Silly Skeletons

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!

Watercolor Painting

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

Pencil Transformation

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!


Portrait of My Art Teacher

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!

Summer Sketching

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.


Complete A Half Drawing

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.






Finished Pottery


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

Portrait of an Artist


For this assignment, students learned how to draw a portrait from a photograph using pencil-measuring techniques. Above left is my example, and the right image shows a student’s progress. While students worked on their drawings, I delivered presentations introducing them to interesting facts and important works for each artist.

Below: Pop artists Andy Warhol and Keith Haring.

Below: Surrealist artist Salvador Dali and photo-realistic portrait artist and photographer Chuck Close.

Below: American painter Georgia O’Keeffe and Mexican painter Frida Kahlo.

Below: Cubist painter Pablo Picasso and surrealist Salvador Dali.


cover contest

Kapa’a Middle School held a cover-art contest for its annual Literary Magazine publication. This was an optional assignment for students who had extra time in class or who were motivated to create something at home. Here are a few entries that students submitted…


Below are the 2013 winners! The left image was used for the front cover, while the right was printed as the inside title page for the magazine.


Scratchboard Art

scratchboard 01

Students tried to capture the life-like expression and character of an animal, bird, reptile, or sea creature for this assignment. The main focus was on rending a naturalistic form using value tones created through visual texture.

scratchboard 02

scratchboard 03

scratchboard 05

scratchboard 07

scratchboard 06

Advanced students were given more creative freedom when choosing the subject for their scratchboard design, since they did a similar assignment in my class last year.

scratchboard 04

Elective Night 2013

elective night

Families, faculty, and community members were invited to enjoy an evening to celebrate the hard work and talents of Kapaa Middle School students in their Elective classes. Basketball and square dancing kicked things off, followed by chorus and ukulele performances and delicious cookies made by Home-Ec students. The Science teachers also joined in this year with interactive labs and demonstrations for a combined event.


The Art display was enhanced this year with our purchase of professional display boards! This was an exciting development from last year when I was literally hanging artwork from the window-blinds. It was impressive, if I do say so myself!


Chris did a fabulous job with his media crew, and live-streamed the whole event on Kauai Stream. Other media included a sneak peak of the Yearbook, Computer Class projects, photography, and viewing/listening stations highlighting the GT Media students’ films.

Thank you to everyone who helped put on this fun and successful event!