May/June News (video at end of post)

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All the art is down from the halls, the last firing of the kiln with the last of the fourth grade clay tiles is done, and I have been very busy doing an inventory of the last of the art … Continue reading

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March ( & April) Art News

In March, third grade artists completed watercolor pieces called “Inchies”. An “inchie” is art that is one inch square. Our artists did a grid of 70 “inches” using three watercolor techniques: wax (crayon) resist, tape resists, and salt “lifting”. We completed the watercolors before our spring break, and when we came back, peeled-off the tape and rubbed-off the salt to reveal the wondrous effects. Students discussed the results, and we will use these techniques again in fourth grade art. In the first week of April, we also completed collaborative radial art designs. Some of this beautiful work is currently being displayed in our halls.
Fourth grade art classes completed their colored pencil shading project, “Bots”.
Now, fourth grade artists are doing a “Zentangle” abstract art project. Learn about Zentangles HERE.
In fifth grade art, we are wrapping up our “Altered Books” unit, plus are constructing clay “big-mouth creatures” using the pinch pot method. The clay project started after our spring break, and will continue throughout April, with the bisque and glaze firings. Below is a picture of the “creatures” from last year:

It is hard to believe that another art year is almost over! The last weekend in April is our Annual District Art Show at AHS, concurrent with the spring high school musical. As I gather up all the artwork for the show, I am continually smiling at all the lovely, creative art our Leighton students have produced! I hope you can make the Art Show (free & open to the public), and see how our students’ creativity blossoms through the grade levels. Many of our students go on to premier art programs with wonderful career opportunities. Just this past week, I saw some beautiful medical illustrations (on display at University Hospital) done by a former Aurora student!
The “creative economy” is described here: “The Creative Class, which comprised less than ten percent of the workforce in the late nineteenth century and no more than 15 percent for much of the twentieth, began to surge in the 1980s. Since that time more than twenty million new Creative Class jobs were created in the United States. This epoch-defining class now numbers more than forty million workers, a third of the workforce, and it generates more than $2 trillion in wages and salaries–more than two thirds of the total US payroll. An additional seven million or so Creative Class jobs will be created over the next decade, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics projections. Members of the Creative Class engage in complex problem solving that involves a great deal of independent judgment and requires high levels of education.” citation: Creativity Is the New Economy, by Richard Florida, 4.12.2015, Huff Post Business.

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January/February Art News

Third grade art: We completed Zonkey Cartoons in January using acrylic paint. If you want to know what a Zonkey is, check out this video:

(video from Art @ Apex HS, Ian Sands, instructor)

Fourth grade art: In January, we used “Design Thinking” to create actual wallets out of cardboard, paper, fabric, or duct tape. Design Thinking is a process of making quick prototypes out of cheap materials to work out design bugs, making changes in the final piece, and being open for revisions in later design cycles. In our case, students made two paper prototypes before we went on to the final art. Also, each student worked on a MINDMAP about wallets—their function, color, size, materials, etc. to oraganize their thoughts before prototyping.
Our technology integration team has suggested a free online platform called “Mindmup” for creating mindmaps. Created maps can be saved to Google Drive, and even shared for peer-editing.
Screen Shot 2015-02-27 at 3.16.31 PM

Fifth grade art: Students worked in collaborative teams to make Graphic Novels, based on a randomly chosen literary tone. Students are learning about “tone” in Language Arts, and being able to combine text and words to emphasize the tone (such as “scary”, “contemporary”, or “funny”) helps students understand the concept of “tone” better. Each table illustrated the Greek myth, “Pandora’s Box”, but the results were all unique based on the artists’ creativity and tone. This art project was aligned with both state art standards and Common Core literacy standards.
“At Your Library” has a great listing of graphic novels appropriate for grades 3 through 5:

In February, all grades are participating in a very exciting project. We are making art for a collaborative photomosaic mural that will be displayed at Akron Children’s Hospital in honor of their 125th anniversary. Parents, guardians, and friends will be able to enjoy the mural in October 2015, and find the images online once the mural is up at You can learn more about this project (and see examples) from Project S.N.A.P., the organizers, at
Screen Shot 2015-02-27 at 3.19.09 PM
(image from Project S.N.A.P.)

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What to Do When You Are at Home (Practice Art)

At LES, students do not need to do art homework, even on snow days! Yet, I have a great resource for my students who would like to work on drawing skills–it is a website that shows you how to draw LOTS of animals:
This book is online from “open library”, and you can download it as a PDF, or just look at it online while you practice. Although it is from 1913, the lessons are still great for drawing cartoons, animals, and even in perspective.
Screenshot 2015-01-07 15.11.48

If you are drawing from this resource, please bring it to school. I would love to see it (actually, I love seeing any art that is made by my students)!

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First Semester Review

A lot of wonderful art has been made in fall/winter 2014! In my first semester newsletter, I summarized it all and am including a screenshot below…Screenshot 2015-01-07 14.58.22

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November/December Art News

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Third grade watched a video of contemporary artist, Wayne Thiebaud. Then, they used tempera paint to create a cake picture, including parallel lines in their cake slice. Fourth grade is wrapping up watercolor experiments. In one picture they used three … Continue reading

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October/November Art News

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In Third Grade, we completed two projects: clay pinch pots with faces, and “creature behind my door”. The creature drawings were hidden behind a tag board door design, utilizing small motor tracing and cutting skills. We worked on those in … Continue reading

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Welcome to Art 2014/15!

The school year is off to a cool start at Leighton Art with third graders learning how to draw “Ninja Eggs”, and 4th/5th graders creating “360 Degree Doodles” the first week of art classes! Then, we dove into our regular schedule and third grade drew in their brand-new sketchbooks and started Flip Books, fourth grade finished their positive space/negative space sketches and are nearly ready to make their Radial Prints, and fifth graders are also doing Radial Art. Here is the flip book video we watched for inspiration in third grade (we are only doing 10 pages though, not hundreds):

The fourth grade prints will be made with collograph blocks. Students might even be inspired to try this readily accessible form of relief printmaking at home–all you need is some cardboard, scissors, glue, and your imagination! “Think “collage” when you think “collagraph” and you’ve got the key to this style of printmaking. A collagraph is a print made from a plate that’s built up from anything you can stick down onto a base of cardboard or wood. (The word comes from the French colle, meaning to stick or glue.) The materials you use to create your collagraph plate create textures and shapes, while how you ink the plate adds tone to the print.

A collagraph can be printed as a relief (inking the top surfaces only) or intaglio (inking the recesses) or a combination. The method you use will influence what you use to create your collagraph as intaglio printing requires far more pressure. If something squashes under pressure, the result can be quite different to what you expected!” (source citation:

Fifth grade radial design required students to find circle diameters, divide fractions with different denominators, and hone ruler measuring skills. Of course, the most famous radial designs can be found in nature (artichokes, sunflowers, nautilus shells, etc.), but the artist most commonly associated with radial art is M.C. Escher. Radial design gives learners a great opportunity to use a little math while they are creating, plus reinforces some key terms used in the Math Core Content. I can’t wait to post some of the beautiful art on our digital gallery, Artsonia.

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Summer Symbaloo

Once again, many cool websites to make art without downloads (screenshot below) at
Picture 1
May News: Third and fourth grade students used “perspective” to complete colored pencil drawings (“Magic Boxes” in third grade and “Cityscapes” in fourth grade). Perspective drawing involves mathematical principles, ruler and measuring skills, plus reinforces geometry concepts such as “parallel lines”, “right angles”, and “vertices”. Fifth grade students created “Altered Books”, turning donated, out-of-circulation books into works of art using many techniques: pop-ups; pockets; found poems; collage; creative folding. From Wikipedia “Altered books may be as simple as adding a drawing or text to a page, or as complex as creating an intricate book sculpture. Antique or Victorian art is frequently used, probably because it is easier to avoid copyright issues. Altered books are shown and sold in art galleries and on the Internet…
Recycling old books and using them as art journals has also become popular with some art bloggers and proponents of upcycling.”

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April News

April was a busy, busy month at Leighton Art! Third grade students made mobiles, starting with reviewing the concept of SYMMETRY. We carefully folded paper and made intricate cuts to reveal beautiful patterned insects, layering colors of construction paper. We then strung the insects on yarn to make a mobile. Fourth grade created abstract oil pastel triptychs, utilizing VALUE and vibrant color. This builds on prior investigations of value. “Value is defined as the relative lightness or darkness of a color. It is an important tool for the designer/artist, in the way that it defines form and creates spatial illusions. Contrast of value separates objects in space, while gradation of value suggests mass and contour of a contiguous surface.” (citation: We have been exploring value all quarter in fourth grade art, which is one of the Elements & Principles of Art.
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Fifth grade had 2 projects going at the same time: clay and something called a “Limitation Drawing” In clay, students had a choice of 3 design categories: slab-built vase, slab-built gnome, or pinch-pot constructed “big mouth creature”. Can you guess which one was the overwhelming favorite to try? While the clay was being air-dried, then bisque-fired, students worked on their “Limitation Drawing”. This involved drawing a grid on their paper paper and “multiplying” designs like in a multiplication table. That is the limitation. Then, students used their creativity to add color, pattern, and shading to vary their drawings, using markers and/or colored pencil. Limitations are a catalyst for creative thinking, a concept used in the real-world in industries as varied as medical research, writing (haiku is a great example), and robotics.

Vases, gnomes, & big mouth creatures.

Vases, gnomes, & big mouth creatures.

Big mouth creatures.

Big mouth creatures.

So cute!

So cute!

Finally, we ended April with the Annual District Art Show at AHS, which ran the same weekend as the high school musical. Hundreds and hundreds of beautiful pieces of art were featured, from the HS AP art portfolios to Harmon Middle School to Leighton and Craddock. HS students, our district art teachers, and an LES parent volunteer and their student helped hang the art in the large gym off the HS cafeteria. If you missed this year’s show, please put it on your calendar for next year (always during the spring HS musical).

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