Friday, December 30, 2011

Art and Literacy; Wild Animals

There are three children's books I love reading to my students.  After I finish reading each book, the students and I look more closely at the illustrations and discuss what each story was about.  Students then create an inspired piece of artwork using a variety of art materials; with being in multiple buildings I do not have the same supplies at each school so I often have to make adjustments to which materials the students use to create their art, but I have the materials captioned under each piece of artwork I've uploaded to this entry.  Each project tends to take two 45 minute class sessions. 

As always, once the students have completed their projects I display their artwork in the hallways.  I make a point of adding an image of the book cover and the brief book description beside their artwork too.  It's great to see, and always makes my day, when students stop in the hallway, point out their piece of artwork and then they begin explaining the story and the project.

With 2011 coming to an end, I smile and feel I am very blessed.  I ♥ being an Art Teacher; I work in the same community I was raised in, and although the state of education in Michigan is describe by many as 'frightening' at this time, I have patience and hope the state leaders who are implementing the reforms show they have the same standards as I do as an educator.  I will forever hold myself accountable to meeting the high standards I cemented are my responsibility as an educator to uphold because my students do come first and I do what ever I must to have the comfort of knowing I've done the best for every child (student), every day.  This is what children deserve; when critical resources are removed I don't believe others could ever have that comfort of knowing I do.

So again I say I am so very blessed to have been given the privileged to impact the children in the same hometown that shaped who I am.

Written and Illustrated by: Jennifer Sattler

Meet a flamingo of a different stripe!

“Mama, why are we pink?” asks an irrepressible and ever-curious young flamingo named Sylvie. When she learns that it’s due to the little pink brine shrimp they eat, Sylvie takes the maxim “You are what you eat!” to a whole new level.

2nd Grade - Tissue Paper, Marker

Her new diet leads to some very interesting new looks—from scarlet to stripey to positively purple! Like Leo Lionni’s chameleon in A Color of His Own, Sylvie eventually comes to learn that being yourself is the best thing to be—though with her own flair!


Written by:
Maartje Padt

Illustrated by:
Mylo Freeman
3rd Grade - Sharpie Marker, Watercolor Paint, Crayon
Shanti feels scared and alone when she gets separated from the rest of the zebra herd.  She searches water hole and river, forest and savanna without seeing any sign of the others.  But Shanti won't be alone for long.  By the time the herd catches up with her, someone new and special has entered Shanti's world.  Vibrant batik paintings and lively rhythms in the tradition of African storytelling-plus a fold-out surprise-make Shanti a storybook safari.

The Wishing Stone

Written by: Steve Smallman

Illustrated by: Rebecca Elliott
Armadillo wants to have friends, but he is very shy. What happens when Mouse makes a wish? Will Armadillo keep pretending to be a stone?

2nd Grade: Crayon, Marker, Perspective


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Silhouette Art

Inspired by the artwork of Kara Walker, my 3rd grade students created silhouette compositions with black sharpie markers.  The theme each student focused on was portraying peace.  Before beginning their artwork, students practiced sketching portrait and full body silhouettes, along with cutting silhouettes from black construction paper, learning the traditional method of creating silhouette portraits themselves.

Photograph of  Kara Walker and her artwork.
Kara Walker is best known for her room-size tableaux of black cut-paper silhouettes that examine the underbelly of America's racial and gender tensions. 

Her works often address such highly charged themes as power, repression, history, and race.  More information about Walker and her beautiful silhouette art can be found at Kara Walker.  

My students were surprised how difficult creating an accurate silhouette of a person was.  They never thought it would be a challenge to make "an all black drawing without any details".  As they worked they realized to create a silhouette composition that had an unified balance of negative and positive space it does take patience and practice.  They now truly appreciate the art of creating silhouettes.


Monday, December 26, 2011

New Year, New Ideas

Being on Holiday Break, I've had some time to consider a few changes I would like to make once school starts again. 

I've always found it extremely important to recognize the true talent and hard work of my students in each school I teach at.  That said, it has been a struggle to select one student for each grade, each month to be "Artist of the Month".  Not because they aren't creating spectacular pieces of art, but because they are spending extended lengths of time on their art (especially the 4th and 5th graders), and they sometimes do not have a finished project each month.  I don't have any problem with my students wanting to take their time and do their very best work; they are engaged and use their time wisely each week, what art teacher is to argue with those terrific qualities?  My solution the is instead of having one specific student I recognize as "Artist of the Month" for 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc., I'm going to have a bulletin board (or window display) at each of my schools that is an "Artist Spotlight".  I thought with an "Artist Spotlight" I don't always have to display artwork from each grade, but can spotlight the exceptional work from each grade once they have finished their latest projects.

This will be the used as the wording for the "Artist Spotlight" at one of my elementary schools:

Along with the "Artist of the Month" award, soon to be "Artist in Spotlight" award, I like to offer weekly positive behavior reinforcement.  I had been handing one "Art Star Card" out to a deserving student a week in each of my class sections.  The students really get excited; I present the card as they are in line at the end of class, and the "Art Star" receives a silent applause before leaving.  With the new year, I thought a new design would be nice.  Instead of a card, I'm going to give one student "The Art Star Badge" each week.

And the Art Star Badge goes too....

Other thoughts on changes I'm going to make for the new year to come over the next days.


Saturday, December 24, 2011



Bren Bataclan has been interviewed on CBS Evening News, among many other publications; he is a world traveling street artist.  Bataclan has traveled around the world leaving small and large pieces of his artwork waiting for the first person to find and keep.  He attaches a note to each piece of artwork he leaves; at one time Bataclan requested that the person who takes the work please just smile at one stranger that day.  Now however, Bataclan attaches the note, “Everything will be OK”, in connection to the state of the economy. 

Bataclan is an inspirational artist, focusing on uplifting the spirits of as many people as he can.  In his words, Bataclan explains his main goal is to “see more smiles around the globe”.  The message of giving, and the thought of how a small act of kindness can have a gigantic impact on someone is quite empowering.

With Bataclan’s concept in mind I initiated PROJECT SMILE inside the schools I teach.  First graders created characters of their very own inspired by Bren.  After the paintings were completed, I arrived to each school long before sun up to post the paintings throughout the hallways.  Attached to each painting was a note that read:


This painting is yours to take for free; all I hope is that it makes you smile.

Inspired by Street Artist: Bren Bataclan

Created by: Elementary 1st Graders

I sent an email to the school staff explaining the project and asked everyone to PLEASE take and keep a painting of their choice; school visitors and of course students were also encouraged to take a piece of artwork as well.  I explained the students were looking forward to seeing someone find their artwork, keep the piece they like most, and help someone smile.

My students really understood that it does not have to cost a thing to make a person's day.  They saw that the 'small, simple things in life' are appreciated, and the impact they do have.

PROJECT SMILE brought a energetic, uplifting spirit inside each school and it was easy to see the pride the first graders felt.


Thursday, December 22, 2011

The weather in Michigan the last few months has been mild and beautiful.  We still are sitting at above average temperatures on a daily basis.  There isn't anything that beats spending time outdoors; from walking along Lake Michigan, to maintaining yard work, I have found a great deal of energy and inspiration from the natural beauty I'm surrounded by.  Having the ability to pull resources from nature to inspire works of art has always impacted my approach of teaching.  Connecting what is happening outdoors with my art lessons often brings fresh thoughts and comfort from my students.  Their fundamental inferences can grow with classroom discussion and guided art instructions while still allowing the students to define the ending.

Here are a group of art lessons my students have developed over the last few months:
Inspirational Credit: Multiple Art Blogs
1st Grade - Tempera Paint, Black Oil Pastel
Lesson Objectives: Practice Manipulating Project Materials, Perspective, Positive/Negative Space, Line 

Inspirational Credit: Multiple Art Blogs, Dali and the Path of Dreams by Anna Obiolis
2nd Grade - Sharpie Marker, Crayola Marker, Pencil
Lesson Objectives: Contour Lines, Repetition, Creativity, Line, Shapes, Composition

Still Life Drawing
3rd Grade - Black Acrylic Paint mixed with Glue, Pastels
Lesson Objectives: Practice Manipulating Project Materials, Composition, Proportion, Color Theory

Fall Landscape Collage
4th Grade - Magazine Collage, Glue, Scissors, Gloss
Lesson Objectives: Unity, Color Theory, Depth, Motor Skills

Inspirational Credit: Cedar Creek El.
5th Grade - Sharpie Marker, Crayola Marker, Pencil
Lesson Objectives: Positive/Negative Space, Pattern, Repetition, Color Theory


Saturday, December 17, 2011

Life is the art of drawing without an eraser.
-John. W. Gardner

With GRichArt Blog I'll share thoughts, ideas, and photos of the spunky growth that begins to climb through experimenting and exploring creativity; revealing and documenting the process of making a piece of art with young hands.