May 30

The Art Of Design

By Brenda Mullard | Uncategorized

The art of design process is the same every single time. Artists, young and old, go through a process every single time we do a project. Critical thinking and problem-solving are at the heart of what we do every day as art eduacators.

The Art Of Design: From Concept To Assessment Art Of Design

Download your The Art Of Design Poster HERE.

Ideas and Inspiration

The art of design begins with an idea. From projects to products… everything starts with an idea. I love the stories about ideas that start on a napkin. Inspiration hits and you just have to go with it. Sometimes students struggle with idea generation so we give them a little help with themes, media exploration, project assignments, etc. As students figure out what they like and how to find inspiration we as instructors give them less help. When we teach them to research and investigate the creativity can take over and they begin to be problem solvers and makers.

The Great Brain Dump

The Art Of Design

I have my students start out with what I call, “brain dumping”. Just throwing whatever idea comes to mind on paper no matter how good or bad. Just get it out on paper. Some write words, some draw pictures and some do both. In the art of design,  It’s just a quick way to start the ideas and inspiration process.

Design and Plan

Once students have ideas it’s time to take action and come up with a plan or many plans for that matter.

The art of design

In The Art Of Design, this is part of the creative problem-solving process. Thumbnail sketches are an excellent way for students to plan out compositions and artwork. Small sketches that help an artist work out a composition quickly is exactly what thumbnail sketches are meant to do.

Figuring out the type of media to use, the subject matter they will work with, and researching resources to use as a reference while students work is all part of the planning and design process.

Creating and Making

Many time beginner art students try to jump right into the creating and making phase in the Art of Design process. They find out pretty quickly that their projects are not very successful and they struggle with putting their piece together. This is why stressing the first two phases of the Art Of Design is so important. Of course, most students find the creating part the most fun and who wouldn’t want to jump right into that phase? Once students start creating and making they can also begin to ask themselves these questions:

  • Am I following my plan?
  • Is this working?
  • Do I need to change something?
  • Is it finished?
  • What do I need to correct?       

Even during the making process as you are giving formative assessment and feedback, ask students to try new things and experiment to learn things they may not have set out to do in their beginning plan.

Assessment and Presentation

In the Art Of Design ‘roadmap” students will be able to assess themselves, their artwork and if they were successful through the entire process. The three main questions I ask with every project are:

  • What went well in this project?
  • What didn’t go so well in this project? 
  • What did I learn by doing this project?
  • What would I do differently if I did this project again?

By answering these questions students can sum themselves up pretty well and I can get a very good idea of how they feel about the end result of the project they did.

Do you have an “Art of Design” process you follow?  

How do you ensure students take all the steps necessary to be successful in their process? 


May 23

10 Ways To Seriously Jumpstart Your Creativity

By Brenda Mullard | Uncategorized

I’ve been thinking and working on 10 ways to seriously jumpstart your creativity.

Get Creative

So a few weeks ago, we did our first our Art teacher drawing challenge in the Art Teachers Teaching Art Facebook Group. There is another challenge coming SOON! So make sure to watch for it. This is the perfect time to get creative for ourselves. We look for the perfect project to do and we look for the perfect time to actually be able to do it. Well guess what, there is no perfect anything for anyone at anytime. So here are 10 ways to seriously jumpstart your creativity.

1) Stop being a perfectionist!

I will repeat this again, there is no perfect anything. There’s no perfect time, no perfect project, no perfect place to even do any kind of artwork that you really want to do. Just start something. Write down some ideas and just do something. Don’t worry about it being perfect. You may not even have a finalized project in my mind. You don’t need to know what the end will look like. Just try to start SOMETHING. Worrying about things being perfect totally crushes your creativity and it does nothing good for you. Being perfect is way overrated anyway.

2) Go Somewhere and Remember To Take Your Sketchbook With You

Creativity Sketchbook

Go for a walk, or maybe just go to a restaurant and look around. People watch! That’s super fun all in itself! Forget your sketchbook? Grab a napkin and a pen or a pencil and just start drawing what you see going on around you.

3) Surf The Web!

Web Surfing

There’s this amazing thing called Google. There’s another amazing thing called Pinterest both of these places have amazing ideas. Type in the subject or a location that you’re thinking about and boom you’re there. Use these images to inspire you to get ideas on things that you want to draw or paint or sculpt or whatever media that you choose to do work in. Remember copyrights do apply to most images on the web so use them for inspiration and accuracy. Never copy them or use them without permission from the photographer.

4) Listen To Music

Creativity Music

Choose the genre of music that you like the best to start out with. Play it soft, play it loud, do whatever it takes to get the creative juices flowing. There are multiple research activities done on the effects of music on the brain. Music is something that most people can relate to and it helps them to sometimes think more clearly. For me, I throw on a little Dave Matthews Band on and I am off and creating! Thanks Dave and the rest of the crew!

5) Keep A Sketchbook Or A Journal

Always have a sketchbook or a journal at hand at all times of the day for when an idea inspires you. Do some quick little sketches or write down notes to yourself of things that you would like to eventually draw, paint and create. Anything that just jumps out at you that you feel would be an interesting art piece to create later is a good thing to put in your journal for yourself.

6) Jump Out Of Your Comfort Zone

We all tend to stay in places we feel comfortable. It’s safe! But many times we need to push ourselves out of that comfort zone to try something new, try something different. We grow and we learn when we do things we are not used to doing. It’s totally uncomfortable for sure, but we stretch your creativity by doing things that we don’t always know exactly how to do. ‘Get uncomfortable to get comfortable”,  is one of my favorite saying.

7) Experiment And Don’t Be Afraid To Fail

So you try something new and you fail? So what? You’ve actually failed many times thus far in your life. As a baby, you failed multiple times trying to walk trying to talk even potty training. Did that have an effect on the rest of your life? Probably not. You’ve applied for jobs and didn’t get them. You may have failed your drivers test the first time around. Did that stop you from trying again? Most likely not.  So get out some art supplies that you have not used before or go to the craft store and purchase some things that you may not feel super comfortable with or know how to use. Open them up and just start “playing” with them. So you don’t create a masterpiece right away big deal. Try again! Still not successful? Do it again, and again, and again!

8) Take Some Pictures

Grab a Camera or even your phone and start snapping pictures of everything you see that interests you. With cameras at our fingertips at all times we have no excuse to go without some sort of resource or something that inspires us to get creative.

9) Seek Out Other Artists

Seek out of their artist that inspire you. Send them an email let them know that you appreciate their artwork and ask them some questions. I see artwork from various artists that inspires me all the time. I love sending an artist an email telling them how much I appreciate their work and they usually send me an email back telling me, “Thank you” for appreciating their work. I’ve actually built some very good friendships through this process.

10) Stop Comparing Yourself And Your Work To Others

Comparing yourself and your work to others is a complete killer of joy. You are not them and they are not you. You need to be original and do your own thing. Don’t worry about what other people think or what they will say. Because most of the time to be completely honest, people are not going to care that much. We think they will, but in reality they truly don’t.

So with all this being said, get a sketch book or journal,  go somewhere that you really really love with some music inspires you and start drawing and thinking about ideas of your next piece of artwork. Create for you and no one else. It’s time to put your creativity first again. For most of you, this hasn’t happened in a very long time and it’s definitely time to take care of yourself. Enough thinking, now start doing!

May 16

10 Things You Must Know To Land Your Dream Teaching Job

By Brenda Mullard | Uncategorized

The Application and Interview Things You Need To Know To Land Your Dream Teaching Job!

Here are the 10 things you need to know to land your dream teaching position.

Want to know art teacher interview questions used in actual interviews?

Click HERE to get them.

Dream Teaching Position

Applying and interviewing for teaching jobs can be exciting, nerve-racking, and just an overall process that’s really hard to understand.  What do you really need to do to land your dream teaching position?
I have started doing interviews for an art teaching position that has opened up in my district this past week. We’ve had some applicants and a few interviews already. I’m going to let you in on a secret or ten. Here are a few of the things that we look at when we are looking through applications and calling people in for interviews.

The top 10 things that we look at when screening applications and interviewing candidates for teaching positions.

1) Make Sure ALL of Your Information Is Up To Date

I cannot stress this enough. Make sure all of your personal information, your past education information, and your experience information is totally up to date! There’s nothing more frustrating in an interview than to be questioning a candidate and find that the information that they put on the resume or in their application packet is not correct or up to date. When your information is not up-to-date it’s an instant strike against you.

2) Create A Great Cover Letter!!!

The cover letter is the very first thing I look at. Create a great cover letter when you are applying for a teaching position. I read through multiple cover letters and find many things that turn me off to the candidate immediately. The incorrect position being applied for, spelling errors, or a cover letter that is basically a few sentences. BIG No No’s! These will not get a second look let alone an interview. Make sure you have the correct person or people addressed in your cover letter. I have had applicants address their cover letter to a human resources person in another district. It’s understandable that you use the same format for your letter when you’re applying to multiple places, BUT make sure you have the correct person or people addressed. Don’t copy and paste your letters. We can see right through it!

3) If You Say You Researched The District, Actually Know Something About The District!!

Some applicants that I interview state that they have researched the district in the cover letter. When asked what applicants know about the district, they usually have very vague answers and we can tell that they actually did not research anything about us. Know the district’s mission statement and what their focus is. Site these in your interview to show you understand the direction the school district is headed in. Mention examples and details about the school district. Such as initiatives they might be working on. DO THE RESEARCH!!

4) Give Examples Of  What You Are Doing Or Have Done In Your Classroom or Schools You’ve Worked In.

You may be asked questions such as,”Can you tell us a little more about the technology you use in your classroom.” You can say,”I’ve used a smart board.” Great!! Give an example of HOW you have used it. This is your “WOW US” moment. Make yourself shine!! Give examples of projects, special student situations, and assessment use.
It’s great to know the buzz words in education, but your interview committee knows if you are just using the buzz words or if you actually have experience doing these things.
5) Your Professional Education Portfolio

Professional Portfolio
We have countless applicants who come in with educational portfolios with extensive written lesson plans. These are fine, but honestly… we aren’t going to read them. I know… You put all that work into lesson plans during student teaching and you want to show them off. But really, we don’t have time for this. Pack your portfolio with pictures and use these when you talk about your experience and examples. When they say a picture is worth a million words, it really is. Make everything neat and professional looking. Use it as a tool to teach the interviewers about what you do.

6) Know The Position You Applied For

Most new teachers are willing to take any kind of position they can and are qualified for to just get their foot in the door. You may not be worried about landing your dream job right away. Make sure the position you are applying for is a position you will actually enjoy. Positions change from year to year. It’s just part of the career of an art teacher. You may feel like you landed your dream job. Congratulations! Ask about how teaching positions change from year to year so you know what to expect in the future. Understand that you my have taken a less than desirable position just to get started, but this position could also change into something more desirable as you gain experience and show your value to the district.

7) Don’t Be A Know It All

Even after 20 years as an art educator and administrator, I learn and grow everyday. You will to! If you don’t know how to work with a certain media or need more experience in something like assessment, be honest and say that! It’s great to have confidence that you know what you’re doing, but trust me, no one will hire someone who thinks they know it all. Talk about what you would bring to the district, the schools you would be teaching at and the team of art teachers you would be joining. How will you add value to each of these? It’s ok to talk about areas you are willing to grow and learn. In fact, I highly encourage it.

8) First Impressions Are HUGE

First impressions will make or break you. Seriously! Dress professionally and be a professional. Do not be late or make people wait for you. Introduce yourself and go around the room to shake everyone’s hands. Be personable and be yourself. Make sure to thank everyone for inviting you to interview and thank them again at the conclusion of the interview.

9) Have Questions Ready To Ask

Have a set of questions ready to ask in the interview. If it’s your first screening interview this isn’t the time to ask about salary ad benefits. That’s something to talk about in a second interview or after the position has been offered to you. Ask about the direction the district would like to head to in the future. Inquire about certain things that may not have been covered in the interview. Ask about the expectations of the position you have applied for. All of these types of questions are good to ask.

10) Have An Attitude Of Gratitude

Dream Job Thank you

Send a thank you to all the interviewers. Send the thank you as an email the same day of the interview. Thank them for their time. Mention you’re grateful to have the opportunity to interview. Make yourself memorable!

The first interview is the gateway to the second interview and getting that dream teaching position. Follow these suggestions, and your chances of landing your first teaching job will increase immensely. These may sound like common sense to some but after the 100’s of people I have interviewed over the years I know they are not.
Go out there, be yourself, follow the suggestions I have listed, and land that dream teaching job!

Now that you know how to get that teaching job, find out exactly what you need to teach to be successful in your art room! Step by step lessons, assessments, classroom resources and more!

May 09

Are Thumbnail Sketches REALLY Necessary?

By Brenda Mullard | Uncategorized

Thumbnail Sketches

Are thumbnail sketches REALLY necessary? I get this question from my students a lot. Especially beginning art students. With every new art unit/project, one of the main things that my students MUST do is use thumbnail sketches to plan out their compositions. After all of the whining and fussing, the kids will come up with some great compositions and ideas. Even when they think they have exhausted all of their ideas, I push them to come up with a few more sketches.

But Why Do We Nees To Do Thumbnail Sketches?

Are Thumbnail Sketches Necessary?

Even for me as an artist, I need to plan out my work. It just makes sense to get your ideas on paper.

Especially for inexperienced art students. YOU NEED TO PLAN! You need to get multiple ideas “out there” and then figure out how to solve problems as you go. I encourage my students to also jot down notes and things as they think about them. Yes, I set a fixed number of sketches they need to do for a project. I will get 3 or 4 really well-done sketches and then the rest half-hearted to appease the requirement. I’m sure I probably did they same thing when I was their ages. I also bring up the fact that in college I usually had to have 50 to 100 different thumbnail sketches for each project we were to do. That usually makes them settle down a little.

Why A Set Number Of Thumbnail Sketches Isn’t Always Necessary

Just like everything else we do in education, differentiation is the key. Do I always make kids do the set number of thumbnails? No, of course not. Depending on the student and the situation I will change the requirements or if they are dead set on doing a certain composition, I allow them to forego the number. How often do we as teachers complain about “busy work”? If our students have a solid plan and know the direction they want to go, I step out of their way and let them run with it.

Problem Solving vs Required Planning

At some point, we go from simple assignment planning to full blown creative problem-solving.

If a student has a solid plan, know’s their media they will use, has the subject matter planned out and a strong composition, step aside. It’s time to let them fly. They have gone through part of the planning process and they are ready to go. No need to waste any more time on “figuring out” what they want to do.

Yes, We Should Teach Thumbnail Sketching.

Whatever your project goals you will need to show students how to plan and how to begin everything with idea dumping. I also call it the “brain dump”. Get ideas and concepts down on paper. Add written ideas and text as well. Like anything we really want to do well, it all starts with a plan and figuring our the problems we want to solve with this plan. This is what thumbnail sketches do for our students. No matter what type of planning exercises you do with your students, figuring out a strong composition, how they will satisfy your student learning targets and objectives as well as come away with a project they are proud of is really the end goal.

The Goal In The End?

All of these planning skills will help students to get to thinking independently and looking for answers on their own without having to constantly ask you for the answers. “Teach a man to fish…” is the philosophy I like to give my students. Teaching kids to think for themselves as well as learning to problem solve in any situation should be the ultimate goal.

May 02

Yes, You Can Fail Art Class!

By Brenda Mullard | Uncategorized

Yes, you can fail art class! I don’t know how many times I have had students walk into my classroom at the beginning of a semester and think that art class is “just for fun”. Or how many parents at conference time want to know why their student isn’t getting an A in art. I mean come on, it just a fun class where you get to make stuff right?

Students Can Fail Art Just Like Any Other Class

Yes, students can fail art just like any other class. Students fail art usually because they don’t finish projects, don’t turn them in or don’t even start. Students fail because they put little to no effort into the craftsmanship of their work. Because they aren’t going to be an artist as a career. Sometimes they get stuck in an art class because there isn’t anything else that fits into their schedule so, yup, art it is! Sometimes students rarely or never attend class. Usually, it’s a combination of these.

I am always happy to help students who struggle but who are at least trying. I always tell my students,” I can’t want it more than you do.” And I can’t! no teacher ever wants to see a kid fail. That’s not why we got into this profession.

A Failing Art Student? Not On My Watch! Any Student Who Tries Will Pass.

Yes, you can fail art class but I find that students who are failing art are usually failing other classes too. It’s usually not a surprise. But I always try to let the student know where they stand. What they are missing for assignments and how much time they have to get missing work in. I make sure they have what they need to be successful and let them know how much time they have to get it all done. Sometimes they pull themselves out of the well and pass. Sometimes not. But It’s my job to give them what they need to be successful. As long as I know that I have given them every opportunity to be successful, I can rest at night.

One On One Attention

My suggestion is to be very open and somewhat aggressive in communicating failing grades with students. I always tell my kids that an F doesn’t mean fantastic! I get one on one with my failing students. I show them their grade, and the missing assignments they have because 9 times out of 10 that’s why they are failing. I then ask them how they are going to fix that grade. I put the ball in their court and ask they how THEY are going to step up and fix it. I’m here for support, but it’s their responsibility.  The one on one attention lets them know that I am paying attention to their grades. I care about how they are doing in class and that I support them in getting their work in and raising their grade.

Parent Support Is The Best!

I would have to say when I email or call home to parents with their student’s grade and missing work they are usually very supportive. Every once in a while I will get a parent who thinks art if a “fluff” class and anyone can pass no matter what they do. I always make sure to ask for their suggestions on how I can help their students be more successful after I have let them know about the failing grade and missing work. They are usually very grateful that I let them know about their student’s trouble.

In The End, We Didn’t Fail Them, They Failed Themselves

Just like anything in life, students must be active participants in art class to pass. Nothing ever comes to anyone without work to get it. It’s just the way it is. Like I said before, as long as we give them all they need to succeed our student need to take on the responsibility of using this information to be successful.

Failures Will Happen

Failures in art class are going to happen. When they do, you may need to be ready to stand behind your grade with proof. Keep excellent records! Be ready to show administration your parent communication log as well and any behavior notes and other student performance records. It’s important to stand behind your grades and the reasons they were issued.

Yes, you can fail art class. But in reality, this is a student’s choice. Through personal conversations with our students, parental intervention, and opportunities for improvement hopefully students will make the choice to step up and turn their failing art grade around.

Apr 25

Creating Art Portfolios With Students

By Brenda Mullard | Uncategorized

Creating art portfolios with students can begin even in Kindergarten. When I teach elementary students the very first project they do is to create their art portfolios to keep their work in throughout the year. Sometimes parents will ask why their students don’t always bring their artwork home right away? I like to have the kids lay out the work they created at the beginning of the year and then compare it to the end of the year and almost always there is student growth.

Assessment and Portfolios

Using student portfolios is a very simple summative assessment to use with your art students no matter what their age. Using a summative portfolio is a way to really celebrate everything your students have learned and created over the school year.

It’s like having heir own little individual art show. “Oh, I remember this drawing…” It’s so cool to see the kids reflect on their work and many times they talk about what they would do differently if they did it again. YES!!! Mission accomplished! For younger students, it’s a little easier to have students communicate through drawing than writings as those skills may not be as developed yet.

I have the kids use their portfolios and Portfolio Cover Sheet to:

  • Better reflect on their artwork and portfolio.
  • Gather data for assessment of your students’ learning over the course of the year. 
  • Use at parent teacher conferences with parents to show and communicate with parents what their students are doing in art class.

Creating Student Art Portfolios

When my students make their art portfolios, especially those at the elementary level, I use a heavier white or manilla posterboard type paper. 2 pieces and then we use masking tape around the sides and bottom to make a folder type portfolio. Each student decorates the outside with a creative way to write their name. I use it as a lesson. So for example, 1st grade, I teach how to draw bubble letters and patterns. 3rd grade we use Art Nouveau style to create their names. 4th grade we use one point perspective to create their names. Just a few ideas to use so that the kids don’t decorate willy nilly and make their portfolios not look nice. It really works well. When their portfolios look nice, they really take pride in taking good care of them. They then use these portfolios during the year to keep their work in. Sometimes they do get as little beat up, but for the most part, they usually stay pretty nice. My students usually work pretty largely so I go with 20″ X  28″ sized portfolios.

More Professional Art Portfolios

Art Portfolios - Heavier Professional Looking

Because my high school kids usually are more serious about their artwork and actually doing portfolio days at different colleges I always have them try to get themselves a heavier more professional looking art portfolio. They are there to impress and pulling out a handmade, cardstock type portfolio may not be the best idea in this case.

Online Portfolios

Online portfolios may seem complicated to get started but really they aren’t. My students use WIX as it’s free and they can have access to the portfolio they created even after they graduate. It’s a simple process to build the web page and kids figure it all out really quickly. I’ve had students who have created such a great portfolio that they have heard from colleges within HOURS of submitting their application and portfolio letting them know the school wanted them to come to their college or school. How awesome is that?


Apr 18

Inventory In The Art Room

By Brenda Mullard | Uncategorized

Art Room Inventory Sheet

Inventory In The Art Room

When I need to take inventory in the art room I used to get overwhelmed, There was so much “stuff” to go through. It was especially difficult when I was teaching elementary art and had around 600 students a week. Although we never feel like we have enough supplies, we still have a lot to go through and figure out what needs replacing and replenishing.

How Could I Forget That?

So many times I would place an order at the end of a school year for the next fall and I would always forget something. In the fall it was a scramble to see if I could borrow the supplies I needed from another art teacher or just go out and purchase it myself. So to try to correct this I have created an inventory sheet that will help with this problem.

Make It Like A Grocery List

I also leave a space to add notes to myself throughout the year or things I want to remember for the next year. Many times I treat it like a grocery list. When I run out of something I write it down right away so that I don’t forget that I need to order it.

Of course, we all see cool projects and units we want to try. Just like a great recipe we want to try for dinner, we need to purchase ingredients. So keeping an inventory sheet a good way to keep track of supplies you will need to do these projects with our kids.

Click Here To Download Your Art Room Inventory Forms

Apr 11

Colored Pencil Drawing In The Art Room

By Brenda Mullard | Uncategorized

Colored Pencils

Colored pencil drawing in the Art room can be a really fun experience of “play” and experimentation.

I use the word “play” because that’s exactly what your students need to do. Experiment and have fun! Getting to know your colored pencils and what they can do takes some practice. Don’t have immediate expectations for your students to complete well done colored pencil artwork right off the bat. Just take some time to do some colored pencil exercises in your classroom to let your students get the feel for the medium. Let them see the amazing things they can do.

Colored pencil is an impressive medium that can be used to create many effects and looks in a drawing. Very beginner art students who have never learned various colored pencil techniques tend to use colored pencils in a “7th-grade map project” sort of way. Solid, light, one color shading. I always say,” If you are coloring a 7th-grade map, you’re on track. If you are creating a colored pencil drawing we have just begun with laying down a single color.” Quality colored pencils paired with the right techniques can create amazing, a high-quality realistic looking drawing. The first step to learning colored pencil drawing is to look at the various colored pencil supplies you need to get started.

Color Theory Lesson Plan and Resource are available here.

What Colored Pencils Should I Use?

Colored Pencil Drawing In The Art Room - Crayola

One of the great advantages to colored pencil drawing in the art room is your choice of brands, quality, and price. I encourage you to purchase the higher quality supplies for students who are advanced drawing classes and serious about their drawings if your budget allows for it. With the amount of time you and your students will be investing in teaching, and the students in learning the techniques you will want to invest in different types of colored pencils. 

When you open up your art supply catalog you may be in awe of the different brands and the wide assortment of colors available to order for your students.

Which Colored Pencils Should Students Use?

Colored Pencil Drawing In The Art Room - Prismacolor

There is the lower quality and cost colored pencils such as Crayola. I use Crayola Colored Pencils with all of my beginning Foundations Art Classes. They work just fine!

These students want to learn various colored pencil techniques but aren’t sure it’s a medium they want to stick with. You can get some pretty good results using Crayola, but there is a definite difference in the look of the final colored pencil drawing when you a choose to use professional grade pencils such as Prismacolor. Two of the more popular professional grade color pencils are Prismacolor Brand Colored Pencils ( I use the Premiere) and Faber-Castell Polychromos Colored Pencils.Colored Pencil Drawing In The Art Room - Faber Castell
Some Artists use a mixture of both of those brands in their artwork while some favor one or the other. Really, it’s a personal choice. I encourage my students to “play” with different brands or a mixture of both to see which they like better. Some people like the feel or look for 1 brand over the other. There’s just no right or wrong here. Just personal choice. 

Once students start using a set of colored pencils, they will find that they will use certain colors more than others. They will run out of those colors eventually before the other colors in the set. Most professional colored pencil brands can be purchased as “open stock” or individual pencils. Once they get started they will find themselves just purchasing from open stock to replace pencils as needed. Many art stores and craft places like Michaels Art Store or Hobby Lobby sell these individual pencils for about a $1 each.

Purchasing Colored Pencils

When purchasing beginning colored pencil sets, go with a set that’s large enough to give your students the colors that represent the colors of a 12 color wheel as well as a few neutrals with black and white. They will be able to mix colors to make new colors and the colors you need.

When students first begin with a coloring a color wheel I only allow them to use the three primary colors. Red, Yellow, and Blue. All other colors they need to mix. This is an excellent learning experience!


Colored Pencil Drawing In The Art Room and Pencil Sharpeners  

You will want to get yourself a manual sharpener. Depending on the look you want from your colored pencil in your drawing you will need a sharp point at one time or another. Electric sharpeners are not a good idea because of the softness “lead” in colored pencils. Electric sharpeners can actually be ruined by the colored pencils. An electric sharpener can also “eat” or grind your pencils down to “numbs” quickly. So use a manual hand held sharpener it’s just better. You can even use an Exacto type blade to sharpen the ends of the colored pencils as well. For students, I just feel much safer for them to use a handheld manual sharpener. 


Colored pencils are difficult to erase to get a perfectly white paper once the color has been laid down. The pencil can be “lifted” from the surface to get certain looks and make some corrections. My erasers of choice with colored pencils are the Mars Plastic Erasers and a kneaded eraser. 


Workable Fixatives

Because most colored pencils are wax based, a heavy application can cause colors to look
hazy or cloudy. This is called a “wax bloom” and tend to be more visible on darker colored pencil drawings. This wax bloom can be easily wiped away with a soft cloth of tissue but it will return. So using a workable fixative in light coats will help to reduce the wax bloom issue. 

Paper and Drawing Surfaces

Colored pencil can be applied to a variety of different surfaces. Paper is the most popular of course, but colored pencil can be on other surfaces such as paper mache, ceramics, wood, plastic, canvas, etc. I suggest a heavier weight paper due to the friction using when shading and layering colored pencil. 

Let’s Recap Of Colored Pencil Drawing In The Art Room

Colored pencils can give a variety of effects and looks in your drawings and artwork. If your students are serious about working with colored pencil as their artist medium look at the quality professional grade colored pencils like Prismacolor Brand Colored Pencils or Faber-Castellated Polychromos Colored pencils. Remind students that they can purchase a  few individual colored pencils from “open stock” to try them out to see what each brand has to offer or if they know they will use more of certain colors.  When they begin, start with the primary colors. Then go on to have enough colors from a 12 color wheel to be able to at least blend and mix the colors they need for their colored pencil drawings. They will also want neutrals (Browns and grays) as well as black and white.

You will want a few other tools such as a pencil sharpener, erasers, and workable fixative. You will also need to find a paper that will work appropriately for the drawing your students’ area creating.

When your students begin to experiment they will find the tools and materials that they like and that will work for them. The key to it all? Get your students to start “playing”! Experiment with your tools and materials and just start. Get students to learn from color blending exercises first before they begin a final colored pencil drawing.

Apr 04

5 Art Room Life Hack Ideas

By Brenda Mullard | Uncategorized

5 Art Room Life Hack Ideas That Will Make Your Life Easier!

I always appreciate good art room life hack ideas. When figuring out how to set up an art room many teachers walk into a space that belonged to another art teacher or was a classroom used by an entirely different subject. Sometimes we are banished to a common area like a multipurpose room or a cafeteria.

Here You Go… Make It Work!

Usually, we get the message of,” Here you go, make it work.” Of course, we always do. Sometimes we get loaner tables and chairs from other parts of the district or even businesses consider old furniture and not suitable or nice enough for the business anymore. The focus is to always teach the best art classes we can in our space and with the supplies we have. So what are a few Art room life hack ideas that will make our job a little easier?

Art RooArt Teacher Life Hack - Art Room Inventory Formm Supplies and Inventory

At the end of each year, we are asked to do an inventory of our supplies and equipment to see what our budget needs might be for the next year. I always used to dread this because the supplies we have to go through is somewhat overwhelming especially if you are in a larger school or district. When I taught elementary art I saw 600 kids a week! So to make this a little easier I created inventory sheets that helped make the job a little less daunting. You can find our Art Room Inventory Forms Here!


Art Class Binder Know It All Art Teacher Life Hack - Art Room Binder

Create a classroom binder that has everything anyone walking into your classroom would need to know. Make it so if someone right off the street walked into your room and had no idea about anything, would be able to open that binder and know everything about your school, helpful people, classroom, your classes, your students, your subject matter, etc. Add students pictures, class schedules and any special notes you think are necessary.

Of course, I need to have a really FUN 3-Ring Binder

Making Kids Take A Step Back

I often have kids take a break from their work and take a few steps back to look at it from a different view. They miss things sometimes when their face has been in their work for a while.

I even have them stand across the room from me and I hold up their work for them to take a gander at. I LOVE the look on their faces when they realize they aren’t as far off track as they thought they were. Or when they realize they may need to work on an area because it just doesn’t look quite right.

“I’m Done!”

We have all had students who race through their work and claim out loud… “I’m DOOOONE!” We give multiple suggestions to go back and add to their work, change a few things, rework some areas, etc. What now? Always have a bunch of different “How To Draw” books and resources for students to use. These are great when students get finished with projects or for shortened class times. Kids LOVE them! Keep those students busy. Giving them choices of things to draw lets them practice a skill. They also get to choose what it is they want to draw.

Helpful Tools For Art Teachers

Need a quick impressive graph to show student data? Make cool 2D and 3D Graphs HERE.

Google Arts and Culture is great for planning virtual field trips and many other art related activities

Art Babble is another great resource for Art Educators in all areas of Art Education.


Mar 23

Still Life Drawing

By Brenda Mullard | Uncategorized

Still Life Composition

Still life drawing is a great way to practice the elements of art as well as different techniques and use of mediums.

Still Life Drawing

The great thing about still life drawing is that you can really put any type of objects that interest you. Choosing objects you really like or that have meaning will keep you interested in the drawing.

Important Terms You Should Know

Here are some important terms you will want to learn and pay attention to when you begin to draw your still life.

Proportion – Relationship of elements to one another and to the whole artwork.

Composition – The way a piece of artwork is organized and put together.

Form – Element of art that is three-dimensional and encloses the volume.

Shape – Element of art that is two-dimensional, flat, or limited to height and width.

Creating Your Still Life Composition

All of the above are important to keep in mind when you begin drawing. First, the composition that you put your objects in for your still life is important as you want to make sure that everything flows nicely. The way you have the objects put together keeps your eyes, as well as your viewer’s eyes moving nicely over the entire composition.

Beginning Your Still Life Drawing

When you begin to draw, the proportions you use are very important. Correct proportion helps you to create an accurate drawing. Many times if one object’s proportion is incorrect, it can throw off the entire still life drawing. Look at how each object relates to each other. Where do objects begin and end? Looking at the still life example above take notice as to where the rose stem end and begins. Where does it fall in relation to the glass hand? What finger does the rose touch and where does in go in relationship to the hour glass? Everything is connected to everything.

Turning Shapes Into Forms

When you begin drawing your still life, you will use the art element of line to draw the shapes of the objects in your composition. Once you have completed the drawing process it’s time to turn the shapes into forms by adding color and/or value with the medium of your choice. Adding value changes the 2-dimensional flat looking shapes into 3-dimensional looking forms. Charcoal, graphite, acrylic paint, colored pencil… whatever you choose, this medium is what will bring your still life shapes to life.

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