Focus on the Good!

Election results have many DC locals feeling pretty low these days. Understandably, our politically charged town took the news hard. Students, who took an active role in school, local and national elections, were shocked to hear that their candidate didn’t win. But on the bright side, our students are winning each and every day at Maury Elementary! These kids, their creative energy, and their desire to make change in our community is one of many highlights of 2016, in my opinion. Studiomaury vows to continue to highlight the best and the brightest as one year winds down and the earth rotates around the sun for yet another full year ahead! Here, in the safety of our creative space, we will remain focused on the things we can change and use art as our medium to communicate ideas, opinions, and solutions!


Here are a few of the exciting things we’ve accomplished so far at the start of the 2016-2017 school year!

For grades K-5, weeks 1-3 brought a rainbow of personality to the halls of the East building! As a way to welcome each unique individual back into the studio, we created expressive self-portraits using different analogous color schemes for each grade level. This unit tested our knowledge of advanced color theory. Not only did we need a firm grasp of our primary colors, we also had to understand how secondary and tertiary colors are created based on the relationship between different colors on the color wheel. We practiced stretching our ability to create light and dark values by doing a monochromatic draft of our self-portrait. In order to squeeze every value we possibly could from just one simple crayon, we applied visual textures such as blending, hatching, cross-hatching and stippling to diversify the feel of our work without changing the hue. Quite the challenge! Come time for our final drafts, we focused on two colors that were side-by-side on the color wheel, like red and orange, and explored all the different values possible between those combinations. The results were stunning and so much fun to study up close. At every  trip past the display, a new and captivating portrait revealed itself. My favorite part about this collaborative piece was that it was clear that each and every Maury artist was unafraid to take bold risks when creating their individual work of art. Keep it original, Cougars! img_5991




While our upperclassmen and Maury staff were hard at work on their analogous self-portraits, the littlest cougars were on their very own color exploration. For many of these kiddos, it was their first time entering our very grown-up art studio. We spent the first few days engaging with new media as we learned about studio procedures and safety. Something as simple as sitting in a stool was a huge accomplishment for such young learners. Although the high stools are fun, it’s still a treat to lay on the floor as we create art together!


Tackling the primary colors was our first goal of the school year. We used eye droppers like scientists and created secondary colors on paper towels by blending water stained with food coloring. The fine-motor practice yielded stunning results. Our art studio is draped with nearly 100 colorful rainbow flags boasting the results of what happens when primary colors mix to create secondary colors!



Up next was understanding the relationship between complementary colors. Complementary colors are colors that look great side by side due to their strong contrast, but when mixed, create a neutral like brown or grey. Many artists use complementary colors to create compelling works of art. On the color wheel, you can identify complementary colors by searching for colors that are directly across from one another. They are typically comprised of a primary and secondary color. For example, yellow and violet, red and green, and blue and orange are all compliments. Our Cougar Cubs explored complementary colors by creating three complementary color combinations on coffee filters using washable markers and then spraying them with starch to witness what happened when the colors blended. By the end of our mini-experiment, all artists understood that side by side their works of art were stunning, but after getting doused, became dull and often less compelling.


Finally, warm and cool color families were explored. Warm and cool colors are analogous, or side by side, on the color wheel. Warm colors are red, orange, and yellows and all the tints and shades created from those colors. Cool colors derive from blue, violet and green. These colors have an emotional impact on us, as it is said that warm colors tend to be more active in works of art while cool colors recede and make us feel more subdued. Artists employ warm and cool colors in strategic ways to awaken the emotions of their viewers. Our display of student work asked the Maury community to weigh in on their preference between warm and cool color schemes. Which do you prefer?


In conclusion, I would be remiss not to share the wildly successful visit from POW! or Pots on Wheels early this fall. The POW! truck spent a few awesome hours prominently parked out front and what ensued under the leadership of the traveling artists on board left a lasting impact on all 4th graders involved. Thanks to Aunt Lizzy for sharing the opportunity with us and for thinking of none better than her Cougar family to expose the magic of ceramics!


Make a pot, take a pot! There were so many brilliant vessels for us to choose from, all the way from Penland School of Craft in Western NC, the previous stop along the trail.


Getting the low down as the rain set in. The downpour didn’t keep us from spinning and handbuilding our own ceramic creations!


One of the four stations we rotated through involved painting slip (liquid clay with pigment) onto greenware (unfired clay). The layer of slip provided a dark base for us to carve into the clay.


A favorite station among our artists was the chance to use a kick wheel to spin a pot! This experience was so valuable for students who are not often able to throw a pot on a wheel in elementary school due to the physical challenge and expense of the process. The opportunity to spin a pot may just have inspired the next generation of potters!


At the third station we got to handbuild ceramic vessels from scratch. We began with a hunk of clay, rolled a slab, scored and slipped the seams and added a base. The result? Solid clay cylinders ready for sgraffito and firing!


Handbuiding is the focus on many of my own works of art so it was fun to share the process with my students before beginning our own ceramics unit in class.


Finally, artists got to make good on the promise of “making and taking” pots. Once a wheel thrown or handbuilt pot was complete, artists could hop inside the truck and select a pot that spoke to them. Yummy snacks filled our small vessels and hungry bellies after an afternoon of hard work!


We’ve only just begun so stay tuned! Help spread the word about our fantastic art studio and get your friends to follow along at








4 thoughts on “Focus on the Good!

  1. Wow! You have done so much great work! The portraits are awesome and I love the primary color work. What a super opportunity it was for you to have the pottery truck with a wheel!!! The kids have no idea how lucky they are. (It was nice seeing a lot of them in the post, the new 4th graders look so big, they have definitely crossed that bridge…) We miss the high quality art at Maury and I miss you!
    P.s. The room is looking good. I love the new table cloths, especially the one with oranges. 😁

  2. I love reading your blogs Ms. Bomba. The depth and detail that you present to each child as they start a new project is amazing. Thank you for loving what you do and believe me it shows!!

    Mrs. B

Leave a Reply to Kathleen Bomba Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s