104 Days of Summer Vacation: Series

Recycled Flower Series by Christy Berry

For the last two years or so I have had four frames sitting in my basement that I picked up from a garage sale.  I have been stewing about what to paint on them.  I decided to paint different flowers on them in a series.  For this series, I wanted my pictures to be similar in style, theme, and size. I call this series Recycled Flower because there are imperfections in the frame and background board.  This project took several weeks to find flowers and paint.  I search out days that were sunny for shadows and highlights and the perfect flowers for the series.  I would photograph them, draw them out, and then paint them.

Lake Flower by Christy Berry

1. Paint A Rhododendron Flower

My first flower was from the “Lake House.”  The flower was from a huge rhododendron plant.  The sun was creating wonderful shadows on the flowers.  Since, this was the first flower; it set the tone for the rest.  I took several photographs of the flower to paint later.  The painting took around 10 hours start to finish over a couple of days.  I call this one Lake Flower.

Yellow Rose by Christy Berry

2. Paint A Yellow Rose

My next painting was from the Dow Gardens.  I wanted a rose and found several in the Rose Garden.  I took several different photographs trying to determine which one I would like to use.  I finally saw it, it was the tallest rose standing out by itself.  The day was sunny, so there were shadows that would match in the series.  Again, the painting took another 10 hours start to finish over a couple of days.  I call this one Yellow Rose.




Summer Daisy by Christy Berry

3. Paint A Summer Daisy

Now that I had two flowers in the series, I now needed two more.  I sent out a message for ideas. I settled on a daisy next.  I found this daisy at the Dow Gardens in the Children’s Garden while it was sunny.  I took several different shots of the daisies and I really like the shot from below looking up on the underside.  This was a different perspective from the first two paintings.  I tried a light blue background, but when I looked at the first two I changed the background to a dark blue.  This painting also took 10 hours start to finish over a couple of days.  I like the high contrast that I added to the painting.  I call this one Summer Daisy.

"Center of Interest" painting by Christy Berry

4. Paint A Center Of Interest Iris

I knew that I wanted a blue flower for the last painting.  The problem was finding one.  I found some very small ones and some that were in bunches.  I wanted a single flower for the last one.  Again, I returned to the Rose Garden in search of a blue flower.  I was on my way out and home when I saw a triangle iris.  I took several photographs of it, and then I continued on and saw it.  The iris was blue and the shapes were perfect for the last painting.  The day was sunny, so again to goes along with series of shadows and highlights on the flowers.  This painting also took 10 hours over several days.  I call this painting Center of Interest.

5. Photograph Your Progress

Along the way I took photographs and videos of my progress with the flowers.  I have put the compilation into an Animoto video.  I hope you like watching the progression.  The Recycled Flowers series is for sale.  They are ready to hang.  Best part about buying recycled frames is that they came with wire on the back.

I would appreciate feedback or comments that you have.  I would also like to see any series that you create.


-Mrs. Berry

30 Day Challenge: Personal Learning Networks

I am starting the 30 Day challenge through Edublogs: Personal Learning Networks.  I know; I’m on a WordPress blog platform.

All the cool stuff I have found has come from the Edubloger website, so I thought I would try another challenge and see how it could fit into the classroom with reading and art.  I am looking for inspiration even if it doesn’t come from a formal professional development day.  The artist Grant Wood said, “My best ideas have always come to me while milking a cow.”  So here I am looking for others and ideas.  The first challenge is to write a post about PLNs.  Ok, so what is that?

For me a PLN is people who are looking to learn something new and network with each other to share their ideas.

I tried this website called VoiceThread for the first time.  I think it’s pretty neat because now you can hear what others actually sound like.  I just love to hear the different ways people sound.  Here is the link for the VoiceThread for this challenge.  I am the giraffe.

Now that you have participated it is time to make your own.  For a tutorial on how to useVoiceThread click here.

VoiceThread Screen Shot

A VoiceThread is useful for teachers because this could be used for students who have missed class due to illness or who are traveling.  I created a video with Animoto on how to create a flower.  I have shared this with students in my classroom.  Afterwards we discussed if there were any comments or questions.  Students who are out of the classroom could also participate by watching the videos and my comments and then add their own. Click here to link to my example that I have made. The lesson is an introduction to looking at a flower and painting it. Please feel free to comment.  I am still playing with the features.

Enjoy making your own VoiceThread!

-Mrs. Berry

104 Days of Summer Vacation: Painting (Adult fun)

Farmer Joe by Christy Berry

As part of the 104 Days of Summer Vacation series I found that I need some fun too on my vacation.  I have been creating a few paintings these last couple of weeks.  I found myself in a spot with an empty canvas and paint but no idea.  I needed some inspiration and found it when I wasn’t looking.

1. Painting from Inspiration

Material List

My latest inspiration came from walking through the Children’s Garden under the grape vine arch way.  It was a beautiful sunny day and I wanted to capture the view in paint like the impressionist did in their time.  Thank goodness for cameras because I was also following my two children around the garden that day.

Later that night, when the children were asleep, I pull out a canvas and pick my colors.  I fill my water bucket (an ice cream bucket) and put the paint on the lid.  Yep, it’s cheap and it works really well.  I take out my pencil and I sketch out the layout.  It’s not a perfect match to the photograph; however, I wanted to paint what I also saw from a different perspective. I disappear into the task of painting and before I know it, it is three hours later.

It is a few days before I am able to get back to painting.  I take my children back the gardens for another activity and I walk by the spot and surprised to see how much the grape leaves have moved and grown.  I also check out the color of the corn house.  It is more brown than red.  That’s something that I change.

That afternoon during nap time, I pick up my brush again and start to get lost in the details and leaves.  I leave the painting on the easel when the little one starts to make a fuss and I head up stairs.  To my surprise two hours have passed by.

Each time I pass by the easel to do a load of laundry; the painting tugs at me like my children tug on my shirt.  I am just itching to get back into the painting.  It is a few days since the last time I worked on the leaves.  Each leaf takes on its own personality and color.  The colors start working with each other.  Something that I did not use this time is a cloth to wipe away the extra water for the rinsing.  This added to the time but for this painting it worked because the paint started to dry out while it was sitting on the palette.

I finished the painting today.  I like how the vines are intertwined with the frame within the painting of Famer Joe.  Before I finished, I turned the painting upside down to see if there was anything was missing.  Yep, there was something; it was a small detail that went unnoticed right-side up.  I fixed the missing part and then took the painting outside to see what it looked like in the sunlight.  This painting took a week to create and now I am sad that the painting is done.  I will just need to make a new one.

2. Create a video of your painting

While painting, I took photographs periodically. I also filmed me painting.  This is a trick because, I am holding onto the pallet in my lap, camera in one hand, and the brush in the other.  I try not to look through the camera and focus on the painting part of the leaf.  After the painting was completed, I took several completed shots and picked the best one to feature in my movie.  I then used the Animoto website to put together the short video.  I added music and then let the site do its wonders.  The music fits the image.  there is word farmer in the song.  How perfect is that?  I have attached my video to this blog for your enjoyment.

Remember, it’s not how your painting looks in the end; it is how much fun you had while creating your painting or video.  If you make a painting or video, send me the link; I would like to see what other people are creating.

-Mrs. Berry

P.S.  Students/children could also paint using the same process.  For my daughter, (8 years) time is a lot shorter (an hour to two for the whole painting).

When Pigs Fly Creativity Happens!

Photograph of Georgia by Christy Berry

I was inspired by Phyl’s idea of using flying pigs.  I thought I would try it with my seventh grade students. We are using the idea of the phrase, “When pigs fly.” I am using this idea because pigs are flying in art room and we can create anything! Right now my seventh grade students are up to their elbows in glue and papier-mâché. We are having a blast creating our pigs.

 For this lesson you need the following things:

  • Balloons (several just in case some deflate over night or pop)
  • Glue and water (get a consistency of sticky but still like a liquid
  • Masking Tape (careful when placing this on the balloon, it might pop when you take it off)
  • Egg cartons (you need five sections: 4 for the feet, and one for the nose)
  • Wings and ears can be made out of flimsy cardboard or the other half of the egg carton
  • Acrylic paint or house paint (base coat)
  • Tempera or acrylic paint (details)
  • Brushes (house paint brushes and regular artist brushes)
  • Wire (telephone is colorful) for the tail and hanging
  • Paper clips (for the hanging method)
  • Extras: yarn, beads, barrettes, anything extra
  • Copy paper (artist statement cut down to 6” x 6”)
  • Pencils (#2)

Watch the video  I made with Animoto on how to make the flying pigs.

Making the pigs is a lot of fun and messy. To help students I cut the paper towels and newspapers into strips for them using a paper cutter. I do this to keep my scissors clean.

Once the students have finished picking their artist and painting their pigs, students are to write about their pig. Have students write an artist statement that includes a title, the artist name, and how/why their pig is modeled after an artist. Also explain the phrase, “When pigs fly.”See example below

By Mrs. Berry

My pig is modeled after the artist Georgia O’Keeffe. The pig has large flowers similar to the style that Georgia O’Keeffe uses in her paintings of flowers. I used flowers for the eyes and leaves for the nostrils. Due to the papier-mâché texture the flowers have a feel for the painting style of Vincent Van Gogh. I know this because of the way in which I added paint in layers. After I painted and named my pig I chose girl type extras. I added hair with a braid and a broken barrette. I chose the blue and purple wire for the tail because it matched the colors on the pig. Now when people say, “When Pigs Fly!,” I can point to my pig and tell them that anything is possible in the art room.

Being on a string shoe budget of half of a shoe string I was able to have students create this project due to other’s donations. Let me break down the cost:

  • Glue 0$ (At the end of the year teachers give me their old glue bottles that don’t work. I take a plier to get the top off and pour the glue into a large glue container and add water.)
  • Egg cartons 0$ (Parents donate them.)
  • Cardboard 0$ (Lunch ladies give me the cardboard from in-between the food.)
  • Wire 0$ (Parent donated telephone wire.)
  • House paint 0$ (Old/used paint donated from Home Depot –Way to go!)
  • Paper clips 0$ (Donated from other teachers.)
  • Brushes 0$ (Not new to the room, a tool that I already have, PTP purchased several a couple years ago.)
  • Newspaper 0$ (Donated from parents and a volunteer to the building.)
  • Brown Paper towels 0$ (Start in the bathroom as large rolls, then they are taken out when they are too small. They go to the lunchroom for the staff, when they are too small the left over roll comes to the art room.)
  • Balloons 0$ (Donated by other nice staff in the building.)
  • Extras 0$ (Donated by parents, they extras vary every year.)
  • Tape 10 $ (Ok, so I broke down and spent my own money so they could tape it together.)
  • Tempera Paint 0$ (Another teacher donated some paint. I am also using paint that was left over from last year)
  • Copy Paper 0$(Donated from a parent.)
  • Pencils 0$(Donated from other teachers: usually when there are no more erases on the ends)
  • Containers for the glue 0$(Donated by staff and parents.)

Total cost: 10$
Enjoy making flying pigs. They are a lot of fun to create but very messy!

Mrs. Berry

Kaleidoscope Eyes Are Watching

Kaleidoscope Eyes Are Watching by Christy Berry

I recently read a book called Kaleidoscope Eyes by Jen Bryant for my literature class.  This book was one of my favorites that I needed to read.  The main character is Lyza and the year is 1968.  Gramps died and passed down his last greatest adventure to Lyza.  Lyza and her friends, Carolann and Malcolm, work together to find the pirate treasure left by Captain William Kid.  Together they face issues of race, being young, trusting others, and having family sent to fight in the Vietnam War.  I was surprised by the ending of the book.

This book would fit beautifully for Talk Like A Pirate Day for middle school students.  Click here to be linked to my blog about Talk Like A Pirate Day. I would have students read this book right around September.  An activity that I did for my class was to make a concrete poem.  Well, I sort of did this.  Concrete poems are poems that look like what they are talking about.  My poem is like an eye with very long lashes.  In the background I used the idea of a kaleidoscope and had the eye lashes break up the spaces.   I also painted the words so that you would need to turn the painting like a kaleidoscope so you can read the poem. I made a short video about the process in the Animoto. (I really like Animoto, it’s fun and easy!)

The painting is an example of what students could make to create concrete poems to go along with their reading.  (It is important to note that you would need to have a lesson on concrete poems before having students create their own interpretation.)


Brainstorm a list of words or phrases for the characters in the book:

  • Kaleidoscope Eyes are watching, watching like Janis Joplin
  • 1966 1968
  • Fractured into small pieces
  • Dad is hard working single father.  He spends working time at Glassboro State.  He supports his family with a no-nonsense approach to life.
  • Mom disappeared when she ran off.  She fractured her family with her shopping addiction.  She appeared colorful, slim, and unpredictable.
  • Denise plays the annoying older sister.  She has prying eyes.  When not acting like a princess she works. at a dinner.  A soft spot in her heart can be helpful to her younger sister.
  • Harry was a part of the little story as Denise’s boyfriend.  He is trustworthy, colorblind, and ever so helpful.
  • Gramps He traveled all over the world as a navy navigator.  He died before his final adventure.  He passed his last adventure to his granddaughter.
  • Lyza adventurous, researcher, problem solver, loyal
  • Malcolm’s role is a best friend. He is not allowed passage on the “white” only restaurants.  He is also known as a genius to his friends.
  • Carolann’s role is the last best friend in the trio.  She watches her young twin siblings.  She is a planner and a reader.
  • Dixon plays guitar, works at the lumber yard, nice, sent to Vietnam, had an afro, nick name Beach
  • Captain William Kid pirate who hid a treasure, on the run from the royal navy, born in Scotland 1654, reluctant pirate.

Next find images to go along with the story or the idea of the concrete poem:

I pulled all my images from a 2009/2010 SVA Catalog (This is probably the most clever college catalog that I have ever seen.)  I pulled out several images about eyes and random colors.

Next Mod Podge the images:

I used a standard canvas; however, any type of surface will do.  Cardboard works well for students.  It’s sturdy and does not cost as much as a canvas.  Let this dry overnight.

Next add paint:

I used acrylic paints and as I was painting I used a paper towel to remove some of the paint over the images.  I ended up covering up most of the images but kept the outlines to add designs.  I used black paint for the background so that the white letters could contrast well.

Finally add the concrete poem on top:

Pick the phrase or phases that bit best on the canvas. I used a smaller brush for the letters.  I also turned the canvas as I was working to make it easier to write the letters.

Let the painting dry.


-Mrs. Berry

A Fairy Tale of Personal Reading Interests

A Fairy Tale of Personal Reading Interests

by Mrs. Berry

Once upon a time there was a little girl who liked to read.  This is where our story takes a nasty turn. When she was older she didn’t like to read so much in high school.  They told her what to read and analyzed the joy out of reading.  Don’t despair for our story has hope. When in college, the girl took a Japanese literature class where she discovered a new style where there were not always happy endings or even endings.  This intrigued the girl and she started to read some more.  She met a boy who also loved to read and soon they were married.  They filled their bookshelves with many books.  They had a baby girl and they read to her every day.  One day they went to the local library during the summer and discovered their summer reading program.  The girl was excited because they had an adult version.  She read so many books that summer for herself.  She loved how the words escaped their pages and played in her imagination.  The family read happily ever after to this day.

The End …. or is it the beginning?

-Mrs. Berry

An Artful Website

Screen Shot of Artful Books by Christy Berry

I created a pretty neat website.  Well, of course I think it’s neat; I made it.  Click here to arrive at the new and nifty website.  I used Wix to create the website.  I like this website, for a big reason.  It’s free!  It’s also pretty user friendly.  The site builder reminds me a lot of hypertext.  It was a program I used when I was in elementary school.  There are templates that are free or you can build your own.  This time I used a template.  I liked the look of it but I was short on time, thus the template.  There is lobby music on the first page, so you might want to turn down your volume or chill.  I also made several short book trailers with Animoto.  It was a lot of fun to make the pages.  I also included links to several of the author and illustrator’s website.


-Mrs. Berry

Scene It?

I am definitely an image person; especially, when it comes to TV shows or movies.  If I have seen the movie, I can tell you what it is usually in less than five seconds from any point in the movie.  I can remember movies, but can’t seem to find where I put my car keys the night before.  Go figure.  I am an image person, not a place person.

When working with students something to keep in mind is that students may or may not know what a particular symbol or image means.  This being said, it can also go the other way.  New image vocabulary was added to my dictionary when I worked with alternative high school students.  Students need to understand what images they are using and why those images are important to their blog or story.

Things for students ask themselves when adding an image to their blog:

  • Does this image help or distract from my message?
  • Does my image match what I am saying?
  • What movie rating would my image receive?
  • Will people associate this image with me, if I post this?
  • What does this image say or mean?
  • Did I give credit where it is due?

I wrote on what is visual literacy and why it is important a few posts ago.    I also have an art/writing lesson that discusses this topic.  It’s the print media lesson  If you would like to read more on the subject please click on the links.

One of my favorite spots in my hometown.

I have included a slide show of my hometown as part of the challenge.  I tried the animoto slide and was totally geeked by this program.  I am half tempted to purchase the upgraded subscription for this website.  I’m pretty cheap when it comes to stuff online.  I love FREE and easy.  And this program is easy to use.  There are little bubbles that pop up help you find buttons.  I tried to include a little bit of everything; however, there is so much to do in our little town that the free version is just not long enough.

I hope you enjoy a 30 second view of my hometown.  Click on the picture or the link to take you to the movie.

-Mrs. Berry

P.S. I am trying something  to see if I can embed this video.

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