Tuesday, May 31, 2011

AP Art History Final Project

Today is the last day that my new AP Art History class will meet......and I am MISSING it!  Lydia got sick on Saturday night and then spiked a high fever last night, too late to call for reinforcements, so I am spending another day on the couch watching kids cartoons with her.  Today is the day we normally clean up the art room, and missing it means my stuff is definitely not getting really really clean, and I fear that the kids will create a bigger mess to be dealt with by me later.  Ugh!
It also means I am not able to show the AP kids the 11 minute video I made from their final project.  So dissapointing.  At least I did get it on You Tube last night, but the music was left off for copywrite issues, so it just isn't the same.  I wanted to bring in pop corn and celebrate one last time with this great group of kids.  Oh well.  I will just brag about them on the blog instead, I guess.
The AP test was a few weeks ago, so after that I needed something for the kids to do until school ended.  We divided them into small groups and had them each choose an artwork to re-create (alla Gilmore Girls and the Living Paintings Episode).  I had them make a title card and take a group picture first.  Then most groups had to paint the background, choose actors, and plan costumes and props.  American Gothic was put together by Krystal, Lenny, and Serena, with Claire stepping in to pose as the old lady.

While they worked I took lots of still photos so that the video has a stop motion feel to it, where you see the painting coming out of the background.  While that is hapening, I selected a song to play behind the images.  The American Gothic painting had "Little Pink Houses" by John Meloncamp as the song.

This was my largest group.  Alex, Will, Christian, Ashley, and Brandee, actually needed one more actor, Josiah, to re-create Jaques Louise David's Oath of the Horatti.  It is a French Revolution, Neoclassical paintin all about taking uparms to fight for your cause.  The song I found for it was called Blood Brothers, by Bruce Springstein, and it just fit the mood of the painting.  Too bad You Tube won't play it!

This all girl group re-created a bloody painting by one of the few famous Baroque women artists, Artemsia Gentileschi's Judith Beheading Holofernes.  Alesha, Emma, Megan, and Michah even added the details of the extreme high contrast shadows and brought in Max to be their murder victim.  In the video, there should be the Eurythmics, Sisters are doing it for themselves playing in the background.

Sija and Cora tackled the Pieta by Michelangelo.  Re-creating marble proved difficult and their grey paint got a little too dark.  Unfortunately we weren't able to determine that until it was too late, but they were good sports about it.  I can't seem to find my picture of the Pieta, but you get the idea.  There music wa some song by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

My other large group, Josiah, Riley, Emmy, Clair, and Hannah took on a famous mosaic from Revenna showing Emperess Theodora and followers.  Talk about a challenge! They even used small squares of paper to get a mosaic feel.  because it is a religious work hanging in a church,I used Billy Joel's Keepin' the Faith in the background.

So that was my class and this is their project.   am attching the you tube clip below, but bear in mind it should have awesome music that has been perfectly timed to coordinate playing in the background!

Oh, one last painting, the kids started saying that I should do a painting and had LOTS of suggestions for images that could feature Lydia.  Unfortunately, I did not have 2 weeks of class time and an entire group to work on it.  So I took the easy way out with a Mary Cassatt portrait of a girl who kind of looks like Lydia.  I had enough trouble getting her to put her head into the picture without knocking it down that I think I earned my place in the video.

Speaking of the video....

Saturday, May 28, 2011

A Trip to Fairy Grove

Our local nature center just opened a new play space with a Fairy Grove theme.  They had a Fairy and Gnome celebration to kick off the grand opening and I am SO glad that Lydia and I went. 

 We explored a little bit of the nature center, like the butterfly pavilion, but mostly we hung out in these round igloo structures made from sticks (stickloos?)
 They had large openings for doors, small round openings for windows and were all natural found materials.
 I want a stickloo or two in my yard!

 The play space is completely shaded, wooded, hillside. Some areas are covered in ivy with only tiny paths between the hilly mounds, but what a great place for a kid to explore. Lydia loved the stepping stone path made out of tree stumps.

That May or may not be video of Lydia the Fairy in action at Ijams Nature Center.  Fingers crossed for a sucessful upload!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Super Easy Tissue Paper Decorations

Remember the big floral letter that I referenced in an earlier post?  I spotted it here while hunting for image ideas in the pink, green, yellow, and orange color scheme. Well I figured out a way to make something so similar, so cheap, and so easy to customize to any color, shape or size, using tissue paper!
This project starts out with one of my favorite simple crafts, tissue paper pom pom flowers.  I remember being a really little kid and making these out of Kleenex tissues.  This is a craft that is always in my back pocket if art students finish something early.  You can make them in any size and in any combination.  here are the basics.
First, you need several rectangles of tissue paper.  The more layers you have the fuller your pom pom will be.  I used 2-3 layers on the flowers in the "E" pictured above.  You need your rectangle to be twice as long as it is wide.  However wide it is, that will be how big in diameter your pom pom will be.  Lay the rectangle as shown in the picture above and begin accordion or fan folding, basically fold up and then fold down.  The tissue paper should look like a long staircase when you have finished.
Tie your tissue paper in the center.  It does not matter what you use to tie it, just make a tight knot.
 I chose to cut my ends to make them look more like a flower.  I was in a rush so I didn't bother with a neat fan fold, I just sort of gathered them.  So my example above looks pretty messy.  If you follow the directions (and don't rush like me) you will have a nice flat long rectangle and you can just snip the two ends, either into a point or a half circle.  I ended up with a lump of tissue and just cut random triangle shapes into it. 

Last, to make the monogram, I simply put a single loop of tape on the back of each and stuck it to the wall.  The pom poms were so light, it didn't take much tape at all and I was able to reposition them as needed.  The "E" required less than 15 pom poms and once they were made, only took a few minutes to assemble.

We had extra pom poms, so we scattered them around with the other decorations.

We still had extra tissue paper so we used it and some curling ribbon to decorate the fruit bowl centerpieces.
A fun summery bright happy party, that left the decorators happy because we didn't have to work too hard.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Trapeze Post!

When I last discussed my trapeze class on the blog, I had just finished my first class and was very concerned that I wouldn't be physically able to do much of it.  I spent the entire week after class 1 doing core strength and ab work.  By the second class I was able to sporadically get my foot to connect with the bar which made it possible to  get into the first position our class learned, the knee hang.
 Pretty much week 2 for me was spent trying the things everyone else learned in the first class, so the lessons from class 2 had to wait until week 3.  At some point I kind of ran out of time to learn everything, which really didn't bother me because I was improving and was able to get on the bar consistently and could at least do most of what we were learning.
 And then Mother's day came around about 2 weeks before our final class, when we were to each perform what we had learned... to music... in front of our friends!  My dear sweet husband surprised me by building me a trapeze bar and hanging it in our living room!  It is SO crazy and SO weird and SO fun to say that you have a trapeze bar in your house.  My sister jokes that Lydia will run away to join the circus only to discover that it isn't as much fun as her home.

 So, I was able to practice my lessons at home and by the weekend before the performance, I had figured out how to do each of the moves on its own and at east knew the order they were supposed to go in.  I felt SO much more confident going into the recital. I would NOT have been able to even come close on most of the moves without the extra practice time, so a HUGE "thank you" goes out to PJ, a man who is willing to play along and make whatever it takes to keep up with my crazy whims.
OK. that last move HURTS.  You are holding up all your body weight by your fingers.  I don't know about you, but I don't regularly train my fingers to hold large weights.  Good thing it was near the end of the routine.

 These last two pictures are NOT ME.  This is the fabulous Miss Christy, who will be teaching my next class.  (Oh, yeah.  I figured out I have time to sign up for a new one!)  Christy is investigating getting PJ to make her a bar, so she came to the house to play on mine.  PJ was on the phone and just kept saying things like "yeah, there is a girl I don't know doing flips in my living room!"  I kept nudging Lydia and telling her most kids have to go to the circus to see this kind of stuff.  She would look and then go back to her puzzles.  I suppose trapeze ladies in the living room has gotten routine!
So i think I now know how to add video to a post, so here is the vidoe of my entire trapeze routine. We are still learning how to shoot video on the smart phones, and apparently it DOES matter if the phone is vertical or horizontal, so ignore the fact that the video is sideways.... or be REALLY impressed that I can trapeze sideways!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Photographing and Photoshopping

I have been doing a lot of photographing lately, which always leads to a lot of Photoshoping.  I can't help it.  I am pretty good with taking pretty decent photographs.  Mostly I take a TON of pictures and something ends up looking good.


Example: A friend asked me to take pictures of her daughter and friends before the big 8th grade graduation dance.  In about an hour I had over 100 images on my camera.  Technically, I took more than that because I always delete the really bad shots whenever there is a lull. 

 I am always SO happy when a shot just WORKS compositional, partly because I "got the shot" but also because I won't feel the need to overly photoshop the image so it saves me a lot of time.
 Each of these pictures only needed a little cropping, maybe a little more contrast (to brighten them up because it was dark and rainy that night), and then I do LOVE applying the lens correction filter for the darker border effect.
Do you remember what it was like to be in 8th grade?  You feel SO grown and yet SO scared of growing up.  These kids all had boutonnieres and corsages for their dates.  This was understandably the first occasion for all of them to pin a flower onto another human being and to up the pressure there were 4 or 5 couples and each had their parents their.  So they were pinning flowers to their date in front of an audience.  With me documenting the whole ordeal.  I cringed a little for the magnitude of the angst filled social customs that being set before them. Multiply that by however many cell phones were also being used to capture the moment and square the figure for each time it was instantly uploaded to Facebook.  That is WAY more than I ever had to go through!  My favorite thing was that each kid had to pose while pinning the flowers and then inevitably the moms were called in to fix the unsuccessfully pinned flowers.

In the end, they all looked so pretty, and so grown up!

Speaking of growing up, I went to the graduation for the friend that I mentioned in yesterday's post. 

This is another image that didn't need much work.  I was waiting for the kids to toss their caps after they were officially graduated.  I decided just to start clicking away and that way I would get the image at various stages of caps in the air.  They never tossed the hats, but several kids had confetti poppers.  If I hadn't been waiting for the hats I would have missed the confetti altogether.  My original image had it, but with Photoshop I bumped up the contrast, making the dark background even darker and more solid (originally you could see all the empty seats). and showing off the confetti.  I did use the clone stamp (another of my favorite tools) to fill in a little more confetti and then I saturated the colors a little more to show it off.

I LOVE my new (almost 3 years old, does than still count as new) camera.  It is not an SLR, but does zoom pretty well.  I haven't had much luck with really zoomed pictures, but I got lucky on this on.  The graduate was in a sea of people.  It took a while to find her and I wasn't sure she would even turn in my direction, but I was up high and willing to click away.  I got lots of blurry pictures, weird faces, and views of the back of her head, but at one point the crowd parted and there she was, going in for a hug.  I LOVE that she is the only person in red or in cap and gown in this shot.
 Here is another of my favorites.  Different from the single hug in a sea of faces effect in the last image, I know that most of the faces in this picture are close family members.  I love that you can tell it was a lot of chaotic energy, but everyone is so happy and so proud of this one graduate. I like that this one seems to tell a story.
 Here is the graduate's little sister and one of Lydia's best friends.  This is after the graduation.  It was late.  I'm sure she was bored. She had been doing flips under the railing.  It struck me as such a perfect, younger sibling kind of thing to do.
 Which one's the mother, which one's the daughter?  To lovely and very proud women, so another that did not need anything but cropping.

I tried to get a shot of our girl in the processional, but no luck.  I was about to put my camera away and then I remembered one of my favorite pictures of my mom.  My dad took it during her college graduation.  She is sitting in her row, but she turned around in her seat, found my dad in the crowd, and smiled.   

I remembered my own graduation and how, once I got to my row, I started looking around to see where my family was sitting.  I followed her with my lens, and waited, and hoped that she would look around. 

She started to turn and I was excited that I would at least have a shot with her face in it.  And then it happened.  She began to turn.  She scanned the crowd. She saw all of us.  She beamed.....
 and I got the shot!