Saturday, April 15, 2017


Louise Nevelson was an American sculptor famous for her monochromatic assemblages of found objects.  Some of the pieces she collected from furniture factory discards or alleyways.  With one of my middle school classes, we looked at Nevelson's compositions, watched an interview of her, and students prepared their own assemblages.  

I asked students to collect 20 items. Kids always have "things"- little toys, broken bracelets- even kids that don't have a lot, have little things... that can be given a "new life" in an assemblage. 

During this week, students were also creating paper collages.  We made the distinction between "assemblage" (3-D) and "collage" (2-D).  As students remembered to bring in their 20 items, they got to glue them to a scrape piece of wood.  There were a couple students that kept forgetting to bring in items, so they used scraps of cardboard to create their assemblage. 

The class decided on gold as the assemblage color. However, the metallic spray paint needed a colored coat as primer so it would better cover the objects.  

Nevelson also created outdoor sculptures such as this piece... 

Sunflower Mural

This spring we painted a sunflower mural near our newly built garden beds. About sixty students contributed to this project. Over the span of a few weeks, I took classes to paint on the walls, worked with a few students after school and little by little we filled the wall with bright sunflowers.  

Art club students got us started by tracing circles and painting them various mixtures of brown. We looked for objects around the classroom that we could use as a template. You can see one group of students is using a stool to trace!

Once the circles were painted, my middle school class used petal templates that I created to trace around the flowers.  This class worked on the mural for two class periods.

Then my other art class added stems using blue tape. 

All our 8th graders were able to add the leaves (get it? 8th graders, "leaving" to high school?!) leaves. leaf. leave. 😊

Then magically and with a lot of hard work- we had a sunflower mural. 🌻🌻🌻🌻

Tuesday, March 21, 2017


I didn't know about Japanese "Notans" until I started teaching.  I like the simplicity and elegance of this project and many students get a good challenge out of the process. Since first trying these with students - using plain construction paper - I have experimented with a few variations that have added some zazz. 

I like to show this KQED Art School video about space when making notans and we look at the "negative space" and "positive space" in art.

These notans have a watercolored background.  After a watercolor project, students were asked to paint a background of their choice for this project.  

For these notans below, students used paper that they stamped with plant parts as the background. A neon cardstock was used for the notan.

Then... we tried GIANT notans! This was a great group activity 😊

Of course, if you try a large scale project, it is interesting to then work on a miniature version. 

Optical Illusion Cube

This was a handy activity that I used as a sub plan - students begin with this hexagon template - then follow the steps on this handout to create an awesome optical illusion!
Here's a couple beautiful student examples!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Optical Illusion Letters

This was a handy activity left as a sub lesson.  Using this handout students followed the steps to draw optical illusion letters. 

I pre-cut some paper into fourths, so students could complete a couple letters in a period. 
Check out a few of the letters below!

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Stop Motion - Broccoli

After several days of storing bits of food all over my classroom - students have successfully created stop motion videos featuring broccoli!

We first looked at work done my animated filmmaker Kristen Lepore - students really liked her use of food props and hand-crafted sets.

This was a collaboration with our district's nutritionalist, who organizes the Harvest of the Month. Students worked in groups to create these broccoli animations knowing that one video would be chosen to be part of the nutritionalist's Harvest of the Month's presentation to several schools.

Students definitely encountered challenges with their props as well as with their groups members.  I thought it gave students a great opportunity to practice collaborating and critical thinking skills.

Check out this PLAYLIST to watch all their videos! 

Monday, February 20, 2017


In welcoming a new "wheel" of students for the second trimester, I asked them to write "I AM" poems so that I could learn more about them - and - so that they could  create an interesting abstract piece using poetry!

I shared artwork by Jasper Johns as inspiration for this project, such as this piece...

Students used watercolors and oil pastels to add color to their poems.