August 23, 2017

Artist League Board

I'm a SyFy & Superhero nerd! Always have been.  I don't usually let that show too much in my classroom..  However, this year I've created an Artist League/Superhero Board!  Each month I plan to switch out the board with a new artist, and add them to the members list.  I'll try to have several examples of their work, and I'll have some facts about the artist.  This is in addition to whatever we are doing in class...just another layer of introducing my students to amazing art & artists!

I use to have my map on this old chalk board for years & years!! 

Kind of a cross between Avengers & Justice League! ha ha

Each month I'll place a picture of the artist featured to the team/members roster.

August 22, 2017

Eclipse Day Recap

Unless you were living under a rock or in the depths of a know that yesterday a large section of the United States had a total eclipse!  In TN we had an amazing view...with totality lasting over 2 minutes in some parts of the state!!  Because our school district was in one of the prime locations...and we were expecting MANY MANY visitors....they called off school(probably a wise move).  So I was at home with my own many classroom.  I have three children...a 3 yr old, a 6 yr old, and an 8 yr old.  We wanted them to be excited for the experience & curious about learning more about it.  So we had some fun!

From scratch "Eclipse Donuts"...made by moi!
Adorable children...wearing "Eclipse Shirts"...also made by me! 
We mad some for the grandparents too!!

It was blazing hot...but the best view was laying down in the drive way!!

AMAZING!  It was so cool when everything went dark...and the crickets started chirping! 

Me being silly! 

August 20, 2017

Sunday Devotional With Mr. E: Don't Art Angry

There are times creating art can be the most "Zen", peaceful, de-stressing activity you can do.  Then there are times it is not.  Sometimes you go into your studio space "off".  You may be frustrated, tired, or preoccupied before you even pick up the brush(or other tool of creating).  There are other times where the art making process is the source of your anger.  We all have bad art days where nothing seems to go right.  You struggle to put what's in your head out of your head.  You wrestle with a technique that your gut tells you is the only way to create your piece.  You just feel unable to convey the message your heart wants to share.  In that moment of frustration you destroy your art, you paint over hours of work, or you simply toss it in the trashcan.  Artists are emotional people, but being ruled by anger/frustration often ends in a hasty decision you regret later.  Instead of having a break have a break down.

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.
James 1: 19-20

Our world is one of extremes. So much has happened recently that has been fueled by anger, hate, and selfishness.  There seems to be so little care for our fellow man(woman).  Their has been a choice of ignorance & arrogance over understanding & compassion.  In James 1:19-20 we see an amazing outline for living in a world of differences.  Be quick to listen (because in listening you may gain understanding & see beyond your own point of view).  Slow to speak (because our mouth gets us into trouble before our brain can keep us out of people may need us to keep our words and opinions to ourselves).  Slow to become angry (because anger creates distance and distraction from what is really at the heart of the matter).  It goes on to say that "human anger" does not produce the righteousness that God desires.  So we can't be who God created us to be if we choose a life of entitled anger.  We miss that break through that God desires for us when we allow the things of this world to break us down, and we bow to the anger that clouds our thoughts, motives, and relationships.  We throw away what could be wonderful because we allowed a moment to dictate our direction.  

August 18, 2017

Teaching Tip: Avoiding the Copy Cat Trap

I've heard new & seasoned teachers talk about the problems they have with students copying their examples.  This is a normal "issue", but there are ways to curb students desire to copy cat.  

I create teacher examples during demo, but as I'm working....I let them know they are not allowed to create what I'm creating.   It is often met with...."BUT I WAS ALREADY PLANNING ON DOING THAT!!!"  I just simply say..."I'm sorry, but you cannot create what I'm creating.  I'm sure you will come up with an amazing idea all on your own!"  During the Mixed Up Create/Animal Collage I did with 1st grade this week...I made it clear that no one was allowed to create a flying turtle!  Each day that I demo the project...I create a flying turtle(but in a variety of ways).  If you are consistent with your expectations...they will know right away what you want from them!

If they are "stuck" on your idea...then you need to encourage them to take it in a totally different direction.  This isn't hard to do, but will take you having a conversation with them.  Ask them what things they like, what are they good at drawing, or things they felt successful with in the past.  Encourage them to take those ideas, and create something new and wonderful!  

Don't accept a copy of your work...they need to be independent thinkers & artists!!!

August 17, 2017

Hangry for Art

So this grosses me out a bit!  ha ha  I've never had a student actually chew on a pencil so hard it snapped(up by the No.2..snapped through!!).  This child was obviously HANGRY for art!!!

August 16, 2017


I think I might start a series of blog posts over the next year called Dear will be things I wished parents knew or did more of to help their students be more prepared for success in the art room. So here is the first installment.
(If nobody cares for it..then it might be my only installment! ha ha)

I'm in my 21st year of education, and I've seen many changes over that time.  One thing I've noticed is that students have less control & strength in their hands.  Their grip on their writing utensils are often weak and improper, their handwriting skills are not as strong, and their line quality in drawing has diminished.  The world of tablets, game systems, and watching TV seems to have replaced drawing, coloring, crafting, and creating.  I don't want to come off as an old fuddy duddy reminiscing about the "good ol' days", but there were tangible benefits to those activities.  I spent hours as a child coloring, creating chalk draw cities on my sidewalk for my Hot Wheels, and crafting with my mom.

I know times have changed.  In many situations both parents work or a single mom is doing her very best to provide for her family & raise her children.  It can be challenging to find time to do all those hands on activities.  However, just a few minutes, a few days a week coloring with your child will truly help improve those hand skills/strength.  Plus, they really love that time being close with you as color & create.  I know many art teachers are not fans of coloring books, but I feel that they are such a positive reinforcer of  needed skills.  They are affordable, easy to store, and come in a variety of styles & themes that will surely capture your child's interest!  As a father of three young children, I know that I should probably be spending more time with my own kids coloring.  The benefits go beyond the artistic & is such a great opportunity to slow down and talk with your children & have them share about their days, hopes, dreams, fears, friends...and a host of other things!! 

August 15, 2017

Take Me Home Country Road

I've shared on here before about my upbringing in the middle of a forest in southeastern Ohio.  This YouTube video I found is taken about a half hour from where I grew up.  This is the town where my high school was( was at least a solid 30 min. to get there driving by was 1 1/2 hr drive!!!!)  Where the drone is flying is Hannibal, Ohio...the small city you see across the river is New Martinsville,WV.  That is where we had to go grocery shopping.  It was a great place to grow up, but I'm not sure I could ever go back.  There are almost no art education jobs in that region.

August 13, 2017

Sunday Devotional With Mr. E: Inspiration

Artists draw upon different sources for their inspiration. Family history, relationships, experience, questions, conflicts, joy, suffering, collections, friendships, favorites, fun, fear, and a host of other things can inform an artist's work.  Some artists will build a career focused on just one of these topics. While other artists may spend a brief amount of time exploring a single topic.  Inspiration is as individual as the artist themselves.  Having purpose & meaning to one's work will helps the artist move beyond just showing their skill and reveals a part of the artist's heart.  This often allows the viewer to connect to the artist in a more tangible way because they will connect that point of inspiration to their own life experiences. 

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble,whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things.  Philippians 4:8

We all know people that seem to live their lives focused on the negative situations that have happened to them.  I'm not trying to diminish their pain, trials, and challenging circumstances, but when we elevate the negative we give it a place in our life that permeates everything.  It impacts our work,  relationships, and our perception of the world around us.  Though we must not go to the other extreme, and play off the pain & challenges of our life. That is not healthy either.  Those people that ignore such things are perceived as ingenuine, superficial, or out of touch.  This too can cause difficulties in their work, relationships, and how they perceive the world.  In Philippians, we see a challenge to focus on things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy.  It doesn't say to ignore the pain.  It doesn't say to glorify the negative.  It is calling us to change our focus.  When we focus our attention on the things of God, the rest of our life seems to fall in line.  The bad things aren't so hopeless, the good things are tempered with humility, In all things we can see that God is with us, loving us, and guiding us through.  When we allow our heart & mind to dwell on the things of God, it is reflected in the life that we live, the relationships we have, and the choices we make.  Others will see our inspiration being lived out.  When they do they will either be able to connect it to their own life or begin to ask questions to why they don't feel that same connection.  The door will be open to share the Good News for our joy.  Our life is a canvas that allows others to see our inspiration.

August 11, 2017

Kindergarten Self Portraits

I love teaching kindergarten!!  They are my favorite grade to work with.  Though...I will be the first to admit that the start of the school year is always a bit of a challenge.  So many students have never been in a pre-school program, and struggle to adjust in the beginning to the structure of school.  Soon though...they will "get it" & thrive in it!!!   Here are a hand full of self portraits my kindergarten students created on the first day of art.  They are untaught/coached...I just tell them to draw a picture of themselves on the first I can see where they are at!  The variety is amazing...and there is so much joy in some of them!! LOVE!!!!

August 08, 2017


The 2017-2018 School Year is underway! 
(I'll have my room & bulletin boards posted soon!)  

A few years ago I started kickin' off the year with a little RAZZMATAZZ!  
I wanted to get away from the same old rules/procedures, and get the kids excited about the upcoming year in art.

It really is a hybrid kind of day.  I still briefly run through THE ART ROOM WAY & classroom procedures(less then 10 min!)  I still have the kids create a full body self portrait (something they can work on while I'm working with small groups painting).  

This year's "razzmatazz" is a collaborative banner.  I cover the table with a plastic sheet(Tape it down so it doesn't scoot too much!).  They are painting on a cotton fabric(I think it might be duck cloth...I believe that is what I've heard it called in the past).  I have each class create a new "layer".   Groups of 4 to 6 students at a time work on the banner...until all students have contributed. We use an acrylic paint..which dries quickly when spread thin.  By the time the next class runs through rules/procedures & begins their self gives it will be dry enough for the next layer.  Make sure students have art shirts on!!!   Each day creates their own banner.

(Kindergarten's contribution is not added yet...they have half days the first two days of school.  I'll have them start adding to the banner's tomorrow!!  I'll share the finished product in a later post)

1st grade painted in the background color for the banner.

2nd grade added vertical lines on top of the background color.

4th graded added zigzags on top of the other layers.

3rd grade brainstormed a list of words about school.  
They each selected a word to add to the banner.

1st grade painted in the background color for the banner.

2nd grade added horizontal lines on top of the background color.

4th graded added curvy lines on top of the other layers.

3rd grade brainstormed a list of words about school.  
They each selected a word to add to the banner.

August 06, 2017

Sunday Devotional With Mr. E: Will It Last?

Fads fade quickly.  Non-archival materials will cause art to deteriorate.  The sun /lighting can cause damage to the color and/or surface of a work.  If let outside in the elements, weather can ruin even that which was designed to be outside.  Excessive handling of art can cause issues due to naturally occurring body oils for the skin being deposited on the surface.  Artists go in and out of style. A bump, clumsy act, or even a natural disaster can cause a work to be damaged or destroyed.  So much of what we do in the arts is fragile.  Any number of things can cause the demise of a work.  I create because it is in me to do.  However, once something is created I only exercise so much control over the longevity of work.   

 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
2 Corinthians 4: 17-18

How much of our life have we invested in things that aren't going to be in our life (or even exist) in a relatively short period of time?  How much do we worry over things that truly don't matter?  Although, does worrying about things that do matter benefit anyone?  We must use our time, talents, and attention on those things that matter most.  When so much is out of our control...we must be wise in those things that are within our control.  We each have been given this life to live by God, and I want to do so getting to know him, praising him, and making him known.  I want to invest myself in the things that matter most, the eternal.  How much are you investing in the temporary?  What can  change in your life to have a more eternal focus in your everyday?  

August 02, 2017

1st Day Back for Teachers

The 2017-2018 school year is just beginning! What are you looking forward to? What are some new projects or ways of doing things are you excited about trying.? Facing any challenges? Would love to hear from you...leave a comment or connect on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram!