Art Update: 9/9/19

Greetings Parents!

I try to write an update weekly (but not always) to give you an idea of what we’ve been up to.  I will always try to put “important info” FIRST, if there’s anything that NEEDS to be read. The rest is an optional read.

DISCLAIMER: If I hyper edit…I will never send these out.  So please, forgive me for typos etc…and be thankful that am your students Art Tutor and not their Writing Tutor (LOL).  I almost always re-read these later and cringe at an autofill, or a homonym that I totally write wrong even though I KNOW the right one.  Thanks for GRACE in those moments.


Today was a terrific first day of class.  In all the grades we reviewed:

  • What to do when you get to class (check the supply list hanging in the hallway and keep backpacks up against the wall)
  • Fire drill exit plan
  • Seating charts (I don’t have any.  They are allowed to sit near friends if they can still work etc)
  • Talking (they’re allowed to talk while they work, but not when I’m talking.  If they’re having difficulty working and visiting, I may have them switch seats with someone for the day, but we’ve agreed that we won’t make a big deal about it if that should be necessary)
  • We also discussed, making ESCHEL a safe and friendly place for everyone by being encouraging and not saving seats (can accidentally hurt someone’s feelings)
  • I addressed that just like everyone can learn to do math, or play the piano, if they want to, everyone can lean to draw or do art, if they want to.  Just because some have a natural aptitude for math or learning an instrument, it doesn’t mean that others cannot learn to do math or play an instrument with practice.  The same is true of art.  I’ve asked them to never say they can’t do something unless they add the word “yet”.

We start EVERY class with, “Why do we do art?”  The answer: “Because we serve a creative God and we’re made in His image.”

We also start EVERY class with a review of the 7 Elements of Art: Line, Texture, Color, Shape/Form, Space (+/-) Point of View/Perspective, & Value.  As words, sentences, paragraphs etc are to writing.  The 7 Elements of art are the building blocks to creating great art.  Most art pieces have multiple elements of art.  The other great thing about giving students a thorough understanding of the elements of art is that it gives them a working vocabulary and way of critiquing art, whether it is their own art or art in a gallery.  Rather than relying solely on how an art piece makes us feel, we can explore the way artists use the 7 Elements of art to create a picture or feeling.

SUPER STARS/ART HISTORY ASSISTANT:Each class, my art helper helps me to select 2 “Super Star” students.  These students are selected based on great character (polite, kind, sharing, focussed, diligent etc).  Everyone gets an opportunity to be a Super Star.  It might not be right away, but they will get selected.  Students selected to be Super Stars have the opportunity to be my “Art History Assistants” which is OPTIONAL. As an Art History Assistant, students will select an art print to take home (the prints are in a 3 ring binder near the file folders.  They should take the print in the page protector to help keep it protected). Then the student should tape up the print some where they will see it continually (on the fridge, above their beds, near where they do school…) and just “get to know the piece”.  When the student brings the piece back and shares with the class (minimum author and title and 1 thing they liked about the piece….I am  HAPPY to whisper the title and artist into their ear if they forget or get nervous), they may pick a prize out of my prize box.

INTERNS: Zoe Logan (my 18 year old daughter and ESCHEL grad) and Anna Lu Shacklee (former ESCHEL Treasurer’s daughter as well as a former ESCHEL student) are interning with me this semester to get a feel for teaching art as something they may continue to pursue further. I’ve done this once before, many years ago and my Intern went on to get her teaching degree with art emphasis and is currently employed as an art teacher!!! Love it!


Today’s lessons for each class were selected to be simple introductory lessons.  Here’s what we did:

1st & 2nd:

Today was about getting to know the kids and earning their trust and building their confidence.  We began with Favorite Things Self Portrait.  The self portrait was representational and not meant to look like us, but to represent us by using our favorite things to create an image.  In my mock up, I used a sun as my head (I like sunrises and sunsets), music notes for eyebrows, a sailboat for lips and nose and the sail was a slice of pepperoni pizza.  My ears were made of lilacs and Clematis with cross earings.  My torso was made of an artist pallette with a tube of paint for one arm and a brush for another.  My hair was wavy blue water with a swimmer barrette.  The kids did a great job with this and were excited to share their pieces with myself or one of the other helpers/interns.

3rd & 4th:

Again, was about getting to know the kids and earning their trust and building their confidence.  This time we went a little more advanced with “The Things Inside My Head” self portraits.  Again, the image was a representational portrait not meant to actually look like the student.  Kids did great and it was fun to see their creativity and willingness to take the suggestions of using color variations etc.

5th & 6th:

You guys…this was advanced level stuff…and they totally ROCKED it!  We did blind contour self portraits, using mirrors.  We discussed left vs right brain and that learning to draw is really about learning to SEE.  The left brain usually being the stronger/bully of the two.  We learned that by doing the BLIND contour drawing, we were strengthening our right brain and learning to REALLY see all the little details that our LEFT brain is willing to overlook for the sake of simplicity and “just get it done”.  I showed them my mock up and how absolutely ridiculous it looked to help them to understand that their drawings would look weird too, because we’re doing them without looking at the paper.  It is a little bit like tracing an image on a computer screen while using a computer mouse…kind of.  The first go around there were lots of giggles.  But as I (and my helpers and interns) went around to give feedback to point out where you could really tell that they had engaged their right brain and captured great detail and really SAW, they really began to get it and let go of the insecurities of the PICASSO likeness of their portraits.  Once students had done quite a few of these blind, I allowed them to do one while checking back (or looking) to compare placement etc…., reminding them that the human face is one of the most difficult and not to be too hard on themselves.  Some went on to start adding color.  I encouraged them to date and keep these sketches in their notebooks, even if they hated them, as a record of their progress from now until the end of the year.  I also let them know, that if they wanted to improve their drawing skills, they could do this with almost anything at home (tennis shoes, figurines etc).  I was really impressed with their attitudes and their progress and it always makes me SMILE when I see the light bulbs turning on and understanding the why behind the what.

See you next week!

Posted in Elementary News