Brushes & Mud Paint


Looking at the arts through scientific inquiry, students learned that natural materials, such as mud, rocks and plants, are the basis for 2D arts painting and drawing.


Brushes and Mud Paint from March Hare on Vimeo.

Our Science Seminar began with students sharing what they knew about the scientific method.  Then, they developed hypothesis to the question, “How is paint made?”

Next, we looked at and discussed traditional cultural and contemporary examples of mud painting.  Students went outside to dig up dirt (to make mud paint) and to find a variety of natural objects (to make paint brushes).   Then, students made paint, using mud as the pigment and vehicle. Some paints were made with a binder (glue) and some not.  In using these controls and variables, students could compare the effects and determine the more effective paint, the one with the binder.  When making their own paint, students had the option to add a drop of tempera paint to add color variation.

Next we compared paintbrushes to determine what makes a paint brush most effective.  What does it need?  Why are there different types?  Students used object found outside to explore and design what they believed would make an effective paint brush.  These brushes, which were beautiful and functional, were used to create their mud paintings.

Our second experiment involved analyzing  materials and techniques in order to discover the basics of manufactured paint.   Students learned the history of pastels and used two different explore the painterly methods associated with pastel.  Using a mortar and pestle to grind it to powder (like a pigment powder with  the binder already added) students mixed colors and added water to create their own paints.   They also dunked pastel sticks  in water to compare the methods in which water, the vehicle could be added.  They were asked to imagine possibilities for both methods being the more desirable way to paint.

This four day seminar was packed with experimentation, exploration and discovery.  Students made correlations between artistic exploration and scientific inquiry in order to learn about the world around them and use that knowledge to invent personal paths of creation.

Standards we touched upon were:

Visual Arts MLR A Disciplinary Literacy – Visual Arts:  Students show literacy in the art discipline by understanding and demonstrating concepts, skills, terminology, and processes.

Visual Arts MLR C Creative Problem-Solving:  Students approach artistic problem solving using multiple solutions and the creative process.

Science MLR B The Skills and Traits of Scientific Inquiry and Technological Design:  Students plan, conduct, analyze data from and communicate results of in-depth scientific investigations; and they use a systematic process, tools, equipment, and a variety of materials to create a technological design and produce a solution or product to meet a specified need.



The Maine Educational Theatre Conference

Last week I had the honor of bringing the high school Drama Club and S.L.A.M.!  students to the Northeast Thespian, Maine Educational Theatre Conference at the University of Maine, Orono.  From an art educator’s point of view it was exciting to join theater educators in supporting Theatre Education and our students’ artistic development and growth.  Since each student had a unique experience, they have collaborated, each sharing their voice, to reflect on the overall impact of this experience.


       Friday, October 28, was the Maine Educational Theatre Conference at the University of Maine, Orono. I awoke (if you can call that being awake) at the ripe hour of 3:00 AM. We all gathered at our high school and hit the road, in the school van, at 4:15. Admittedly, I was very nervous. There were so many talented kids there just like me, and I didn’t really know what to expect from the day.  The program started in Hauk Auditorium  with speakers, Dawn McAndrews, the Artistic Director at the Theater at Monmouth and Beth Lambert.  Mrs. Lambert,  the Visual and Performing Arts Specialist from the Department of Education (and theatre teacher extraordinaire) gave a genuinely inspiring speech,

“Your theatre education will serve you for the rest of your life. So stand up for theatre education. Never forget that the arts are worth fighting for in your community, and you are not alone in this fight. Artists are not simply storytellers and creators of beautiful images and sounds. The arts dignify the human spirit. Artists challenge everyone within our society to see one another honestly and without fear. Artists build communities in a fragmented and sometimes frightening world.

Artists are visionaries by nature, and as a young artist, you are called to lead, to question, to provoke, and to reform.

I sincerely wish you all the best and hope that no matter where the road takes you that you will always have theatre in your life and always remember how it shaped, not only your ability to perform, but your character as well.”

     After this assembly, we each went to our first workshop.  I had signed up for Objects of Playwriting Desire with Travis Baker.  Mr. Baker, a very seasoned playwright, gave us a great lecture on the field. I learned a lot about the stage and what writers can do with it. We got into small groups and did miniature scenes that we came up with. Overall, it was a très informative session.

      The next seminar after lunch (great ravioli, by the way) was on stage combat, Slaps, Punches and Slashes: The First Steps of Sensible Stage Violence was taught by, Arthur Morison. I honestly didn’t expect to become good at sword fighting, but I’m now confident in my skill to survive in the Middle Ages. It was extremely entertaining.

     My final seminar was Video Projection, held by Brave Williams. Holograms have always fascinated me. Miraculously, I got everything to work, and I even made a little layered animation that I projected into the room.  Even the eight-hour drive was worth it. It was a great, informative, inspiring day, and though I was nervous, I would love to do it again.

– Daley

     My favorite workshop was Costume Design vs. Fashion Design, taught by Kevin Jacob Koski.  He focused on the differences between costumes and fashion and to illustrate his point, he shared his work. He highlighted the functionality of costumes and how they need to be engineered to help create illusions on the stage. Koski emphasized that costume designers must consult many people when designing, including the actors.   The actor knows the character best so you have to make sure you respect their ideas about him or her.  The costumes must help to convey the characters attributes as well as provide for movement & comfort. Lighting is a critical part of the overall production.  The lighting person needs to be part of the costume design process. The color of the fabric must work with the color and staging of the lights.  And, the director’s point of view must be considered to make sure it is in sync with his or her overall vision.  

 – Dorothy

     My favorite workshop was  hip-hop dance. It was the best one that I went to and the most fun. Now, that was a workout! The fact that we learned a new dance routine in one hour was amazing. It made me felt like I was in a true dance class. It was really fun and the dance is still engraved in my brain (4 days later).

– Kelly

     The trip down to Orono was incredible. S.L.A.M.!’s Drama Division got to talk with Beth Lambert, and hear her amazing speech.     The performance done by Orono’s college kids, the snippet of their play, was done very well. I enjoyed it.   People aside, the lessons were fabulous. They really were helpful, and it was really fun. I personally did the dance, observed acting, and observed singing. The tips were amazing, and the dance was vigorous and fun. I had a really good time there. It’s very unsurprising that another S.L.A.M.! trip was educational and fun.


     Honestly, I had no idea what to expect when my drama instructor asked me about attending the theatre conference held at the University of Maine at Orono last week.  I have been to many art related festivals and workshops before, but none like this one.

    To summarize,  the thespian theater conference was a gathering of high school theatre students from around the state of Maine. Honestly it was one of the best festivals I’ve ever attended. For starters they did a really good job letting the kids find their own way around campus.  This was really cool because it gave the kids a shorthand experience of college; and,  I didn’t feel as if I was forced to go from one place to another like at other festivals/school related events.

     The second thing that I really loved about the festival were the workshops! There were different kinds of workshops available and the chance to watch live auditions for “Best of Fest,” a group of competitions among actors and singers. There were three categories: monologues, and two different singing portions. I personally had a chance to watch the monologue event and all I have to say is, “Wow!”  We were in the Black Box Theatre,  a small practice/ small performance room in the Collins Center for the Arts. It was raining that day and amid the silence and patient waiting for the next performers, one could hear the rain beating upon the roof. What an accidental way to set the perfect ambience. The actors were amazing, and I had no idea that such talent existed among fellow high school peers. I have to say, this was my favorite workshop.  I had such an amazing day at the thespian theatre conference! And, I would definitely go again… if I wasn’t a Senior.

 ~Andrew G.




National Arts in Education Week, Part 3

Focus on Theater

Today’s post is written by S.L.A.M.! student leader and Drama Club member, Daley Pedersen. 

Beth Lambert, the Visual and Performing Arts Specialist at the Maine Department of Education, took a trip up to little old MSAD #33 in St. Agatha, Maine.  A former theater teacher, Ms. Lambert met with us, the Wisdom Drama Club, our advisor and visual art teacher, Ms. Cerceo and our music teacher, Mr. Michaud to share her expertise and to direct us in skill-building theater activities.

When she took us up on stage, it was mind-blowing.  I’ve always loved the theater. There’s something about it that’s higher than reality, something that takes us into another world. The actors become the roles, I knew that. But Beth gave us a true understanding of what it means to be a role. To actually become the role is unhealthy, even if just for that play. She said that instead the role should become the actor: the actor should make the character his or her own, not vice versa.

Beth guided us through some skill-building exercises, such as keeping focus and working as an ensemble. These exercises opened my eyes to the subtle nuances of acting—it’s always more than meets the eye when it comes to theater. They were incredibly helpful! I learned more in that one hour than I have over the course of my life.

img_2509-1By building on these skills, we are preparing ourselves for our state’s one-act festival, and for performances in our community.  I feel we are going to be ready. We’ve gone to competition before, and this time we’ve got Beth Lambert to give us all the ancient, fabled acting techniques. The state of Maine is lucky to have a such a great arts educator at their Department of Education.

National Arts in Education Week, Part 2

At the Elementary School …

In celebration of National Arts in Education Week, Grade 6 artist, Ethan, created an exhibit of famous artworks.  Ethan hoped to highlight “the creativity of these artists and how awesome art can be!”  This is an interactive exhibit in which viewers are asked to write a response to the work using one of the prompts provided or their own reflective statement.

National Arts in Education Week, Part 1

For National Arts in Education Week, S.L.A.M.! has created a series of actions and activities to celebrate with the school!

They designed these pins to pass out throughout the school to promote awareness for the arts and a positive school culture. *


S.L.A.M.! set up a weaving loom in the cafeteria.  Students are encouraged help complete this weaving by choosing weft materials from the bin.  The finished work will be a Unity Weaving, a work of art created by the whole school.




Inspired by Americans for the Arts’ #BecauseOfArtsEd and ECET2’s Why I Teach… bubbles, students, teachers and staff are asked to share how the arts have impacted their education and their life.


Stay Tuned! There is more to come!


What is National Arts in Education Week?

In 2010 Congress, through Resolution 275, designated the second week of September to be National Arts in Education Week.

The arts are an essential part of a complete education, no matter if it happens in the home, school, or community. Students of all ages—from kindergarten to college to creative aging programs—benefit from artistic learning, innovative thinking, and creativity. Celebrating National Arts in Education Week is a way to recognize this impact and share the message with friends, family, and communities. – Americans for the Arts

* The idea of the symbol pins was inspired by the ECET2 ME conference where attendees were encouraged to pass out pins to people who inspired them or helped them find their voice.