Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Pine Cones in the Desert

In central Utah sits Capitol Reef, a beautiful national park sculpted in sand and stone.  I spent the last four days camping and hiking there with my family and several good friends.  On one hike in particular, at Burro Wash, we came across a number of pine cones and a large area that were literally covered with a blanket of pine needles an inch thick.  At first glance, you wouldn't think much of it, after all, pine trees are common in Utah . . . but not at Burro Wash.  The nearest conifers were probably a good five or six miles away.
So, how did the pine cones and needles get there?  I posed that question to my own children and they gave me a number of interesting responses.  I'm curious to see what you think.  Please, leave a comment with your thoughts.  And, yes, I know the answer, and but I want to see what you think.  Put on your thinking caps and go.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Venture High School Learning Intensive: Discovering Moab

Today we concluded our two-week spring Intensives at Venture High School.  This semester I teamed with our Adventure teacher to take a group of students to Moab, Utah.  Last week we spent five days at the Goldbar campground with over 30 students.  Half of the students worked on fitness credits while the other half were painting landscapes.  The art students and I hiked to locations such as Delicate Arch and Corona Arch, where we drew and painted.  We also spent a great deal of time Plein Air painting in the Goldbar area. We were privileged to have John Poon with us the entire week to provide input and to demonstrate Plein Air painting.  During our free time, we mountain biked and swam.  When we returned, my students had a strong assortment of drawings, paintings, photographs, and memories.  This week they had the opportunity to put all that reference together as they completed a set of final landscape paintings which they exhibited in their own art show this afternoon.  It was exciting to see it all come together.  Each student exhibited three paintings along with an artist statement.  It was well attended by students and families, and I would like to thank all those who supported these students.  A huge thank you to John Poon!  And congratulations to all my students for a job very well done!

Monday, January 06, 2014

Look What I Found!

At the expense of my smart phone, I discovered some old photos that I had never posted.  While coaching soccer a couple days ago, I carefully placed my phone in my coat pocket and laid my coat on a bench where it seemed safe.  I was wrong. A strong bump on the court sent a player flying into the bench, knocking it over onto my coat . . . and then the player landed on top of the bench, just for good measure.  I later discovered my Samsung Galaxy was destroyed in the incident.  When I returned home, I dug out an old my old phone and swapped SIM cards.  Today, while going through the old phone, I discovered a bunch of old photos I had forgotten about.  Among them were these photos of my students at DaVinci working on the set for Sweeney Todd in April 2012.  I had never posted them, so, as they say, better late than never. It was a fun set to work on. We had a small budget, but the students were creative and generated some great ideas. The Director, Adam Slee, asked us to design the set around the following lyrics from "The Ballad of Sweeney Todd":
Inconspicuous Sweeney was,
quick, and quiet and clean he was.
Back of his smile, under his word,
Sweeney heard music that nobody heard.
Sweeney pondered and Sweeney planned,
like a perfect machine he planned,
Based on the idea of the "perfect machine" the set evolved into an industrial looking concoction of gears and wheels and trap doors.  The Robotics Club even joined in and helped construct a revolving floor.  I am still amazed at what we were able to accomplish with a little money and a lot of ingenuity.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Class Demonstrations

Often, when I assign a new project in my art classes, I like to work along with my students in order to demonstrate techniques and development of a drawing or painting.  I find that many of my students learn a great deal from watching how other artists tackle a project. Here are a couple of recent demonstrations.  I began each of them in class, but put in some extra time after school.  Up next . . . the Snow Elf shown in my last post.

What we see depends on what we look for (18x12, acrylic on paper)

Long Journey in a Small Boat (12x18, acrylic on paper)

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Snow Elf

Today, I introduced my drawing students to the process of illustration, specifically concept development.  I have a small container of nouns and another of adjectives. My students pick one word from each container, then combine them to create a random concept, from which they must develop ten rough sketches.  I decided to work along with them this morning.  My concept? "Mad Winter".  I began with several rough sketches of a grumpy winter king, explored dragon-like ice creatures, and then wrapped up with some thumbnails sketches of a snow queen standing on a high peak overlooking a snow covered mountain range.  I then drew one more, not so angry, but winter inspired.  This one interested me most, so in my painting class I took a few minutes to put some acrylic paint on it, as seen here.  The sketch is about 4 inches tall.  And it has me hooked. I want to create a large painting based on the sketch.  Hopefully tomorrow I can prep a canvas or a board and get it ready to paint.  I'll try to post updates.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Expeditionary Learning National Conference Day 3

Today is the final day of the conference. I am looking forward to returning home. I am ready to rest and synthesize all the information and ideas produced by the classes and conversations.

Perhaps the most interesting idea I am taking home is to provide 20% of my class time for students to work freely on the art project of their choice. Many companies, such as Google and 3M, have used this "20%" model succesfully with their employees in order to promote creativity. My plan is to make Fridays available for "Personal Expeditions." Students will be able to take their art in any direction they choose, but I will expect them to create their own Guiding Questions and Learning Targets, and then to report on their learning regularly. My hope is that students will discover many of their best and most creative works of art in these self-designed products/lessons.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Expeditionary Learning National Conference Day 2

Well, I survived. No, not zombies, nor even a bad Brad Pitt zombie movie. I made it through my Master Class presentation...and I enjoyed it. Most of my nervousness abated quickly. Only a few minutes into the class I asked everyone to draw, and then I realized I was just hanging out with a bunch of fellow artists and talking about art education. I could do that all day.

Last night I finally got a decent night's sleep (7 hours). That is more than I think I slept over the past two nights combined. I even got up and ran a couple miles on a treadmill (I brought my running shoes and figured I better use them).  So with all that now behind me, I am looking forward to a new day of learning to be a better teacher.