Feb 222014

Kapa’a Middle School’s Art students finished their tiki sculptures with either a pure white or natural brown glaze.  By limiting to one glaze color, the emphasis of this 3-dimensional work remains  the carved textures, modeled form, and sculptural details.


In addition to expressive tiki characteristics, some students chose to include added symbolism to represent a specific hawaiian tiki god or their own special meaning.


While mainly decorative, the tikis can also serve a variety of functions, from garden art, candle holders, incense burners, or creative containers to hold knick-knacks.  Melted colorful class at the base adds a colorful surprise when you look inside!

The sculptures pictured here are only a few samples to represent a range of students from 6th, 7th, and 8th graders selected from all of my classes.  In all there are 170 tikis that required a total of 500 lbs of clay, 5 gallons of liquid glaze, a number of kiln loads, and 4 months to complete!


 Posted by at 11:29 pm
Feb 202014

“Collaborating for a Cause” was at the heart of this project that involved collecting plastic and waste from local beaches and making a statement about the environment.  After several beach clean-ups and discussions about our message, students got creative inventing ways to make socio-political recycled works of Art.


The title of this artwork references the power and source of the famous “Delorean” from the movie Back to the Future. This iconic car travels through time completely powered by feeding trash into its flux capacitor. Flux is the action of flowing in or flowing out, and capacity is the maximum amount that something can contain.

The artwork titled “Flux Capacity” displays an incredibly powerful, beautiful, and dynamic force of nature that is infected with non-biodegradable plastics that are currently plaguing our oceans, beaches, and marine life. This is a call to all surfers, swimmers, and beach-lovers to join in an effort to clean our waves and water!


This artwork seduces you with its beautiful colors and painterly design.  Once it draws you in closer, it may come as a surprise that parts of it are made from colorful plastics collected from our local beaches.

Sometimes it takes a different viewpoint or creative eye to find something that we normally think of as ugly trash, and turn it into beautiful artwork.  As you allow this work to sink in, you may begin to uncover the layers of meaning that are captured here.


As you read the message in this artwork, who do you see?  Plastics and trash were adhered onto a mirror surface so as you read the words “Our Beach,” you also see yourself.  The reflection might evoke feelings of personal responsibility because we all play a part in overconsumption.  We can also all be part of the solution!

When students came up with the message they wanted to communicate through this artwork, they initially said “Your Beach.  My Beach. Our Beach…  Make a Difference.”  The final artwork was streamlined to impact viewers with a simple and meaningful idea that connects us all.



This group of artists formed their composition on a large plastic buoy that was found littering one of our local beaches.  The mosaic of colorful found-plastics looks beautiful, yet also implicates the threat our Earth faces.

Look closer and you may also notice some familiar island forms whose symbolic colors stand out against the blue-green seas.  The same threats that face us globally, also ensure imminent local impact.  Let’s make a positive difference!

 Posted by at 7:39 pm
Dec 152013

During second quarter Kapa’a Middle School Art students created a ceramic sculpture with a Hawaiian tiki theme. Along with clay hand-building techniques such as coil and slab building, students also explored the history and symbolism of tikis. These modern tikis represent students’ unique interpretation of an ancient cultural practice. While some students chose to include symbolism representing one of the four ancient tiki gods Lono, Kanaloa, Ku or Kane, others chose to invent their own tiki god.

This week I’m loading up the kilns to prepare for bisque firing. When students return from Winter Break they will finish by glazing their sculptures. Stay tuned for the final Artworks!

 Posted by at 3:20 pm
Nov 182013

This post marks the accomplishment of a personal goal that I set for myself about a year and a half ago. For anyone who might be unfamiliar, a National Board Certificate is like an advanced teaching credential that is nationally recognized. The NBPTS website explains, “While state teacher credentialing programs set the basic requirements to teach in each state, National Board Certified Teachers must demonstrate advanced teaching knowledge, skills and practices.”

It was a long and grueling process that involved portfolios demonstrating my teaching style and curriculum, video submissions of my classroom teaching, photographs of student work, and even a trip to Oahu for a content-based examination. I certainly can’t say that it was fun, but it was the most relevant professional development I have encountered in my post-graduate work.

I have to give a special thanks to my husband, Christopher Sanderl, for all of his love and support throughout this process. If there are any teachers out there who are interested, I’m happy to share my experience and advice!

 Posted by at 10:34 pm
Oct 262013

Look closely at these skeleton bones and you’ll notice they spell a name! This crafty project has my Advisory students busy making a seasonal decoration for the classroom. The best part is they used odds-and-ends left over from my Art classes including cardboard boxes, scraps of white drawing paper, buttons, lace, ribbons and shreds of fabric.

This lesson is a great opportunity to teach students how to write in cursive (many kids don’t even know how to write their own name!). Check out Beautiful Bones for another artsy skeleton project!

 Posted by at 3:35 pm
Oct 082013

Kapaa Middle School Art students were inspired by a “Water Life” theme for this watercolor painting project. While exploring various watercolor techniques, students also learned about asymmetrically balanced composition and value created through texture.

The idea for this lesson was inspired by a similar project titled “Beyond the Border,” posted by Art teacher Michelle East. Students used the Rule-Of-Thirds to place the focal point of their subject off-center. The main subject extends beyond the inner rectangle onto the border, which is left black and white. The final result is an illusion that part of the image is spilling over the white border that frames it.

Watercolor techniques included wash, value-gradient, color-gradient, glazing, wet-in-wet, salt, isopropyl, splatter, and blowing with a straw. Students practiced the techniques by making a bookmark with all of the techniques labeled for reference.

Finally, crosshatching and stippling were applied with a calligraphy stylus (the kind you dip into an ink-well) to create depth and shadow. Black ink outlines were also added to all contours as well as the defining edge of the frame.

Pictured below are some of the sketchbook activities that went along with this lesson.

Sketchbook Activities
Click here for Self-Evaluation and Assessment Rubric

 Posted by at 7:08 pm
Sep 072013

The first drawing assignment I presented to Kapaa Middle School’s 6th, 7th, and 8th grade Art students requires some imagination! I stumbled upon this lesson idea while exploring Jodie Hurt’s website (another middle school Art teacher who posts on the web!), and decided that it would be a fun way to start off the new school year.


Students learned how to look at a picture of an animal or object and break down the complex image into simple shapes. First we practiced contour drawing before adding the pencil drawings and color inside.


After completing their drawings, students wrote EXPLANATORY PARAGRAPHS about the artistic process. Even after successfully completing the artwork, it was a challenge describing what this “pencil drawing” was all about!


I’m including the ASSESSMENT RUBRIC for the assignment, which includes both Hawaii’s Content & Performance Standards as well as Common Core, for any other teachers out there who might want to try this out!


 Posted by at 8:48 pm
Aug 052013

Welcome to another fun year of Art! I’m already really enjoying my new bunch of middle school artists, along with a pretty large group of returning “Advanced” students too!

portrait of my teacher_1

The first warm-up activity was to draw a “Portrait of My Art Teacher.” Students began at the top of the page with my head, then folded the paper down, and passed it along. The next person continued drawing the torso without being able to see the first part of the drawing. Students continued to draw, fold, and pass the paper until the entire portrait was complete. The best part was at the end when they unfolded the paper to see the final (often funny) results!

portrait of my teacher_2

Seeing my students’ impression of me was great entertainment and a fun way to start off the class!

 Posted by at 12:42 pm
Jul 282013

watercolor pencils

Summertime is my favorite time of year. Months off from school, mango season, beach days, and time for projects are only a few reasons why summer rocks! Aside from a short visit to California, we spent most of the summer vacationing at home and enjoying all that Kauai has to offer!


Between multiple house projects and chores, I also found some fun time for simple sketching… It’s been a while since I played around with watercolor pencils.


By the looks of it, I was most inspired by delicious fruit this summer! It’s impossible to count the hours I spent collecting, slicing, freezing, dehydrating, and baking mango recipes. Our cat, Callie, also enjoys the extra company around the house and makes sure to get in some extra attention with her cuteness.


 Posted by at 7:25 pm
May 202013

01 half

This project was one of several end-of-year activities focused on drawing the human face and figure. When I surveyed students at the very beginning of the year, many of them expressed an interest in learning how to draw people. What started off as a quick introductory lesson resulted in some fantastic final drawings!

02 half

Requirements for the picture selection were fairly open as long as students chose a photograph of a person and cut it so that they were able to draw at least half of the face. Some students opted to print a picture from the Internet, while others hunted through my magazine collection for a good portrait.


I allowed students to choose whether they wanted to use colored pencils, or do a value study with regular graphite. In many cases students completed one of each! Dividing the photograph could be approached in a creative way as well, with zig-zag cuts, torn edges, and interesting angles.






 Posted by at 1:16 am
May 012013


These images follow the original Pottery Wheel Demo I shared back in January. It was challenging to make sure nearly 170 students each had a turn to throw considering we only have 5 wheels! Somehow we made it happen before running out of time at the end of 4th quarter. Pictured are students’ very first pottery wheel projects… great job kids!


All cups and bowls were fired to cone 5 with non-toxic food-safe glazes. There’s nothing like enoying a tasty treat from your own handmade pottery!

food safe

 Posted by at 6:11 pm
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