Now you see me… Now you don’t!

Sometimes it seems as though we spend so much time finding that perfect balance between blending in and trying to stand out. This last project by our talented 5th graders toyed with that same struggle, in their artwork. leila After looking at one of my most favorite videos of artist Liu Bolin (The Invisible Man) and several photos of his work, we dove right in to creating our own camouflage artwork. Students looked through books and photos to find a background image they liked, and then painted it on a sheet of paper with acrylic paint. When the painting was complete, they laid their hand and arm over their paper and another layer of acrylic was applied to their skin, to mask it within the painting below it.

Please click on a photo to begin slideshow:

Tried and True – First Grade Coil Pots

Working with clay is such a valuable experience to have. It awakens our hands in such a unique way; the soft mushy texture, the pushing and pulling, the squeezing and pinching – it is so satisfying!

So even though we don’t use “real clay” (clay that comes from the earth) here in the 89 Art Room, good ol’ Model Magic does the trick, allowing us to use our hands in that same fantastic way.

First graders rolled, balled, pinched, pulled and sculpted their Model Magic as they learned how to make coil pots. Some chose to build a classic style pot with layers and layers of carefully stacked snakes of clay and others created their own style by modifying the shape of their vessel and adding ball or swirl clay embellishments.

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The Trickiest Challenge

One of the most important parts of my job, as I see it, is to teach students how to be creative problem solvers. Can they mix that perfect shade of paint when they only have limited colors… and how? Can they build a sculpture with movable parts using only cardboard and tin foil… how? Can they take flat, lifeless paper and DO something to it to bring it to life… how?

Each year in first grade we do a paper sculpture project. The specifics vary from year to year, but I always refer to these types of paper manipulation:


Of course, I invited students to continue exploring and come up with their own ideas of paper manipulation as well.

I raised the bar this year with a project that I knew would be insanely challenging, but I wanted to see if  the first grade artists could do it – given the proper supports.

After lots of paper sculpting practice… and lots of demonstrations and examples… I asked the 1st graders to look at Kandinsky paintings and recreate them as sculptures. Only the most minimal parts of their artwork could remain flat on the base.

Using their very best creative problem solving skills, they rose to the challenge. I hope you enjoy looking through these as much as I enjoyed watching students make them!

Click on a photo to begin slideshow:

First Grade Line Collages

Just as kindergarteners spent time learning scissor skills in the fall, 1st graders are continuing to increase their fine motor skills and build upon what they learned last year.


After several cutting exercises and a few discussions on lines, students cut up these beautiful paintings, that they had previously made. Cutting a piece of paper from one end to the other in one continuous cut is VERY tricky. Most students really have to fight the urge to cut bits and pieces off of the paper. In the end though, they need each long strip to complete their collage.

The beauty of these collages is that lines are created in the negative space.

Click on an image to begin slideshow:

Just a pinch!

Teaching students to control their pressure in art is something I struggle with often as the teacher. Students always want to press hard with their pencil, or squeeze their clay til it comes ooozing out of their fists. The feedback from the pencil on paper and the sensation of soft, mushy clay on skin is truly appealing (believe me, I get it – I do this all day!!). Sometimes, however, a pinch must truly be a pinch. And what better way to teach that than with pinch pots!

A pinch pot is a clay vessel that is created by carefully pinching a ball of clay until it has a cup-like shape. We went one step further and added tails and eyes to ours, making them pinch pot fish.


To jazz them up a bit at the end, students added some decorative touches with gold paint.

Click on a photo to begin slide show:


Drawing with Scissors

One of the most challenging things for a kindergarten student to do is work with scissors. It’s hard to put your fingers in them the right way, it’s hard to open and close them and it’s hard to get them to cut exactly what you want them to cut… Luckily for our kindergarten students, they were learning to use scissors while being inspired by the great Henri Matisse.


Kindergarten 2014-2015 Matisse


First we discussed the difference between geometric shapes (like squares, circles, triangles) and organic shapes (freeform, wibbly-wobbly, zig-zaggy). Then, building on the knowledge of collage that the students already had from their classrooms, we got to work.

Kindergarten artists created these amazing collages using their love of Matisse and their new scissor skills!

Click on an image to begin slide show.

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Meanwhile, Down In the Art room…

Kindergarten artists begin the year learning about color. Exploring the mixtures of primary to secondary colors can be quite magical.

The first project of the school year was a smoosh painting. With a bag filled with red, yellow and blue paint, students got to push and smoosh and mush their bag of paint until they had all of the colors of the rainbow represented – all without getting a drop of paint on their hands! Here are just a few selections:

The next method of color exploration was impressionism. Kindergarten students learned about Monet, and his unique way of applying paint to blend colors together. Students used q-tips to dot and dab their paint on their paper, mimicking the style of brushstrokes Monet used, to create vibrant, colorful paintings. Here are a few selections:

Coming soon: Kindergarten Retrospective continued… Matisse collages! Pinch pot fish!

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Welcome Back to the Art Room!

Happy 2014/2015 school year!

After only a few days of school, I can already tell this is going to be a fantastic year!

Please make sure not to send your child(ren) to school in their best clothes on art day. Even though I try to keep things as neat and orderly as possible, Art happens, and kids (and teachers) get messy! If your child happens to have an OOPS! kind of day in art, hopefully it’s not on an important outfit.
As a reminder, here is when each class has art: (click on image to enlarge it)






Sticky Figures

This year the 4th graders were up for a challenge. We broke up into groups of 3 or 4 and created life size figure sculptures out of clear packing tape.


Not only was the experience wild and fun, but challenged the students to work collaboratively within their group, as the success of their sculpture depended on it.

First, each group chose a model and a pose; the other group members would be tape workers. The first layer of tape was wrapped around the model, in one specific spot (i.e. an arm), sticky side OUT, and then the second layer was put on that same spot sticky side IN – creating a sheet of plastic that was wrapped around each body part.

After each body part was taped, the tape was carefully cut off and reassembled, and then eventually taped together, connecting it with the rest of the body parts.

The 4th graders are generally an impressive bunch, but watching them work together and create these phenomenal sculptures was truly special.

click on an image to begin slideshow

First Grade Mix Masters

For the past few weeks, first grade artists have been learning to take red, yellow, blue, black & white paint and mix all different colors in order to make large-sized self portraits.


 Finding skin tones was the most challenging part, but each student carefully experimented with their paint and then tested their color out with a small patch of paint on their hand. Continuing to mix until they found a match they were happy with.


Next, the students had to paint their facial features, hair, clothes and background with the same color mixing techniques and one strict rule – no color could be used straight from the bottle!  With this challenge, students were forced to create their own hues and variations of colors that they would have normally squeezed from a bottle of paint right onto their artwork.

The results were a wide array of colors more beautiful than anything Crayola could think up!

Click on the photo to begin slideshow:



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