Autumn's First Day 2014

A little over three weeks now into the new school year, unlike British Columbia where they will be just starting after a long teacher's strike!
A picture of me in China
I find that as department head and head of the Electives, to be interesting.
I feel I have a better systematic approach to teaching the elements of art and design this year.  I'm working with a booklet and some wonderful materials I found online.  Interesting note:  the former art teacher of a few years ago has returned this year.
I sure miss home sometimes, not having to use a VPN every-time I want to get onto Blogger, use Google, Facebook, and such.
Weather is so much superior in Western Canada as well.


First week back

Well as of today, I've been back home in Canada for one week.  It started with a big thud - literally my daughter got a concussion and fractured her wrist in a figure skating accident.  She is okay and making a recovery.  But no sooner than I got back and was trying to adjust my sleep schedule, I had to wake her every two hours that first night.
Visited UVic to touch base with my boss and see the office staff - get my bearings and start to prepare for the following week when I'll be teaching a morning class of Chinese post-secondary instructors.  Thankfully I have QQ and have been invited to join the group they have created just for this programme.  Hope the next 3 weeks and 30 hours of instruction go well.  I've got the research librarian booked for two sessions next week and most of my photocopying is completed.  Today picked up some coloured string, stick-on letters/numbers and popsicle sticks - a way to make pairs of students.
Wednesday morning happened to meet Jim S. at Camera Traders, I handed over a cheque at his SUV and he gave me the large format sheet film I ordered several months earlier 150 sheets of ILFORD Delta 100 and 50 sheets of HP5+, two of my favourite films.
It was so nice to drive to Tim Horton's get my coffee, and then drive off to Gov't House where I like to sit with my Mamiya C330f on the high terrace overlooking the Strait of Juan de Fuca to the snow capped mountains in Washington state USA.
I was quite pleased to work through two rolls of film Pan F and Acros 100 and I found two new and interesting subjects:  a dead tree that up close through the TTL viewfinder looked like an elephant with tusks and close-up of spiny green plant.
Since I don't have a darkroom/studio anymore, I may be able to process film here at home, but printing images will be a challenge.
Monday the start of three week teaching assignment 0830-1020 at UVic


School Year End for New Art Teacher

I just finished my first year as an art teacher within the British Columbia education system at a private school in TEDA-Tianjin, China.  I enjoyed it and judging from my class assignments for the beginning of the next school year, I'll keep on teaching art classes for which I am grateful.
I should probably write more often, but with the need for VPN in China because it blocks blogger, and the terribly slow Internet, kinda acts as a deterrent for me.
Some things I have learnt.
Don't get into a rut with respect to student expectations.  Working diligently to prepare lessons that meet the PLOs while providing creative and expressive activities are only a part of this vocation.  Ensuring that student projects are properly labelled for display, holding students accountable to hand-in things on time and having a debrief or reflection time may be things I should incorporate into my practice.
Students (some) may become complacent with finishing up projects on time and spending allocated class time on task.  Do I give them too much time in which to complete a given assignment?  For some students no, in fact they could use more time.  But then why do others idle away the time on their cell-phones, or misuse their cell-phones during class.  I allow them their cell-phones as this is a part of 21st century life and they are encouraged to use them for school work.
But hearing other teachers talk, I know this is not a problem unique to my classroom setting.
One way, I have proposed to deal with the tardiness issue is to award part of the project mark to getting an assignment in on time.  So included in the marking rubric, which students receive a copy of with their assignment, will be a category for due date compliance.
I've got a bit of a head start for the next term, although with some new types of art classes, I'll have to develop a whole set of projects - the learning never stops :)


Post updates

Check below over the last several posts for picture updates.
Sometimes I don't get the digital files uploaded at the same time as the text.


Into the Home Stretch and The Decay of Art

Middle of last week launched the last major projects with the grades 10~12 students.  We have about two weeks of formal class time left before final exams.
In Art Fdts we completed Art History Booklets and kinetic art based on the work of Sandy Calder.  For the finale I thought I would offer the grade 11 and 12 students the freedom to do an independent art project - with my consultation of course.  Feedback to this daring idea has been surprisingly favourable.  The grade 10s are doing some art research which will culminate in them producing an actual painting upon a canvas.

One other thing I have noticed about student art work in public spaces is that they decay over time, i.e., fall apart.  A team of academics from Lakehead University was here a few weeks ago and one of them commented about the artwork decaying in the natural course of time.  I never thought of art in this way before, but I guess it does happen.  Perhaps it is the poor quality of goods available here, but it does make me think in a way I would not have considered before.  The decay of art is a random action beyond human control which makes it even more exciting as I think about how it falls apart and at what points it breaks.  What can we learn from this process?


WPPD with Cherry

Looking up from the floor to a ceiling
 pattern in the mall
Had a great opportunity to take pictures with Cherry (Liu, Yu) who is from Tianjin, China.  Made images with my Zero Image 69 set at the 645 setting.  We made images at the Tianjin Railway Station and in a section of the city that is thriving with cultural venues, i.e., Tianjin Museum.  They have a lot of impressive architecture in this area of the city.
Stay tuned for pinhole images but in the mean time, a digital one.
Skating-Galaxy Mall,Tianjin
After we had a late lunch, I made a few more images and then we went ice skating, and had a wonderful time, until I went solo and fell with figure skates I was wearing, scrapped up left arm an right leg a little and dislocated right arm, but after hospital visit, on the slow mend.  A painful experience, but wonderful day before my crash to the ice.


Painted Umbrellas, Body Cast Sculptures & Pinatas

Tape Sculpture

Students working on
umbrella art
van Gogh style
Umbrella Art
With VAG grade 10s, I focus primarily upon the elements & principles of art and do a lot of work in their sketchbooks, i.e., line, form, space, colour theory, art history and wrap up with painting and charcoal sketching.
With Art Fdts however, it extends over both terms.  We do a lot more art projects and the most recent two have drawn a lot of attention from fellow British Columbia teachers, other students and visitors to the school.  Just this past week, we had the principal from the biggest school in our system visit and I think he was trying to recruit me, much to the dismay of my own principal when I told him.
Students working in hallway
outside of studio on umbrella ar

These last few weeks have been quite busy with the Art Foundations (Fdts) 11/12 students, and wrapping up the term with a group of Visual Arts General (VAG) 10 and starting with a new batch of VAG 10 students.
The painted umbrella project is by far the biggest "buzz" right now.  We strategically placed them in a narrow three storey section of the school where everyone must pass through in and out of the school grounds.
The body-cast sculpting project is just wrapping up with catwoman lurking from the third floor near a classroom wing, there are ballerinas, a girl reading, a one horned, multi-armed monster and a very awesome hanging upside down wrapped mummy with a realistic burial mask.
Pinatas for Mexico presentation
working with colleague from
another department

Now, for a little bit of Mexican culture we are building Pinatas.  It is my hope that I can connect with the elementary school and have some of their kids enjoy the fun of breaking the Pinatas to get at the treats inside.
I know I am far from being a great art teacher, but I sure love my job.  I just wish I had the opportunity for more classes specifically dedicated to being an art teacher and an artist, i.e., finish my PhD with an arts-mental health emphasis.