Ian Sands has taken a new position at South Brunswick HS Check out it out!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Edible Architecture In Computer Arts

Computer Arts started working on some edible architecture this week.  They had been working extremely hard on their stop motion animations and needed a different kind of project. They were required to consider who lived in this house, where they are from, and what type of architecture was involved.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Artists Collaborate: Part 1

The original idea for the unit Artists Collaborate was simple...  artists working together in groups. We discussed  different ways artists might collaborate including everything from Jeff Koons type of involvement where someone is hired to make the art all the way through to true collaborative teams like Christo and Jean Claude. So when the final project was presented, it would make sense that the students would simply work collaboratively. What they did surprised me.

Instead of forming teams and working in groups, this class interpreted collaboration as more of a way for people to create art and then more importantly, respond in an artistic way to the created work. Here are a few examples of this type of collaboration currently in progress.

Above, an illustration created by a student in class. This work of art is being responded to in the photo below.

Parker is responding to the original illustration by creating a vector version using Adobe illustrator.

This team decided to create a collaborative Children's book. Different students are asked to create part of the story and illustrate it. However, they are only allowed to see the page prior to the one they are creating. They aren't allowed to see the completed story till it is, well, created.

This student decided she didn't want to draw at all. Instead, she is posting a different word each day. Participating students are limited to adding one item and only using one color. Today's word is "Turkey".

For this project, Gail asked many people to draw body parts and facial features. i.e. draw a left ear, draw a nose, etc... She then projected all the parts and is combining them into one complete drawing.

Everyone in this group drew another person in the group. all the images are being combined into one final work of art... stay tuned for the final results!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Apex High School Band CD Mural

 So one day Mr Rowe, our fearless band director, walked up to me and said, "Hey, I have a wall and it needs something on it. Do you think some of your art kids could make something? Maybe with CD's?" So I said, "Sure."

I went to class and sat down at one of the tables and started to cry. The kids at the table asked, What's the matter?" I told them the whole story about how Mr Rowe asked for a CD mural. They said, "Don't cry Sands, we can do it."

So seven months later they finally finished. Here are some photos.

The team in action trying to decide an important thing.

Standing around doing nothing.

They signed their name which looks pretty cool.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Dark Closets, Risks and Paper Cuts: Student Spotlight

Dark Closets, Risks and Paper Cuts

For my Artists Solve Problems final, I chose to take risks and do something really unfamiliar. I limited myself to doing only light drawings and then having to layer them altogether to create a final image. This was my problem/limitation that I had to overcome, which I did, by just changing my plan a bit and getting some help along the way! Originally, I was going to draw the entire skyline with a light and that was a struggle, but this was still something I really wanted to do.. So, I decided I would take sheets of paper, cut out an outline and windows and then layer them all for the final using Photoshop. I had some help photographing along the way!

 I applied different opacities, brightnesses, etc. to each one. The one above, I believe, is my best.

So after I had finally finished my light drawings and had all of my images I came across my next problem... Photoshop. Something I was really trying to avoid... I don't know why, but computer art and using Photoshop really intimidate me. Like I said, unsure of the reason, because I know that it can really create some amazing stuff and I edit photos all the time. But just having to create an entire project with it? Like I would have nothing unless I sucked it up and layered them together.

 Even then, I didn't know how it would turn out, I could still end up with really nothing or something awful, and I tried to convince myself to not do it. I think it may be because I sort of struggled with the technology unit in Art 1? But back then I realized you could do some amazing art, and I had fun with it, but that was when I had a step by step tutorial, this was just a free for all. 

So, with the help of an expert, Mr. Sands, I was able to learn some really cool Photoshop skills. Sure they were pretty basic, but, I feel like I've come away from this with a new technique and I was really glad I experimented with my art making process. This is definitely something I have never tried before, and because of that, the outcome was something I've never gotten before and I am really proud of my final pieces! Here they are:)

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Two Sarah's in Art Two: Student Spotlight

 Unwilling Administrators, Angry Custodians, and Herds of Wild High Schoolers

You could probably say that working with perspective was my limitation and therefore say I was solving a material problem, however I feel my project solves a design problem. "The Fun Theory" videos feature people making everyday boring task more entertaining by using art. Here at Apex hundreds of students roam around the school while going from one death trap, sorry i mean class, to the next. I figured seeing a piece of art in between the journey may make the walk more fun or at the very least more bearable. 

As mentioned before, this project was the epitome of bumps and mishaps. We, Sarah and I, had to face unwilling administrators, angry custodians, and herds of wild high schoolers. Before starting the project, we had to get permission from administration. They at first shot our idea down, but we compromised and used chalk instead of paint. After getting our idea approve we went to tape the stairs and mark the outline of the A, but the next day the tape was gone. The custodial staff took it down and yelled at us. However, we explained to them that we got permission and we continued on. Lastly, we had people constantly going up the stairs, but we just worked around that.

This project was a collaboration with my friend Sarah. Working with Sarah made the process much more efficient. We were able to get more done in a shorter amount of time. Having another person to work with also came in handy when trying to put the tape down on the stairs. One of us would stand at the bottom of the stairs and direct the other where to place the tape. I imagine this would be 10000x harder to do alone. It would also probably take ages.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Artists Solve Problems - What They Learned

Blog post stolen from Melissa Purtee's Blog --> 

I pay close attention to what my kids work on in class but I always wonder what they actually take away from our lessons. One of the many things I love about the reflective blog posts I have students complete at the end of each unit is the window into their thinking that opens when I grade. I don't always see exactly what I planned on them learning reflected in their writing - sometimes I get more that I hoped for, sometimes less.

For our Artists Solve Problems unit that ended on Friday I wanted them to shift their thinking about problems and begin to view them as learning opportunities. I was pleased to see that many students "got" this concept. I was surprised to see that many kids wrote about seeing professional artists as people who make no mistakes.  Read on to see what they learned, in their own words.

 Marilyn stencil tinted with coffee and coffee grounds.

Manili, Art 1 "During this unit, my perspective on limitations have really changed. I used to think that limitations were something that held you back, and that your quality of work would be reduced knowing you had a setback. However, after going through this unit i realized that the limitations helped us in coming up with ideas. I found when we were brainstorming how to get around the limitation, my group came up with so many creative ideas that would have never even crossed our minds without the limitation in place; it promoted creative thinking and inspired us to try something new. "

Maggie decided to limit herself buy only using directional lines.
Part of a series of ink prints
Eduardo, Art 1- "Throughout the unit my thinking about solving problems as an artist changed, mainly because at the beginning of the unit I had a different perspective, I thought that artists were so talented that they were accurate when they do art and they could just make a perfect piece without really having any problems , but in this unit I actually experience what is it like to have challenges and limitations when doing art, and I learned that every artist at some point along their path will have challenges, limitations, and difficult decisions that could either affect their work in a positive or negative way."

 Kearstyn, Art 2 - "I filled up the balloons and started throwing them. I realized that the paint was too light, this means I didn't add enough paint to the water mixture. I fixed this by adding more paint. It worked out but I had a major problem after that... The rubber cement did not work and it was impossible to see the words or people. This was the point where I had to change my idea completely and go back to the drawing board. I ended up throwing dark blue and purple paint balloons on the paper making it look like tie dye. When that dried I took masking tape and spelled out the quote in big letters. I was going to keep the tape but I wanted to splatter white around it, to add on to the texture. When I took the tape off though the letters were really hard to see. Since I still couldn't use paint brushes, I used a credit card to outline the letters in black. After climbing over all those difficult hills, I am proud of what I accomplished with this artwork and I am proud of getting the message out there to people about bullying. This unit has taught me a lot about patience and overcoming problems."


Ashley, Art 1 - "Throughout the artists solve unit I learned how to better solve problems or encounter tasks that I am frustrated with. I started off by scrapping what I would be working on, and starting over from scratch, but then I realised I was wasting a lot of art, and that there was more to be done to it or to "fix" it. I often discovered how using different materials could improve to look or quality, and that all it might take is a line, and the entire picture has a fresh, bold, or new meaning. 

The limitation I chose for the final project was working only in materials that could not be erased, such as pen or sharpie. I did a bit of work in the area of pointillism, which is creating a picture out of small dots, but also stippling, which is shading a picture with the use of dots. they are very similar, but not the same. I started of with something very generic, a flower, but as each day went by, I decided to work more with eyes, as they are more complex and the shading in them can be ridiculous at times. I, in time, moved to anime eyes, because each one is unique and no other can look the same. but also, the way you shade them is more unique than any other style of eye.

The reason I chose things that couldn't be erased as my limitation was because that meant that I then had no choice but to role with what happened. If I were to sneeze, and scratch a blue line through my purple eye, I would have to work around it. It caused me to appreciate what I could to with my art work without constantly erasing every "mistake" that I made. It has given my a good lesson on how to better solve problems, than pretend there was never a problem in the first place."

The paint for this piece was applied with only with dandelions .
Hot glue layered, then tinted with watercolor paint.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Artists Solve Problems: Part 7

Blog post stolen from Melissa Purtee's Blog --> 

During the last week my darling artlings have been hard at work applying what they've learned in our current unit " Artists Solve Problems." We started the unit with the newspaper challenge, where I gave them the problem of making art out of a very unfamiliar material. They did all the thinking and planning for the work over the course of three class periods. Then we had a TASK party. To keep challenging them the next short project involved them foraging for materials in the context of earth art and found object art.

For the unit's summative assessment I had the kids select their own problem, in the form of a physical limitation or supply restriction, and use it as the jumping off point for artwork. It's been incredibly freeing for them to have play and experimentation be required. In fact, for the last few days I overhear multiple conversations where students talk about wishing they could spend the day in art - and they aren't students who I'd classify as "art kids". A great by-product of a project where no one knows how to use the materials starting out is that they all feel like art kids - right at home and successful.

The most interesting thing about the production component of this project for me has been the sort of organic loosening of style and the inclination to work abstractly - not forced like projects in the past where I've required abstract work. Check out some in progress pics below. :)

Ashley is creating art from the color that transfers when wet tissue paper is pressed to paper. 
Eduardo is finger painting on a canvas after spending a few days experimenting with technique.
Megan is experimenting blowing ink with a straw.
Alec picked the limitation of taping drawing media to his hand.
Paint brush hands, because it had to happen.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Artists Solve Problems: Part 6

Here is a look at a few on the final pieces from the unit Artists Solve Problems.  These photos show the work in progress and the final version.

Challenge: how to create a self portrait using only paint swatches

Challenge: Creating a cityscape using light photography.

Challenge: Creating a portrait of your friend in skittles

Challenge: Creating a Monopoly Man stencil.

Challenge: Creating a fingerprint using fingerprints

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Artists Solve Problems: Part 5

Blog post stolen from Melissa Purtee's Blog -->

So, new unit "Artists Solve Problems". I'm in love. We kicked it off with this awesome TED Talk (are there un-awesome TED Talks?). The goal here is to teach my students to understand that sometimes the things that limit us can inspire our greatest work. BIG stuff! We're also working on the idea of identifying problems, then finding solutions. So, because I care, I gave my little artlings a problem. Art 1 students had to figure out how to make art out of newspaper. And, because I'm crazy, I didn't give them any examples - we reviewed some ways they've learned to plan but they had to find their own ideas.  Here's some of what they did - and this was just a three day assignment!

Watercolor, cut newspaper flowers and coffee are all part of this work.

This DNA strand was a collaborative effort.
Newspaper Blackout inspired this collaborative work. 
News paper cat! 
This collage involved experimenting to get the desired effect in the background.

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