Here is a sampling of the finished products from my Francoise Gilot- inspired still life drawing project. Gilot passed away this year – she was 101. I am in awe of her talent as an artist. She was mother to two of Pablo Picasso’s children and later married Dr. Jonas Salk.
Her floral paintings are a combo of real and abstract, which is a perfect fit for my Art-8 students. Some could simplify their imagery and others could go more realistic depending on talent and interest levels.
I gave them a step-by-step instruction “manual” and the majority of students welcomed that.
At the beginning of the school year, I brought in six aloe vera plants and added fake flowers and peacock feathers to them to create the arrangements. I had a variety of tablecloths to choose from for added visual texture. All of my planters are from Lowes. In fact, the aloe started out as two tiny plants I found on the clearance rack for $1.00 each two years ago and I only recently transplanted them.
I am very pleased with the results! Students used Prismacolor colored pencils on Canton paper. The artwork is currently displayed on the wall across from my classroom at Chittenango Middle School.
Just in time for Teacher Appreciation week, I installed an exhibition on the walls in the hallway by my classroom of these pencil drawings of Chittenango Middle School teachers! My Studio in Art 8th graders used 2H and 3B pencils to draw them. They were created on Arches manilla drawing paper.
The bunny sculptures are finally finished. My 8th grade Studio in Art students (Chittenango Middle School, Chittenango, NY) created these papier-mache sculptures just in time for Orthodox Easter. They are currently on display in the school library.
We recycled Ithaca hummus containers for the baskets and Starbucks iced coffee bottles for the armature. In addition, we used paper towels, aluminum foil and masking tape.
The papier-mache is paper towel bits adhered with Mod Podge. Then we added acrylic paint.
Since it is the year of the rabbit in the Chinese zodiac, I thought it a good time to try this first-time lesson. I am pleased with the results. They are really cute!
My friend Joyce introduced me to Ithaca brand hummus. I also take various vitamins and eat cottage cheese on occasion. The recycling began to accumulate and I thought, if we add styrofoam balls, we could make humanoid sculptures.
It is so fun to create something new. A derivative of a contemporary artist based on found object materials that reflects cohesive themes. My sample was an angel (not pictured). I added the Ithaca hummus container lids for wings. It, sort of, resembled a Golden Globe award, so I added that concept. It would be the Angel on Earth award.
Students assembled their armature, used paper towels and Mod Podge for papier mache then used at least three different materials for texture and design. They considered themes based on personal interests and/or were inspired by classroom materials.
I had patterned papers with animal motifs and packages of fabric papers, Origami paper, African designs and Navajo-inspired designs. I also had actual fabric donated by the Home Ec. teacher last year and wallpaper sample books that someone recently shared with me.
In addition, I have a backroom stocked with old Barbie dolls that we harvested for parts. I brought a few things in from my personal art supplies (antique flag toothpicks, an extra lion head cat costume, assorted buttons, twine, peacock feathers).
Students were graded on construction, use of materials, theme and quality of papier mache application. Can you guess what award each sculpture represents?
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
We created these donuts in two of my Art-8 classes. Some were mounted on black foamboard and others placed in real Dunkin’ Donuts boxes, which were donated by the wonderful manager at the DD on Rt. 5 in Chittenango, NY.
aluminum foil, masking tape, paper towels, Mod Podge, Celluclay, acrylic paint, glitter, foamboard, DD boxes
They are so fun! The trick here was to try to make them all the same size and the same shape. It wasn’t as easy as it sounds. Each student made a half dozen. I graded them on successful armature, application of Mod Podge and Celluclay, as well as paint and detail.
My 8th grade accelerated Studio in Art students created these clay face masks (with Miller #10 clay purchased from Clayscapes). We used the slab technique over a plastic face form then added clay to shape the features. I poked holes at the sides to secure a Twisteezwire to the back. They can hang on a wall – I love that!
There is still time to visit the Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown, New York. The Keith Haring exhibit will be on display until October 11, 2021. Meanwhile, on the walls of Chittenango Middle School, my students’ artwork is currently on display. It took a lot of heavy-duty stickies to get them to stay up – the tile was not particularly cooperative.