March 29, 2017


The all school art show is almost here, and I'm up to my ears in "prep".  How do you know when your up to your ears in "prep"....your classroom starts looking messy(for some of you..messier than usual...I'm a bit on the OCD mine starts getting messy & it drives me nuts), you take tons of stuff home(sometimes it gets done..sometimes it doesn't), you start calling in favors of everyone you know (or just flat out begging for help on social media!!!), and your blood pressure slowly creeps upwards!  ha ha  Maybe you are an amazing planner/organizer...and this doesn't happen to you.  TEACH ME YOUR WAYS!!! ha ha  

  I hang 550 pieces of art work so that my K-4 students are all represented.  It always gets done, it always turns out awesome, but it is always a bumpy road to get to the art show!  I do a theme.  I know a lot of people don't do a theme....or have very strong feelings against doing a theme.....but that is your issue & I love doing a theme!!  I start theme"ing" my lessons as soon as I get back from spring break. I attempt to do the entire nine weeks in that theme so we have choices in which project will actually be in the show.  After the art work is must be trimmed down and mounted on construction paper(it just looks better in my opinion).  Then tape gets placed in each corner.  This is to keep the "sticky tack" from seeping through the paper.  There is an oil in it to keep it from drying out..and that can seep through and ruin the work.  The sticky tack works the best at my might find something else that works.  I make class signs in the theme of the art show....have students make thank you cards to give out the night of the show...collect cookies for a cookie table(my teachers love to help by bringing a package of cookies in!!)...create some activity so parents/family can create with their student...etc...etc...OH...and hange 550 pieces!! :) ha ha

If you do an all school art show....I'd love to hear some of your tips and tricks!

March 26, 2017

Sunday Devotional With Mr. E: Fear Depicted

The depiction of fear in art takes different forms: rational, irrational, minimized, and exaggerated. The artist can tap into the deepest & darkest fears that plague humanity causing great anxiety in the viewer.  They can also take a humorous approach that mocks seemingly irrational fears.  Either way the artist connects with viewer through the shared human experience of fear.  Art inspired by this theme can often evoke uneasy/uncomfortable feelings, and the viewers will not tend to linger .  Most do not want to be confronted with their fears because they believe it reveals a weakness, deficiency, or personal issue.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give as the world gives. Do not let your heart be troubled and do not be afraid.  John 14:27

What fear(s) do you have? Are they founded in something that has happened to you in the past?  Do your fears have to deal with something you are presently going through?  Maybe your fears have to do with the future?  Though some fears can seem completely unfounded. Everyone has a "fear" of something.  The thing do you handle your fears?  What we see in John 14:27 is Jesus promising a peace that this world can not provide.  How many times do we try to "resolve/solve" our fears through our own power and/or how the world tells us we should?  Jesus is not telling us we will not have problems.  Jesus is not telling us we will never have reason to be afraid.  He is telling us he offers peace in this midst of our trials & tribulations, and that we do not HAVE to be afraid.  The Holy Spirit gives us the power to not crumble under the weight of our struggles.  When fear comes upon us, we find strength in the Lord & his Truth.  Fear tells us lies. The Word of God & the Holy Spirit tell us truth.  When we succumb to fears, we are believing lies.  There is no peace in that.  Truth brings peace to our hearts & minds, and allows us to get through those times when fear would like to get the best of us.

March 20, 2017

Middle TN TAEA Spring Conference

March 19, 2017

Sunday Devotional With Mr. E: Understanding

Art comes in so many shapes, sizes, materials, styles, and meanings.  There are things that are "art" out there that most would not consider art.  As well, there are things out there that most would consider art that are but poor shadows of art that once was.  I've viewed conceptual art, and sought out artist commentary to gain understanding concerning their work only to find myself more confused than before.  Yes, even those of us with art backgrounds and training can find ourselves baffled by "art".  No one person can grasp everything there is to know about art, and that's alright!  Not knowing, not understanding, not grasping all there is to know about art means that there is still wonder & mystery.  Knowing you don't know it all means that you can still be in awe.

Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
Isaiah 40:28

Do you find yourself "in awe" much?  Search engines, social media, television, Wal-Mart at midnight...we have become jaded.  Because of this it leaves little room for awe, wonder, and mystery.  Anything we want to know is only a click away.  Has this mindset invaded our relationship with God as well?  Do we find ourselves thinking we know it all?  Do we think we understand all there is to know about God?  There was a time in my life where I felt I knew pretty much all there was to know about God.  I had him packaged in a nice little box with a bow on top.  Maybe you think that sounds ridiculous, but how often do we limit God because we think we already know what he is going to do & how he is going to do it.  If we read scripture we will see that God does not handle every situation exactly the same, every person in exactly the same way, and by predictable means. He does a "NEW THING".  If we accept the fact that we don't know it all, maybe he'll surprise us with how he answers our prayers, draws us closer to him, and works in and through our lives.  Not knowing does not mean you are ignorant.  Not knowing means you are human!  Not having all the answers is ok.  Not understanding means you have room to grow and an opportunity to be in awe.  Knowing God means that you know that you don't know all there is to know!   Wouldn't it be nice to have a bit more awe, wonder, and mystery in our lives?  To be amazed by God?

March 14, 2017

Magic Art Money = Supplies

I'm not sure where our Visual & Performing Arts Director for the district found this "Magic Money".  I've not really seen this happen in my 20 yrs teaching in Nashville......BUT.....don't question "Magic Money" and FREE ART SUPPLIES.  I'm a part of a team of art teachers for our district that help guide/direct some things.....and we put together a list of needed supplies for a majority of elementary art teachers(mostly the amazing Ms. Malone created the dear friend/ little sister I never wanted ).  I volunteered my school for the supplies to be stored & distributed to the elementary art teachers....OH MY...WHAT WAS I THINKING.  We are talking about $6,000 in art supplies I believe?!?!?!?!  I had to check all the boxes, organize, unpack...blah blah blah.  Needless to say my planning times & lunch periods have been devoted to the task.  Being a busy father of is hard to stay late at school.  So this is what it looks like!!!  

With an ever shrinking art budget...this is such a blessing.  Who knows if we'll find "Magic Money" next year or not...but I'm going to be thankful for it today!!!!!

March 13, 2017

Dollar Tree Art Robot Drawing Thingie

After seeing many posts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram from this year's NAEA Conference in New York City....I had to try my own Art Robot Drawing Thingie! I believe it was a part of a STEAM workshop at the conference. I saw on one of the posts that they obtained all their materials from Dollar Tree.  Well, you don't have to twist my arm to go to Dollar Tree...I LOVE THAT PLACE!!!  

So here is what you need to purchase:  POOL NOODLE, ELECTRIC TOOTH BRUSH(they even include the battery!!), RUBBER BANDS, AND MARKERS.  I decorated mine...not necessary, but sure does add to the fun factor!!  

I originally cut the pool noodle the same length as the electric tooth brush.  I found that it did not want to move/vibrate as I cut it so that the bristle  part of the tooth brush was exposed.  I'm not sure if it was a weight issue...or maybe I just didn't have the tooth brush placed inside the noodle exactly right.  There is a lot of trial and error when creating these.  I rubber banded three markers onto the noodle.  I first used thin markers, but switched to the regular conical tip Crayola marker.  I'm guessing almost anything would work as long as you have strong tips on them.  The markers are the trickiest part of the whole thing.  You have to make sure they are as level as possible...but sometimes when they aren't..they pevot...and it goes around and around in circles! ha ha  I may add a 4th marker later to see how it will respond?!  That's what is so fun about many combinations..trials...errors...successes.  



Good question!  I think that it has many applications.  Engineering, Science, Prediction, and Aesthetics.  I really see this being a great discussion with my students about WHAT IS ART?  CAN SOMETHING WITHOUT A HEART?BRAIN MAKE ART? WHY/WHY NOT??    

This might be a project at this summer's ART WITH MR. E WORKSHOP!!!!

You can access the on and off switch under the hair!

Mine kept going around and around and around....
but I have gotten to work like a RUMBA and bounce off of things and head back in a different direction.

March 12, 2017

Sunday Devotional With Mr. E: Time

Spring has to be one of my craziest times of the year.   I have portfolios, art shows, grading, and other special projects that seem to converge at the same time.  No matter how much I try to stay ahead, nothing seems to help alleviate the stress/hecticness of this season.  Counting, compiling, checking, and preparing have no short cuts.  There is no way to "fake" the things that must be done.  Artists & art educators understand this extremely well. Maybe it is partially because we tend to be perfectionists.  It is obvious when things in the art world are not done well or rushed.  My heart races a little bit as I write this.  I am thinking of all that there is still left to do, and hoping that it will truly represent the work my students & I have invested into this thing called art this school year. If only there was more time.

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place where he prayed.  Mark 1:35

Time is one of those things that truly is an equalizer.  Everyone has the same amount of time in a day. We all of those moments where we wish we could slow things down or "freeze" time.  Those moments that are so special we just want to hang on a bit longer.  We also all have those times we'd like to rush past because they are hard/unpleasant.  Like me in the midst of the busyness of spring, we would love to add more minutes in the day to accomplish all the tasks needing to be done.  However, time is set & we must make the most of what we've been given.  Good, bad, or busy days must be lived, and not wished away or prolonged.  Each moment we are given is an opportunity to know God & to make him known.  We are not to just know him in the good times, but in the bad, busy, and stressful times as well.  He is faithful in all.  He is never changing.

Jesus knew what it was like to be busy, have the weight of the world on his shoulders, and to experience the good a day had to offer.  He is our example for all things...including time.  If he felt that it was important to get away and spend time in prayer, why would we not make that a priority in our own life.  Maybe, if we "added" this into our day (whenever & as often as possible) we might find the moments we have maximized for God's glory. I truly believe if we took time to pray, submitting our moments, days, life to God.....he would reveal our priorities, strengthen us in our stresses, and draw us into a closer relationship with him.  THAT. IS. WORTH. OUR. TIME.

March 08, 2017

Dealing With Grades

Parents may questions you from time to time about your grading.  So what do you do when that happens?  There are a few things you can do before hand that will help you navigate the sometimes tricky waters of art grades.  I don't think I mentioned in the video about the importance of a strong BASIC rubric. It should be something that you, your students, your parents, and your administration can look at and use to assess the work with little question.  Of coarse you are the trained authority...and it is your job is to educate all involved about grades/grading if the question ever comes up!  No one is out to get you(most of the time)...they might just not understand that art can be graded objectively considering your standards & objectives for a lesson. 


March 07, 2017


I know elementary art teachers that are not fans of colored pencils in their classrooms.  I however...LOVE THEM!!!  This year I purchased some 12 Pack Faber-Castell & some 12 & 24 Pack Crayola.  Lets look at the two brands side by side.
We see some differences right away between Faber-Castell & Crayola.  Faber-Castell uses a triangular design for their pencil...which is nice for preventing pencils rolling off the table(common elementary issue).  The other difference you notice quickly is the colors in their 12 packs.  Faber-Castell does not include white(totally good with that!!).  It also includes peach & silver.  Crayola does have white, and includes a red orange.  Both companies(ARE YOU READING THIS???)....WHY DON'T YOU INCLUDE GRAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I could do without silver & white...the need for them is not great.  Elementary kids want gray!!  THEY NEED GRAY!!!!  Lets count the ways we need, buildings, old people's hair, kitties named Smokey, gray houses, sidewalks...and on and on!  PLEASE HEAR MY PLEA FOR GRAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Here is the Crayola 24 Pack....and it has GRAY!!!  I actually really like the color options in this pack of colored pencils, but my budget doesn't always allow for me to purchase the bigger pack.  I do wish it had a light version of gray...this one is on the dark side.  

This is the side by side for the 12 packs.  I found it interesting that the only major difference was between the violet in the two brands.  Faber-Castell is clearly a red violet & Crayola is clearly a blue violet.  I'll also say that Faber-Castell's red & Crayola's red orange are closely related.

SO THERE YA GO!!  I like both brands...I feel they hold up about the same  & the color is about the same richness.  You know how some of the cheaper brands have harder leads which equal a lighter color.  We all have our favorites...but with color pencils...I like both!!!

March 06, 2017


I love my classroom.  However, it is 30 yrs old & there are a few things I wish were designed differently.  In our district, all knew & renovated schools have an actual kiln room.  This kiln room not only has a confined space for the also usually has amazing shelves for clay storage.  My classroom does not have such a thing....but as art teachers do...I MAKE IT WORK!  Here is my solution for clay project storage.  Easy lightweight shelves I can move around my room & even back to the kiln when needing to fire or after firing!!  Sorry for my face...I work with what I got! ha ha  Actually....I have a stye or something..and my eyelid is HUGE!

March 05, 2017

Sunday Devotional With Mr. E: Advice

There is a fine line between the artist and their art.  The nature of the artist is to invest their talent, heart, experiences, dreams, pain, and beliefs into their art form. When you have that much personal connection with what you do, it can be difficult to hear criticism of any form towards it.  It is as if they are attacking the artist personally.  However, criticism is a part of the growing process for anyone in the arts.   Our field uses the word criticism frequently & at times flippantly,  but at the heart of it is really giving advice or braking down the different aspects of the created work.  The general public often equates "criticism" with negative connotations, and though it can be delivered with is meant to help the artist take a more objective look at what they are doing.  If the artists listens to the constructive criticism to look more objectively at their work, they can improve upon it and grow personally & artistically. 

Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness
 of a friend springs from their heartfelt advice. Proverbs 27:9

Though I do not always receive advice & criticism well(who does?), I will always consider what is being said(often at a later date when I've had time to process).  I think it would be unwise just to listen to what anyone & everyone says to you as 100% truth, and then act upon it.  If you operated that way, you would lose yourself in the midst of trying to please everyone else. Though I will consider criticism/advice given by someone I don't really know, I listen closely to my confidants/friends.  The people that know me, my heart, my passion, and my vision will be able to provide perspective in light of that knowledge.  I have people that can literally say ANYTHING to me, and I will receive what they say.  They have earned the right to speak truth to me.  I know that they have my best interest in mind, and would never say something just to hurt me.  I really love the book of Proverbs.  It is all about dishing out sound advice.  It does it in a way that is not meant to hurt, but to encourage, challenge, and build up the believer.  We need people in our life that will speak like Proverbs does to us....clearly, practically, and with a heart to see us at our best.  To call us out when we need it.  To affirm us when we are unsure. To provide direction when we feel lost.  I am thankful for the book of Proverbs, and I am thankful for friends that speak to be as a modern day version of Proverbs.  I hope & pray you have that in your life.  If you do not, pray that God will bring those type of friends to you, or maybe that your heart would be receptive to those people He may have already placed in your life! It will change you for the better....and for God's glory!

March 03, 2017

Chinese Principals Visit Mr. E!

Well, they didn't actually come all the way from China for me, but it sounds good doesn't it!! ha ha  Wow...that would be a lot of pressure! Actually, my new principal was a part of an administrative exchange a couple years ago, and visited China to see their schools.  Now it was their turn to visit our schools.  So she asked me if I'd mind having them come through my room to observe....and then if I'd be willing to teach the principals an art lesson.  I'm up for new challenges....and I love being able to share my program with anyone & everyone who will listen!  





It was a wonderful experience! They were so polite. Who knows...maybe MR.E IN CHINA could happen some day? That would be fun experience!!

March 01, 2017

Can't Go To NAEA 2017??

I've been blessed to go & present at NAEA twice, Fort Worth & San Diego.  I had the time of my life.  There is nothing like being around thousands of like minded individuals who love art, love teaching, and love life!  However, I'm a husband & father.  I am the only source of income for my family.  That requires me to make choices in life for what is best for the family...and not just myself.  I know there are others of you out there that are in the same boat as me....and look at the online photos & stories wishing you could be there also.  I GET IT!!! 

So...what can you do instead to bring a bit of the experience to your life?

CONNECTION!!!  I think the most impactful (is that a word?) thing about conference is the connection with other art educators.  Many of us are the only ones in our building, and we do not have the opportunity to hang out, bounce ideas off of, and learn from other people that are doing the same thing we are doing.  I'm fortunate to be in a large school district that has over 140 art teachers K-12.  I'm also extremely fortunate to have 5 professional days a year that I can use for workshops, conferences, or to go observe others.  I know that is not the case for many.  If you have a similar situation, do your best to use those days you've been given.  If you don't have the luxury of professional after hours!  I know it is cutting into your time, but the connection is worth it in the long run! If meeting up in person is just too challenging for your situation...try the online communities that are out there!  Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Blogs....there are so many great resources out there to connect & share with other art educators.  

CLASSES/SESSIONS!!!  NAEA allows you to have the amazing opportunity to select from a HUNDREDS of classes/sessions!  You can truly find anything & everything art and art ed related.  Your state association also offers opportunities for classes, lectures, and sessions that will help grow your skill set, feed your artist soul, and allow for you to connect with others.  Local gallerias, museums, and artist groups often host classes as well.  You just have to know where to look.  You can also find summer workshops! Make it a destination/vacation event.   I know a blogger that is putting on his 2nd annual summer workshop at the end of June!!! :) ha ha  I had 15 teachers from 5 states last summer attend my three day workshop....WE HAD SO MUCH FUN....and learned a lot from each other.  Also the ever popular Cassie Stephens is having her summer workshop with some other art teachers....and I know they had a great time last summer as well!!

Can you totally get the NAEA experience without going...not exactly. I highly recommend going to the NAEA Conference at least once in their life!!!!  It really is an amazing experience.  However, you experience some of the things that are at the core of NAEA if you make the effort!!