5 months in the Drawing Life of a Year 7….

Once again, I have been so caught up in the day to day work of teaching, I have not found time to blog about it. But I tried an experiment this semester, to line up with some of the professional learning we had been doing as a staff. I decided to try and apply the pre and post test principal to practical work, to see if growth could be measured.  Since most topics we undertake are different each year in art eg lino printing in year 7, ceramics in year 9 etc, its hard to compare and measure growth, if they have zero knowledge to start with.  Drawing however is fundamental, and kids have been doing it in some form almost all their lives.  This year might, however, have been the first year they received any formal training in drawing techniques. My drawing lessons use a few exercises from Betty Edwards ‘Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain’ and focuses on helping students draw ‘what they see, not what they think they see’.

I am really pleased with the significant growth I can see in most of the class.  A very few appeared to have not proceeded, and several students were away on the last day, who I would have loved to see a concrete example of how they have improved, but overall, I was thrilled.  This is a selection of those with the biggest changes. The images are approximately 5 mths apart….

IMG_0450IMG_0452IMG_0445IMG_0444   IMG_0448 IMG_0453IMG_0454IMG_0457IMG_0460

The difference high expectations make….

I have been using lino printing with my year 7 Art students for many years.  They enjoy it, the results are good – the only negative is they do tend to cut themselves more than I would like.  As we have a specific printmaking component in the year 10 course here, it means I have also been doing lino printing with my year 10 students the last few years.  I have tried to encourage them to take it further, and try multi-coloured printing. But whether its because they were intimidated by the process, or too precious about their lino design (the multi-coloured process means you are left with no printing block at the end), they have resisted trying. This has frustrated me, so this year, I decided to just get my year 7 class to show them how it is done.  I didn’t give them an option, just introduced the task as a three colour process. While they don’t all have the same fine motor skills control to get the results I think the older students could, they readily understood the process, and all successfully completed a multi-coloured print. I am really happy with the work they have produced!


colour_lino02 colour_lino03 colour_lino04 colour_lino05 colour_lino06 colour_lino07 colour_lino08 colour_lino09  colour_lino11 colour_lino12 colour_lino13 colour_lino14 colour_lino15 colour_lino16  IMG_0212

Animal Zentangles

My Year 10 students in the Drawing, Painting and Printmaking class have started off the year in great fashion with these Zentangle Animals.  In the past I have always followed the original Zentangle intention of abstract images, but I wanted to give the students more than just random patterns to focus on – this variation of the task requires them to plan how the ‘tangles’ or patterns can enhance the design, creating texture and detail that supports the animal design.  Some did that more successfully than others, but they all look great, especially en masse – but some of them are absolutely stunning as individual artworks!



 zentangle22 zentangle16zentangle21zentangle17 zentangle18zentangle11zentangle07 zentangle20 zentangle19    zentangle15 zentangle05zentangle14 zentangle13  zentangle02zentangle10 zentangle09 zentangle08zentangle12  zentangle01 


Many directions from one starting point

I am really pleased with how my year 11 studio art class are getting stuck into their first prac. We had a bit of a confusing and rocky start, as the subject has run for years as Photography, and we are trying to open it up to other mediums.  Many of the students expected it was once again photography, but despite initial claims from about half the class that they wanted to stick to pure photogpraphy, most of them have embraced the intention with their first piece, to explore their ideas and concepts, and see where they lead, rather than deciding on the final product before they begin. Much to my (and their!) surprise, we have mediums ranging from watercolour to wood carving going on, which is exciting.

We started this topic by looking at how various artists have responded to the idea of suburbia. We looked at the work of John Brack, Howard Arkley, Louis Porter and Stephen Haley and discussed how different people view ‘suburbia’ and what it means to the students, as they all live in the suburbs. From there, their ideas have exploded and I’m excited to see what they come up with, although the important part of this task is their exploration of sources of inspiration, and material and techniques. I’ll post pics when they are done!

Short and Sweet

One of my goals for this year is to work in more short projects into the Junior Art curriculum.  I was just browsing art blogs and I found this post over at the Becker Middle School blog .  My kids love zentangles, and I like the idea of combining a landscape or still life with a zentangle.  Because alone, they look fantastic, but dont really tie into many other art skills or terminology we are trying to teach. This still life task allows you to combine observational drawing, tone and use of pattern and line in the Zentangle component.  I do wonder how those projects get done in a week though – how many classes do they have?  Our year 7 classes only have a double lesson and a single lesson per week…. and the single is often used for theory.

Looking back – year 10’s

Before I post current projects from this years class, I thought I’d showcase some of the work I have done at this level in the past. The subject is Drawing, Painting and Printmaking, and usually I try and do 2 tasks of each medium. Last year we completed a mural project for the school yard, so we had to cut right back on individual tasks, and the students have voted to do that again this year. Its great they can leave a lasting legacy of their work at the school. One of the fun projects I have introduced at this year level is Zentangles – almost unheard of in Australia, I stumbled across the concept online and have used it with year 7’s also. This year we are building on it again, doing figurative drawings of animals with zentangle details, but originally we stuck to the abstract concept… We also do Heidelberg School (Australian Impressionists) paintings and both lino printing and dry point etching.


IMG_5978 IMG_5976 IMG_5974 IMG_5972 IMG_5971 IMG_5969 IMG_5968 IMG_8134 IMG_5967 IMG_8133 IMG_5955 IMG_5965 IMG_5966 IMG_8133 IMG_8135 IMG_8132 IMG_8132 IMG_5953


Heidelberg School Paintings

IMG_7070 IMG_5810 IMG_5807 IMG_5806

IMG_5804 IMG_5803 IMG_5797

Printmaking – Lino Cut and Dry Point Etching

IMG_2505 IMG_2503 IMG_6294 IMG_6295 IMG_6279 IMG_2502 IMG_2499 IMG_6285

Collaborative Murals – These are displayed around the school in Locker Bays and on the wall of the Canteen.

DSC_1967 DSC_1972 DSC_1970 DSC_1968

Colour Wheel activity

Usually with my new year 7 students I do a painted colour wheel activity. It’s a good chance to see what their painting and colour mixing skills are like, and teach them what my expectations are regarding packing up properly etc.  This year however, in my quest for some short, snappy activities to make each class more fun and teach the art concepts at the same time, I was inspired by a Pinterest post regarding this Crazy Colour Wheel lesson plan. To keep thing short, we worked in coloured pencil, as I was hoping to keep it to one double lesson. Next time I might try pastels – still quick, but more intense colours. While using pencils doesn’t reinforce the colour mixing concept behind secondary colours, but they did learn about complimentary colours and this task did allow me to include an observational drawing component.  I bought a few packets of cheap plastic animals, so students could have one each to draw, and encouraged them to do so as accurately as possible.  Many of them had never tried to draw from observation before, and they had to try hard not to fall back on familiar schema’s. For a first attempt, I think they did pretty well….  They were certainly engaged, and the task was short enough that it was completed before they got bored.IMG_0188 IMG_0189 IMG_0190 IMG_0191 IMG_0192 IMG_0193 IMG_0194 IMG_0195

Looking back

Well, we are a couple of weeks into the year, and  today was the first time I have thought about the blog – it’s been busy! So before I write my first post about the work we are doing this year, I thought I might do a few posts highlighting some of my favourite student work from my classes in the last few years.

So today I want to look at some Year 7 work.  In the past, we have tended to concentrate on just a few major projects throughout the semester, but this year I want to include more fun, engaging, educational short term tasks as well.  So there will probably be quite a difference in the Year 7 work I post this year.  But here is some of my favourite work from previous classes……

The first project was a Pop Art inspired painting that we worked on during a transition task based on the book ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid’. The Linocut Prints were designed under the theme ‘The Fish That John West Reject’, and were inspired by photographs of freaky deep sea fish. The final paintings were from a Post Impressionism unit.

A new blogging journey…..

I used to blog regularly – both for education, and personal/artistic interest.  My edublog was ‘Let’s Talk Elearning’ as that was the focus of my role for 8 years, and it is a topic that lends itself to building a network, using web 2.0 tools etc. Checking back on that site, I haven’t posted since 2010. And prior to that, my posts became a lot further apart, as I juggled an Elearning role and classroom teaching (in the first 3 years of my elearning journey, I was not in the classroom).  Eventually, school work and blogging became too hard to juggle and I stopped writing. This year I have not been working in an eLearning capacity for the first time since 2004 and I have been focused entirely on my classroom – teaching ceramics, art, visual communication and photography from year 7-12. Next year, I take one the role as Head of Art, so my focus will be even more on the art area – curriculum, resources, PL for staff, fundraising etc. and working to try and raise the profile of Art in the school and reverse the current trend of dropping numbers in Middle and Senior Art. I also intend to continue (and improve) the implementation of some ‘reverse instruction’ approaches that I started with my senior classes this year. I enjoy writing, and sharing resources and ideas with my colleagues around the world, so I’m going to give edublogging another go – with a new focus and hopefully, renewed energy.

I’d love it if you want to come on the journey with me – say hi in the comments, share great web resources, link back to your own Art teaching blog or website……