2018 Synergeyes Art Show!

Friday, April 27, 2017 was the 6th annual Synergeyes Art Show!

We had a wonderful turn out of families to celebrate our student creativity. Many students worked on cardboard construction in the art room, I gave a tour of the show, and our fantastic middle school band performed a few songs in the Big Room.

Here are a few pictures I took that night!

Eastenders and Skylights
Front Hall
Cardboard Construction
Viewing 8th grade works
Middle School Band singing “Route 66”
Star Room Art
Camille working on Cardboard Construction

Star Room Auction Item – Hand Trays!

Check out the beautiful handprint trays by the Star Room. I traced each child’s hand in clay and pressed the edges together. After firing the children chose a color and glazed their hand. This piece would look great on your dining room table. The glaze is food safe too. If you are inspired please place a bid on them during our auction March 10th!

Ledger Drawings by the Skylights

Happy 2018 art lovers! Sorry it has been so long since I blogged. For the last 3 weeks all my prep time has been dedicated to completing middle school report cards and getting ready for the 4/5th grade play. Now I can get you caught up with what has been happening in the art room!

Tonight the Skylights are performing their play “Stone Boy” at 7pm. The story is an ancient Ogala Sioux tale. Here is some of the artwork the 4th and 5th grade created for the side “wings”:

Ledger Art by Catalina
Ledger Art by Ella
Ledger Art by Erna
Ledger Art by Miles

The drawings were inspired by the Plains Indians. Traditional artwork included paintings on animal hides, in particular the buffalo. In the late 19th Century when the buffalo became scarce, artists turned to paper, pencil, ink, and paint provided by traders, government agents, missionaries, and military officers. Compact ledger books and pencils were highly desired because they were portable and ideal for nomadic people.

For this project, the students were introduced to ledger art, then followed a tutorial in how to draw a horse. The children were later given a sheet of ledger paper. They sketched out either a Native American scene, or a scene/character from the play. Some included Native American symbols they learned about in music class. The drawings were finished with colored pencils.

Ledger Art by Jaro
Ledger Art by Zaiden
Ledger Art by Marek
Ledger Art by Naomi
Ledger Art by Cecil

Batik Cloth by the Eastenders

Tonight the Eastenders are performing their play “Ttimba” at 7pm. The story is a Baganda tale from Southern Uganda. Here is some of the artwork the 4th and 5th grade created for the side “wings”:

Batik by Orion
Batik by Zoe
Batik by Zara
Batik by Naima
Batik by Max

The paintings were inspired by the colorful fabric of Southern Uganda. The students looked at traditional Gomesi (a woman’s dress) made from bark cloth. In the early 19th century cotton was imported. Today, African Wax Print cloth (an industrialized type of batik fabric based on designs from Indonesia) is popular.

For this project, the students were introduced to the patterned cloth. They sketched out designs they liked in their sketchbooks. On a piece of canvas, the children drew their design in pencil. The pencil lines were traced with gel glue. When dry, the canvas was painted with acrylic paint. When the paint was dry, the canvas was soaked in warm water and the students scrubbed off the glue lines. The resulting painting has the look of batik fabric.

Batik by Kenan
Batik by Arman
Batik by Alexandra
Batik by Malea
Batik by Henry

One Minute in the Art Studio with the Star Room

If you don’t see the video (perhaps you are on a mobile device), click the link to the blog. I’ve been sharing short videos of art in action but am not sure everyone is able to view them. I notice the video doesn’t show up in my email.

Our kindergarteners are really into art class! Recently they have been learning how to make sculpture with cardboard and wire. Lots of energy and inspiration here!

Technology in the Art Room

Lila teaches Melisse how to add photos of her sculpture to her digital portfolio “Seesaw”
Dylan draws in an app called “Procreate”

Technology has an important place in the art room. It is used by contemporary artists either as a resource, a tool, or the art itself. The studio now has 10 iPad Pros to work with! Students are being introduced to searching for images using Safari and drawing in a program specifically designed for the iPad Pro.

Classes are also being introduced to digital portfolios. As they finish projects they can be photographed and documented in an app called Seesaw. It is easy to use and a fun way to collect their best work while taking home the original. If you are a parent, I will be posting links to Seesaw on ParentSquare so you can log into your child’s folder and see what they are doing in art class!

I am exploring other apps for stop motion, photography, and drawing. There is more to come and it is going to be really fun!

Share looks up images of Rudolph in a Safari image search
Maggie is exploring different types of “brushes” in Procreate

A Snapshot of 1st Grade Studio Art

Here is a little snippet from art class today. First grade has recently been introduced to paper and cardboard sculpture, using iPads for drawing, and wire sculpture. Everyone is doing their own thing. The children who are confident with the iPads are teaching their classmates new drawing tricks. They are so focused, engaged, inspired and happy! I love the creativity here and watching them work.


The Flipped Classroom

I’m experimenting with creating a “Flipped Classroom” approach for middle school. This means I will create instructional videos and post them to Haiku for the children to watch when they have time. To do this, I created a YouTube channel. Please check it out! My first video is about Watercolor Techniques. I was nervous and made some mistakes, but I live by the “Progress not perfection” motto.

Here is the YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCUeFcSuiGxMpm8yg0LCtozQ?disable_polymer=true

A Window into the TAB Art Room

Here is a little snippet from art class today. Yesterday I introduced making sculpture with cardboard to the sun room. Today I showed 3rd grade how to make sculptures with paper. Some of the 3rd graders chose to work on sculpture today, others were working on different projects. Check out how focused they are! This is what creativity looks like at Synergy!!!

What is a W.O.W.?

W.O.W. stands for Wonderful, Original, Work of Art.

The concept of the W.O.W. art project was created by 6-8th grade teacher Barbara Berry-Palm, of Maine Junior High. At the time, her 8th graders were struggling to produce work and the W.O.W. was created as a guideline for them. She shared her idea with other TAB (Teaching for Artistic Behavior) teachers and it stuck. Although I share the concept of the W.O.W. with all the Synergy students, it is most appropriately applied with middle school. This semester the 6th-8th grade children are expected to produce two W.O.W. pieces.

What is a W.O.W. piece? 

*Something the child has thought about

*Something the student spent several art periods working on (more than 2 or 3)

*Something the student has fixed or improved or perfected

*Something that looks ready to hang at school

*Something the student is proud of and shows their time and effort

*Something that took time

*Something that may have caused some frustration to create

*Something the student has shown to others and asked for their feedback

*Something framed with construction paper, a border, or a stand (3-D)

*Something that has substance, that the student can write about in an artist’s statement

*Something that came from the heart

*Something the student found satisfaction and interest in creating

*Something that might be repeated in a new way

*Something where space has been used well

*Something that other artists have noticed and asked the student about

*Something that has happened through experimentation

*Something the student has practiced for a long while (drawing, clay, printing, etc.)

What is NOT a W.O.W. piece?

*A quick experiment

*Playing with art materials (fun and important, but not a W.O.W. yet)

*Splatter painting (with nothing else)

*A collage without a focus

*A collage that isn’t glued down well

*A construction that looks sloppy or falls apart easily

*Something with smudges, rips, and torn parts (looks uncared for)

*Something that has too much empty space

*Something that has not been discussed with other artists (feedback)

*A traced drawing

*A magazine picture or photo copy glued to a page

I gave Synergy’s students a simplified version of what I stated above. I think it sums up the concept well:


Painting (K-8)

Star Room Sharing
That first stroke of the brush!
8th Grade Focus!
Tempera Cake Fun!

All the classes (with the exception of 4/5 who are making backdrops for their January play) are working on painting. The middle school watched a short video called “I Need Color” about actor Jim Carrey, who is also a painter. The children are learning to set up and clean up the paints on their own. The poster below lists they steps they follow. When cleaning up, they follow the steps backwards. Some skills and materials used for painting in the art studio are:

*Tempera cakes

*Watercolor pans

*Liquid tempera

*Liquid watercolor

*Wax resist




*Brush choice

*Set up/Clean up

Logan Making Orange
Painting is Extra Fun When Shared With a Friend
The Possibilities of Liquid Tempera

Art in Middle School

Collage and painting
Painting and sculpture
Collage and drawing

The middle school has had a great start to art this year! They have been working on drawing, collage, and now painting projects. A couple weeks ago I opened a Haiku account. I have been posting text references, videos, and photos of some of the things covered in class. The children can look there if they need a refresher. They are also expected to have two completed W.O.W.’s (Wonderful. Original. Work of Art) by the end of the year. If your child is in middle school, please remind them to check my art page.


New Work by the Star Room

Drawing by Viviana


Tempera Cake Painting by Audrey
Watercolor Painting by Pearl
Oil Pastel and Watercolor Painting by Jahan

After sitting down with the Sun and Rainbow Rooms to go through portfolios, I did the same with the Star Room. The children looked through the art they saved and picked out two finished pieces that they were proud of. I hung one piece by each student next to the Star Room. A few of the artworks are featured here. These pieces are focused on drawing, collage, and painting.

It was fascinating watching them choose their best work. If it were up to me, I would have chosen very differently. This takes me back to my blog post a few weeks ago about about talking to your child about their art. They were not thinking about adult aesthetics.  The children were choosing based on their growth as an artist, how much they enjoyed using the materials, a color they mixed, or success in drawing something new. One of the perks about this way of teaching is that the children can identify their own work on the wall and explain why and how they made it and what it means. Each work is unique coming from the heart and mind of the artist.

Tempera Cake Painting by Dashiell


Mixed Media by Eva


Paper Bag Puppet by Logan


Pencil and Oil Pastel Drawing by Koty

Collage (K-8)

Foam Shape Collage
Foam Shapes and Glitter Glue

All the classes have been introduced to collage! Most classes watched a short video about photo collage artist Amber Fletschock from Minnesota.It’s a great little video about how she finds her images, composes her works, and gets inspiration from nature. Some skills and materials used to collage in the art studio are:

*Starting with a “base”

*Tearing paper

*Cutting paper

*Using regular scissors

*Using scalloped scissors

*Using white Elmer’s glue

*Using glitter glue

*Using glue sticks

*Tissue paper layers with watered down glue

*Looking at shapes and texture

*Using paper crimpers

*Creating photo collage

*Making paper bag puppets

*Using stickers

*Using hole punches

*Using patterned paper, magazines, old books, maps, and foam shapes

*Using Exacto knives

All of the above were covered in K-8 classes to varying degrees of complexity and speed. Students learned that artists create mixed media pieces, combining various kinds of collage with drawing materials to make original works of art.

Collaborative Project; Cut Stencil Collage
Collaborative Project; Cut Out Figures


New Work by the Rainbow Room

Pen, Ink and Straw Blowing by Beck
Collage by Viena
Bat Puppet by Max I.

After sitting down with the Sun Room to go through portfolios last week, I did the same with the Rainbow Room. It was a good time to check in on what the children are working on and if they are leaving some of their W.O.W. (Wonderful, Original, Works of Art) pieces at school. I hung one piece by each student in the downstairs hallway. A few of the projects are featured here! These pieces are focused on drawing and collage.

Hearts by Tabitha
Snake Puppet by Max K.
Drawing by Camille

New Work by the Sun Room

It was so nice to have a helper for my Sun Room classes last Tuesday. It gave me a chance to sit down with each of the children and do a quick walk through their portfolio. Some had taken home most of their work and the portfolio was empty or almost empty, others had saved every piece of paper they drew on this year. I asked each artist to pick a work they feel is a W.O.W. (Wonderful, Original, Work of Art) so I could hang it up. Here is a selection of some of the chosen pieces. To see more, check out the bulletin board at the bottom of the back stairs. The work showcased includes drawing and collage media.

“Flying Pizzas” by Ivo (scratch art)
Tissue Collage by Kayla


“Banana Boy” by Brody
“Cyborg Frog Puppet” by Jasper


Photo Collage by India
Colored Pencil Drawing by Sophia

Drawing (K-8)

Drawing with Pen and Ink

I always like to start the school year with drawing. I think of drawing as the foundation of all art, no matter what the medium. It is important to draw. Lessons this year started with:

*all the ways to use a #2 pencil to draw

*colored pencils


*oil pastels

*drawing from life (I have some plastic animals for the children to draw)

*drawing from images (I have some “how to draw” books and books filled with images)

*markers (Crayola and Sharpie)


*texture plates



*pen and ink

*charcoal and chalk pastel


*scratch art (manufactured paper and homemade)

*oil pastel transfers


*using clipboards

*using magnifying lenses

All of the above were covered in K-8 classes to varying degrees of complexity and speed. Students learned that artists create from what they see, what they feel, what they imagine, and what they remember. As materials were introduced, the children chose their subject matter and materials. They are producing a huge variety of projects!

Drawing with Pastel


Talking to Your Child About Their Art

The artwork coming home is going to look different this year. For the younger students, it may be scribbles for a while! Many students are first experimenting with different art making materials. The depth of the work will increase over time. As they discover new techniques, students will no longer be afraid to take risks. Student creativity will evolve as they go through the learning process.

What can you do?

  • Be open to student art that looks different than what you are used to.
  • Ask the artist (student) questions like:
  1. What is this artwork about?
  2. Where did you get this idea?
  3. What inspired you?
  4. How did you make this?
  5. Why is this important to you?
  6. What was your favorite part of making this?

“Arts and music education programs are mandatory in countries that rank consistently among the highest for math and science test scores, like Japan, Hungary, and the Netherlands.” (Lessons from PISA for the United States, Strong Performers and Successful Reformers in Education”, OECD Publishing, 2011)

What Happens in the Synergy Art Studio?

What Happens in the Synergy Art Studio?

I see all the students in 50-minute class periods. Kindergarten through grade three is twice a week, and fourth through eighth grade is once a week.

The minutes below are a rough estimation of how class time is spent:

3 Minutes       Students arrive to class and get settled

7 Minutes       Mini Lesson (Introduce a center, technique, studio habit, artist, style, process, etc)

30 Minutes    Art making, small group instruction, assessment, collaboration, conferencing
with teacher

5 Minutes       Clean Up

5 Minutes       Reflect, share, critique

Students create their own projects. For those who are stuck, I remind them that artists create art from what they see, what they remember, what they feel, and what they imagine. I am also working on a list of big ideas for the artists who are really blocked.

Max sharing his pigeon drawing!
Pigeons visiting the art room, charcoal on paper, by Max I.

Potential Centers:




Recycled Materials Sculpture


Print Making

Fiber Arts

Puppet Making

Book Making


Jewelry Making

Digital Art

Mask Making

And More…

Being that this is my first year introducing TAB, I don’t expect to open all the centers above. As students become more comfortable with the process and show success in taking out and returning materials in a neat and timely manner, more materials will become available. I am told it takes a couple years to achieve the ideal flow, engagement, and production of art. Knowing the Synergy students, they will probably be a little faster than average (in my humble opinion)!

“Imagination is more important than knowledge.” (Albert Einstein)