Thursday, January 31, 2013

Unity in the Community: Free Art Friday Hits the Streets

Free Art Friday hits the streets tomorrow for our very first art drop.  I'm really excited about bring this grassroots international art initiative to our community for the purpose of supporting unity, and spreading joy through art. This has all come together so fast.  I initially committed to making 52 weeks of free art and was going it alone, but have been amazed at the support I have received locally, and from the International Free Art Community.  It seems I was on everyone's radar from the moment I opened the Facebook page.   It's really fun and inspiring to be part of this adventure.  Here are the works we'll be dropping on Friday...If you're in Bennington, Vermont keep your eyes open.  You never know what you'll find.  Check us out on Facebook for more details about the Free Art Movement.  Free Art Friday Vermont

"Lillie's Luau" By Lillie Wildman age 9

"Maine Coast"  Nathan Jeandell

"Shaftsbury, Vermont"  Barbara Childs (me)

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Kindergarten Sweethearts

I broke out the dot markers today for this quick and cute lesson to help our littlest artists learn about Valentine's Day, symmetry, stencils, while they create a memento celebrating love and friendship.  The heart is lightly held in place by a piece of rolled tape on the back and removed after dabbing.  So the kids walked away with three heart papers...the little center heart, the medium sized heart that we used as a stencil, and the   page they dabbed.  I put out a tray of crayons and let them embellish them with words and colors and kindergarten went away happy today.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Strathmore Workshops

Looking for something to jump start your creativity?  Registration for the Strathmore free online workshop series has opened.  They are offering four workshops and they begin in March.  I love art and text and am about to register for Joanne Sharpe's Artful Lettering Techniques.  How about you?
Check our the workshops and register here.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Free Art Friday

Recent events in the news have really gotten to me lately.  The fiscal cliff, Sandy Hook, and last week the biggest drug bust in the Vermont happened in my town.  It's so discouraging, I want to live in a fun, vibrant, safe, and healthy community, but that is obviously not entirely the case.  Forty drug dealers were arrested in a town wide sweep through our snowy town.  Not users.  Dealers.  I'm not talking small amounts, for personal use, and I'm not talking about weed.  Forty people arrested for dealing in Heroin and Crack .  We know there is a problem is here, but the scope of the problem was amazing to most people.
Anyway.  It's caused me to really think about community, what it means to me, and the important role each person plays in creating that sense of community...for better or worse.  It's made me wonder about next steps.  These events have made me more determined to be a stronger positive influence in my town.  They have set me searching for a way to give something back to my town, to help it to regain it's esteem and to become the kind of place I want to live in.  And to support the many positive things that are happening here.  

After giving the matter some thought, I decided that I would like to initiate a community art project called Free Art Friday.  Have you heard of it?  It's an world wide art scavenger hunt that happens of Fridays.  Here’s how it works. 

Each week an artist (me) will make a piece of art.  On Friday I will leave it in the community for you to find.  I will place photo clues on . Visit the site for clues that will help you help you determine the location.   If you find the art it’s yours to keep, I only ask that you post a photo of the art back to , so that I know it found a good home.

The first work I will drop is a watercolor from my latest series.  The watercolor is matted, and sized to fit into a standard 8” X 10” frame.  It will look great on your wall.   I will be dropping it on Friday February 1 at a yet to be determined location.

That’s it.  Free Art Friday.

Of course, it's a community art event and anyone may participate as a hider or a seeker.  Community members who would like to  participate as an artist and hide a drawing, collage, original photograph, painting, object of choice can visit the facebook page and post a photo for the seekers.  

The Free Art Friday Facebook page has been up for just three days, but has already gotten the attention from other Free Art Friday movements around the country.  I'm hoping this will encourage local artists to participate as a means of promoting and supporting their work in and outside our community.  

Please support Free Art Friday by visiting and  liking us on Facebook  

How about you?  What challenges do you face in your town and how do you work to overcome those challenges?

Friday, January 18, 2013

Native American Drums

Continuing work on our drums in fourth grade.  We collected a huge box of super-sized cans from the lunch room last month and today we peeled off the labels, finished up our designs and attached them to the cans.  Our plan is to use old inner tube rubber for the drum heads.  I pre-cut the inner tubes into circles and the students took turns washing and drying them at the sink.    Next week we'll begin work on the drum heads to get them ready to lace onto the drums.  Stay tuned.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Half the Sky

John in Kenya repaid the $25 dollars I lent him last year to buy a dairy cow and today I took the money and lent it to this group of ladies from Guatemala.  They will use their loan to buy ice cream and other items to sell. My original $25 dollars has been to Senegal, Kenya, and now on it's way to Guatemala.  That's a lot of bang for the buck if you ask me.  Mico lending provides people with modest amounts of capital to grow a business or buy the items that will help them improve their lives.  
If you've seen the documentary "Half the Sky"  you'll know how desperately women need access to opportunities to improve their lives.  The support we provide to women in developing countries has a tremendous potential for transforming the world.  I encourage you to check out Kiva, where you can choose where your money goes and re-lend it again and again.  If you use this code and join Kiva today I will get a free $25 loan which would be wonderful, too. 

Friday, January 11, 2013

Geometric Patterns and Building Drums

Fourth Grade focus on Native American Studies have lead us in the direction of drum building this month and to begin we created these beautiful geometric designs to cover our drums.  Below you can see student work in progress and get an idea how we started these patterns with our rough draft drawings.  The patterns were plotted out on a paper folded to create a grid.  I demonstrated how to use the grid to create two different designs.  I demonstrated the diamond shape you see below and the simple triangle design that you see in the third example above.  Students then improvised a wide variety of geometric designs within their grids.   Once the practice sheet was completed to student satisfaction, we used the same folded paper grid on a larger sheet of brown craft paper.  Students outlined with marker and filled in traditional colors with art sticks, which are a colored pencil type crayon.  Students were encouraged, but not limited to using traditional colors:  red, golden yellow, brown, green, white, black, and red in their designs.
This lesson opened may interesting connections to geometry in math and in art.
Nice work fourth grade!
I'm really excited to get started on those drums.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Birthday Birds on Their Way

I love community artworks and artworks that celebrate community and am always on the lookout for activities that are fun for children to do and also help bring people together.  When I saw these birthday birds last year on the New City Arts Blog I loved it so much and knew right away I would implement something similar at my schools.  It took us a while to get started, but this year fifth and sixth graders created, and then glazed this massive number of birds.  Instead of taking their little creations home, they set them aside to give to students on their birthday this year.
Above you can see the birds fresh from their bisque fire.  

And here we are glazing them.

Here's a box of glazed birds fresh out of the kiln.

Initially I had hoped to share the birds with the whole school, but after considering more carefully decided to begin this new tradition with the older grades this year (4, 5, 6, 7, 8).  This way, we will have birds left over at the end of the year to celebrate with until a new batch can be made.  Next year we will extend the giving to include all our students.
We've already begun passing out our birds and the children are so excited to come up and choose their bird in their birthday week.  So thanks again to Shanna at New City Arts, one of my favorite art blogs.  Check it out.