Monday, May 29, 2023

Stormy Seas Ahead

Rembrandt's Stolen Work, Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee

 My favorite new project this year was one I came up with when I was struggling with middle school behavior.  I tried to think of something to really reel them in, and I couldn't think of anything more intriguing than my own favorite art story.  The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum heist of 1990 fascinates me, and I have watched documentaries, listened to podcasts and even visited the museum several times.  It happens to be right next to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and SMFA where I went to graduate school!  I knew if I told them about the robbery, the theories, and the reward offered for the still missing artwork, they would be hooked.  

Gardner Museum: March 18, 1990

We started by learning about Rembrandt, chiaroscuro, and specifically Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee.  They studied and discussed the painting, and I explained how it was Rembrandt's only seascape.  This makes it "extra valuable"!  They then watched a video about the heist.  We followed up with our own seascapes, done with simple wet on wet watercolor washes and ink drawings done in sharpie.  I let them look at step-by-step drawing guides for the boats.  Their work is really beautiful.  I love how they each made theirs their own.  

Frederick, Grade 6

Lan, Grade 6

Alana, Grade 6

Lucy, Grade 6

Mateo, Grade 6

Jojo, Grade 8

Sunday, May 28, 2023

Identity Art Show 2023

The 2023 Prescott Art Show was a huge success!  As a school-wide social studies goal, identity was the theme chosen to inspire student artwork in a variety of mediums.  Students in grades 6-8 invented individual projects focused on identity.  They began with group brainstorming and wrote proposals for what they wanted to do individually to address this theme.  Throughout the quarter, they checked in with activities for reflection and feedback as they adapted their work in preparation for the art show.  The K-5th grade students were invited to exhibit any identity-themed work saved from classwork or created at home, making this a truly school-wide exhibition.  Enjoy these photos and samples of student art and writing from the show.  To view all of this year's projects, visit this Artsonia Gallery.

Jeremy, Grade 6, wrote, "I took inspiration for my artwork from Son of Man by Rene Magritte.  I changed the background, and I replaced the apple with zippers.  Zippers make people think of closing something.  In my picture they cover and close my mouth and my heart.  This ties in with identity because in my life I sometimes have felt silenced and like I couldn’t talk.  That made me feel sad and stressed.  I feel like that changes whenever I get the chance to speak up.  I feel like I can do that when I am with people I care about. I want people to speak up for themselves and not be scared."

Sisters Shivani and Salila stand in front of Salila's (Grade 5) assemblage based on the work of artist Betye Saar.  Salila wrote about stereotypes that girls can overcome. "I think that girls can do just as much as boys can. They can play sports. They are more than just how they look."

Marco (pictured with his mom and brother) created a painting and collage based on Barbara Carrasco's famous mural A History of LA.  He showed his love of soccer, food and family!

The second floor became an art gallery for the evening!
Yalexi, Grade 8 wrote, "I made this to show a feeling of being lost and feeling like your missing a piece to your life. My artwork has broken pieces of the mirror on the floor and black holes where the pieces are supposed to be. The black holes represent feeling lost and not knowing what's next. Each piece of glass represents something different. Insecurities, mental health, loneliness, stress are all ways that can negatively impact someone. I choose this art piece because of current problems going on in the world that is causing people to lose themself. My original plan was just to do paint throughout the whole painting. But I then decided to add spray paint for the mirror frame and the shimmery part of a CD to create the broken pieces of the mirror. I hope when people look at my painting they realize that they are not alone. Everyone has there moments of feeling lost, but once you put those pieces back together you will be able to find your whole self again."

6th graders in room 304 created portraits with puzzle pieces as pieces of their identity.

A community art project was arranged at the entrance for each person to add what unique attributes they bring into the school community.  Check out the completed community puzzle on the 2nd floor landing!

Oscar created a portrait to shine a light on Tourette's Syndrome and to bring awareness to how tics like whistling make Oscar unique.

Caroline, Grade 8 

"This art piece is a portrait of a young girl, based on me.  She has phone chargers wrapped around her neck to represent the chokehold that our devices and social media have on us. There are also phones covering her heart and mouth, reminding the audience that social media is telling us what to say and believe.  My inspiration for this artwork is Tik Tok, because that is the app where I see the most negativity and arguing, and I spend a lot of time on that app. I wanted to show the effects of too much time on apps.  I hope that after they see my portrait, people will remember the importance of staying true to yourself and not letting others' opinions affect yours.

Lila, Grade 8

"This artworks shows a big part of my identity, performing. But along with that there are some big decisions, I need to decide whether i want to be onstage or on camera. I need to decide where I want to live and what I really want to do, these are difficult decisions and I think about it every day. This artwork was inspired by "Self Portrait of the Painter Hesitating Between Painting and Music" by Angelica Kauffman. In the painting a women is choices between painting and music. To create this artwork I first made a sketch on paper, then transferred to a canvas. After that I started painting. I used to tape to get clean lines and took reference photos to get the hands to look the way that I wanted them to. I changed my plan many times for the bottom left corner, I went through a lot of different options but I'm happy with how it turned out. I hope that after viewing my artwork they will understand the pull between the two worlds. I love performing with all of my heart and it is so difficult to pick a side. I want people to walk away understanding that it's okay to not have a plan. I know that this is what I want to do, but I don't know exactly how or where I'm going to do it, and that's okay."

Brenna, Grade 8

" My artwork tells you about my identity by showing you how connected I feel to the universe.  Being connected to the universe is one of my beliefs, and my beliefs are part of my identity. My painting shows some of the connections I see between humans and the universe. 

 In my painting, a figure representing me is surrounded by space. The neon shapes on each side of the person show what the birth of a cell looks like, and also the death of a star.  They are so similar looking, and I wanted to show a connection. At the bottom, lines represent brain cells. They look almost identical to images of a universe. There are also black holes, because they can be different colors and look like eyes. Stars can even resemble freckles.

 My inspiration for this was my love of space and my love for my dog Cooper.  One day I looked at his eyes and realized how much his eyes looked like a black hole and space.  That got me thinking about how we are connected to the universe and how we are the universe. 

From looking at this art, I hope people remember how connected they are, how interesting we are, and how interesting the universe is."

Ava, Grade 8

" I painted a hand holding a compass, signs on arrows, a phone with GPS, and a folded map.  In the background is the skyline of Chicago.  The skyline shows my current location, and the other components are showing how I am still finding my identity in where I want to go, who I want to be and what I want to do.  There is a brick wall in the middle.  I first added it because I had done a separate painting of the skyline with a brick wall in front of it, but in this painting it looks like it could hold meaning.  It could represent barriers I have along the way.  I didn’t mean for this to happen, but it works well for the theme. 

       This painting shows my indecisive tendencies when it comes to my life and my future.  The good thing is I have a lot of options, but it is difficult for me to choose one.  

       To make this painting, I used a dabbing motion to add color to the grass.  I also added different colors and shading to bring in the realistic aspects of the hand.  I thought a lot about the hand drawing project we did earlier in the year, and I thought about the island project where we drew a compass, and these projects helped me a lot.  

      I hope people notice and remember the small personal details of my painting like the small Korean flag in the compass or the tiger footprints to symbolize Korea’s national animal.  The bracelet is one I got from my baptism into the Catholic church.  "

Saturday, October 29, 2022

Collaborative Fun With Exquisite Corpse

Ethan, Kassy, Xander (Grade 7)

Exquisite Corpse
is a game in which each participant takes turns drawing on a sheet of paper, folding it to conceal their work, and then passing it to the next player for a further contribution. The game gained popularity in artistic circles during the 1920s when it was adopted as a technique by artists of the Surrealist movement to generate collaborative compositions.

Jordan, Owen, Maggie (Grade 7)

Each middle school class is beginning art class with this activity this year.  I decided it was a good lesson about growth mindset, and it highlights how collaborative art is.  Students complete individual work in class, but the studio environment is inherently a community of artists.  I love telling the students how in art class if someone is copying you it means you inspired them!  

Jillian, Isabella, Caia (Grade 7)

It was interesting to see students get their paper back after sharing it with others because there was a fun reveal.  They were then challenged to adapt their work, revise it, extend it and refine it.  These tasks tap into the growth mindset that students are coached to strengthen throughout their time in class and beyond!

Monday, December 27, 2021

Renaissance Fountains

The fourth graders tried out a brand new project before winter break!  We had extra time and extra clay, so  we were able to fit in a lesson about fountains of the Renaissance.  I'll be honest that their research led them to several inspirational fountains that were built after the Renaissance, but sometimes it's fun to let the lesson take a new direction.  

After learning about how fountains were first purely functional as sources of water, they began by researching famous fountains that were built to be decorative and functional.  I had them work in groups with chrome books, and I created a worksheet to guide them.  They found interesting facts and did sketches of their fountain before presenting it to the class.  These fountains included the Trevi Fountain, Triton Fountain, Bernini Fountain, Fontana della Pina, and others.  

They used basic clay techniques and air dry clay.  I gave them a choice of replicating a famous fountain or inventing a new design.  They started by making pinch pots and shapes to join together, and I had them begin with the largest pinch pot as a base.  They used a wooden skewer as an armature and slid the other shapes right on top.  They had practice with scoring and slipping clay together, forming various shapes, and balancing tall structures.  

To add water to the fountains, we mixed clear glue and liquid watercolors together and poured it into the basins.  Some kids added "spouts" of water with blue lanyard strands.  I brought in craft "moss" to add.  They painted them with acrylics and I helped with the glue gun to add the moss.  

Monday, May 31, 2021

Wolf Sculptures

How will you remember being a Prescott Wolf?  This week, create a wolf sculpture to commemorate your time here at Prescott.  I have researched some ideas below, or you can choose some other fun method.  Use any materials, but make a 3-D wolf.  

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Past, Present and Future

 Eighth Graders, 

You have made it!  You are approaching the end of your last year at Prescott School.  Many of you were in Kindergarten when I started teaching here.  We have learned about art together for nine years.  I am proud of you, and I am also so excited for you as you move on to high school and college.  

You are in a unique place in your life.  I have noticed many conversations in class have been centered on memories and looking back at your school years together.  At the same time, I hear you talking about high schools and comparing experiences of school tours, applications and first impressions of where you are heading.  In honor of this memorable time, you will be working on an art project that you will call Past, Present, Future.  

What will this look like?

What materials will you use?

What stories will you focus on?  

These things are all up to you!  You have free choice with this project to imagine how you can visually represent this theme.  We will begin class each day with activities that will help guide you as you work on the project.  I will give you some suggestions, but I also encourage you to think outside the box and to do your own version of the project.  

Let's begin by looking at some famous art.  Your challenge is to figure out how each of these paintings ties in with our theme.  

What do you notice?

What do you think?

What do you wonder?

Paul Gauguin

Alvin Albright

Audrey Flack



Frida Kahlo

Gustav Klimt

  • Monday:  Begin by deciding the following:
  1. What type of picture will you create:  Landscape, Portrait, Still-Life, Other
  2. What art materials will you use?  Watercolors, Markers, Color Pencils, Other
  3. Free-Write for 3 minutes on each of the following:  Past, Present and Future
  4. Use these ideas to create a rough sketch of what your composition will look like, and describe it by labeling the parts and describing it briefly in a few sentences.

  • Tuesday:  Research source material and create a rough sketch on a quality paper or canvas.
  • Wednesday and Thursday:  Focused work time to add color and shading to your work.
  • Friday:  Add final touches, photograph your work, and turn it in with an artist's statement.

To turn in work, copy this code:  WCCP-WSTF

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Banksy Through the Shredder

In the early 1990s, an artist named Banksy began working as a freehand graffiti artist with the DryBreadZ Crew (DBZ) in his hometown of Bristol, England. 

Like many street artists, he started repeating images that became his style. Apes, policemen, soldiers, rioters, children, and the elderly became his characters, which quickly began to be recognized and gain fans. He rapidly gained the attention of the street art community and the general public.

Banksy painted on walls, making his work visible to anyone, anytime, for FREE.  He did not like how some art is expensive to buy or even to see.  He lets us know this through a famous stunt with a painting of a girl with a red balloon.

This is a one-day project that will challenge you to re-create Banksy's Girl With Balloon.  This painting was famously shredded by a device hidden in the picture's frame at the time of it's auction.  
                                              Want to see the stunt?  Watch HERE!

Most people think that Banksy was making a statement about the over-priced art market and that he wanted to show the artist in control of their own work rather than a buyer.  What do you think?  Why would he do this?

Just for fun, you will draw Banksy's picture, and you will create a frame from cardboard.  See if you can glue the frame so that the picture is hanging out the bottom, and cut the picture into strips below the frame.  This will make yours look like it has been shredded by Banksy as well.

Create your work along with this video from Youtube  OR Use my video below. 

To turn in work, copy this code:  WCCP-WSTF

Stormy Seas Ahead

Rembrandt's Stolen Work, Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee  My favorite new project this year was one I came up with when I was...