Our last Studio in Art project – watercolors. I gave each student a sheet of 300# watercolor paper. They created drawings of barn landscapes from resource photos. I graded this portion on rendering/detail and composition.
Next, I gave them smaller sheets of watercolor paper and taught four techniques –
*saving the white of the paper
I graded the rest of the project based on how well they utilized these four techniques in the final product.
They spent several days practicing and when they were ready, they began painting the barn. Students sat in groups of two sharing a set of Koi watercolors and a large mixing tray.
The results are these incredible paintings. Remember, they are 8th graders and for the most part, had never used such quality materials. The hardest part, I think, was getting them to stray from conventional ideas – like, just putting brown in the brown spot, you know. I shared some Wolf Kahn paintings and explained how his brown trees had flecks of violet and orange in them because he used a secondary color palette. This style embraces rhythm.
I am really pleased with what my students accomplished.
Our last class together was a bit of silly mayhem. I played a game with these buzzers I have that are fun to use. They had to buzz in answers to questions about what we learned this year during class – about art and about me as a teacher as well as about specific things that happened during class that made it memorable.
The funny thing is that students who were the silliest in terms of behavior remembered the most stuff. When my 8th period kids started singing my India Ink song (memorized, lol – I don’t even have it memorized), that was just over-the-top.
What happens when I am living in the present moment is that I forget that I won’t be teaching them any longer. They are headed to the high school. So, here it is two days later and I am feeling incredibly sentimental.
At the end of every school year I do always tell my students that I will always be there for them. I am an email away or a bus ride from the high school to the middle school to visit me during 10th period. But in a couple of years, I may retire from teaching so that I can devote myself to my own dreams. I will still be here in the social media realm though and I will never stop wanting to know how they are doing with regard to the arts.
Relationships are a strange thing. You never know who you have affected in a way that will catapult people to the place they truly want to be in their lives. And they really don’t know how much their presence has made a difference in my life.
I am working on a watercolor poem/song. I will try to finish it this weekend and maybe I will put myself back up on TikTok. Last week, a 7th grader was listening to something with his secret ear bud. It turned out that he was listening to me recite my Gamer rap song – like really? Of all things, you want to hear my voice in your ear? Sometimes it is hard to wrap my head around stuff like that.
Yes, there will always be some students who express dissatisfaction and negativity. The trick there is to be the ear bud that voices positivity back, to not get caught in the debris field of that negative energy but instead push forward and allow the universe to embrace the magic of dreams. And a lot of the time, that magic is harnessed via the arts.
Studio in Art students, it has been a privilege working with you this year. Best to you always. Have a great experience at the high school and beyond. And keep making art. <3