Friday, June 15, 2018

Mrs. Smiley's Art

My visual arts teaching philosophy addresses the complicated and inextricable relationship between creativity and skill. The very nature of arts learning is complex; you can teach students to use materials, but to what extent can you actually teach creativity and originality? I would argue that while creativity itself cannot be explicitly taught, it can absolutely be fostered and initiated through meaningful, process-oriented, and independent artistic encounters- provided these experiences present opportunities for creative problems to be solved, and for artistic “rules” to be broken.  I often tell my students, “You have to know the rules in order to know how to break them.” It is in these “breaks” that true creativity and originality emerges.

This is also my approach to creating my own art. As an art teacher, I know that I must find balance and make time to focus on my own creative process, for numerous reasons. First, creating my own work keeps my head in the game, so to speak. I think it is vital for teachers to be able to empathize with students, and my way of doing this is to make sure to put myself in the position where I too experience the same elation and frustration as they do in their own creative processes. Creating my own work is also a great way to experiment with new media as a way of trouble-shooting for future projects with students. Finally, of course, I create the art for art's sake, because it is what I truly love to do, and I want students to see the joy that is sparked in me when I am at my most creative.

With this approach in mind, I strive to create projects that seamlessly blend skill-building with spontaneous and differentiated opportunities for creativity and originality.  My aim is to create a learning experience that balances both the rich hands-on experience of creating artwork and the essential skills of developing knowledge and awareness of the creative process. I believe that students benefit from experiencing a wide range of materials, including two-dimensional, three-dimensional, and digital, so that they can discover the properties of the materials and their potential.  Art History is another essential part of the studio art process, and students must engage in frequent and meaningful discussions of artwork, both their own and that of famous artists. Through this thoughtful, deep, multi-faceted approach, students are engaged, inspired, and challenged.

Here are some examples of the work I have done over the years in mosaic and pastel. 










Friday, March 16, 2018

Third Grade African Masks

Third Graders designed these masks after exploring the cultural and aesthetic traditions of African masks. They learned that masks are worn for specific ceremonies and that mask making is an important job. They wrote about the significance of their masks, explaining the design choices and the new traditions.

Seahawk, because it represents freedom. It’s used in a funeral.


My character is a dog and a bird. The event would be when a baby is born. The mother or the father would wear it. The purpose is to honor the baby.


Puppy-Kitten: My mask is worn at a birthday party. It represents fun.

Used: graduation.

Animals: badger, panda (relaxation), lion (bravery), eagle (cleverness), snake (awareness), scorpion (strength).


This is worn on a birthday. I love birthdays and all these animals. It is for a birthday party because it makes kids laugh!


My dog/cat entertains at fun events. Also, it can take away sad feelings and brings good ones. It hangs out at fun events.

This mask is a whale. It reminds people of peace. It is worn during a birthday party and should be worn by the birthday boy/girl and should make them feel happiness- not only the boy/girl but anyone that is in their path…


This cobra mask is worn for protection when animals come to kill.


I chose peacock, cat and dog, fish. I think it stands for faith. My mask would be for a happy celebration.

My mask is to show protection and wisdom: Bat, fox, owl. You wear it at the transition from childhood to adulthood.



I did a penguin and a lion because they can both kill you and my mask is for war.


I made a lions mane to show the power and horns to get my prey. I wear my mask when you feel happy any time. And with vampire teeth to eat.
This mask is worn before a general goes to war.


My Cavlier King Charles Spaniel has the strength of a bull because cavaliers are very small. My mask represents that strength is on the inside and not the outside. My mask helps you get through times.


It is for funerals in front of the grave. The feathers symbolize welcoming angels, same with the smile and the halo. The mouth under the smile symbolizes scaring away bad spirits.



My animal is a bull. I chose this animal because they are strong and fierce. My second animal is a unicorn. I chose this animal so its horn can head-butt its enemies.