Apr 222015


This year’s recycled art project involved smashing soda cans, reusing cardboard boxes and transforming the combined pieces into a unique work of art. Students explored the contemporary work of French artist Didier Triglia, before coming up with their own original designs based on his style and techniques.


Lots of sketchbook work and planning helped students to envision how they might transform the irregular 3-dimensional form of a crushed soda can into something new. Next came their favorite part of smashing the cans! After my first period made a noisy racket, I got smart and required that students do the smashing part outside.


Some students chose to reveal parts of the original can label within their design, while others covered up all the aluminum with acrylic paint. Do you see where the can is in each composition?


The background of each artwork includes heavy pattern, outlines and borders. Many students also incorporated extra can tabs, bottle caps and other recycled material.


An article titled 11 Artists Doing Amazing Things With Recycled Materials by Jill Harness complemented this lesson by exposing students to other styles, materials, and ideas.


Finally, we looked at portraiture from one of the most influential artists of the 20th Century- Pablo Picasso. Students readily identified stylistic comparisons between Didier Triglia’s “can heads” and Picasso’s stylized and abstract faces.


 Posted by at 9:33 pm
Sep 012014


The first project of the 2014-2015 year for Kapa’a Middle School’s art students was to create a mandala design that would also be used for their sketchbook covers. This multimedia lesson served as an introduction to radial symmetry and repetition of line and shape.


The underlying colorful circles were created by brushing liquid watercolor onto a paper spinning on the pottery wheel. Although it isn’t clay, this gave students an opportunity to use their all-time favorite tool!


Starting from the center, bands of watercolor were applied until students reached the outer edge of the paper. Students also created interesting streak and drip affects by blowing the wet paint through a straw while the wheel was spinning.


Once the watercolor paint was dry, students used colored pencils to draw a mandala on top of the colorful background. Tools such as rulers, compasses, and circular objects helped to create accurate lines and spacing.


Students also enjoyed learning about the symbolism, history, and cultural practice of mandala creations. They were especially fascinated by Tibetan sand mandalas, and puzzled about why the artists would eventually destroy the intricate design they so painstakingly created.


Finally, students incorporated inspirational quotes or affirmations to inspire them every time they look back on their mandala design.


 Posted by at 1:16 pm
Apr 012014


Copper Tooling has become a favorite medium that I bring back every year due to popular demand. Although the same techniques are employed, I always change the project theme to keep things interesting. In past years we explored abstract designs with colorful borders, and Hawaii’s endangered species. This year’s theme involved exotic animals from lands far away.


This art teacher believes in research and planning before launching in to any major project, and copper repousse is no different. We spent two full lab days exploring various animals, sketching ideas, and taking notes on common names, species, habitat, and interesting facts.


Once a basic contour of the exotic animal face was established, students filled it in with designs and textures. For ideas I had them enter “zentangle animals” into their search browser. Stylizing the frontal image and adding additional texture to the face resulted in a much more complex and interesting design.


A final drawing on paper followed the sketchbook planning activities. This drawing was transferred directly onto the copper foil, leaving a slightly indented image. The longest and most labor-intensive part of this project involved tooling and chasing techniques to create a 3-dimensional relief using wooden tools to rub and stretch the copper.


Final steps included antiquing the copper with liver of sulfur, polishing with steel wool, and protecting with a high gloss acrylic varnish. For display, students used colored pencils on black railroad board to finish the composition with a creative border.

 Posted by at 12:26 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
Apr 012013

This 3-dimensional relief project involved creating an abstract design using expressive lines to divide the composition, and a variety of textures to fill the spaces. Students created the center of their formal design with Copper Repousse, and continued the lines and patterns on a wide border using vibrant chalk-pastels and colored pencils.

copper details

The details above show an angled view that reveals the 3-dimensional relief pattern at the center of each design. Below you can see the finished projects, which are fairly large at 25″x25″.

Lilli Kessell & Halle Lazo
Lilli Kessell-Fay & Halle Lazo

Emily Johnson & Mia WamsleyIsaiah Sacramed & Jazmine Kaleohi
Isaiah Sacramed & Jazmine Kaleiohi

Alyssa Pinoliar & Maeghan Fostanes
Alyssa Pinoliar & Maeghan Fostanes

 Posted by at 8:24 pm
Aug 302012

The 2012-2013 school year is off to a great start in the Kapaa Middle School Art classroom! It is becoming my yearly tradition to begin with the construction of a sketchbook that each student makes and then uses throughout the rest of the year. I try to come up with a different theme or design for the sketchbook cover each time because it keeps things interesting for me and also for my repeating students. Here is a sample of some of this year’s student cover designs…

The final covers are laminated and folded vertically down the center so that “Sketchbook” appears on the front, and student names are on the back.

This year’s theme involved vertical “stacks” of letters and shapes. The lesson explored letter design along with the element of texture, and principles of pattern and balance.

Although students were given the same steps and basic instructions, they still came up with a wide variety of interpretation and unique perspective.

Great job to all of my Art students! I hope that you become good friends with your hand-made sketchbook over the year, and that you spend many creative hours together!

Now for a weekend of grading! Here they are all color-coded, lined up, and ready for evaluation…

 Posted by at 9:38 pm
Nov 202011

This is the time of year when Chris and I launch into a frenzy of homemade crafty projects in preparation for the holidays. In an attempt to avoid the commercialism that can often feel overwhelmingly expensive and sometimes wasteful, I decided to use recycled materials as inspiration instead.

Handmade jewelry made from beach treasure might be a nice gift for some of the ladies I know, but now what can we do for the guys?

 Posted by at 1:40 pm
Nov 042011

Kapaa Middle School Art students recently finished a two-part project featuring skeleton drawings that were cut out and mounted on a watercolor background. As an introduction, we studied the Hispanic holiday of Los Dias De Los Muertos and looked at skeleton artwork by the famous Jose Guatelupe Posada.

Students began with a small printed image of a skeleton and instructions to not only draw the image, but to enlarge it by 4 times! This was accomplished by measuring a grid that enabled them to draw the complex figure in small sections while maintaining the correct proportions.

While the process of measuring, drawing, shading and cutting of the bones was painstaking and meticulous, the background allowed students to be more expressive and free-form. Students were introduced to 6 different watercolor painting techniques which they practiced in their sketchbooks. The only requirement for the final background was to incorporate all 6 techniques.

“An artist will sooner and with more certainty, establish the character of skeletons, than the most learned anatomist, whose eye has not been accustomed to seize on every peculiarity.”
– Rembrandt Peale (American Artist & Naturalist)

 Posted by at 4:10 pm