Final Finale Finally!

So the end of the school year  is finally here. I am always very optimistic at this time of year. I can see a culmination of all of my students efforts as well as mine. I can also smell summer coming. We had our first summer thunderstorm last night and as I experienced the change in the seasons a wave of calm washed over me. Also, a bit of water washed over the pollen, too. Thank goodness!

Below are some magnificent works of art from our final, independent projects.

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ice cream

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The Beginning of the End

So as the end of the year approaches, my students have become deeply involved in their “final exam” for my class. They have signed contracts, which can be found here, and now spent almost 5 days working on these. Their contracts are a signed agreements between me and them that state their intentions for this project. They choose themes and materials we had already worked with and they also set research goals. They spent one entire 80 minute class period researching and sketching before they were allowed to begin.

Once they began I would float around the room, which is manageable with only 10-15 students per class, and worked with each student one-on-one. At times some students found themselves frustrated with the project they had chosen, but my goal was that ultimately I could push them to take their project as far as they possibly could, so that in the end they were impressed with themselves and happy with their work. Empowering these girl is my ultimate goal. However, I told them that this was an exam, and it is, to test their knowledge from this year, because it will.

Here are some works in progress:

20140516_095642Left and right brained inspired work.

20140516_095700A dear old canine family friend.


A fashionista hard at work.


A Kawaii mug to make you smile.


A cup of coffee with a friend inspired charcoal.


An all recycled material inspired landscape, commenting on destruction of the environment.


An aspiring artist.


20140516_095713A future wedding planner.


Final projects coming soon…


Looking Back

As the end of the year approaches I am looking back at projects we have done this year and I realized I never posted pictures of my student final Charcoal drawings… of me. I was the model for their final charcoal drawings since I didn’t want any of them to have to miss out on drawing time.

Again, we were focusing on the elements line and shape, with proportion as our guide.






I am flattered by how sassy ad stylish I look in this one.

The Final Concept(ualism)

Continued from last week:

After we created our concept maps last week students begin sketches of their own Frank Stella inspired piece. They were asked first to answer the following questions after looking at Frank Stella’s artwork: 1. What kind of shapes represent you title? 2. What kind of textures represent you title? 3.What kind of colors represent you title? 4. What makes Frank Stella’s art unusual? When they were done they created THREE sketches in their sketchbooks of potential designs for their artwork. Each student was encouraged to focus on our three main elements: shape, texture and color.

On Day three we used our foam core and careful cutting skills to create our shapes. I reminded students that shape was an important element of this project. We also began to prepare these shapes for painting by covering them in gesso. This was because our foam core supply (left over from this years art show) is mostly black and is hard to paint over without a white base coat. On day four and five students were painting, decorating, and putting together their final pieces, and on day six students presented their works of art. Their presentation consisted of a description of why and how they chose each element of their work of art (shape, texture and color), and what principles helped to guide them. I also reminded students that in conceptual art the main idea is the most important aspect of their work of art. So they were required to explain their thinking behind each choice.

Check out some pictures of the projects below.













Conceptualism and Frank Stella

Last week we began our second to last project for the year: Frank Stella Inspired Word Art for the Wall we are creating a mixed media work of art that breaks the confines of our usual squares and rectangles. Inspired by the art of Frank Stella, a conceptual “painter”, each student is creating a wall hanging, that uses recycled cardboard, paint, mixed paper collage, and other found materials. This project should take about 4-5 classes, with a presentation on the 6th day.

We began by picking words at random. Each student dropped a random word into a fish bowl as I walked around the classroom and then as I cam around again they chose a new word from the bowl. A lot of them quickly related it to “the reaping” a scene from the hunger games. Possibly because they were nervous about the word they were getting. From this word they made a concept map. You can see some of the example they looked at on our class google doc here: From this map they choose another word, and then had to create a second concept map. This second word, they soon found out, was their title and they were stuck with it and all of the things they associated with it, as the theme for their wall art. 20140424_112207

After the concept maps were complete sketching and construction began. I set out scraps of foam core, cardboard, gesso, acrylic paint, painted paper scraps, cotton balls, mixed paper, magazines, and hot glue, white glue and glue sticks. After taking a good look at Frank Stella, and thinking about what these words meant to us we chose colors, shapes, and textures that we associated with our words. And from there they only had to focus on their idea and how it related to those three elements: Color, Shape and Texture.




My main goal with this assignment was just to give all of my students a firm grasp on what conceptual art was, and had the potential to be: A work of art driven by the idea, not the end result itself. We have spent the year focusing on a lot of new materials, and their techniques, but as a result we had produced a fair amount of representational art. I feel strongly that being able to think conceptually is a real tool they will be able to take with them as they move into other art classes next year.


Kathryn Parvano “Campfire” Mixed Media, 2014



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