Tried & True Tips for Art Teachers is a monthly roundup of advice and wisdom
from fellow art teachers, put together by the intrepid Glenda Lubiner.
3-D Art and Collaboration
“I think you have to control the materials to an extent, but it’s important to let the materials have a kind of power for themselves; like the natural power of gravity, if you are painting on a wall, it makes the paint trickle and it drips; there is no reason to fight that.”—Keith Haring
It is May and we are starting to wind down for the year. Every year at this time I start to reflect on what projects were great, which didn’t work so well, and how I did, teaching my students what they should know.
Well, so far this year all has gone well from painting and drawing to printmaking and ceramics. Our last project will be a 3-D recycling project to use up all the scraps hanging around the room … a good way to get the room clean!
In this month’s column, we have some great 3-D projects, mural ideas and collaborative project tips to share with you.
Mural, Mural on the Wall Cynthia Gaub from North Middle School in Everett, Washington, created a locker mural with her middle-school students. Her best tip yet: ask your staff for all their home paint samples! Cynthia was able to get great paint for free! Some they even mixed together to get better colors. They accomplished a great mural on the bank of lockers for less than $40. All they had to do was buy the primer paint layer and some brushes. Her art club made the design and did the base coat, then drew the outline designs with Sharpie markers. During field day, Cynthia had students come in and paint in blocks of color. The only problem she encountered was not being able to finish the mural during the school year. Every dark cloud has a silver lining, though. Many of the teachers came in over the summer to paint more and complete the project — talk about collaboration! One last tip Cynthia has is to plan accordingly — expect your mural projects to take WAY more “man hours” to get done than expected. This incredible project took over 200 hours!
The Senator Project MaryJane Long from Hartly (Delaware) Elementary and Fairview Elementary in Dover, Delaware, was asked to create a district-wide art display at their first annual school district community event. This themed display was named after their district mascot, the “Senator.” The wall display was to be in the main hallway of her high school. The space to be decorated was about 15 feet high of floor to ceiling glass.
MaryJane did not want to create a bulletin-board display about the district mascot, because art teachers DO NOT create bulletin board displays. THEY CREATE ART. Glass windows, a lot of light, a chandelier maybe, how about Dale Chihuly?
After pitching the idea at the district meeting, all 10 art teachers were on board; the district approved it and provided money for the installation. They collected plastic water bottles, colored them with Sharpie markers, and met the night before the event to install the hanging chandeliers. She even created a SMART Notebook file with supporting resources for teachers to use and shared it through Google Docs. They communicated and shared with each other through email and completed this project from idea to installation is just over a month.
MaryJane’s goal was to create unity and camaraderie among the art teachers in the district and have fun in the process. When all was said and done, the assistant superintendent was speechless when she saw the hanging display for the first time.
3-D Art History Teaching art history might excite us, but sometimes the students are not as enthusiastic as we are. Here is a cool way to get them just a little more passionate about learning the masters: Have them choose their favorite painting and do some research on the artist and the painting. Next, have them recreate the painting, or their version of the painting using corrugated cardboard in layers. The background should be the surface of their painting and then have them use pieces of cardboard to build it up to three or four layers. They can choose to leave it unpainted, paint it in the original color scheme, or change the colors completely.
Thank you to Cynthia and MaryJane for your great tips.
Happy birthday to Keith Haring (May 4, 1958), Salvador Dali (May 11, 1904), Frank Stella (May 12, 1936), Jean Tinguely (May 22, 1925), and Dorothea Lange (May 26, 1895).
Arts & Activities Contributing Editor Glenda Lubiner (NBCT) teaches art at Franklin Academy Charter School in Pembroke Pines, Fla. She is also an adjunct professor at Broward College.
If you would like to share some of your teaching tips, email them to: