Saturday, December 24, 2016

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Patti Smith at the Nobel Prize Ceremony

Patti Smith, with some wonderful musicians, played a beautiful rendition of Dylan's A Hard Rain's A- Gonna Fall at the Nobel Prize Award ceremony. It's one of my favourite songs and I think the perfect choice for the occasion.

See Bob Dylan's acceptance speech here.

- Patrick

Here's a great resource for visual artists, royalty-free photo reference packs:

Monday, November 7, 2016

Mystical Landscapes: Masterpieces from Monet, Van Gogh and more at the A.G.O.

This new show that's just opened at the A.G.O. looks amazing, I will definitely be checking it out soon. Find out more here:

In other A.G.O. news, I organized a great interdisciplinary field trip last week for several high school classes. The A.G.O. educators were engaging, the students had fun and learned a lot and the teachers found new ways of using visual arts as a way into their respective disciplines.

The Grade 12 English class did the Art & Literature guided tour; the Grade 12 Challenge and Change and Photography classes enjoyed the Art & Social Justice Tour; and the Grade 9 Geography and Grade 10 History classes covered a lot in the Canadian Tour. I would recommend the guided tours to any class!

- Patrick

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Sci Art Field Trip to Allen Gardens!

The art studio blog that I contribute to: Saw-Whet Studio is organizing a field trip for anyone interested- and not students for once! This is definitely in line with the post I made a few weeks ago about Cross-curricular LearningHere's a chance for you to start (or add to) your own "Grail Diary" project. This Science/Art trip will take place in Toronto at the beautiful (and free) Allen Gardens, on Saturday, October 22nd, 12-2pm. All are welcome!

- Patrick

Friday, September 23, 2016

Free tutorial: how to draw the human face and head

Here's an interesting resource to help with one of the more challenging drawing projects: how to draw the human face and head- Open Culture posted this free tutorial video here.

- Patrick

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Cross-curricular Learning

Cross-curricular or interdisciplinary learning can offer so many rich educational experiences for students and teachers. Creating meaningful cross-curricular projects, field trips and learning opportunities is one of the priorities at my campus this year. Our teachers have already worked together to plan an interdisciplinary field trip to the Art Gallery of Ontario.

As an example and an inspirational starting point, I like to refer to the "Grail Diary" that Sean Connery's character Dr. Henry Jones Sr. kept in Indian Jones and The Last Crusade. You can find out more about this wonderful object at the wiki here. And here are a few pages from the diary:

What makes this diary so beautiful, and useful in the film, is how the author combines disciplines to study his subject. He works from different fields to achieve a deeper understanding and to discover new meaning, fields including: art, history, science, literature, architecture, religion, philosophy, chemistry, painting, sculpture, languages, iconography, geography, and geology. He also uses various methods to record his findings, including: drawing, writing, transferring images, collage, map-making, note-taking, quotation and references. The result is a cross-curricular masterpiece.

Another inspirational example of a cross-curricular product- Leonardo da Vinci's sketchbooks:

I saw some other great examples at the Aga Khan Museum this summer:

What I love about these artifacts (and what I think would be a fantastic classroom project) is how they are all handmade, in-depth studies of a subject drawing on multiple disciplines to achieve a more complete understanding and to create a beautiful and informative product. This is something that students can get excited about. It would also be more interesting for teachers to mark!

Class Project Idea: For a summative project, students create a object in the spirit of the "Grail Diary" or a "Da Vinci Sketchbook" - that spans 3 or more subjects. The students can research their chosen subject through the lens of each discipline, and then compile the information into a comprehensive mini-book that demonstrates their cross-curricular learning. The book can be marked by each of the three teachers based on subject-specific criteria for their class, while appreciating the diversity of products and the depth of knowledge that results through this kind of learning and where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

- Patrick

Monday, July 18, 2016

The Mural Project 2016

This term, I worked with the Grade 11 Media Arts class to paint another mural at the campus. The project involved covering up an older mural that was painted years ago in what is now the guidance office. The colours as well as the subject matter of the old mural were interesting but a bit unnerving for the calm atmosphere I try to create in the guidance space. 

Some Grade 9 and 10 students volunteered to sand down the old mural, a senior student did two coats of primer to cover up the black and primary colours of the old mural. Then, the Media Arts students took over covering the wall with a cool blue and green layer, using sponges to blend the two areas. They used variations of a sketch of mine to cover the wall with the line work for the paint. 

Many students who weren't in the Media Arts class wanted to help out and paint part of the mural, it was great to see the project bring so many people together!

We used eggshell house paint and finished the mural in two main stages: the mid-tone blue trees and the highlights of brighter colours in between the patterns in the branches. It was a fun project and it gave the students a chance to be creative and to work in an environment other than the typical classroom setting, listening to music and chatting as they worked. Looking forward to another mural next year!

- Patrick

Saturday, July 16, 2016

2016 Summer Institute for Art Educators - Day 4

For the final day of the 2016 Summer Institute for Art Educators (organized by the AGO and the CSEA), we got the chance to speak with the new Director and CEO of the AGO: Stephan Jost. He was funny and approachable and spoke of some fascinating new possibilities for the gallery. I love the overall philosophy he uses to approach such a complex and demanding job, he said: "if it's not about great art, education or access, I'm not interested."

We then heard from Jane Lott, the Coordinator of Family Programs at the AGO and explored the Hands On Centre, a play-based learning room for little ones. In discussing where and how she gets her material for such diverse programming, she explained that sometimes she has to get creative - an example, that I like and will be using, is to use LED lights in a simple plastic container to make a lightbox for under $20:

Our group of educators then heard from Melissa Smith, the lively Program Coordinator of the Gallery Guides, about the exhibit that opened on Canada Day: The Idea of North: The Paintings of Lawren Harris and then went up to explore the show.

This painting, In The Ward, 1920, is one of my favourites from the show. I was surprised by the amount of painting Lawren Harris did of the Ward in Toronto. This run down area used to be where city hall and the Eaton Centre stand today, and was a place for immigrants- mostly Eastern European, Chinese, Black and Irish. His paintings provide a primary source for a missing part of our history. He has a beautiful way of using bright colour and thick paint application to create these images, and for me it was a fascinating departure from the landscapes that I'm used to. Definitely a great show that I would like to visit again!

In the afternoon we went to the Gardiner Museum and had a brief tour of the ceramics followed by a thoroughly enjoyable clay studio session. After seeing and discussing art all week it felt great to sit down and make something!

Ewer with tulips and scholar, Ming Dynasty, Chongzhen period, c.1635-40

The Summer Institute was a fun and rewarding week of art and education in Toronto. I will miss spending time with such like-minded and friendly people, and I look forward to exploring more of the art and museums in our city.

For more, check out the twitter updates about the week's adventures here, #AGOCSEA and have a look at the A.G.O. Schools and Teachers Facebook page here.

- Patrick

Friday, July 15, 2016

2016 Summer Institute for Art Educators - Day 3

On Day 3 of the 2016 Summer Institute for Art Educators, organized by the AGO and the CSEA, we started off with a fascinating talk with the Chief Curator for the A.G.O., Stephanie Smith. Then we went up into the galleries to do a workshop with the wonderful Education Officer, Bob Phillips in the exhibition Communal Courtyard by Song Dong. 

This exhibit explores changes in society and changes in spaces and we looked at how students could engage with this show through the different concepts of space, and framing, and ideas of personal versus public.

Then we went on to discuss how we can work with our students with some other challenging and engaging pieces, first, a gallery favourite: Kent Monkman's The Academy.

Next was Bonnie Devine's Battle for the Woodlands. The artist used a massive old map of upper and lower Canada that was previously installed and painted on top of it to show an Anishinaabe understanding of the map and address issues of colonialism - specifically around the great lakes. The artist installed work in front of the mural as well as painting animals running away across the walls leading into the other spaces. It was great to see this work up close and be part of the space the work was created in.

In the afternoon, we made our way down to The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery. We had some fun interacting with work in one of their current exhibits, Franz Erhard Walther: Call to Action. As the title suggests, the works are activated by the viewer and we got a chance to approach works of art in a playful way. 

We also checked out the video-based work of another German artist currently showing at the Powerplant: Ulla von Brandenburg. For more, have a look at the twitter updates about the week's adventures here, #AGOCSEA and check out the A.G.O. Schools and Teachers Facebook page here.

- Patrick

Thursday, July 14, 2016

2016 Summer Institute for Art Educators - Day 2

On Day 2 of the 2016 Summer Institute for Art Educators, organized by the AGO and the CSEA, our group of art educators went to explore the beautiful Aga Khan Museum.

The architecture alone is worth the visit. We started our tour looking out over the gardens and granite pools that connect the museum to the Ismaili Centre Toronto, and you can even see the C.N. Tower in the background. We then made our way into the luminous inner courtyard.

We were lead up the free-standing blue staircase to check out the spectacular auditorium.

As we entered the museum collection, we were greeted with an animated wall of moving patterns and script and a massive map showing the wide-reaching impact of Muslim art and civilization.

The diverse collection was fascinating to examine and there is so much to see, I will definitely return to continue my exploration. One item that stuck out for me is the illuminated botanical text explaining the growth of a specific tree. A theme that emerged from the day is the concept of cross-cultural commonalities, in classrooms, lesson plans and museum collection-  like the Tom Thomson tree painting that I posted about yesterday.

Back at the A.G.O. in the afternoon, we took part in a great workshop about how to Amplify Diverse Student Voices with strategies and lesson plan ideas that we can use in our classes. The workshop was lead by Ilene Soca, from Blank Canvases and Noorin Fazal, from Story Planet. Looking forward to the rest of the week!

For more, check out the twitter updates about the week's adventures here, #AGOCSEA. And have a look at the A.G.O. Schools and Teachers Facebook page here.

- Patrick

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

2016 Summer Institute for Art Educators - Day 1

This week I'm fortunate to be participating in some fascinating professional development at the Art Gallery of Ontario. The 2016 Summer Institute for Art Educators that has been organized by the AGO and the CSEA (the Canadian Society for Education through Art).

Yesterday was our first day and the program is off to a great start! Art educators from around Ontario teaching in elementary, secondary, post-secondary and museums studies have come together to explore how we can use galleries in our teaching practice. We spoke with the eye-opening and inspirational guest curator Wanda Nanibush and explored the Canadian galleries on the second floor.

I have always loved bringing all my classes (not just art!) to the gallery and I regularly use artwork in my lessons in the classroom, this week I hope to expand these practices and find new ways of engaging my students.

The AGO is updating on twitter about the adventures we have this week, check it out here, #AGOCSEA - and check out the A.G.O. School and Teachers facebook page here.

One of my personal favourites is Tom Thomson, and I got to spend some time with his oil sketches, here's "Dead Pine":

- Patrick

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Drawing = Curriculum essential

Thanks to the OAEA (and of course the Guardian) for recently posting this article about the value of drawing in the education curriculum- definitely worth a read! 

Drawing skills are increasingly important in our visually dominated culture. Here's a quick quote from the article:

"As a primary visual language, essential for communication and expression, drawing is as important as the development of written and verbal skills. The need to understand the world through visual means would seem more acute than ever; images transcend the barriers of language, and enhance communications in an increasingly globalised world."

As a classroom teacher, I use drawing as way to help students visualize their work, especially when it involves a complex, multi-step process such as constructing an argument in a debate or essay; a research project; a study plan; or even an equation. Drawing is a quick way to get what's in your head on to paper, without having to worry about language, which involves barriers to the thinking process such as conventions, grammar, structure and punctuation. While some learners may be able to express their thoughts and processes through written or spoken language, I have found that many do not possess these abilities and can express themselves more directly through a sketch or a mind-map. 

- Patrick

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Neil Degrasse Tyson & David Byrne explaining the importance of art education

Here's a great, quick video of Neil Degrasse Tyson and David Byrne explaining the importance of art education:

I think what they are saying is that education/real learning is interdisciplinary in nature. Studying art and science go well together - the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. You will become a better engineer or scientist if you study art and you will become a better artist if you study science.

I'm currently developing my first online course (for Blyth Academy Online), and it's a Grade 12 Interdisciplinary Studies course on Museum Studies. It combines visual arts, social sciences, marketing and technology to introduce students to the world of museums and galleries. I'm really enjoying putting it together and it should be up and running by February 2017. More info to come...

Thanks to the OAEA for making it easy for me to find this video!

- Patrick

Sunday, March 27, 2016

A few wonderful artists to check out:

I find so many inspirational artists online- in this post I'll share a few of the ones I've found recently. In our daily online exploration, we are inundated with images and works from a seemingly endless stream of artists. It is important to slow down and appreciate them sometimes.

An idea for a class activity:

Have students research and explore art sites online and make a list of 10 artists that inspire them. Using curriculum/project-specific criteria, have them narrow down their list to the 3 most inspirational and course-relevant artists. Have them prepare a brief slide show presentation with examples of the artists' work, a bio and 1 example of the application of the critical analysis process to analyze 1 work from each of their chosen artists.

Here are 3 that I choose:

Dan McCarthy:

Beth Zaiken:

Song Kang:


- Patrick

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Arts Education in Wales

Exciting news for arts education coming out of Wales- they have recently reconfigured their education system based on some inspiring ideas, read more about it here:

- Patrick

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Abigail Watson and Bela Fleck: Banjo Love Mosaic

To celebrate a recent album and tour, banjo geniuses Abigail Watson and Bela Fleck asked fans to send in photos of themselves holding a banjo. The result is the Banjo Love mosaic poster made up of all those submitted images:

See the high-res version and galleries of all the individual images on their site, here:

As a long-time Bela fan I could't resist, even though I play guitar, I went to my local music store and played around with a beautiful banjo for a while and took this photo for my submission:

This would make a great Visual Arts project for the classroom or the school community. It is a versatile project that can accommodate any theme and include a variety of amounts of participants. Basic photography and photo-editing skills are required. I would recommend using Illustrator and Photoshop to finalize the collaborative poster. 

- Patrick