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:



Lichtenstein8It’s Pop Art time in 2nd Grade!

Second graders have been very very busy learning about Pop Artists like Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and Claes Oldenburg – and trying their hands at creating art just like they did.  After a series of Warhol style self portraits, the 2nd graders made these fantastic Lichtenstein style acrylic paintings.

Each student got to pick an “explosion” word and, after looking at the comic strip style paintings of Roy Lichtenstein and the elements of block lettering, drew it onto a canvas. We discussed the use of Ben-Day dots and a primary color palette and how to best use those in their own work. In each class we looked at many different types of explosion design elements and each student designed their own explosion. Finally, students added acrylic paint and sharpie to their artwork.

Here are some of the results.
Click on a photo to begin slideshow

Printmaking Gets K’s Stamp of Approval

Stamping is a fantastic way to introduce Printmaking to kindergarteners because most kids love using stamps – and stamps are a form of printmaking!

Usually, when I first begin talking about printmaking with students I ask about their experiences with stamping. All students have stamped something before – whether it’s the date onto their class attendance sheet, or a hand stamp, or even by using the tips of their fingers in ink. Stamping is a fun, simple way to ease into basic printmaking.


In addition to using foam tiles to create their own stamps, Kindergarten students have been experimenting with using unusual objects to print on their papers. Sort of like a cross between stamping and painting with things other than paintbrushes. We used toothbrushes, monster trucks, toilet paper tubes and stuffed animals to make our prints.

Some K classes have not had their wild stamping day yet, but they ALL will – not to worry!

Here are some great shots taken during our day of stamp experimenting!

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Guess who ‘popped’ into the art room the other day?

Matthew talks us through some of his most exciting pop-ups!

Matthew talks us through some of his most exciting pop-ups!

Teaching in NYC is amazing. As learners, we have such wonderful opportunities right at our fingertips.

This past Tuesday, the 3rd graders got the chance to sit down and chat with one of the best pop-up book engineers (and NY Times bestselling author/illustrator/artist) in America (who just so happens to live in NYC), Matthew Reinhart.

Matthew Reinhart is also just a fantastic person. He so generously offered his time to our own little pop-up engineers. He brought tons of fantastic photos to share, as well as some of his books… AND did some teaching as well!

The third graders came prepared to learn and ask some very thoughtful questions about Matthew’s life and experiences as an artist and a pop-up engineer.

This is the 4th year that 89 3rd graders have been studying pop-up engineering. It’s one of our most exciting and popular units in the art room. Matthew Reinharts visit brought our students excitement over the top, and later in the day several students came running up to me in the halls telling me about the new ideas they had for their work based on something Mr. Reinhart had said.

Click on the photo to begin slideshow:

Learn more about the amazing work Matthew does, and learn how to do some pop-ups too, at his website Matthew Reinhart | Pop-ups, paper art and beyond

Paper Sculpture Thing-a-ma-jigs

It’s a known fact among my students that I’m obsessed with paper crafts. Pop-up books, kirigami, snowflakes and paper sculpture are a few of my most favorite things. I find that when I’m teaching those projects to students, I become so inspired by their ideas and enthusiasm that I end up spending all of my free time cutting and pasting and gluing little scraps of paper to see what I can come up with myself.

First grade students spent a few art classes figuring out what they could DO to paper, so that it didn’t just lay there. We brainstormed some ideas and then tested them out on scraps of paper. Each student had to DO each one of the things on this poster (created from the ideas they generated) to their pieces of paper.


Then, as their final project, each student had to create a paper sculpture that showed just how exciting good ol’ paper can really be!

**These sculptures are so much more fantastic in real life. Please stop by the 2nd and 3rd floor hallways to see them up close!

Click on a photo to begin slideshow.


Gesture Drawing

One of the most exciting units in 5th Grade art is Figure Study. We begin the unit each year learning about figure drawing and basic proportion. Then, any student who is interested becomes our class model as each student takes turns posing up on a table for the rest of the students to draw.


Each student only gets to pose for 3-5 minutes, which is an eternity for the person standing still as a model – but a very short amount of time for the artists to get their drawings just right. These quick sketches are called Gesture Drawings. One of the biggest challenges of this unit is to support the students who are perfectionists and get them comfortable with a messy sketching style.

Here are some of our wonderful gesture drawings so far:


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Chalk Pastel Flowers

Kindergarteners have been working hard (and getting VERY messy!) lately as they create their chalk pastel flower drawings.

Chalk Pastel12

To prepare the paper, the students drew a few large flowers with pencil and then traced their drawings with glue. Instead of using the glue to stick something to our paper, we just let the glue dry. This was so that it could create a bumpy line where our flowers were.

During the next class, students blended vibrantly colored chalk pastels to bring their flowers to life.

Click on a photo to begin the slideshow

Andy Goldsworthy Nature Sculptures

One of my most favorite artists is Andy Goldsworthy. He creates sculptures and installations out of nature, and in a nature setting. His work is so beautiful and elegant, and his process and philosophy are inspiring to me.

Though our school is lucky to be in a part of the city that has wonderful proximity to parks and water, it has never been possible to do a Goldsworthy project outside. So, several years ago I decided that we would bring “nature” inside (thank you, Michaels Arts & Crafts store). I stocked our classroom with as many types of leaves and vines as I could carry, stones, sea glass, moss, sand, flowers, sticks, petals, wood etc.


I love being able to teach 89 students about Goldsworthy because through the process we have so many wonderful conversations about the benefits and disadvantages of being a nature sculptor. Students discuss how the artist spends so much time and care working on his sculpture and then must leave it and know that eventually it will become part of the earth once again. They bring up the choices he must make and the sacrifices he faces. It’s a great experience for students to become aware of these things in a world of instant gratification. There is a process, and there is a time when Goldsworthy has to let it all go.

Here are some great photos of our work. Please remember – each and every one of these was created right in the 89 Art Room!!

Click on a photo to begin slideshow:

“We often forget that WE ARE NATURE. Nature is not something separate from us. So when we say that we have lost our connection to nature, we’ve lost our connection to ourselves.” -Andy Goldsworthy


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