Over the course of this summer, I have invited students to upload work via classroom mode on Artsonia with a chance to win prizes. So far one student has really taken me up on that challenge and I am happy to announce that by being the first student to upload her work, Ava wins a bonus gift card from Artsonia where she will be able to purchase an item of her choice from their online gift shop. Here is the work she uploaded: 
There is still time to upload work for the July challenge and the drawing for another Artsonia gift ca
Congrats to Ava, our June Artsonia Upload Challenge Winner! Ava will now get to choose to have her creation on a mug or sketchbook from the Artsonia gift shop. I would recommend the sketchbook, since it is a requirement for next year's class. 

Check out Ava's winning work below that she created for the West Michigan Chalk Art Festival: 
Ava's Artist Statement: This is a peacock that I drew for the West Michigan Chalk At Festival in Byron Center. I used chalk pastels and an assortment of brushes and it took me 7 hours to complete!
If you are bummed that you missed the June Challenge and want a chance to win your own sketchbook or mug from Artsonia, you can enter work in the July Challenge. I will be emailing the upload code later today, or you can email me for more information. 

If you are interested in participating in a larger competition, check out Celebrating Art's competition. The upload deadline is August 22nd - plenty of time to make new art, or use work from last school year.  
This has got to be one of the best year's ever. From numerous competitions won to over 4,000 works of art posted to our gallery, I am completely floored with the amount of quality images produced over this past school year. As I have done in previous year end posts, it is time to reflect on it all. 


The year started on a winning note as 7th grade student Emma McCloud won the first ever ArtStart Competition through ArtPrize. It was thrilling to see her work end up on TV as she was selected in the top ten of all entries received.


Photoshop Phridays were a new activity added to weekly art making in the classroom this year. Students revised works through the magic of digital editing. We published over 900 works to that exhibit on Artsonia this year!


Due to the materials provided from a funded DonorsChoose project, students were able to experience felting with wool. It is fun to experience new materials and teach my students new ways of expressing ideas. Thanks again to all who helped fund this project!


Sooper Art is an annual competition that challenges students to create art about the environment. 7th grade students Anna Pavlak and Emma McCloud were among the 15 winners in their age group and their work was on display at the Grand Rapids Art Museum as a result! I look forward to participating again next year.
December marked our Winter K-12 District Art Show. It is always fun to see what students are creating at all levels and showcase the work being created in our district.


Student work was on display at the Kent Intermediate School District for the month of January. It was fun to have the work on display and students enjoyed being a part of the exhibit.


This was the first year that I had ALL 5 student entries make it into the show at the GRAM. Four of them went onto State and two were named as top 15 for Middle School work in the State of Michigan. Congrats again to Sara Thompson and Morgan Baker for this honor!
The Scholastic Art Awards celebration for the West Central Michigan region was also in February. We had 16 students honored and 5 works qualified and went onto the National competition. The work shown above resulted in a National Silver Medal for Makenzie Reid. Congrats again to all of the students who participated!


Empty Bowls has been an annual tradition at our school that helps families in Byron Center. It is a great night of art and music and our community.


Students took up the challenge of researching and presenting artworks on our Spring field trip to the Meijer Gardens. This idea stemmed from other teachers who use similar methods when engaging students on trips. It was perfect and I plan to do this again in the future.


We had a great turn out for our end of the year art shows at both the Van Singel Fine Arts Center and at WMS. It is always fun to end the year by showcasing the talents and works of students.
It is always fun to work on collaborative projects with my students. This piece was created through a series of glaze applications that were drawn into to reveal color before firing. I learned about this process at the NAEA Conference earlier in the school year.


Celebrating at Carnegie Hall for the 2014 Scholastic Art and Writing Awards was a stellar way to finish out the school year. I am so proud of Kenzie and this accomplishment and look forward to the opportunity to participate again in the future.

Some Summer Thoughts...

This past school year has been one of the best and I don'e see why the fun cannot overflow into summer. Here are three things students can think about and work on to keep art skills in shape before heading back to class in the fall: 

1. See lots of Art with GRAM Meijer Free Tuesdays! I am going to try and make it downtown every Tuesday to walk through the Grand Rapids Art Museum galleries and view the works on display. Although the exhibit does not change over the Summer, I am sure I will stumble upon new ways of looking at works and pick up new ideas and inspiration as a result. If you and your students would like to meet me on an upcoming Tuesday, please email me and we can try and work something out. 

2. Get a sketchbook and draw! I am taking my own advice on this one, too. Drawing is a great way to hone observation and fine motor skills. It is also the most accessible way to create images fast. If students are not sure what to draw, there are several websites like Illustration Friday that gives weekly challenges and where artists can also share work. If students are interested in getting a super cool personalized sketchbook, you can order one with their Art on it from Artsonia. 20% of purchases goes towards supplies for our classroom.

3. Do the June Artsonia Challenge! Students don't have to stop making Art because it is Summer. I would like to invite them to share what they are working on by posting them on Artsonia. Students who participate by June 30th will be put in a drawing to win an Artsonia Mug or Sketchbook with their Art on it. I recently set up a new exhibit that students can contribute to - email me and I will send you the upload code.
It was so great to spend some time with Kenzie and her mom before the big celebration at Carnegie Hall. We both sported our Scholastic National Medals for a photo before heading to dress rehearsal on Friday.
You can see the full Carnegie Celebration through the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards Webcast.
The project I taught that lead to Kenzie's Silver Medal Winning work, Copper Head, was inspired by Alexander Calder's wire portraits.
This past weekend has been a whirlwind of activities. From meeting with award-winning students and teachers from across the country, to hearing inspiring speeches delivered by notable creatives in the industry of design, literature, and film, I had an amazing time in New York City for the National Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. 

It was such an honor and thrill to see Makenzie get recognized by this organization that has a 91 year history of saluting outstanding student talents in Art and Writing, fostering many to become standouts in creative industries. In addition to seeing the work, learning with teachers, and enjoying the celebration, I also had a chance to explore and be inspired by the city. Some of my favorite moments include walking from Central Park to Battery Park, passing through Rockefeller Center, Times Square on the way to Parsons to pick up our tickets, and proceeding onto the 9/11 Memorial and then Battery Park. I was excited to be invited to The Pratt Institute gallery and hear from leaders in the field as we discussed how to best prepare students for their next experiences. I also enjoyed exploring the High Line Park and viewing the work on display at Whitney Museum of American Art (who is moving location in 2015). 

I want to give a special thanks to everyone who donated and helped Kenzie make it to this celebration. I want to give a special thanks to the Byron Center Fine Arts Boosters, who foster so many creative experiences for our students in Byron Center, as well as BCPS Superintendent Dan Takens, Fine Arts Director Marc Townley, and BCWMS Principal John Krajewski whose support helped make all of this possible. I work in an amazing district that helps students develop and reach goals, bringing them closer to their dreams.

It was a great celebration of creativity and hard work. I am proud to have had this opportunity and invite my students to start thinking over the summer about what works they might start to land them in NYC next year. 
It was fitting to end the trip by seeing this work from artist, Alexander Calder. Notice the similarity in style and subject from our winning work? Thanks, Alexander, for the inspiration!
Students finished out the year strong as they reflected on what they have learned and had a chance to create a work that demonstrated that. The two videos are a result of asking students to reflect on their learning and share it with others. 
In addition to taking their final exam on Moodle, students also created a work of art using methods and materials to demonstrate what they learned over the course of the term. You can see all of the creations on our online Artsonia gallery. 
One of the best parts of my job is the amount of time I get to play around with materials, experimenting with solutions before coming up with which solution works best and acting on it. It is even better when I give my students the chance to do the same thing. For their final projects, students are given a variety of choices in demonstrating the concepts and skills they have learned over the course of the term. 

For 7th grade, students can select to create a video, video game (using Gamestar Mechanic), or comic that covers art concepts and skills learned over the course of the term. Mid-way through their projects, students used a peer critique sheet to check on a partner's work and get feedback on their own. They then used the feedback to make their projects better. 

8th grade students are creating a reflection video where they select two works that demonstrate the most growth over the course of their experiences in Art. It is awesome that they can use their Artsonia gallery and go back years to compare projects and skills over time. They are also explaining the process in which they used to create their work and artists who use similar materials or concepts. 
In my After School Art class, we have been taking advantage of the sun by creating the Cyanotypes you see below. We are using NaturePrint Paper and any objects we can find to create the images below. Students are also experimenting with Gelli Arts printing plates to create a variety of images before we finish out the school year. 
Below is an example of the print made with Puffy Paint, bubble wrap, and some number cutouts from a Cricut machine. You have the print and the ghost, which shows how you can get more than one image from this mono print method. 
In two weeks, I will be heading to NYC to join my student, Makenzie Reid, at the 2014 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards National Ceremony. If it is anything like ceremonies from the past, it will be filled with special guests, awesome art, and inspiring stories around the power of creativity. 

I also want to thank everyone who has given a donation to help Kenzie afford the opportunity to attend. From her efforts on the GoFundME page and scholarships awarded from the Byron Center Fine Arts Boosters and our Parent Group, she is almost there. If you would like to help, please donate here. This is her current message to those who have helped and those who plan to help her get to Carnegie (also her birthday is the week of the celebration - so you could think of your donation as a birthday gift, too): 
Dear Family and Friends,

Its hard to believe that two weeks from today I will be in NYC! 
For those of you who don't know much about me, I am fourteen years old and currently in the 8th grade. I like school and I study very hard to get all A's. I want to go to college to be a Veterinarian. I have had my fair share of struggles at such a young age, my biological father past away five years ago of a massive heart attack, even though it has been rough at times I have an amazing mom, step-dad and two sisters and a great step-mom and half sister. I was also diagnosed with Crohns disease two years ago and I certainly don't wish that on anybody! Having faced some difficult situations has made me grow even strong in my faith. I made profession of faith in church last fall. I am blessed in so many ways!
I am so excited to have this awesome opportunity to go to NYC. I still can't believe out of 255,ooo pieces of art and writing submitted that I was in that elite 1% who won at the National level. I am the second student from Byron Center West Middle to have ever won at the National level before. 
There will be a live webcast of the ceremony on June 6th @ 6pm. I will post a link in a few days for those of you who would like to watch me walk across the stage at Carnigie Hall. 
Thank you so much for your support my family and I appreciate it greatly!

7th grade students finished their Zentangle Portraits earlier this week that were inspired by the 1960s. It was fun to see how they used text, pattern, line, color and shape to complete their works before posting it to our online gallery. 

8th grade students are working on Monsters this week, inspired by Takashi Murakami. It will be fun to see these sewn creatures come to life as students finish their works tomorrow and Thursday. Students are also felting details onto their works using the Donors Choose materials we received earlier in the school year. 
Tonight is the annual WMS Fine Arts Night at our school. I am really excited to hear the bands and orchestras perform and for students to see all of the work we have created over the course of the year on display. 

I am also excited about the opportunity to raise funds for our programs through the bake and art sale planned. Check out the cool collaborative piece my students and I made using a glazing technique I learned at the National Art Education Association Conference this year: 
One of my favorite parts of my job is trying out old ideas in a new way with my students. 7th grade students created images based on 1960s posters. We changed up the project a bit from last semester and I am still not exactly sure how it is going to turn out in the end. Today, the goal was to complete adding the Sharpie designs on watercolor paper and tomorrow we will have the option of adding color to the pieces through marker, watercolor, or other materials students would like to use.
Some students decided to use a strong contrast between black and white in their images.
Emma decided to include colored Sharpies in hers.
This is my example. I enjoyed filling the space with images and designs. It will be fun to experiment with watercolor tomorrow.
8th grade students finished up their printmaking activities today. In addition to creating their two-color reduction print, they were asked to create a series of digital prints and also had the option of mono printing with Gelli plates. 
Lauren's prints show a clear mood and use of the rule of thirds.
Chase made sure to use a repeating directional pattern to draw the attention to the center of his image.
Hallie was one of the first students to turn in her Photoshoped multiples inspired by Andy Warhol.
This was an example of using Gelli mono prints with a block print over top. Part of making art is seeing what happens when you try putting different processes together.