Tag Archives: art education

The Gourmet

A trip to Vince’s Gourmet Imports (440 N. Main Street, North Syracuse, New York 13212) inspired my new still life painting project.  The Studio in Art students completed the course with these epic 16″ x 20″ acrylic paintings.

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I have paired them here with their inspiration photograph.  Students selected the picture then began with the contour line drawing.  These were transferred to canvas with the magical help of graphite paper, placed onto gessoed and burnt sienna-stained canvas panels.

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My main educational tip – begin with white in your mixing tray.  Add raw sienna and whatever main color to the mix (blue, yellow, etc).  This will insure that you don’t make too much of a color by starting too dark and adding crap-loads of white, lol.  The other thing to keep in mind is to not homogenize the mixture so that you can utilize dark and light variations of the color while painting with one brush.

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I am an advocate for students developing and maintaining their own styles as artists.  We looked at the work of Alice Neel and Janet Fish.  Some students went with the black outlines à la Neel.  And Fish’s representation of glass was helpful to their decision making.

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They took the paintings home today, but their images are on display in the counseling offices and will remain there throughout the summer months. I made 8″ x 10″ color copies of the paintings, mounted them to black construction paper and placed them in frames.  I love this new gallery space!

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I feel incredibly blessed to have shared this artistic adventure with these very talented fourteen-year-olds.  Studio in Art is an accelerated high school level class that I teach to 8th graders at Chittenango Middle School in Chittenango, New York.

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Art-5 & Fun

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It takes my entire lunch period to prep for the class of twenty-three 5th graders – they are here every “A” day during 8th period.  This was yesterday.  Their clay slab/hand-built fish were ready to go home.  I placed an empty Wegman’s bag, along with their sculptures, grade sheets and the packets for the invention project at their seats.  It is organized mayhem, lol.

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I say that in case you think the room is messy, because it is not really mayhem at all.  They are a wonderful group of eleven-year-olds – smart, talented, happy people-pleasers.  I love spending time with them.  I give them a different assigned seat every class, so that they sit with different people each time.  They have to hunt for their seat.  It’s actually kind of fun.

I love how busy they all are in these pictures.  Everyone is completely on task.  The two students looking at the I-pad are checking the spelling of a word (above).  Only three students did not finish their invention drawings, which I will eventually combine to be sent to the high school print department to be made into a coloring book – hopefully by the end of next class.

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They recently finished a landscape illustration using Grant Wood and Grandma Moses as references, and a wood sculpture using Louise Nevelson and Yayoi Kusama as references, as well as the clay fish and the Leonardo daVinci-esque invention.   

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Next up is a mixed-media lesson referencing Faith Ringgold.  We will add a quilted border to a dreamy drawing.

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Students meet every other day for one semester, which is different than elementary school where students meet once every six day rotation for the entire school year.

Fifth graders started attending Chittenango Middle School (instead of the elementary schools) four years ago. I teach the seventh section of 5th grade (Mrs. Samsel’s class) while my colleague, Joyce Backus, teaches the other six sections (in her own classroom), in addition to teaching all of the Bridgeport Elementary School students.

So fun! ❤

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Fishing Derby

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Ashlee – winner in 1st period A day
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Owen – winner in 8th period A day (the 5th grade class)

My clay lesson this semester was the fish sculpture.  I decided to do it with every class.  My 5th grade, the 8th grade art students and the 8th grade Studio in Art students.  It is such a great lesson because everyone starts with the same amount of clay creating a slab first that rolls up then adding the hand built elements.

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Paige – winner in 9th period A day
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Nathan – winner in 6th period Studio in Art
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Lauren – winner in 5th period B day

They are all so beautifully unique!  I decided to have a fishing derby.  I weighed and measured every fish.  Each class had a winner.  The prize was a small bag of Swedish Fish, lol.  Abraham’s was the biggest fish.  He won a giant bag of Swedish Fish!  So fun!

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Abraham – winner in 5th period A day and overall winner!
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Julia – winner in 1st period B day
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Anthony – winner in 9th period B day

In a Blanket

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Here are the pictures from my art exhibition at Chittenango Middle School, Chittenango, New York.  I’ve combined the Messages from the Other Voice series with the Pompano Revisited series to saturate the yellow walls of the school library with my personal narrative.

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They will be up through April 2017.

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The work looks better in person – the lighting is not great in the pics, but that is because the artwork is so high up on the walls.  I do love the way the library looks soooo fresh and different with each show we install and everyone’s artwork ends up looking great.  The captive audience thing always works for me, but it is funniest when I ask students if they have been to the library – if they have seen my art and they say something like I didn’t notice.

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That actually doesn’t matter to me – no, not one bit – because I know that they have noticed it, if only in a smidgen of a subliminal fashion.  It doesn’t take but a glance to place a positive aesthetic into someone’s visual cortex, lol.  And then you can sit back and witness the processed results.  It’s kind of amazing.  And I really LOVE that.  Art benefits people in so many ways in which they are not even remotely aware. It is everywhere.  All around us.  That’s me being subversive – in a good way.

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Blanket of love, people.  Blanket of love…. ❤

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Signing In

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I drive past Grover’s Table a lot, like almost every day, and every single time I say to myself, in my best Tina Fey voice, I want to go to there!  Carthage native and Westhill High School art teacher Jamie Ashlaw is exhibiting his vintage sign-infused paintings in the Fayetteville, New York restaurant until the end of the month.  Last night I attended his artist’s reception.  So, that happened.

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I met Jamie once before at the Art on Porches event last summer.  I bought a note card print of his Palace Theater painting.  I really admire his work!  It has the ability to transport its viewer into the past evoking a sense of nostalgia for both local culture and national advertising.  He uses Golden Artist acrylic glazes, which allow him the ability to create precise lines within the lettering.  The canvases become veritable photographic replicas of their resource counterparts.  Exquisite!

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Grover’s Table is a gorgeous place and I would REALLY love the opportunity to exhibit there, but I have to say that Jamie’s artwork looks like it belongs on the walls of this beautifully renovated exposed-brick-ey space.  They should consider buying the collection – at least to put up periodically in between other artist rotations.  Meanwhile, he has agreed to display them in the Chittenango Middle School library as my final artist for the year!  We will install his show around spring break.

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Jamie donated this piece in the above photo.  It hangs at the host stand by the front door.  A vintage-like sign depicting Grover Cleveland, who actually once lived in the neighborhood, only a few blocks east.  So cool!

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According to their web-site Grover’s Table is open as follows:

Tues.-Thurs. 4:30-9:00pm

Fri.-Sat. 4:30-930pm

They do not serve lunch but luncheons are available for groups of 35 or more

Closed on Sunday & Monday

Grover’s Table is located at 104 Limestone Plaza Fayetteville, NY 13066.  For reservations call (315) 632-4907.

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Valentine-ing

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On Tuesday, I gave each of my twelve Studio in Art students a valentine.  I prepped 3″ x 5″ canvas panels with a few layers of beeswax. I carved in a heart stencil.  I thought this would be a quick and fun way to introduce them to encaustic painting.

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I took an encaustic course (graduate level) at Syracuse University in 2012 with free credits I’d earned for hosting a student teacher.  Davana Robedee was my instructor.  I love incorporating this relatively new-to-me media in the art classroom.

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Students melted oil pastels on pancake griddles (all the windows in the room were open and the fans were on high) and went to town tackling their tiny canvases.  The thing about wax is that when warm, it produces a luscious liquid color on the brush – but as soon as you remove it from the heat source, it solidifies, so…that brush stroke needs to be a quick thinking confident one – needs to count!  They really loved the process.  We decided to add a second day of it, which gave them time to process the process and make better decisions once they got the hang of it.

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I painted 11″ x 14″ canvas panels with black acrylic paint for each of them and glued wooden plaques to the centers.  Students carved into their encaustic paintings with clay tools to enhance the texture then added mixed media items to it and/or to the black frame.  We brought the encaustics in for the landings with Elmer’s glue.

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I am in love with the decisions they made and the fact that in three classes they all created these wonderful emotionally-charged finished products.   So beautiful.  I love heart energy! ❤

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Mandala Man

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Ken Nichols‘ mandala paintings have been on display in the Chittenango Middle School library since the end of November 2016.  They are coming down on Monday.  Ken is a painter and a potter, a Syracuse artist who believes in the passion of creation.

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He uses Golden Artist acrylic paints.  He begins by painting the surface of the canvas black then uses an intuitive process to shape the composition relying on color to forge a path of rhythm throughout.  The result is vibrant and fun abstracts that keep the viewer hypnotized in his psychedelic vortex.

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Ken spoke to students during a 10th period art reception in December.  He had them mesmerized!  I have a short video at the bottom of this post.  It is always a win-win for students to meet artists.  A mutual admiration society of positive energy that transcends age and time.  Belief in yourself is always the message.  Taking pride in what your hand can manufacture.  Art for art’s sake and for peace of mind.  Really good conversation.

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Check out more about Ken Nichols by visiting his web-site here.

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