Serving Art Educators
and Students Since 1994


Art Students Featured at the National
Memorial and Museum

Linda Woods, elementary art teacher at St. John's School in Houston, Texas is proud to announce that three of her second graders created a mural about September 11th that has been accepted by the National Memorial and Museum for September 11th in New York City. Linda describes her observations about the boys' lengthy mural making experience as being one of the most surprising and meaningful events of her 29 year career as an art teacher.

Art Teacher Linda Woods

Art teacher Linda Woods helps one of her art students.


One group of three boys, Roosh Bhosale, Vijay Patel, and Ryan Fiedorek, begged Mrs. Woods to let them do the Twin Towers and 9/11 for their mural. Everyone else was doing cheery and childlike themes and imagery for their cities with beaches, harbors, winter skating scenes, a wedding, parks, and so on. Mrs. Woods just could not imagine this heavy topic hanging on a wall as new students and their parents walked into the Admissions Office. Relentless in their desire, these three boys repeatedly begged their teacher to let them choose this theme anyway. “We just REALLY, really, really want to do the Twin Towers,” they pleaded. Mrs. Woods initially tried to discourage them because she honestly could not imagine how seven and eight year old students would have enough insight to be able to do serious justice to such a sensitive topic. They were not born yet when 9/11 happened, or if they were, they were only babies. Was this just a young boy’s desire to show smoke and fire, explosions, etc. without fully comprehending that this was a real event, a human tragedy that changed the world forever? Further begging ensued. Their teacher finally relented because she could see that this was so very important to them. This mural just seemed to be meant to be.


St John's art students

Roosh Bhosale, Vijay Patel, and Ryan Fiedorek with their mural which will be included in the collection of the National Memorial and Museum for September 11th

From the beginning, the boys worked with a sense of purpose that was unusual. The care and precision that went into their building was impressive, as was every other student’s construction of their buildings. The three boys worked on every part of their mural together without disagreements. They all seemed to want to do this mural the same way. It just unfolded. Mrs. Woods was amazed to see their dedication to the project rise to the level where they wanted to come in at recess to do extra work on it. The students and their teacher had some very interesting conversations during those times. One child carefully crafted half an airplane and glued it to one of the towers. The word on the side of the airplane was “Iraq.” Mrs. Woods couldn’t decide whether to tell them the truth about the airplane and who flew it into the building or let it slide. Head of Lower School Ms. Curran and Mrs. Woods decided this was a teachable moment. Mrs. Woods felt she had to tell them that Iraq had nothing to do with that airline, and it was, in fact, two American airliners that were hijacked and flown into the towers on purpose. “What does hijack mean?” they asked. Mrs. Woods' stomach churned as she realized she now had to define “hijack” for them. She did that in as delicate a way as possible, but there is not a lot of leeway to pad the story of how Al Qaeda hijacked some of our own airplanes and flew them into those buildings.


Budding Second Grade Artist

Parents can be proud of their children's accomplishments, especially when they create works of art. Marlene Frias, the proud parent of Diana Frias, e-mailed me some pictures that Diana has recently created. Diana attends Bob Graham Education Center in Miami Lakes, Florida.


Mrs. Frias told me in her e-mail, "Besides drawing, Diana loves to dance (and she is a great dancer), she loves to sing and she can also write songs and poems in English and in Spanish. Diana is an Honor Roll student since Kindergarten. She is now 8 years old and is in the second grade. Some of Diana's friends think she is very funny. She is a shy girl but once she breaks the ice she can go on forever. It's just a little difficult for her to make the first move. Her favorite character is Betty Boop. For her 8th birthday she had a Betty Boop party and dressed like Betty Boop. (See picture below). Diana has a yorkie dog named Lady and a cockatiel named Lucky. Diana would like to be a veterinarian when she grows up because she loves animals."


Diana Frias


Diana created the images below using colored pencil. Diana says of the picture on the left below: "This is a picture of a girl. The girl is grouchy. She is never happy. She wears dark clothes. She is very serious. She is saying 'hello' in the picture."


Diana say of the picture below right, "This is a picture of Puffles. This picture represents our family. My brother Gio, by sister Genesis, my mom, my dad and me. It's about Club Penguins because these are Puffles and there are many Puffles in Club Penguin. They are on a bed getting ready to sleep." [Click on the images for full size]


Grouchy Girl Puffles



This is adorable. Diana is so detailed in her artworks. Good Job Diana
April 1, 2009 10:59 AM


I see and interact with Diana every Wednesday when we go to Catechism. She is a wonderful, bright and funny girl! She can be quiet and shy at times, but when she lets go - she's sooo much fun! She truly resembles Betty Boop; only I have to admit, Diana is way prettier. I am very proud of her and I can't wait to see more of her artwork.
Love, Menia

April 1, 2009 11:33 AM


Go diana!!! very proud of u!!!!! Keep it up!!!
April 1, 2009 11:35 AM


Diana's my little sister (: And everyone is extremely proud of her, for being so smart, beautiful and for having made it so far.
April 1, 2009 1:23 PM


Awesome Diana! You look so adorable in Betty Bop clothes.
Love, Ingrid
April 1, 2009 7:52 PM


Yo soy la abuela de Diana y estoy muy orgullosa de ella y me gustaria que siguiera estudiando arte. Tiene facilidad y ella puede. Adelante Diana.
Te quiere, Mom.
April 1, 2009 7:59 PM


nana I am beyond proud!!!!!!!!!! i adore you always and forever!!!!!!!!
love thalia
April 1, 2009 8:07 PM


So nice to see one of my former students continuing to grow and blossom. Congratulations! I am so proud of you.
Mrs. Tamargo
April 2, 2009 12:21 AM


Keep up the good work, Diana.
Dr. Behrman
April 2, 2009 9:31 AM


Diana si es lo que que quieres, sigue adelante, me gusta mucho como pintas. Te auguro un futuro como pintora. Felicidades.Te quiere tu tia y madrina.
April 2, 2009 6:49 PM


Diana te amamos, sigue pintando, lo haces muy bien. Tus abuelos Frias.
April 2, 2009 6:51 PM


hi im diana and i also love my artwork.
April 15, 2009 9:50 PM


Scholastic Arts Awards Controversy

Through the years, there has been some controversy over the Scholastic Arts contests held across the nation. For the most part, the gold key winners of these contests use super realism or realism as their style. Any other style doesn't usually get recognition.


Gold and Silver keysThis year over 140,000 works of art were submitted across the U.S. in grades 7-12. The submissions are evaluated locally and nationally by a panel of jurors comprised of renowned artists, authors, educators and arts professionals. That's where the controversy comes in. Frequently, art teachers from competing schools judge each other's submissions. They all seem to be giving the gold keys to only students who use realism. They also seem to be teaching the same way by encouraging students to photograph and then grid their pictures.


An art teacher submitted a pet peeve to IAD and said, "(My pet peeves are) teachers that year after year "win" regional and national art scholarships/and awards for their students by photographing subject matter and letting students duplicate the photo with grid methods or projector assistance or out and out plagiarism from well-known geographical based magazines. The same teachers serve as board directors for these scholastic based art awards. How can a self-portrait be so exquisitely lit and foreshortened if the student is drawing himself? The student must use a good focal length camera with a very long bulb attachment."


What is the problem? It doesn't teach creativity or produce art with "feeling." Personally I think it has it's place when students are first learning realism, but they ideally should learn to draw realism without a grid. They then learn to really "look" at things around them when not using the grid system. If they linger on a grid, they keep using it as a crutch. That's why it's good for them to move beyond the grid quickly. Frequently when looking at these pictures, people think, "My, isn't that a good likeness of a ____." However, they usually don't think, "I wonder what that artist is saying about ____?" Or, "Look at the use of color and composition the artist used to produce a feeling of ______." Nothing is wrong with realism or super-realism. The problem is what does the art look like beyond realism? What does it say and how does it make you feel? Why do other art styles get ignored in the competition?


It is hopeful that art teachers will take note and consider art methods other than realism legitimate forms of art. Comment?



I totally agree, realism has its place but it haults crativity when it is the the only important goal worth achieving. Art work should be about thinking and communication. I don't enter many contests either because the artwork that usually seems to win is rather typical and does not push past really interesting boundaries. And if there is something I really admire about children and young teens is their openess and creativity...but then these contests don't do the appropriate job of nurturing it- it becomes about winning.
April 15, 2009 1:31 PM


Wow, I agree wholeheartedly!! I always tell my students the best way to draw is from life. I do use the grid as one teaching method but do not put alot of emphasis on it. I also use tracing paper so students can feel the lines of a piece but never to completely copy. My 8th grade student study modern art and we explore the meaning behind it. Expressionism is eye-opening for them.
Brenda K-8 Art Teacher

April 27, 2009 9:14 AM


I agree. Part of our job is to teach drawing and observation skills, not shortcuts. I see highschool kids being slighted by teachers who allow this. Teaching is not about stroking our egos but rather giving our best to our students even when we know that the results may not be perfect. They need to learn the value of practice, hardwork, and that good art evolves. There is a development process involved. We need to stop rushing these students but rather allow them the true feeling of accomplishment as a result of hard work. As I tell my students, 'an original is worth way more than a copy!!!'. We don't allow plagerism in other content areas and we shouldn't in art either.

January 27, 2010 1:23 PM


Artwork as collateral

With stock plummeting, savings interest rates almost nil, and the economy going down the tubes, owners of expensive art are increasingly using their art collections as collateral to obtain loans.


Annie Leibovitz stands next to one of her photographs that was used as collateral.

Famous works by Andy Warhol, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, and Willem de Kooning are among the pieces collectors have leveraged in recent months. "The Metropolitan Opera put up two famed Marc Chagall murals in its lobby as collateral, and renowned photographer Annie Leibovitz recently borrowed $15 million against her entire collection of images," says CBC news.


Art Capital, a New York company that issues loans against fine and decorative arts and real estate says it has seen a 40 percent to 50 percent increase in business over the past six months. Anne Leibovitz used this firm to leverage her photography collection to get a $15 million load. Other celebrities who reportedly have secured funds with their own works include film director Julian Schnabel.


Art Capital co-owner Ian Peck said the firm has "taken in important modern masters, important old masters and very important decorative arts," among other valuable pieces. The firm said it expects to make about $120 million in loans in 2009, up from $80 million last year. [1]


Art collections have become lifesavers for people looking for extra cash. The artworks are appraised and treated as collateral just like a car or home would be. Art brokers say people offering up their collections are doing it for a number of reasons, including dealing with financial issues, raising money for businesses or buying more art.


Special Delivery


This is the sculpture by Sasson Soffer called East Gate/West Gate created in 1973. Photo by IndyStar

Ever wonder how large sculptures get to their location? On March 22 a large wire sculpture was delivered to Herron School of Art. In the process they closed five bridges and an interstate. When they were unable to use the roads, a helicopter took over. This wire sculpture was created by Sasson Soffer, an artist from Baghdad.


East Gate/West Gate was constructed with stainless steel tubes and curved around like a cord. the Indianapolis Museum of Art didn't have room for it anymore and decided to loan it to the art school.


Three other smaller sculptures were moved to the art school earlier by truck. Some companies specialize in moving works of art. A company called Methods and Materials in Chicago has been transporting works of art since 1990. This company de-installs, and assembles sculptures.


The company recently transported a sculpture by Tom Otterness to the Ulrich Museum of Art and installed over 100 floating elements in a Rob Fisher Sculpture (Reported here earlier) at an airport terminal. It's not just art the company assembles, they also assemble fossils such as a whale at the National Geographic Museum in Washington DC.


Forensic Artists- An unknown species

Forensic artists do important work, but you won't find most of it exhibited in a museum. You see it primarily hanging on walls in police stations. However, you can see some work by forensic anthropologist and forensic archaeologists. These artists use forensic art to reconstruct what is no longer there.


Don't think that you should study this art in the hopes of landing a full time job. These jobs are rare and there are only a few in the world. Most companies and law enforcement don't have the funds to hire a forensic artist, so they do other jobs such as investigate, patrol or be a clerk. Although computers have taken up some of the work, a good composite sketch artist can create a more realistic illustration.


Age progression is another area for some forensic artists. These artists are called upon to create images of person as they might appear in the future. This is usually done when the only images available are older photographs. Missing children have their pictures updated by forensic artists so there is still a chance people will recognize them. Most of these artists now us Photoshop to age a person. They simply use an existing photo and apply variables such as hair loss, genetics, weight considerations, etc.


Facial reconstruction is done by sculptors who take a skeleton and apply white tubes called tissue markers to the skull in key locations to give the depth of muscles. Clay is then applied and added just enough to cover the white tubes. The teeth are important in determining the shape of the mouth. An interesting photo series is shown creating a sculpture from a skull on Neville's Forensic Art World.


The most common job of a forensic artist is creating composite drawings. These are sketches made while interviewing a witness. The artist asks descriptive questions such as weight, skin color, hair-do, scars, clothing, etc. Some do a remarkable job and the criminal is found quickly because the sketch closely resembled the criminal. There is a page that shows how well several of these artists have come to resemble the actual perpetrator of the crime.


A forensic artist, Brenda Stewart, was called upon by the Fort Wayne County Historical Museum to create a face from an Egyptian mummy. This was a trickier job because the sculpture was done from CAT scans. She then created a replica of the skull and then began applying the layered clay.


Mummy Reconstruction


Perhaps the most famous reconstruction is of King Tutankhamen (King Tut). After the reconstruction, people marveled of the likeness between that and ancient portraits. King Tut ruled Egypt from 1333 BC - 1324 BC. His age of death is estimated at 19 years old. Above you can see a comparison between the actual mummy and the reconstruction.


Forensic artists have helped the police catch many criminals. Who says art isn't important? What could be more important than saving people's lives by putting criminals behind bars?


1 Comment

I have read mystery and thriller books where the main character is a forensic artist and it is amazing and fascinating what they do/describe the procedure.
1/24/10 7:01 PM


The Curse of the Handout

If you're a student or teacher, you've seen the curse of the handouts. The handouts I'm talking about are either color inside the lines or some other busywork. Too many teachers depend on these when they have need to kill time or to give the sub something to do. Yet, coloring inside the lines is one of the least creative things you can do with your students.


handout handout

Highlights Magazine offers free coloring handouts. These are unique in that there are hidden pictures in them.

Holidays is the time when many coloring handouts are given to students. Here is one for spring.


Instead of handouts, students can create their own. There is nothing creative about coloring inside the lines and the only thing it benefits is hand-eye coordination in young children. When students create contour line pictures, they can be copied and stapled in a booklet. This could be passed out to each student in the class.


1 Comment

But I still have some students that could benefit from the hand-eye coordination of coloring in the lines. When we draw something (ie: cardinal) they just color all over the page without a care about coloring inside the bird. comments?
1/24/10 7:04 PM


Art Teacher Promotes the Arts on PBS

Clyde GawOn February 21, art teacher Clyde Gaw was interviewed on PBS radio. Says Clyde, "I was at the WFYI wine tasting event last month and told the Art of the Matter host about possible program cuts from funding and he invited me to speak so... I kind of tripped into the interview."


Clyde's interview begins about a third of the way through the mp3 file. Visit the link below: [Archive - Takes awhile to load]


By the way, I went to high school with Clyde. He had a huge afro in school. That was the style of the 1970's.


Do you have art news you want to share? Are you an art teacher and want to brag about your students here? E-mail me with your news and I will put it here next month.