One Art Class, Many Project Ideas

Caleigh Classen shows the class her plan for her project.
“The assignment is really whatever we want to do but it has to be two projects at once. I’m deciding to do an acrylic self-portrait and a watercolor landscape of a fantasy world that I’ve created. I haven’t worked much with acrylic so I’m hoping that I’ll get better at that through this assignment and I don’t draw landscapes that often so working on this will also help me with that.”

Nate Kalinyak continues working on his project of drawing and designing houses. He hopes to build mini versions of these houses out of balsa wood later.
Nate explains his plans for after college and why this project will help him in the future.
“So I’m going to college for architectural design and basically I was doing research on it and the hardest part about the program at Wentworth is building the house models for the house that you design and I wanted to do this so I could get ahead of the curb in the classes there.”

Mrs. Thomas allows the class to go around the room and share their projects with the class. This allows her to give her creative input and help them to make their projects better. This also allows the students to hear what everyone else is doing.
Mrs. Thomas explains why the Thornton Academy Art Program is stronger than many other high school programs.
“These students come to me with solid experience in researching and developing their own project, so this is a great opportunity for them and for me to work with them because they have an interest, they have a desire to make art. I think this kind of a class is so important at Thornton because we have so many talented visual artists that do go on to major in art programs or to work in the creative professions. When students come back to visit us, we often hear that these kinds of classes actually help them in the work world. In this class I really feel like I’m their art coach because they’ve had other teachers that have taught them skills that help them get here. We have a wonderful program, we’re so fortunate to have the electives that we do.”

Mrs. Thomas helps student Nate Kalinyak to add more angles to his house design. She suggested that it would give the project more depth.
Anna Bruner explains the importance of having reference pictures.
“We put photos and reference pictures in our planning for a few reasons. Part of an advance classes is the ability to plan a piece and make what you originally plan, and having those images or your original inspirations help.”
She continues by explaining that students take inspirations from other artists and so they put their pictures in their notebooks to see how successful artists have used techniques.
“It’s part of the ‘good artist copy, great artist steal’ methodology,” Anna explains.
Anna Bruner explains her unique idea for her project.
“For my concentration, I’m doing a series of portraits of people as their favorite animals, so last I did Laney as a possum and Hanright as a bear.”
Megan Bainbridge tells the class her ideas.
“I’m thinking that this is going to be some gender expectation bending which means that it’s women doing things that are traditionally masculine and then men doing things that are traditionally feminine.”
She plans on accomplishing this by using feminine colors and patterns in a picture of someone doing masculine activities.
Bree Berube shows off her portraits and explains how she is using this project to improve her art skills.
“For my first project, I wanted to work with portraits using charcoal and do it on newspaper. I really liked how the words and artwork went together and part of the goal is to get better at portrait studies and using richer values to convey emotion.”

“Sketchbooks are a place for artists to practice skills and put down ideas. They’re an important stepping stone to making full works”, says Anna Bruner.
Caleigh begins sketching out her picture in her notebook before adding colors to it. Next to the sketch she put watercolor samples of the kinds of colors she would like to use.
Because the class is doing projects of their choice, it creates a more relaxed environment. The kids are able to use the art supplies to their benefit and not feel stressed about it being the way the teacher wants it, because it’s all up to them. The students are more invested in this project since everything is their choice.
Lorraine Sun cuts paper for her project that is all about her childhood.
“My theme is my childhood memories so I’m going to do 12 painting of a girl doing different things in the forest.”
Megan experimented with sewing in this project in order to give it more depth than just a drawing on paper.
“The sewing machine was rough while I was working on these first few. It kept jamming up and I really needed help from my mom, and I’m really lucky because she used to be a seamstress and so is her grandmother. She told me she’s really happy I’m starting to sew because it’s like a family tradition.”
Caleigh Classen continues transferring her work from her sketchbook to her final draft paper.
Mrs. Thomas sits at the table as kids come up to her one after another asking questions about how to improve their projects. She is always willing to suggest ideas if they ask, but she won’t step on their toes since the project is whatever they want it to be.
Caleigh begins transferring her rough draft sketch onto the paper the final product will be on. This can be scary because you don’t want to mess up or make a mistake.
Lorraine continues to paint her 12 pictures of her childhood memories.

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