Monday, July 17, 2017

If Picasso Went on Vacation (a.k.a. Exciting News)

Once upon a time, while reading a blog post from Cassie Stephens (rock star of the art teacher world), I learned about her participation in an art teacher collaboration- one where they joined forces to make a children's book.  The project lead is an art teacher in New Jersey named Eric Gibbons (, and the project was the "If Picasso" series.  Eric had an online call out for art teachers (both current and retired) around the nation to submit work for a chance to be part of this series of books.  Upon further research, I learned that there was another call out for teachers for the last book in the series, called "If Picasso Went on Vacation." This book's mission was to paint unique locations around the globe in the style of a deceased artist.  I submitted a few pieces of my original work to show my range to Mr. Gibbons, and was ACCEPTED!
This was August of 2015, and books take time...

After the initial acceptance, teachers either chose a deceased artist to emulate and chose a location, or our project lead chose for us.  I was one where my artist and location were chosen for me.  My assigned artist was Albert Namatjira, an aboriginal artist from Australia, and the assigned location was Fjaorargljufur Canyon in Iceland (and I had not heard of either, plus the latter is REALLY hard to pronounce).  The canyon may look familiar to music video fans; it's been in both a Justin Beiber ("I'll  Show You"..and I only know that because I was told) and a Dierks Bentley ("Black") video within the last year or two.

In November of 2015, I submitted my initial sketch of the canyon after LOTS of internet searching and scouring, trying to find the best possible angle that matched Namatjira's viewpoint.  Mr. Gibbons gave the go ahead, and painting began.

As a Visual Arts Education major in college, I had to take a lot of studio classes along with education classes, but one that I didn't sign up for was watercolor.  Go figure: Namatjira's work was entirely WATERCOLOR.  I was honest and told the project lead that I had more experience with other media types, but he had faith in me, so watercolor it would be.  I made a call to my high school art teacher, Mr. David Sparks, who happened to specialize in watercolor;  he gave me some very good advice on paper and paint brands.  Once my brand-new goodies were in hand, it was time to do a lot of practicing while watching YouTube videos, and I eventually got the technique down to a place where I was comfortable.  Did I mention this was November?  The due date was 1-1-2016...nothing like procrastination to motivate, but I got it finished.  

My original watercolor painting, 16x16".  Photo by Candace Anderson

Due to unforeseen circumstances involving the other artists, the deadline was moved several times and ended up being sometime in July of 2016.  After the editing and publishing process, all was said and done in February of 2017.  That is a LONG time to wait and an even longer time to stay quiet!  I showed the book to some coworkers before school ended, but didn't want to tell the world until my mom had a chance to see it in person (then life got in the way, hence this summer posting).  There were some proud mama tears involved.

My painting in the book! Page 29.

The book is now part of the school libraries where I work, and I am working on getting copies to the local town libraries for all to enjoy.  It's currently available on Amazon, and I still have a few copies available in my stash.

Art teachers are artists, too-no matter what level they teach!

Monday, June 5, 2017


No, we haven't been painting this and only this since January...that would be CRAZY!  Students worked diligently during their Art classes in January and just into February, then we hit a point where all that was left were touch-ups, which are hard to manage with three classes full of sixth graders.  This left their fearless Art teacher and VERY generous and talented night custodian Miss Lynie (her superpower is painting) to finish the task.  Since the building isn't heated in the off-hours (warm enough to not shake while painting, anyway), we had to pick and choose our weekends to work based on the outdoor temperature as well as work around our own crazy schedules.   At long last (and 12+ hours later) all of the touch-ups and punch-ups are complete.  We didn't want to change what the students did, just enhance it to its full potential.  Here are some final results, with a few before-and-afters.

The Ocean Wall 

Lunch Kids


Dragon Wall

Detail of one of my favorites (It's just rude to step on a dragon's tail...)

Paint Blob before....

 And after

Paint Blob Wall (and that object to the right of the outlet is an upside-down cell phone with paint blob wallpaper).

Friday, May 12, 2017

Chocolates and Flowers: 2nd and 1st Grade Ceramics

Chocolate...a favorite for (most) students.  The idea of chocolate will make kids do some amazing things, like eat broccoli, wash the table, or pick up their toys.  What better subject to use for our clay project in Art class?  Previous 2nd grades have made donuts and ice cream bars from clay, but this year we changed our tasty treat to CHOCOLATES.  Peter Anton is a Pop artist best known for his over sized and hyper realistic sculptures of food, including a box of chocolates that is about 4 feet tall.  His sculptures are made from wire, plasters, foam, and paint,  but look SO delicious.  Second grade's mission was to make a chocolate from clay, then paint it and make it look so real their families would want to eat it.  I say mission accomplished.

Can you find the tractor?


Of course, what goes better with chocolate than flowers?  These beauties were started in FEBRUARY to make sure they were complete in time for Mother's Day.  Glazing has to be completed in small groups, so March was over before all of them were ready for their glaze firing.  Now they are finished and B-E-A-Utiful.  Our inspiration was from Georgia O'Keeffe, and we attempted to capture the shape and texture of her flowers in 3D, starting with a pinch pot base and throwing in a little slicing for petals.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Youth Art Exhibit, 2017

The annual Youth Art Exhibit kicked off on Friday night at the Tippecanoe Arts Federation at 638 North St, Lafayette.  It was a full house and the cookies disappeared VERY quickly, but the art silently stole the show.  Since I work at two schools, I was able to bring a total of 20 pieces (8 from OES and 12 from PCE) to the show.  A "Best of Show" award was given to one student per grade level, and one of my students was lucky enough to win one!

The dates for the exhibit are February 17th-March 24th, and gallery hours are 9-5, Monday through Friday.  Hope you get a chance to check it out!

Kindergarten, including our Best of Show!

First Grade

Second Grade

Third Grade

Fourth Grade

Fifth Grade

And last but not least, Sixth Grade!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

OES Mural: Week Two

Work continued on the mural last week, and this time things went a little faster.  Set up was much easier now that the 6th graders knew what they were doing, and they all settled in to paint with a more relaxed vibe (as opposed to last week, which was a little antsy).  They had a few "beautiful oops" moments where they had to think on their feet and figure out what our oops needed to become, but I hope the kids are learning that whoopsies (and working with them) are just part of the process.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

OES Mural: Week One

On January 11th, painting commenced in the specials hallway!  After several days of sketching and sanding (all done by the contest winners and some willing volunteers), we were finally ready to get some actual paint on the wall.  Since we're using acrylic, we have to lay plastic down every time we paint and everyone is working in sock feet to avoid ruining expensive shoes.  So far, all of the 6th graders are ready and willing to paint, and there was little goofing off to be had (teacher win!!).

Now that there's some actual color on the wall, the younger students are starting to understand what we're up to.