Watercolor grids are awesome, but very hard for my 6th grade class.  I ran across this activity from A Faithful Attempt Click HERE to see post.  The post was super with great directions!  Thank you, A Faithful Attempt for an awesome project!
Okay, so here was my main problem.  I gave the kids a choice of what to draw.  I explained to the students that they needed to pick a fairly simple design.  I showed them my example.  I highly discouraged several very complicated drawings.  I had explained the many problems with a complicated drawing.  Some refused to take the easier route on this project.  They were heck, bent, and determined to make it work.  As you may surmise, most of the kids that chose the more complicated and detailed designs had more trouble completing the task.  I tell you, sometimes you just got to let them figure stuff out.  
The four below have good art sense.  They know their limitations and they are planners.  Wow, look how their art smarts worked in their favor.  LOVE!
Day 1-Make a 1 inch by 1 inch grid on your sheet of paper; Measure the lines with a ruler in one direction.  Then measure out the lines with the ruler in the other direction.  You should have a nice straight grid.

Day 2-Draw a design on top- I encourage fairly simple shapes (or a shape) that filled the paper nicely.

Day 3 and Day 4-Do you want to use warm colors for the background or cool colors for the background?
Do you want to use warm colors for the drawing or cool colors for the drawing?
*Hints:  Make sure you add lots of water when using watercolors.
Move around on the paper.  Do not work on squares side-by-side as you run the risk of colors bleeding into each other and making brown (yuck)

I heard this band, Kaleo, singing “Way Down We Go” while the kids were doing this project.  I kinda feel like the song sums up the feeling of some kids feelings while trying to push through and finish the project.  As I have said before, the devil is in the details.  Hey, watch out for the details!

My middle school students did these trees right before Christmas break.  The project was easy and a great one to work out some tension before finals. 
The kids painted paper.
The kids drew trees.
The kids wrote things about themselves on the trees.
They cut out the trees.
The kids glued the trees on the painted paper.
Then, they used oil pastels to “accessorize” their paintings!

I was thinking about tree songs and I remembered this oldie from 1973.  Yeah, I was about 8.  I remember loving the song.  Also, I recall lots of yellow ribbons being around trees in my hometown.  If you are going to a throwback dance party in the near future, you may be able to get some dance moves off the video.  🙂 

We have posted on Hundertwasser in the past.  Click HERE for previous post. 
I wanted to do some landscapes and perspective drawing with my 8th graders.  After several days of thought, I came to the conclusion that I could do both on the same project. 
We discussed perspective drawing and practiced for several days.
Then, I gave the basic landscape review.
The kids drew.
The kids painted with watercolor.
The kids outlined with a sharpie.

I really was impressed with the results.

There are a total of forty-four “I“s and eyes on this post. 
Here’s a song about Bette Davis’ Eyes by Kim Carnes.
I am not sure why this art activity happened with the 8th grade.  It was one of the last days with the students before Christmas.  The students wanted to dot paper.  They do love spouncers.  I love them, but I do not love washing them.  They “spouced” the dots on the paper and then, they thought these trees looked fun to do.  I gave them some paint and a credit card and they made trees.  The students cut the trees out and glued them on the dotted paper.
And…Here is the art.
The Pop Art Project with winter trees was just a relaxing project for the kids before exams.  All they needed was time to talk and do art without thinking too much. 
Need to relax?
Listen to Dave.  He is always good for providing a calming effect.

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?

Ever used hot glue, let it cool, then colored it with sharpie?  Well, we did.  I read somewhere online (I wish I could find the source) that you could use hot glue like black Elmer’s glue.  We gave it a try and Wa-lah!  Have a look at the middle school project.

I talked a little about Romero Britto.  I showed some of his work.  We have posted on Romero Britto in the past.  Click HERE to see previous Romero Britto posts

I told the kids that the work would be displayed in the hall during Christmas.

The kids drew with pencil their plan for the project.

The kids hot glued all over the pencil marks.

The kids used a black sharpie and colored over hot glue.

The kids painted with acrylic.

The kids colored back over hot glue with sharpie to touch up.

Check these cool projects out!

Classic Christmas song by Coldplay
L O V E Coldplay
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?
I was looking for a 2 day lesson to do with my kids and I ran across this website. It had some great ideas. So, I started researching for a lesson for art club and thought this would work great. Guess what… it did! Scroll down to Activity 7 and check it out.
How we did it:
1. Start by making a curvy continuous line with several large loops. You can add lines later if you wish.
2. Rotate your paper around looking for images to fill in, such as heads, faces, eyeballs etc.
3. Add color if you wish
Supplies needed:
Black Marker
12×18 Drawing Paper
Description: Join this club (Link listed above) if you can draw. Better yet, join this club if you can’t draw! Everyone can draw and in this club, you’ll be reminded how by exploring ideas, techniques and creative nonsense using a line marker. There is no right or wrong result. Instead, you’ll hopefully gain new skills and confidence exploring different techniques and approaches. Bring your enthusiasm, an open mind and your own black line marker if you can.
*activities subject to change at teacher’s discretion

Studies show that sketching and doodling improve our comprehension — and our creative thinking. So why do we still feel embarrassed when we’re caught doodling in a meeting? Sunni Brown says: Doodlers, unite! She makes the case for unlocking your brain via pad and pen.

Links to why a Doodle is good for you and your focus:





5 Ways Doodling Improves Learning And Creativity


Do you still think doodling is a waste of time? Does it mean someone isn’t paying attention?
Well, it’s time to change your mind. Doodling and drawing can actually help you process, retain, and share information.

Doodling and Memory

According to a 2009 study by professor of Psychology, Jackie Andrade, doodling while listening to information can help our memory. Andrade conducted a study where she measured how well participants recalled details from a monotonous fake telephone message. Some participants were asked to shade in printed shapes while listening, and others simply listened to the message. Those who shaded performed far better at recalling information.
Andrade theorizes that doodling engages our minds enough to keep them from daydreaming. This is particularly useful when information is tedious or boring, but also seems to help concentration when listening to information-dense material.
In a Wall Street Journal article by Sue Shellenbarger, Jesse Prinz points to his experiences doodling during conferences. Prinz is a Philosophy professor at the City University of New York. He says that reviewing doodles actually helps him reconstruct what he heard, even if the concepts aren’t shown in the doodle—it’s like looking back on a postcard long after a trip, and remembering the details of your a travels.

Drawing to Explain and Understand Concepts

Shellenbarger additionally mentions that doodles can be used to communicate complicated emotions, “ten doodlers in a four-week study were equipped by researchers to share their sketches on social media…. Many of the participants’ doodles expressed complex emotions they wouldn’t have shared via written posts or texts….”
To visual practitioners, this is hardly news. The International Forum of Visual Practitioners (IFVP) describes itself  as “an emerging grassroots network of diverse practitioners who use visual methods to assist learning and communication between groups and individuals.”
As the IFVP website describes, “Generally we work with groups or in some setting where groups of people are coming together to do talk, think and collaborate.” Visual practitioners then use doodling and drawing techniques to help others visualize what they mean.
Giulia Forsythe,  argues strongly for doodling as “a form of external thought that allows you to visualize the connections you are making while thinking. In the conscious mind, doodling can assist concentration and focus but even in the unconscious mind, while doodling and day dreaming connections are made.”
Forsythe is a Special Projects Facilitator for the Center of Pedagogical innovation at Brock University. She works with course design and instructional strategies. Forsythe helps faculty make their curriculum using visual notes and doodling, and incorporate it as a teaching and learning method.
According to Forsythe, pictures can be used as metaphors to clearly illustrate a point. She uses drawings as a simple form of conveying messages, which leads to better problem solving.
When describing her own work, Forsythe says, “By sharing my thinking through visual means, my most important connections have been to people, by way of sharing my perceptions of their ideas, presentations and words back to them.”

Drawing in Education

An article by Charlotte Hughes and Scott Asakawa for NOVA also describes that students encouraged, “to draw what they learned during lecture, and while doing assigned readings…. not only retained more information, but they also reported more enjoyment and engagement with the course material.”
In a paper published in Science, Shaaron Ainsworth and colleagues propose 5 reasons “drawing should be explicitly recognized alongside writing, reading, and talking as a key element in science education.”

  1. For Enhancing Engagement, studies have shown that students who draw are more motivated to learn.
  2. Learning to Represent in Science, students learn how scientific concepts are visually represented.
  3. Reasoning in Science, students learn how to think like a scientist and identify important features.
  4. As a Learning Strategy, the process of transforming written text into drawings helps organize and integrate knowledge.
  5. To Communicate, teachers are able to see students’ thinking and students can share knowledge.

Leah Levy covers additional reasons to incorporate drawing into learning. In addition to preventing distraction and quickly capturing complicated ideas, Levy points to drawing as a way to engage important visual and kinesthetic learning channels.
She also states that drawing can promote more innovative thinking by engaging the creative brain, “while verbal processing is certainly crucial for any student to thrive, all of those words and that verbal logic can mask a deeper, more intuitive form of visual thinking.”
Levy goes on to list 5 ways to use doodling in education:

  1. Note taking
  2. Brainstorming
  3. Bringing concepts together
  4. Processing difficult emotions
  5. Making difficult concepts concrete (like, Doodling in Math)

The Movement with Many Names

Shaaron Ainsworth and colleagues also mention that there are more and more programs to incorporate drawing into science education. They point to the “Representation in Learning Science” (RiLS) project. Saying, “it is an exemplar showing how, through hands-on activities and a variety of multimodal representations in which drawing was central, learners aged 10 to 13 were guided to generate, justify, and refine representations in science.”

Another project called “Picturing to Learn” was funded by the National Science Foundation from 2007-2010. It was started by Felice Frankel, a scientific photographer and Senior Research Fellow at Harvard University. A total of 5 schools took part in “Picturing to Learn”, including science students and faculty from Harvard University and MIT, and design students and faculty from the School of Visual Arts in New York.

Students were asked to create drawings in order to explain various scientific phenomena to high school seniors. According to the “Picturing to Learn” website, the project found that “the process was a powerful means of revealing student misconceptions.” That is, drawings made by students in order to teach others actually provided feedback for teachers, showing them how the students understood concepts.

In an article for Symmetry Magazine, Madolyn Rogers also covers the project. She interviews a professor who used “Picturing to Learn” to teach difficult concepts in chemistry lessons. According to professor Sadoway, it isn’t always clear if students understand a concept when they explain it verbally. However, when the students draw, he sees right away whether they understood the topic.

The Doodle Revolution

Beyond science education, Sunni Brown is spearheading a much broader “Doodle Revolution“. In her TED talk, Brown redefines doodling as “making meaningful marks that help us think.” According to Brown, doodling can give us the power of better recall, comprehension and learning. It can also improve our performance when we use it to make personal summaries and collaborate.
She aims not only to convince us of the benefits of doodling, but also to show us how to doodle better. Jennifer Miller describes a few of Brown’s techniques:

“Atomization.” Take an object and visually break it down into its tiniest parts. If you start with the word “racoon,” you might draw claws, a robber’s mask and a trash can. As Brown says, “any element of a raccoon—its body or environment—becomes a way of looking at the animal that you didn’t think about” when you considered it as a whole.
“Game-Storming.” Take two unrelated things, like elephants and ice cream, and draw them in their atomized parts. Then create drawings that randomly fuse these parts together. Like trunk-cones or melting ears. Brown has used this technique to help journalists think up unique story angles.
“Process Map.” Having trouble thinking through a problem? Create a visual display that illustrates (literally) the sequence of events. Brown calls this a “cause and effect doodle.” Sometimes, looking at pictures can help your brain make sense of a complex system better than words.

The Sketchnote Army

Designer Mike Rohde promotes a similar technique in his books “The Sketchnote Handbook” and “The Sketchnote Workbook”. Rohde focuses on personal note taking. He provides techniques for combining doodling, drawing, and writing to take notes that stimulate emotional engagement and promote easy review, as well as idea generation and mapping.

You can find inspiration in how others have used sketchnotes in their own work, education and daily lives at the “Sketchnote Army” website, Elisabeth Irgens also writes about getting started with sketchnotes. She makes the crucial point that “It doesn’t matter whether you call it sketchnoting or doodling or scribbling or simply “adding some joy” to your notes…. The goal is to create something that you would want to take out again and look at — and, hey, perhaps even show others.”
Good-looking notes aren’t the main concern. In creative note taking, you are the audience. So, how do you get started? Here are points Elisabeth Irgens mentions:

  • Choose your tools: She suggests using two widths of black pen to make contrasting lines, a light-grey marker for shadows, and a handful of colors to add interest. “The daring may want to venture outside the primaries and secondaries of the basic color wheel. Look for color names like salmon, asparagus and raspberry for a more elegant touch than your basic red and blue.”
  • Choose your surface: Blank sheets of paper can be daunting, Irgen proposes starting with a sheet you feel comfortable using, like a clipboard with single sheets of paper, a cheep notebook, a scrap or lined paper, or the back of some other paper.
  • Mix words and drawings: Using words and drawings boosts your ability to remember and makes notes more fun to look at. If you don’t think you can draw try to make some symbols on a page and combining them into objects. Draw straight, curved and zig zagged lines as dividers, to underline points, or surround text. Draw dots, boxes, triangles, circles. And don’t forget to mix and match to make arrows, smileys, stick people, browser windows, mobile phones, stars, clouds…. anything.
  • Use tricks: It’s hard to look, listen, and draw at the same time. Irgen’s trick is to draft notes in another notebook and snap photos of slides at conferences. “By jotting some words on the side, I can zip back to sketching what I was working on.”
  • Consider layout: Start from the top-left or top center and move to the right or directly down. Irgens says, “People often ask me how I plan a layout without knowing the structure of the talk. The truth is that I almost always either run out of space too soon or have trouble filling the page. Some speakers list the topics they’ll cover. Pay close attention if they do: This is a sketchnoter’s gold.”
  • Plan a color scheme: When going to a conference, Irgens made sure to pick “a series of nine matching colors, one key color for each talk, with touches of the previous and next colors as accents.”
  • Remember: There is no right way. As Giulia Forsythe succinctly puts it, when doodling to take notes, “the key thing is making it make sense for you.”

On a Final Note

While you’re into doodling, you can take a look at the doodles of U.S. presidents. A 2006 Atlantic article called “All the Presidents Doodles” include doodles by Theodore Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, and George H. W. Bush.

About Anna Dabrowska

Anna is an information science researcher who has worked closely with professors and educators in the United States and Denmark. She’s interested in how people seek, access, and interact with information. Anna received her master’s in Information Science and Cultural Communication from the University of Copenhagen.

5 Big Benefits of Being A Doodler
So, go on….get your DOODLE on! -1969

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!

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