Infinite Heartfelt Gratitude

As I stroll through the first floor hallway and admire the work that your children create, I am filled with overwhelming gratitude.

Thank you for raising children who are excited about making art.

Thank you for taking them to museums and galleries around the city (and the world).

Thank you for donating your money and supplies to the school art program.

Thank you for donating your precious time to our school and to the art room.

Thank you for looking at the work your child created and also the work that the rest of the school created.

Thank you for helping, and offering, and asking, and giving.

And, thank you for sharing your beautiful children with us. They create things that brighten our school.

Thank you.

Important Announcements from the Art room

I’m pleased to announce that after much planning and preparation, we will finally be hanging our 2014/2015…   Student art show banner Stroll through the halls of the first floor to see the beautiful artwork that all of the students here at 89 have been making during this school year. The artwork will be hung up later this week, and will be decorating our lovely school until the last week in March.

Please stop by before or after you pick up your little ones in the yard, or when you come to school for conferences next week.

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**And a small request… If anyone can donate some hand wipes and/or lysol wipes to the art room it would be much appreciated. We’re getting messy down here and need some help!! Thanks!!

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2nd Grade Leaf Drawings

There was a lovely cardinal in the tree outside of my classroom window this morning. Its lovely red color stood out so brightly against the bland white-ish gray-ish wash that our winter has become.

It reminded me of these beautiful leaf drawings the second graders made back in the fall, and, as I was trying to decide what to post next, thought this would be the perfect time for a bit of color.


Second graders created these observational drawings of leaves using fabric leaves that I have in the classroom. When drawing, they focused on the shape of the leaf in front of them, and the curves and angles of the leaf’s edges.  We discussed composition, and arrangement of their leaves, and how lining up the leaves gives a different feel to their artwork than placing them at various angles and spots around the paper.

When it came time to add color, we discussed the warm and cool color families. Since autumn leaves are primarily warm colors (reds, oranges and yellows), they would stand out best if the background was made of cool colors (blues, greens and purples).  So, using their best blending and shading techniques, color was added with colored pencils on the leaves, and watercolor pencils in the background.

Click on a photo to begin slideshow:

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Paper Engineering with 3rd Grade

After spending time in their classrooms learning about bridge engineering, 3rd grade artists then come down to the art room to learning about a different kind of engineering – a kind that uses paper. A paper engineer is a person who creates movable parts and pop-ups for a card of a book, out of paper. Folding, cutting, twisting, gluing and constructing are all necessary to be a successful paper engineer, but the most important step is the planning step. Each student will be creating their own themed book. In the process, we have learned several methods of creating paper pop-ups and students have worked individually or in groups as I presented them with different paper engineering challenges. Though there is still much work to be done, here are a few in-progress shots of our pop-up books! Click on a photo to begin slideshow:

4th Grade Goldsworthy Sculptures

For the past few years I have introduced 4th graders to Andy Goldsworthy, since I believe his artwork creates a nice connection to their social studies curriculum. While they are busy studying different areas of the earth up in their classrooms, they are creating art using materials from nature down in the art room.

Andy Goldsworthy is a sculptor, a photographer and an environmentalist. He creates sculptures using the materials that are provided in the nature setting that he is in. He uses leaves, rocks, sticks, sand, dirt, thorns, ice, snow, berries, blades of grass and even his own spit (as we found out after reading a book on his process) to assemble his delicate sculptures. Here are a few examples of his work:

Since we lack the same access to cross-continent environments, I employed the “fake it til you make it!” attitude that led the students to success. Local craft stores offer a wonderful supply of fake, and sometimes real, nature. I brought in rocks, sand, beach glass, leaves, sticks, grass, shells, flowers and moss for the students to work with.


We discussed simplicity, balance, minimalism and impermanence – as they pertained to Goldsworthy’s artwork, and to their own.

Students had the opportunity to play with the materials for as long as they needed before composing their final sculpture.

Click on a photo to begin slideshow:


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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.

Click on a photo to begin slideshow:

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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:



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