Archive for the ‘Spring 2017’ Category

Iris Color Study

posted on May 9, 2017 in Spring 2017, Student Teacher Blog

Eighth-grade students created observational color studies of the close-up of their irises. Each student had their eyes photographed to be used as a reference for their artworks. In class discussion students recorded what the aperture and exposure represent in photography, and how the human iris and pupil similarly functions. Students discussed how eyes are often used as the metaphorical and representational image of one’s identity. Using a photograph or observation as a reference, students used oil pastel to replicate the coloration, pattern, and reflection found by looking into their iris.


To complete their iris studies students responded to prompt questions relating to the identities, emotional and feeling towards their outward appearance. Students wrote their reflections and responses around their iris with white pencils. Students also had the option to write down quotes relating to these topics that they connected with.

Self Affirmation Lino cuts

posted on May 9, 2017 in Spring 2017

Eighth-grade students learned about the process of linocut and printing as well as the practice of positive affirmations. Students drew a self-portrait of themselves from observation and incorporated a word that would complete the affirmation phrase” I am____.” We talked about how positive affirmations are used like exercise, to use the power of mind to manifest a truth. The process of making multiple prints also symbolizes the mantra of repeating the affirmative statement so it becomes truth. Students were encouraged to choose words like (worthy, capable, enough, successful, intelligent, beautiful, valuable, confident!) Words that can make a positive impact on their lives.


Students then transferred their design onto a block of linoleum, carved,  and made multiple prints of their images. Students learned about drawing from observation as well as using proportional facial features.


posted on May 9, 2017 in Spring 2017, Student Teacher Blog

My art 1 students have just finished up a painting unit that asked them to think about aspects of their identities to inspire their subject matter. Their paintings ended up being really beautiful, many of the students really thrived while working in the painting medium.
I tried something a little different with my students to begin this project. Before I introduced this painting unit, I created a buzz feed style personality quiz for my students to take. In the quiz the students are asking general questions about their personality that would be typical for this type of buzz feed quiz. The questions they answered determined what subject matter they would be painting for this project. The categories they could be sorted into were Portraits, Landscapes, or Still Lives.
The students were really excited by the quiz and it was a great start to our project. Once students were sorted into the painting categories they could get an assignment sheet that corresponded with their category. So, I created a separate assignment sheet for portraits, landscapes, and still lives. Each assignment sheet had additional artists that were working in that subject matter that the students were encouraged to look up. I also showed my students a presentation of artists in a wide range of subject matter and technique.

These art 1 students also had an in progress critique that was very helpful for me to understand the concepts behind their paintings. Each student was paired up with another student and interviewed each other about their paintings from a list of questions I gave them. The students wrote down their partner’s answers and reading those interviews gave me as an instructor insight to how they were feeling about the assignment, the process, and their overall concept.

I encouraged my students to try out techniques and styles that worked for them and to be confident about the decisions they were making. Many students took that advice and in the end they felt successful!

Personifying Emotions with Ceramics I

posted on May 5, 2017 in Spring 2017, Student Teacher Blog

By:Emily McKenney

During my time in my secondary placement, I had the awesome opportunity to work with a Ceramics I class. This was so exciting to me because I love ceramics and there wasn’t a course like this offered at my high school. I decided to do a relief project with students who had been using clay primarily to make functional object before I got there. I wanted to do a project that really emphasized ceramics as an art practice rather than just a way to make bowls and mugs. I decided to do a project on emotions, and how to personify emotions that you feel connected to. Students began by choosing an emotion to work with and brainstorming different ways to depict this emotion as a living thing. Then they created and fired their projects before painting them and applying an alternate material. The alternate material aspect of the project allowed students to get really creative, and consider the ways that clay can interact with other art-making supplies.

Word: Separation


Word: Contempt

Word: Dread


Students expressed a true enjoyment of this project, and all made incredible work. I would definitely do this lesson again with a ceramics, 3-D/crafts class, or an ARTII/III course!

Donor’s Choose

posted on May 5, 2017 in Spring 2017, Student Teacher Blog


The lone display case for art

Until this handy dude put up another one!

Student Samplers

Good job students!

With my teacher’s blessing, he suggested I make a donor’s choose for the supplies I would use for my project at my secondary school. All I really needed was thread, needles, beads, and hoops, but he suggested I throw in another display case. The school has terrible walls for hanging stuff and all the cases except for the one he already got from Donor’s Choose are filled with trophies. This leaves very little student art in the building.

Even though it added a considerable amount to the Donor’s Choose, it still got funded! Donor’s choose is amazing and now there are two identical display cases. I wish I was there for longer because I’d really like the students to practice putting their own work up.

As soon as my students were finished with the first part of their project which was an embroidered sampler, I put some in the case and they looked amazing all together!

Smoothie Fridays!

posted on May 5, 2017 in Spring 2017, Student Teacher Blog, Uncategorized



My teacher in my second placement is a Donor’s Choose wiz! He’s gotten every project he’s applied for funded so his students have access to high quality materials and more! One of his projects was this Vitamix blender so his IB Juniors and Seniors could have smoothie Fridays!

This treat doesn’t happen every Friday, he only has these students on even days. He will ask them earlier in the week if they want to do it and they are responsible for bring the fruits and he will bring in the ice.

I was so happy to be there for this and see how it goes down. It was so nice to have a healthy morning snack while we were critiquing and it gave a relaxed atmosphere to a potentially tense kind of activity!

Just berries for this student!

The smoothie cups!



Paintings On Found Fabric: Following Intuition

posted on May 5, 2017 in Spring 2017, Student Teacher Blog

With my Art ¾ students we stretched our own painting surface. Instead of using a blank canvas we used found fabrics that would inspire the paintings. Some students even sewed together a collage of fabrics before stretching the fabrics over the stretcher bars.
I introduced this prompt to my students first with artist who related to the project. Many of these artist mix patterns and textures and some really do paint on found fabric.

Here are some of the artists that were shown to the students:





The students had never stretched their own surface for painting and I think it was a good experience for them. It did take MUCH longer than I expected it to. Overall for this project my students had about 7 work days. Before we even selected the fabrics for the full painting, my students did material tests on different types of fabrics.

The material tests were really successful because it allowed for the students to think about what fabric they might like to paint on and generate some ideas in a low risk way.

My students in this class also took one class period to participate in in-progress-critiques that really helped generate conversation, meaning, and new ideas for my students.

Here are some examples of student’s paintings in their final work days!

Experimentation with Ink

posted on May 5, 2017 in Spring 2017, Student Teacher Blog

Painting 1/2: Experimentation with Ink

I finished a project with my Painting 1/2 class on Monday and had to come up with a short two day lesson for the rest of the week. This class is made up of 9th-12th grade students. With this class, I’ve been focusing on introducing them to new mediums and painting styles, especially those that are more expressive. The class expressed interest in working with figure drawing/painting since most of them had little to no experience with it. I love drawing the figure, so I was excited about teaching it, but I wanted to introduce a lesson that was free, fun, and excited students who were not interested in drawing the figure. I decided that using India ink (which most of the students hadn’t used before) would be a good medium to work with since it has a lot of freedom in how you can use it, and it’s really fun to use.

Ink Techniques

On Wednesday I introduced some ink painting and drawing techniques, including ink wash, painting with a foam brush, and blowing the ink with a straw. I showed the students some of my work that I’ve done with ink on a PowerPoint to connect the lesson to my own passion and practice. Having the students see me get excited about the medium really helped them to get into it. That day I told them to simply explore ink and draw/paint whatever they wanted to on a sheet of paper. The lesson focused on experimentation and process rather than product. They loved this. Some students who rarely participate in class were very engaged and I loved seeing them unafraid to try new things. During the class on Friday, I introduced adding watercolor to their work and trying out drawing with oil pastel under the watercolor and ink. For the students who were interested in figure drawing, I did quick poses on a table for them to draw for the first half of class. They then added ink and watercolor to these drawings. Giving the students more choice and freedom during the last two days worked out very well and I had many students telling me that this was the most fun they’ve had in art class!

Loom Building and Contemporary Fiber Art

posted on May 5, 2017 in Spring 2017, Student Teacher Blog

For my elementary fiber unit, third and fifth graders focused specifically on loom building and the contemporary fiber artists Shelia Hicks and Lenore Tawney.

Beginning with my third graders, I introduced contemporary fiber artist Lenore Tawney’s body of artwork, specifically her series Drawing in Air. Students learned about how the clothe is formed through weaving, and that a loom is used as the device to weave. Looking at Tawney’s alternative use of loom structure, students discussed the 3D forms that came out of Tawney’s series of work Drawings in Air.

Student work:

Lenore Tawney and her artwork Drawing in Air.

Using Tawney as inspiration, students created their own loom structure from cardboard. Students measured, marked, and cut slits for their warp and strung their looms to create a similar form quality. Due to the wrapping technique, both sides of the loom displayed this yarn pattern. Students then applied construction paper and oil pastel to embellish their looms with color and pattern. Final works of art were hung from our classroom ceiling to be admired.

Student Artwork:

Fifth-grade students observed contemporary fiber artist Shelia Hicks evolution of artwork throughout her career. Beginning with Shelia’s flat color blocked tapestries students observed how her techniques evolved from the traditional. Students described Shelia’s recent fiber installations and found similarities in the use of color and materials from her earlier works. we discussed how Sheila’s weavings became more sculptural over time due to her use of wrapping and tassel forms.

Inspired by Hicks’ fiber evolution, students themselves built their own loom frames and created flat color blocked weavings. To finish their weavings students created 3d forms by creating pom-poms and tassels from yarn. My students were encouraged to develop color themes and patterns to create a cohesive work of art.

Student Example:

A close up image of a Shelia Hicks’ tapestry and tassel.

Student Example:

Mexican Altar Boxes

posted on May 5, 2017 in Spring 2017, Student Teacher Blog


(Students painting their Nicho frames with acrylic paints.)


Mexican Wall Nichos

Seventh-grade students learned about the practice shrine building throughout various cultures around the world. Students observed and discussed characteristics found in the shrines built by contemporary artists Laurie Zuckerman and Christin Adkins. We discussed Assemblage artwork, and how the ritual of collecting and assembling found or significant objects is a universal practice found in various cultures. For the focus of our own shrines, we looked to folk Mexican wall nichos created from recycled materials to be featured in a domestic space. 

Students dedicated their nichos to a loved one. This person would also serve as the inspiration for the designs and color schemes used in their artworks. First, students cut and designed the frames of their nichos. Then adding imagery and symbols relating to the person in mind.

Students decorated their frames and sculpted a “relic” that would be featured as the centerpiece of their wall altars. The entire shrine was assembled and embellished using recycled and donated objects.


Dedicated to a favorite character

Dedicated to a best friend

Dedicated to a mother


© VCUarts Department of Art Education   Franklin Terrace   |   812 West Franklin Street, Box 843084, Richmond, VA 23284   |   804.828.7154