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!)


August 30, 2017

The Trickle Down Effect


I know I'm totally going to sound like the man yelling from his front door..."YOU KIDS GET OFF MY LAWN!!"  However, what I'm going to share is true/real & unfortunate!

There has been a great deal of change over my 20+ years as an educator.  Some of it I've agreed with...and others not so much.  One of the BIGGEST changes has been in Kindergarten.  Lets face it...Kindergarten isn't Kindergarten anymore.  The requirements have been upped...the rigor has been increased...and the focus is completely different.  I'm going to say it...."WHEN I WAS A KID..." Kindergarten was about learning to get along with others, tying your shoes, telling time, learning the basics of language & mathematics. Play was important because teachers knew that's where you learned skills to be a good person.  Creating was encouraged because that built hand skills, reasoning skills, and imagination....all important to be a successful student.

Now what are we that need "social emotional learning" because they don't know how to get along with others, can't share, and have their feelings hurt if someone doesn't bow down to their every whim.  You know what would help...time playing together in the lower grades instead of pushing rigor down their throats!

It is also impacting their skills/learning.  Kindergarten teachers no longer are able to do all the cutting and gluing they use to do because of all the requirements they have to get through that aren't developmentally appropriate.  So I'm seeing kids with very weak hand skills that can't cut, can't hold a pencil, and squeeze out a whole bottle of glue for a little piece of paper.  Kindergarten (at least in our district) no longer teaches pattern!  It is smacking me in the face this year with my 1st graders.  A project I've done for some time that use to have 95% of the class being able to successfully complete only has less than 10%.  The implications go far beyond art.

They say we can't do what we've always done because kids are different...families are different...schools are different.  This is true, but if we really looked at the needs of our students...we'd realize some of the "old ways" were actually right on target for the needs of our students TODAY!



I've seen many teachers on several of the awesome social media sites that keep us connected...who are new to teaching or new to teaching art.  As a new teacher, you could become baffled by the variance in a given classroom.  How do you encourage & grow students that are all at such different points.  The answer is simply....GET TO KNOW THEM!!!!  As you get to know your students and their art will be able to tell if they are really putting the work into their creations...or if they are just messing around.  Once you have a good idea of their will better be able to encourage them toward growth! 

This student worked the WHOLE time, but erased a lot, and then ended up drawing with their crayon.  They are new to me, and I know that it will take a little time to help them along in this.  

This student did a great job, but rushed their coloring a bit toward the end to finish.  That is an easy fix.  Encouraging the student to slow down, and to mind their craftmanship.  Done is not always better if it isn't their best. Encouraging them that it is ok to be "unfinished" will help this student improve their work.

This student did a wonderful job, but was frustrated by not getting all the details done they wanted.  I LOVE THIS PICTURE!  However, you have to keep in mind what the artists expectations are.  Help them adjust their expectations...or reassure them that they will be able to finish another time.  This way they don't become frustrated in your classroom!!

Every year is different.  Every class is different.  Every student is different!! Enjoy the differences...and embrace the joy of helping your students become the best artist THEY can be!!!

August 27, 2017

Sunday Devotional With Mr. E: Moving Beyond

At the end of my first year of teaching my mother suffered three strokes at the age of 47.  My father helped nurse his bride of 28 years back to health.  Then at the end of my second year of teaching...after celebrating their 29th anniversary & his 50th birthday....he died less than a week after being diagnosed with cancer.  I arrived home two hours after he passed away...too late to say goodbye.  I was devastated.  I "processed" in many ways, but of coarse as an artist spent much time in my sketch book trying to work through all that was going on in my heart and mind. That's what artists do.  We use our experiences, questions, pains, hopes, and dreams to fuel our artistic endeavors.   For a long time I tried to capture the horror of cancer through my art.  Notice I said "tried".  I thought I needed to see the monster in order to fully deal with my dad's death.  However, every time I tried to create a visual representation of always ended up looking more like life.  Macabre colors morphed into those of joy.  Darkness morphed into light.  I stopped trying to force myself to create something that was obviously not in me to do. 

 A woman giving birth to a child has a pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world.  So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.
John 16:21-22

I questioned why I was unable to create what I thought would be my catharsis.  I wondered if I was not in touch with my emotions enough to do what I thought I needed to do.  I spent much time in prayer  trying to understand the reason for my seeming artist block.  Then I realized why.  I wasn't in that place anymore.  I had moved beyond needing something/someone to blame, and was now seeing all the things that my father had blessed me with.  I was seeing the similarities between us.  I was remembering the wisdom he shared with me(in his own unique way).  The encouragement & nudges(shoves!) I needed to become me that he gave.  My mind could not think of the cancer...because it was so filled with thinking about the life my father had provided for me & guided me to embrace.  I moved beyond blame...because that would hold me captive in a place my father would have never wanted me to remain!!  Moving beyond the pain we are going through is not forgetting our loss, but choosing to live a life that has been reshaped by our circumstances...not crushed.  

In this world...there will be trials, tribulations, pain, and grief that will permeate every part of our being.  There will be days we think we can't go on because of how heavy our heart is.  We will look inward & outward and feel that hope has abandoned us.  However...we must look upward.  We must look to the one who knows our pain...knows our loss...and knows we can't go on another minute in our suffering.  He invites us to collapse in his arms & grieve.  In the safety of his embrace we can ask our questions, scream our frustrations, and wrestle with our doubts.  He will not let us go.  He will not leave us.  He knows our pain is real today.....but he also knows the joy in our tomorrow. He knows the promises he made,  and he is faithful to fulfill them.  He wants us to move beyond the moment when we are able, and remember the eternal that is waiting for us to embrace its truth.

August 25, 2017

Art With Mr. E's Chair Footies

Here is a video to help you understand the hows & whys of the "CHAIR FOOTIES"!!!

August 24, 2017

Mr. E's Art Room: 2017-2018

I have been so slow about getting this posted! Please forgive me.  So here is a look into my classroom this year! I do a different color theme every year in my room...this year it is BRIGHTS!  It overwhelmed me at first because the past two years the colors have been much more subdued, but we all need a jolt to our system from time to time! ha ha  Feel free to leave a comment, email, or contact me on social media if you have any questions.

A few from the hallway!  I do have a nice large room..which I'm thankful for!  When the school was built in 1989...this space was designed as an art room(although it only has one small sink that is too high for young children to reach..that has always puzzled me!)

A few from the supply closet.

A view from my supply shelves.

Here is my reading area!  I read to my kindergarten students every time they come to art! I've had 20 yrs to collect all these books...grants...parent donations...and my family giving me sets of books for birthdays/Christmas.  It takes time, but a great classroom library is worth it.

The little table was made by my dad when he was in high school!  It is special to have something made by his hands in my space.  The chair...has seen better days! ha ha  I got it at a yard sale about 16 yrs ago for $5!! I'm actively looking for a funky new one!

My supply center!  These are more my everyday supplies that I allow students to pass out  & such.  Each color box represents a different supply.  The yarn boxes are so awesome!! Have had them for probably about 15 yrs or so. The top shelf has all my old teacher examples.  (I really need to clean them out and organize them better!!)

This is how I store student art work for the 9 weeks.  Each class has a box.  It keeps visual clutter down & keeps things organized!  I've had these boxes for about 6 years...maybe more?

Art Shirts!  I have people donate t-shirts for us to use in the art room.  They work out great.  We have a washer and drier at our school so I can keep up with them!!!

I painted the knight GREEN!!! I LOVE IT!!!  I've wanted to do that since I "adopted"
 him. The kids noticed right away the first week of school.

Word Walls...still in fashion?  I like mine.  I use the words on magnets and move them over to my example board when the words go with what we are studying.  Plus..the word wall acts as a word bank when we are writing about art that students can use.

This is my THINK ABOUT, TALK ABOUT, WRITE ABOUT board.  I have questions to get students thinking about their work & the work of others.  

I'm going to change a couple of the sections later on, but used the posters as a place holder for the time being.  I use to get all kinds of bent out of shape if that were to happen before...but since having kids..and my health issues...I've gotten more laid back! ha ha 

I did a post about this board a day or two ago....I LOVE IT! 

Every year I redo above my classroom door with foam to match my color theme I use in my room. .  It stays bright and colorful all year & sets my room apart from others.  

This is my " OUTSIDE THE ART ROOM" board. It is literally outside the art room.  This is where I put the pictures kids make me at home or at recess.  They are always so proud to see these pieces displayed. 

The last few days of school...I have my students make turtles in the color of my color theme for the next school year.  That way I have art hanging when kids get back...and it is super fun seeing them try to find theirs!! ha ha


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!!!!