Welcome to The Helpful Art Teacher, an interdisciplinary website linking visual arts to math, social studies, science and language arts.

Learning how to draw means learning to see. A good art lesson teaches us not only to create but to look at, think about and understand our world through art.

Please click on my page to see my personal artwork and artist statement: http://thehelpfulartteacher.blogspot.com/p/the-art-of-rachel-wintembe.html

Please contact me at thehelpfulartteacher@gmail.com. I would love to hear from you.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

How to separate fact from fiction online


Many of the resources used to create this lesson come from the Research Center at CUNY's Graduate School of Journalism  

"As a journalist skepticism is your job. As a citizen skepticism is a survival skill."

Source: http://www.grahamdidit.com/#/ice/
To illustrate the importance of fact checking I am going to share with you a story from 2015. It started when the famous record breaking 1976 Olympic gold medalist Bruce Jenner made headlines by changing their name to Caitlyn and going public with her story of male to female gender reassignment surgery.

A man named Terry Coffey posted this as his Facebook status.

The post went viral. Millions of people liked and shared it. Mr. Coffey had found the image of the soldiers using a Google image search. He didn't know who took the photograph or where it came from but he wanted to make sure the photographer got proper credit. So he did a reverse image search to find the photographer. What he discovered both horrified him and taught him a lesson. He immediately took to Facebook again to share his discovery. Below is a screenshot of his next status update. I will post links to the original story underneath the photo 


Like many people, Mr. Coffey posted an image online that appeared to have one origin and meaning without realizing that the real origin and meaning were in fact something quite different. Since learning the story, and becoming aware of the truth behind the image, I have come to see it used out of its original context many times. In fact, I just sat down now and Googled 'military bravery' and this particular picture came up on the first page of an image search four times. One can hardly blame Mr. Coffey for accidentally misusing it. Below are three examples of memes created with the image that popped up immediately for me:



Mr. Coffey is not the only person to ever inadvertently misuse an image. A few years ago, I was joking around online with a few of my friends. I Googled the phrase 'face palm' and  posted this image as a comment in the lighthearted discussion.
I had absolutely no idea, until a friend of mine told me, that this is in fact a close up of a statue from the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum where 168 people were killed in 1995 by a domestic terrorist attack.

 I simply Googled the phrase 'face palm' and picked an image that appealed to me without understanding or caring about where it came from. Like Terry Coffey I had no idea that the image itself already carried its own important symbolic meaning, quite apart from what I was trying to express. In this way, images are appropriated, altered, re-captioned and re-purposed on the Internet constantly. It is often very difficult to sort out truth from fiction, but it is not impossible. See how well you do. Can you spot a fake?  When does an image make you skeptical enough to dig deeper?

What do you think is going on in this photograph?
Before you peek at the answer, write down a few notes about what you think you are seeing. Where are these teenagers and what do you think they are doing?
Click here to find out the real story
How close were you to the truth?

Class discussion: Can you tell if the stories below are real or fake?
Without looking them up, together with your group, create two lists, one of stories you think are real and the other of stories you think are fake, doctored or staged:

Found in a camera in the rubble after the World Trade Center collapse: A tourist's last vacation photo, taken on the rooftop observatory

Extremely rare black lion

 Has the photograph below been Photo Shopped?

Proof that president Obama really wasn't a US citizen:

Did George Washington ever say this? 
What do you think?


How accurate are each of the quotes below?



A photo taken from the window of a plane


How accurate is the meme posted below?


Pizza Rat:


Kentucky Fried Rat:

Man sues his wife because of ugly baby:



Devil's face visible in the smoke of the World Trade Center on 9/11



Photo taken during hurricane Sandy

Actual photo of what an iceberg looks like under the water 

Giant Rabbits bred for food

Construction Workers atop skyscraper

Man loses half of his brain but survives

Daisies mutated because they were growing near a nuclear power plant that had a meltdown


Share your lists with the class and your reasoning for putting each story in a category.
Now, I could tell you which memes and photos are fact and which are fiction, but the objective of this lesson is to give you the tools you need to find out the truth on your own.

Watch the video below: How to separate fact and fiction online. As an alternative to watching the video as a class, your group can instead read and discuss this article on how to distinguish fact or fiction by clicking here. 

As you are watching or reading, list all of the online tools that are used in order to research the news stories that are discussed.





Turn and talk with your group: 
How can you apply these research tools in your own life, as a consumer of news? As a student? As a content creator?
What do you think your responsibilities are as content creators? How important is truthfulness in media?
On chart paper, create a poster that show your group's responses.

You will be using the accuracy checklist below for your next assignment:


Assignment: Blue Feed, Red Feed, pop your news feed bubble, from the Wall Street Journal.
We all have biases. We all have opinions. Try this exercise by examining your own biases on controversial issues: 

A Democratic Senator from Virginia is claiming that the Trump administration is responsible for 1,500 lost immigrant children. Do you think this is accurate?


 The president is claiming that he is following a law written by Democrats that is resulting in immigrant parents being separated from their children at the border. Do you think this is accurate?

Please form your opinion before scrolling down.



Drum roll...











As it turns out, neither the senator nor the president is actually being accurate.






We can learn a lot about ourselves by examining which of the two claims we wanted to believe was true. 
Do you think your own personal political ideology and your opinions on politics influenced which quote you were more likely to believe? Try the following exercise:


"Blue Feed, Red Feed. See Liberal Facebook and Conservative Facebook, Side by Side"

"Facebook’s role in providing Americans with political news has never been stronger—or more controversial. Scholars worry that the social network can create “echo chambers,” where users see posts only from like-minded friends and media sources. Facebook encourages users to “keep an open mind” by seeking out posts that don’t appear in their feeds.
To demonstrate how reality may differ for different Facebook users, The Wall Street Journal created two feeds, one “blue” and the other “red.” If a source appears in the red feed, a majority of the articles shared from the source were classified as “very conservatively aligned” in a large 2015 Facebook study. For the blue feed, a majority of each source’s articles aligned “very liberal.” These aren't intended to resemble actual individual news feeds. Instead, they are rare side-by-side looks at real conversations from different perspectives.
To begin, click on a topic. Be forewarned: These Facebook posts do not represent the reporting or opinion of The Wall Street Journal, and are not verified, edited or endorsed in any way."

Assignment: Follow the link below. Together with your group, select a polarizing topic (by clicking) and then click on the red feed. Find and bookmark an article that seems suspect according to the checklists above for 'how to spot fake news'. Next, find an article from the blue feed on the same topic and do the same thing. Remember to purposely select two articles, one from each side of the same topic, that seem factually suspicious or misleading.


Next, using the checklists above, list all the ways your articles makes you suspicious. Be specific. If you cannot find three specific ways (directly from the checklists) that make you suspicious, choose a different article. Since you are working in a group, you may split into teams and divide up parts of each article in order to get the job done more quickly.

Now, as a group, create a presentation to share with the class debunking both articles, point by point. 

Use the following links to help you:






Next, Read the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics and evaluate the articles you have selected. How closely did the journalists adhere to the code of ethics? Where did they deviate from the code? 

What is the truth behind the articles? How specifically was the truth skewed? What motivations do you think the authors had for printing misleading news?

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Drawing Imaginary Three-Dimensional Worlds- High School Foundations of Art

Now it's time to test out your 3-D fantasy drawing skills with a new assignment. 
Opera Mathematica ou Oeuvres Mathematiques Traictant de Geometrie, Perspective, Architecture, et Fortification, 1617 
Seattle, altered photograph by Rachel Wintemberg, The Helpful Art Teacher
You are going to be creating an imaginary city on large poster paper. It has to look three dimensional. Your finished picture must fill the page. Use at least three reference photos. Your picture must have an extreme foreground, a foreground, middle-ground and background. You must include overlapping. The buildings must have doors and windows that are in correct perspective. You must include at least one staircase. Please figure out how an imaginary character would move through the space of your artwork, from extreme foreground to background or back again. You may include things like roads, staircases, bridges, rocket ships, cars and paths. When I look at your picture I would like to be able to imagine a character being able to journey through your artwork. You are creating an imaginary three dimensional world.




In the video tutorial below, I demonstrate some helpful techniques for drawing fantasy cityscapes:

Here are some fantasy cityscapes that I have created and sold in art galleries over the years:















To help you to grasp the concept of using an extreme foreground in your landscape drawings, I have created a collection of my own photographs that utilize an extreme foreground.

http://smg.photobucket.com/user/Aliciasmom/library/Extreme%20Foreground

When your sketch has been approved by the teacher, you may enlarge your drawing onto 18x24 poster paper. 

The next step is to ink in and color your drawing. 
We will be using permanent markers (not water based) and watercolor pencils. Please do not use water based markers. They will ruin your drawing when they become wet.

I am not done coloring or inking my sample drawing, but here is my work in progress.
I figured out where the light source would be off the edge of the paper (DO NOT PUT A CORNER SUN IN YOUR ARTWORK, IT WILL RUIN YOUR PICTURE AND RESULT IN A POOR GRADE) and outlined only the shadow side of each form. I added finer lines in the background and bolder lines in the foreground. Please see the video below for more detail on how to use line to ink in a drawing:

When you are done adding lines (with permanent marker), it will be time to add color. We will be using watercolor pencils for this project. You will need to be very careful not to rip or pill the paper. Once a section of the paper is wet, work on a different area of the drawing. Do not try to color over a wet section. Wait until it is completely dry. You can always come back to it the next day. The video below gives instructions on how to add color to your drawings using watercolor pencils:

The photograph above illustrates the concept of atmospheric perspective. The colors appear brightest in the extreme foreground. You can clearly see the texture of the grass and wildflowers. The colors appear more muted in the middle ground. They are faded and you cannot distinguish the textures of individual objects. The color is achieved, as illustrated in my video above, by mixing the color with a bit of its opposite (or complement). In this case, the color on the hillside is green and the complement is red, so in order to color the middle ground, you would use green watercolor pencil and then lightly add a small amount of red over it before brushing over it with water to blend the hues. Practice doing this on a separate piece of paper before you attempt this coloring technique on your final drawing.
It is easy to figure out color complements if you know that the three primary colors are red, yellow and blue. If a color is primary, its complement is always a secondary color. If a color is secondary, its complement is always a primary color. If a color is cool, its complement is a warm color. 
If you mix two primary colors to get a secondary color, the complement, or opposite, is always the primary color that you did not use. To find out the complement of a primary color, just mix the other two primaries; the resulting color is its complement.
If you have a color wheel handy, complementary colors are always directly opposite each other on the color wheel. For instance, notice that red is at the top of the color wheel and green is opposite, at the very bottom. 

Below is a short video of me beginning to ink in and color my fantasy cityscape using watercolor pencils. 

Useful worksheets and video tutorials for the truly lost and confused:


Below are some short cut worksheets that I developed when I was teaching middle school. If you are truly struggling to make your artwork look three-dimensional, you may use the worksheets below as a jumping off point. Remember, you are still required to use three reference photos in your picture and the worksheets below will not count towards that requirement.










You may refer to the final landscape drawing rubric below when self evaluating before submitting your artwork for a final grade.









Sunday, December 9, 2018

Developing Your Own Cartoon Characters: How to Create a 'Turnaround'

I created these turnaround GIFS using Adobe Photoshop. I  saved the layered PSDs so I can use them as animation assets later in Adobe Animate. I also created two template worksheets for you to use as size and position guides when you create your own original unique characters.


Below is a step by step video showing you how to create your own animation turnarounds. Immediately below the video, you will find the necessary worksheets. Right click each worksheet, open it as a new window and download it to your computer. Then open it in Adobe Photoshop, adjust the opacity so that the image is barely visible, create a new layer on top and begin creating. 






Once you have created your original cartoon character turnaround, you are going to need to add color. Please watch the video below to learn how this is done.


Below is an example of a character I began creating this weekend with color added
I drew her in a layer over a much rougher draft of a simple character turnaround, however I was dissatisfied with the inconsistent movements of the figures. It is important to keep ever part of the body in the same position when creating a turnaround. The body rotates but absolutely nothing else moves. I plan on redrawing this character using the new  template (above) as a guide to insure a smoother rotation.


You may use the drawings below, by the great cartoonist Burne Hogarth, as  head position and sizing guides when developing the personality of your original characters.












The picture below 'A micro-DICTIONARY of GESTURES' was drawn by Will Eisner.




I am not sure who drew the two templates below, but they are very useful. Please contact me if you know the names of the artists so I can give proper credit:










If you are interested in a more cartoon like style, I downloaded the fun worksheets below years ago. I apologize to the artists who created them for not knowing their names. I will be happy to edit this post and give proper credit if someone lets me know who drew them.












Happy animating! I can't wait to see what you create.