April 30, 2019


Washable anything is pretty horrible when it comes to art supplies(I'm not being dramatic...for real..HORRIBLE!!!)  However, one of the worst offenders is washable tempera paint.  I was "gifted" with several bottles of washable tempera paint last year, and really struggle with the thought of just throwing it out.  I've googled on how to make it less horrible, but the only answer I've found is adding powdered tempera to it.

I decided to try to use it on our paper mache masks to give it lighter base to paint on next week.  The kids even became frustrated trying to cover the masks.  I will say it did dry to a decent white wash, but still does not make me want to buy it....EVER!

April 28, 2019

Sunday Devotional With Mr.E: Control

Control is an important part of art. One must learn to control media in order to master its application. The control of ideas & concepts to accurately convey the meaning and message of one's vision for their work. Controlling the amount of color, line, shape, pattern, and other elements & principles in order to not underwhelm or overwhelm the viewer. However, there are times that control becomes a hindrance. When an artist becomes too controlling they can stifle the creative process.  Their work can become stagnant, predictable, and soulless. They lose the joy of creating, the thrill of innovation, and the freshness of spontaneity.  Control has its place, but letting go and trusting the artist's innate skills and sensibility can yield revolutionary work.

Many are the plans in a person's heart,
but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails. 
Proverbs 19:21

We like to have control(or at least think that we have control).  There are personality types that have a stronger desire for this than others, but we all want to feel we have at least some control over a majority of things in our life. This even shows up in our spiritual life.  We may toss around the word "faith" but the application may not be as evident as our desire to be in control.  What does it mean to give up control and walk by faith?  It is not a life out of control or without control. It is a life that yields it's will to the things of God.  Money, power, position, pride, and place are in check with the heart beat of God.  It doesn't necessarily mean that you need to give all your belongs away and move to some far away land(though you never know..haha).  Allowing God to be in control means that we can trust he will be with us no matter what he calls us to do in this life. It means that he will equip us to do the things he has called us to do.  It means that his approval is all that matters as we walk out this faith journey. Giving up control means gaining a new level of peace. Are their areas you need to give up control? What in your life is preventing you from having peace? What is it you need to let go of? You are not alone!! 

April 24, 2019

Paper Mache Made Easy(ish)

I decided to skip my "Ugly Doll" lesson with my 4th graders this year for multiple reasons, but wanted to have something fun, exciting, affordable, and where they would find a great deal of success no matter the ability level.  I decided to do paper mache masks!  I've not done this project in a number of years, but am excited to see it progress.  This week is just the 1st stage.  We start the lesson with a Power Point on masks from around the world We looked at & discussed functional, decorative, ceremonial, and party masks.  After that intro we jumped into creating the base of the mask.  My plan is next week that we'd start the class with a "think sheet" so they could come up with their idea for their mask & plan it out before going any farther with the base.

I scored  roll of paper towels to use for the paper mache.  I know I could have used news paper, but the softness of the paper towel allows for a much smoother surface.  

I'm using foam faces I acquired from a district art camp I did many many years ago.  I cover them with aluminum foil for a few reasons.  It protects the Styrofoam. It makes clean up easier.  It adds support and you pull the masks off the face forms.  Because I need to create with a new class each day...I have to pull the paper mache faces off before they are 100% dry.  The aluminum gives it a bit more support. 

I use liquid starch for the adhesive.  It is affordable, easy to clean up, and works well!!

This is what the back looks like once I pull it off the form.

Here is a front view of the paper mache.

I have students paper mache their name on at the very end so we can keep track of who's is who's. 

Thinking about brushing on a coat of Mod Podge Matte finish to make sure everything stays in place.  

April 21, 2019

Sunday Devotional With Mr. E: Different

Artists have the amazing ability to create in real life from what was once only in their imagination. In the process of bringing something to life, the artist may need to make minor and/or necessary changes. This is part of creating.  We are use to seeing our vision carried out to fruition, and we will do what is needed to make that happen.  This is often how we approach the rest of our life as well.  We feel if we can imagine it...we can make it happen. However, it doesn't always work out that way. There are times what we imagined just does not occur.  This can be frustrating, depressing, and even "soul" crushing.  We get caught up in things going our way...and when they turn out different than expected we struggle to see the good in it.  The thing is....even great ideas & plans fall through from time to time no matter the effort & tenacity put forth. We will not ALWAYS get our way or be able to make our plans happen.  A different outcome can be the very thing we needed to grow as artists....as people!  It may allow us to see our original plan was not actually the best, or that what we learned from the struggle proved to be a vital life lesson. 

Jesus replied, "You do not realize now what I am doing, 
but later you will understand."  John 13:7 

I am often baffled by the disciples. They walked with Jesus. They ate with him. They heard him teach. They saw Jesus heal. All of these things were not enough for them to grasp what the Lord was doing.  I'd like to think I would have been different.  I would have gotten what God was up to!  Truth is...I wouldn't.  They were imagining Jesus being a different type of Savior.  They imagined him leading as a king. They wanted something different. What Jesus provided was an example of a servant. He showed them how to meet the needs of others.  What he gifted them with was the love of a friend. He taught them how to walk with God.  He showed them how to use all of these things to reach their world.  They did not understand....until after things turned out different than they expected. They were at the point of being crushed by the weight of their disappointment & their struggle to comprehend.....and then the Lord shows up...again. Then they begin to realize that what they thought should happen....was not a part of the plan.  God's way is always better than our own. Different is ok. Different is often God's way, we just need to learn to listen & rest in Him! 

April 18, 2019


Everyone in the Middle TN area.....
It's NOT too late!! The money goes to the amazing work being done at SMART...who works with individuals with special needs!! 

April 17, 2019

Art With Mr. E Summer Workshop

Just a reminder about the summer workshop here in the Nashville/Middle TN area!! 
I am about 1/3 of the way to capacity for the 3 day event!  People from all over have attended in the past (8 different states), and if you are from out of state & need information on hotels....just email and ask!! I'd be happy to help.

April 16, 2019

The Anniversary of Nashville's 1998 Tornado

Today is the anniversary of the 1998 tornado that hit Nashville,TN.  

Why is this something I'd share on my blog?  Well...it was my first year of teaching & my school was in one of the worst hit areas.  Oh...and my classroom was destroyed.
I'm getting ahead of myself...lets start at the beginning. 

(my portable is the one behind the mess in the foreground...to the right of the picture...notice how far it is from the steps!!)

 It was report card time again, and I had been staying at school until 6pm almost every night.  On this particular day...as I was driving to work in the pouring rain a belt on my car was damaged.  I was able to drive to a repair shop near my school, and call someone to come get me.  That meant I'd not be able to stay and work after school though.  All day we had tornado warnings/watches...and had to come back into the main building several times.  I would have people knock on my door though, because my P.A. system was not working in my portable.  The end of the day came....and my ride was ready to take me to see if my car was ready.  As we left...we had no idea that a tornado was right behind us!    We stopped at the repair shop, but my car was not ready yet.  My friend said she'd be happy to take me home.  As we drove past Opry Land Hotel...the hail started coming down.  We pulled over because it was almost impossible to see.  As the hail cleared....we started on our way once more.  However, we quickly saw the tornado dropping out of the sky less than a quarter of a mile from where we were...and pulled over once more.  I'll never forget the sight, but could never truly describe it.  My friend said, "What do we do? Do we get in the ditch?"  Looking at the ditch full of water & power lines over head...I told her I thought we were safer in the car.  WE PRAYED.  We also watched.  The funnel dropped down and went through a building in front of us...then crossed the road we were on.  We had no idea that this tornado had just went through our school...destroying many of our portables and doing unbelievable damage to the neighborhood.  

It was several days before I was allowed back to see the damage to my classroom.  There area was so severely damaged that it was not safe to return (power lines, trees, debris from homes & other structures).  I had been told it was bad & to prepare myself. The administration & staff knew I had poured my heart & soul into making that little classroom a magical place for my students...so much of my time & money invested.  I arrived to find my portable had been pulled off its foundation and landed on a car that was parked next to it(the teacher seemed to blame me for this the rest of the time I worked at that school??).  Parts of the roof were missing & there were holes on opposite walls were something went straight through.  All the kids art was ruined (I'm friends with one of my girls from back then on Facebook...and she still brings up losing her rose painting!  Art has impact...missing her painting after 20 yrs!!)  My books & electronic devices were ruined.  To the surprise of many... much of my supplies were saved because of storing them in Sterilite containers! (I get nothing for promoting them...I just believe in the product!!!  http://www.sterilite.com/ )

I taught the rest of the year going from classroom to classroom(no art on a cart...those were all destroyed too).  My home base was on the cafeteria stage.  What memories!? However, all the families at my school were safe even in the midst of all that destruction.  Things can be replaced.  I guess another bright side was the following year we got brand new portables that actually had running water in them!

So next time you want to complain about your first year of teaching...it could be worse.  I know of many stories that are much more devastating than mine.  
I count my blessings!!

April 15, 2019

K-4th Art Show: Secret Garden

I forgot to post pictures from my K-4th Art Show?!?!  I got so busy after the show preparing for the professional development I was leading the following week & matting Mayor's art show work..... It totally slipped my mind! 

 Last year was my most attended art show....with 325 people.  I do a stand-alone show with no other PTO program/music or anything.  I had a feeling this year would not be as well attended (spring sports & so many other after school events the past month).  We did have around 250 people attend though...which I feel isn't too shabby!  


The ever important sign in table.

I have my students make THANK YOU cards for guests to take as they leave!

If you do activities & don't have volunteers...you have to make sure you pre-prep the activity so it can be mostly self-sufficient.  I walked by a couple times to "clean" it up a bit. 

I pre-drew this activity center for guests to color in using markers(only washable so you can clean the wall for our fun young artists who color outside the lines...off the page...down the wall!! ha ha)

COOKIE TABLE!! I pre-plate the cookies(cookies are donated by faculty and staff) so that they can be changed out easily through out the night.

Remember the activity centers at the beginning of the post....
Kids & parents enjoy creating together!!!

April 14, 2019

Sunday Devotional With Mr. E: Risk

Artistic risks can be uncomfortable. We fear making the wrong choices. We fear failing. We fear making fools of ourselves. We fear change.  However, without risks.. art becomes stagnant.  When we only do what we know or are comfortable with there is little opportunity for growth.  We become "stuck".  Maybe we are afraid to deviate from what has been deemed "good" or "successful"?  Maybe we are afraid to change what we do because we've become comfortable with our media, subject matter, or process. Risk does involve failure at times.  However, failure often yields lessons that lead to great success.  Risk needs to be rebranded as steps toward our future self.  We cannot always see the outcome, but we can move forward unknowing our steps will be guided by those of the past and informed by the passion of our hearts. 

"Come," he said.  Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, "Lord, save me!" Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. "You of little faith," he said, "why did you doubt?"  Matthew 14:29-31

There are times in our journey of faith that we feel we are taking risks that make us uncomfortable. We might feel a desire to get out of the pew at church and lead in some way. We may feel a need to give more than what we are use to doing. Maybe we have a desire to start a bible study group in our community.  There could be a mission trip opportunity that for some reason we can't shake from our heart or mind.  Maybe we have a deep desire to serve, but struggle to give up our "free" time. Growth usually requires us to risk something we hold tightly to that brings some sort of control and/or comfort.  We find ourselves struggling to let go and allow God to be God in our lives. We may worry that we might have "misheard" God. We may be concerned that there are more qualified people out there to serve in a given area.  We may fear that if we give of our time and money....that we might not have enough.  

Then we must RISK....

April 12, 2019

3rd Grade Alien Unit

I've started a short unit plan with my 3rd grade...and I'm very excited about it!! This week students are creating a "character" in collage.  I told them to come up with an original alien/monster.  As they were working on their collage...I asked them to imagine what the personality of the character would be like, where would they live, and what are things that they would do.  The next time they come ...we will review narrative art work.  They will then take their character idea and draw a picture that tells part of it's story.  The students were totally "into it"!!!  The personalities are already there, and I can already imagine some of their stories.  I can't wait to share with you the next part of the lesson over the next couple weeks!!

April 11, 2019

Mini Matisse's 4th Annual ATC Swap

IT'S AMAZING! This ATC Swap is headed by the amazing Nic Hahn at Mini Matisse!!  She works so many hours to make this amazing event happen.  Here is her post about this year's swap.....


I have my students make collaborative trading cards K-4th....and we sent 100 of them to the swap!!

Here is what TGE received from Mini-Matisse's ATC Swap 2019 
& is on display outside my classroom!

Cambridge International School
Bratislava, Slovakia
(11 yr olds)

Liceo Novello (High School)
Godogno-Lodi- Italy

Briscoe Elementary
San Antonio, Texas
(6-11 yr olds)

Langlade Elementary
Green Bay, WI 
(9-11 yr olds)

Glenridge Elementary
Clayton, MO
(1st - 5th grade)

Pecan Creek Elementary
(2nd-5th grade)

McKinley Elementary
Xenia, Ohio
(5-7 yr olds)

Gower West Elementary

Good Hope Country Day School
St. Croix, US Virgin Islands
(4th grade)

Stowe Elementary
Des Moines, Iowa
(2nd-5th grade)