September 30, 2008

Perspective Drawing 3rd Grade

Over the past few weeks my 3rd graders have been looking at place & space. They have drawn their dream home, busy cityscapes they'd want to be a part of, and have tried out 1-point perspective. Some of them get it, and others not so much. I decided to do an exercise with them to continue the idea of place & space. Atmospheric perspective is not always easy for this age group. I decided simple boxes would be an easier way for them to gain a greater understanding of this concept. Most of them really enjoyed it!!( student cried for a half hour about it, but that's a story for another day). I thought Carson & Joshua did some nice work! There are a few things with each that need tweaking, but over all they are great examples of what 3rd graders can do. Gaining an understanding of atmospheric perspective is really important at this age so they can move forward in their drawing skills.

Draw It! Book Review

Draw It! (Series) Written by Patricia Walsh/Tiffany Peterson & illustrations by David Westerfield/Mark Adamic. Growing up in an area that did not have art instructors till high school, I’d often go to the library to find art books that could be my teacher. How To Draw books were the beginning of my “formal” art training! I gained so much from spending hours with those books, and will forever be grateful. This drawing series, Draw It!, provides young artists(and artists young at heart) an easy to follow...STEP by STEP…way of drawing anything from Dinosaurs(I LOVE DINOSAURS!!)to Fashion Design! Though it is not practical for me to use these books in the art room(other than maybe an art center), I would defiantly recommend Draw It! to my students to check out of the library! The use of simple line & shape allow most to find a level of success that will build confidence & interest in drawing. I believe by using these types of books, it will allow young artists to begin breaking down other objects mentally into shapes & lines. This is extremely beneficial, and I view these books as great exercises in art. As with an athlete, exercise is not the sport, but allows you to perform your sport to the best of your abilities by developing different parts of your body. The skills you gain from Draw It! can allow you to perform at a higher level within art by building different areas of your artistic skills & mind. I also truly appreciate the use of the art vocabulary within the series. I would say these are some of the finest How To Draw type books I have seen. If you have a student that loves to draw, please don’t hesitate to recommend a book from this series!

September 23, 2008

My First Year of Teaching

In August of 1997, I packed up all my things in my Chevy Cavalier & moved from southeastern Ohio to Nashville, TN to begin my teaching career. I had only been to the city once to interview for the position, I knew no one, and I had no place to live(or even stay for that matter) . Great way to start things, eh?(sorry for the "eh?"...I did my student teaching in Montreal, Quebec & haven't been able to get rid of it all these years later!!). I told myself if nothing else I could sleep on my teacher desk until I found a place(I was joking..kind of). I quickly found a place...and amazing group of friends(the Art Gang)...and seemed to know or be known by many in the city! It helps to be an outgoing personality in a situation like that! My school was welcoming & supportive. My classroom however...was kind of a nightmare. I had the old ISS portable out back( no water!!). With 1st year teacher enthusiasm....I decided I'd transform that portable into an amazing place for my students to come. And over the next several months...I did just that!! Paint, a fun border, curtains I had made.....and even a trash can cozy(that matched my curtains....yes...I am a bit OCD). My classroom was my home away from home. I loved being there. However, April 16, 1998....that all changed. A tornado goes through downtown Nashville & surrounding areas(who knew tornadoes actually hit cities?!?!?). East Nashville was the worst hit. That whole week I had been staying till 6 or later trying to get grades ready for report cards. That morning the terrible rains we were getting...a belt on my car was thrown, and I had to take it to the shop. soon as school let out that day...a teacher took me to the mechanics to get my car. They said it wouldn't be ready for a day or the teacher offered to take me on home. As we were driving...the weather was getting worse & it began to hail. As we looked ahead...we saw a funnel cloud drop out of the sky and go through a building...and then continue on across the road we were driving on. It was only about a quarter mile ahead of us. We watched in fear & amazement as the tornado crossed the road in front of us. We thanked the Lord for protecting us...and then continued cautiously onward. We had no idea that tornado we just saw moments earlier had hit our school. I found out later that evening that my classroom was lifted off the foundation & dropped on a car next to it. The roof had giant holes in it that allowed the rain to soak everything. Something had pierced the wall of my portable & went straight out the other side. One of the teachers was sure I was still in there, and made the police go in with dogs to try to find my body! I am extremely blessed that my car had issues that morning...or I might have been!!! After a week of not being allowed back in the area, I finally was able to go & see what was salvageable. There wasn't much. All of the kids art, my books, my art posters....ruined. I was extremely happy to see the supplies I had stored in Sterilite containers were ok, but that did not make up for the lose of everything else. For the rest of the school year my desk & supplies were on the stage, and I had to go room to room to teach art(or bring the kids to the cafeteria). It was tough...but I made it through. So, the next time you think things are tough...remember my story...and realize that things could be worse!

September 19, 2008

Clay Faces!

That's me with the go-t...hangin' out with my students!! My 4th graders made clay self portraits a couple weeks ago. They were so excited this past week to get them back to paint!! If you aren't a person in the know about takes a few days for the clay to air dry....then you have to fire it in the kiln(which takes about 7 hrs or so). I didn't want to fire the kiln till all my 4th grade classes had completed the there was a delay in the painting of the faces. You could use a glaze & refire them, but I opted to have my students use acrylic paint.

September 18, 2008

Just a proud papa!

This blog post has nothing to do with art. It's just a picture of my baby! This image comes from our three month check up. At this point the baby is about the size of an orange. Look though..he/she is wavin' at us!!! Isn't that amazing. The face is a little distorted in the picture because our little one was movin' around & "talking"(the mouth was moving) the whole time. Hmmm...wonder where they get that from??? Just had to share with my art peeps!!!

September 16, 2008

University of Idaho: Master of Arts in Teaching On-line

Many who find their way to my blog are art educators(those who aren' you...keep visiting!!!). So I'm hoping you find this blog of interest. Those of us that are in the Nashville Metro area have had a hard time finding a grad program that we could feel good about. I'm not sure how it is where you are from, but there is nothing in our area in Fine Arts or Art Ed. With the recent popularity of on-line programs & their credibility being validated....that became THE option for my friends(the Art Gang) & I. There were a number of programs we looked into. Some were elemenated quickly because of $$. It is amazing how expensive some programs are...and I'm unsure how any teacher could afford them without a sugar daddy/momma!! We had considered Ohio State University's Mostly-On-Line Masters in Art Education. I had taken a summer masters "SPRINT" class a few years back, and really enjoyed it. The program is solid! Ohio State is one of the top Art Education schools in the nation. Check it out for yourself!!! ---> HOWEVER....I wanted more hands on art & less art ed theory. This is just a personal preference & is not a reflection on OSU's program!!! The Art Gang began researching on-line programs, and came across a new program starting through the University of Idaho.... Master of Arts in Teaching On-Line(completely on line!!!). The program was slated to begin fall of '08. The degree would primarily be a Fine Arts Masters with some Education classes. This sounded interesting....VERY interesting. The three of us(Janet, Julie, and I) applied...and were accepted! HOW EXCITING...AND SCARY!!!! ha ha ha We are now a few weeks in and loving it! It is going to be a lot of work, but totally doable. This program might be what you are looking for too. CHECK IT OUT ---->

September 15, 2008

Fiskars Scissors

The best scissor on the market today for school & home use is Fiskars! They will cost you a little more up front(not terrible if you find them on at the start of the school year), but the cost will be made up through their longevity! I am using some of the same Fiskars that were here when I started teaching at Tulip Grove for the '01-'02 school year!! That's pretty good when you think of how hard kids are on things! I also use Fiskars cutting tools in my scrap booking!! I teach Scrap booking 101 & Scrap Social at Jo-Ann Fabrics in Mt. Juliet, TN...and will often recommend the scrap booking/crafting cutting tools that Fiskars has there. If you wait for Jo-Ann's sales....or the coupons you can find in the paper/ is a wonderful investment! will provide you more information on these fine cutting tools. The website also provides great information for TEACHERS, CRAFTERS, and GARDENERS!!! CHECK IT OUT!!!

September 10, 2008

1st Grade Cityscape Collage

My first graders have been doing a unit on cities. I've been very happy with the projects & have been trying to add enough variety to keep them interested. This week we worked on Cityscape Collages. I thought this work was exceptionally good. Remember...this is a 6 yr old!!

September 05, 2008

I checked my Site Meter & found that Google pulled up my blog for someone who had "googled".....steps to beginning watercolor in the classroom. I'm sorry person who thought my blog might provide an answer for such a thing(google brought them to me because of my blog on Prang Watercolor). I hope you return...because I'm doing a blog just for you!!!

Watercolor for the Elementary Classroom(and beyond)!


  • Watercolor sets(I love PRANG!!). The Biggie Cakes are for Kindergarten.
  • Paint Brushes(Pick your fav. I like the synthetic best..they seem to hold up is an investment money wise..about $80 for a large set with a variety of sizes...but worth it!
  • Multi-purpose paper 80 lb works well. If you go with 60 lb drawing paper, it bows & warps really bad. You could buy paper that is "watercolor" paper, but it is pricey & I'd save it for special projects only(unless you have an amazing budget!!)
  • Paper towels(I have the custodian at my school give me the left overs from the dispensers. At least here...they pull the roll off as it gets close to the end)
  • Tumbler cups! This is truly a personal choice. I have found in my room...if I give each child their own water cup that it cuts down on spills and arguments(and a need to change extremely dirty water). I have purchased my tumbler cups from Dollar General. I think it's a dollar for 4 or 5. They have a wide base that keeps them from spilling easily, and have taller sides so the brush doesn't "pop" out when kids aren't using it. As with any water container...make sure you tell your students to keep it above their picture. This cuts down on spills!!

I have my supplies...NOW WHAT??

  1. What is the topic/subject matter? Of coarse you can do anything, but there are a few subjects that lend themselves well to beginning watercolor! I'd recommend Still Lifes or Landscapes to start with. With Kindergarten...I'd recommend a large object(flowers, teddy bear, animal...etc). Their fine motor skills aren't up for little itty bitty details yet! They will find more success with larger shapes to fill in! Success will build confidence...and confidence will build better artists!!!
  2. Have students draw their picture first. Remind them to draw lightly!! Heavy dark lines make the painting appear too coloring bookish. Encourage details, but remind them that if they draw too will be difficult to paint.
  3. TEACHER DEMO! This is a must. Bring students around you...making sure they are all able to see what you are doing. Have the same supplies out that you are going to be using with them...set up in the same way you would like to have them set it up. This is not is modeling good painting behavior!
  • place paint & water cup above paper
  • place paper towel under the edge of picture
  • rinse paintbrush out by rubbing it on the bottom of water cup & then wiping it on the inside of the cup above water line(to remove excess water).
  • hold paint brush in the middle of the handle
  • gently rub the paint pats with the hairs of the brush(I always tell students to imagine they are touching a baby's cheek...which keeps them from digging into the pat if it is soft!)
  • gently run the brush across the surface of the paper(not painting to long in one place, not pressing too hard and scratching the surface with the metal part of the brush
  • rinse brush when switching colors
  • Paint large areas first


  • "WATERCOLOR IS WATERY!"(help students remember not to get dark with their paint)
  • "NO CHICKEN FOOT" (reminding students to not press their brush into the paper hard or the paint...the hairs of the brush look like a chicken foot when you press too hard)
  • "NO TAP -TAP" (alerts students to not tap their brush on the edge of the cup to get rid of excess water!!! When they tap sprays water everywhere and can mess up theirs or others work.)


Mr. Sketch Markers -scented or unscented

For years I tried to get rid of the Mr. Sketch Markers the previous art teacher had ordered. YEARS!! They just wouldn't die...and I couldn't bring myself to throw away markers that worked. Why did I not like Mr. Sketch Markers? Well, the kids would spend way too much time sniffing the markers or sniffing their paper & it w them from the task at hand...their art! Plus, I got tired of my students leaving the art room witmarker on their noses(elementary children obviously can't control their sniffing!!!). A year or so ago, I finally was rid of the last Mr. Sketch Marker(I honestly had these markers for 4 or 5 yrs!!!). Ya know what??? I MISS THEM!!! I have not found the same quality in other markers...the same color....or the same life expectancy. Mr. Sketch does make "unscented", and I think this year I may purchase them for my art room. They are a SANFORD brand product( ). After looking at Sanford's web site, and seeing the other products that they make....SANFORD IS QUALITY!!! A brand that we all can trust! Check them out...and pick up a pack of Mr. Sketch and see for yourself just how good they are(my fav. is the red...smells like cherries!!!).

September 04, 2008

A Dog Lover's Work of Art

I am not a dog lover. However, I appreciate a great idea even if it is dogcentric. My friend Shotsie brought in a piece of art that she & Zeus(her French Bulldog) created. She saw the idea on Greatest American Dog(once again, I am not a dog I have never seen the show). She placed his paws in brown paint & had him walk over the canvas(a large stencil was placed on the canvas so that the paint would go in the desired area). She had old sheets laid out & kept him in the area by playing with his fav. toy...a green tennis ball. After he had covered the area with brown paint(you can see some of his little paw prints within the brown), she cleaned his paws & sent him on his merry way. Then it was time for Shotsie to flex her artistic muscles. I think this collaboration ended in a dog gone good piece of art.

Just Duckie!

As you know...I love my job. I have the joy of developing the creative side of students, refine motor skills, instill an appreciation for the aesthetic, and aid in the creation of masterpieces.
Yesterday I read to my kindergarteners, Duck On A Bike by David Shannon(the kids love this book!). Then we went back to our seats to have our first collage experience. After reviewing the shapes that make up a duck, going over safety rules with scissors, instruction on how to use glue, and a quick students began to create! The 3 shown here are some of the best(I had everthing..from blank pages where they finished nothing to these lovely pieces of duckiness!!). They just make me smile!!!!!!!!

September 03, 2008

Sizzlin' in the Art Room!

I have now gone a week with no air conditioning in my classroom(well...not counting the week before school started when I didn't have air & was working in my room...and then the first week of school when I didn't have air). I am so thankful that it has not been as hot as last year(a little over 100 degrees for a week or two!!). However, it is still really warm!!!! My art room only has two small windows, and they provide little to no ventilation. I tried leaving my classroom door open, but that doesn't seem to be letting in anything except for noise & the smell of the bathroom across the hall! I was planning to fire the clay self portraits my 4th graders made early next week, but if the air still isn't fixed...the clay will have to wait!!! To put a positive spin on it...the clay is air drying EXTREMELY fast!! ha ha