Sunday, February 22, 2015

Jae Ko @ GFS

I am looking forward to the opening of Installation Artist Jae Ko's exhibit at Grounds for Sculpture this spring. 
I took a peek in at the installation in progress this weekend and it is spectacular. I walked around with my hand over my heart looking at the rolls of heavy, gorgeous recycled paper that she unrolls and sculpts into her wall installations. Just last month my Tots class was in the spectacular East Gallery- now, Jae Ko's work is slowly making the walls incredible.
I took some really great pictures and will post more after the exhibit is open to the public at the end of March. 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Grade 3: Chinese Dragons

This picture is why I love being a teacher... And this one too...

I began blogging several years ago as a means of communicating our days in the art room with Bear Tavern families but found comfort in talking about projects just as much. There's SO much going on related to education right now but these pictures are my goal for each day. Despite paperwork and meetings and this and that... it's these smiles that keep me alive. I guess any mom reading those knows exactly what I mean and on a higher level of thought that we share. We do what we need to do for our children's smiles. 

If you have stopped by the room in the patsy few weeks, you know that we have major sculptural projects going on with 8 classes. I accidentally slipped and told my 3rd graders we would be creating clay dragons for Chinese New Year. Well, they have perfect memories for anything clay. So, although a neater, 2D project would have been easier, I couldn't go back on my word. So, out came the clay. And the rest became a magical moment. 
We tend to talk a lot and all sorts of conversations can come up while creating art but the conversation about our dragons as we created them were incredible. By the time class was over, the ownership of these dragons was through the roof and we had a clear idea of the personality of each dragon, storylines, fantasy thinking about where the dragons came from and where they are headed... When they say "get lost in your art" we definitely were there today 200%.

The process was an easy one. Begin with a body and let your imagination go wild! Some kids had wings, others had powerful tails. We added scales for texture on most but it was up to each artist to determine what their dragon needed. 

(Love the idea for spikes on this guy... They will have to be added back in after bisque firing in the kiln)
The kids are doing a writing piece with their homeroom teacher about their dragons. I can't wait to read them.

Hope you're all having a great week. Happy Chinese New Year!

Kindergarten Pandas

A few weeks ago, the kindergarteners returned to the art room to create an Eric Carle inspired piece of art. Every year at this time, I sneak in Asian inspired art, when possible, to pay tribute to Chinese New Year. 
There are so many wonderful books by Carle. I decided not to focus on a particular book and to focus on just parts of his style instead and facts about panda bears (slowly becoming one of my favorite animals). They are reading a TON of Carle books in their classroom.
We made these panda scrolls happily together. Since I last saw the KG classes in the Fall, they've already grown so much!
We began with drawing and painting a cute panda bear face. 
Then on to the collages bamboo forest! We altered, layered, and experimented with tissue paper and assorted paper to create these fantastic backgrounds and then glued the panda face down.
Look at those cute faces! 

Check out the display of the pandas when you're at BT for the Book Fair kick-off on Friday evening!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Grade 2: Clay Hearts

We found some time to make a little Valentine's Day gift this year. Here are some sweet clay textured hearts that my second graders made. 

Ok, so as a mom, these pictures just hit a very sentimental button!

The hearts were made out of clay, fired and decorated with color. 
A string or magnet was added to the back.

Random Mumble: Art and Sports

One of the conversations that I find myself having with parents (especially those of former students who are now in middle school or high school) is how special I think it is when kids take a strong interest in both art and athletics.
A self-proclaimed "art jock" in high school, sports have been and always will be a very important part of my formative years and current interests. 
Looking back, I'm not sure of who I would be as a person without soccer, lacrosse and art in my life.

Both taught me a degree of discipline, working hard, enjoying being playful and exploring creativity.
In as much as I had a sketchbook, camera, lanyard strings or cool pencil on hand, I always... Always, always, always had my shin guards and cleats right there with me.
It's exciting to me that we don't have to be just "one thing" and that my students are able to value both sports and art without feeling as though the two conflict.
It warms my heart to hear students talking about how much they love both and a special place goes to my students who take extra art after-school and then change clothes for basketball or soccer practice.
Thinking out loud.
Mrs. Johnson

Friday, January 30, 2015

Grade 4: Radial Designs

4th grade just finished their rotational/radial designs this week. I have another class and a half who need to finish but they all worked really hard on these. 
Using color pencils, my students created a design using simple lines and shapes. Just like last year, the designs, color schemes and overall product was as individual as my super star artists.

I am really, really proud of how focused and hardworking my students were to achieve their results and with absences and days off galore, I am particularly impressed with how so many students took the initiative to complete their designs outside of class. 

Here are some of my 5th grade girls Curating the display. (Not sure what I'd do without them!)
... And yes, that's Devin behind the glass.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Grade 3: Value Words

In third grade, we've been working on monocramatic value studies. For this project, we selected a positive word that could fit inside of 4 square spaces.

They learned a super easy way to draw block letters and set about drawing the letters. I have to say, I was happy at how excited some students were to draw their awesome block letters. Next, they selected a color to make tints and shades from. Most students used a color that was different from their value puzzles  (see earlier post).
However they spin it, monocramatic color schemes are so pleasing to the eye and the range of colors is impressive! 

I joked with this talented student that she was so focused (and so close) to her project that she could probably smell the paint and good thing she didn't wind up with paint on her nose. 
"Hope" and "Love" were fairly popular words. The kids wanted to do "Swag" but the focus was more on positive vs. just fun/cool words.

So, now my value making masters are set for the next challenge. 

Random Mumble: Hands off this Day of the Week

Every year, there's always a particular day where your classes never seem to meet normally. As always, this year, it's Monday. 
Between holidays and half days and whatever else, I am feeling very territorial about my Monday classes because I will barely see them this second half of the year!! Now we have snow on the horizon threatening to take what days I do have. 
Mumble, mumble. We're all in the same boat as Special Area teachers- just gotta roll with it- but it's tough!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Teen Studio= Best Night Ev

Last week began my first Teen Studio class.... it was a perfect mix of art making, laughter, candy, good conversation and reminiscing. We spent an hour and a half together creating slab lanterns and sculptural roses. I honestly couldn't tell you which project was more fun- they balanced each other so well. 

It was great working with current students and catching up with students I've had in school before. I enjoyed the special quality of seeing my girlz outside of school and in the beautiful studio space at The Painter's Loft Studio. 

Till Next week!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Grade 2: Winter Cardinals

Early last month, the super second graders finished these gorgeous paintings of cardinals. Using the iPads, we viewed cardinals and learned about the types of foods they like to eat. We reflected on how excited we are when we see a red bird fly by-- it's always a cool sight.


We analyzed a cardinal and figured out the many different combinations of simple shapes that make up its body. From there, my lovely students set out to draw their cardinals and built an interesting composition using trees in the backgrounds. 
One of my favorite parts of this lesson is always in the branches. However, this year, I really enjoyed watching my students explore mixing colors to make the scene feel cold. They shared lots of ideas- even among classes- and I think they turned out beautifully!
Keep up the great work 2nd grade!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Random Mumble: Thanks Deep Space Sparkle!

I'm so tickled that the amazing Patty Palmer from Deep Space Sparkle featured my Cezanne lesson plan on her page this week!

With Cezanne's birthday on Monday, she did a post on "Cezanne Inspired Lessons". Patty is an incredible art teacher and blogger. 
Here's the link to her full post:

Friday, January 2, 2015

Have an Artful New Year- My New Year Wish!

Happy New Year to you all! Thank you so much for making this blog a part of your lives in whatever capacity you need. I appreciate hearing your feedback on posts and seeing many of this blogs lessons circulating on the Internet and on Pinterest!
My wish is that each of you have an Artful 2015 filled with learning about new trends in art, exploring new materials and enjoying creating art in the company of others!
This month, I am super excited to begin teaching art classes at local studio- The Painter's Loft. It has been something that I spoke with the Owner, Cindy Laliwala about close to two years ago but never came to be. I wrote a tiny bit of curriculum for her and participated in a really fun "girls night" painting party and am now excited to teach 2 classes for her this month. 
The first is a 7-10 year class with a focus on clay, drawing and painting and the second is a sculpture class for middle and high school students. 
If you are local to Pennington, NJ, check out her website at

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Tots on Tour: Reindeer Collage

When I walked into the East Gallery, I stopped in my tracks and then proceeded with a huge smile today. In all of my years teaching my monthly Tots on Tour class, I've never been in such a gorgeous space! Our normal art room in the Education Center, which is nice, is under renovation/expansion until early 2015. In the interim, I am running classes from other spaces at GFS for a few months. Today, we are in a huge space with leather couches, amazing floors, beautiful murals and surrounded by windows. Breathtaking. 

Tots on Tour is always a fun time. Here are 5 young artists all set to work.  They look like models in their pretty clothing- 2 for Crew Cuts and 3 for Gap Kids :) We had to put aprons on to protect those nice outfits!

I read a story to the group with the best backdrop and demo-ed our mixed media lesson about reindeer.
It was a smaller group today with the first morning session. To be expected with the holidays looming- but we had great conversation about all sorts of things from animals to reindeer and fried zucchini. 
Here is Nina writing her name on her work so nicely. 

Talking to the children, meeting so many neat parents and working with a fantastic group of volunteers makes each month magical. Grounds for Sculpture IS magical. Carrie and I talked about how we have to stop and just be mesmerized sometimes because the grounds have changed so much since we joined the staff. Things are so different but the heart is the same- beating hard and glowing in a way unique just to GFS.

For the project, we created a wet-on- wet watercolor background using my fav liquid watercolors. We added collaged papers into the background and created a reindeer with assorted paper. The paper crimpers munched the legs to give them texture and all pieces were glued down. 

My favorite part of today was actually observing one of the children excitedly take pictures with her camera while on our tour. I thought how awesome her parents were to give her a camera so that she could view the grounds (with which she is very familiar) with a new lens.
Last month as the 5th graders explored GFS with their cameras, I found myself really valuing switching up perspectives and empowering children to adventure and capture their perspective via photography. 

Have a great weekend!