Ever hear of Kimmy Cantrell?  For website, click HERE.  I found Kimmy Cantrell quite interesting because he is a cool artist from Georgia!  Kimmy realized in high school that he had the art thing going in him.  He went to Georgia State University and got a degree in business.  He worked 12 years in distribution management.  After that he ended up accepting a job in rural South Georgia and working there for 20 years.  Then, one day he decided to do clay again and the self taught artist has been making art ever since.  I really like Kimmy Cantrell’s story and his art.

This was a middle school project.
I showed this awesome video with Kimmy Cantrell speaking.  Click here.
First, I made the kids sketch their fish and color with colored pencil.
Then, they began the process of using cardboard to make a fish.  I gave options, but told them that they were free to approach the project in their own way.
Most kids cut the cardboard.
They used hot glue guns to get the fish parts all connected.
Glue guns are great, but you really have to plan ahead and have lots of extension cords ready to connect the guns.
Then, they began using oil pastels to color the fish.
Most of the kids’ fish were close to their original rendering.
Check out these colorful fish!

In the video above, Kimmy talked about “breaking the code”.  I just loved that and thought he did a great job in explaining so people could understand why art is how art is.  I hear lots of people talking about Picasso, Pollock, Mondrian, and they say, “I could do that.”  Well, I try to explain this to people a lot.  You could do it, but you did not do it first.  The first are the ones that break the code.  Anyway, I could so relate to this concept.

Have a look at our fish-

The Allman Brothers Band is from Georgia, too.  They sang a song called “Ramblin’ Man”.  I feel like Kimmy Cantrell rambled a long time before he got back to his lifelong passion.  Don’t we all?
I absolutely love Howard Finster’s work.  Howard Finster passed away in 2001, but this art teacher continues to spread his folk art to the younger generations.  Howard was from Summerville, Ga.  You can find loads of information about Howard online at Paradise Garden Foundation. Here’s the link to his homepage that his daughter Beverly still has some of his artwork available for sale.   Howard Finster Homepage.  We have posted several times on Howard Finster.  Have a look HERE.
The project?
It started with the book below.  

From the inside of the dust jacket…..
“Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house, Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse; The stocking were hung by the chimney with care, In Hope that St. Nicholas soon would be there…..”
So begins Clement C. Moore’s beloved Christmas classic, illustrated here with the mesmerizing art of Howard Finster.
Illustrated countless times through the years, this ballad by the nineteenth-century poet is now realized for the first time through the eyes of a popular twentieth-century folk artist. An artist with the gift of imagination for making the ordinary extraordinary. Finster transforms these familiar holiday verses with his unparalleled style and brings a fresh new vision to the classic tale.
Vivid paintings bring to life this story of the chance sighting of the world’s best-loved gift giver – Santa Claus. Working in the folk-art tradition, Finster offers an original and exciting visual approach to the well-known Yuletide treasure and creates a fascinating union between the traditional and the uniquely contemporary.
For Finster’s many fans and followers, this book is a showcase for his amazing talents and his positive, spiritual outlook on life. The self-taught folk artist and self-proclaimed Man of Visions who developed an international reputation for capturing divinely inspired images, in wood, in stone, and on glass (or any other handy medium), has now captured the magic of Christmas in twelve stunning illustrations.
A selection of inspirational messages that are always incorporated into Finster’s art surround the poem, and a brief biography of Howard Finster follows the illustrations. Painting the illustrations for The Night Before Christmashas brought this eighty-year-old folk artist back in touch with his own childhood. From an eccentric, world-renowned visionary come pictures of an earlier, simpler time filled with wonder.
The Reverend Howard Finster dedicates the book with love to all children, Big and small, and his dream of restoring Paradise Garden, his outdoor museum in Summerville, Georgia – a true winter wonderland that attracts thousands of visitors every season of the year.”
Howard Finster passed away in October of 2001 at the age of 84. His memory will live on forever in his art and in Paradise Garden in Summerville, Georgia, in the northwest corner of the state.


I talked about Howard Finster and showed an R.E.M. video that was filmed at Paradise Garden. R.E.M. at Paradise Garden.
I showed them the book.  Yes, I have a copy.
They drew.
They painted Santa.
They painted the angels and the clouds.
They put fun smiley faces on clouds.

I love these Santas and I think Howard Finster would too.
Howard Finster.  R.E.M.  The Squalls.  The Squalls?
The Squalls singing “Na Na Na Na.”
The best of times in Athens, GA, in the 1980s.

Tripod Textured Slab Mugs were the right way to go with my 7th Graders.  Usually, the kids work really hard and have poor results.  I am not sure if the project that I choose is too complicated or maybe they have not touched clay enough.  I have had 3 years of art with these kids and feel like they have made great progress.  If you judge by these mugs and know their background, you would probably say that they have come a long way.  

So how did this project come to be?  I really wanted to use the slab roller with my 7th Graders.  I came across a video on Youtube by Karan Witham-Walsh.  She has a great Youtube channel Karan Witham-Walsh YouTube Channel.  Also, you can find Karan’s work on Etsy at Karan’s Etsy link.  I found Karan’s video How to Make a Tripod Slab Cup.


The kids watched the How to Make a Tripod Slab Cup Video.
I rolled out the slabs.
I showed the entire video.
I gave the kids the slabs.
 I showed clips of the video again and again as we worked.
The kids began the process of making the cup.
I gave them the option of using texture on their clay cups Texture Stencil Examples.  The stencil were very forgiving on some of the less than perfect craftsmanship.
Once they got the cup made, we wrapped in Saran Wrap and put the cups on the shelf.

On the following day, we watched a video on how to make handles jescia hopper Youtube video on how to make handles.  Great video!  They made handles and attached them to the cups.  Oh yeah, we had mugs!

We let the mugs sit for a week.
Then, I fired the mugs.
We glazed.  
Some kids chose to drip glaze here and there.

I really like the results.
I like coffee.  I would definitely drink a cup of Joe from one of these mugs.  I was wondering where cup of Joe saying came from and googled to find these 3 possibilities.

Well, there are two popular theories about the origin of this phrase: One is in regards to Josephus Daniels, who was Secretary of the Navy. On the month of June, 1914, he banned all U.S. Navy ships from serving alcoholic beverages. The sailors weren’t too thrilled with the decision, because they had to resort to the next strongest drink on the list, which was coffee!Since Josephus Daniels was the one responsible for banning alcohol and “forced” everyone to make the switch to coffee, the sailors nicknamed the drink after him, thus it became “a cup of joe,” Joe being short for Josephus. That’s the theory anyways. 

However, a more plausible theory comes from Snopes, where it’s explained how the word “joe” can simply mean the average man. For example, perhaps you’ve heard someone say: “I’m just an average joe.” That means he’s just an every day, ordinary kind of guy. Therefore, a drink involving the word “joe” would show that the drink is for the common man, or the average person. (http://www.knowyourphrase.com/phrase-meanings/Cup-Of-Joe.html) 

There was a New York company named Martinson’s Coffee (Andy Warhol liked to paint the cans) owned by a man named Joe Martinson. The neighbourhood of the company would be saturated by the aroma of roasting coffee, and coffee therefore became known as ‘a cup of Joe’. (https://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20070224120839AAcoJtL) 

What else but “Cotton Eye Joe” by REDNEX?
For the first project of the year, I decided to keep it simple for my 7th Grade.  I wanted to ease them into drawing and painting with a project with pop.  I found the artist, Rachel Austin on Pinterest.  Rachel is an artist from Portland, Oregon.  For her website, click HERE.  Also, she is on Etsy.(Click Here for Etsy Page)
Kids drew overlapping circles with stems.
Kids painted with Acrylic.
Kids outlined to make the art pop.

Results posted below:
Here’s some Pop Muzik to go along with the Popping Poppies!

While surfing the web, I ran across an artist named, Bart Vargas. The project below was adapted based on Bart Vargas work.
Who is Bart Vargas?  I found an amazing video with Bart giving a Tedx Talk.  Seriously, the video is an awesome way to introduce Bart Vargas to middle and high school students.
Have a look below at Bart Vargas Art and check out his website Bart Vargas.


Students marked the 14″ x 14″ paper in one inch increments on all 4 sides of the paper.
Then, they drew each line to a center dot.
Students picked a stencil and centered the stencil in the middle of the paper.
Students traced the stencil onto the artwork using a light table.
Students made 10 shades of a color and painted sporadically on their art.
Students made 10 tints of a color and painted sporadically on their art.
For the remaining unpainted slots, the students could paint color(s) of their choice.
One of the last steps was painting the stencil in the middle of the art.
After all the paint was dry, the students used a sharpie to outline each painted slot.

Although the directions seemed complicated, they are really quite simple.  The students were able to review tints and shades.  Also, they were given lots of choices in developing their particular artwork.

Have a look at these cool results by my 7th Graders.

Bart, The Who asked the same question back on August 18, 1978.
“Who Are You”?”

Tim and Lisa Kluttz are a husband/wife team of artists.  Recently, we posted on the Kluttz couple.  For a look, click here. (Tim and Lisa Kluttz)
I gave the middle school (7th grade) students some examples of Tim and Lisa Kluttz artwork.
The kids drew their ideas with a pencil.
Then, they painted with acrylic paint.
Once the paint dried, the kids outlined their work with a sharpie.

As you can see, some of the students used the Kluttz examples, but they put their own twist on their piece of artwork.

Nice job, 7th Grade!  There are some exceptional artists in this group of kids. 

Patience.  It is hard for middle school to have it with their artwork.  It’s hard for adults to have it with their “lifework”. 
Here’s The Lumineers “Patience,” off their new album, Cleopatra (2016).  Short song, but I like it because I have been know to be impatient with songs.  The kids beg, “Let it play, Mrs. Ray.”