Blind Contour Line Self-Portraits & Piet Mondrian

This week was a full week of art!  Currently, 3-5th grade have been working on self-portraits in a variety of ways.  The first technique they learned was called a “blind contour line” portrait, which is when students used a mirror to illustrate their own face, but the catch was – they could NOT look down at their paper OR lift their pencil up.  It had to be done in one long continuous line.  This made for lots of challenging fun!


Next students were allowed to look at their paper while they worked, but they still had to use one long continuous contour line.

And finally, they were asked to create a “normal” self-portrait, paying extra special attention to their features that make them unique such as birthmarks, freckles, braces, dimples, glasses, etc.

Lastly, I had the pleasure of visiting the nursery school this week where I taught the little ones about Piet Mondrian and his use of primary colors.

It was a very lovely and eventful week!

Getting into the Groove!

We are currently in our 3rd week of school and routines are close to being established.  Students are getting the hang of the art classroom again; it’s like riding a bike.  One of the newest routines I’ve introduced to students are Bell-Ringers for grades 3-8.  Upon entering the classroom, students have a bell-ringer assignment on the board that they are to work on right away.  They have 7-10 minutes (depending on the grade).  Bell-Ringers are done in their sketchbooks.  Here was this week’s bellringer:

Bell Ringers 2017-2018.jpg

These were just a few of the lovely responses I got…

Portfolio production continues…

All classes are currently working on designing their portfolios.  The portfolios will take about 2 class periods.  Students are asked to illustrate their name large on one side, and draw whatever they like on the other side.  The portfolio process is particularly exciting for parents of younger kids: the progressions and development of their skills is significant and VERY noticeable from the beginning of the school year to the end.

Choice time for 5th, 6th, and 7th Grade

Something new this year for our middle school students, is something called choice time.  On Wednesdays, students in grades 5-8 have the opportunity to choose where they would like to go for 20 minutes.  The options are gym, art, computers, library, game room and study hall.  I have had several visitors 🙂  This is really a wonderful thing for the students, because they have the opportunity to explore, investigate and do their own thing…


Art Begins for the Nursery School

Finally, art is officially in session for the Little Littles as I call them.  This week I read The Dot to the pre-nursery and read a book about the artist Paul Gauguin to the nursery school.  Pre-Nursery worked on Dot paintings and the Nursery students worked on colorful landscapes inspired by Gauguin.  I actually drew my inspiration for the Gauguin lesson from a weekend visit to the Art Institute of Chicago.  They currently have an awesome exhibition of Gauguin’s work called Gauguin: Artist and Alchemist.


Thanks for tuning in!  This week has been great 😀

The Dot

Hello Parents, Students, & Blog readers!

Thank you for bearing with me and continuing to tune in despite my absence these past 2 weeks.  The month of September had not started off kindest to me, however it is getting better – and just in time for Rosh Hashana!  🙂

I like to begin the school year with introducing my pre-nursery – 3rd graders to the book called The Dot.  It’s a fabulous story about a little girl who is frustrated with art and doesn’t believe she’s good, only to later discover that she is really, indeed fantastic.

the dot


I really love how this lesson translates across grades, and it’s really incredible for me to watch how students of various ages, execute the project.

The nursery school students used primary color paint and corks to stamp dots all over their paper.  They get to see how colors mix and make other colors (just like Vashti in the book!).


Kids in grades k-3 do their project a little differently.  They use circular objects to make “dots”.  I show them how they can put dots inside dots, overlap dots, put dots behind dots, etc.  And then I explain how the picture will not look like anything in particular, and I seize the opportunity to tell them about abstract art,  using the artist Jackson Pollock as reference.  The kids get so into it and they made art that just blew me away!


Please stay tuned so I can share with you what the kids in our upper graders are doing!

Painting Galore!

These last few days have been filled with lots and LOTS of paint…and if you teach art – you know that paint = mess = fun = lots of work.  I usually spread my painting projects out so that they aren’t occurring simultaneously, but that just hasn’t been the case this week and I’m totally fine with that!  My tables are looking beautiful, bright and abstract!

This week I’m having kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grade play with primary colors.  I took rolling pins and covered them with bubble wrap and asked the little ones to cover their pins with red, yellow, and blue paint.  Then they were able to have at their papers by gently rolling the pin up and down their large white paper.  They were so excited to see the variety of colors they were getting.


The results have been beautiful!


We will add more to the dried pieces next week, but that is a surprise!


This week with 5th grade, I’m having 5B create color wheels.  I typically save color wheels and paint mixing for 6th grade, but I felt this group was up for the challenge, and they definitely were.


Look at the concentration on those faces!


I of course can not end this post without mentioning our school’s Purim celebration last week!  We had some amazing, amazing costumes: the creativity was out of this world!  I only wish I was able to get more pictures…

Here were some of my favorites:

And here was my costume:


What do YOU think I am??

Space…the Final Frontier?

A lot of times when we hear the word space – we think of outer space.  In Art however, space means something a tad bit different.  I have been really focusing on the elements of art this week with 5th-7th grade.  5th and 6th grades have been learning about the element of Space and what that means in Art.  They have learned about background, foreground, mid-ground, horizon lines and vanishing points.  One of the biggest concepts I’ve been teaching them is how objects appear smaller in the background and larger in the foreground.

I showed the 5th and 6th grade students how to illustrate a sun-set desert scenery with cacti that get smaller in the distance.  I also showed them how to illustrate a bedroom using perspective.  This always get the students tremendously excited because they can design their own rooms.

Here are examples of what the kids have been doing:

3rd and 4th grade have been working on one of my most favorite lessons to teach: Matisse Mugs.  If you’ve read my first entry, you would have seen that Matisse is my favorite painter.  I love his use of patterns and bright colors.  Although they may seem amatuer to someone who’s not familiar with art – Matisse was actually an incredible painter.

Students viewed a few of his pieces that are very patterned.



They noticed the warm colors and cool colors (and pointed out it appears to be the same woman in both paintings) and identified patterns.  Then they got to work creating a still-life mug, using either warm or cool colors, followed by illustrating Matisse-inspired patterns.  **Fun Fact- the painting on the right sold for $33 million dollars**

Here are a few of the beautiful results.  Parents: you might want to frame some of these and hang them in your kitchen…especially if you are an avid coffee drinker like myself.

Finally, we have been doing rainy day wax resists in nursery school – 2nd grade.  Students start off by illustrating rain with white crayon on white paper (last week).  When they first do this – they’re a little confused because they can’t see anything.  But then the “magic” part happens (as I call it).  We paint over the white rain with variations of blue paint and the rain “magically” appears.  They love it.

This week we made umbrellas to glue onto our rainy day paintings.

I also seized the opportunity to teach them about the colors of the rainbow, however they already knew them – so I was pleasantly surprised…

Back from a Mini Hiatus

It’s been quite some time since I’ve had time to post, so I have plenty to share!  We went on winter break and upon returning to school, I was extremely busy working on decor for Tu Bishvat and Siddur: hence the lack of entries.  However, I have some beautiful pieces to show you.   🙂

On Monday, January 11th, I went the nursery school and introduced the students to the artist Paul Klee.  I showed them one of my personal favorite pieces to view at the Art Institute of Chicago: In the Magic Mirror. 


It’s essentially a face created out of a single line.  I had the students play with a string to try and create a face with a single line as well.  Once they found a design they were happy with, we glued it down and added googly eyes.  Afterwards, I showed them how to illustrate a “normal” face.

5th -8th grades worked on Hamsas.  They learned about symmetry and designed a symmetrical hamsa.  Next, they etched their designed Hamsa onto a piece of foam board and created something of a “hamsa stamp”.  They inked it up and made multiple prints.  I absolutely loved the outcome.



The last project I’m very proud of – was the Chagall stained glass windows that I worked on with pre-nursery – 3rd grade.  I showed the students the stained glass piece on display at the Art Institute of Chicago called: America Windows.

We talked about some of the common images that pop up in Chagall’s artwork such as birds, kosher fish, menorahs, etc.  Students created their own “stained glass” by gluing tissue paper to transparency paper.  Some of the students illustrated Chagall-inspired imagery onto pieces of tissue paper and glued them on top.

The results were positively stunning.  Don’t these make the winter view a tad bit more cheerful??


Wayne Thiebaud, Mondrian, and a Selfie-stick

Dessert is absolutely my most favorite part of any meal.  This Thanksgiving, while making a dessert for my family dinner, I was reminded of the artist Wayne Thiebaud who is most famous for his paintings of pies and cakes. Theibaud’s most expenisve painting sold in 2013 for 6.5 million dollars.  8th graders practiced illustrating a variety of desserts and then created a final copy on a sheet of black paper and colored with oil pastels.

I am currently working on a giant menorah for the auditorium and I wanted the students to be apart of the creation of it.  I asked 3rd and 5th grade to design and create each of the 9 menorah candles.  Some groups went a more abstract route while others went a more design oriented route.  When it is assembled, it should be very colorful, and hopefully beautiful.


4th graders are finishing up their 3-D hand projects and they did such a nice job.  I also tested out my recently purchased selfie-stick.  It takes some great aerial view photos.  😉


This week I visited the itty bitties at the nursery school and taught them all about the artist Mondrian and how he used primary colors: red, yellow, and blue then we got to work on our own Mondrian inspired art work.

This was a great art week.  Here are some extra photos of kindergarten being extra creative with their clay (which by the way – as the school year progresses, my students tend to get extremely creative with their clay manipulation) and 5th grade completing their beautiful, BEAUTIFUL Zentangles.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.




A Very Motivated Week

Although this week was short, the students have been extremely motivated: especially 8th grade!  We have been painting in our Kosher Fish in the 4th grades, 8th grade completed their color wheels, and early elementary have been illustrating whales which will be painted when we return from Sukkot Break.



wpid-wp-1443203520165.jpg wpid-wp-1443203513410.jpg wpid-wp-1443203507739.jpg

Students this week have been so awesome with helping out!  Two of my boys from 4A helped me clean out paint containers and 8th graders were helping each other out with getting the correct colors for the color wheel.  Motivation and Teamwork are definitely the key phrases of this week!  Wishing you all a happy Sukkot Break!  -Ms. Calleros

wpid-wp-1443203495349.jpg wpid-wp-1443203490373.jpg