Wednesday, February 25, 2015


How often do you have students reflect upon the artwork that they've made?  I know I certainly don't do it enough.  And when I say reflect, maybe it's telling you about the story or meaning within their project or something they learned OR even something they hated.  

We just started a clay project in 6th grade and the next step would allow a little extra time at the end of class.  I used that extra time as an opportunity for students to reflect and critique the Abandoned Car project we had just finished up by using their iPads to post on their Kidblog account.  

It was fun to see what the students had to say about the story of their car, while others discussed their struggles of the art making process.  As I was reading through some of their posts I realized how helpful it was to me.  These 6th graders were being very honest about some of the things they learned and hated, but it made me reflect on what I could have done differently.  I guess you could say I kind of had an A-HA moment.  

Take a minute to check out what these 6th graders had to say about their art project by clicking this link here.  They sure would love a comment!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Abandoned America: Cars + Homework in the Art Room?

About a year ago I was connected with an art teacher who retired a couple years back.  From all of her many years of teaching all grade levels she kept one box of resources.  That coveted box was then transferred onto me.  Every once in a while when I'm looking for a new spark to a lesson and am not feeling the inspiration from the web, I'll pull something out of the box.  The inspiration for this lesson came from a newspaper clipping from that box.  On the clipping, was a photograph of an abandoned car done by Steve Gottlieb.  So I did a little searching and came across this book, I had to order it and once I received it I was just flooded with ideas!  I had a few 6th grade boys previously ask about doing a car project, but didn't really think much of it until I came across the work of Steve Gottlieb.  

I decided to stick with the idea of Abandoned America: Cars Edition.  I created packets of about 20 different "classic" style cars that students could choose from, we viewed these images to give students inspiration as to where their car "might be". 

I was so impressed with the drawings (the details!!!) 6th graders were creating and the scenes they were coming up with.  I didn't limit what the students could do in regards to their background, it could be fantasy or realistic I really left that decision up to the students.  

I was so thrilled with results of the drawings, but I was a little concerned about how to add color to these beautiful drawings.  Because of all the details I went with the colored pencil route, and let me tell you I loathe colored pencils.  I hate that they have to be sharpened every ten seconds, sure they can create a lovely finished product, but to get there takes a lot of patience and work.  Nonetheless I still did it.  

Now here comes the problem.  Remember I only see each group of students once on an eight day rotation, we started these drawings before Christmas and just finished them last week.  We'd still be working on them, but it was given as homework.  I hate to do it, because the quality of the work often is not turned in at the maximum level, but how many other classes let's a student work on one assignment for 50 minutes 5 classes in a row? Especially sometimes with 5th and 6th graders it needs to be done or we would never accomplish anything.

Here's the kicker, our next project was a clay project, so students who did not turn in their work or had not completed it do not move on until the drawing was done.  I had about 5 of 175 total students who instead researched about our clay project instead of actually creating one. 

How do you feel about homework in the art room? When the needed supply enables a project to be finished in the classroom during "free time" or taken home, is that okay?  


Friday, February 13, 2015

Kindergarten Gets heARTsy

What would Valentine's Day be without a little lesson about Jim Dine?  Jim Dine: I know you're out there, here's my question for you--"Do you love or hate that you've become the iconic artist that most art teachers (elementary) love talking about right around February?"  Really though...I wonder.  I searched for Jim Dine on twitter, no such luck, but boy would I love to tweet him that question.  So if anybody knows how I can get in contact with him (like maybe he's your cousin or uncle or something),  let me know it'd be pretty rad. 

I did this lesson with kindergarten last year, so go to this post to see more of the "how to" details.  There was a slight change to the lesson.  Because of time constraints, instead of using toilet paper rolls to stamp hearts around the border students just drew their own with sharpie markers.  Although, I thought the stamping was pretty cool, I love the personalities of the hearts the students drew. When a heart all of sudden turns into a little person or magically develops a weird growth--I dig it.  

With all the Valentine's Parties underway in classrooms this is what the Art Teacher's Valentine looks like:

If only the colored pencils were always that sharp...

What are you doing for V-day?  I'm attending a super awesome Vintage Valentine event at the Joslyn Art Museum, you can call me Zelda Fitzgerald for the night.   

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Wait a that SNOW??!!

I think it's been settled, I need to turn 25 more often.  TWO SNOW DAYS THIS WEEK!  As I'm currently at home enjoying the snow, fireplace, and coffee I thought it to be fitting to share these guys with you. 

I was inspired by this lesson here, but to be honest I was a little burnt out on snowmen.  So I thought... what would 3rd graders love to make to explore perspective drawing different points of view?  Easy...MINIONS.  For some students it was challenging for them to think about creating the same minion each time, just standing in a different way.  This was also seen when we were using markers to color in, "So if I color this one yellow can I color the next one purple?" It took some of them awhile to grasp this concept.  Nonetheless, I think they are so fun and funny!

I let the students mount their Minions themselves.  I wanted to make sure they were able to position them the way they wanted.  It's funny to see the one's that kind of just slopped it on and the others who took time on positioning their drawings.  

Well, I'm off to enjoy the snow!  And if you were lucky enough to have the day off too (and have a little extra time) head on over to East Art Room and read Tim's interview with me!

Oh yeah, and remember these 5th grade minion sculptures from last year? Check those out too.

Sunday, February 1, 2015


Well folks, I've hit a milestone today as I have reached my quarter century life crisis.  (My knees did kind of hurt when I woke up this morning, or maybe that was from my 10 mile run yesterday?)  I'm a big fan of things that come in pairs, 2's, and halves.  I'm not really picky as to how they come, for instance a matching pair of socks? PLEASE.  Life is way to short to match your socks.  I've been a 2 my entire life, you see I was given a twin brother...and yeah I'm older.  He likes to say he was the gentleman and let me out first, but we all really know that I was just the alpha.  

For our Birthday we even met halfway.  I googled this question "What city is halfway between (our two cities)?"  Google actually gave me an exact answer, and by golly we took his advice.  
I must admit, these past 25 years haven't been so bad having to share everything.  In elementary school our teachers would always tell my parents that we fought like an old married couple (and maybe we still do).  BUT it was also awesome because we always got to do our homework together.  As we've grown up we've been able to act like consultants for each other.  Most recently, I've been the art consultant as he purchased and is decorating his new home.  It's been fun as I've been given most of the artistic liberties.  We have very different styles when it comes to our artistic taste so as of late I've been creating pieces that will fill his spaces, all the while making things that I would have not normally done.

I'm a big portrait person, he's into the contemporary/modern type art.  Here's a couple of pieces I have created for his place.  I guess you could say they don't necessarily fit my artistic "style" or "body of work", but I'm making art--that's what matters.

This next one was pretty fun to make and if it weren't for some of the stuff going on in my classroom I wouldn't have even thought to make it.  I was inspired by the Gelli Prints made here, here, and here.  My brother is really into biking so I made and found bicycle stencils to use for this piece.  In lieu of regular paper, I used Nebraska Maps to make the prints.

Here are some close ups. 

All my talk about snow has finally given me some on my birthday (currently at about 8 inches and counting)!! If only it was pushed back a day later so you know...there would be a snow day tomorrow.  That would be the ultimate birthday present.  

Well, my snow boots are on so I've got to go.  I have a snowman to make, snow angels to form, and driveways to scoop.  I'm calling it the Birthday Snowpocalypse of 2015.  Stay warm Nebraska.