Monday, March 26, 2012


What a great view of the sunrise from our classroom window this morning! The Lake view isn't what brings me to school this early every day... but it sure doesn't hurt.

Ceramic Mugs- Slab Construction

5th Grade students learn the slab-construction method to create clay vessels each year. We practiced rolling slabs to the right thickness, constructing a cylinder with a base, and creating handles. The patterns embossed in the clay were achieved with some fantastic flexible rubber stamps we ordered this year.

Textured Alligator glazes always give a nice effect with this project-- we tried a few matte glazes (red & green) but they seemed to cover up a lot of the patterns we had pressed into the surface. The interior of the vessels are done in a clear overglaze (poured rather than brushed to make sure they are sealed and watertight).

Surrealist Self-Portraits

High school students in Drawing & Printmaking class recently completed these self-portraits with Surrealist backgrounds. These were created using ultra-fine point Sharpie pens and Prismacolors on 14"x18" illustration board.

After viewing the work of Surrealist Rene Magritte, students brainstormed lists of objects to juxtapose, combine, and morph within their backgrounds. We used mirrors and anatomy guides to find accurate proportions of facial structure as we gestured in our rough compositions. Additional requirements included the presence of the artist's hand in the image, as well as a formal or implied border to create movement around and within the composition.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Rainy Day

One rainy day, we looked at how artists have recorded similar weather...

Paris: A Rainy Day by Impressionist artist Gustave Caillebotte (oil on canvas, 1877)

Ohashi Bridge in a Sudden Downpour by Hiroshige (Japanese woodblock print, 1857)

Students cut out and glued colorful umbrellas to gloomy gray paper, then used oil pastels to add figures and a background. The rain was lightly brushed on with India ink.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Snowmen at Night

Before spring officially arrives... here are the first grade snowmen!

The first graders and I both enjoy this project immensely. After repeating this lesson six years in a row, I still chuckle as I unload the drying rack the next day...

In class, we read Caralyn & Mark Buehner's book Snowmen at Night. What would YOUR snowman do if he came to life at night? Over the years, I have seen snowman pirates, artists, clowns, surfers, saxophone players, princesses, vikings, and even the sheriff.

After drawing our ideas with oil pastel and adding a horizon line, we learn to mix bright, exciting colors in the sky (we use tempera blocks). We also mix colors with white to create shadows in the snow. C-shaped shadows on the snowmen make them look round.

A few delightful snowpeople from this year:

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Youth Art Month is OPEN!

The Museum estimates attendance at 600 for the Youth Art Month opening!!!

Rudy Rotter

This year, our schools received the unexpected and generous gift of original artwork created by the late Rudy Rotter. Rudy was a local artist whose name is well known and loved throughout our community. The opportunity for our students to interact with original artwork has been a great novelty! Rudy's work ranges from wood carvings, to marker sketches, to sculptures assembled from scrap metal. His playful use of line and pattern inspired equally joyful work from students in each of our district's 10 school buildings!

At today's Youth Art Month opening, it was a very special experience to have the Rotter family present as we honored Rudy's memory in our community. One entire wall in the main gallery is dedicated to his original work mixed in with the work of students (K-12) whom he has inspired!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Youth Art Month Sneak Preview

Everything has been labeled, leveled, and stapled! Programs are printed, and chairs set. Lists have been checked twice. The snow seems to have stopped falling outside. I have wonderful colleagues and creative students who have worked very hard to make Youth Art Month such a worthwhile event!

The Youth Art Month exhibit runs March 4-24 at the Rahr-West Art Museum in Manitowoc, WI. The Museum is open weekdays from 10-4:00, and weekends from 11-4:00.

Enjoy these "after" photos:

Main Gallery

High School & Junior High work
Jr. High and Elementary work

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Leaning Tower of People

Always looking out for project ideas to put an exciting new spin on art concepts, I saw this project at a neighboring district last year and had to try it.

Be warned: this is more difficult than it looks. However, it all turned out well in the end. The 1st grade students are very excited to share their Primary Color Pillar at Youth Art Month. The teamwork it takes for our "people" to hold up the tower is symbolic of the teamwork it took for the first graders to contribute to its construction!

Day One: students rolled, scrunched, and taped bits of newspaper to create an armature for their sculptures.

Day Two: students dipped pieces of paper toweling into paper mache and smoothed them to the surface of their armatures.

Day Three: each class was divided into thirds, each third representing one primary color with which to paint their sculpture. We used liquid tempera paint. Some of the crevices and uneven surfaces were difficult to cover, so we compared the white empty spots to "cavities" and wiggled our paint brushes like tooth brushes to fill them in.This was probably the messiest art project I have ever attempted in my career as an art teacher. To any who may attempt this project with first graders: if you can afford the time, have your students paint half their sculptures at a time over a period of two classes. If you do it all at once: have a mop, towels, and a good sense of humor on standby!

Note: I used hot glue to attach the figures together. I was very impressed by the paper mache skills of my first graders, but did not test their skill level with hot glue guns!

The Flag is up!

The 5th graders' American Flag makes a great focal point on the wall!