Symbolic Silhouettes


getting to know my students through visual problem solving!


Teacher Example, Watercolor

Every year I begin my classes with some sort of “getting to know” you art project. This is one that I have taught in the past but haven’t done in a few years. I was excited to bring it back into action this year and was thrilled with the results. My students always amaze me with their creative ideas and visual problem solving! Above is my teacher example, which I had a blast working on this summer.

This project is simple: Step One: trace your silhouette (we used the light from the smart board and a buddy system) and then Step Two: fill your silhouette with symbols and/or an environment that represents you. After briefly introducing the concept of SYMBOLISM, through my all time favorite- Ms. Frida Kahlo, I posed these simple questions to my students:

  • What makes you you?
  • What do you love, fear, idolize, etc..?


Student Work, Grade 10, pencil and colored pencil


Student Work, Grade 12, pen and ink with colored pencil


Student Work, Grade 10, Tempera Paint


Student Work, Grade 12, Watercolor

Screen Shot 2015-10-12 at 8.39.05 PM

Student Work, Grade 12, watercolor and sharpie

Screen Shot 2015-10-12 at 8.39.23 PM

Student Work, Grade 10, tempera, sharpie and acrylic


Aren’t they smashing!?

As you can see above, I let my students choose their media based on their concepts, interests and abilities. My example was in watercolor, so many students chose to follow suit.  I was happy to have some good cold press paper hanging around and waiting to be put into some good use.

As always, we finished the unit with a full class critique. It was wonderful to hear students explain what they chose to include in their silhouettes and get to know them better through their artistic pursuits!

The most pleasant discovery of this project was how helpful student smart phones could be. While reminding students daily (hourly… by the minute…) not to text in class is most likely my least favorite part of my job… being able to put those phones to good use for looking up reference photos made for an exceptional tool. A very different experience from that of printing out every reference photo at the beginning of my career- only 8 years ago!


9th Grade Art 2014-2015 (thus far)

I teach three classes this year: 9th Grade Art, Studio Art I and Studio Art II/II. 9th Grade Art has been a lot of fun and is about to get even better as we branch into a variety of different media. For our first semester we focused on painting and drawing in relation the Elements of Art and Principles of Design. Here is a (quick) overview of what we have covered thus far. I was able to pull a great deal of my lessons from last year for this introductory level class.

Zentangle Animals in Sharpie and Tempera (Line, Texture & Pattern)

image1 image9 Screen Shot 2015-02-19 at 8.45.14 PM


Still Life Drawing with Ebony Pencil (Shape, Form, Value and Contrast)

IMG_0799  IMG_0803

Mandala Color Wheels in Tempera Paint (Color, Balance and Rhythm)- LOVE THESE SO MUCH!!!

image4 image8 IMG_0882 IMG_0889 IMG_0550

Winter/Holiday Collage (texture)


Tempera-Batik Landscapes (Space & Unity)

image1-2 image4-2 image3-2I am so proud of my youngest artists (can you believe they are only 14 and 15 years old?!) and I can’t wait to see them grow over the next 4 years. I will be posting the work of my Studio Classes soon! Take Care and cheers to a long weekend brought to us by freezing conditions!


Ceramic Egg Boxes


IMG_1966 IMG_1970

Mixed Media Grid Portrait


IMG_2265 IMG_2270

Back to Blogging 2014-2015 School Year

Its been awhile… almost a year. And what a year its been!

I started this blog last year after returning to art education (after spending a year as a special education teacher- my backup degree that I had hoped not to have to use). I spent a wonderful year (2013-2014) at a program that I was able to develop from the ground up. I had no funding, was working with an at-risk population and most challenging of all- I had no sink. But, I made do and I loved every minute of it. I was in heaven, I was in an Art Room again.

I had no intention of leaving… and then there was a posting at my local school district, the district that I student taught at, the district that I call home. I applied with little hope of hearing back and then, the first day of my summer vacation- I got the call. I went through a two part interview process before being offered my dream job teaching advanced Drawing and Painting at the high school level. I cried tears of joy when I accepted the position but was still heart broken to leave my previous position.

Since then, Its been a whirlwind of developing the program I have always wanted and I’m lucky enough to be part of a truly gifted team of four art educators- a photographer, jeweler, ceramicist and myself. Blogging has definitely fallen to the wayside but as I was surprised by a long weekend (2 cold days in a row) I decided to make some updates to this little blog.

Here’s a picture of my new classroom this August after spending a week of Summer vacation gleefully arranging furniture and hanging posters in anticipation of starting my dream job.


The Past Few Months

I have been a terribly negligent blogger lately.  Yet, despite my quiet blog, life- in and out of the art room- has been full of activity and excitement!  Here’s a quick snapshot of some of the happenings since I last wrote:


Abstract Expressionism: stamping & watercolor: 

This was a quick “no pressure” project that was a good follow up to a great many objective drawing units.  I wanted my students to loosen up, play with some messy art materials and have fun.  This they did.

We began the unit by studying Abstract Expressionism and watched a few videos of Pollock painting.  I wanted my students to understand the concept of the process being as important (or more important) as the finished project.


Here’s a poster that I made to show students some of the watercolor techniques they would get a chance to work with.  The “Drip & Blow” was by far the most popular and many a straw were put to good use!



I loved the colorful results!


Nature In Detail: tempera paint & chalk pastel

As the snow and temperatures continued to fall… I was dreaming of my garden and spring weather.  I figured it was time for a good ol’ Georgia O’keeffe inspired project.  I have done this project almost every year since I started teaching (with variation) and its always a good one!


My high school students worked in tempera with chalk pastel detail. I love the shot below of one of my students working.



To shake things up… I had my middle school students use a different technique- suggested to me by my fellow art teacher and collaborator (two minds really are better than one!). Prior to painting, my 8th grade students outlined their drawing with black glue (Elmers mixed with India Ink).  The glue acted as a barrier for paint lines as well as providing added visual interest in the form of texture!


After painting, students added a final layer of oil pastel for detail. Below are just a few of my early finishers.


Spring Break…. in Scotland

For my Spring Break this year (and in celebration of my 30th birthday), my husband planned an amazing trip to Scotland for us.  We spent a few days in Edinburgh and then drove up through The Highlands, staying in Glencoe and the Isle of Skye.  What a wonderful adventure it was!


Here I am onto of Arthur’s Seat, which I consider a mountain… but is technically a very very large hill. I was pretty proud of myself as I am more of an artist than an athlete to say the very least! (;


We were blown away by the most amazing and surreal landscape that we have ever seen! As I have mentioned before, my husband is a landscape painter ( ) and I know that the stunning hills of Scotland will be appearing in his work soon.

Cleveland Museum of Art Field Trip

Last week I took my students on the first field trip of the year. We spent the morning exploring the Cleveland Museum of Art, as the students completed a Scavenger Hunt that I created.  The hunt lead them around the world and throughout history in one amazing collection.  We are lucky to have such a wonderful cultural asset available to us- and its FREE!!!


The armor is always a favorite- especially for my middle school gents!

Mandala Color Wheels:

and finally…. here is just a teaser of what we are working on now.  This is my first time teaching a Mandala unit and I must say that I’m smitten!





Well… as I said….  its been a busy few months!! Best not to wait so long between blogging next time.

February: Black History Month Portraits

This February, in celebration of Black History Month, my students created large- scale portraits of their favorite African American Heroes.  Upon researching and choosing from a large selection of African American artists, scientists, musicians, writers and civil rights leaders, students used the traditional grid method to enlarge their image.  Students finalized their drawings by applying a full range of value. These portraits demonstrate  admiration of the many great African American Icons as well as a  growing understanding of portraiture and the principles of art and design.  I couldn’t be more pleased with the results!