Happy Saturday! I’m happy you can join me for this presentation! Please feel free to add comments below the video. I’ll respond just as soon as I can!
Thank you for coming!
Happy Saturday! I’m happy you can join me for this presentation! Please feel free to add comments below the video. I’ll respond just as soon as I can!
Thank you for coming!
“Drawing depends upon two faculties – understanding and taste; skill being the result of practice or experience. It is of the utmost consequence that the first faculty should be developed in harmony with the second.” – Walter Smith
This May we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Massachusetts Drawing Act. On May 16, 1870 legislators in Massachusetts signed into law “An Act Relating to Free Instruction in Drawing”, also know as Massachusetts Drawing Act of 1870.
The Massachusetts Drawing Act of 1870 is regarded as a benchmark in the history of American education. With ratification of this legislation, Massachusetts became the first state to mandate drawing education in its public schools, thus placing drawing alongside eight other subjects required in Massachusetts public schools during the late-nineteenth century. These subjects were orthography (the study of spelling and word structure), reading, writing, English grammar, geography, arithmetic, the history of the United States, and good behavior.* (Richardson & Sanger, 1860, p.215)
Drawing Act 150 Celebration
In my position as Advocacy Liaison for the Massachusetts Art Education Association, I was invited to a meeting at the Massachusetts State House on February 13 to discuss a possible statewide celebration for the anniversary of the Drawing Act. State Representative Mary Keefe (Worcester) and Massachusetts College of Art Chief of Staff, Susana Segat, worked together with their staff to pull together a group of collaborators from various arts affiliates to be known as The Drawing Act Coalition*. Together we developed a celebration called Drawing Act 150, to be celebrated at the State House in May*. All of the information can be found here:
A PDF of this flyer can be found here: Drawing Act 150 call for art 2020
Please note: Keeping in mind that schools have recently been closed throughout Massachusetts until at least April 7, our plans for the Drawing Act 150 celebration may change. I will update this post when that happens.
MAEA Drawing At School 1870-2020 Exhibit
In conjunction with the State House observation and celebration of the anniversary of the Drawing Act, the Massachusetts Art Education Association is hosting an exhibit at the State Transportation Building in Boston at the end of April. All details and registration for this exhibit can be found here:
Note: Again, should exhibit plans be altered by current school closings, I will update the information.
Walter Smith, Art Master
In order to facilitate implementation of programming for the then new Drawing Act, Massachusetts hired Walter Smith of England to serve as the State Director of Art Education. Smith was also named General Supervisor of Drawing in the Boston Public Schools. The first order of business was for Smith to develop a program of study in drawing and to create resources for classroom teachers to use as they instructed students in drawing.
“What we are trying to do in our lessons is to make the children know how to draw, not how to make drawings, and I hope you see the distinction. And the great reason for them to draw is, that the process of drawing make ignorance visible; it is a criticism made by ourselves on our perceptions, and give physical evidence that we either think rightly or wrongly, or even do not think at all.”* – Walter Smith
Walter Smith authored several books about drawing instruction, and over the past few months, I have acquired a few of them through eBay and abebooks. I am especially pleased to have acquired an original 1872 edition of The Teachers’ Companion to the American Drawing-Slates and Cards by Smith.
To add to the excitement, the book is inscribed by J.W.C. Gilman to Lucas Baker on November 17, 1872.
It also includes these notes on the otherwise blank first page of the text:
And there are margin sketches throughout the book presumably made by Lucas Baker. I love that!
I was able to find the book through the digitizing of library books by Google. I downloaded the book, cleaned up the digitizing by discarding sloppy scans, added a copy of the cover, and uploaded it to my drive. you can see the book and download it in its entirety here.
In researching J.W.C Gilman, I learned that he is a co-author of Manual of Freehand Penmanship published in 1877. I was also able to find this book through the digitizing of library books by Google. You can see and download the book in its entirety here.
I have an especially keen interest in the Drawing Cards (see more about the Drawing Cards below). I am curious how my fifth and sixth grade students would respond to learning to draw this way. With that in mind, I isolated the Drawing Card images throughout the book and compiled them in a new document to share with my students. The collection of Drawing Cards can be found here.
As the Drawing Act was instrumental in establishing art education in public schools, it is understood that teachers of the lower grades taught all subjects, spending the full day with their students. Therefore, whether or not the teachers possessed an ability of their own, they had to learn how to draw well enough to demonstrate for their students.
Teachers carefully made the drawings on a blackboard, and students imitated them using chalk on slates. Walter Smith’s recommendation was for drawing instruction four times per week of a half an hour each or six of twenty minutes each for children under 10 years of age. Older students could have longer, less frequent lessons.
Drawing Slates 2020
Because I now have the document containing all of Walter Smith’s Drawing Slates from The Teachers’ Companion to the American Drawing-Slates and Cards, I will be sharing it with my students through Google Classroom. Imagine how Walter Smith would react to that! I am going to encourage my students to follow the sequence of the cards and to draw in their handmade sketchbooks using pencil. I am excited to hear how they respond to the challenge and to see their drawings. here are some more of the Drawing Card images:
When I first heard about a celebration of the Drawing Act, I was immediately interested. It wasn’t until I started researching the act and those who implemented instruction that I realized I had included a paragraph about the Drawing Act in my Master’s thesis back in 2002! No wonder it was so familiar to me!
For the past few months I have been busy searching out resources and reading the books I’ve acquired. This has become a bit of a passion project for me. Along with the digital books with links included in this post, I have physical copies of a few others:
At this point in the process I am ready to attempt the drawings along with my students. I am looking forward to starting my own sketchbook of drawings and promise to share as I go. I’ll be posting on social media with the hashtag #DrawingAct150 Please join me!
* Notes courtesy of Billy Claire
*The Drawing Act Coalition affiliates include Massachusetts House of Representatives, MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, MA Department of Higher Education, Mass Creative, Mass Cultural Council, Massachusetts Art Education Association
*See notes above about possible changes due to state mandated school closings
“Look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see, and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious.” – Stephen Hawking
We started a new semester (2 terms) on January 23. After making folders to hold artwork for the next few months, we made sketchbooks as we do each term. You can read about the why and how of sketchbooks in my program here. This time, we used a dark blue tag board for the covers. As we had used oil pastels on the first semester covers, I wanted to expose the kids to a different, highly visible medium – metallic Sharpies, and wanted to integrate another subject – science/social studies – so decided to explore constellations.
For resources, I provided packets of constellations along with images of city skylines at each table. The students first sketched constellations from the packets in their sketchbooks and experimented with drawing skylines after being encouraged to create their own unique city skylines. I also showed a 5 minute video from BrainPop about constellations and the myths and stories they represent. Once the students had mastered replicating 4 traditional constellations, they were encouraged to create their own constellations to represent themselves or the contemporary world around them. Seeing their inventions was my favorite part.
When they felt ready after growing their confidence by practicing with the materials on scrap cover stock, students opened their sketchbooks to draw on both the front and back covers and sketched everything with white colored pencil, which showed up better than regular pencil. Once they had filled the space to their liking, they added silver Sharpie for the stars and window light, gold to outline the constellations, and bronze for the buildings. Creative constraints included: at least 4 traditional constellations, at least 4 invented constellations, a skyline with windows, and stars to fill the voids. They did a fantastic job!
Editing Images with iOS
We are a 1:1 iPad school, and as such, students have tremendous technological capabilities, although sometimes the bast options are the simplest. The editing tools within the iOS Photos app have recently been updated, allowing for a big range of editing options that incorporate traditional photography terms such as exposure, highlights, shadows, saturation, etc. Many of my fifth and sixth grade students have never experimented with the editing options and this project was perfect for editing. I demonstrated the tools on my own example for each class, focusing primarily on cropping, highlights, contrast, and vibrance.
Students edited their images before uploading them to Artsonia. They also created Artist Statements.
While I enjoy watching my students develop their art skills and master visual art concepts and I think I know them through observation and conversation, I am always pleased to get to know them even better through their writing. I downloaded the following student work and copied the accompanying artist statements, resisting the urge to edit typos and spelling/grammar issues. I hope you enjoy them:
I made some zodiac signs and some things that inspire/inspired me. Such as dogs, smiley faces,rainbows, Kobe Bryant’s Jersey, ballet shoes and much more.I feel ok with it, because I think I could have drew everything better and line up the actual sketch book better. But I really like the lighting, because it looks like a real city at night. I used it out of sharpies, my sketch book, and best of all, my skillz! I really really love art because it inspires me to put my imagination onto my work. I’m getting better at it each day. This scene is supposed to be things that I love as stars in a night sky, in a city. I hope it’s amazing!! – Alesandria Carneiro
This is a night sky with lots of constellations and different stars.The constellations that I made up show what things I like. Like, sports, vacations, and personality. I also drew zodiac signs to represent may best friends. This scene makes me feel happy because I see all the things I enjoy. – Savannah Carr
I drew this because I thought that it represented me the most. The one I like the most is the wave because during the summer me and my family love going to the beach. It was a little challenging because I did not really think that I was going to think of my own constellations. – Lyla Hill
This project was really fun to do because I really like using sharpies I think it made it look a lot batter and pop out. The constellations I did all have a meaning. The sun means a lot to me because I really like warm weather because I do a lot of camps with my friends and it’s really fun. – Samantha Crotty
This was very harsh because I had to be neat. It was also hard because if u mess up u can not erase it. The easy part was drawing down stars. – Adam Hanna
These are constellations on my sketch book cover. I have an American flag, a truck, a wrench, a Little Dipper and Big Dipper, a bear, my initials and a cross. First I drew everything in white pencil and then I did everything in sharpie. – Nick Martin
This project was so fun. I got to see a bunch of constellations that I’ve never seen before. And I even got to make up some of my own. All of the dots were silver, all of the windows and buildings were bronze, and the outline of the constellations were gold. – Kayleigh Fountain
First I made all my constellations in my sketch book. Then I put them on my sketchbook cover in white colored pencil. Next I made the building to make it look like a city scene too. Then I traced the white colored pencil with gold and bronze and it came out like this! – Colton Kelly
I made up some constellations then I copied some real ones and drew some stars and a sky line. – Kaycie Gardner
I really like my artwork. I think it turned out good. If I were to change something I would make my Spongebob better and neater. I like the way my minion turned out. I think I would also add another tiny constellation in the right hand corner. – Bridget LaRue
I started with sketching 4 or more different constellations and a few of my own on a scrap paper. Then I drew the sky line with white colored pencil, after I traced it with sharpie on my cover. I started by drawing the moon. Then I tried to fill in as much space as I could with different constellations. I drew stars around my folder to look more like a sky. – Sarah LeClaire
This artwork’s difficulty was mediocre. I do not think it was too hard, but it was not easy. I had a lot of fun doing this art project. – Ayden Joseph
All of these artworks and many more have been posted by the artists on Artsonia for your viewing pleasure: https://www.artsonia.com/museum/gallery.asp?project=1948114
“I got all my boyhood in vanilla winter waves around the kitchen stove.” – Jack Kerouac
Yesterday was March 1. Spring is just 17 days away. Yet, except for cold air, it hasn’t felt or looked very wintery around here. Fortunately, my fifth and sixth grade art students can create winter from memory and their imaginations.
My drawing is Baby Yoda’s Christmas. He is warm next to his campfire and has 3 big presents. He is enjoying his time by eating cookies. Baby Yoda is inside of a mouse hole for his house. I started out by drawing presents because at first I just wanted to fill my page with Christmas stuff. I wanted to draw Baby Yoda and ended up giving him a little home. I thought it would be funny to make him be in a mouse hole. I am extremely happy on how this came out and hope I draw this good in the future. If I did it again I would not change anything because I love it the way it is. – Christopher Goodwin
We started our third term on January 23. This is the day when the middle school students switch electives and I receive nine new classes. We always start by making folders to hold artwork and works in progress throughout our two terms together.
The folders are made by folding an 18″ x 24″ sheet of 60 lb. drawing paper in half to 12″ x 18″. Students then measure and draw a 10″ square, centered on the front page. This term’s theme or prompt was “Draw something winter” with the added instruction, “whatever that means to you”. As you’ll see below, the kids had no trouble coming up with winter memories and experiences and depicting them in colored pencil.
All of these artworks plus many, many more are on display on our online Artsonia gallery and each is accompanied by an artist statement like the one about Baby Yoda’s Christmas above. You can see them here: Winter Scenes
“The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.” – Michelangelo
It is my pleasure to announce the artworks and artists for this year’s Boston Youth Art Month show!
The Massachusetts Art Education Association sponsored Youth Art Month exhibit will be on display from February 10 – March 26 at the MA State Transportation Building, 10 Park Plaza, Boston. Viewing hours are from 9-5 Monday through Friday except Presidents Day. There will be hundreds of artworks from across Massachusetts on display in observation of the nationwide celebration of Youth Art Month.
Here is more information and a closer look at the art:
Brynn ‘s Penguins
Brynn designed this penguin scene as part of the Cardboard Creatures 3D design project. The penguins and igloo were designed in Morphi app on an iPad. They were printed on a New Matter ModT 3D printer and painted with acrylic paint.
This is what they look like as models in the slicing app, Astroprint:
And here is how Brynn and her team first created the penguin with cardboard:
And how Brynn envisioned an environment for them using the Autodesk Sketchbook app:
Molly’s Digital Reimagined Book Cover
Molly created this digital artwork as an extension to the Reimagined Book Cover project. Students were encouraged to translate this project digitally using their choice of either Canva or Vanilla Pen for the graphic design component. They then did some “appsmashing” by creating drawings in Autodesk Sketchbook to import to the graphic design layout. This extension brought the creativity to a new level.
See Molly’s painted Reimagined Book Cover below:
Connor’s Digital Space Scene
First created as a cover for Connor’s sketchbook using oil pastel on purple tag board, he took the design to a digital level with his Digital Space Scene. You can see as you look at the two images, certain components remained while others changed or were added.
Andrew’s 3D Designed Bird
Andrew designed his 3D model to replicate his group’s Cardboard Creature.
The 3D model was the third phase of the project, to design a model for 3D printing using Morphi app. Phase two was to use the Cardboard Creature as the subject of a video using green screen techniques. The final phase was 3D design superimposed on a photographic environment, which Andrew had no trouble envisioning, as you can see here:
Kaycie, Jayden, Ella, and Emerson’s Cardboard Creature
This group worked well together from sketch through 3D model as they brought to life their vision of the Princess Pig, Carla.
They worked hard to explore attachments beyond the glue gun and their Cardboard Creature (including the tutu) continues to stand strong with their effective solutions.
Owen’s Reimagined Book Cover
The Reimagined Book Cover project was an opportunity to connect art students with reading and imagination. You can read more about the project here. Owen responded well to reimagining the illustrations for the book with his carefully wrought painting, readily grasping the art of lettering, and using it to emphasize the title while differentiating the sub-title with size.
Should you see any of these artists in school or in the community, please congratulate them on setting their aim high and reaching it with their fine artwork! If you find yourself in Boston during Youth Art Month, stop by and see the show!
“The illustrations in picture books are the first paintings most children see, and because of that, they are incredibly important. What we see and share at that age stays with us for life.” – Anthony Browne
Over the past few weeks, my fifth and sixth grade art classes have been reimagining book covers for their favorite books. We started by creating lists of up to ten books that had secured a place in our memories either through the story told, the images on the pages, or both. We then shared our lists and engaged in conversation with each other about the books. This activity will go down as one of my favorite moments this school year. I enjoyed the lively conversations, the reminiscing about early childhood stories, about memories derived from time spent being read to and learning to read at home and at school.
As book chatter filled the classroom, I couldn’t stop my own nostalgia for read aloud moments as a child and later as a parent and teacher. My mother had been a first grade teacher before she started her our family and relished read alouds. Many of my seven siblings and I would gather together around my mother on the couch or floor to listen to a story.
I especially remember these moments happening when one of us was sick and the house was more quiet than usual. Our books of choice were usually selected from our many Golden Books, which were both inexpensive and fairly predictable in content. Affordability was key with a large family in the 1960s.
My two sisters and I had one particular favorite, Three Little Horses by Piet Worm, 1958, which we read over and over together and acted out with our farm animals, Barbie (and Scooter and Ken) dolls, and our brothers’ Tonka trucks.
We took turns “being” the different horses, identified by color *, although I remember being Blackie most often. Oddly enough, all these years later, we have three alpacas in the same array of color on our little farm. And I’m the one who chose them from hundreds of alpacas when I purchased them for my husband for Christmas several years ago. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, this was probably not a coincidence. Here they are in our photo from this year’s holiday card:
As a former regular education teacher in third then fourth grade, I know kids love books and I’m always amazed by the effect a good story has on them. Read alouds unite and sometimes divide, leading to thoughtful and passionate discussion, ihich is what happened when my students made their lists of favored books and then shared them at their table. Such rich discussion!
Reimagined Book Covers
The next step was to choose one of the books and try to rethink the illustrations (if there were illustrations). Students who chose chapter books had a chance to fully invent the drawings. Students who chose picture books had to first remember the illustrations enough to change them completely. Imagine the Cat in the Hat without his tall red & white striped hat! As one child in class said, “He could be wearing a fedora!” Indeed.
After preliminary drawings and some demonstrations by me on block lettering and margins (yes, a little math integration) once students’ planning drawings were approved, they took a sheet of 11 x 17 chipboard and began ruling it up for the book cover. I find my students have little exposure to learning typography, yet they attempt it regularly on posters for their other subjects.
The next demonstration was on painting with this medium. We used tempera cakes for the paint and Sharpie as an outliner where needed. Rather than mixing colors on a palette, the challenge was to create new colors by layering different colors. For instance, blue plus orange and a little white = sand color.
The covers took a while to create (about 6 classes), but I think you’ll agree that the time spent was worthwhile.
Here are just twenty-four of the book covers, which are on display in the school lobby. The artist of each Reimagined Book Cover is identified in the lower right hand corner. Click on the first photo to see them all in a slideshow. Fabulous!
All the rest of the Reimagined Book Covers are on display at Artsonia here. Please stop by the Miscoe Hill lobby and the virtual gallery to see all the work!
Digital Reimagined Book Covers
Many students were able to translate this project digitally using their choice of either Canva or Vanilla Pen for the graphic design component. They then did some “appsmashing” by creating drawings in Autodesk Sketchbook to import to the graphic design layout. This extension brought the creativity to a new level.
These fantastic digital artworks can be viewed on Artsonia here.
I’m so glad we did this project for so many reasons. As I mentioned before, I loved the conversation about books the project generated. I loved that every student could arrive at a favorite book without resistance or hesitation. I enjoyed integrating literature into the art curriculum in a meaningful way. Lastly, the personalization of this project that builds on the interests of the child makes it an empowering platform for self-expression.
Admittedly, sustained work like this can be a challenge for fifth and sixth grade art students who are typically accustomed to one or two class directed projects. Aside from the required use of typography, margins, and the skill set of mixing color by layering, the only other creative constraint was the 11 x 17 chipboard. Students were able to choose the orientation for their book cover and 99% chose portrait orientation. The ruling up of the board was also challenging, with many students possessing only rudimentary ruler skills. I did a lot of ruler holding while the kids traced and also reminded them to measure from the end of the ruler (zero), not the one inch mark.
In a sustained project like this, success skills abound, including perseverance, design thinking, taking time to plan, problem solving, ideating, reimagination, and critical thinking. Technology skills include learning to photograph artwork in a rectangular form (not a trapezoid), editing, and uploading. Students also wrote reflective Artist Statements on Artsonia.
On personal level, I had read many of the books as a third and fourth grade classroom teacher, but certainly not all of them. Thanks to this project, I’ve added to my reading list.
* Three Little Horses was written in 1958. Had it been written today, the names “Blackie, Brownie, and Whitey” would not be acceptable due to keen and justified attention to racism. Please know that when my sisters and I enjoyed the book in our childhood, the horses names were simply the colors of their coats.
“There are 3D people stuck in a 2D world” – Katherine Douglas, Choice-Based Art Education in the Classroom (TAB), (Douglas & Jaquith, 2018)
“…especially in school art classes.” – Mona Lisa Lives Here
I am blessed with a son who participated fully in an entire childhood filled with art making experiences, from extra-curricular classes I offered at our school or other schools after school or workshops I ran during the summer. He willingly explored all mediums, and although he never really claimed to be a good artist, he did some pretty awesome work. He was a LEGO guy early on and could build and construct with pretty much any material. As a matter of fact, one time in middle school, he and a few friends received thirteen break detentions for each of the plastic forks they used to construct a model of the sun from an unwanted apple at lunch, using 3 for the tripod stand and 10 poked in all the way around the middle for the rays.
While I’m not condoning wasting an apple or the plastic forks, I do know this sort of activity fit my son’s nature and interests. I think it’s because of this, the quote above by Katherine Douglas resonated with me at TABweek in the summer of 2017. As a child, my son was a 3D maker in a 2D world. I believe many of my students think in 3D and lack opportunities to exercise that propensity.
In this post I’ll share the recent work of my students who were introduced to 3D modeling a few weeks ago. They had hand-crafted Cardboard Creatures, which were then used to star in stop motion/green screen animation videos. The Cardboard Creatures were also used as models for 3D design. This is the last of the three posts about the Cardboard Creature project. The first post – about Phase One – Making the Cardboard Creatures is here. The second – about the stop motion/green screen videos starring the Cardboard Creatures is here.
It has been six years since I started exploring the artistic creation potential for 3D printing in the classroom. When a grant opportunity (from MakerBot and DonorsChoose) presented itself in November 2013, I jumped in quickly and it was funded within 24 hours. 3D Printing in the art room (outside the engineering lab) was unheard of in 2013. However, I could immediately see its potential in my middle school art room because I had students who were 3D thinkers just like my son.
Initially I formed an after-school group of students (the MiscoeMakerCrew) to learn this new technology with me. Printing was one thing, designing models was something else altogether. When we first started designing for 3D printing, we tried Blender, an open source program for 3D creation, which is amazing, yet too complex for my then fifth and sixth grade MiscoeMakerCrew. These polite, compliant kids worked for an hour in our computer lab to try to create with the program. They were uncharacteristically quiet and by the end of our time that session, I could see they were frustrated and annoyed by the complexities of the program. Then I found 123D design by Autodesk – an app that worked well on the iPads the kids were already using. Unfortunately, after a few years, Autodesk discontinued the app, moving to online platforms such as TinkerCad, which we tried at a time when our WiFi was unreliable, so it wasn’t successful. Meanwhile, Morphi app was being developed by Sophia Georgiou and partners. It is kid-friendly, intuitive, has some pretty great features and we’ve been using Morphi on iPads ever since.
I introduced Morphi to the students this year on the day before Halloween and on Halloween. The skill builder intro project was to create a Jack O’Lantern using the app. Creative constraints and objectives included using primitive forms only, subtracting one form from another, and changing the color of the model. It was a one day, 45 minute activity to familiarize the students with the app. It was a good introductory activity with minimal stress and a focus on exploration rather than mastery. Some of the kids took it pretty far.
Once my students had explored the app and finished their stop motion/green screen videos, it was time to mimic the design of their Cardboard Creature in a 3D model using Morphi. It is important to note that the model should reflect the completed Cardboard Creature, not the original design for it. This is because original designs were modified due to the limitations of working with cardboard. What resulted were primitive 3D forms of cardboard such as rectangular prisms, cubes, spheres, cylinders, and triangular prisms. This coincides perfectly with the primitive forms in Morphi app.
You may have noticed that the giraffe above is in the company of giraffes. This was the other component of this phase of the project. When students were ready to take a photo of their finished model using the in-app camera, I encouraged them to eliminate the background (transparent like a PNG) and the grid. This way their model could blend into a background of their choice. This was yet another way to mimic the green screen process, but we used layers in Autodesk Sketchbook instead. Yes, another concept introduced through this project!
Fantastic job, Brynn! Many students showed tremendous imagination as well in placing their models in natural or supernatural surroundings. I really love every one of them!
Once these models were finished, the big Cardboard Creature project was also complete. Sigh. I hated to see it go. We had spent a month in all on the project, which translates to twelve 50 minute classes taking place every other day. I loved the focus my students brought to each of the three phases of the project, and the familiarity they developed with their Cardboard Creatures through all of the manifestations along the way.
I think this project scratched the itch of the 3D thinkers in my classes. I also think this project gave the 2D thinkers a chance to look at the world and their potential as artists a little bit differently. Most importantly, this project was open ended enough to include an abundance of imagination and creativity, yet a multitude of skills were confronted and developed. Lastly, this project sustained the attention of nearly 200 11 and 12 year old children for an entire month as they tried new things and added to their toolkits as learners, artists, and makers. Mostly, it was really fun.