From toddler to teens, Studio4art offers art classes that are uniquely taught and excitingly educational. We love art!Read More
How do you instill drive in a child? How do you create a path of self confidence and self awareness? How do you learn to love what you do? How do you learn the value of diversity? These questions can be answered through our teaching philosophies at Studio4Art (Studio 4 Art). Ultimately, our studio isn't about creating artists, its about creating leaders. I hope to use my own history and education to empower young people, gaining tools and learning styles that will allow them to accomplish their goals throughout life.
- I have been a mom since 1990
- I have been teaching since 1995
- I have been an entrepreneur since 1992
- I have studied oil painting
- I have studied ceramics
- I have studied design
- I have studied photography
- I have studied child psychology
- I have studied learning behaviors
- I have researched many school models
- I am an artist
- I am a teacher
- I am a children’s clothing designer
- I am an observer
- I am a lifelong learner
This list compiles my history and therefore the history and development of Studio4Art. I have been on a mission of understanding how to teach children art, tap into children's creative needs and exploratory desires, since becoming a mom in 1990. What I have concluded within this research over the last decade, through conversations with art educators, attending art conferences, following many social media platforms in art education, and with parents...we need to find a way to teach children how to become leaders in their own learning. Through both processed based art (the act of doing) and with product art (the results of our action). Many teaching styles usually follow one or the other, leaving a gap of learning untouched which is where my history has become invaluable with our teaching style here at the studio.
I began teaching art, first through after school enrichment, because I wanted to give more than what I witnessed children were getting in the educational system in my area, private or public. I saw such potential that was not being taught, mostly because our teachers were caught up in curriculum standards or school expectations. My path allowed me to use the knowledge of being a mother, my degree in fine art painting, child psychology, and being an entrepreneur to reach children through art education that wasn't set to a curriculum. Studio4Art was born as a place where children were the leaders in what they wanted to study to draw, paint, sculpt or sew, trouble shooting along the way through trial and error, brainstorming, and questioning.
Art is about giving a person a voice, a place of discovery, and personal power. That is often taken away when a child is given a step-by-step process in art making. It is taking away the belief that one has the capacity to dig down deep and discover, self-discovery, without being fed every step of the way to ensure they create a work of art that is recognizable. This type of art making feels “safe” because the end can be measured by “does it look like the example”. What I see when children come into our studio that only know this experience, they need to be fed what to do and are lost at what they personally like and feel comfortable creating. They do not understand the personal capacity of achievement, only the achievement of valuing themselves against a model. Fortunately, with a little guidance and support, we are able to give that child a space to "play" until they feel confident in their efforts.
I love the open-ended ideas of process art. The playfulness that it can bring. I think that it can push an artist through uncomfortable feelings, the unknown, into a comfortable space of knowing and creative imagination. Even if in the end you don't like what you have done, you learn by doing. What I disagree with in this model, like everything in life, there are tools that can enhance the exploratory path. Not to change, alter, or take away their idea, but to give children even more to work with, a louder voice, a more educated place of art making.
So, how do we take both of these models to create a new learning style? To begin, every step becomes a place for scaffolding on the previous thought or the previous technique. Watch how children are using their tools, is there a more effective way that you could give "hints and tips"? When learning technique, instead of telling children how to execute, give them several ways of executing and let them take the lead as to which feels best to them. As an educator it is my job to assist, to ask questions that engage and push an original thought to the next level, never telling what I think should or even could be done, but to ask questions that allow the learner to become the educator. Through this question based learning style, I am often in awe of what a student will create, as I never really know where their creativity will take them. I trust them. I trust that they will gain the freedom, excitement, and desire to continue learning. Instilling values in a person that enjoys new, enjoys discovery, enjoys "rethinking" and becomes a lifelong learner. Celebrating the diversity of being different, and learning that being like everyone else not only doesn't exist, but also would make the world a boring place to be. The judgement is left at the door, we don't have space to judge others when we are focused on our own learning and find the capacity to celebrate everyone's efforts in their own unique art making.
I knew I had a view that would enhance a child's learning experience, a space that had not been tapped into, a place of honor, a place of education, a place of discovery, and especially place to feel pride. I believe that we all have the power to appreciate change and challenge, however uncomfortable it may feel sometimes. I believe that we all owe it to ourselves to open up to our potential, but often are not given that opportunity of discovery. Studio 4 Art gives children this opportunity. We need creative exploration and we need to allow our children (and ourselves) to play in art. This can be taught through our art classes and even our drop-ins. We would live in a more productive, emotionally intact, and conscientious world if we had the ability to accept the process of creating, working through the struggle of creating, and problem solving.
When was the first time you picked up a pencil and felt like you could draw? I wass 33. Sure, I had drawn as a child, and even a time or two in high school. But there wasn’t anyone that showed technique or could explain highlights, shadow, and line to create a drawing I would qualify as art. Children begin to notice how their artwork looks around 8-10 years of age, as brain development begins to “compare” our work with those around us. We either summarize that we can or that we cannot draw. Children will either be introduced to a drawing class and gain confidence, or most times, feel as though they can’t draw, so they won’t. I did know that my work didn’t look “real” or exciting, but rather flat and uninteresting. So, like many others, I didn’t think I could draw, and definitely didn’t consider myself an artist. That was then and oh how my thought process has changed. I believe that anyone has the ability to draw, it just takes the write teacher to help you along the way.
When I re-enrolled in college to begin my career as an art teacher, a requirement was to take a drawing class. Of course I was so nervous. I had to face the inner child that told me I didn’t know how to draw. What a life changing event this class was to have on my abilities, my outlook, and how I would teach others. In a room full of adult, this teacher could break down elements and design into the simplest forms, giving everyone (no matter what their skill level was) a place to dive in with excitement as nothing seemed too difficult to achieve. These skills would then be incorporated into our sketches and create a drawing you didn’t realize you were capable of. I was so moved and enlightened by her teaching method that I designed the philosophy of Studio 4 Art around it.
Her beauty was the ability to translate that their were no right or wrong ways of drawing, and making sure she celebrated each individual for where they were in their process, and always had something kind to say about each work and would question areas that may need a little more work with “hints and tips”. Teachers are everything in art making (and any subject). If you have someone that can connect with you, that you feel safe becoming vulnerable in the learning process, and that you can see a reward through new applications and personal ability, you are going to feel successful and keep practicing. That is what Studio 4 Art is about. Celebrating where each child is in their creative adventure, asking inquisitive questions along the way that don’t have a set answer, and scaffolding their learning by introducing a simple art technique or two that they feel more empowered by.
So, if you have a child that isn’t feeling competent or is shy about their art ability, send them our way. We are sure that we can assist and encourage a child to feel good about where their abilities currently are, and feel excited about what they can learn through more experimenting and knowledge about art techniques. Self confidence, self awareness, and learning to take leadership over their learning is a definite win in our art classes.
Why are we afraid to fail? I have been contemplating this idea for a long time. I think my pondering is initiated by the kids creating at Studio4Art and ask, "You can't fail in art, right?" Many, if not all art teachers share this wisdom with their students. When students are told this, it is usually in the form of whatever you made is fine because there is "no failure in art", or it is used to alleviate fear of getting started with the project. I believe that the essence of what they are saying is there, but the true value and full interpretation is being lost, mostly because the explanation of what failure is in art (and in life) has not been vocalized, explained to a degree of what failure can be. Failure is all a part of the creative process and is in no way bad, "messing up" is okay, it is how we learn. Instead the sentence is said, and everyone moves on with the art project. My thought, art is a perfect place to share that you can make a bad piece of art, known to some as a failure, believe me I have tons. But, bad art, the failed pieces, are the reasons that you either choose to push creativity, not giving up and keep exploring on the same piece, or you learn what you don't like and change it for the next piece. My college professor explained that you have 1000 bad paintings in your career, be thankful when you get one of them out of the way.
Art is process. It cannot be gained by simply following a step-by-step instructional project that just creates fear to explore and damages the value of oneself to have the capacity of creating from their own imagination. Many, many ideas, explorations, art projects and inventions follow a process, it is called, the creative process*. And the creative process embodies that there will be failure, except it isn't looked at as failure, as much as it is seen as a part of the process. The more creative you are, the more each pass at what others see as failure, you see as a stepping stone to push further. Failure is not negative. It should be looked at as a place of discovery and the acceptance and reward of change. Remember the phrase, try and try again?
Now change...That will have to be for the next post, because as an observer, the reality that we have a difficult time accepting change, is a big one.
painting: Artist Javier. Middle School teacher learning about oil painting with his class.
Convergent and divergent thinking
Creative Cognition Approach
The Explicit-Implicit Interaction (EII) theory
Creativity and everyday imaginative thought
Just a small example of the fun dishes our students made while learning and honoring Día de Muertos.
Thank you Target for having perfect dishes for our students to learn the technique of slump molding with slabs of clay, while also learning about art history!
Rocks (3-5") painted white with gesso / or buy white rocks
Puffy paint (optional)
Halloween may be on Oct. 31, but there’s a historical reason to celebrate Called Day of the Dead: “El Dia de los Muertos.”
Dia de los Muertos, or “Day of the Dead,” is a holiday lasting two days, originating in Mexico. A holiday to celebrate loved ones that have passed. It's a The largest celebration in Mexico, but Dia de los Muertos extends well beyond to Guatemala, Brazil, Spain and here in America too! We celebrate this holiday in our own family as a way to talk while creating about our loved ones that we miss, how much they meant to us, and what we learned from them that we carry with us.
The popular caricature associated with Dia de los Muertos that we see a lot today, is based off of La Calavera Catrina, a painting by artist Jose Guadalupe Posada created between 1910 and 1913.
We begin this lesson in our classes by discussing its historical significance. Followed by exploring our facial features. Talk about eye sockets and have the students feel the sockets of their eyes. Continue with the cavity of the nose and why the skeleton (drawn) looks different than the nose we look at each day. Have them feel the cartilage of their nose that covers the cavity. Talk about our cheek bones too and how that shapes the face.
Sketch together the shapes of each. Circles for eyes indicating the eye sockets. The nose, fun enough, is the shape of an upside down heart. The mouth is an oval that is divided in half, with lines to create teeth.
When the sketch is complete it is time to hand out the rocks. Have them use pencil first and duplicate their sketch. After, trace with black sharpie. Have them fill in with other colored sharpie where they would like to add color. Lastly, if you feel that your class is able to handle another step, use the puffy paints to accentuate shape and color. Another option that was used in this photo, is using acrylic paint and the bottom side of paint brushes and pencil erasers. They create the best dots and circles!
THIS IS LONG. Sorry, I just wanted to give all steps, language to use with your students, and any helpful hints I could share along the way.
I have been creating curriculum for Studio 4 Art and our teachers for over 17 years now. I can't believe it has been so many years, and every year I am adding (or some of my very talented artist teachers) new projects and techniques to our line up. I LOVE coming up with interactive, fun, creative, new, contemporary ways to intrigue all ages to create! While someday very soon I will be licensing many of our curriculum how to's for more to share with their community, I wanted to give you a glimpse into one of my all time FAVORITES.
My approach to every art lesson is to give the child as much of a voice as possible. Art for art's sake has always been what has ignited my passion for teaching. For this reason, although there are steps to this project, every child should represent work that shows their individuality, character, and a celebration of who they are right now.
- Working on 11x14 sheet of nice paper (thick enough not to tear when wet), or 11x14 canvas board, or 11x14 raw canvas
- stiff brushes for gluing down paper.
- Mod Podge or clear acrylic gesso for glue. This also creates a great painting surface for acrylic.
For the background we begin with things that "excite our eyes" while using recycled material (newspaper, torn books, maps, magazines). We discuss why we enjoy looking at art, what draws our eye into investigating further. This gets our students engaged in the process of what personal choices they have for creating art, what matters to them, and what we would want the viewers of our own work to "notice". After our brief discussion about art, we begin to collage pieces of paper, gluing each new piece onto our canvas (or paper). Creating a background in this way creates a place of meaning to each artist, as what they cut or tear out to place in their backgrounds are words, pictures, or color that represent them. Being mindful of what they like and what makes them unique.
After our backgrounds are complete, it is time to move on to how to draw a face. This doesn't have to represent them necessarily, it is the basic drawing process in all faces. When we go to paint, we begin to look into our mirrors and represent all the beauty that makes us, US.
With a piece of sketch paper, pencil and eraser we begin the step-by-step process. Don't worry for those that don't like step process oriented art, this is just an age appropriate step that give children the power of knowledge. What they do with this knowledge is still theirs to interpret.
- Sketch an oval (talk about shape here. ovals are circles that have been stretched). Have this oval be close to the size of the 8x10 sheet of paper. Practicing drawing large is a good exercise too, and they will be painting large onto their backgrounds too. Talk about how to draw large, "Do we draw with our wrists to create a large shape". Have them try with their hands in the air. Then have them draw in the air an oval shape using their elbows, how big can that get. Then finally to drawing using their shoulder, "now how large can you draw that oval?!"
- Because we are giving children the power of knowledge, we will be teaching perspective and where each feature is located on human faces. Our next steps are creating a grid of where features are placed. Begin with drawing a center line through the oval, from left to right. Because this is new language to many, I often have them place one hand on the top of the oval, one hand on the bottom of the oval, then slowly each hand moves at the same speed, until they are touching. This is the center! Then we pick up our pencils to draw a line where our hands met, leaving one hand down as our reference mark. This is the eye line. New artists can not believe that our eyes are located so far down on the oval. This is where we discuss our hair, and where it stops when feeling our own hairline. It is a definite light bulb moment, that ah-hah, oh my gosh that is so weird, moment.
- Duplicate this step, put instead of putting our hands at the top of the oval and the bottom, students are going to be going from the left of the oval and right of the oval, creating a center line that is now vertical. Use as much of this language with your students as you see fit. I am one that LOVES to incorporate words with meanings, even if left and right are not established, and even if horizontal and vertical are new too. The more we use words to describe art, the more our students will be able to communicate that with others. Also, art and science and math, they all begin to live together naturally as these paths and words begin to be heard again in other areas of study giving students an association for better learning. This new line is where our nose is.
- Our next step is drawing the bottom of the nose line. We will begin with placing one hand at the bottom of our oval, the other hand at the eye line that we drew earlier. Slowly, we will move our hands at the same speed, when they meet we will draw our line and this will become where our nostrils are located.
- We repeat this step again, this time placing our one hand at the bottom of our oval, the other at the bottom of our new line indicating where our nostrils will be. Once our hands meet, we use our pencil to draw a line and we now have a line that will be for our mouth.
- We examine these lines and how without any more detail, our minds are already putting them together to form a portrait.
- The next steps are all about shape. Shape that children can associate to. We discuss eyes, their shapes are like what? "Lemons", "footballs", "almonds". I ask A LOT of questions in my classes. I let my students find the answers with leading and engaging questions. Something I learned while in school studying the Reggio Amelia approach to learning. I fell in love with the philosophy immediately and have been incorporating it into my curriculum and training ever sense.
- Eyes: The line that is in the middle of our oval indicating where are eyes are placed, one line of our eye is drawn above the line, the other is drawn below the line. I often talk about a smile and a frown and how they meet at each point to give us a shape similar to our eyes. At this time discuss the iris (yes usually a new word), our pupil (that black dot in the middle of our eye, it is what actually allows us to see, I go a little science here, discussing light and how our eye works).
- Nose: Oh, those noses. This is where I see some true character in their drawing (and in the painting that will come next). Talk about the nose by first having your students "feel" their nose. Talk about cartilage and how our nose is squishy. Talk about the darkest part of our nose, where light can't get to, our nostrils. What shape are those nostrils? Yes, I have them feel it, and yes, there is always laughter. Now, after our fingers have investigated, we draw just the nostrils at the nose line.
- Lips: The line we drew together indicating where our mouth is, there will be a simple smile like line indicating the bottom lip that will be drawn below the line. The top lip, is where we take a moment to "feel". Have your students feel the middle of their top lip. What do they notice? Is it straight? Is it slightly curved? Is it similar to the letter V? Once they have felt that their top lip is shaped differently than their bottom, we go to our paper to sketch that shape we felt. I will indicate to begin with the middle of their top lip, sketching first that indented area andwhat shape that felt like to them. Then join that shape to the tip of the bottom line that created our bottom lip on each side.
- Ears: Ears begin at our eye line. Ears seem to be where my students become the most apprehensive. I have learned over the years to relate it to the shape of a heart. When we divide that heart into two, one side of the heart is placed on one side of our oval, the other side of our heart is placed on the opposite side. For those that are ready for more of a challenge, we talk about the actual shape, and the cartilage lines inside and how they are important to the sounds that we hear (another science moment).
- Now go crazy with the hair! Have your students practice how far down the hair line is, and to draw that into their sketch.
These sketches are what students will refer to when painting their portrait onto their background. Here, I release what we have worked on as a group, and let them create a portrait that they are proud of and can relate to. This is where personality shines through. You can sometimes notice what feature is most important to each artist, as there may be really big eyes, and you may notice that that child really takes in the world and analysis through what they see. See what you observe, it is always fun!
- acrylic, mixed with medium to become transparent. The goal is to have the background still be a part of the portrait.
- brushes, smaller is better for better control. If a student is having a difficult time getting an oval to be large enough, I will hand them a larger brush. Just make sure to change that large brush out as your student works on the features. Large brushes will not allow for an easy application when trying to work small.
- buckets for giving your paintbrush a bath. This is how I get my students to really clean their brush, everyone can relate to taking a bath. We even dry our brushes after they get out of the bath to make sure they are paint free before moving onto our next color.
- brushes appropriate for acrylic paint. Make sure to use nice brushes (they don't have to be top of the line) that don't shed their bristles.
- mirrors. Although the drawing was a portrait, this painting is to become a self portrait. Looking at shape, color, and even freckles to incorporate to create a true reflection of us.
- blow dryer. The best tool when painting! Students will need to dry in between each layer of paint they are using as to not blend colors together that were not meant to be mixed together. And kids LOVE using tools!
- glazing medium to create transparent acrylic. Usually one part medium to 3 parts paint.
- First paint the large oval. Studio4Art students create their own skin color. We work only from primary colors, although this is a challenge at first, EVERY student feels incredibly powerful to have mastered color mixing. If the oval begins small (as it usually does), just have your student continue to add paint until the oval has reached a size that a brush can paint the features without frustration.
- From here, students create their paints to match all other areas of their self portrait. Looking in the mirror to see the color of our iris, the color of our lips, the color of our hair, etc.
- With older students, you can also add talking about shading, where the nose gets its shape. Where our face gets its definition.
- When students are ready to paint their hair, we talk about gravity. "What causes our hair to fall and not stand straight up?" When using our brush, how can we use it in a way that creates hair like texture?
- If their ears show, they too will be painted into their self portrait.
- eyebrows. A brief discussion about how to paint eyebrows. Are our eyes just one hair? Feel your eyebrows, what shape do they make? Do you feel the bone underneath, what is that bone? How can we make all of those little hairs that create our eyebrow into our portrait?
Please let me know if you have questions with any steps or would like to know what brand of art supplies we use, (we don't use inexpensive usually, as the quality will effect the outcome and we want our students to have what "real" artists would use. In the end, using better quality art materials will last longer than trying to buy inexpensive ones anyway).
This art project can be for children as young as 3. If you are interested, ask me how.
The various steps in paper making are fun and attainable for ages as young as 4. Great if you have an outdoor area, but if not, we have covered areas inside as well with waterproof material (follow ink below). The project incorporates recycling, design, and easily attainable supplies.
- newspaper clippings, flowers, old maps
- food coloring, liquid water paints (or acrylic paint) to color pulp
- Lint from dryer (yup it is cheap and the easiest binder for a cotton paper pulp)
- a tray (at least 8"x10") to hold paper pulp and water mixture
- embroidery hoop for each student (picture above I used dollar frames and screen material stapled to the outside. I find the embroidery hoops more convenient. Round paper is fun too! However, if you want to create a sketch book cover or other books, the frames are your way to go.
- cookie cutters
- nylon, tightly woven fabric (I go to goodwill, or have bought large panels at IKEA)
- starch or gelatin (used as sizing to control water absorption and create a strong paper)
- first step is to create the paper pulp by adding the lint and a small amount of water. This water is just to create a smooth texture while blending the lint mixture. After blending a bit you may add torn up newspaper, colored papers, flowers etc. Mix again until the new added papers are small bits. The kids LOVE being in charge of the blender (with adult supervision of course). This blended mixture is then added to your tray that has been filled 1/2 way with water. This is the time you will add approximately 2 tbs. of your starch or gelatin. If you are using larger trays, add just a bit more of the starch or gelatin. It is not critical how much you add. Too little will not bind the paper as well, but even that is ok. Mix it all up!
- If you would like to add color you may use food coloring, liquid water colors, or even acrylic paint. They all will create different strengths of color and opacity. Play and explore which you like best.
- prepare your embroidery hoops with the nylon fabric. Pull taught.
- dip embroidery hoops into the fun pulp mixture.
- your kids (students) will want to practice putting the frame all the way into the mixture, then pulling up straight. Talk about the resistance of the water and how they have to use there muscles while also using their eyes to keep it level.
- you can repeat the dipping procedure as many times as you like. Do make sure it is not too thin, as it won't release so well from the nylon (or screen). With each dip, make sure to stir up the water, as you want the pulp to be floating in the tray.
- Set aside on piles of newspaper, or on a Paper/Poly Drop Cloth.
- drying time depends on weather, but usually you can remove the handmade paper from nylon after 24 hours.
Note: if you are using the cookie cutters:
- instead of dipping your entire hoop or screen into the mixture, you will be using dixie type cups to pour the pulp over. Contrasting colors are fun. Pour first the outside area, Then pour a new color into the shape.
For added activity for older children:
- Cut out meaningful words to incorporate into their handmade paper. Messages, poems, or single words are a great literary addition.
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