Barnett's Art Room

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

Issue 5, Volume 1, January 2014

Message from the Editor

It's been a rocky start this semester, what with all the days missed due to ice. Who knew we would miss 3 days in one month in Texas?! But, we didn't let that get us down in the art room. We pushed through and are right on track...

Well, almost. One other wrench did get thrown in the mix last week. I contacted maintenance to come and clear out my sink drains as they were starting to clog. Little did I know the stink that would accompany the job and end up traveling through most of the school. To say it was unpleasant is kind. The small job I thought would happen turned out to be bigger than I had planned and my classes were left without running water for a week. Luckily, we all adapted and pushed on through. The plumber returned with clay traps to help avoid clogging issues in the future and the water has returned. We are all grateful (and excited.)


Monster Pinchpots

When we returned from winter break, the students were finally able to finish their monster pinchpots. They had all been bisque fired before break and now were ready to be glazed. This is always an exciting time. Glazing sometimes is a guessing game. Did I put enough layers on? What will it look like if I paint this glaze over that glaze? Did I remember to put that clear gloss on the parts I wanted white?

So, when opening the kiln (it's like the oven for clay...only the temperatures go much, much higher) it's like Christmas morning.

Milagros Bas Reliefs

Our first unit was based on Milagros charms. Students came up with images that showed something they were thankful for or something that was important to them. Once they had their designs they created a bas relief. A bas relief is a type of sculpture where images/elements are just barely more prominent than the flat background.

The artworks are stunning and have a wonderful metallic quality to them. And, you would never guess the simple materials used to create them...cereal boxes, black tissue paper, watery glue, and metallic crayons.

So, in case you were wondering why your student had to bring in a cereal box for art class...this is why.

ART 2: Painting and Drawing

Reduction Drawing

When most if not all students learn to draw, they learn an additive technique. Drawing the "normal" way is all about adding value to a background...usually white. Layers of a medium such as charcoal or graphite get put upon each other to create darker values.

Most people continue to draw this way, but as the saying goes, there is more than one way to skin a fox. There is also the method of reduction where you start off with a dark value and you take away that darkness to create lighter values. It's a different way of thinking, and surprisingly, many students who think they can't draw (which isn't true by the way) are very good at this method.

One day I brought out the charcoal and had the students each fill their entire page with it until the paper was black. Next we went on a little field trip to the copy room. Each student then pressed their face down onto the copier glass and photocopied their face. You would think that kids would love to do this, but alas, most were not into it as I had hoped. In either case, doing this created a wonderful image to work from for the reduction process.

Below are a few of the drawings that resulted from this technique.


New Beginnings

This semester is the start of something new for my sculpture program. The sculpture program is undergoing a make-over. For the past few years the students learned many ways of creating sculpture--clay, paper mache, modules, carving, plaster, the list goes on. However, as a teacher I was feeling the program was a bit disjointed. My students were learning many things, but not really mastering any of them. To help remedy this, I am converting the sculpture class to a ceramics class. The students will learn many aspects of working with clay, and be able to really hone their skills and have more success in mastering the medium by the end of their senior year in advanced sculpture.

The students in beginning sculpture have really taken to this and are enjoying class. We are trying out new things together and really figuring things out on how best to run the class. I can begin to see as we come towards the end of our second project the progress and building of skills. I can see the students learning from their mistakes and growing as artists. I am really excited about this, and so are my students.

Coil Vessels and Slab Boxes

Our first technique was the coil hand building method. Student created vessels they built with clay coils. And bonus, every student's piece survived the first firing in the kiln.

Our second hand building technique we are learning is the slab method. There has been so much learning with this. It has been fun watching their commitment to the project--even when things go "wrong" and they have to back track to an early step in the process. From slabs, sculptors are building lidded boxes.


The Potter's Wheel

The potter's wheel is not easy, as my intermediate students can attest to. There are little nuances that can make or break a cylinder, a cup, or a bowl. It can take lots of practice to get it right. And, what works for one may not work for another. But once you get it right, things feel so good. I had one student that just kept pushing and pushing herself to be able to throw something, and her hard work has paid off. After weeks of trying, she figured out what worked for her and her throwing has improved ten-fold.

I am so proud of her and the others for trying their hand at throwing on the potter's wheel.


Cardboard Castle

Advanced students have been working on creating a large installation piece for the art show. I saved every single piece of cardboard that arrived at my house. I filled my car numerous times and brought it all to school. Then I let the kids "have at it". They discussed and made sketches and have been working hard at creating their cardboard castles. The castles are "toddler sized". And, I am told there will be a dragon to go along with it. I can't wait for it all to be revealed at the art show in March.


ART 1 is currently learning about atmospheric perspective and different techniques on how to create a sense of space and depth in 2-dimensional artwork.

ART 2: PAINTING AND DRAWING took a break from their paintings due to the lack of running water in the classroom. They are now creating textures and values using line on a material called scratchboard. We will pick up the paintings again in about a week or so once they finish their scratchboards.

BEGINNING SCULPTORS are working on their slab boxes. Next week we will talk about surface treatments. After slab boxes we will talk about additive textures and repetition.

INTERMEDIATE SCULPTORS are working on individual clay totem pieces that represent themselves. Once each student has finished theirs, they will all get placed together to create a single totem pole.

ADVANCED SCULPTORS are continuing on their journey into a toddler sized castle--to be completed in time for the first Taylor High School Art Show at the new high school.


Coming soon to Taylor High School is going to be our first Art Show in the new school. In honor of Youth Art Month (See link below), we will be putting on a show of student work. Work can be from school--from any class, not just mine. Work can be from home--art they created on their own. I am very excited and hope to see you there.

MARCH 28, 2014! Time tba.

Displaying the (He)Art of Students

As stated above, March is Youth Art Month, and with that will come Taylor High School Art Show. The school/district are in need of display panels. I have set up a Donor's Choose project to help obtain these display panels. If you or anyone you know would like to help out the art program, any donation to the project, large or small, is greatly appreciated.

Displaying the (He)Art of Students


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.