Tag Archives: Chittenango Middle School

Studio & the Barn Watercolor

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

*wet-in-wet

*glazing

*dry brush

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

Who Made the Donuts?

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.

Materials:

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.

The Clay Face Project

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!

The glaze is called Mayco Jungle Gems. It contains glass bits! So cool.

Kids & Keith

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.

Cause Celeb

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Here are some of the celebrity portraits my 8th grade Studio in Art students (from Chittenango Middle School) finished back in March.  I didn’t display them because I was saving them for the school fair, which never happened.

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I allow students to pick almost anyone – meaning anyone “appropriate”, and this year you will see a variety from sports, performing arts, the art world and social media (and one grand-dad).  Two Steve Harveys, lol.  He wins as most popular this time.

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They are pencil drawings on Canton paper.

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Lizards!

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Two of my classes used hand-building skills to create these adorable clay lizards.  We used the Sax Colorburst glazes.  I love the colors, especially the Firecracker!!!  The projects remain in the glass case in the Chittenango Middle School atrium.

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We looked at the work of the Aboriginals of Australia for inspiration.  Different patterns were added to the body, head, limbs and tail using a variety of techniques.

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Face Mask

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My B-day Art-8 students (Chittenango Middle School) created these clay masks.  We used Sax Colorburst glazes.  They have silica flakes that pop in the kiln creating confetti-like effects.

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I offered students thirteen different colors and asked that they use at least six, making sure to place three coats of glaze on the mask for each color.   It was tricky because the glazes transform in the kiln – there is that allowance for serendipity that doesn’t work if you are a control freak, but totally does if you are experimental.

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I added a wire to the back so they can hang on the wall.  Students took them home today.  I miss them already!

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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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