Sumi Ink Collaboration

I have long been a fan of Sumi Ink Clubs, started in 2005, these clubs promote collaborative art making for all skill levels and ages. Their website, Sumi Ink Club, gives a broader view of the organization if you’re interested in learning more. As a first day of school activity, students explored and experimented with Sumi Ink. Sumi Ink is a opaque permanent black ink often used in Japanese Calligraphy.  Using similar rules as the Sumi Ink Club students created, abiding by the following:

  1. Draw, doodle, experiment with brush strokes or even add to the work of others.
  2. Move around, draw in different areas.
  3. No name or words
  4. Draw slowly, make marks thoughtfully
  5. (And…please, please try not to spill any ink)

As a bonus, as students worked, they gained experience in brush handling and discovered how variations in line work affected the final product.




Pasta Textured Pinch Pot Fish

Texture is an Element of Art that we review with different materials throughout the year. This week we used dry pasta to create a variety of interesting textures in a pinch pot. Students added features and details to create a unique fish.


Wet clay textured with a variety of different shaped pasta 


Swimming to the kiln….

After their sculptures were fired in our kiln, students used liquid water color and construction paper crayons to bring them to life!


See how we made them or try it at home with air dry clay or modeling dough… Pasta Textured Fish Demo Video

Andy Saczynski Inspired Florida Folk Art

As an art teacher I believe it is important to teach students that people are making art today, after all, many of the masters artist we come to admire are now on the other side (Van Gogh, Monet, da Vinci, etc.). There are so many artists creating amazing work this very minute, right here in the Sunshine State no less. Cue…Andy Saczynski!

Saczynski is a Florida based Folk Artist who uses a variety of materials to create bold works that are eye catching and student accessible. His work can also be found on Immaculate Baking products at your local grocery, further proof art is everywhere if you look! You can read more about Andy Saczynski and see his art by visiting,

Together we looked at Saczynski’s alligator assemblages, while he used a variety of materials (requiring several power tools) we opted for paint and paper. Students worked with different color paper and studied how shapes can be used to create simple images. Using a variety of patterns and colors students created breathtaking works while also reviewing the Elements of Art (line, color and shape).




Scrap Paper Fish

Maybe it is because I am an art teacher, or maybe it is by chance, either way, when I see beautifully painted bits of paper in the trash I must heroically come to their rescue. At first it was the big pieces, then the medium ones and slowly my obsession grew to collecting even the smallest scraps. As the pile of brightly colored shapes started to overtake desk, I realized they had so much potential, and were deserving of a second chance at becoming a masterpiece.  As I began to experiment and plan for a future project, I realized that what I really wanted was for my students to see the potential and possibilities that I saw when I looked at their beautiful scraps. And so it began….

Each student created an 12″x 18″ piece of textured painted paper. Students were free to experiment with different tools, different colors and even different brushes. Once the paper was dry, the project details were revealed….and things got a little “fishy.”


Each student cut out a fish body (a football/lemon shape) then, their scraps were put in a plastic tub in the center of the room. To create the detailed features of their fish they were only allowed to use scraps from their peers. Suddenly, those discarded bit of paper became valuable and students were eager to use them in new ways!





Elizabeth Rosen Inspired Collages

Artist Elizabeth Rosen is an New York based illustrator, painter and designer. This week we looked at her collage and mixed media work. Rosen creatively incorporates texture, a variety of paper, paint and simple shapes (Elements of Art) into each of her works. To see her pieces, visit (it’s nearly impossible not to love).

These collages were so much fun to create, the background texture was achieved by dragging a fork through wet paint! 1st & 2nd graders did an amazing job!

IMG_4397 IMG_4438




Dumpster Discovery

I think it is safe to speak for all art teachers when I say, we love trash. Here is the visual story of how an old, unloved chalkboard became something entirely different thanks to assistance of so many little painters! 

Playdough Plaster Molds

Surprisingly, this project falls into the “clean and easy” category even though it may sound slightly terrifying!

It has been raining for days, not just an afternoon shower but a slow, lingering rain that leaves you craving sunshine. Our days have been dominated by indoor activities which all seem to last a total of 4 minutes (despite my best efforts). This project was so much fun, it lasted over an hour (and clean up took minutes…with two boys under 4 “helping”).

Here’s what you’ll need….

  • Playdough
  • Plaster of Paris (Walmart, $3)
  • Small Shells, animals, sticks, leaves….the possibilities are endless!
  • Squeeze Bottle (Dollar Tree, $1)

IMPORTANT: Wait until all the molds are created before mixing plaster. The plaster will dry very quickly.




Filling playdough mold with plaster

Nature Mold

15 minute dry time

The finished product!


Recycled Magazine Bowls

I love recycled art projects, and this one is no different. These beautiful bowls will soon be created by my 5th and 6th graders. As I wrote in a previous post…teaching students how to successfully use recycled materials in the art room is important for numerous reasons. One of the most important reasons is that teaching applications for recycled materials empowers students. By showing students art can be created using materials they have access to on a daily basis; suddenly the world becomes a giant art store, full of possibilities, instead of limitations. Another reason recycled art lessons are important is that it creates environmental awareness and fosters an atmosphere where students are more responsible consumers. There are so many contemporary artists creating beautiful art that communicate powerful messages today, these artists show how powerful any material can be.

Here’s a quick “how to” for creating these beautiful recycled bowls…

Begin with a magazine, you want to make sure all the pages are the same size and paper weight if you are using more than one. Tear our the pages.

Fold the paper in half length wise (also, known in class as hot dog style). Open then fold each half to the center line.

Fold closed, then fold in half again. You should have a 1″ folded sheet of paper.

Continue until you have 30 folded pieces of paper (small bowl). Remember, the more paper, the bigger the bowl. Tape 3 pieces of paper together (end to end), using clear tape. Roll the paper (like a sleeping bag).

Tape the roll closed. Repeat with another 3 strips, tape the beginning to the end of the last strip (on the roll). When the desired diameter pull the sides up to create your bowl. Modge Podge bowl to secure! Finally, admire your recycled art handy work!


Watch the video tutorial by clicking here: Recycled Magazine Bowls 

Summer Art Adventures

This summer I had to opportunity to travel to Arrowmont School of Art in Tennessee to work on my art! It has been such an incredible learning and creating adventure! Here are a few pictures from my first two days of art making. I cannot wait to apply what I have learned to the elementary art room. Is it August yet?