Saturday, September 18, 2010

A is for....


everyone knows A is for Apple and B is for Banana ...  SoI had this great idea last week. You see I have always enjoyed alphabet books.

What if I came up with a list of words for each letter of the alphabet and had my art students illustrate them? Then what if  I got a grant from the Iowa Arts Council and got the book published?

 And then- what if I sold copies of the book to raise money for the new children's library?

For some reason Alphabet Salad popped into my head. Alphabet Soup is such a cliche that I didn't want to do that. Besides there are some great words out there that are so fun to say  like- Arugula ,Artichoke, Brussels Sprouts and Asparagus.  Kohlrabia, chicory and Collard Greens....I could keep going but you see where I am headed with this? ( I keep hearing The Major Generals song from the Pirates of Penzance as I write this!)

Tell me what you think about my idea and if you can think of any fruits or vegetables for my Alphabet Salad let me know. You just might end up in our book!

Friday, September 17, 2010

I think I created a monster

This is a good thing. You know not all monsters are scary. My students catch on fairly quickly that there are some words and phrases in my classes that are not acceptable.

"I can't"
"That's too hard"
"I'm bored"
.............................................are the biggies

I'm bored are two words that make me crazy. Maybe it's because I knew when I was a kid if I said I was bored my  mother would have a list as long as my arm of things for me to do before I could even finish saying it. Oh, and it usually contained housework. So I learned real fast to occupy my time on my own.

Sometimes in class kids will reach a stopping point on their piece and there is about 15 minutes of class left or less. I usually would let them do what I call free drawing. They could draw anything they wanted. This year I have a different plan. The week before classes began I set up the table in the gallery with papers, glues, rubber stamps, and some random ephemera. I didn't say a word about it to the kids. Yesterday two of the kids showed up to class early and were wandering through the gallery. When they saw the table they asked what all this stuff was for. I explained to them it was for making an ATC.

ATC's or Artists Trading Cards are little  original pieces of art that are the same size as a deck of playing cards. They are meant to be traded only and not bought or sold. I then told the kids that if they made a card they could keep it OR they could trade it for one of the cards on my board. I had about a dozen cards that I had made on the board for just this purpose. As the kids started working two more students showed up and the next thing I knew the entire class was gathered around my little table making ATC's. It cut into class time by 10 minutes they were so focused on what they were doing. I finally got them to finish their cards so we could get to the art project. By the end of class cards had been traded on the board several times.

I am going to keep the table supplied all year and see what happens. I'd like to see each one of my students collect at least 24 cards by the end of the year. I am also encouraging people who wander into the studio to create an ATC to trade too.  I would say that I have "perfectly captured" their interest with this activity!