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.
a Consult with teacher Jean Capuano
Conferring with teacher Holly Kellogg
Seventh graders explore identity through sculpture
The paint mixing station in the center of the art classroom is the crossroads of color. Seventh graders wearing paint splattered aprons pour primary color paints into small containers and swirl them together, watching a rainbow of hues emerge.
It’s painting day and students are putting finishing touches on plaster sculptures they created to share a little about themselves. Art teacher Holly Kellogg checks in with the artists, conferring on color and painting technique.
“I made an Earth because that’s where we live,” said one student, using just the right shade of green. Another applying a rich orange hue said that she made a pumpkin because her birthday is in the fall and it’s her favorite season.
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!