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


Fingerprint Portraits
Contemporary American painter Chuck Close is one of my favorite artists. He created amazing massive portraits using a grid in unconventional ways. I saw his work at the Albright Knox in Buffalo, NY (Fall of 2006). The Show was a "Survey of Self-Portraits" and was amazing to experience with my family. If you have never seen his work, you better go Google some now! What's even more remarkable is that he was suddenly paralyzed half way through his career and he continued to work.

I was inspired by his art to create a lesson for my 8th graders. He made these very fun portraits using his fingerprints rather than a brush. I presented his work and taught them how to use the grid to blow up their photograph. Painting with fingerprints is not easy. Since we used only black acrylic, you have to rely on pressure for lights and darks. Flaws are a natural part of this process and learning how to accept them and work with them is one reason I like this project.

I loved creating my class example, my Self-Portrait. I loved it so much, that I created another for Pale as a goofy gift (above). My first portrait of Pale! What's wrong with me! He's great and I'll have to pay tribute to him again, maybe in oil paint next time. :P

Below are students' pieces.


Topic(s): acrylic painting portrait self-portraits middle school lessons student art work 2007
By Heather on January 17, 2008 at 12:25pm EST Add/View Comments (5)
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