Friday, October 23, 2015

BEGINNERS . . . Bringing art to life!

Artwork by Mariella

Artists in Lower School are working on their self-portraits for the fall art exhibition later next month in Panther Hall gallery. Our youngest artists are discovering how to represent themselves on paper using their favorite colors. Their drawings are wonderful and spontaneous depictions of how they perceive the world. It is an exciting discovery in self-expression and creative pride that begins as early as Beginner classes at Ranney School.

Can you picture the well known M&M cartoon character with his arms and legs coming out of the head of the round candy? You might see this same characterization in any child's drawing. As young artists perceive people around them, the face is the most important element of anyone they meet, and everything (such as arms and legs) are simply extensions of the face. There might be a body between the head and the legs, but in their eyes, it is not as important to recognize or represent in their artwork.

We expect children to depict reality on paper, yet how can we get them to notice what is not important to them? One thing all children relate to easily are their soft, cuddly animals and dolls. If they get to design their own softies, they would need to make decisions that travel beyond where the eyes and mouth go on the face. For example, what color would they choose for the body or the tail if it is an animal, or the shirt or dress if it is a person? Beginner artists drew a self-portrait coming up with many decisions for color choices for each part of their portrait. Then, using fabric samples donated to the art room, I turned each of these wonderful depictions into a softie and brought their drawings to life!

As the year progresses and we continue to explore art with Beginners, it will be exciting to see if our experiment in turning flat art into a 3D manipulative doll will make a difference in how they see people and how to represent them on paper. With new innovation labs and maker spaces added to Ranney School within each division, I would encourage all of my artists to develop their creative thinking skills by exploring unexpected ways of turning their ideas into three-dimensional designs.

A special thank you goes out to Mrs. Brown (Laney '23 and Lexi '25) for donating these wonderful books of fabric to the Lower School art room and making our softies possible.

Artwork by Odin

Artwork by Hayden

Artwork by Matthew
Artwork by Patrick

Artwork by Andrew

Artwork by David

Artwork by Lilly

Artwork by Marlena

Artwork by Oliver

Artwork by Yuze

Thursday, October 22, 2015

FIFTH GRADE . . . Drawing on the iPad!

Our 5th grade self-portraits are digital portraits! We used an app on the iPad called, Sketchbook Pro. This app allows us to work from a photograph and to work in layers. In the tools palette of the app you are able to select from a pencil, pen, paintbrush, airbrush, eraser, chisel marker and many other art tools. In addition, you are able to choose the weight of line, the opacity of the color and work in colors from a variety of different palettes. The choice of how you draw and what you can create is endless!

David Hockney
iPad Illustration for the New Yorker
David Hockney is a famous present day artist from England, well known for his bold and colorful canvases. Mr. Hockney has also become known for his digital artwork as well, using drawing apps and creating illustrations for the cover of the New Yorker Magazine. Creating art on a tablet or phone is no longer just a game or a way to pass the time, it is used by many artists as their modern day sketchpad and can be considered a serious art form that reflects our time.

Here is a quote by David Hockney...
“People from the village come up and tease me: ‘We hear you’ve started drawing on your telephone,’” Mr. Hockney said in a quotation displayed in the exhibition. “And I tell them, ‘Well, no, actually, it’s just that occasionally I speak on my sketch pad.’”

When we drew our portraits, we worked in layers. One layer was our drawing layer, using a thin black line. The next layer was our color layer and we could choose from many colors in a variety of color palettes, as well as pick up a color directly from the photograph. The final layer was created for the background design and that layer sits behind everything else. To see all of the portraits that have been completed, check out our exhibition page on

Note to families...
This art blog will be updated regularly with new posts sharing our daily activities in the art room and news about upcoming art exhibits. To respect the privacy of our students, names will always be limited to first name only and identifiable photos will never be accompanied with a name. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to write in the comment box below or send me an email at I would love to hear from you!
    In my class, students are given the chance to explore different materials and fun new techniques as they develop their signature style. Some young artists love to draw with a pencil, some like to paint on canvas or create images in a digital format, while others prefer working with clay and molding three-dimensional forms. In my classroom, we use a variety of materials allowing all artists to experiment and figure out which type of art they like the best. At Ranney School, we place a strong emphasis on originality and celebrate artistic differences, always nurturing and encouraging the imagination of every student.
     Remember to check out our display of finished artwork and student portfolios in the Ranney home page of