Student Artist, Student Voice


This blog post was written

by 4th grade artist, Ella Voisine.

Most of my photos are based on nature and animals. I own many animals like horses, cats, chickens, ducks and a dog.  I love to take photos of them so that I can see what the naked eye can’t see.


I am always outside, so I use some of my time taking photos. I take photos because I feel like we all need to see the natural beauty of nature and animals.

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I try to make my pictures look very natural so that they don’t look like I purposely set them up. I hope that sometime I will get a nice,real camera so that I will have good zoom, and I won’t have to come inside when my camera gets too cold. It can be very challenging to take photos, like when it is windy or when animals move.

Sometimes I just have to take a break because I cannot get quality photos.I think that many others should take photos so that the world can learn more about nature and animals. One of my inspirations is Paul Cyr. He takes many photos of animals and nature, and when I am older I want to take photos like him.

Student Voice: My Journey in Art Education

As part of their High School Studio Art midterm, students began constructing their artist statements. This will be a process we continue through the Spring, culminating in their final exhibition.   For this step in the process, students brainstormed a personal timeline and then used it to create an artistic expression.  I will be sharing some of this work over the week.  This first example comes from Kelly, a senior  who I have had the privilege of teaching since she was in 2nd grade.


Lone Wolf in Art by Kelly P.

Second Grade

Lone wolf using tools

Brush, pencil, clay

All of these on display

Overwhelmed takes full effect

Shaking in it’s fur, scared

Flash forward, freshman year

More intricate tools

Still that lone wolf

Even more scared to take the chance

Shading here, detail here, depth there

Everything whirling in, like a color snowstorm

Much less dangerous

Much more calm

Ink, yarn and ribbon, and paint

This lone wolf is not scared

Embracing the shade of every art piece

The color snowstorm is calm and gone

Snowmen in the Moonlight

First Grade students learned about the art elements of space and value. First, they learned about the horizon line and how to establish a sense of space.  Then, they practiced blending oil pastels to create highlights and shadows in order to give their drawings a sense of 3D form.   For inspiration and an ELA connection, we read Snowmen at Night by Caralyn Buehner and made close observations of the spectacular illustrations by Mark Buehner.  



Student Voice in the Studio

The holidays are here!   As is typical, this time of year brings a lot of happenings both in the school and at home with family and friends.  Let’s pause from the high energy of the season to check in with one of our senior Studio Art & SLAM! member, Andrew Guimond.

Andrew’s goal this year was to learn to use the pottery wheel.  Motivated initially by curiosity, then through taking ownership over his learning, he became empowered to continue this journey, developing his personal style in the medium, while coming to more deeply understand the artistic process.



  In Andrew’s own words,

“… today was a real life studio experience… I worked on several  pieces… I threw a jar with lid and trimmed a bowl…  If I wasn’t in this class, I would never  have this studio time… a chance to create in an atmosphere that is relaxed (free of deadlines) but is challenging.  (My process) isn’t forced and I’m not following another’s agenda.”


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.