Tag: collaborative

Art Lesson: Collaborative Relief


At my previous school I always taught a lesson on the grid method by creating a collaborative grid with my students. Each student would get a section of the original image, and they had to enlarge and re-draw it. In order to accurately re-draw the image they had to pay attention to where lines and shapes intersected the outside edge of the image, which in turn taught them the basic concept of the grid method (read more about this here).

In the process of changing schools I also changed my teaching title, which meant a lot of new lesson planning was ahead of me. I was now exclusively a sculpture teacher, teaching 3D I and 3D II classes. Although I had taught sculpture in the past, and spent a lot of time in ceramics class in high school and college, I felt a lot of pressure to re-create assignments, and think outside of the box. After all I was moving to a private school with an established and impressive art department, I felt I had big shoes to fill in my new work environment.

Although it has been stressful at times trying to produce examples and create new projects, I have loved every minute of it. It truly is amazing how different a class can be when you actually have the budget to support it. I now had the ability to teach interesting, complex, and creative projects, without the fear of running out of supplies with no money left in my budget.

As excited as I was to have a new challenge in my life, I did miss some of my old projects, including my Intro to Art collaborative grid assignment. One day while reminiscing on the past, as I often do, it dawned on me that I could do a collaborative grid project in sculpture, by focusing on relief carving. I had my doubts that everything would come together during the project, but once all of the pieces were in place, I couldn’t believe how amazing it looked. I am so proud of my students and I hope another sculpture teacher can find an interesting way to implement this into their class.


THE ASSIGNMENT: Collaborative Relief

OBJECTIVE: For students to learn the history and techniques of relief carving, and apply those techniques in a collaborative relief carving project.


  • Lizella Clay
  • Rolling pin or slab roller
  • Ruler
  • Needle tool or knife
  • A variety of clay tools and textured items to carve and add texture
  • Low fire underglaze (I used blue, green, red, brown)
  • Low fire clear transparent glaze
  • Kiln
  • Wood panel
  • Black Paint
  • Heavy duty glue


1. I began this project by introducing my students to the artists, Brunelleschi and Ghiberti, and the famous Florence Baptistry doors competition. I had the students vote on which “Sacrafice of Isaac” relief they liked better, and we continued to discuss the doors as well as the Gates of Paradise doors.

2. After the history lesson I introduced the assignment. I explained that I would randomly hand out a 1″x1″ section of a larger image, and they would have to recreate it as a relief sculpture on a 6″x6″ clay slab. We discussed carving techniques and looked at the variety of tools they could use to create different textures.

3. After the assignment was explained they got to work. Before they started the project I had taken an image of our Fine Arts building, divided it into a grid, and put a number and letter on the back of each square (1A, 1B, 1C, etc.). I made sure to make a few copies, the students tend to misplace their squares and it helps to have extras on hand. As soon as the students got their slab square cut they had to flip it over and carve the letter and number into the back of it.

4. After the students completed their squares I fired them and had the students glaze them. I knew every line and shape would not line up in the image, so my goal was to create a sense of unity through the glaze. I instructed the students to loosely paint underglaze onto their tile (I set up a few colors of blue, green, brown, and red) allow it to dry, then wipe it off with a wet sponge. This technique caused the underglaze to stick in the textured areas, and wipe off of the smooth area, giving it a loosely painted quality. Once the colors were added they painted a layer of clear glaze on top, and once again wiped it off. I loved the shiny vs. matte look this created.

5. Once the pieces were fired a final time I glued them to a piece of wood I cut to size and painted black. My plan is to eventually add a black frame and display it in the Fine Arts Building.


My students were as impressed as I was with the final product, and it was a huge hit at our annual art show. I love how each piece is important to the whole, and how it truly came together in the end.


Thanks for visiting my blog, I hope you find useful information you can use in your classroom! Please comment if you have additional tips, ideas, or have done something similar in your class! Thanks for helping my spread the word about my blog by liking, tweeting, commenting, and subscribing! I couldn’t do it without you!


Mixed Media Art: Encaustic Water Tower

Mixed Media Art- Encaustic Water Tower


This is the second piece mixed media art I want to share with you from my new series, mixed media objects. This one is made using similar methods as my chair painting (click here to see it).

I collage patterned paper to create a base and switch between melting layers of wax and cut outs to create a sense of depth. To top it off I painted a water tower, using oil paint.

This is another addition to my “mundane object” series. Water towers have always been intriguing to me with their round, cylindrical shapes dotting the horizon, intermixed with tree tops.

I love how they can become a town landmark, or transform into golf balls, peaches, and a variety of odd shapes. However, my favorite are the old, abandoned, rusted through towers. The once beacons of forgotten towns and abandoned warehouses.

This piece reminds me of an afternoon walking through the abandoned warehouse across from my apartment complex in college. Nick, my roommate Theresa, and I spent the day walking through falling in rooms, photographing broken windows, and graffiti. It began as a plan to fulfill my photography class homework assignment, and ended as a mini adventure. One of my favorite photographs from that day is the old water tower, paired with a large oak. Both co existing, somewhat forgotten, yet still standing tall and proud.

If you would like to participate in my new series share a memory, thought, or a simple word association with this piece or water towers in general. I would love to include your comments in my next piece! Thanks for your help and your support!


Visual Journal Page 34: Putting Things Back Together


It was spring semester, my second year teaching. My first year dragged on in the begnning, and flew by in the spring. I felt like this entire year was flying by faster than I could sit back and process it. Spring semester meant an entire new group of students, and a fresh start after Christmas break, I loved the block schedule we were on.

Having a new group of students also meant starting from square one once again. All of the projects I just finished up were going to be repeated by the end of the year. Introduction to Art moved from more advanced painting to step one shading, contour line drawing, and covering all of the basics. It begins to get a little repetitive after awhile, but it is nice to already have PowerPoints made and materials prepped. However, n order to maintain a little bit of excitement in repeated projects I cover the same basics, but with different topics, and this visual journal page is an example of one such project.

The grid method. It’s a blessing, a curse, a tool, a crutch, and something I cover every year in Introduction to Art. It teaches students how to break down an image into smaller squares, and re-draw it using the intersecting lines and shapes as a guide. The grid method is a confidence boost, because at least 90% of my students create a successful work of art and learn how breaking down an image can help re-create it. The downside is when I have students in my advanced class wanting to continue with the grid, rather than even attempting to try to draw it without that crutch. I like to think of the grid as a learning tool, it helps you learn to break down images, it teaches proportion, but if you always depend on it, you are only going to be able to develop as an artist to a certain point.

Despite this I enjoy seeing my little artists’ confidence grow as they see how their drawings are coming to life, and beginning to resemble the original image. I introduce this drawing tool by doing a collaborative class project, and I love collaborative projects. Each student gets one piece of a larger image, one 1″x1″ square. It’s impossible to tell what the image could be, all they see are shades of black, white, and gray, and a stray line from time to time. Each square has a letter and number on the back, a clue to where their piece will end up being placed. They must take this square and enlarge it eight times, to an 8″x8″ square. They must use the edges of the square as a guide, where do the lines intersect, where does the color begin to change, in order to re draw it larger.

As they finish their pieces they eagerly turn them in, and I start the reconstruction process. Each square is taped together, each piece is added to the whole, and no one can’t wait until the big reveal day. Even after teaching this project 5 times, I still love the day I get to stand in front of the class, and slowly turn over our now very large image. The lines never line up, the image always looks wonky, but you can always tell what it is. This time a Ferris wheel is revealed, and I bask in the oooohs and ahhhs and the pointing out of their squares.

Each student is creating one piece of a whole, each one is responsible for a part, and the image will not work without their effort. The collaborative aspect drives them, it encourages them to try their best, to meet the standard put in place by the best artist in class. I love seeing the sudden recognition in their eyes as they see what their piece created, and see what an integral part it plays. Through this assignment I hope they learn how to enlarge an image, maintain proportion, understand techniques to re create an image, and above all I hope they see that they can work together to create something beautiful, important, and one of a kind, and that sometimes it takes a group to piece things back together.


  • Visual journal
  • Rubber cement
  • Scissors
  • Xacto Knife
  • Ruler
  • Book Pages
  • Sharpie


This was a painstaking page to make. It took a lot of time, a lot of small cuts, and a lot of patience. Every time I do this project I print off multiple images of the original, grid off at least three copies, and cut up at least two. It is inevitable that a student will lose their piece, or forget to label the back. This time around was no different than the others, and I was glad to have spare pieces to hand out. Although at the end of the assignment I was still left with one uncut image, and one cut up image, and I decided to make a page about it.

I wanted to create an image that appeared as though it was falling apart, or coming together depending on how you look at it. I started by gluing down the cut up squares on the right side page. I started by keeping them close together, perfectly aligned, and slowly spread them out, making them look more chaotic. Once all of the squares were glued I ripped up a few pieces of my book pages, and glued it down along the edge. I wanted it to look as if the squares were pushing the words around on the page.

I then decided to glue the uncut image on top, which was easier said than done. Because I didn’t want to cover the background I had to cut all of the background out of the original. This meant cutting in between each spindle, line, and skinny shape. I put my Xacto knife to good use that day. Once I finally finished, I glued the final piece down, and wrote my words in sharpie.


Create a page about your favorite art project. It can be from Kindergarten, college, or a craft project you did last weekend. Have fun!

Thank you for stopping by, reading my post, and supporting my blog! Don’t forget to share with your friends, I can’t spread the word without your help! Tweet, like, email, comment, and subscribe!