Barnett's Art Room

Fine Art Classes: Art 1, Art 2, Sculpture 2-4

Issue 6, Volume 1, February 2014

Message from the Editor

February flew by and seemed like a short month...for reasons other than it being the shortest month of the year. We finally got our water back and solved the issues surrounding clay and paint going down the drain, at least until a better idea comes along. February is a tough month. Kids are in some sort of slump as the dreary winter days end and they wait for spring break to get re-energized. But, we all pushed through and students continued to work and grow.

Also, we were featured in the School News section of the Taylor Daily Press. There are some pictures of student work, students working, and an article about the upcoming art show, Displaying the (He)Art of Students.


Visual Perspective

There are many techniques that an artist can use to create a sense of depth, or visual perspective, in their 2-dimensional artworks. Art 1 students learned 7 of those techniques. They revisited the ATC (Artist Trading Card) and created 7 cards--one for each of the techniques they learned. It was a hard project for some as they had a hard time coming up with subject matter. Many learned that most of the techniques, such as value, depth, size, and placement, work better together than on their own.

Informal Balance and Choice

When artists create artworks they want their pieces to look balanced. They want it to appear that neither side is really much heavier than the other. This isn't really about subject matter, it more has to do with color, value, texture, size, placement, etc. As a class, we talked about a see-saw and how it is not fun to be on one end and to have a much larger, heavier person on the other. We talked about what could be done to make the see-saw more balanced. Once that was understood and the connection between that and informal balance was made, I then introduced the artwork.

I gave the students each a cardboard egg carton. They were then allowed to pick to work with a partner or in a group of three. From there, I told them to create an artwork that had informal balance. One student asked, "Is this a 2-D or 3-D artwork?". I told him that I didn't know and that he would have to tell me. I gave the students the choice of how they wanted to carry out their artwork. They decided if it was going to be 2-D or 3-D. They decided on the materials. All I required is that the end product had informal balance.

This type of teaching is called choice-based art. It helps to give the students a more complete understanding of the artistic process and how to think like an artist. They had a problem to solve--informal balance. They had to start at the planning stages, choose what materials/media to use, edit and revise, and onto the final product. This is a skill that can transfer into many different aspects of learning and careers. I chatted with each group along the way to see what their intentions were and to make sure they were solving the informal balance problem.

Each project is different and each shows informal balance in one way or another. There is so much thought put into everything. I watched them have conversations that artists have. I watched them make mistakes and learn from them. I watched them collaborate with their peers. It was hard for some, but I think most of them liked the process and the project. And almost all really understand informal balance.

ART 2: Painting and Drawing


Our newest artwork is on a material called scratchboard. It's like a thin cardboard, thinner than a cereal box, that is coated with a layer of white china clay topped by black ink. Artists then scratch away or etch into the ink to reveal the white below. It is not a very forgiving technique because once you have taken away the black, you can't put it back. Students were allowed to pick a subject matter they liked and that was in their skill level. Students had to create different values with lines and how much or how little they took away, or how thick/thin their lines/marks were. I am proud of the students for trying this technique as it is not an easy one to master.

Cropped Paintings

Students also have been working on their enlarged and cropped paintings. Goals of this artwork were to crop down an image to an interesting composition that use rule of thirds for focal point placement and to practice mixing paints to color match the colors from the original photos. We had taken a break on this due to the sink issue, but we have picked it back up and there are some great works about to be finished.


Slab Boxes

Our slab boxes are finally built and most are awaiting the first bisque firing in the kiln. In my eyes, the project was a success. Students learned a lot about the stages of clay and building with slabs. They learned what was too wet and what was too dry--two very important lessons. They learned how to "fix" slabs that were too dry and when to start over. I can't wait to return from spring break to teach the students about different surface techniques they can apply to their bisqued pieces.

Additive Texture Forms

One thing I love about clay is how easy clay is to work with when it comes to creating and using different textures. In our slab project we learned about stamping textures into clay. In this project, we are learning about adding pieces to create texture...specifically repeating the same shape or form to create a texture. They are to create a form then add a repeating element all the way around--top, bottom, sides, and inside if applicable.


Animal Totem

Intermediate students have also been working with clay. They are doing a collaborative project. Each student is creating a section of a totem pole that represents who they are. The pieces will be stacked upon each other with a pole up the middle to hold them up. It is super interesting to see the different animals that each student decided best represented who they were. I hope to find a good place on campus to display it when they are all finished.


Cardboard Castle

Work has continued on the cardboard castles and dragon. I haven't seen it together, but I have seen bits and pieces and can't wait to see the finished work.


All students are taking a much needed break for a week. When we return we will start on new projects for each class. I have ideas in mind, but am still working through some details. But, as always, lots of learning and lots of great artwork will be had.


Displayin the (He)Art of Students

First Art Show at the new high school.

Come help celebrate Youth Art Month and see some wonderful 2-D and 3-D art!!!

MARCH 28, 2014! 7pm Taylor High School


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.