Monthly Mentor

Natalie C. Jones (February)
Each month, a different member is the guest writer for the NAEA Monthly Mentor Blog. Natalie C. Jones is an artist, small business owner, and the director of education at the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture. She has 10 years of experience working as an art teacher and teaching artist throughout the east coast and the Midwest. Click "GO" to read her full bio.



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Friday 01.23.09

Inauguration and Spiderman (Guenter)

As art educators, comic strips and comic books offer opportunities for teaching viewpoint and shifts in perspective in drawing. You have close-ups. You have middle grounds. You have the panorama. And you have different sized boxes or shapes to tell your story. You have thought bubbles, bubbles for speaking, and boxes for narration. Sometimes no words are needed at all. The use of color for emotion and feelings is always an option for a lesson, too. There are many ways to approach the use of comics for instruction in art education.

So, it is with great interest that I have followed the Inauguration and Marvel's Spiderman comics featuring President Obama. Just prior to the Inauguration, Marvel indicated that it was going to have a five-page story with Spiderman and President Obama in comic #583. Marvel's original first edition cover (Cover A) for this comic depicts Peter Parker with two friends. The first edition cover featuring President Obama (Cover B) shows a "thumbs up" from the president with Spidey hanging in the blue background.  This particular comic #583 with the Obama first edition cover was sold out before it reached the stores so Marvel ran a second variant cover with a reverse image of President Obama and a yellow ochre colored background instead of blue. The second  and third editions with the image of President Obama reversed have also sold out.  A fourth edition cover is scheduled for delivery to comic books stores on February 4, 2009.   


Writer Zeb Wells and Artist Todd Nauck
Todd Nauchk's site:

Out of curiosity and then because I became somewhat addicted, I went to eBay to see what was happening with these historic covers. Things were calm until just days before the Inauguration and then the bidding seemed to begin in earnest, especially during the final minutes any given auction. The original cover B was really moving on eBay and it, along with the others, are still available as I write this, but the prices are no longer in the original $3.99 range. The winning bids, especially for the original covers are between $75 and $100, depending on when and with whom you bid.

So, not only do comics offer opportunities to teach art education content and concepts. This example offers a chance to understand what editions are, how prints become valuable and how actual events when connected to imaginary stories, can spark unexpected and surprising results.

Marvel Comics

Marvel Create Your Own Superhero

Saturday 01.17.09

The Prado Museum and Google Earth Team Up! (Guenter)

On January 13, 2009 a joint project between Google Earth and Spain's Prado Museum was unveiled. This unique collaboration has put the tools of Google Earth to extremely good use on fourteen of the Prado's masterpieces. What makes this partnership really spectacular is the resolution of these paintings. As noted by Google, "The images of these works are about 14,000 million pixels, 1,400 times more detailed than the image a 10-megapixel digital camera would take."

To do this remarkable feat, over 8200 photographs were taken during a three-month period. The images were connected and layered. The satellite technology from Google Earth that allows us to zoom in on the Grand Canyon or find our house or apartment building was then incorporated and the result is stunning. You really get to closely examine the artwork. Often in museums such as the Prado, there are ropes to keep you a safe distance from the paintings. With Google Earth you can really study the paint strokes and details of these paintings. The technology is a tool here and it is really opening up access to those who cannot see these marvelous paintings in person.  And that is a key point. Technology is a tool.

Paintings have physical, visual, and emotional dimensions that are not always or readily captured in images, prints or books. Much like viewing a play or dance performance, you have to actually be there for the total experience. And this is worth discussing with your students. However, being able to introduce and share key concepts and inspire your students to one day see these paintings for themselves, then this collaboration has been well served in supporting education.

I encourage you to take a Google Earth trip to the Prado and see for yourself! 

YouTube clip of the Google Earth/Prado process

If you have Google Earth, open it and check the 3D buildings layer on the bottom left panel. Tyoe in Prado Museum, Spain in the "Fly to" slot. Once there click on the museum link that has masterpieces on it. You can inspect each of them. And, you can actually navigate around the Prado in 3D.

If you don't have Google Earth (free), go to:

Thursday 01.15.09

Art and Weather (Guenter)

Growing up in rural northwestern Pennsylvania teaches you to appreciate and enjoy each of the seasons—winter blasts blowing in from Canada and Buffalo, brisk spring days with slush and mud, balmy summers, and some of the most colorful fall colors anywhere in the world. So it is with strong memories and a certain amount of curiosity that I watch this winter unfold across our country and in my community. Right now from Chicago through New England there is frigid cold. The Pacific Northwest has been hammered with snow and rain. And here I am in Chico, CA with sunny and record-breaking warm temperatures in the 70s. Typically we have eleven inches of rain this month. So far in 2009 it has been a quarter of an inch. It is time to worry about the weather in Northern California.

Weather affects each of us every day. Artists have used weather as a tool, as inspiration, as stage, and as a symbol in their art since the earliest times. As an art educator, you might consider the power of integrating weather into your art lessons. Techniques, history, time periods, specific artists, and media all offer interesting starting points for lessons and units. Furthermore, you might consider the direct connections between art and science. The meteorologist looks at weather one way and an artist may have the same information and look at it completely differently. What a great way to address different perspectives and points of view. And when these perspectives are combined the learning become richer and more meaningful.

Certainly, many landscape paintings provide clues to the types of weather that are occurring in them. I enjoy being an art weather detective whether I am looking at paintings or actually outside walking, hiking, or riding my bike. What are the clues? Look at the light. Look at the change in color. Look at the direction of the shadows. What does the "temperature" of the colors used tell you? How do you think you would feel in this environment? Why?

Wherever you live and whatever the weather is, consider these possibilities and how they might influence the making of art for you and your students. I offer you my humble introductory selection of paintings that could get you started with your own art and weather curriculum integration.

In alphabetical order by artist:
Sierra Nevada in California, Albert Bierstadt
Paris, A Rainy Day, Gustave Caillebotte
The Biglen Brothers Racing, Thomas Eakins
View of Toledo, El Greco
Cape Cod Afternoon, Edward Hopper
A View Down Akersgate, Oslo, William H. Johnson
Regatta, St. Adesse, Monet
Part of the Cliff [.SWF file], Georgia O'Keeffe
Luminous Dawn, Jules Olitski
Howl of the Weather, Frederic Remington
Venice in Gray Weather, John Singer Sargent
The Green Vineyard, Vincent Van Gogh
Starry Night, Vincent Van Gogh
Hurricane, Bahamas, Winslow Homer
Winter, Taos Pueblo, Nat Youngblood

Wednesday 01. 7.09

Praxis: Walking the Talk in Art Education (Guenter)

"The arts humanize the curriculum while affirming the interconnectedness of all forms of knowing. They are a powerful means to improve general education."
-Charles Fowler 


With ongoing budget cuts, focus on assessment outcomes, and the need for students to achieve and produce results in their classroom studies, the challenge to educate others about the integral role that art education provides continues to be a priority. This new year of 2009 will provide many venues and opportunities for you to gather educational information and resources to apply in your teaching, to improve your personal artistic endeavors, and to share with your colleagues at the local, state, and national levels.

A worthy New Year's resolution for the NAEA membership is to rededicate ourselves to art education, reflect on why we teach art and why we find art education so important to include in our curriculum planning. We KNOW it is important for our students, but we are not always able to explain this knowing in words. Having the ability to connect education theory and art education processes into realistic, creative, and meaningful classroom practice is the key.  The word for this is praxis--translating an idea into action.

The intent of NAEA and this newly redesigned web site is to offer you support, resources, and wonderful adventures both personally and professionally. The networking and collaborative spirit that we gain from our annual conventions and state conferences gives us the renewed energy to carry forward current trends and the ongoing need of advocacy for arts education to all areas of our vast and diverse nation. Knowing the expectations for sound art education instruction coupled with the insight of your district's and the state expectations allows you to make informed and meaningful curriculum decisions that can be very creative and inspirational for you and your students. Praxis. I challenge you to put our art education intentions into action. We need to "walk our talk" about art education and all that it implies. 

Sunday 01. 4.09

Do you know TED? (Guenter)

I have been using and working with many aspects of online instruction for over a decade. Often I have had to search for just the right image, video clip or commentary that would help bring my course content to life for the educators in my courses that live several hours or states away. In Spring 2007 I came across a clip presented by Sir Ken Robinson called "Do schools kill creativity?" It was right on the mark for what I was seeking and needed. The response from my students was equally compelling. The follow-up discussions were rich, varied, and articulate. I investigated where the clip originated and soon discovered TED, a highly endorsed global organization.

TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, and Design. TED began as an invitation-only conference in 1984 and has expanded its outreach to include two conferences, a TED prize in the form of a grant, and the audio/podcast series, TEDtalks. As noted on the TED web site, "the annual conference brings together the world's most fascinating thinkers and doers, who are challenged to give the talk of their lives (in 18 minutes)."

If you do not know TED, take a few minutes to change that. To get you started I offer the link to the home page and two clips that I think you, as an art educator will appreciate and will most likely be able to put to good use. The first is the aforementioned clip by Sir Ken Robinson. The second is a fascinating four-minute clip on the face, the likeness of Leonardo DaVinci. Enjoy getting to know TED.


Do schools kill creativity?  Sir Ken Robinson

The True Face of Leonardo DaVinci  Siegfried Woldhek

Thursday 01. 1.09

Leave the campground cleaner than you found it. (Guenter)

Happy New Year! Another year has rolled around offering an opportunity for reflection and looking ahead. What  about NAEA and you as a NAEA member?

The mission of NAEA is to promote art education through professional development, service, advancement of knowledge, and leadership. These are important and very worthy intentions and they cannot be accomplished by only a few. It takes all of us to be this association and all of us to keep it a thriving, vital part of our educational experiences. NAEA is more than our annual convention, more than the NAEA newsletter, more than this newly updated web site. It is each and everyone one of us moving forward with the above purpose in mind, making connections with each other, and pitching in when help is needed. 
There are two sayings from my childhood that continually creep into my daily work. The first is, "Many hands make light work." With the current budget problems facing our schools and teachers, we need to work together. The tight budget impacts how many of our members are able to participate in our annual state conferences, our national convention and share ideas and concerns. The tight budget causes us to become innovative in ways we had not previously considered. The tight budget will influence decisions that are made by the NAEA leadership and state councils. We need to share what we are doing and what is working. We need to work together at all levels for the good of the association.  

The second saying is, "Leave the campground cleaner than you found it." (I often used this expression with my high school art students in Pennsylvania. They would often tease me as they cleaned up the art room, but I am here to say that my students were responsible for the upkeep of that art room and they did it well.) You do your work and you do it well.  Keep it up and keep looking for good connections and ways to make situations better than they are now. Realize that as your colleague, I do appreciate the work you are doing with your students each and every day. I appreciate how you deal with the range of conditions and support you have for your programs. I appreciate how you want the best for your students. And I appreciate your enthusiasm and desire to keep learning new things as we gather each year for our annual convention. NAEA would be nothing if were not for what each and every one of you do on a daily basis. So continue your good work with your students and consider how you might contribute what you are gaining from your experience with NAEA.