Sunday, December 20, 2015


Now that I've made it through my first semester as a PreK-12th grade art teacher, I wanted to write some posts reflecting on what worked well and what didn't. I've been exploring Teaching for Artistic Behavior (TAB) for a few years now but this was my first time to try it out with 7th-12th grade. 5 hours of my day are spent with high school students- 1 hour is advanced art, 1 hour is computer graphics, and 3 hours are "graphic design". My advanced class assignments have been theme based. I think most of the themes are keepers but next time I may introduce them at a different time of year or with a different intro. Part of getting to know my new students and new school environment has been trying to find the fine line between giving them enough of a direction to get started but not so much that they imitate. A lot of students have a bad tendency to find an example online and imitate it with minimal changes (which cued the fair use lesson I'll try to remember to write about later).

One of the first themes I assigned was "Opposites". I gave students a brainstorming sheet to help them get started.

We are going to be exploring the idea of “Opposites” for our next project. To begin, brainstorm a list of words and their opposites. The words can be adjectives like heavy and light or they can be more abstract ideas.
1st Word Opposite

Choose one pair and decide how to use it
Pick the opposite pair that is most intriguing to you. Brainstorm ideas on how to use those in an art project. Your project could be 2D or 3D. The choice of media is up to you.

Mrs.Morris’ example
Opposite pair: Heavy and Light
Idea: Make a sculpture of an elephant (something very heavy) out of feathers (something very light) so that the sculpture is almost a contradiction.

My idea Describe your idea with words or thumbnail sketches. Present ideas to Mrs.Morris before beginning. Use the back of the paper if you need more space.

 The first example posted above used the opposite pair of "good and evil" with Little Red Riding Hood imagery.
Fire and Ice- the student used the same profile but flipped so it was like two versions of the same person.
 Young and Old- the student superimposed a photo of her grandparents' wedding onto their mirror using Photoshop.
 Heaven and Hell- fiery background to represent hell and tissue paper angel wings to represent heaven. Another student also did heaven and hell as almost tourist attractions but I somehow missed taking a photo of the painting.
 Chaos and Calm- someone taking a relaxing bath during a zombie apocalypse. There are some little perspective issues here but the idea was interesting.
 Rich and Poor- the student had the idea of constructing a mansion out of trash. There was just a ton of detail put into this project, even windows cut from some sort of packaging plastic.

 Thi sproject was originally going to be Life and Death but it turned into positive and negative or black and white. 

Complementary Colors & Composition- paintbrushes painting opposite colors in opposite directions.

I wish... 

I had found some examples but made those word pairs off limits. I actually didn't SHOW any examples for this project, just talked about ideas because I was fighting the imitation problem. I also wish I'd saved this theme for later in the year because I really like it, I think it has a lot of potential, and it wasn't quite reached. I'm not unhappy with the students' work, I just think if I had done it later in the year after they'd worked more on developing ideas, the work could have been even better.


  1. Hi Katie, these works are gorgeous! I'm Miriam Paternoster, an Italian teacher, perhaps you know my website . I would like to ask you if I can "stole" the idea of the two paintbrushes with complementary colors. I would like to do something similar with my middle school students (grade 6th) but I would link your blog and also the student that painted the art work for giving me the brilliant idea. Let me know if you agree. Thanks for sharing! :)

    1. Hi! Yes, I'm familiar with your website and yes you may use the painting. The student's name is Genna Rollins and she agreed. :) Thanks!