What We Did In TAC This Year | 2018 – 2019

Through out the year, sixth graders smashed fears, capitalized on surprises, and explored what it means to be creative. Each project had a traditional impetus with room for students to add a contemporary element, using the Carnegie International as a guiding force. You can follow art_connect_6 on instagram to see the class’s progress from September – March.

After completing a collaborative project focusing on making marks and elements of successful composition, students received a crash course in gesture drawing and charcoal supplies to begin work on a still life. Before their works were completed, they were challenged to create a brand new composition by altering their drawings with new materials, experimenting with solvencies, and cutting or tearing their still life apart.

For their selfie self-portraits, students first executed value and material studies before integrating knowledge about gesture and contour to capture important aspects of the photograph to include in their drawing. In the second portrait of the year, the Natural History’s stuffed animal collection was inspiration for a sculptural mask. Each artwork contains visual symbols to indicate the personal story of each character, which is sometimes an exaggeration of the artist’s own traits.

In a merge of traditional and experimental concepts, students combined fine line drawing and playful watercolor techniques to create mixed media artworks modeled after different environments in the museum.

The museum remained the subject as students invaded reproductions of CMOA artworks with their own drawings, paintings or media gatherings. Looking to CI artists Karen Kilimnik and Jeremy Deller, students also considered how their individual pieces should be arranged to create one cohesive piece.

In their final invasion, students surprise museum audiences with text-based works installed on the top of their exhibition walls. Viewed from high above, these Mel Bochner inspired works use active words, symbols, or language that will prompt the audience to react in thought or action.

This year’s exhibition will include work from all TAC participants grades 5 – 9 and will take place in Carnegie Museum of Art’s Hall of Sculpture May 4 – 19. An Opening Reception will be held on Sunday, May 5, 3 -5pm. The reception is free, you can RSVP by emailing

The Art Connection | Our 90th Year

I’m teaching 7th grade for The Art Connection this season which is my fifth year with the program (with a long hiatus in between). The Art Connection is an incredible outside-of-school program run on Saturdays at the Carnegie Museum of Art on Saturdays for grades 5 – 9. We’re celebrating our 90th year in 2018 – 2019. We’re three sessions into our second semester but just finishing up our second major project.

Students critique work on a collaborative project on the first day of class.

I have an amazing group of artists to share my Saturdays with this year. In the morning, a large group of girls (and one new boy beginning the second semester) and in the afternoon, a smaller, very social group of students. They have already forged such strong relationships, they created a Secret Santa gift exchange before our holiday break. It has been such a pleasure and in my posts to follow, I will document our experiences so far.

Drawing & Painting @ Mt. Lebanon Library

I was approached by Artists in Schools & Communities at PF/PCA to create and teach drawing and painting based programming at the Mt. Lebanon Library for 8 – 10 yr olds. The final session just wrapped at the end of the month and I couldn’t have been happier with how they went! The programs were fully funded through Matt’s Maker Space so sixteen enthusiastic students were able to participate free of charge for up to four sessions. A family vacation limited my teaching to two programs, The Human Figure and Drawing & Painting Experiments.

The first session focused on the human face and body and squished an entire undergraduate semester into two hours. We covered four drawing methods, human anatomy and proportion, and artistic expression in the form of style and color. Students were entirely engaged through out the process and were willing to be silly, dive into science and take artistic chances.


The second session focused on experimentation. Yet again, students were challenged to be ‘art scientists’ and to make new discoveries. Students began with a partner challenge. In this Art Game, students were asked to make marks on a piece of paper using a variety of art tools. The only RULE was to use any or all of the materials at their disposal and to remain silent until told otherwise.

Students had no idea how much time they would have each turn, pushing them to act with urgency. After a few turns each, students were able to strategize on how to complete the work using components of a successful composition like creating a focal point. Students loved to discuss each other’s work along the way and were very encouraging of each other.


Next up were watercolor experiments using a few new tools like liquid watercolor, eye droppers, spray bottles, and salt.

Students were encouraged to create an underdrawing using sharpie and experiment with collage materials as well. Finally, students were asked to use their new skills and materials in a culminating watercolor exploration inspired by landscape.

I was so thrilled to be a part of this program and hope to collaborate with Artists in Schools & Communities and the Mt. Lebanon Public Library again!

The Art Connection

IMG_1694Eighteen weeks of intense artmaking just wrapped up at the Carnegie Museum of Art. Thirty-two seventh grade students worked incredibly hard to face fears, dive headfirst into ambiguity and learn a few new things. Students created some incredibly beautiful artworks, taking the lead in executing designs that interested and excited them. Our program-long theme was of altering media, deconstructing, and paying attention to everyday artworks and media. I couldn’t be happier with what my students accomplished and can’t wait to share with everyone during our Opening Reception on Sunday, April 8, 3pm – 5pm. The exhibition will be displayed in the Hall of Sculpture April 7 – April 22. I will post in the coming weeks about specific projects and outcomes and also share the curating and installation process. My assistants and I have documented the year on Instagram. You can follow us @ art_connect_7.

Art Cat’s Kitchen at CMOA

The second art camp I taught at Carnegie Museum of Art this summer was Art Cat’s Kitchen.

The content of this program was heavily influenced by children’s books. We read Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, the Very Hungry Caterpillar, and Max’s Sandwich. Students created a drawing, print, and collage based on food items in the style of an artist in the museum or illustration found in our inspiration books. Each of these artworks were included in a paper mache sandwich that students also created.

The kids loved the completed sandwich books! They were incredibly sensory and it was really fun to watch parents and siblings take a bite of the food inspired artworks at our end of the week ‘art picnic.’

Mini Monets at CMOA

This past summer I was lucky enough to teach two summer camps for 4 – 5 year olds at the Carnegie Museum of Art; Mini Monets and Art Cat’s Kitchen.

In Mini Monets, students learned basic facial anatomy and created self-portraits. They were particularly interested in the deep spaces of the skull and loved to feel along their face as we discussed each feature, comparing their own face to the model skull that we had in the classroom.  After completing the underdrawing, students used mark making methods discussed in the galleries to add oil pastel color to the face. The portraits were cut out and placed on landscape paintings that each child created. The drawing for each landscape was created ‘en plein air’ (in open air) near the entrance to the library and the painting was done in the studio using tempra cakes.

I couldn’t resist using shaving cream painting with this group. The puffy paint really lended itself to the impasto surface made famous by the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists. The students were able to blend together the milky pastels to create beautiful abstract landscapes inspired by Monet’s Waterlilies.

Family Readers @ PCA

I just wrapped up two weeks of Family Readers classes at Pittsburgh Center for the Arts. The class was 1 1/2 hours for ages 2 and up with a caregiver. My oldest son, Charlie, is three years old so I was able to bring him along! The first class was based on The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds and the second was based on Mix it Up by Herve Tullet.

For The Dot, I set up exploration stations for students. After reading the story, we explored mark making with non-traditional objects like bubble wrap and toilet paper tubes. Next, we mixed our own colors with tempera cakes. We explored positive and negative space with foam block printing and then crayon resists with watercolor paints. We even ‘painted’ with oil clay by pressing small dots of polymer clay into foam sheets. At the end, we bound all of our treasures together to create our very own Dot Books.

For the Mix it Up class, students were transformed into art-scientists. First, we explored color mixing with saran wrap, canvas board and liquid acrylic paint. Students combined primary colors and white with their fingers, squishing the paints together to create a colorful landscape. Next, we got seriously messy with foam paint. Using one part shaving cream to one part white glue and a few drops of washable liquid watercolor, students got elbow deep into their paintings, and spent more than half of the class whipping up their masterpieces! My son in particular really got into it. He is seriously excited to do this activity again at home and thinks that our house exterior would really benefit from puffy paint. Finally, we used liquid watercolor and pipettes to make miniature drop paintings. Using dry watercolor paper, students moved the paint around by blowing through straws. Next, they compared the strong, pigmented lines created with the dry paper to the soft, large shapes that were created when water was painted onto their paper first.