Oct 15

The Art Assignment | Lost Childhood Object

This week the Art One students are taking on Lenka Clayton’s art assignment Lost Childhood Object.   


Here is a little more info on the assignment, Clayton, and the PBS web series The Art Assignment straight from The Art Assignment’s YouTube Channel.  

This week we visit Lenka Clayton, another Pittsburgh based artist whose work finds meaning in ordinary, everyday objects. For her assignment, she asks you to partner with someone and recreate a lost childhood object, using their memory of the object and the materials you have around you. Here are your instructions:

1. Ask someone to describe an object they made or cherished as a child. Make a mental image of that object

2. Create the object
3. Give the object back to the person (Ideally, you’d do this project in tandem)
4. Document and upload using #theartassignment
5. Fame and glory (your work might be in a future episode)

Check out more of Lenka’s work: http://www.lenkaclayton.com/

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Lenka Clayton, One Brown Shoe

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

Before Photography – Photographic Processes Series

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

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



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!


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.


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

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.”

Jul 10

Andy Goldsworthy Installations, Creative Vacations, MassArt

Students in the Studio Explorations class at MassArt‘s Creative Vacation program worked in small groups to create these installations inspired by the work of Andy Goldsworthy in Boston’s Fens.

Jul 10

Wire Contour Self-Portaits

Using observational drawings, students manipulated wire to create contour line self-portraits.

Mar 10

Peter Max Figure, Drawing II, Lowell High School

Students spent several classes creating figure studies of other students playing Twister.  They then incorporated one of their figures into their psychedelic artwork based on the work of Peter Max.  To get into the “groove” we listened to music by: The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix, The Grateful Dead, The Doors, and Jefferson Airplane.