Jan 15

Journaling and Sketching Emotions

Feelings are often difficult to deal with, and communicating them is even harder.

While researching short videos on emotional intelligence to share with my 2nd Graders during our Expressionist unity I found this brief PBS Parents video.

The video explores a journaling/sketchbook technique to develop and foster social and emotional intelligence with your children, students, and self.

Jan 15

Science Shows Art Can Do Incredible Things for Your Mind and Body

Arts.mic or Mic.com just published an interesting article on art’s effect on the human brain.  Some of the highlights of the article were that “experiencing art decreases stress levels” and that “the brain is hardwired to process art.”  The article also noted that the biggest benefits come from actually producing art.



“Along with the perks of enjoying and experiencing art, there are real-world benefits to making the art with your own two hands. According to a 2014 study, producing visual art improved psychological resilience and increased brain activity for the participants by the end of the experiment.

The study had two groups of recent retirees. One group was given lessons by an art educator and the participants actively created pieces of visual art that displayed their own personal form of artistic expression. The other group was treated more like a discussion class, where they talked about and interpreted selected paintings and sculptures. Both groups had their brains scanned before and after the period of courses.

The brain scans of the two groups before the classes (T0) and after 10 weeks (T1).Source: Anne Bolwerk/PLOSOne

Of the two groups, the one that produced art reaped the neural benefit of increased connectivity in the brain’s default mode network over the ten weeks of art class. This area deals with cognitive process like introspection, self-monitoring and memory.


As Hyperallergic points out, the researchers speculate that the first group got the gains because of the combination of motor and cognitive processing. They state in the study, “The visual art production intervention involved the development of personal expression and attentional focus on self-related experience during art creation.” Utilizing motor skills and thinking about art together becomes more beneficial instead of doing either separately. “

Click the link below for the full article:

Dec 14

Teaching art or teaching to think like an artist? | Cindy Foley | TEDxColumbus

Nov 14

Aelita Andre, World Famous Painter, Age 7

It’s amazing what children can do when they are allowed to explore, experiment, get messy, and play!


Aelita Andre’s Website:

Nov 14

Specialists in Elementary School Classrooms? (Huffington Post)

Thought provoking article on the Chinese elementary school model, where every teacher is a specialist.





Nov 14

iPhone Photography Tips + Hacks

If you’re interested in photography here are some great tips and tricks that can turn a basic cell phone camera into so much more.

Screen Shot 2014-11-17 at 3.53.10 PM Screen Shot 2014-11-17 at 3.54.14 PM



Nov 14

Artist Spotlight: Mateo C.



Baby Man

Baby Man

Raining Tires

Raining Tires

Crocodile Eating Puppet

Crocodile Eating Puppet

Person For Dinner

Person For Dinner

Q:  What grade are you in?

A:  2nd

Q:  What is your favorite subject?  What is your favorite thing to make artwork about?

A:  I really like to use my imagination when I do artwork and make up things.

Q:  What is your favorite color?

A:  Blue.  It’s also my middle name.

Q:  How do you feel when you’re making work? 

A:  It’s really really fun and I feel happy.

Q:  How do you want people to feel when they see your work?

A:  Amazed!

Q:  What are your favorite mediums to use?  What are your favorite materials in the CRES studio? 

A:  Collage

Oct 14

What is the Inspiration Station?

The Inspiration Station is a center in the CRES Studio that young artists can visit for:
– Inspiration
– Art History Books
– Reference Books
– Science Specimens
– Still-life Supplies
– Models
– How-to-Draw Books
– Drawing Prompts

Oct 14

Sketchbook Prompts as Inspiration

Since September students have been working on finding inspiration through sketchbook prompts and the Inspiration Station.



Here is a quick little video showing the artists in action!

Oct 14

On the Coast of Maine, 2014

Each year the 3rd Grade students of Maine spend a large part of the year learning about our beloved home state.  The video below illustrates a collaboration between the music educator at my school, Karen Littlefield, the artists and musicians of Coastal Ridge Elementary School, and myself.

The students perform Mike Nobel’s “Coast of Maine” for their spring concert “Maine Night”.  Students in the CRES studio were asked to create thumbnail sketches and then a finished piece based on the lyrics.

Coast of Maine (On the Coast of Maine) Lyrics

By Mike Nobel

Welcome to a day along the coast of Maine
No place could ever be more beautiful to see
Stars are in the sky on the morning tide
The fishin’ boats are rockin’ the ocean birds are calling,
“Welcome to Maine” “Welcome to Maine”

Come see the sunrise high on Cadillac Mountain
Come see the sailboat reaching for the horizon
Come let the water carry you away
Along the rocky coast of Maine.

On a stormy day along the coast of Maine
The salty winds are singing, the buoy bells are ringing
On the rising tide, waves are breaking high
and when the storm is clearing, it’s Mother Nature saying:
“Welcome to Maine” “Welcome to Maine”

Come see the rainbow rising over the island
come see the children racing into the ocean
Come learn the song in the music of the waves
On the rocky coast of Maine.

Sep 14

Welcome Back! What are sketchbooks?

Welcome back to a new and exciting school year in the CRES Studio!






We’re starting off the school year by working in our new sketchbooks.  Students will keep their sketchbooks for three years to show their progress and help them keep track of what inspires them.

I started the lesson by asking students some questions about sketchbooks.  Here are their insightful responses.


Why is a sketchbook a tool?

  • You practice in it.
  • You use it for ideas.
  • To sketch your ideas and plan it all out. -Lucy K.
  • It is ideas that you might want to do.
  • It’s a draft for drawing in.
  • Sometimes pictures will help me more than words.
  • If you’re going to make a house you need to sketch it first.
  • Always sketch before you paint.  You can erase sketches, but you can’t erase watercolor.
  • A sketchbook is a place where you put your thoughts.
  • A sketchbook is a tool because you use it to build something bigger.
  • It’s a place you can try new things

Why is a sketchbook a great place to try new things?

  • You don’t want to waste paper.  If you do it in your sketchbook first, the paper won’t go to waste.   
  • You can do experiments in your sketchbook.
  • If you mess up in your sketchbook it’s ok it’s not your final piece.
  • A sketchbook is a good place for trying thing out and see what works and what doesn’t.
  • Explore your mind. -Jack
  • If you want to draw something you can put it in your journal or sketchbook.
  • if you make a mistake you can just erase it as many times as possible, do it over until you’ve got it right.

Why are mistakes important to keep?

  • You can make a mistake into inspiration. -Maddie
  • You can keep an accident, because you can make it into a “happy accident.”
  • The reason why you keep a mistake is because you could turn it into a masterpiece.
  • There are no mistakes when making art!
  • You can get great ideas from mistakes.  Like happy accidents.  You can learn from mistakes and make your drawings better.
  • It’s good to learn from our own mistakes.
  • It’s just your sketchbook, not your whole life…don’t over react over anything.
  • You can turn your mistake into something else.
  • Keep your mistakes in your sketchbook so you can look back and not make the same mistake again.
  • There are no mistakes just happy accidents. That means if you make a mistake you can turn it into a beautiful drawing.  -Lexi R.
  • You can learn from your mistakes. -Cami

Why do most artists, writers, or other creative problem solvers keep a sketchbook on them at all times?

  • You can put your feelings in it.
  • It’s good because you can write down or sketch your ideas.
  • If you have a great idea write it on a piece of paper.
  • You might want to bring your sketchbook with you so you can draw stuff you like.
  • It’s good to sketch in a sketchbook
  • When you are inspired… don’t fear… get it!

Why might you write in your sketchbook?

  • If you make a picture and name it, write it down so you don’t forget it.
  • To tell about your art.
  • You could draw the picture and then tell how you made it.
  • You could write down your idea and save it till you need it.
  • You can put your feelings in so you don’t hurt.
  • To tell whats in your picture.
  • You can write about your picture or instead of drawing the picture you could write it out the idea.
  • You can have writing in your sketchbook because later you can read the ideas and make it into art.
  • You can write a tip for another drawing. -Cami

Jun 14

Mini Collages and Artist Trading Cards

Mar 14

Army Base Collaboration : 2nd Grade


Mar 14

Making Hinges

This 2nd Grader has been working with two other boys in his class to create an “Army Base”.  Here he is showing me how he created hinges for one of their doors using staples.

Jan 14

Flag Art with a Tasty Twist

“As part of a promotion for the Sydney International Food Festival, the advertising agency WHYBIN\TBWA designed 18 national flags using foods each country is commonly associated with and that would also match the colors of the flag.”


Wouldn’t showing these be great way to help make connections between Art and Social Studies?

Can you guess which countries these flags belong to?






Click the link below to see them all!


Oct 13

Collaboration: Our Community, York, ME, Mrs. Foster’s 2nd Grade

Our second graders have been studying what makes up a community in their classrooms. In art we have been talking about what it means to collaborate and be part of a community.  The second graders in Mrs. Foster’s class did a fabulous job of brainstorming all of the amazing things that make up our community here in York, ME.


community foster 3 community foster 4 community foster 1 community foster 2


Sep 13

Making Magic in the Studio, September 2013

Sep 13

Compliment Slip Critique

Sep 13

Drawing From Observation in the Inspiration Station

Sep 13

The Collage Center is Open!!!

Sep 13

Having Fun With Sketchbooks

3rd Graders exploring their sketchbooks!


Sep 13

Welcome Back 2013-2014!

The CRES Studio is ready for an another amazing school year!

May 13

Japanese Tea Cups

Second grade students at CRES have been studying Japan.  To go along with their unit we have been exploring pinch pot tea cups and origami.

Here was our schedule for making these beautiful works of art.

Week 1:  Build Pinch Pots.

When students were finished they had a choice of working with blocks or working in their sketchbooks.

Week 2:  Decorating Their Greenware

The greenware pinch pots were able to dry slightly durning the week so students were able to decorate them with engobes.  When students were finished they had a choice of working with blocks or working in their sketchbooks.

Week 3:  Origami and Bisque Fire.

Once the pots were no longer cool to the touch they were bisque fired.  During this week we took a little time to learn about origami.  I started off the class by reading them a Japanese folktale about two frogs and then we worked together as a class to create this simple origami jumping frog.  When students finished they were able to embellish their frogs, play with blocks, or work in their sketchbooks.


Week 4 (A):  Glazing

Students put three coats of clear glaze onto their tea cups.  We did each layer as a group.  When students had time in between layers they had a choice of working with blocks or working in their sketchbooks.

Week 4(B):  Glaze Fire

All the pots made it!!!


Week 5:  Tea Ceremony

To celebrate the end of their unit we had a mini tea ceremony.  Students gathered in the second grade pod, where they were given their finished tea cups with a little lemonade.  We then watched a 6 minute tea ceremony video and had a group “cheers” to their hard work.

 Here is a link to the tea ceremony video on Vimeo.

A special thank you to Mrs. Foster, Mrs. Harrod, Mrs. Peterson, Mrs. Buckless, Ms. Harris, Mrs. Donnell, Mrs. Rose, and Dr. Dunn for joining us.


May 13

35th Annual Student Art Show at the Barn Gallery, Ogunquit, ME





For the past 35 years, Southern Coastal Maine art educators have been participating in a showcase of student work each year at the Barn Gallery in Ogunquit, ME.  The following gallery is a quick taste of some of the amazing work in this year’s 2012-2013 show.


May 13

Fibers Center: Weaving

This year students in the CRES Studio have been working in centers using the TAB model of art education. Here are some of their finished weavings.

Apr 13

Boston Strong!

After the tragic events on April 15 our school decided to have a “Boston Pride Day” to show our love and support.  These two boys wanted to create matching “Boston Strong T-Shirts”.IMG_0194

Apr 12

Bringing Mindfulness Into the Classroom: Mindfulness Bell

I think this mindfulness exercise would be a great way to start your class or to help signal for cleanup.  

Here is the exercise by Thich Nhat Hanh

Please pause and breathe joyfully three times before going back to what you were doing… 

“Hearing the bell,
I am able to let go of all afflictions.
My heart is calm,
my sorrows ended.
I am no longer bound to anything.
I learn to listen to my suffering
and the suffering of the other person.
When understanding is born in me,
compassion is also born.”

-Thich Nhat Hanh

*Post Mindfulness Bell Copyright Thich Nhat Hanh Quote Collective*

Mar 12

Photo Response Project: Work in Progress

The students have really been doing a great job with the “Photo Response Project.”  One of my 1st Grade students explained it perfectly, “You just draw how the picture makes you feel.”

Here are some of the images we have so far:

Once all students are done I will bind them together in a book and send them off to NYC!



Mar 12

Art House Co-op’s “Photo Response Project”

For those of you artists and/or educators out there who have never heard of the Art House Co-op you should definately check them out.  They offer various community based art projects throughout the year and are a great place to gain a little inspiration.  My students and I at the Roots and Wings After-School Program at Vance Elementary School are going to be participating in their no fee exhibit “Photo Response.”  

As stated on the website the Photo Response Project Asks Artists to:

“Perform a visual translation and respond to it in any visual medium — just keep the dimensions to 4″ x 6″. Write a (very) short story, draw or paint, manipulate the image itself or simply try something new.”

They will then “exhibit each photograph together with its responses and explore the many directions that emerge from a single starting point.”

Stay tuned for our responses to the image below.    

Mar 12

Classroom Management:

Positive Reinforcement Board Game

Being an Art Teacher brings with it it’s own set of hurdles when it comes to classroom management.   After you get  your students to understand your routines and procedures how do reinforce their positive behavior?  There are so many great strategies out there but this seems like the best tool for the art room.  I found the  “Positive Reinforcement Board Game” on  “Teaching Palette’s Photostream” on Flickr.

What do you need?

  1. “Game Board”:  Some teachers use a whole bulletin board while others have made theirs out of card stock.  Your board can be as plain or as creative as you want it to be.  Some ideas I have seen include:  various art themes, the color spectrum, patterns, famous artists, or art related places in your city.
  2. Board Pieces For Each Class:  Some examples might be pushpins, pieces of fabric on t-pins, magnets, or velcro.

How does it work?

  1. The game’s rules are the rules of your classroom.
  2. Each time you see a class and they follow the rules they get to advance a number of spaces.  The blog that I found this “tool” on suggested five spaces a class for top behavior.  You may want to keep track of the amount of spaces by adding stars or smileys on the white board during the class so students know how they are doing.
  3. When the class reaches the end of the board game they win a big reward.   Don’t forget, this is a long term goal so students will need to feel like it’s worth it.  The idea that was suggested on the Teaching Palette’s website was an “Art Party” where students would be able to work in centers while watching an art related movie.  It’s their reward for working hard so think of what they love the most and get creative!

Mar 12

The Vance Garden En Plein Air

Student got a chance to enjoy the wonderful Spring weather while working “in the open air.”

Mar 12

How many greens can you make?

In preparation for our plein air paintings students were challenged to create as many greens as they could.  Students experimented with mixing primary and secondary colors as well as using green’s complement, red, to create neutrals.  “En Plein Air”  is a French expression which means “in the open air.”

Mar 12

African Masks

After looking at images of African masks and a quick PowerPoint on symmetrical balance students were able to explore mask making on their own.  While working students enjoyed listening to the “African Radio” station on Pandora to gain further inspiration.    

Media Used:  Oil Pastels on Constructions Paper

Mar 12

How do colors pop?

Using complementary colors in abstract art.

Students started off these pieces by making organic lines in Sharpie.  We then reviewed the color wheel talking about primary, secondary, and complementary colors.  Complementary colors are pairs of colors that are “opposite” or each other on the color wheel.

  • Red and Green
  • Yellow and Violet
  • Blue and Orange

When complementary colors are placed next to each other they make each other “pop”, when mixed together they create a neutral color.

We also looked at some examples of pop artists.  Pop artists such as Keith Haring, Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol,  and Tom Wesselmann played with complementary colors and color theory to create their works of art.

After students created their Sharpie underdrawings they were free to experiment with color by  placing complements next to one and other, and by using them in a pattern within the shapes they had created.

Mar 12

Bubble Prints

Students experimented with bubble printing today.  Some of the realizations that they came to understand through play were that you need to:

  • Reverse the image before you print it.
  • Add a good amount of pressure while burnishing the paper if you want to capture the whole image.

Students will be using some of their prints for textures in their Eric Carle inspired collage projects.  

Mar 12

Totem Poles

Inspired by the totem poles of the Native American tribes of the Pacific Northwest, we created ours by using animals found in our native surroundings of Western North Carolina.

Feeling inspired?

Here is the Pandora “Native American Station” we listened to while working.  Enjoy!

Mar 12

Totem Pole Thumbnails Sketches

Before beginning their totem figures students worked on thumbnails sketches in their sketchbooks.  Can you see their thoughts in action?

Mar 12

Kandinsky Circles, R+W After-School

Students in grades K-5 created these circle drawings based on the work of Wassily Kandinsky using oil pastels on white cardstock.

This is a great assignment to teach students how to use a ruler!

Feb 12

Kandinsky’s Circles, R+W Enrichment @ The Carolina Day School

Students created drawings inspired by Wassily Kandinsky’s “Concentric Squares and Circles.”

See a Power Point of this lesson on Mrs.Brown’s Art Class.

Feb 12

Flying Machines, R+W Enrichment @ The Carolina Day School

Students created these “Flying Machines” using collage and crayon.  They drew their inspiration from planes, hot air balloons, rockets, and other machines.


Flying Machines Lesson Plan

Flying Machines Rubric