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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August 27, 2020

Staring at That Blank Page?

By Glenda Lubiner

What inspires you as an artist? Is it your students? A trip you took? A dream? Whatever it is that inspires you to create, has it been happening during these unprecedented times? I know that for many people, staying home has given them the opportunity to make more art. My inspiration usually come from art and architecture that I have visited on summer vacations. This summer, I haven’t even left my county!

Thinking of inspiration, how do you think our students are being inspired? They have been cooped up in their houses all summer, sitting around playing video games, and not being able to hang out with their friends. Now is the time to reel them in and get those creative juices flowing. I always start the year with a non-threatening small art project. This way everyone is successful, especially the kids who do not have a choice of electives.

Last year I started doing a data-based selfie based on the work of designer Giorgia Lupi. I found her selfie information somewhere online and have modified it to fit my needs. It’s really cool and the kids love it. When I tell them they are going to draw a selfie, they kind of freak at first, but when I tell them that they won’t have to draw their face, the mood changes. Because I work at an IB middle school, I make sure to add in the IB Learner profile traits. A few examples of what I do are: If you are open-minded draw a light green zig-zag line; if you are principled draw a pink triangle, etc. Lupi asks all kind of things like age, where are you from, pets, introvert or extrovert. It’s a good chance to have the kids do a little reflection as well. Once the selfie is done we do a class critique that is based on design, not their information.  You can google Giogia Lupi - how to draw your own selfie and you will find this great project.

Have fun with it!

Artfully yours,



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