October 21, 2018

Sunday Devotional With Mr. E: The Real

Young artists "get" realism.   In their eyes, their work is extremely realistic...even though an outside observer may think it a bit more "abstract".  It's not that they don't enjoy abstract work.  My kindergarten students find Picasso's Cubism portraits a hoot! However, developmentally they comprehend realism more readily.  You see it.  You make it.  It's beautiful. Sometimes the honesty of realism has the power to impact the viewer in the most simplistically beautiful way (Even though we artists know how challenging a truly realistic work can be to create!).  

Imitate me, just as I imitate Christ.  
1 Corinthians 11:1

There are many out there that try to make the Christian life extremely complicated.  However, the reality is quite the opposite.  While Jesus was with his disciples he lived his life in a way so that they could imitate his example.  Paul reminds the Corinthians of this by calling the believers to imitate him....as he imitates Christ.  This call to imitate the Lord is not one of hoops to jump through or hidden messages.  It is simply....love the Lord your God with all your heart with all your soul with all your strength and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself. (Mark 12: 30-31)  
The real beauty of the Christian life is that we have the example in front of us.  Scripture allows us to see Christ's example...the lives of his followers....and the directions God has given us for living a life the reflects him, glorifies him, and makes his love known. 
The real life we've been called to live comes with a beautiful guide book(The Bible).  It comes with a guide(The Holy Spirit).  It comes with one who has walked the path before us...and walks with us(Jesus).  Are you making things too abstract in your spiritual journey?  
Look to the example for the real thing!

October 16, 2018

Building Bridges. Eating Pringles.

I have seen many people post on different art teacher groups that they feel disconnected from their faculty....that they don't seem to receive the same respect as classroom teachers...or that it seems there is a lack of understanding of what we do as art educators by the faculty/staff of the school.  Though I feel we should show a respect for all educators/staff  within a building and the role they play in children's lives.....some may not come from that same perspective.  We could complain about the situation & how it should be different....or we can build the bridge to help make the difference.  I'm a big believer in being pro-active in such matters.  Art educators are advocates....in every way!!!!  Though you cannot change everyone's opinions....you may be able to make connections with some! 

Here is a fun way I brought teachers together at my school recently
....didn't take a lot of time, money, or commitment. 

What is this you ask?  
Have you seen the Pringles commercial where they mix the flavors?

Then we talked about what flavor combinations we enjoyed...and which ones we didn't.
So simple.  Food brings people together.  Did this time magically solve everything? No.  However, it did get them into my room.  It did get them to let down their guards.  It did give us the opportunity to laugh together.  Those things go a long way in building needed bridges. Art nights for teachers are another way I've helped to do this as well!!  I will say...there are so situations that are extremely dysfunctional.  No amount of Pringles will help.  You need to be aware of what type of situation you are in.  Try making opportunities to build relationships first before you throw in the towel. 

October 14, 2018

Sunday Devotional With Mr. E: Unexpected

No matter how much education, dedication, experience, skill, talent, or whatever element is within the artist's control....there are just as many variables that are out of the artist's control.  Even artists that have achieved a certain level of success seem not assume that they or their work are assured future success.  Opinions change. Tastes change. Audiences can be fickle. Though at times it can be an artist's own self deprecating nature, their is a certain amount of unexpectedness to success in our field.  All we can do is continue to push forward and be true in creating what is within us to create...not allowing the opinions of naysayers to influence our path. When the unexpected successes take place, we can humble receive them with a grateful heart. 

(This is a longer section of scripture...but I felt it important to share the whole passage.)  

Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through.  A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus;  he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy.  He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd.  So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.  When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, "Zacchaeus, come down immediately.  I must stay at your house today."  So he came down at once and welcomed him gladely.  All the people saw this and began to mutter, "He has gone to be the guest of a sinner."  But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, "Look, Lord!  Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated any body out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount."  Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, because this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham.  For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost."
Luke 19: 1-10  (NIV)

I love the story of Zacchaeus.  Zacchaeus's desire to see Jesus is so great that he climbs a tree in order to see him.  UNEXPECTED.  Jesus acknowledging Zacchaeus and tells him he was going to stay at his house.  UNEXPECTED.  Zacchaeus's response of giving back to those in need and those he had wronged.  UNEXPECTED.  Unfortunately, the only thing that isn't unexpected is the reaction of the people.  Their disdain for who Zacchaeus was and what he had done did not allow them to see the miracle that was occurring right in front of them.   They also lost sight in that moment that they too had been given grace for their own sins.   Zacchaeus's response was not contingent on how the people perceived him, but because of how the Lord meet him right where he was & loved him. All he could do was continue to push forward in this new life he had been given, and not allow the views of others to dissuade him from what God had called him to do.

Are we like Zacchaeus....doing whatever it takes to see Jesus?


Are we like the naysayers... grumbling & muttering because things aren't happening like we think they should?

October 12, 2018

COMING SOON: #turkeyaday18

I KNOW...I KNOW!!!!  It is just the first half of October....and those participating in #Inktober are creating AMAZING WORK!!!!!!!!!!  I just wanted to give you guys time to think about what you might do for #turkeyaday18 !!!!  The first year I based each day off of a different artist or work of art.  Last year I created in a different medium each day.  This year I'm going to.......well, you'll just have to wait and see!!!  I hope you'll consider participating.  It is always fun to see what other create...and this is a silly/no pressure challenge!!!   It will kick off Nov. 1st & run through the month! Join us every day...or as much as you can!! 

October 11, 2018

Pumpkin Color Blending: 2nd Grade

My second graders have been creating pumpkins focusing on color blending.  This is a great opportunity to review the color wheel & all those color terms that are applicable.  
I also love this lesson because I feel it pushes young artists to work on controlling their media.  Students at the elementary level are often very heavy handed, and giving them opportunities to work on this school is extremely valuable. 

October 10, 2018

Bulletin Board/Displays: Practicum Students Edition

As part of my MTSU practicum students' requirements....they had to create a bulletin board or display in my classroom.  I have to admit...it is challenging to come into someone else's room that has a vibe & try to make something that would fit within that teacher's style.  We talked about possible ideas, and I created a list for them of things I'd find useful in my classroom.  However, I did tell them if they had an idea....I was open to other possibilities.  I also let them know I might make changes to their boards/displays once they've left to better fit into my classroom.  This isn't to be mean, but I have to live in this space.....they were just visiting! ha ha
Here are what my practicum students created. 

Doing their best Vanna White impersonation!!!!

I really loved her poster...it is so sweet!! 

I had been working on a unit with my 1st graders about emotions.  
I love that I now have a poster to be a reminder for my students!!

I had a pre-existing board that needed changed out! (this is my super hero inspired ARTIST LEAGUE board) She found this amazing Brazilian artist(female & still alive!!) that I just love!!!!  Can't wait to create some lessons using Beatriz Milhazes as inspiration.

October 09, 2018

These are a few of my favorite things....

This month the Art Ed Blogger's Network is looking at favorite supplies for the art room!
This is a great topic for new teachers who are discovering supplies for the first time....and "seasoned" teachers who love to discover new/different supplies to incorporate into their lessons!  

I'm going to approach this from the non-consumable side of art room supplies....because I think my amazing peers are mostly addressed consumable. I feel my non-consumable items are equally as important for a smooth running classroom that maximizes the time we have together.  Some of the products/ideas may not work for you in your situation.  I understand.  I'm sharing from my perspective...and maybe...just maybe...you might apply/modify some of these things for your own situation.  Please also know I've taught in portables, on carts, in regular size classrooms, in amazing art rooms, inner city, suburbs, EL centers...so please ask if you have questions about adapting things...I might be able to help! 


Every table has a Sharpener Bowl.  I use the "disposable" lidded bowls you can find at any dollar store(usually 2 to 4 in a pack depending on brand).  After my 1st year of teaching, I realized my students were losing so much of their class time getting up and down to sharpen pencils. I also noticed behavior/noise issues were centered around the sharpener area.  I've heard a million times...."Well my students would just play with it at their table"  "I know my students would walk off with the sharpeners." ...etc   The fascination with them subsides quickly....it really is not an issue.  Also, I have had only a handful stolen over the 20 yrs I've been using this system.  The biggest problem is kids accidentally put them in the supply boxes. (And yes....the erasers stay on the table too....with little to no issues).


Each "every day" supply (crayons, markers, colored pencils, scissors) has a different color box.  I have one box for each table (14).  This makes passing out supplies & picking up supplies so much easier!  The boxes last around 3 yrs (give or take). I usually buy a couple extra of each color in case one breaks along the way.  They have a habit of changing colors/designs...so you can't always find the same ones in the stores from year to year.  I buy them during back to school sales when the prices are at their lowest.


I LOVE MY PLASTIC SHELVES!!!  They are light weight, easy to move, easy to store....AND CHEAP!!!  Sometimes you have a lot of supplies for a project that need easily accessed (sewing ugly dolls!!) & sometimes you have messy projects that need to dry (plaster strip projects/paper mache).  You can easily move these around your room for temporary storage & distribution centers.  When you are done with that type of project...move them to an out of the way location or take them apart for easy storage.  


If you have followed me for any time...you've seen this "hack".  I get flack for it by some who say it wastes too much space.  Well, you find a way to make things work if you like the way it helps you & your students be more effective & efficient.  I actually had shelves built in my room for the very purpose of holding these!  You could also do this as a temporary thing with the plastic white selves mentioned above.  The boxes store easy and really don't take up that much space.  As I said....you make things work if you find value in them.  And I find value in my yarn boxes!!!!  


Hope you found something in this post that sparked your interest....or gave you an idea for your own room!  
Have a great day!!

October 07, 2018

Sunday Devotional With Mr.E: Worry

Artists worry.  Artists worry about having enough money to afford creating.  Artists worry if they and their art will be understood.  Artists worry if they will find a venue and an audience for their work.  Artists worry if they are good enough.  Artists worry if they've sold out to be acceptable.  Artists worry.  I know that there are many that think artists are care free, go without in order to create, don't concern themselves with what others think, create for themselves unfettered by sales or acceptability by the main stream....etc.  However, worry does not improve any of these situations.  Concern can promote action that impacts for the artist's betterment.  Worry stiffles any real change that could benefit the artist in their pursuit of their passion. Worry defeats the worrier before failure has a chance to yield it's lesson.

Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?  Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?  Luke 12: 25-26t

Believers have reason to deny worry's place in their life, yet instead many seem to welcome worry like an old friend.  Why is this?  Do they not know the promises scripture repeats about God's care & provision for those that are his?  Do they not believe those promises are meant for them?  Have they never felt God's arms around them in the midst of their struggles, uncertainties, and pain?  In Luke we see the amazing reminder that worry does not add to our lives one single hour.  This is not a call to be reckless.  This is not permission to deny wisdom, wise counsel , reason, and intellectual application.  God gave us a brain!  He also gave us the opportunity for faith.  We can trust him.  We can lay our worries at his feet and walk with freedom and purpose in each and every situation.  Worry is real, but does not have to be our reality when we walk with the Lord.

October 05, 2018


When we rewrote the Scope & Sequence for the Elementary Visual Art Educators....we wanted to embrace our new state standards we were implementing(I was on both teams.).  One component that was lacking from our last Scope & Sequence was collaborative projects.  Now most teachers will do one or two collaborative "type" lessons during the year.  We really wanted to up our game though, and give our students an opportunity to work with one another in a real & meaningful way....in the spirit of true art making.  

There is a lot left to interpretation in the Scope & Sequence because we want teachers to embrace their strengths and do what is most meaningful for their group of students.   

Here is what I'm doing with my 3rd & 4th Graders.  
I'll keep you posted as we move forward with this project!

  • I selected the groups.  Some may want their students to choose, but my students don't always make the wisest choices....and with attempting this project...I wanted to avoid possible issues.
  • Students share theme ideas & try to make connections between their various themes.  They had to select one theme that they all had to be able to agree upon. (This was easier for some classes than others!)
  • Students had to agree upon a medium. (Once again...this was easier for some classes than others!!)
  • Each individual artist had to write 3 to 6 sentences sharing how they were going to use the theme in their work.
  • Individual artists had to create 2 to 4 sketches of possible ideas for their project.  
I walked around the room and meet with the groups as they were planning.  We discussed their themes & I mediated for several groups that just could not agree.  Most of the time it was a very simple "fix" for them to all agree!  They just couldn't see past their own ideas to connect with their group.  

I'm very excited to see where this lesson takes us!! 

October 03, 2018

Nashville Art Educator Exhibition 2018

Here are some of the works that appeared in the exhibition that opened last night at Nashville State Community College.  There were about 30 visual art teachers (of our almost 150) that participated.  I hope that the event will continue to grow and more teachers will participate in the years to come. 


October 02, 2018

Nashville Art Educator's Exhibition

Tonight is the opening reception for our district's Art Educator's Exhibition. Last year marked the revival of this tradition!  We had them years ago, but because of venue issues....it eventually came to an end.  I'm so glad it will become an annual event once more for our district.  I feel as art educators we need the opportunity & challenge of  such an event to motivate us to create our own art. It is so easy to get out of the habit when you are creating all day with your students...and understandably tired at the end of the day.  I'll make sure to take a ton off pictures tonight to share with you all!! 

October 01, 2018

Fall Festival Collaborative Project

For several years now I've used the fall festival to create a collaborative art piece involving students, parents, family members, teachers, and administration. Some years they are HUGE!!(Kandinsky Fence Project, Art Cubes..etc).  This year I went small.  We did the craft stick mural using the regular size craft sticks.  Normally I would suggest using the next size up because you can accomplish greater detail in your designs, but it was something I had on hand & wouldn't cost any extra money.   Sometimes...money does impact our choices as art educators.  No matter...they turned out great!! I had moms, dads, grandparents, neighbors all setting down with their kids & creating together.   Plus...I feel the results were amazing!! 

I prepped for the event by taping 12x18 paper down at each seat to protect my tables from young artists that might not have as great control.  I placed warm color or cool colors at the tables....wanting to separate them out so I could do a pattern when assembling the pieces. (For the most part this worked out...but I had PARENTS going to other tables to get the other colors!! ha ha)  

I opted to do a chevron pattern.  This is not as easy to do when their are irregularities with the craft sticks.  So there are some spacing differences.  I placed glitter glue in between the spaces.  I attached it to foam core board I got at dollar tree.  You have to be careful though...because sometimes the boards are really bent. I finished it off by brushing it with a satin finish acrylic glaze(just for added protection!)

On the back I hot glued string and then duct taped it down to make sure it would not come loose.  It is hanging in the office where there is less traffic of little hands to touch it.  So hopefully it will stay up for awhile!!

September 30, 2018

Sunday Devotional With Mr.E: Something New

Sometimes it is challenging to share our artistic endeavors.  We live with our thoughts, we deliberate over our sketches, and we invest time, energy, and skill into our creations.  They are an extension of ourselves, our beliefs, our opinions, and how we see the world.  Sharing these things with others can be scary.  There is a fear of rejection, being misunderstood, or that our work will just not measure up.  Sometimes these fears are elevated as we step out of our comfort zone artistically.  Trying something new can be risky.  Those known for realistic work try their hand at abstraction.  A painter attempts sculpture.  A portrait artists begins creating images of historic structures.  Change can bring uncertainty.  The artist and their patrons become comfortable in the established. However, the artist must be willing to take risks, try new things, and push the work further so that they can grow. 

Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.  Joshua 1:9

It is easy to become comfortable in our faith.  Though this might sound like a good thing to some....being comfortable in our faith can cause us to be desensitized to our need for God.  Being comfortable in our faith can be a rut that keeps us from doing what the Spirit is prompting us to do. When we get to this place of "comfort"...we tend to want to protect that feeling of "safety".  Stepping out in faith would rob us of our comfort.  God was affirming to Joshua that he was going to be with him as he stepped out in faith.  If Joshua was just going to do what he always did...why would he need to be strong and courageous?  Why would God tell him not to be afraid or discouraged?  No, God was preparing Joshua for an adventure.  He was preparing him to live out a life of faith.  Though it might not be "comfortable...God assured him that he would be with him! 

When God calls us to step out in faith....he does not leave us to our own devices.  When he calls us to something new...he goes with us!  If it is helping a neighbor, reaching out to the refugee community, or traveling around the world to share God's love....what God calls us to....he goes with us!  We are not called to be comfortable.  We are called to know God & make him known. 

What is something new that will stretch your faith this week?

September 27, 2018

Fall Painting Projects for Elementary

Need some ideas for fun fall painting projects for your elementary students??

Bringing "CORN"dinsky out of retirement & into watercolor!  I have done this project in the past using oil pastels, but I like the look of it more so in watercolor.  A great project to introduce kids to the amazing work of Kandinsky with a different spin on it!!

Speaking of Kandinsky, here is a crayon resist project that might work well for early elementary.
Have the students draw several leaves on their paper using crayons.  Then introduce wet on wet technique. You can also keep tissues, tissue paper, or salt on hand to add a few more fun texture techniques into the lesson.  It would make a wonderful large group display as well!

I'm doing a unit right now with third grade that is exploring interior and exterior spaces.Bring the fall exterior inside by gazing out the window!  A simple change to a normal lesson that we teach students.  I always talk about the foreground being like the things you see right out your window....now it can literally be right outside their window!! 

Exploring color mixing!!  This is a fun & easy project with a lot of impact.  I have my student fill up their paper with different types of leaves(the biggest problem is that they draw them too small).  Then they paint....but must use 2 or more colors on every leaf!!  Proper painting procedures, color mixing, fall...etc.....this lesson packs a lot of lessons into one!!

September 26, 2018

Practicum Take Over!!!

'My practicum students created & taught their own lessons this week!!  It has been fun to watch them as they see success & areas that need improvement.  As a teacher of many many moons.....it is so energizing to see young educators start to discover who they are!!

2nd Grade
Ms. Wilson did a POP ART lesson focused on Andy Warhol's Campbell's Soup Cans.
The kids loved creating their own wacky flavors.
(Though one is Mr. E flavored...and the paint brush has red on it?? My blood?)

1st Grade
Ms. Saunders focused her lessons on Picasso & him abstracted portraits.
The students laughed so much as they created versions of themselves with eyes, ears, and mouths going every which way!  They also enjoyed using construction paper crayons.

Ms. Alday read to the students a story about scarecrows.  The students focused on using shapes to create their works of art.  They also used construction paper crayons.  

The practicum students are doing an amazing job...and my students are really enjoying them being here at our school!!  It is really a win-win situation if you are on the fence about practicum students!! 

September 23, 2018

Sunday Devotional With Mr. E: The Joy Of...

Though the stereotype of the angsty & angry artist is still considered canon, I dare say that it represents only a small number of people.  Most artists have a deep felt joy for their creative pursuits. They are excited to explore ideas, experiment with media, pursue opportunities for sharing their work, and a number of other things involving their interests in the arts.  When one is so deeply immersed in their passion, it cannot be contained.  It impacts every area of their life.  It can't help but spill over. They share it with friends.  They share it with family.  They share it with strangers.  It is hard to contain something you are excited about.   It is beyond a hobby or passing interest...it is at the very heart of the individual.  Even on the bad days...it provides a voice, an outlet, a safe place to process. 
 The joy of art...comes from the heart..and cannot be contained.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Romans 15:13

As we grow in our knowledge of God's Word, the hope we have in Christ Jesus, the strength through the Holy Spirit, and our ability to trust that he is faithful in the good & bad times........it overflows.  Those things that we invest ourselves into inevitably spill over into other areas of our lives. It impacts our attitude, our relationships, our work, our family, and our free time.  The joy of the Lord can not be contained.  It is an indicator of God's kingdom.  If you are a person that gravitates toward the negative, embraces the ba-humbugs of life, and are perfectly please to be pessimistic.....you need to ask the Lord to change your heart.   Now we are all unhappy from time to time.  Happiness comes and goes.  It is an emotion.  But joy....JOY IS AT THE CORE OF WHO WE ARE AS BELIEVERS.   Joy is a transformation of the heart.  Joy embraces the hope that can only come from God.  
There is so much more to this life when you live out the joy of the Lord.  

September 19, 2018


The practicum students are required to take pictures of themselves & send them to their professor each time they come to my classroom.  Well...I thought it would be fun to brighten their professor's day!!! So we are doing silly pictures in the art room every Monday & Tuesday!! I'm glad they are such amazing sports about this!! 

Can I just keep them forever!!! 

September 18, 2018

Rizzi Cities: 2nd Grade

My second graders are currently working on a cityscape unit!  After creating a cityscape under attack by monsers/aliens/robots....they have now moved on to the fun/whimsical Rizzi Cities!!!  They are LOVING IT!!!  I may be doing several posts of the results.  This is Day 1(on a four day rotation). We learned about Rizzi & looked at his work....drew our pictures...and traced with Sharpie on the first day.  Today we painted our pictures using watercolor(Prang).