Making art with the 5th grade

My Journal

I love art. Outsider art.  Art with words. Any type of mixed media.  Whimsical art.

ART.  Period.

But if I had to pick a type of art I love best, I would pick children's art. It comes from a place that is so open.  Instinctive.  Inspired.

Each spring, I work with about 100 5th graders at a local elementary school.  This started when my daughter was in 5th grade.  Then a few years ago, the art teacher, Gretchen Stout, got a grant to bring me back into the school to work with the kids to create a three-dimensional mural made from salvaged signage.

Each graduating 5th grade class adds onto this.  A little piece of them stays behind as they go on to middle school.

making art with the fifth grade

Gretchen Stout is the kind of teacher that makes you want to paint. Doodle.  Draw. Sculpt. Make something.  Anything.

And I am so lucky to work beside her a few days a year.  I am honored to be able to talk to her students about being an artist. And being in her classroom is good for my soul.  Here is the front of her art room door.

making art with the fifth grade

And these are her art room rules.  Yes.  Just do your best.  It is enough.  More than enough.


making art with the fifth grade

Gretchen and I meet in the winter to discuss what we are going to add to the mural in the spring.

I design the pieces we decide on and get them cut out of scrap signage.  The pieces head back to my studio for priming and sanding.  Then the students paint them in art class.  They watch a video that was taken at my studio.  We have an assembly where I describe my work to them and show them different pieces of my art.

As the last day of school nears, Gretchen and I install all of their painted pieces to the ongoing mural that is in front of the school entrance.

Each time I work beside children, my work is changed.

If you want to see where your unique style of creating can go, put it in the hands of children. I love seeing my work through their eyes.

making art with the fifth grade

At the assembly this year, I displayed my art and told them I see "yes" where others see "no".

I see bright flower box gardens that never need water.  Others see a sign that will be thrown out.

Aren't these student painted banners just amazing as a backdrop?

making art with the fifth grade

One of my favorite moments from this year was when all the students where asking me questions.  Really good, thought provoking questions.

One boy raised his hand and said "I am an artist too." I loved that statement.

It said so much about the creative environment in this school and how comfortable he was.  It said so much about Gretchen as a teacher. As an artist.

I told him sometimes that is the hardest part for many people. The part where you bravely declare you are an artist.

This year, Gretchen brought a few canvases she is working on into her magical art room.    Canvases that say "I am an art teacher. And an artist".

Canvases that give her students permission to be artists too. Canvases that show she is brave.

Because putting your artwork out for others to see is very brave. And these 5th graders are so very good at it.  

**How have you been brave in your art lately?  Are you waiting to say "I am an artist"?  Say it here.  Say it loudly. xoxooxoox  

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