Monday, September 15, 2014

it's a bird! it's a plane! it's a... supermundane?!

Supermundane is a way cool artist, illustrator, designer, and art director making his living over in England. His real name is Rob Lowe. A few years ago, I did a project inspired by his work with my 2nd graders and I thought it would be fun to revisit his work again with the older crowd. His work is a great example of unity in art and since that's one of our 5th grade standards, well, it's a pretty darn perfect fit together:)

We looked at a few images from his website and talked about how he often repeats line over and over (the unity part). We also noticed that he creates variety be changing up his patterns, changing colors, and changing the amount of space in between lines. Students picked up on how darker colors come forward and the lighter colors recede into the background. I mentioned that Supermundane's work can look like a very elaborate doodle that they might do in the margins of their notebooks while learning about something else.

The 5th graders were to then use his work as inspiration for an original skate deck design that focused on unity. They each created 3 band-aid size sketches of possible designs, not the whole patterning, just the basic shapes that would be used to break up the design into interesting parts. I had them share why they were going to chose one design over the other 2 with a neighbor. I emphasized that the reason couldn't just be "this design is cool". They needed to identify what made that design cool.

Students made 6 x 18" paper decks, drew their compositions lightly in pencil, and then added patterns to each part with colored sharpies. There was a ton of variety in these projects. A lot of different approaches to the same problem.

When the deck designers were done, they erased their pencil lines and completed an exit slip about the project. I'm going to pick a few of these and have the kids do their designs on real wooden decks. I've been using this as a carrot for on task, respectful behavior while making a unique design:)

Thursday, September 11, 2014


I was able to hang our new collaborative project in the auditorium today. It's cool to see it up:) My goal now is to see if a San Diego gallery will exhibit it, even if for a super short time. The final piece is 22' x 4.5'. However, since the small squares are glued on to 18 x24" and 24 x36" sheets, the overall dimensions can be modified to fit any number of spaces and installation possibilities.

Thanks again to Maritza Soto for providing the inspiration for this project.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

what can line do for you?

This week is the first week of my "for real" rotations with classes. For the next 2 weeks I'll be working with my 2nd & 5th graders, the next 2 with k & 3rd, and then 1st & 4th.

I work through the elements with these rotations. This week the 2nd graders are looking at a few illustrations by designer/illustrator Luke Bott. I share some info about Luke from his website- did you know he HATES onions? Most of the 2nd graders do too:)

When looking at 3 animal illustrations Luke made, we talk about how he used line in a few different ways- to create the animal, to add details and texture to them, and to build patterns on the blankets in them. I write these points on the board for the kids to refer to later when they do their exit slips. We also talk about how the animals Luke chose all can thrive in dry climates. I ask the students if we live in a desert (no, but we're pretty darn close) and that we can see all these animals doing well over at the San Diego Zoo.

I have been rotating through the animals with each group I meet with, so that each class has 2 different animals to hang up in their rooms (I meet with half of 2 classes at a time to give the classroom teacher small group instruction time).

The lesson then goes something like this- we draw out the animal, cut it out, glue it pencil side down, to a colored paper of their choice (4 colors to choose from), add details with a color stick that matches their color, add patterns to the blankets, add a simple background, and do an exit slip.

Boom. Pretty direct, but kids do have choices to make along the way that allow for variety in their visual products.

 Classes that ran long with the project and did not have time for the full exit slip were able to complete an exit sentence on a stickie and leave it for me.

Friday, September 5, 2014

we'll keep on biggering and biggering...

That's one of my favorite lines from the Lorax and I loved getting all into it with my kids at home when reading the book to them. It also suits this first week back to school project pretty well too:)

School started this week here at Zamo and we are getting back in the creative mindset. For the past 4 years I have done a collaborative art mini lesson with the upper grade students to give them a low stress opportunity to create and to go over my art room rules and expectations.

I LOVE doing these at the beginning of the year. (well, actually any time I get the chance- see my Gee's Bend and Eleanor McCain projects too:) These collaboratives really click with my love of textile design and pattern. My own work tends to swing back and forth from representational landscapes and interiors to more abstract pattern heavy colored works.

I realized on my drive home yesterday that all of these projects have had one shape in common- the circle. I also realized that they also have another cool thing in common- they have all been inspired by women artists (Lee Gainer, Georgia Gray, Lea Anderson, and now, Maritza Soto).

I came across Maritza's very cool modern take on the drunkards path quilt pattern on pinterest and immediately thought it would be a good fit for my opening week project. I decided to add a little more visual variety by quickly sharing Mexican talavera designs and talking about the repetition of line, shape, and color in them... and the presence of symmetry to boot.

 Maritza Soto's modern drunken path pattern

traditional Mexican talavera pattern

I always focus on unity and variety with this opening project, both visual and as it relates to our student population. Each of our students have similarities with one another, but each of them brings something different and unique to the table too:)

After a quick rundown of my rules and expectations, I talk about the inspiration of the project, and then we are ready to dive into the hands on. At this point we have about 20 minutes to work!

Students fold their square paper 2 times to quarter it. I emphasize having the one fold on the left and the 2 folds on the bottom. Students then take their quarter circle stencil and trace the curve onto the folded paper. One cut on the curve later and  they have a whole circle... or 2 halves, or 4 quarters, depending on whether they got the fold locations correct.

Even if they end up with 2 or 4 pieces, it's okay because they will end up cutting the circles apart in the end anyway.

Students have about 10 minutes to draw a design on their circle, trying to create something that shows symmetry. They then cut their circles into quarters, reassemble them on a white square and glue them down.

The final piece is to have students put glue on the back of their white square, decide the direction they want it to go, and glue it onto an even larger white sheet.

The final collaborative could end up any size depending on how many kids are involved and how big the original circle shapes are. I did this with all of our 4th and 5th grade classes, as well as a couple 3rd grade. Probably about 400-450 kids. I plan on assembling them in our auditorium as our stage backdrop as soon as I can. Visually, projects like this are fun because of the look from far away and the detail of the designs when you get up close.

after one day.

After 2 days.
22' x 4.5'

Saturday, August 23, 2014


Big Sur River Gorge. Rock jumping and plunging!

 Ocean walk on the backside of McWay Falls.

 McWay Falls.

Kite flying at Andrew Molera.

 Cecil on the 1:)

Looking up at the redwoods from our hammock.

My family and our trailer Cecil just got back from a week up in Big Sur. Pure magic. What an amazing place. Redwoods, rivers, ocean, dunes, and dirt roads. Really no cell service and it was so nice to disconnect. We saw elephant seals, pods of dolphins, and migrating whales! The kids fell asleep at bedtime in our hammock that was strung up between two redwoods:) I even locked the keys in the car and had to hitch hike a couple miles to get to a place with cell service.

I've got a few more days of vacation and then it's back to school, and I am relaxed and ready to roll. 

What a great summer of camping. 6 trips in all with Cecil in tow. I can actually back it up now;)