Barnett's Art Room

Fine Art Classes: Art 1, Art 2, Ceramics

Issue 2, Volume 2, October 2014

Message from the Editor

October flew by and before I knew it, it was time to write another newsletter. So much learning and growth has occurred in the art room since the last time we spoke. My classes this year are wonderful and I have found that I look forward to every class, every day. Each class brings a new adventure, and for me, the journey is often more important than the destination.

So, please, find a comfy seat and see what has been going on in room 1100 at THS.


Clay Monsters

Students glazed their monsters and were anxious to get them back from the case where I displayed them. It is always interested to see how they decide to color their ceramic pieces. Often times where I think they will take it is so far off from what they actually do with it.


Art 1 worked on 2 artworks over the course of a month. The first was under the theme of "Man/Machine". We brainstormed at what this could mean. We talked about both good and bad relationships between the two and how those connections could be shown in a black and white drawing.

Students really got into this theme. The results were so diverse, which is what I had hoped for in my TAB classroom environment. But even more so, my budding artists were revising and starting over when ideas didn't pan out. They were improving skills on their own and researching techniques such as drawing facial features without prompting from me. It was a whole new level of learning and improvement that my art room had been missing. It was (and is) wonderful!

Environment: Space and Place

Our second theme this month was Environment: Space and Place. In this unit, we added color drawing media to the list of choices. This including chalk pastels, oil pastels, colored pencils, and markers. This unit proved to be a little bit harder for the students to break out of the box. They seemed to be fixated on the nature aspect of environment and we had to visit the theme as a group to help them see it could be so much more. Once we discussed again the theme, many did see it didn't have to be a landscape, but could be so much more than that.

In the end, I am very pleased with the amount of work these students put in. Many had not used those mediums before and they practiced and practiced to get it right for their final artworks.

ART 2: Painting and Drawing


Here are the results from Art 2's journey into the world of Man/Machine.


How can you create an artwork that shows both an interior and an exterior? I am sure that the first thing you thought of was using a window in a house. And that was where these artists started as well. However, once we had our brainstorming session of "out of the box" ways to interpret this theme, the results were fantastic.

I love this group of students. They really do take the theme and run with it. They get right to work on coming up with ideas, sketches, and research to start working right away. I hope you enjoy this work as much as I do.


Slab Boxes

Beginners finally completed their slab boxes and as I write, they are cooling down in the kiln. When I remove them, they will be considered bisqueware. I am proud of their first major work. Working with slabs to build a box structure isn't easy. There is a balance between leatherhard firmness stage and going too wet or too dry to work with. A few students found this out the hard way. But, I am proud at the effort and the lessons learned in this unit.

Carved Tiles

We are continuing with slabs, but this time, students only have to roll out one. They then created a design that would have a minimum of 4 levels and transfer that design to their slab. Next they took their time and their care to carve away the clay to give their design depth. Designs range from geometric shapes to tribal designs to a human face.


Enlarging the Organic

One day I walked around my neighborhood and found a variety of organic objects just laying around. I found things like seed pods from different plants to acorns to the pods that hold the cactus flowers. I brought these items to class and told my boys to each pick one. They were challenged with taking this organic item and replicating it in clay. The catch was that it had to be either 5 times or 10 times as big.

The results were great. I could see the growth my students had from last year. They were able to do things they had trouble with last spring. One student was even able to problem solve during the process as he chose the cactus pod and while working, the pod slowly started to lose moisture and began to shrivel. I am proud of him and his ability to meet the problems that arose.

Go Big or Go Home

Paul is an intermediate student. For as long as we have been working with clay, Paul has this thing for going big with the clay. Well, he surprised me with just how big he wanted to go. During our animals morphing unit, Paul decided to turn a wolf into a tiger. I said okay. He started working and next thing I knew, he sculpted this huge paw. It was downhill from there...or should I say uphill. He continues to build it higher everyday. We have since set up his own table to work at. On it we traced the round kiln shelf so he knew the width and depth dimensions he has to stay in. He is also quite aware of the height restrictions. I am quite impressed with Paul. I don't know how we are going to get his dog into the kiln, but that is something we will figure out when the time comes. So far Paul's clay use has exceeded 50 pounds. I made Paul promise that his next project would be small.


The subject matter of work from students may at times be edgy or controversial. I do set limits on things that are not appropriate for the learning environment, while still letting the students have a voice.