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Across our district, students are putting together the building blocks to craft pride-worthy, end-of-the-year creations– but it starts with mastery over simple skills, with innate proficiency of your tools; it all begins with a single stroke. In Amanda Elton’s art classes at Amelia Earhart Elementary, students create complexity with a single page of color and tempera paint.

Elton pulled out painted pages, each in a singular tone but with varied textures. 

“Look at all the variance we can get even in one texture,” Elton said, “just from the tools and approaches we use when painting.” 

She held a green painting with thick, choppy waves repeating across the page, next to another comprised of thin swirls.

“This painter used a brush comb. How does this differ in texture from this other page?”

Students compared textures, variance, and brush strokes on the two paintings and several other shared images. Students immediately started using Elton’s academic language– after hearing her model words like “texture” and “tone,” they intuitively used the words in their appraisals.

She moved on to their brushes, setting the stage to discuss brush strokes and etiquette. “Brushes are like ballerinas; they tiptoe across the stage. They don’t do the boot scoot n’ boogie.” She swished the brush back and forth across the canvas to model, and students mimed her wrist movements.

Trays of tempera cakes came out alongside plastic cups containing new, fresh-looking brushes. Students started practicing brush strokes for diverse textures by tempering their canvases in a single color. 

Not all students start with such ease, but Amanda Elton does a lot of work to “pretreat the canvas” and prepare students, using whole-group modeling of academic language and etiquette alongside creative metaphors and analogies about painting. She equips students both practically and philosophically. 

Students geared up, taking their task seriously, and it showed– students took to brush to canvas like fish streamlining a river, hands set to feather out along the page. 

Although it’s just a single color on a single page, it’s just the beginning of their art journey, leading to an art show in November– which is shaping up to be a busy November month for Amanda Elton.

The Utah Art Educator’s Conference is coming up on November 5th, and conference creators reached out to art teachers statewide to design art for their conference. Amanda Elton submitted an art piece, and conference runners selected her piece. Elton’s art will act as the face for the Art Educator’s Conference.

Amanda Elton's designed UAEA Logo

Here’s Amanda Elton’s designed UAEA Logo. UAEA attendees will find this design on all of the conference swag.

Amanda Elton’s students are lucky; her design demonstrates their lessons fully realized, utilizing the primary skills learned in class to compose an art piece.

Congratulations, Amanda Elton, and thank you for being a terrific teacher and artist. We can’t wait to see what comes next.

Keep an eye out for posts through November as we show off student work at Amelia Earhart leading up to the art show and in neighboring schools as other art classes start their prospective projects.

Spencer Tuinei
  • Communication Specialist
  • Spencer Tuinei