Art Gumbo–flavors of the last few weeks

It’s been a busy few weeks at Maury ES and it’s nice to sit back and relax on a Sunday evening (as my beyond wonderful fiance cooks up some fall-inspired butternut squash soup!) and reflect on what our Maury artists have been up to.

It is such a breath of fresh air to walk into the preschool classrooms each week to the sight of paper plate turtles draped in tissue paper hanging from the ceiling, messy paper mache works-in-progress lined along the windowsill, and music from around the world filling the air. Mr. Scott and Ms. Levin take art seriously. I am happy I can add 45 minutes of my expertise to their weeks but even happier knowing that teachers who infuse art into their student’s everyday experience are out there.

We took a day to experiment with the liberating medium: oil pastels. These chubby,  half crayon/half paint wands of magic can make the most hesitant artist feel like a creative genius. The ease and control of blending colors in the familiar fashion of holding any old writing utensil makes oil pastels accessible to us all. Our preschoolers were not afraid to blend, mix, mash, overlap and smear those suckers across their canvases. Oh to be 3 again and unafraid to make “mistakes”!

Getting the hang of the oil pastels and keeping a tidy and organized station while in process.

Operation: Scissors! I have been so impressed as I’ve assessed the scissor/cutting skill level of our early childhood artists. I am seeing great technique (as Ricaya is demonstrating above) and safety has been spot on. The kids even taught me a fun little trick to remember scissor safety–pretend you are clenching an ice cream cone with the big, colorful, round, plastic part on top and the triangular shape in your fist at the bottom. I’ll never mishandle scissors again as long as I have ice cream on the brain, and that is most of the time!

Cutting straws has got to be one of those ageless delights. Try it sometime and watch them fly!

I love how Ms. Levin brought her class to tour the art studio. Just a taste of intrigue to whet their whistles for next year when they are bigger and a bit taller and ready to tackle those stools.

COMING SOON: The Very Artistic Caterpillar. Our preschool artists are creating 3D caterpillars in the fabulous collage-style of Eric Carle. Can you spot him among the tote of supplies?


Our PreK “All Kinds of Lines” project wrapped up nicely. Come check out our educational display outside the art studio and across from the library.

If you haven’t heard yet, we have acquired a secret passageway into the art studio. We aren’t sure where it came from or how long it will last,  but we’re enjoying it while it’s here.

Cardboard, wax paper, tin foil, coffee filters, fabric, and straws–ask your artist which material is easiest and hardest to cut and WHY. I bet they’ll be able to tell you.

Showing that cardboard who’s boss!

I love the combination of tranquility, concentration and collaboration the preK artists bring to the studio. We get A LOT done and I am impressed by them everyday. They have already mastered foreground, middle ground, and background in the most impromptu of ways. Spontaneous learning is one of the best things to witness as a teacher. Swoon.

Pleased as punch with her coffee filter tutu invention.

I promise this shot was not staged. These two came up with the bright idea to help each other cut the strong fabric. If you apply the right amount of resistance, the scissors just glide through. Like butta, baby!

Let the collage-ing begin!

Our collages at rest in the drying rack, overlapping and all.

Kindergarten has been mastering the art of watercolor.

Tap, tap, tap. I love the sound of artists tapping off the excess water before diving into the next color pigment.

Following oral instructions. Artists became experts at the directions horizontal, diagonal, and vertical. I tested their knowledge by calling out a direction and a kind of line to draw. It was great to see how everyone interpreted the loose directions in their own way. For example: Draw a bubble line going diagonally across your page. Draw a triple, vertical, straight line.

Our second grade Cosmic Alphabets are on display across from the Nurse’s Suite. Come check out our wall of lines and letters.

Third grade has finished up their Dot Creatures and are now diving into the world of value. We are looking at Picasso’s blue period to better understand how artists use shade and tint to create monochromatic color schemes.

In fourth grade, our artists used olive oil and wheat flour to pull their own fingerprints. They stamped their fingers to tape  and made a real fingerprint with an ink pad to find the contour lines of their own unique print.

Once that print was made, students enlarged their fingerprints to highlight the contours–the outlines or exterior edges created without shading–of their fingerprints. The results are simple yet striking.

And lastly, fifth grade has been working hard to create continuous line portraits first, in oil pastel and next, in WIRE. We got our inspiration from the sculptor, Alexander Calder, who in addition to his mobiles, created interesting portraits from wire. Wire helped us understand what it really means to work continuously. Lifting your pencil from the paper is oh so tempting but with one strand of wire, the task becomes more apparent.

Using mirrors to perfect their self-portraits.

I appreciate the dedication to creating one continuous line throughout this self-portrait. Cute bun!

These girls are strong. Wire bending is hard work. I’m glad they’re still smiling!

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