Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Metalworks Field Trip

Last week I took my Communications Technology classes to visit Metalworks studios and institute to see how audio engineering is done at the post-secondary and professional level.

We were taken on a tour of the studio to see where artists record, where engineers use the million dollar soundboard to mix music, the post-production equipment and even the stage and lighting warehouses. We saw where musicians such as Rush, Prince, Feist, and Drake have worked and recorded and how many different kinds of jobs there are in the industry.

The million-dollar soundboard:

The sub-woofer that Prince gave the studio after recording with it:

The final production details are added in the final mixing room:

R.O.M. Field Trip

Last week I brought my classes to the R.O.M. for a guided visit  in the morning and a small group photography exploration in the afternoon. 

The museum offers such diverse exhibitions that there is something for every student's interests. 

Here are a few of the highlights: 

Friday, November 2, 2012

Graffiti in Toronto, Downtown Field Trip

The Torontoist recently posted an interesting piece about how the Mayor has selected a panel to judge whether grafitti around the city is art or vandalism. The city will destroy the vandalism and keep the art. There are so many different kinds of grafitti in our city and different standards of acceptability and legality. Here is the article: http://torontoist.com/2012/10/city-staff-will-decide-whether-these-murals-are-vandalism-or-art/ .

These photos were taken in Graffiti alley on a field trip with my art classes last week. They are a good example of the variety of graffiti that we have. Much of it is protected but who knows how the panel will vote.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Global Cardboard Challenge

Today marks the one-year anniversary of the remarkable story of a 9-year old boy, Caine. You may have seen the short film that made him famous: Caine's Arcade.

The story is a testament to the power of creativity and reminds the viewer of the ingenuity and imagination that all kids have. We need to provide kids with the opportunities to tap into this power.

The filmmaker of Caine's Arcade raised enough money in one day to pay for Caine's post-secondary education. That effort has spiralled into The Imagination Foundation, that hopes to share this good work with kids everywhere.

Even if you are not interested in the fundraising part of it, there is the creativity, and anyone can participate. It's called the "Global Cardboard Challenge". There are events all over the world. I dedicated two days in my grade 10 and 12 art classes this week to present my kids with the Cardboard Challenge.

It was interesting to see how even at high-school age, accessing creativity was a challenge. The kids are so used to technology and art equipment to get inspired about a project. The task of creating something with nothing but cardboard, tape, string, and some toothpicks- was different and took them some time to get into it. But eventually they did, and we had some fun and produced some great results (above) with a material that is reused, recyclable and free.

Next year I am planning to host a bigger community event for the Cardboard Challenge...

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Ai Weiwei show at the AGO in August 2013

Great news: it has been confirmed that the artist Ai Wei Wei will be making the AGO part of his North American tour of According to What? 

The Globe covers it briefly here.

I have always been intrigued by his work, but, like many others, it seems like work best appreciated up close.  I'm definitely looking forward to this one.

Friday, August 31, 2012

New and improved Elements and Principles of Design icons

Here are my new updated elements & principles of design sheets. I've added a few terms from the ministry documents that were missing on the original and I changed the icon. 

A full Elements and Principles of Design Unit plan (complete with lesson plans) is available on my Teachers Pay Teachers site, here.

The letter-size worksheets by themselves (without the lesson plans) are available on my Teachers Pay Teachers site, here.

I also have high-quality prints of these charts available for purchase here:

- Patrick

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Michael Snow: Objects of Vision

Here's a video from the AGO's youtube channel of Michael Snow discussing his work, which is featured in the show that has recently opened at the Gallery: Objects of Vision.

It is interesting to hear him speak about the various ways that he has approached making sculpture, which is based on how we experience 3D objects.

The show is on until December, and there is more info here.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

How to deal with boredom

This fascinating article from the Behance blog "99%" tackles the subject: why boredom is good for the creative process.  Many creatives, teachers and students face boredom on a regular basis and this article provides some helpful insight on why it happens, and how to deal with it.

The name of the blog "99%" comes from a great quote by Thomas Edison: "Genius is 1% inspiration, and 99% perspiration." It's easy to relate to and reminds me of an earlier post, featuring a great video of Milton Glaser : "Art is work."

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Reinventing Summer School

A new and encouraging trend has started in Toronto and is gaining momentum this summer. A few high schools are providing some interesting summer school programs for kids who want to get ahead in credits and have an amazing experience at the same time. As discussed in this Post article, Eclat School of Performing Arts is focusing on drama and writing, Blyth Academy will have kids working with art, photography, animation and film at the A.G.O., the R.O.M. and Tiff Bell Lightbox and Outward Bound Canada is participating as well, offering courses as part of their Urban Discovery program.

These sounds like some exciting and diverse classes, very different from when I was in school and kids mostly went to summer school because they failed math!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

"Make good art." (Neil Gaiman)

In this commencement speech for the University of the Arts, Neil Gaiman shares some insightful and inspiring stories and ideas about working in the arts. The Magic Pony blog features the video here.

The main idea: "make good art" seems simple but is based on profound truth, "when things get tough... make good art." Some of the other highlights for me: his words on failure and success in the arts, how he "learned to write by writing", how we are living in a "transitional world" where "the nature of distribution is changing" and how "you have the ability to make art, the ultimate lifesaver."

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Tom Thomson on Twitter?

From contemporary Canadian art news to classic Canadian art news, as discussed in this Globe article, an anonymous tweeter has taken on Tom Thomson as he would have tweeted during the last weeks of his life leading up to his tragic death on July 8th 1917.

The tweets feature photos, artwork and info that is historically accurate and is leading up to supporting a theory of how Tom was killed. What a great way to use twitter to make a historical mystery come alive again. As a huge Tom Thomson dork, I am looking forward to following these updates, and you can to:

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Oh Canada: Contemporary Art from North North America

Here is a great overview article from the Globe  about a massive contemporary Canadian art show opening today and continuing until April 1st 2013 at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art.

The show features 62 artists with a total of 120 works, including work by: Michael Snow, Kent Monkman, Shary Boyle, Kelly Mark and Marcel Dzama. The show will also give less well-known Canadian artists the chance to have their work seen and represent our country.  Sounds like a show to see, I wish I could make it down there...

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Power of Colour

The CBC's Under the Influence just aired a fascinating episode on the power of colour. From subliminal communication found in advertising to hand-eye response time at a stop sign, it's amazing to see how colour affects the way we behave.

The show was great to hear, and the CBC posted all the info with images and videos on their site in this article. For more info on this topic see my earlier post on the psychology of colour.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Obama's Turn Around Arts Initiative

It's not local news, but the Obama administration has developed a strategy to use arts education to address some of the most challenging schools in the States. Celebrities are helping out by "adopting" one of these schools each. Some of the celebrities involved are: Chuck Close, Forest Whitaker, Yo Yo Ma and Sarah Jessica Parker.

This article covers the story. One of the principals involved believes that: "his school can prove that arts are an "accelerator" for improvements in reading, math and other subjects. He states: "we have to give kids' brains an opportunity to synthesize these things we're teaching them at a deep level. That happens best when arts are present in the school. " 

It will be interesting to see the results of these programs, putting the arts to the test in the most challenging situations. Here is the site for the program: http://turnaroundarts.pcah.gov/.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Symbolic Self-Portrait Activity & Colour Walk/ Scavenger Hunt

Here are a few studio activity ideas that I've heard of recently that I think are good enough to write down:

    Symbolic Self-Portrait:
Step 1: on a large paper (16 X 20 or more) trace the outline of your profile using a projector.

Step 2: write a list of personal interests and experiences (optional: consider the questions:
What is one of your favourite quotes? philosophy? prayer? Who are the most important people in your life? What represents home for you? Where do you want to go? What represents the future for you?)

Step 3: Draw/ write/ paint/ and collage items and scenes from your list inside the outline of your profile.

    Colour Walk/ Scavenger Hunt:
Simple but potentially beautiful and a good way to work on the element of design: colour.

Step 1: Walk from the class to the park and back in 30 minutes and collect a different item for each colour.

Step 2: All students glue their items on the same neutral toned bristol board in the same order. Hang the final piece in the studio for future reference.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

A.G.O. joins the Google Art Project

The A.G.O. has joined other museums in contributing to the Google Art Project to make work accessible online.  Here's a National Post  article with info from A.G.O. staff and more details about the project.

And you can see more at the Google Art Project.

This is such a good idea, ever since I saw the Sistine Chapel interactive online site, (from an earlier post) I've been wanting to see more museums providing high definition content online.

By allowing the public to interact with artwork from home for free, museums can generate interest and help people make connections and build curiosity or familiarity with their collection.

This is especially useful for education, and a great tool for art teachers and students. This could be used to help with research, thematic exploration, and to prepare a class before visiting.  I hope we will see more and more great work accessible in this way.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Budget cuts target education and the arts.

    The recent Ontario budget announcements have some disturbing, if not surprising targets: education and the arts.

    This article from The Star identifies some of the major cuts to the Toronto Public and Catholic and Peel Boards. It is very disturbing that special education and inner city schools seem to be affected the most, along with the loss of hundreds of classroom teachers and VPs.

    Of course the arts will be hit, with the Luminato festival getting the worst of it, as discussed in this article. The A.G.O., the R.O.M. and other Toronto art institutions will be affected as well.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Canadian history curriculum: first nations.

In this article in the Globe today, Paul Martin address the current problem with first nations education and revisits the accomplishments of the Kelowna accord that was "scrapped when the Conservatives came to power." These accomplishments would have focused on making first nations education a priority. This includes increased funding for reserve schools and a change in the way we teach Canadian history: to include the Metis, the first nations and the Inuit. The visual arts curriculum includes first nations work, both historical and contemporary; there is no way to talk about Canadian art without it, however, there is room to improve that curriculum as well with more specific first nations content and classroom resources for teachers.

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Elements & Principles of Design Icons

These are handouts that I created for my practicum in visual arts this fall. I had the chance to teach the elements & principles unit for grade 9 and 10 and faced the challenge of trying to make these terms easily accessible for a range of students.

I found that by going though each element and principle with examples from art history, and then applying this in a studio session, the students got the concepts. The problem was then being able to remember them all.

I tried these handouts and they worked surprisingly well. I gave out blank versions, and had the students fill out each term and definition as we covered them in class. The important part is the final step, the icon, where I asked students to come up with an icon that mattered to them, and that they felt comfortable drawing. This way, the terms were reinforced with an immediate visual reference that is more memerorable than a definition- the handouts also work well as a study sheet for the final exam.

A full Elements and Principles of Design Unit plan (complete with lesson plans) is also available on my Teachers Pay Teachers site, here.

The letter-size worksheets by themselves (without the lesson plans) are available on my Teachers Pay Teachers site, here.

- Patrick

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Terry Gilliam, 99% Blog Interview

The Behance blog 99% recently featured this interview with filmmaker Terry Gilliam about where he gets his ideas and how he works. This is a solid interview of a fascinating artist, definitely worth a read.

In it he states:
"You just carry on. You do things. I'm always doing something. I can't stand sitting around."