Educating Students in the 21st Century
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Expression Paintings

After learning about Kandinsky's emotional and improvisational paintings, my middle school students create their own works of abstraction. This is their first project of the year and they learn a lot about the art elements in order to make a successful composition.

This project has evolved over the years which keeps it fresh and fun. The first year teaching this lesson, the composition was all about the textures, colors, and shapes contained in squares. Then classes experimented with cutting their paintings into interlocking shapes and this year made backgrounds more active with white/metallic colored pencils. The students learn a lot from manipulating their painting. Experimentation is extremely important to develop creative thinking and this sets the tone for the whole year.

Please click on the image gallery below to see how the Expression Paintings have changed over the years.
Topic(s): acrylic painting mixed media 2011 middle school lessons
By Heather on November 15, 2011 at 1:20pm EST Add Comment

Pure Joy

I love working spontaneously. I didn't have an exact plan when creating this piece and I'm pleased with the outcome. It's made out of a scrap of cardboard, acrylic paint, and colored pencils. The abstract shapes reminded me of something my puppy would investigate and zoom around so I wanted to include her. I like to combine representation with abstraction. Her happy swirling trail reminds me of all the fun we have running around the many trees in our yard. Pure joy!
Topic(s): acrylic painting mixed media 2011 colored pencil cardboard puppy
By Heather on November 14, 2011 at 1:47pm EST Add Comment

Bug Collection
I think we've all, as children, caught fireflies or a caterpillar out of fascination. We place some grass clippings, leaves, and branches in our pickle jar believing we created an ideal environment for our creature. I even caught tadpoles and watched them change into frogs. Unfortunately, our experiments do not always work out but it's a learning experience no less. This mixed media "Bug Collection" (2003) preceded "Entrapment" and repeats the idea of catching/keeping something fascinating while having the heart to let it go, knowing that the atmosphere you made may not have been suitable. This theme can also translate to our own human experiences as well, to ensure growth.

The materials used to make this piece include: acrylic and oil paint, paper, crackle medium, dirt, and organic matter. Each bug is contained in two ways, the old canning jar and the paper circle, except the escaped firefly.

For some reason, I have always been captivated by jars. I know it seems silly, but I find them beautiful...old and new jars, colored and clear, from sauce to jellies and the history of canning to preserve our gardens. The jars are a good way to create symbolism in my work and it causes me to constantly wash and store different jars, especially if they have interesting shapes. It pains me to think about them sitting in a landfill, so even if I don't keep them, I make sure to recycle them. Hopefully, I'll explore this avenue again someday and use some of them I've collected!
Topic(s): mixed media painting 2003
By Heather on March 8, 2008 at 6:07pm EST Add Comment
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