September 24, 2017

Sunday Devotional With Mr.E: Who Do I Please?

I went to college focused on being an educator of art not an artist who was an educator.  There is a major difference between the two.  I was secure in the strength of my teaching abilities, but lacked confidence in my artistic skills.  Any time one is insecure there is a chance that they will be tossed to and fro as they face their insecurities.  Going into my studio art classes, I found myself trying to  be what the professors wanted. Every time I'd come under their criticism, I'd abandon my ideas and try to adopt theirs.  I would change my content, my style, and my compositions in an attempt to gain their approval. I was so unhappy.  I remember worked on a project late into the night toward the end of my first tears because I was so incredibly stressed out trying to be something I was not.  I wanted to quit.  I wanted to go home and never look back.  Something happened though that night. I finally realized that I lost myself in trying to please everyone else.  There was no way I could ever find my artistic voice that way.  I needed to be the best ME...not the best THEM.  I learned to take their suggestions and consider them without losing myself in the midst of it.

For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God?  Or am I striving to please men?  If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.  
Galatians 1:10 

My struggles with trying to please my professors was part of a larger issue.  I longed to fit in & be accepted.  I think everyone goes through this at some point(s) in their life. For some, it can be overwhelming/consuming.  For others, it is just a blip. The Christian is not immune to such things.  There is often pressure to sound, look, act, and perform in a certain "Christian" way if we are to fit the mold.  As if there is a "mold" for being a Christian?!?  God designed us each uniquely.  We must embrace our uniqueness & the beautiful differences of others!   God has a greater plan for us than trying to be people pleasers.  He desires us to view life as an audience of ONE.  Our heart should be to honor and glorify Him through our attitudes, actions, relationships, and talents.  When we seek to please God & Him alone....everything else will fall into place(or no longer matters).

Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men;
Colossians 3:23

September 22, 2017

Teacher/Staff Painting Night

The past few years I've been hosting/organizing painting nights at my school.  It is an amazing time of fun, fellowship, and creativity.  I have many teacher call it their "therapy".  Though it does take some time, organization, and planning...the pay off is totally worth it!  

Past painting nights I've asked teachers for $2 to cover the cost of canvases.  I always buy from Michael's when they have their awesome 5pk/10pk sales, and they figure out to $2 or less!  This time principal found some funds to cover the canvas costs.  I provided a variety of sizes for teachers to select from...but that's not always the case.  Ya get what ya get and ya don't throw a fit! ha ha

I provide the acrylic paint.  Most of my acrylic paint I've received through donations, or I've purchased using extra funds from the $2 a teacher thing.  I always organize by color so teachers don't have to hunt.  Time is limited, and I want them to be able to select their own colors!!  

I do cut out a variety of tracers for the teachers if they are "afraid"...but I don't pre-do their canvases. I'm there to encourage, help out, and challenge....not do their work for them.  That is what separates our paint nights from one of those Sips & Strokes(oh..and...the sips have to be school appropriate! ha ha).  I pull up images on the projector to help give them ideas, but it is up to them to create them!!

TREATS!!!!  What is a fun time together without some food! My wife made these yummies for our teachers & purchased the fun napkins!! She's the best!

So I set up each table for a teacher...with paper towel, water cup, and brushes.  I thought this would be teachers could spread out and have their own space. teachers came in...they started setting together. I guess they like each other?!?! ha ha  I usually have about 15 to 20 teachers stay after(they sign up prior to the event so you know how to plan!!)

(some aren't finished yet)


September 19, 2017

A Unit On City Scapes: 1st Grade

For the past 4 weeks we've been exploring city scapes in 1st grade! I know some of you might think that sounds kind of boring for the kids, but trust me...they've loved it!  
WEEK  ONE: STANDARD/BASIC CITY SCAPE - At this point I'm still trying to get the 1st graders to understand that there are "layers" to a picture(foreground, middle ground, and background).

WEEK TWO:  PATTERN BUILDINGS- I have students draw three buildings that go from one side to the spaces.  They then create unique patterns on each building.  We use marker to color.  They are very bold/bright...and kids love markers.

WEEK THREE:  CREATURES ATTACKING THE CITY!!! -  The kids LOVE THIS!  We look at classic movie posters of King Kong & Godzilla for inspiration.  They then create a city scape that is being attacked by their original creature.  We talk about mode of destruction, people's reactions, and the details to make it look like the city is under attack.  

WEEK FOUR:  SKYLINES AT SUNSET- This lesson a lot of us do, but the kids really enjoy it...and I feel it allows students to works on some skill building.  Here are some of my students' examples. I think they are awesome...and even more awesome when you think these are 1st graders!!!

September 17, 2017

Sunday Devotional With Mr. E: Doubt

I've met a lot of people in the arts that come off as very confident & secure.  Though I dare say confident & secure can sometimes come across as cocky & arrogant.  I've always been intrigued by such people.  Even though I've been involved with the arts for a majority of my life, I've always struggled with doubt.   I would see those seemingly "confident & secure" and wonder how they were so sure?  What was it that made them think they were so wonderful?  I've come to realize that even those that seem so sure of themselves wrestle with feelings of doubt from time to time. The cocky & arrogant are often covering up their own insecurities.  In the arts, doubt is natural as we extend ourselves in new & challenging ways.  It is what we do with doubt that will define us in our artistic endeavors.  Will we allow it to destroy us?  Will we allow it to push us to new heights?

But Moses said to God, "Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?"  And God said, "I will be with you..." 
Exodus 3:11-12a

Moses doubted.  Peter doubted.  Thomas doubted.  Those of us that wrestle with doubt are in good company.   I think that we should take comfort in the fact that so many heroes of the faith wrestled with doubt at some point in their life. We all have weaknesses.  We all have struggles.  However, how we proceed changes everything.  It isn't that we move forward devoid of all doubt, but that even in our doubt we take steps of faith trusting in The One that has gone before us.  As we take those steps of faith our doubt will begin to diminish.  We will begin to trust God more with our "everything".  We will see He is faithful...even when we are not.  When Moses spoke to God of his insecurities and doubts....God did not tell Moses it would be all sunshine & roses.  God said, "I will be with you.."!  There is comfort in knowing God is always there with us....even when we doubt. 

September 15, 2017


So awhile back I received this....

"As a valued alumnus of the BGSU School of Art, we would like to invite you to participate in MILESTONES: A CELEBRATION OF BGSU SCHOOL OF ART ALUMNI.

The exhibition will open on Saturday, September 30th, and run through November 9th, 2017. The studio divisions in the School of Art – Graphic Design, 2-D Studies, 3-D Studies, and Art Education – are each inviting 10 alumni who graduated prior to 2011 and who represent some of the School’s most important accomplishments."

I have to admit..I was honored and horrified at the same time!  As a busy art educator, blogger, and father of three young children....I do not "make" the time to create my own work like I should.  So with this wonderful invitation to participate in the Milestones Alumni Show...I got crackin' on some art!!  I enjoyed creating...even though it meant less sleep than usual(ha ha).  I learned a lot through the experience...including how to ship work through the mail(and how much it costs..OUCH!).  

Today when I was on Twitter..I noticed the info graphic for the show that was posted by the BGSU School of Art.  THEY USED MY WORK TO FLANK THE SIDES OF THE INFORMATION!!!! 

I'm very excited, and will be making the trip north at the end of the month for the opening.  I'll get a chance to hang out with the art education students at BGSU, and reconnect with some of my classmates that live in the area!!  If you are in the northwest Ohio area...PLEASE COME!!!  

So this happened....

Me & Mrs. E all dressed up!
We don't have many date nights 
with three young kids!! ha ha

I found out last month that I was named the Middle Tennessee Art Teacher of the Year by TAEA.  It means a great deal to me to receive such awards...because they are decided by fellow art teachers who know our job & what we do day in  & day out!!

Then I found out that our district wanted to recognize the fact that I had received this award at a school board meeting.  Now..I'm not one for such fuss(I hate getting dressed up!) would have been fine if they would have just mentioned it in passing at the meeting. However, my visual art director & my wife wanted me to I did.  It was nice to represent art in our district...and put a spotlight on the fact that great things are happening in Nashville!!
My friend Tina(beside me) was named TN Art Teacher of the Year!!
Allison Ross(in front) is our new visual art coordinator...and a great friend!

September 13, 2017

Only Human...

Anyone else get the 80's song in their head!!
(some of you young ones...probably not!)

KID: "Mr. E, what is PROGESS??
ME: "What? What are you talking about?"
KID: "I think your turtle board is suppose to say PROGRESS, but you put up PROGESS."
ME:  "Why are you looking around my room anyways, trouble maker...don't you have work to do??"
KID: SHAKES HIS HEAD AT ME..."You're a mess Mr. E!"
(I love this kid...has been with me since Kindergarten!! Obviously more observant than me! ha ha)  

Yes, Mr. E is only human & makes mistakes! 
  Please note...we are 
In my hurry to create my bulletin boards & have my classroom ready for the new school year... I guess this just slipped by me?!?!  I do find it super funny & amazing that it took 5 weeks for anyone to notice...and it wasn't me(who practically lives in my classroom!!).  

Have you made any goofs like this??
Share in the comments!!  

September 11, 2017


I love teaching Narrative Art in 3rd Grade!  Their eyes light up when they make the connection between literature & visual arts.  They are amazed by the power they have to create stories through their pictures.  It really is a light bulb moment(that I wish came sooner...and it does for some).  3rd graders just get it!  We start it off with questions about vocabulary, and connect the literature version of the word with the art version of the word(really not a huge difference).  We usually refer to a story they are all familiar with as a point of reference.


I allow them some brain storming time before beginning their drawings.  After about 35 min, I stop the students, and have them partner up with others across the room.  They have to share the story of their partner's art work(and the partner is not allowed to interject at all until their buddy is finished explaining what they see).  

Once they have both had an opportunity to share...they return to their seats and make the necessary changes to help convey their stories more effectively. 

I've spoken with our new technology and writing teacher...and she is going to take them when we're done and the students will write the stores behind their narrative drawings!!

September 10, 2017

Sunday Devotional With Mr. E: Comfort

Visual art, music, dance, drama, these things people find great comfort.  A painting to get lost in, a song to carry you away, a dance that puts a bounce in your step, a play that transports you to another time & place, or a written piece that makes you think & feel in a deeper way.  The arts are known to help people heal mentally, physically, and emotionally. There is power there that is often underappreciated because it is difficult to chart or extrapolate.  In my own life, I know there are works of art that I revisit like an old friend...seeing them brings a sense of peace, joy, & comfort.  There are songs that envelop me like loved ones' arms....whispering truth to me as they hold me close.  Eyes must be diverted & songs come to an end, but thankful are those of us that know the power of the arts...even for a temporary diversion from the experiences that challenge us.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.  
2 Corinthians 1: 3-4

In John 16:33...scripture lets us know "In this world you will have trouble." It isn't "IF YOU HAVE TROUBLE" or "MAYBE YOU'LL HAVE TROUBLE" is "YOU. WILL. HAVE. TROUBLE."!  Trouble takes many forms.  Some is self inflicted....bad choices catching up with us.  Some is inflicted by others.  Sometimes nature inflicts trouble into our life.  Sometimes trouble happens, and we see no one or no thing to blame.  God has never promised us a trouble free life.  Things are going to happen.  However, the question is....HOW WILL YOU RESPOND?  For the believer,  as we get to know our God & learn of His truths...we can find comfort in Him!  As we continue to grow in our faith & have opportunity to trust Him with our "troubles"....we will see He is always there, always loving, and always faithful.  Through these experiences we can take these truths & comfort those God puts in our path that are experiencing their own troubles.  We can approach them with great compassion, understanding, and love....because we have received the same!  


September 08, 2017

Collage Fish: Kindergarten

This week I'm introducing my kindergarten students to collage...which also means introducing scissors/scissor safety & glue usage.  Personally, I feel collage is more challenging than painting with kindergarten.  There are more elements & unknown variables.  Unlike years ago...students don't have the opportunity to cut & glue in their classrooms(and if they can bet it is glue sticks!).  Kindergarten teachers have so many more requirements that they don't have time for activity type learning which requires these things in their classroom.  There is also that fact that fewer children are having exposure to scissor & glue use at home. Sooooo....when we get these awesome little sponges...we are going to be doing a lot of introducing and correcting.  I think the main issue I've been seeing this week is scissor grip.  I've literally had students that had NO IDEA how to pick up, hold, and use scissors!  I know I shouldn't be amazed by this...but I kind of am!

I've only had a few students that just couldn't get it at all.  Most of them were able to do "something".  I view this as a time to introduce & build upon I'm looking at the long term & not just the immediate.  Some of the kids that are struggling now...will be master scissor users by January!!

September 06, 2017

Repurposing Markers

So after my last post on MARKERS ( ), and the amazing response/discussion on Facebook that came out of it......I thought I'd share about my repurposing of markers into liquid watercolor (I thought I'd done this recently..but I couldn't find it...only a post from 2011 when I first tried it - ).

So a couple years ago I started repurposing markers WITH my students.  I brought in empty water bottles(washed & dried)...and filled them about half full with tap water.  The students and I took our box of dying/dead markers...and started coming up with color combinations we wanted to try. We made predictions of what colors we thought they'd make.  It was science, writing, and art all rolled into one fun experiment!!

You can easily drop 6 markers into a standard water bottle...possibly more depending on the thickness.  We noticed our colors were pretty light the following week.  So I told the students we'd allow evaporation to happen...and that should make a more concentrated color.  We left them for over a month before we tested them again.  The color was deeper/richer when we retested them.  Then I just decided to leave them...and see what would happen.  

A few grew mold.....but most became great liquid watercolor to use in our classroom!  The best part...they were already in a bottle!! Easy to pour..easy to store!!!  

September 05, 2017


Markers are probably my least favorite art supply.  Markers dry out, kids color with them anyways, they smudge and smear....I just don't care for them!  BUT KIDS LOVE THEM!!!!!!!  
So I keep them around to appease the masses. I have blue lid boxes for markers.  Each table get a box filled to the point of exploding!  We have to go over with EVER class about markers making a click sound to insure they are closed....not to color marker over marker...and...if it seems to be dry...LET MR. E KNOW!!!

 I separate my markers out based on it is easier to replace bad markers & see what you have left in your reserves!  Simple clear plastic shoe boxes do the trick!! Most of the boxes have two colors in them....except one! 

Do you have this problem...WAY TOO MANY PURPLES?!?!  Where do they all come from? Why do I have so many?? Do kids not like using they don't get used up?  Do purple markers last longer than other colors?? WHAT'S THE DEAL?!?!?! 

What is your least favorite supply??

September 03, 2017

Sunday Devotional With Mr.E: Humbly Great

I often over think & over do my art.  Something in me believes that work that is flashier, bolder, and more powerful is what makes art great. If people don't get smacked in the face by the message or the look than it isn't good art.  I think this mentality comes partially from being inundated by images from pop culture and advertisement.  There is so much competition for an overcrowded market of products, objects, and ideas.  The "loudest" gets heard.  However, this isn't true about all "great" art.  Sometimes the quietest & most unassuming work possess a power & depth that cannot be matched by the loud & flashy images that via for our attention.  The humbly great art appeals to our heart & soul with it's simple truth.

Then his servants came near and spoke to him and said, "My father, had the prophet told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it?  How much more then, when he says to you, "Wash, and be clean"?  So he went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God' and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child and he was clean. 
 2 Kings 5: 13-14

If you aren't familiar with the story of Naaman you will want to read 
2 Kings 5: 1-14 to understand the context of this scripture better.  

Many people ask God for big things.  This isn't a bad thing.  God desires us to come to Him with our wants, needs, hopes, dreams, pains, and sorrows.  The problem comes in our expectations of how the Lord is going to answer.  We need to trust God to be God in how He answers our prayers.  It isn't always how we want them to be answered.  It isn't always how we expect them to be answered.  Sometimes, the answer to our prayer is that they aren't answered.  In these situations we might get mad/upset with God...stamp our feet...question if God hears us...and a host of other responses that aren't very becoming of someone who knows the Lord.  However, God is not surprised by our response.  He patiently waits for us to finish our "fit", and finally see that His way of answering us is the best way.  We must humbly come before the Lord with our everything, and when we do...we will see that our Great God has been with us through everything.  He hears us...he knows our thoughts...and he knows our heart...and He answers our cries.  

September 01, 2017

Another Day Off!?!?!

I'm not your normal teacher! 
(You must be new here if you thought differently?!? ha ha)
We had a day called off because of the eclipse...and now a day off because of flooding! That is two of our five weather related excused days gone...and it is only Sept 1st!!!  I love schedule & these days really throw me off!

August 31, 2017

Painting With Kindergarten

Are you afraid to paint with Kindergarten.....

ha ha Just kidding! ha ha

Painting with Kindergarten is truly a joy for them....AND YOU!
However, you need to set yourself up for success. Many of your students will have limited experience painting before your classroom.  You have to be very organized & very clear in your expectations.  

Set yourself up for success!!!
I have the BIGGIE PANS watercolor...where there are 4 giant pats of paint(Red, Blue, Yellow, Green).  However, they were looking a little rough, and it is going to be awhile before I can order.  So instead I set up the four colors in the refill strips I had left over from last year.  Limiting your color choices helps prevent MUD from happening by young artists.  It also helps encourage the mixing of colors to make new ones!! 

Pre-fill water cups half full. I use the fat/short tumbler cups from Dollar Tree/Dollar General.  They last forever and don't tip easily.  I also go ahead and place two paint brushes in each cup.  This helps speed up the process.  You need your attention to be on the kids...not getting things ready.  Paper towels at the ready for never know with Kindergarten.  Sometimes they're great...sometimes they are a hot mess! ha ha  I also use cut up old art shirts for rags.  I wet them and squeeze them out so they are good to go when cleanup time happens at the end of class.  

I place the water cup and paint on their table and tell them NOT to move them.  Placing it right between the two of them will help avoid them standing up, reaching, and bumping the table...causing their table partner to mess up or spilling the water cup!  I also go a through a whole funny thing about tap tappin' the brush on the side of the cup(something they are NOT allowed to do...because it makes a mess and it is annoying to listen to!)....and a shtick about washing your brush every time so you don't mix colors.  The kids this year have done AMAZING so far...but it isn't always like that.  Reminding often for young artists is NOT a bad thing!! ha

The results of their hard work!!  I love how different & beautiful each one is!!
(These are a part of a larger fish unit I do at the start of the school year to build confidence and explore different media!)