Washington Middle School fifth-grader Kaitlyn Duffy painted black hearts on her "Pinch Pot with Personality" project in Kevin Kyser's art class.
"I have a new puppy and we gave her a regular dog bowl. My mom had the idea that I should create a puppy bowl for my pinch pot," said Kaitlyn. "My puppy got into some black paint we left out in our house and jumped on the walls and got black paint everywhere. But when we looked at the paw marks on the wall, it looked like she'd left little black 'hearts' everywhere. That's where I got my idea for my pinch pot."
Fifth- and sixth-graders love to work with clay because it's three-dimensional and it has a use other than aesthetics. They are always asking Mr. Keyser, "When are we going to do a clay project?"
Washington Middle School fifth-grader Hunter Armel measures and draws a line to create buildings during a City Drawing unit during art class.
The Pinch Pots with Personality is a multi-step project. Students learn where clay comes from, how to prepare it for creating, how the pot is formed through hand building techniques, and how to join various pieces to make a complete and unique creation. The idea to make Pinch Pots with Personality came from designs from many cultures. The idea to embellish a clay pot first came from necessity, to be able to identify a person's pot from another's. Further designs come from the inner creativity and skills people have.
Pinch Pots are just one of many creative outlets Washington Middle School students have during art class. Working with middle school students can be described as controlled chaos as art students are required to work on many different levels and stages on multiple projects. But, when it all comes together, there is success, smiles, and self-satisfaction when the work is complete.
"When my students go on to the high school they will have knowledge of the elements and principles of design as well as techniques based in painting, drawing and sculpture," said Mr. Keyser. "Some other facets that are important in my classroom are planning for every project and problem solving during the creation process. My ultimate goal in my room is to inspire my students to actively think creatively."
Another project students are currently working on are "City Drawings." The "City Drawings" references Michelangelo's "The Last Supper" which illustrates the use of the one point perspective in the painting.
In addition to art-related skills, Mr. Keyser tries to include other subjects in his art curriculum. Students touch on math with measuring, science through color mixing, English with a written response on most of the completed projects and history by relating the current project to a famous artist.