First 6th Grade Art Unit of the Year

September 15, 2010 Leave a comment

6th grade tool drawings (in-progress critique).  Master artist: Jim Dine

6th grade tool drawings (in-progress critique). Master artist: Jim Dine

Hi There!

This is a photo of an end of class critique with 6th graders on Monday.  We have been learning about the work of American artist Jim Dine, specifically his tool drawings.  We learned a bit about his childhood and the time he spent helping out at his grandfather’s hardware store, where tools became “like relatives” to him (  Using Dine as a master artist, students drew a tool of their choice from observation.  They used line first, then moved into using a full value range (art pencils and charcoal).  They were required to fill the page and pay close attention to accurate proportion, positive space, and negative space.  So far, I think they are really doing a great job.  Student handled the critique with respect, making insightful, constructive comments that reflected their acquired knowledge.  I was very proud of them!  We are very close to being finished, which means I get to hang the first hallway gallery show of the year very soon!

Are You Ready?

August 27, 2010 Leave a comment

"Out-of-the-Blue Monster", mixed media monotype, c. Nancy Mitchell, 2010

Hi there!

Is it just me, or does it seem like the school year came around ‘out of the blue?’  This here is a fun little mixed media monster monotype that I recently made, and it seemed appropriate to post it here.   I want you to know that these prints were originally  inspired by my 6th grade students from last year -who are now big ole 7th graders 🙂

You guys remember, don’t you?  How you love to swirl lots of paint around on a slippery piece of palette paper at clean up time and then press or print it onto some nice white paper?  And then we’d all try to guess what it looked like (kind of like a Rohrschach test)?

Well–the monsters came out of that process 🙂  You might be happy to know that I’ve been selling them pretty regularly at the Visionary Art Museum gift shop (The Sideshow), and that all proceeds go to benefit professional artists in Haiti recovering from the earthquake!

Like all the teachers at Patapsco, I’ve been really busy getting the room ready for all of you.  We have a NEW printing press, more silkscreens, lots of clay, paint, charcoal, ink, drawing pencils—and everything else we want to get into this year to make new creative discoveries, advance our skills and HAVE FUN!

See you MONDAY! 🙂

I SPY comes to the Walters!

August 11, 2010 Leave a comment

What? August Already?

August 6, 2010 Leave a comment

"Two More Monsters" c. 2010 Nancy Mitchell

Well, I can hardly believe it, and I know you can’t either!  I’ve been thinking about my students and my room and all the fun we’re going to have and the art we’re going to make!

I just added a new page called ART CLASS Q & A.  You’ll find it with all the tabs up top here on the home page. It is the last tab of the list.  I encourage you to read it, especially if you are an incoming 6th grader!  If anyone, student or parent, has a question they’d like answered directly, type it into the comment section at the bottom of that page.  I will publish any answers, so check back often!

Don’t forget–We have GREAT local museums and galleries in Baltimore.  The Walters and The Baltimore Museum of Art are always free.  This is the perfect time to go.  There is a new medieval manuscript show at the Walters based on the theme of Games and Play. (“Checkmate! Medieval People at Play.“) It was so cool to see a centuries year old manuscript of people throwing snowballs at each other.  Check it out–it will put a smile on your face!

Enjoy the rest of the summer!  See you soooooon!!

New Show at AVAM co-curated by Matt Groening of Simpson’s Fame!

July 5, 2010 1 comment

When I was 12, I wanted to be a museum curator.  My parents took me to the Baltimore Museum of Art and the Walters Art Museum (back then called the Walters Art Gallery) pretty frequently (lucky me!).  Anyway, I distinctly remember, and I suppose this desire never left me, that I wanted to be the person who got to set up the rooms, who got to select and (gasp!) TOUCH everything!!  The (then) small re-creations of the Cone sister’s rooms behind thick glass were like a tractor beam to my 12 year old imagination.  Oh, if I could JUST get behind that glass and arrange things!!!  Now, at the BMA you can go on a touch-screen interactive of their apartment and are no longer separated from the treasures by glass, but still…

So when our pals at the Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore told us a month or so ago that the word on the street was that the NEW show would be curated by Matt Goening and “the guy that worked on Pee-Wee’s Playhouse”, I nearly jumped for joy!  What might those kooks dream up?

Alfred E. Newman Headboard, detail Patty Kuzbida

Alfred E. Newman Headboard, detail Patty Kuzbida

Turns out JOY is just what they’re thinking of.  In October of 2010, we will all be delighted I’m sure to see “What Makes Us Smile”:  the theme of the new exhibition at AVAM.  “This mega exhibition on the timeless and global phenomena of smiling, laughter and humor will include contributions by dozens of artists…”  PLUS it will mark AVAM’s 15 year aniversary!!

If you are a student of mine, you can be sure these happy themes will be making their way into our art lessons.  Not to minimize the importance of some of the major tragedies happening on our planet right now, but it may do us all a lot of good to embrace a little humor!  And you better just get used to the idea again now, because you know that like last year, every day I’ll be bugging all of you to get out and see the show!  Till then, read more here

Ansel Adams in COLOR?! Who knew??

April 27, 2010 Leave a comment

I just received my latest issue of Smithsonian magazine in the mail.  In it was an article on the color photography of Ansel Adams.  How did I go my WHOLE LIFE and never realize that he made color photos along with his iconic black and white, larger than life images.  This one is my favorite (1939!!)

Alloy, West Virginia c. 1939

Excerpted from the book Ansel Adams in Color. Copyright © 1993, 2009 by Trustees of The Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust. Reprinted with permission of Little, Brown and Company

THIS is the kind of image I love to just sit and stare at–like listening to a piece of well-composed music, this picture has nothing unnecessary in it.  The repetition of the towers, cars and smoke create not only a kind of pattern, but a real visual RHYTHM that you can feel and even hear in your imagination!  The predominance of cool blues contrasted with just a hint of its complementary color, the warm orange from the rising sun reminds me of what it feels like to have to wake up early on a cold morning and get ready for work.  It is strangely quiet and busy at the same time….sleepy but full of potential energy.  The best part about it is that I don’t have to go anywhere or do anything!  I can just sit back and enjoy this exquisite photo!

Please visit the Smithsonian link to the slide show of other works and quotes from the artist here:

Ansel Adams in COLOR

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Our Voice

April 26, 2010 Leave a comment

CONGRATULATIONS to the Patapsco Middle School art students to be published in this year’s edition of Our Voice, the Howard County Public Schools Art and Literary Magazine for all Middle School students in the county!

Drew W. (8th grade, self portrait)

Elly J. (8th grade, self portrait)

John O. (8th grade, ceramic dragon sculpture)

Ashley Mae K. (8th grade, self portrait)

I will see you at the reception June 3rd!!

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