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Art History Meets Pop Culture Acrylic Paintings

Yesterday was my last day of the school year, and this year, my kids were focused up until the very end! This year, I decided to start an acrylic painting assignment the last few weeks of school. I gave each student a canvas, and I feel like having a canvas helped. Many of the students had never worked on one before so they were really excited at the opportunity to create something great! Working on a canvas enabled them to stay focused, which is definitely hard to do in the month of May and June!

This assignment is one that I have been doing throughout my teaching career. I think this is the third time I have done this! I’ve taught this not only in high school but also in middle school and I love the results! We talked about Pop Culture and what types of things are popular today. Students brainstorm many ideas and come up with a good list. Then, we research all different types of art and artists! I have had them research in a computer lab, but this past time, a computer lab wasn’t available so I brought in a ton of printables and art magazines and books. I had students work in groups to write down different artists that caught their attention and different art movements that they enjoyed.

Then, students had to come to me with an idea. They needed to tell me what artist they wanted to base their painting off of, what painting specifically, and what they would incorporate into the painting to make it more original and their own.

Another really great thing about this assignment is that you can guide students in a direction that they will all be successful. For example, I had some students who were more successful doing a Pop Art inspired painting, where they did not need to mix colors or do any shading or blending. Some students had experience painting before so I guided them in the direction of a Monet or a Rembrandt painting, etc. This way, all students had different results at all different levels, yet they were all able to be successful!

The PowerPoint that I created for this lesson can be found at

I have a variety of different examples on the slideshow, all of which I have permission for.

Besides though examples, take a look at some of my examples from this current school year!

What works for you as an end of the year lesson? Would love to hear! Enjoy summer!!



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Expressive Self Portraits

Quite possibly one of my favorite lesson plans that I do all year. When students hear that I am making them do ANOTHER self portraits, after we just finished up a realistic one, they ask WHY. Once we start working on these, their attitudes typically change and they are a lot more excited.

I like giving the students the option to explore symbolism a little bit further and consider what imagery they can use to show the world more about themselves, rather than just their appearances. The PowerPoint that I created for this lesson can be found here,

I can thank the wonders of Pinterest for many of those photo examples, but I also chose to incorporate Frida Kahlo into this lesson. Frida has so many amazing examples of symbolism and she is truly such an inspiring artist and person, that I wanted my students to learn more about her. We had discussions about The Two Fridas, and also about one of her self portraits. We discussed the symbolism and imagery in her artwork and how it reflects her personality and mood.

Students found this to be very interesting. We also discussed more in depth realism, abstract, and non objective. I told students to consider how realistic they wanted this to be. They had the option to be more symbolism and do a silhouette rather than a realistic approach that would require them to do eyes, nose, mouth, etc. This allowed my students of all different skill levels to choose a way that would be successful for them.

I also gave them an option in what art mediums they wanted to use. They had the options of graphite, colored pencil, pastel, watercolor, or mixed media. After the presentation, I had students write 5-10 things about themselves in their sketchbooks. These could be interests, personality, mood, appearance, home life, friends, etc. We then broke those down and considered how to interpret them into a symbol or some sort of imagery.

Students brainstormed with the others at their tables and came up with some ideas. When they had enough ideas, they began a sketch of what their portrait would look like. I offered suggestions to make sure that students were challenging themselves enough, and were not doing things too hard. I told students that if they chose not to draw a realistic face, that they needed to put extra details somewhere else, to ensure that all students were still working the same amount.

I graded these using four main components. Subject Matter & Creativity, Use of Symbolism and Details, Craftsmanship, and Effort.

I was SO happy with how these turned out. Here are some of the great examples from my classes!


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Altered Books

This lesson was something NEW for my classes, and here’s why-

  • This was the first project that I allowed them to work in groups for. They were in groups of two, three, or four, depending on class size, etc. I wanted them to work in groups because I did not want them spending A TON of time on this project, and also because I have two really quiet classes and I wanted them to get to know each other a bit better.
  • The name of my class is Drawing & Painting, which mainly focuses on two dimensional artworks. I wanted my kids to expand past that and consider how to use their knowledge of drawing and painting to create a three dimensional work of art.

My kids were very excited about this project, being that it was so different. I selected their groups for them, so that I could differentiate between skill levels. For example, I put a girl who definitely knows what she’s doing, able to draw well, could probably be in AP if she wanted to be, I put her with a girl whose drawing skills are not nearly as creative or developed, hoping that they would be able to work alongside each other and offer suggestions.

This was the final project in a Unit I created on Words in Art. We began the unit by discussing how words can enhance or strengthen the quality of an artwork. Students worked and created blackout poetry, along with illustrations that supported their poems. They did this individually for a few days to get them thinking and experimenting with different options.

When I introduced this altered books assignment, I began with A TON of visual examples. I scanned Pinterest and various websites in order to come up with as many great examples as I could find. (If you follow my Pinterest Boards, you will see my “Altered Books” Board, which has a ton of great ideas!

I focused on additive and subtractive techniques, which meant they were either sculpting or carving into their books. I also talked to them about the possibility of leaving the books open versus having them closed and creating a cover page.

After me talking for what seemed like a very long time, I read out the names of the groups and I had my groups get together. I let them select a book and then they began sketching out ideas. Their sketches had to show me:

  • Will anything stand out? Will you create three dimensional works of art from pages?
  • Will anything be carved into? If so, what will you be carving?
  • Will your book be open or closed as a final product?
  • How will you incorporate drawing and painting into your altered book?

(Sidenote) When students were finished with these, I found that it was a great time to introduce Critique. Until this point, my students hadn’t really spent a great deal of time practicing the correct way to critique. I gave them a handout that introduced the 4 Steps to Critique, and we also viewed Starry Night as an example of how to answer each step of critique.

Along with an individual rubric for each student, I also had them write up a 4 Step Critique on another group’s altered book project.

Overall, I really enjoyed this project. It was something different that allowed my students to let loose a bit and bounce their own ideas off of each other.

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Surrealism Perspective Drawings

In high school, I hated perspective drawing. In college, I still even hated perspective drawing. It wasn’t until I actually became an art teacher and had free range to create a perspective lesson in my own way, that I finally found it interesting. I enjoy teaching it, and overall my kids actually enjoy drawing in perspective.

So how did I accomplish such a feat?

I decided to mix One Point Perspective with Surrealism. Since the two are so different, it makes for a very interesting project! We start out learning basic vocabulary and terms in Perspective. Some words include Perspective, Vanishing Point, Vantage Point, Orthogonal Lines, Horizon Line, etc. I gave the students a quiz on vocabulary before we actually began drawing.

The first actual drawing activity we did was having students create 2D bubble letters. They used their name, quote, lyrics, whatever. I demonstrated how to connect their lines from the letters to the vanishing point. Then, students practiced drawing the backs of their letters, and in turn creating a 3D letter.

Then, we practiced by setting up a room using one point perspective. Students practiced floor boards, ceilings, windows, doors, etc. We then discussed tables, chairs, furniture, and how to successfully add objects (referencing the 3D letter exercise throughout).

After about two weeks of that, I knew my students were getting tired of perspective. (I admit, it can be tedious!) So I wanted to give them a little break by introducing them to Surrealism. We created an Exquisite Corpse exercise, which was so fun! My students loved it and they loved working together to create a drawing.

We also watched a documentary on Salvador Dali! I enjoy the Modern Master’s Documentary on BBC, although I did skip through some parts because it talks about sex and I didn’t want that ish in my classroom!

Then, once students had a strong understanding of Surrealism and what it is, they went to their sketchbooks and began sketching out their ideas. They needed an even mix of Surrealism and One Point Perspective.

Overall, this lesson took about a month. From the vocabulary quiz, perspective worksheets, 3D letters, practice room drawings, and surrealism exercises, to the final product where students practiced blending with colored pencils, I’d say these were a success!

I also had students write a reflection, where I asked them questions such as:

  1. Explain how you created depth in your artwork using words like Perspective, Vanishing Point, Vantage Point, Horizon Line, Orthogonal Line, etc.
  2. Explain what elements of Surrealism you included in your artwork.
  3. What was your favorite part about this assignment? What did you feel most proud of?
  4. What was your least favorite part about this assignment? What challenged you?
  5. If you could make any changes to your final artwork, what would you change?

And ta-da! These are some of my final results. Love them!

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What It Means to Love Someone in the Way That They Need

A constant thought has been on my mind for the majority of today. It began this morning, when I got into an argument with my boyfriend. It sounded simple to me- All I asked was if we could put our relationship back on Facebook. I was tired of random guys from high school reaching out to me, I wanted it public that I have a boyfriend.

In the same respect, I wanted other girls to know that my boyfriend was taken. I enjoyed that sense of ease knowing that our status is publicly displayed. So began the  arguing…

And on another note, I asked, “We haven’t posted pictures of each other on instagram in so long.” Because I miss it. I miss when he would post pictures of me, telling the world and all his friends how much I meant to him, how much he loved me. I never wanted to be that couple that posts obnoxiously long paragraphs out into the public, but I love sweet gestures that show he cares about me, that he wants to show me off.

So our argument ended and I left. I spent the majority of my morning feeling stupid as shit. For one, I am not the type of person who posts everything on social media. I actually hate that. My Facebook is mostly youtube videos of music that I like, and occasionally I upload my pictures. I’m not one to type huge paragraphs about what people mean to me, I don’t tell people what I’m eating for dinner, I don’t announce when I am exercising, etc.

But yeah, it would be nice to publicly have it said that yes, my boyfriend and I are in fact, together. It would be sweet for him to post a picture of me or a picture of us and show me off to his friends.

And as I’m sitting here thinking and feeling so bad and so guilty for such a silly argument, I’m realizing that I shouldn’t feel that way at all.

Because consider, that not all people appreciate love and feel loved in the same way. Some people need to feel love in different ways, and I believe that my boyfriend and I feel love in different ways.

What I mean by this is, so many people give those that they love, the love that they would feel good receiving. 

For example, if my boyfriend feels loved when I show him physical signs that I love him (holding his hand, kissing him, etc), then he is most likely going to assume that by kissing me, I will feel loved. (And don’t get me wrong, I do!) Through dating him, I have also noticed that he feels loved when we are able to give each other space to work on ourselves. (He feels great when he can work all day and hang out with his friends without me getting upset or making a big deal out of his absence). So in that respect, it is no wonder why if I don’t hear from him for most of the day, I assume something is wrong, whereas he feels like things are great.

As mentioned, I feel loved when my boyfriend posts a picture of us together. When he sends me a sweet text throughout the day, or posts something funny on my wall that I would appreciate. I love the little small things, the little gestures that mean the most.

So rather than feeling like a needy, high maintenance girlfriend, I am just learning to accept that my guy and I don’t need the same things to feel love. While one of us loves small, sometimes public acts of affection, another one prefers space and having the ability for each other to have time to themselves.

With this new mindset to consider, I think it’s really important to make sure that I am loving him how he needs to be, and also to make sure that he is meeting me halfway. If I am doing the things that make him feel loved, then that feeling should be reciprocated, even if it is in a different way.

Please tell me your thoughts!


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Crafts Clay Tile Triptychs

I want to share a very successful lesson that I taught my high school Crafts I students. Many of these student were taking Crafts as an Art class, rather than taking Art I. However, I still wanted students to gain a strong understanding of basic art concepts and vocabulary.

A great clay project that they worked on was to create an original triptych. Before doing so, I taught them about triptychs and showed them various art history examples of where triptychs could be found in real life situations. We discussed where they originated from, where they could be found, etc. If you are interested in the PowerPoint presentation that goes along with this, please let me know!

Another important concept that students had to learn before starting are the basic clay techniques. Many of these students had never worked with clay before so it was important to go over the most basic stuff. For example, clay dries out! We talked about how to properly store clay so that it would be workable for multiple days. We went over basic vocabulary such as slipping and scoring, clay tools and when to use them, etc.

I focused a lot of their attention of the difference between additive and subtractive techniques. That is, if they are adding clay onto their tile or if they are taking away clay and carving out their tile. Students had to pass a quiz on clay tools and techniques before I let them begin. I also had students sketch out their ideas before we moved on to clay.

Overall, I was very pleased with the results from this lesson. I realized that many of the students had no practice with clay up until this project, so it was really great to see the results. I opted to have this class paint with acrylic paint rather than glaze, and I really enjoyed the way they turned out. I had them seal it with an acrylic gloss to make it shiny and really seal the colors in.

Here are some pictures of the finished work!

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14 Day Anxiety Challenge

Hey Y’all!

So I wanted to post a fourteen day anxiety challenge that I created and did… which really worked well! I created it while keeping in mind that many people still have busy schedules and a lot happening in their lives. These are just some small changes to do, one a day, to help focus and maintain mindfulness in whatever situation you may find yourself in.

Please comment if you are doing this challenge, or let me know how it is working for you!

Day 1: Create art that makes you feel good. Whether it’s painting, drawing, collage, diy, find something that you can get excited about. Extra points if it’s something that resonates personally to you (about me collage, personality painting, things I love about myself, things I struggle with, etc).

Day 2: Try a yoga video! There are so many cool youtubers that share cool yoga videos… they even offer full classes! The best part is you can choose what you want to focus on (yoga for mindfulness, anxiety, arms, legs, backbends, digestion, breathing, etc).

Day 3: Take a bath. Proven to help stress. It also gives you time to focus on yourself when you normally wouldn’t. I know sometimes for me, showering can feel like a chore, but turning it into a relaxing bath can really turn it into something more enjoyable. There are so many cool bath bombs and diffusers that you can use to really enhance the experience!

Day 4: Practice breathing exercises! Side note: When I am out with my mom and experience anxiety, the first thing she asks me is, “Are you breathing properly?” Most times I find that I am not! I am scared, worrying, and it is affecting how I’m breathing. My breathes are short, I feel like it’s hard to breath, my chest feels heavy. If I take a few minutes to focus my breathing, it makes a lot more sense to me and calms me down very well.

Day 5: Go Outside! Whether you choose to walk, run, bike, jog, hike, go to a dog park, a state park, whatever. Being outside is proven to make people naturally happier. Even if it’s raining, I am always reminded of when I was younger and it was fun to go out and dance in the rain. Why should we ever give that up? Who says there is an age limit to dancing in rain and just letting go of what is considered responsible or normal?

Day 6: Create a list of goals or aspirations that you have. Have a happy mix of both short term goals that are easily attainable, and also some long term goals that you will need to work towards. This can really help steer you in a direction that you want to go in, and it can also help you to feel more organized and sure of yourself! I love making lists and organizing, not only because I am somewhat forgetful, but for what it does to help me feel more structured!

Day 7: After a week of this challenge, Day 7 challenges you to go out and do something out of your comfort zone. For all of us that means something different. For some, it may mean going to the grocery store and successfully shopping without having a panic attack. For others, it could be going out with some friends and allowing yourself to let go and have fun. It could be going to a new class at the gym, taking an art class, learning something new. It could be going to a new place that you typically wouldn’t go to. The important thing to note on this day, is that no matter how successful you were, track your progress! Go home and write down how you felt. Were you proud of accomplishing that task? Did you forget to practice breathing?

Day 8: Consider things that help you stay focused, remain less anxious, and feel better. These could be very small things. For example, I almost always carry a bottle of water with me. If my throat feels dry, or I begin to get anxiety, drinking water is something that helps me. Knowing I have water with me makes me feel safe. I also always carrying lavender oil with me. I apply it to my wrists and the scent of it helps me stay calm. There are also apps for your phone that help you if you are having a panic attack. Feel free to post if there is something that you find works too!

Day 9: Volunteer! Every Sunday, my mom, my aunt and I go to volunteer at a cat shelter near our house. It gets us out of the house: we go to lunch together, and then we spend an hour in a room full of kittens and cats. Not only is it completely therapeutic and fun, but it also makes me feel really good to go in there and play with cats. Many of them are antisocial and by playing with them each week, they become more friendly, which can help them get adopted! There are plenty of other opportunities at shelters, with dogs, food kitchens, nursing homes, etc.

Day 10: Treat Yourself! You’re doing such a great job at this point, and you need to do something great for yourself. Whether you go out for ice cream, buy yourself some new shoes, have a movie night in with friends, whatever it is, do something to celebrate you and all of your progress. So often we tend to get so caught up in the busyness of everyday life, but stop and think that life is something that is meant to be ENJOYED! So enjoy it!

Day 11: Reach out to someone you haven’t talked to in awhile. Catch up, either in person, through Skype, or over the phone. Catching up and telling someone your thoughts out loud can be extremely helpful. A lot of times we don’t really consider something or how greatly it affects us until we say it out late. I know that I recently went over to a friend’s house and had a heart to heart with her sister, who I actually have a ton in common with! Talking to her made me feel a lot better and made me realize I’m not so crazy after all.

Day 12: Look up a new recipe to make! I say recipe because it could either be a new dinner, snack, dessert, anything you have been wanting to try to make but haven’t had time to make. I love going to Pinterest for ideas. I have one board for food and desserts (this is my regular food board, filled with awesome filling dinners, yummy desserts, etc). I also have a clean eating blog (when I’m trying to be healthy. Side note, as much as I’d like to say I use this board more, I don’t). Try out a new recipe! If successful, it can become a new favorite that you use on a regular basis. Here are the links to my two boards, feel free to follow!

Please feel free to follow my boards! Also, if you tried a recipe that I pinned, let me know how you liked it!

Day 13: Book Therapy! I am an avid reader, and a lot of times I like to pick out books that are relatable to things I am dealing with. Do some research and choose a couple books that you feel would help you. I usually go to Amazon and check reviews.

Day 14: Plan a future endeavor! If you have a long weekend or a break coming up, plan something! Whether you get on a plane, or just drive somewhere for a day or two, plan something fun. Include family or friends, or make it a solo adventure! Planning things in advance helps us to step outside of our comfort zone and to continue doing things for ourselves.

Good luck to you all! Let me know how this challenge works for you! 🙂