Summer Fun

I have the wonderful gift of being able to stay home with my daughter during the summer and we had an amazing time going down to the museums and making art together at home. However, I did let grandma take her for a week so that I could substitute for an old friend at the Decorative Fine Arts summer camp at Glen Echo. This is an art camp I worked at for many years during college and my early teaching years. It’s projects are dynamic, engaging, and colorful!

You can see in the pictures below that children get to work with a variety of media through-out the week.



A Little Cross-Curicular to End The Year

I do not teach print-making to my freshman. I have found that with my ambitious goal of trying to expose my students to everything from ceramics to painting to photography, as well as instilling the elements and principles or art and design, I just run out of time. I might re-evaluate this in years to come, it’s not like my curriculum is a done deal never to be worked on again, but for now, sadly, print-making doesn’t fit. So it was absolutely perfect when one of our world history teachers approached me with the idea of doing prints to compliment her content and add a little visual pizazz to the end of the year. I was happy to help! I believe in cross-curricular work and it’s benefits. You can see some of my cross-curricular work with the science department here.

So as part of the Renaissance and Reformation Unit, 9th graders analyze a series of Protestant woodblock prints criticizing what Protestants perceived were the corrupt practices of the 16th century Catholic Church. The lesson also asks them to consider the impact the printing press and printmaking had in general on the spread and impact of Reformation ideas. So that students gain a better understanding of the process of printmaking, I visited their history class and taught them how to design, carve, and then print “wood cuts,” (we used EZ-Cut synthetic blocks, not wood) protesting social and environmental issues that students cared about. As part of my lesson, I also reviewed the history of printmaking in the Renaissance, ranging from woodblock printing to engraving to etching. Students made three to four prints, one of which they glued into their Interactive History Notebooks. Their Interactive History Notebooks are these wonderful sketchbooks filled with notes, article clippings and art heavy history projects they do in class and for homework through-out the year. They are gorgeous objects, but anyways the block cuts were a success! Please take a look at the photos below.

Charcoal Landscapes

Using a black and white print of one of their landscapes from the previous photo assignment, students created beautiful charcoal landscapes. This was a chance to revisit our understanding of value from our still life studies.


Picture Perfect

This year we focused on composition in our photography unit. In class students learned the basic concepts of aperture and shutter speed. Students were each given a chance to try out our school DSLRs during class. However, the majority of photos they took outside of the classroom were with either their own personal digital cameras or their cell phones. From a whopping 100-200 images they were asked to narrow down their favorites to 20 photos that exemplified the different types of composition in photography we had covered. Finally they narrowed their selection down to five for an all class presentation and critique. You can see below some samples of their excellent work. Our photo teacher will have a lot of talented students coming her way next year.

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Lost in Time

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Interior Design

The past two years I have introduced my students to the real world application of art through the field of interior design. I want students to see a potential art driven career path, but I also want to make sure that the very technical one point perspective drawing skill is not dry, and disengaging. This unit also gives us a chance to re-visit color theory. IMG_1062IMG_1065IMG_106720171215_09300020171215_09295220171215_09300720171215_09312520171215_09315020171215_093200.jpg20171130_143019

Foley Artists

This year while my students were learning about sound waves in their physics classroom we created short videos, and became foley artists, creating interesting sound effects for our videos. The students, as usual, blew me away with their creativity! We used a combination of Garage Band and iMovie which are programs that come standard with the Macbooks our students have. (Stone Ridge has a one-to-one laptop program.) It was also a nice way to preemptively introduce composition for our photography project ate in the year.


A New (School) Year

This year is off to an amazing start. We began our new and improved color theory unit this week and it has gone even better than I expected.

We started as we always do, by making color theory posters that explain some element of the color wheel or color terms. Below you can see a group that focused on tint, and another that contrasted achromatic, with high chroma color. This part of the unit includes a lot of vocabulary so I do include a short vocab quiz. This helps motivate students to learn the difference between tint, tone, and shade as well as color groups and schemes. 20170922_12231120170922_122258_001

After the color wheel, and this is new this year, we apply our new knowledge with paint mixing. I started this year with a competition to see who could mix the grayest gray.


They all end up looking a little purple, green or blue, but it’s a wonderful practicle application of the color wheel. I’ll tell them to “cancel out” an excess of one color by using its primary. As you can see I do not allow the use of black during this competition, and I also exclude black from the palette for the rest of the unit.

After this gray mixing competition we move on to value. As you might imagine this is very difficult without black, but it does force students to experiment with color mixing maybe more than they previously would have. It also corrects the impulse to add white to everything. (I’m not sure where that impulse comes from. Maybe because pastels are pretty, who knows!?) We also take out first stab at observational drawing for the year.


After this project we dove into our Single Object Still Life Paintings. Except this year, unlike previous years, we started with a gray background. (made without black of course) In years past I have let student choose their background color based on the colors in their object as well as preference. However, this year, I thought we might try something different and I think the end results were far more sophisticated, and thoughtful paintings. They also really reinforced what we had be learning about color theory.




Overall the project was a success. I will have to see how it plays out the rest of the year. Will my students actually apply what they have learned about color theory?


Maternity Leave

I know I have been MIA for a while, but last year (November 2016) I gave birth to an amazing baby girl! I am now back at work and ready to resume my blogging and teaching and arting, OH MY!


Still Slaying the Still Life!

Once again we created single object still life paintings. I swear they get more and more dynamic every year! This project comes as the final piece in our study of color theory. We do this through studying the color wheel, color terms, and finally color relationships. Right before this project each student had the opportunity to design a small logo on Adobe inDesign that showed their understanding of the relationship between two colors and also a presumed emotional reaction to those colors. Finally, we choose an object that speaks to us. Each student is challenged to choose a background color that works with their object to create a color scheme. Then we go over painting techniques and begin! As you can see below, the results are impressive and inspiring.20160920_130121
























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