Spend a Morning in the Middle School Art Department

Peek into the art department this month and you’ll see students using materials that Leonardo da Vinci would recognize as well as tools developed in the last twenty years!

Developing craft in a wide variety of methods and materials is just part of the work of the Middle School Art Department. Its educators offer a supportive environment for students to observe, reflect, and express themselves. “Our goal is to nurture independent creative thinking,” said Holly Kellogg, curriculum leader of the art department.

Sixth graders Develop Craft with Colored Pencils

“How do you burnish again?” one sixth grader asked another. Her classmate reminds her of the colored pencil process that creates an opaque look, with her own special twist. “Now take a hard eraser and smudge it. It’ll look like watercolor!”

The sixth graders are just starting their neurographic drawings—an art therapy technique which asks artists to follow their intuition in drawing free-form lines and coloring the shapes which are created.

The unit began with an exploration of how lines can convey emotions. Teacher Jean Capuano also showed students various color pencil techniques including cross hatching, burnishing and complimentary color mixing for shading. Students use new skills in a project of their choice, including freeform, landscape and portraits, with calm independence.

Eighth graders Stretch & Explore in techniques that span centuries

In one classroom, the worktables are set with materials that artists of the 1800s would recognize: paper, pencils, a straight edge, and objects that students have selected to draw—a cube and cone, a sculpture of a fist, a ball set into a curved base. “Look at the light and shadow,” art teacher Kendra Collins prompts students as they draw what they see.

The conversations in the classroom next door are about exporting and layering. Using the app Procreate, one student has drawn a cup of coffee and is animating the steam that rises from it. Another has painted a snow scene; how can he add falling snowflakes? Teacher Holly Kellogg confers with groups of students who are already crowdsourcing solutions with each other.

Collins, who also teaches digital illustration, uploads a different student’s work to the art department’s digital display each day. Students love seeing their work on the hallway screen!