Tag Archives: art 1

What is wrong with this print?


In my art 1 class, we are working on creating block prints.  I talk about it being the reverse image from the block to the print. I asked the students not to do letters because I really wanted them to concentrate on learning the process, not dealing with making sure that the letters are the mirror image.  I thought I had it all covered.

I was wrong.  Neither the student nor myself caught it until another student saw the proof print and mentioned it.

Can you tell what is wrong here?


Cinquain Poems and Illustrations


I’ve been told it is National Poetry Month, so this lesson couldn’t have been planned at a better time.  In art 1, students are learning how to create CINQUAIN poems and then will create illustrations based off their poems.  I am very excited about this project.  A cinquain is a 5-line poem that follows certain guidelines.  You can find out more here.    Here is the worksheet I am giving my students.

After the poems are written, students will then create thumbnail sketches of illustrations that relate to their poem.  Things students should consider when creating illustrations are making images close-ups, cropping images some parts go off page, and details.

The final illustrations will be on 4″X4″ paper.  Students will have the choice of completing their drawings with pencil, colored pencils, or a combination of the two.  Illustrations will be mounted, along with a printed out copy of the poem, on black paper.

Teacher example:


Art 1: Informal Balance: Wrap-up and Review


Think back to this post where I talked about bringing in some choice to my art 1 students.  They were able to work in groups and were each given an egg carton to which they could do whatever they liked as long as their final artwork had informal balance.  We worked on the project for about 2 weeks, then we took a week’s break (spring break), and finished up in about 2 or 3 days.  During spring break, I decided not to grade them on the outcome of their project, but instead to grade them on the process and what they had to say about that process.  I had created a list of questions for them to answer.

When it came time to actually figure out a grade, I really had no idea what to do about it.  I didn’t really have a rubric on how to grade what they had written.  They had never done anything like this before, so they had no idea what I was really looking for.  They were honest in their answers.  In the end I gave each student a 100, unless I specifically recalled them spending days not working (which one child did and his partners said something about it in their answers) or they failed to answer all the questions.  The grades ranged from 85-100.

It has taken me a long time to write about the project/process; I’ve been reflecting about it…a lot.  What had I really hoped to gain from this “experiment” of throwing so much choice at the students?  I mean, really, it was all for me.  Yes the kids learned about informal balance.  And I truly believe that many did understand it by the end.  And, of course, there were some that didn’t, but I am not sure they would have gotten it anyway, if I am being honest here.  I had been reading so much about choice that I really wanted to try it out.  I felt the only way to see if I liked it and how I could implement it in my classes was to do a trial run.   I felt this unit was really more for me then for them.  Part of me feels like I shouldn’t admit that, but how am I to know what works and what doesn’t if I don’t try.  Many things look good on paper…

I learned a lot about choice and how to make it work in my classroom and how to make it work for me.  I admittedly am a sort of small control freak.  It is hard for me not to know an outcome.  But, I rolled with this.  I think I need to do some sort of a modified choice.  I think that leaving it so broad was hard for me and for the students.  (Many did say they they didn’t like not knowing what it “should” look like, and that it was hard to come up with an idea.)  I think I would have to slowly bring them into the “choice world”.  It was too much at once.  I think to make it work well, I would need to limit choice to either 2-D or 3-D.  (I have done some choice things in my 2-D and 3-D classes and it has been successful.)  Maybe I should spend some time on different techniques, then go from there where they could expand, explore, and build on things we have already discussed.  I still have a lot to think about.  I like giving them freedom, but I need some sort of control.  I need to find a balance that benefits us both. We (my students and I) need to have a symbiotic relationship if we are all going to thrive.

Overall, it was a fun time in the art room and there was lots of good conversation and exploring going on.  They were doing what I had told them was my motto for the year (stolen from the Frizz of course) “Take Chances, Make Mistakes, Get Messy!”










Prepping for the art show


In August I decided I wanted to celebrate National Youth Art Month.  I thought what a better way to celebrate than to put on an art show.  In September I asked my principal if I could and he said Yes!  So, for the next few months it was kind of slow going.  Now that March is here and the show is in a week, things are finally starting to make me anxious.  I am worried that I might not pull it off.  I am worried that I will in fact pull it off.

Things that I had to do for my show:

  • collect student art…check  (this should be done through out the year and by both art teachers)
  • mount student art…check
  • get written up in local paper…check
  • print and “mount” labels for all artwork…check
  • get culinary students to help with refreshments…check (now this was a tough one to figure out how many people to figure for.  I said 100.  I feel that is high, and that makes me a little sad.)
  • send invitations to parents of those students with work in the show…check
  • figure out tables and table coverings…check (I had a ton of burlap, so that’s what I’m going with)
  • figure out how to hang work in a place with no walls that will take tacks…check (I bought a bunch, and probably not enough, sticky tack for the lighter pieces and I plan on hanging the framed pieces around the stairway columns.  Let’s hope it all works.)
  • make a poster and announce the show…check (it’s on the website, in the lunch announcement powerpoint, an all-call is going out to parents on Wednesday evening, and the principal will announce it in the morning announcements)
  • spotlight the Senior artists…check (for this I created a google form that asked the seniors a few short questions.  From there I found a free QR code program and made codes for each student.  I will hang a code by one of the senior’s artworks and guests can scan the code and find out a little artistic tidbit about that artist.  I think this will be a great interactive addition for the show.)
  • set up the show during the day…  not there yet.  Friday is the day.  I took the day “off”, but I will definitely be working.  I plan on pulling students from various classes to help me set up.  I hope it goes smoothly.  Who knows.

I hope I can pull it off.  It all comes down to Friday.  I don’t know who will show up.  I hope at least half of the students with work in the show will come.  Many students have said their parents have expressed an interest in seeing their child’s work.  As I said before, I am nervous that I might not pull it off.  And, I am nervous that I might.  Wish me luck.

Screen shot 2014-03-23 at 1.42.25 PM

Update on Giving Choice


We are starting on our second week of choice in Art 1 when creating a project about informal balance.  Today I walked around and talked with the different groups to check in on their progress and to make sure they are on the right track.  I want to say that about half understood informal balance and are able to incorporate it into their artworks.  About a third of those who didn’t understand it and were not consciously addressing are now able to once talking through things with me.  And, well, out of those that are left, some just are making things out of egg cartons, and one group basically said they weren’t going to do anymore, and to just give them a 70.  At least they were honest about it.

I am excited and surprised by many.  I have to be honest that there are some students that are surprising me in their art.  Some that I thought would be the ones making the egg carton alligator are thinking outside the box.  While others that I thought would nail this are the ones making the alligator.

Choice hasn’t been easy for me.  Not knowing the outcome is hard for me.  But, I have to learn to go with it.  I will update once the unit comes to an end.


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beginnings of a truck

beginnings of a truck

plan on using texture to balance

plan on using texture to balance


using the egg cartons to make a 2-d work (bas relief)

using the egg cartons to make a 2-d work (bas relief)

will balance with color

will balance with color




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Giving it up to the students


Art 1 started a new unit this past week.  They are learning about informal balance and ways that artists can created a balanced image that is not symmetrical.  We likened it to being on a see-saw as a child with your much bigger older brother and how much better it would be if both sides weighed the same.  How could you balance out the see-saw if you were stuck with your bigger older brother and not someone your size?  We learned that warm colors are heavier than cool colors, dark values weigh more than light, rough textures over smooth textures, and many others.

From there I introduced the project.  Each student was to be given a cardboard egg carton that I had been saving over the past 2 years.  Then they were to form a group of 2 or 3 students.  Their problem to solve in their group artwork was to create something that was balanced, but not symmetrical.  They needed to use any and/or all of the different techniques that we talked about.

A student asked me, “Is this 2-D or 3-D?”  I turned to him and said, “I don’t know, you tell me.”  I could see the the wheels and gears in their heads start to turn.  I see that some of them were excited.  I could see that some were scared.  I was both.  What would the end products look like?  Would I be able to pull off a choice-based project?  Would the kids be receptive to this?  (I am sure that perhaps you are asking what is choice-based?  You can find out more here and here.  The second  link is to the first part in a 5 part series about choice-based art in the high school classroom.  I invite you to read all 5 parts.)

Today was a crazy day in the art room during my first session of art 1.  I had kids cutting and painting (both traditionally and with spray paint) and gluing and planning.  It was chaos and it was awesome.  Everyone was working (with the exception of one student.)  Their artworks were all different.  They were exploring different things.  They were collaborating.  They were behaving like artists.  I am tired, but I loved it.  Tomorrow I do need to start to walk around and talk with the groups about their plans to make sure they are keeping the problem of informal balance in mind with their artworks.  But until then, I will have a smile on my face as I think about the awesomeness that occurred during period 2 today.  I hope periods 6 and 7 are the same.