Thursday, January 14, 2016


sharpened dowel, india ink on bristol board, watercolor & collage

They little pieces may be small
 but they pack a mighty wallop when you see them up close and personal.
So much so that our Principals secretary,
Suzanne Campbell,
 buys at least one or two a year at our Open House Sale.
You can view her collection on the walls surrounding her desk.

To begin this assignment
 I give the kids a piece of 1/8 to 1/4 inch doweling and ask them to sharpen them.
They are allowed to pick a subject of their own choosing,
but my collection of shells is a very popular choice.
Then they get a small piece of bristol and dip their wood stick into the ink
and draw their subject in Modified Contour.
That means they rarely look at their paper as they draw.
It's a technique that I got from Betty Edwards Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain Book.

note: I wish I had photographed them flat and not hanging on the wall,
it warps their matts

The kids are scared at first of not being able to erase, 
but they quickly come to love the technique.
I have them do a really small practice piece first to get them comfortable with the process.

This first beauty we are seeing above was done by senior Hazel Cruz.
I adore how she brought in so much background with the pier, water, and sand.
One of the many requirements was to bring in tissue paper collage.
That's how Hazel so effectively pulled off the stormy sea.
She also brought in a special ingredient,
the black salt from the grocery store
 that I bought for the kids last year for their watercolor unit.
I love that she remembered it and thought to use it for the sand.

My students were also required to bring in 25% watercolor into their work.
 We all agreed that the stunning sky and shell watercolored by senior Risha Bhakta
 was truly amazing! 

And how delightful is this one by senior Katherine Ku.
Besides watercolor they were also supposed to bring in at least 3 values of ink washes.
Katherine did a really outstanding job with those.
And the detail she brought into the shell,

How pretty and sensory is this piece by senior Kyla Balquin.
Love that she thought to use a bit of bas-relief for her tissue collage requirement.
And the rays shinning thru the water,

But it was this one that was the most unique by senior Bernice Lin.
Bernice made several practice pieces before she began the "real" one,
then found a clever way to incorporate them into her drawing.
She is also giving us great use of color and fluidity thru her watercolors.
And I like how she solved her dilemma when it came to matting up this work
since that was also a requirement on this assignment.

Fabulous job Art Ladies of Whitney High


  1. I continue to be amazed at the layers of technique you assign and the variations that your students accomplish. Of course, I always fall for seascapes with piers, so you can guess which two caught my eye. Hazel Cruz's stormy sea is spot on, but Katherine Ku's waves of text brought me back for third and fourth looks. That the background work was but a setting for finely detailed shells wrought with pointed sticks absolutely blows me away! Aspirational stuff in my book.

  2. Thank you Liz, your comments are so lovely and mean so much to my students and I.

  3. Thank you Liz, your comments are so lovely and mean so much to my students and I.