's theater department once we are done with it. I'll let you all know when it goes on sale! ;) Just promise me that if you do end up buying it, you take care of this sweet giant baby with all of the TLC you have for the rest of your life.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Behind the Music(al) :: Hairspray :: Tickets

We've got tickets!!!!! 

This is the first year that we have done vertical orientation of the ticket design but with the hairspray can that is easily the core of the overall design of the show, well... it works, don't you think?

The tickets are color coded not only because it looks really cool like that but more to help differentiate between the different showings. We haven't done color coded tickets before this year but it has worked out so well to do it like this that it easily might become a standard thing for every show from here on out.

This past long holiday weekend I spent the majority of my time at school working on the set so I will be sharing pictures of those adventures soon enough. We still have a week and a half until opening night and thankfully we are pretty well on schedule with everything. 

Something you can't see about the tickets are that each are hand numbered to correspond with assigned seats in our performance arts center at our school - it is actually used as much by other organizations as much as it is by us - and the tickets are printed on nice heavy-weight paper with a semi-gloss finish so they serve as mementos for the show just as much as they serve as functionality to provide access to the specific shows!

Monday, February 18, 2013

The Interactive Notebook :: Creation beyond the Art classroom

Did you know that before I become the private high school art teacher and blogger that I am I was a 6th grade core subjects in the public schools? Indeed I was! I spent two years at a public middle school teaching Reading/Language Arts and then Social Studies and then - praise be to GOD(!!!!!!) - I was given the opportunity to be where I am doing what I am now. And while I love what I am doing now and wouldn't ever want to go back, I still remember all of the ways and days spent getting bit by the bug that helped me to find my heart for teaching and then follow it to where I am now.

Last week I really got to reminisce and revisit that time when I started teaching by facilitating a professional development workshop at an inservice event done by my school every year. I don't know when this inservice event started but in the four years I have been here it has been formally named "Brainfest" and we have invited other local area private schools to join in the day that includes at least two teacher-led workshop sessions for professional development purposes and then a wonderful catered lunch. Just about anybody who is in attendance can jump on the side of being a facilitator and you're allowed to instruct/speak on just about anything you want to. Last year I paired up with a colleague and did a workshop focusing on the Millenial generation in the classroom. This year I single-handedly tackled the AVID Curriculum's brilliant idea of the Interactive Notebook that I used to use and LOVE daily in my early teaching career days of the core subjects. Ever heard of it? Well! Let me just tell you about one of the most awesome ways to teach AND learn on any content area and grade level EVER.

In a nutshell, the Interactive Notebook is multi-dimensional vessel for a student to collect knowledge every day and then be able to take and CREATE something with what they have learned. Every page of a student's notebook becomes completely unique and is created to have a specific purpose for something else to springboard off. Also, many of the pages require action in order to access the material/information on them. Students have to lift, fold, tuck, adhere, or color just about every page of the book so that their notebook becomes (for lack of any other way to put it) a POP-up version of what was once a boring school notebook easily lost, forgotten, or despised because of what it contained. Each project or double-page spread is a mini-project unto itself that only serves as encouragement to keep doing more and more and MORE pages and spreads. You want to talk about good return on investment? The Interactive Notebook is absolutely worth it's weight in Ticonderoga pencil leads!

[via] This person can't get enough of the Interactive Notebook either and I don't blame them.

I LOVE the Interactive Notebook and before I was able to be in a classroom that allowed me to create without bounds, the Interactive Notebook mostly satiate the unquenchable thirst I have to be creative AND create. And because I can't help but remember where I came from, I fully acknowledge that were it not for the Interactive Notebook, I probably would have quit teaching forever and maybe even never made it to where I am now.

As a visual art educator I feel like I am always having to "fight" for and assert my position that I am a "REAL" teacher. So sad that I even have to acknowledge such a thing but it's the truth. *Shrug* Doing this session for my colleagues last week at the Brainfest was a great way for me to really prove and SHOW that cutting, pasting, coloring, and CREATING has a place not only in the art classroom but also in EVERY classroom and content area. It also showed - without a shadow of a doubt - that I am not simply "hanging out" with my students everyday "making stuff." It was a blessing to be given the opportunity to share what I love with everyone I work with and help them to see that what I love aligns and scaffolds beautifully the things they do in their classrooms.

I don't have the full presentation to show you about how/what I did at my session because it was a very hands-on step-by-step process that I did alongside them where I helped each of the attendees make their own "take-away" notebook page-by-page by way of showing them demonstrations with a document camera. Every attendee was from a different subject area - core subjects and electives alike(!) on ALL grade levels - and not one of them had ever tried something like this before in any of their classrooms. By the end of the session each of them was very SOLD on incorporating it into their classroom goings-on and they were very excited to do so even despite their hesitation just because this was something different than what they have ever done.

I am a visual art teacher but I also know I am so much more than that and that goes the same for YOU. We as art teachers know we are something special (seriously - it's OK if we toot our own horns to others and not just sit in our art rooms being misunderstood!) but nobody will know that if we don't show them. I mean, we teach our student artists everyday the importance of SHOWING over telling. So, I implore you all to do something similar as what I did - you don't even need a special event to do it - and teach one of your colleagues how powerful folding, cutting, pasting, and coloring can be. And if you need any help? Here are some awesome links for you to help be a better teacher of teachers yourself...

I shared the above links with the attendees of my workshop and I hope they are useful to you or a colleague you might know. Here's to spreading the LOVE for CREATING a type of learning that will only greatly expand upon itself. 

Friday, February 15, 2013

Behind the Music(al) :: Hairspray :: Promo posters

The promo posters has turned out pretty well, don't you think?

So I previously shared with you all what the general graphic design would be for the annual musical production would look like at least in its working stages and I am happy to report that it was approved - not only by the directors and producers of the production - but also by the governing organization of musicals (who provide us with the materials for the musical) themselves! One of my colleagues who also does graphic design and handles a major amount of the performance arts goings-about here took the core design that I was able to pull together and the above is the official poster for the production! Hurrah!!! One more thing down!!!

The graduated color and the pink and white writing work well for it I think and the general design (colors, layout, etc.) is also going to inform both the ticket design - this year is the first one we are doing a vertical design for the ticket - as well as the roadside banner that will be staked out at the school's entrance gates.

I will try and share the ticket designs when I finally get to see them as well as the roadside banner and then also the tweaked t-shirt design when it is finally printed and shipped in next week sometime. Until then? I am working over this coming long weekend on the actual set of the production. There is a TON to be painted, detailed, and still constructed yet. An art teacher's work is just never done! (Good thing I love my job so much and I would do all of this anyway. *wink*)

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Tried and True :: iPhone Apps I am "hearting"

Happy Valentine's day!!!  

Today I bring you tidings of love in the form of iPhone apps that I have come to both know AND looooooove. Basically, here's some reviews of apps that I have been using almost daily. Hope you are having a great day and this is useful to you...

[ Photo Editing ]

Not really sure how I stumbled upon this one but I have had it for about a month now and it is AWESOME. While I have quite a few digital cameras that I could use to photograph things for this blog, I have become quote lazy and relied almost solely on the one that I have on my iPhone. (It's actually not a bad camera in all honesty.) That being said? There is always the issue of the fact that even though my iPhone has a decent enough camera, there is usually always something I want to do to tweak the image before I post it here for you all. Enter the Aviary app!!! 

It is free but if you want to purchase the plug-in extras it's not that expensive and the return on your small investment is huge from what I have estimated so far. For the record, I don't use the plug-ins and it's been enough for me to do things like adjust sharpness, bump contrast, saturate/desaturate colors, etc. etc. It's pretty user friendly and intuitive with it's interface/navigation design and I can even do things like take pictures during school and then edit them while I sit in a steamy bathtub (TMI? Sorry...) at the end of the day when I otherwise would be relaxing. (Seriously? Editing pictures can be relaxing for me sometimes. It's no wonder that I am stressed though, right? Understatement of the decade. *sigh*) Anyway, try out Aviary! It's worth the download and you might find yourself ditching out on you other cameras for your phone camera like I have been doing.

[ Fanciful way to quote things ]

I used to be a little bit of non-participator of the whole business of posting word art/typography on my instagram stream - and I was even slightly annoyed when I came across the like - but I have since changed my mind about it all because I have found an typography app that actually employs great design as much as the app just IS well design. It's called InstaQuote and it, too, is F-R-E-E!!!

Here are two samples of what I have already done with it...

 You can see that the templates really do offer some very beautiful design just as they are because all I did was enter in the text I wanted and then tweak the scale, color, justification, and emphasis as I felt was necessary. It's not that often that I have to do anything more than just use what is ready-made and that's one of my favorite things about InstaQuote that has convinced me not to be a "hater" of text/quote as image sharing.

[ Social Networking ]
 Next up is the social media conduit that is Instagram!!!! Now, to be fair, I have professed my love of instagram plenty that I feel like it shouldn't even be included on this list because my "love affair" with it goes far beyond just me loving it - let's be honest it borders obsession - but still, I thought it would be worth mentioning anyway. I have recently made some very significant connections by way of Instagram alone (and I will expand upon this soon enough because it is SO cool!!!) and I am such a huge fan of this social network that I have abandoned by Facebook and Twitter because this does so much more of what I feel like social networking SHOULD do. And again? It's FREE!!!!
It has got some awesome very simple photo editing/filtering capacity within the app itself and unless the automatic square cropping bothers you? Well... try and just get past that. (Seriously.) All sorts of self-publishing businesses have stared aligning themselves with Instagram and so you can now get your snaps published in bound books, stretched onto canvases for the purposes of wall art, and even printed onto device cases!!! So... YEAH. Instagram is awesome in so many ways and if you want to connect by way of it's power, my username is DreamPrayCreate.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Cave Art Lesson idea :: New and Improved!!!

This semester I am teaching one section of Interactive Art History and they are kicking off their first major project doing a fan-favorite: Cave Art!!!!

I have previously shared our adventures with Cave Art located HERE and HERE and this year we are doing pretty much the same sort of thing but I decided to expand upon it a little bit by requiring the students to create sketches and drafts before they get to the plaster sculpting and painting stage.

I don't know why I didn't do it like this before but it's working out quite well and almost all of them were able to adhere to their original design intentions for the faux rock portion itself...

Something else I have done purely for the fun of it, I am playing music that is specifically meant to create an working environment that is decidedly more authentic in order to make all of the student artists feel more like cave artists. Here is one thing I have been playing for them at least once a day/class period...

I don't show them the video because this clip is actually from a movie that is not entirely appropriate for the students to watch in its entirety - though the clip is fine for the most part - in addition to the fact that it pretty much makes fun of prehistoric people/society in the way it is depicted but that's hardly the point of the sounds of the video that I share anyway. The point it, it has actually served as great creative inspiration for the students that has yielded quite positive results. Something very good from something decidedly bad? I'll always take that.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Project ROYGBIV :: Studying Installation Art :: 3D Design

By far and away one of the most successful lesson ideas/project endeavors that I have done from the start of my art education career was one that is affectionately known as "The Ombre Experience." Perhaps you know about it because it is the thing that brought you here to this blogsite in the first place. Per my blogstats and that tally over there to the right ------------------------------------------------->
The Ombre Experience lesson idea is the most popular and frequently looked at by way of google searches and Pinterest. The lesson idea coupled with the ROYGBIV day 500+ balloon release event is hard to forget and just as hard to top. Or... is it?

 I can't let go of what we had last year with The Ombre Experience. It was so awesome and fun and encouraged such a beautiful type of connection and interaction - it's no wonder that it's been one of the most popular things I have shared on this blog. And because of that the two sections of 3D Design of this Spring 2013 semester are going to attempt to do it again and even bigger than that.

What are they going to do and HOW are they going to do it? Well... honestly, I don't really know. Why? Because I am leaving it largely in their very capable hands and in their very imaginative and visionary minds. As it works, they already know what we have done before and they liked it much like you kind blogsite readers and supporters but in order for us to do it all up this year? They are very much being encouraged to go beyond the beyonds of what last year was in order for us to do something that is just as unforgettable as last year and just as hard to top for next year. (Because I feel like this is a worth while endeavor for us to do every year and have it be a bit of a traditional thing!)

Now before I look like some completely crazy teacher who has lost her marbles completely and is letting her student artists just plain go CRAZY, let me present what I am doing in a different way: I am acting as a bit of a captain for a big giant ship (think of it even as a space shuttle if you'd like!) and my job is definitely to steer the ship to where it needs to go - that being to get to an end point and have everyone arrive safely and soundly - but for the most part? The journey could include any number of things and it's my job to ensure those things provide a memorable trip as much as possible.

So far this week (and a little bit of last week) my adventure with the classes has been pretty successful and even organized despite how loosely I might have already suggested they are.

Last week our focus was on getting ideas brainstormed and down on paper and in order for me to be able to present them to everyone for voting/selection purposes and then this week we voted on them all, divvied off into self-selected groups (meaning the students got to go where they wanted to go)...

We did self-selecting of groups the good ol' fashioned way with sign-up sheets!

... and then working together within those groups so that we had a solid enough idea for each area of the sun, clouds, AND rainbow in order to actual start giving them real physical form starting this week. Each group tossed around ideas about how they were going to accomplish their area of the installation and then at the end of last week they each gave me a heavily debated (my input included) shopping list so that they would actually have materials to work with and be done with this project within the next three weeks.

The shopping lists I have been requested to help fill! Not bad actually. 

This project is coming out to be one that is almost completely student-centered and I have had very little input in what goes on other than when a group/students are obviously off-course with what they are seeking to do and I simply redirect them to refocus themselves by reiterating any of the following:

  • We are on a time crunch
  • The success of the group's effort is hugely dependent upon each person's individual effort
  • This is a very unique opportunity and HONOR that they get to be a part of and be able to remember back on for the rest of their lives (this is almost the most motivating reminder of all of them if you can believe it!)
While most teachers might be a little iffy about this idea of how and what I am doing, I have done some seriously extensive research about this age-group/generation of students (the Millenials) to know that what I have been able to orchestrate for their working situation is the most ideal and will produce the largest return on my investment (as a teacher) of my time and general instruction. 

I will, of course, keep you abreast of how and what is going on with this all but if you don't like to wait, you are always encouraged to get sneak peeks of things by way of my instagram stream - DreamPrayCreate is my username. Don't be afraid to connect with me that way and offer feedback of either questions OR critiques of how/what I am doing as an art educator.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Master Study - Marc Chagall :: 2D Design

I've got one section of 2D Design this semester and while I could just do what I did last semester with the three sections of 2D that I had, I have decided to change things up a bit. What can I say? I get easily bored with things. *shrug*

I have never done a master artist study with any of my classes but I feel like they are important and really interesting when you do them so I think it's time to start doing them. Our artist of focus is Marc Chagall and I think the student artists I have will really appreciate his work because of the colors and overlapping elements that he used in his pieces. I am not sure exactly what it's going to look like for subsequent projects but for the initial one we are going to use Chagall's work to produce some continuous line drawings. I feel like it will make sense to the students to take these two and put them together because they will feel the connectedness of the overlapping elements of Chagall's work and then they will have to physically connect them all with the continuous line technique.

Something else that I am going to have them do is time themselves - at first we will do it as a class - and then they can time themselves individually with their phones/music devices. I want to encourage them to try out different things within their creative processing in order to be able to get different results so they start to understand that successful works of art don't happen simply by chance and they are intentionally created based upon specific decisions that are made in the process of creating them. I want them to learn to see/feel the differences and then attempt to make changes within their own processes in order to get different creative results.

We just started this last week so I will let you know how it starts to pan out and if it ends up flopping? Well, of course I will let you know that as well. ;)

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

I'm pretty sure this has what has made me so "off" these days.

I can't concentrate these days and lately I hardly even want to come to work. This isn't because I hate my job or anything but more because it has recently been discovered that my daughter - my four and a half year old daughter - has been the victim of bullying at her preschool.


It seems hard to believe, y'know? The fact that bullying is happening at a Pre-K level and to a child who isn't even five years old yet - it just seems like it couldn't possibly be real. As it happens though, it's very real and it has been very damaging to my little girl and all I can think about lately is what I can do to stop it as soon as possible. The preschool where she goes is pretty small and the staff has done their best to work with us but as it happens, it seems the problem children - there are just a few cannot seem to be dealt with appropriately in order for the bullying behavior to stop.

We have been doing our best to monitor the state of things day-to-day with my daughter but yesterday it got to the point that I feel like was the tipping point for me. My husband had picked up my daughter and when they got home he said to me that he had a very disturbing conversation with her where she reported that one of the kids in her class had told her that he was going to flush her down the toilet. She seemed only mildly concerned with it because she is pretty naive and unassuming naturally and very much takes things literally so if something doesn't make sense to her she sometimes can blow it off but that doesn't change the fact that to me and my husband - both of us being teachers with quite a bit of experience at this point - this along with all of the other things she has experienced seems to be continuing escalated behavior for concern on our end. I guess at least my daughter isn't trying to tell me that she is ugly or stupid anymore or having nightmares where she is a "ghost" and all of the other kids are "going away from [her]."

So... if I have seemed less than focused on this blog, it's because this is a major thing that is occupying me. Bear with me and trust that I am praying about this and I know that the Lord is going to deliver providence in this situation but it will happen in His time and so far I am doing my best to figure out what the answers are that He wants me to know.

I will be around but it might end up being sporadic so just wanted to let you all know. Thanks so much.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Behind the Music(al) :: Hairspray

Sorry I missed you all yesterday! I had a sick day because I had to go to a sort urgent doctor's appointment but thankfully I checked out OK so here I am! And today I bring you the design process and (mostly) finished graphic that we will be using for the Hairspray production...

If you didn't know, part of my job is teaching digital design and art as much as it is teaching traditional studio design and art. I teach two semester classes of this - one focusing on Photoshop and the other focusing on Illustrator - and because of my know-how for both design platforms, I have become a bit of an in-house (read: and too many times to count last minute) graphic designer for things at times. *sigh* I have a love-hate relationship with this sort of thing for all of the most obvious reasons.

For the purposes of Hairspray, there was never a plan for me to do the design work and the goal was to have a very talented senior graphic design student do it. Then all of the craziness of January happened and all of the best laid plans that were made (to have it be student created) went out the proverbial window. Thankfully, there was just enough time for me to be able to do it and I had enough information from the student in addition to a rough digital draft of what she had planned to do that I still feel like it would be fair enough to call this a collaborative effort.

Now before I go looking like some rockstar graphic designer, please know that the design work of this was not entirely my own! As I said before, the original student designer had a specific idea in mind to have a hairspray can as a central part of the design. The asterisks were something that were specifically requested by the faculty director and producer of the show so that they could be a graphic element that was seen throughout the set designs. The classic wig and "cut-out"-style lettering are supposed to be an obvious nod back to the original design of Hairspray. In terms of the actual elements I used, I did not originate all of them myself. The hairspray can was actually a generic vector file that was editable and I bought it for about $5. I mean, I suppose I could have made it but when I was in the midst of figuring out how I would do it, I stumbled upon the vector image and figured why not just save myself what would have been a few hours of work and buy it. I mean if time is money, my time that would have been hours long is certainly worth a measly five bucks that would allow me to call it DONE. And so? That's what I did. Why reinvent the wheel right?

In terms of the color palette, I tried my best to adhere as much as possible to the color palette that we picked for the show (seen previously in a posting last week) and I also tried to pick colors that would work together to make each other pop. Case in point: the background of the logo is purple (it's supposed to be representative of the official t-shirt that the design will be printed on) and the spray represented by the triangle is yellow.

Overall, I am pretty satisfied with this piece and it has gone over well for the most part. I did do some slight tweaks to it - so what you see up there on the right is not final - but I will show you the final design once it gets back from the t-shirt printers as well as showing you how the design was also put on promo posters, the roadside banner, and the tickets and front cover of our "playbill" once all of everything is printed and delivered in a few weeks.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Behind the Music(al) :: Hairspray

Hello! Welcome to February and welcome to the season of my life that is always the Spring musical.

As I have previously shared, things have been very busy for me and this is due in large part to the fact that at this time of year I am in the throes of musical production work. Before I came to my current teaching position I had limited experience in this realm but even in that I enjoyed it very much. I really love most any of the fine arts and though I can't act or sing in front of an audience worth a darn and I much MUCH prefer to always be behind the scenes and/or the cameras, I still enjoy being a part of the arts that is dramatic and performance arts if I can help it. Thankfully, the Lord God knows this well of me and He has placed me in a position where I can fully experience it and really have the time of my life.

As things go in the time that I have been in my teaching job, I serve (basically) as the creative and visual artistic director/coordinator/consultant for most every stage production that my school does. My department head is actual a drama and theater teacher by training and she and I have developed a wonderful working relationship together in order to bring some of the awesome performance art productions to fruition.

At this point I have a very significant amount of experience helping in production with a pretty large amount of shows that my school has done where I have either helped to solely or collaboratively originate set designs, props, and sometimes even conceptualizing the actual direction (visually) of how a performance art piece will take and be presented/"packaged" - so exciting to be in this part of the production especially since basically I sometimes get to help decide how it will all be packaged!!! My experience so far includes the following stage productions:
  • Godspell
  • Diary of Anne Frank
  • Sound of Music
  • The Crucible
  • A handful of choral/band performances and student life events (like prom) that regularly occur every year and require design work for programs/printed materials
 Anyway, this year the Spring musical is HAIRSPRAY!!!! And as we say with nearly ever production that we do? This one is going to be bigger than everything we have ever done before.

Now, usually, I will present some portion (at least) of the set design and general production work of any of the performance art pieces I have had a stake in but this time? I figured I should do a bit of a blog series documenting how and what I do with all of this. I (of course) have no preconceived idea of how long it will go - meaning I have no clue how many installments there will be OR what the general schedule for posting them will be so it will seem very scattered at times - but there definitely WILL be an end date once the show premieres on March 1st. (Cannot believe it's less than a month away!!!)

Anyway, I am affectionately calling this series "Behind the Music(al)" as a play on that ol' documentary series on (the now defunct?) channel VH-1 called "Behind the music." And for today's behind the scenes look? I bring you the color picking process that I have been enduring!!!

For me, the color picking process is almost always the most fun stage of the pre-production and creative process.
Color picking is a HUGE deal for every show we do because my director, producer, and set building cohorts insist that I am better at doing this than any of them AND little to nothing can really happen unless we have the right colors to begin with. And so? One of the keys to kickstarting any production is me getting the colors picked.

The way it usually works is this:
  1. Have multiple conversations with director/producer(s) about what they are envisioning OR collaborate with them to establish a "vision" for what/how it should all look - especially if we (collectively) do not agree with the general ways that it has already been done by other either because we don't like it or just plain want to do something different.
  2. I will draft up and/or study all sorts of documentation - including pre-fab plans and images from my director that she bought the rights to use for us to even do the show to begin with, doing Google image searches of what other schools/performance companies have already done - and then from there I will usually always know the general palette that should end up being selected.
  3. I will physically go to local "super stores" of home improvement like Lowe's and/or Home Depot as well as looking at the prices and color palette offerings of theater set design/supplies companies like Roscoe brand theater paints. This allows me to collect prices (for budgeting purposes) and then also physically collect color swatches that can be given to the director, producer, set builders, and costuming crew so that everything is cohesive visually with color.
  4. All of the individuals above either approve or disapprove of what I have picked and it's either back to step one of the color picking  process or on with the rest of production!
It is a rare thing that I ever have to go back to step one from step four unless it's an issue of the directors/producers/set/costume folks decide (separate from me) that the vision we originally had will not work and the idea needs to be totally reworked. And if/when this sort of thing happens? Well, it's usually not during a time when the work I have done with color picking has even happened yet.

Anyway, I will be sharing other stuff (than this) with you all but just wanted to get some new content up here finally and also give you a peek at what is ahead and to come! It's good to be back and I will see you next week. *high five*
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