Ardenwald Elementary! You are Amazing!

What a lovely school. What a great 5th grade class. Your school is like walking into another world. And your art ROCKS 5th grade!

Ardenwood 5th Grade Watercolor Residency

Ardenwood 5th Grade Watercolor Residency

Teaching art to elementary school students first sparked my intellectual interest to collaborate with the classroom teacher to integrate art into the academic curriculum. My challenge with Ardenwald was to figure out how to do this in 50 minutes with 30 fifth graders and demonstrate watercolor nonetheless.

My personal goal for teaching is to always bring into the classroom what is currently going on in the studio. This year has been a year of 30”x 40” figurative oil paintings as part of an Artistic Focus Grant generously funded through the Regional Art and Culture Council.

Prior to coming, teacher Jenny and I determined through email correspondence, that the students recent reading of tall tales would be a good launching point for subject matter. I chose to show them the work of artist David Levine known mostly for his caricatures and lesser known for his extraordinary handling of the figure in watercolor.

To start the class, I brought in one large unfinished painting discussing how unfinished could be called finished. The long and the short of it was that one student successfully completed his watercolor painting in one session by integrating his pencil drawing with the translucency of watercolor. The rest of the class was ready for their backgrounds. Their teacher said they could finish up on their own the next day.

I emailed teacher Jenny some watercolor samples to help along the great progress that had occurred, and I was invited back to help in person. The next session produced finished paintings for nearly everyone. I was able to demonstrate some reductive methods of painting, transparent washes and layered color mixing. And they began to understand that while many of the watercolor methods are immediate, others are methodically time consuming.

When asked what they learned, students recognized the importance of drawing, drawing large, and thinking in terms of shapes and not worrying about erasing or perfection.

I hope the principal reads my blog. Teacher Jenny is awesome, the 5th grade kids so kind and responsible… and in your hallways, everyone was so happy, well mannered and friendly. It was a pleasure to work at your school. I am sorry I could not post everyone’s work; it was all so good.

One Response to Ardenwald Elementary! You are Amazing!

  1. Sheila Shaw says:

    Hi Joanne

    Thanks for spending time with us at Ardenwald. We appreciate your time and commitment to the integration of art. I am glad to hear your impression was positive. Staff and students work very hard to make our school be the best it can be :)

    You are welcome back any time!


    Sheila Shaw
    Principal Ardenwald Elementary

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