MLK Day “I have a dream…” T-Shirts and Community Input Artwork

Waconia High School remembers MLK Jr. by having a day of service – a part of Make It Count. Our school worked with Kids Against Hunger over the school day to create meals. In order to offset some of the costs of this service project, we decided to sell t-shirts that promoted MLK Jr. Day of Service. I created the design below.

If you are interested in buying one let me know! We still have some smalls and mediums left over. 🙂

In our classrooms, teachers are encouraged to take part in service projects of our own or remembering MLK Jr. legacy. Inspired by the artist Candy Chang and her community input artwork, I created these small sheets of paper that students could reflect on their own personal goals that they could work towards. Amy Fischer, an art teaching co-worker and department chair, suggested they make them artistic as well – as you can see some students really enjoyed! Here is a selection of their dreams. It is a really simple idea, but I loved getting to know our students better through it.

Origami Documentary

I have always loved origami; ever since kindergarten, when I learned how to fold fortune tellers. There is something so fun and satisfying about bringing an object to life just from one square sheet of paper. This Thanksgiving weekend, my husband suggested that we watch a documentary called “Between the Folds”. It is an excellent film about all aspects of origami – the creation, the many artistic viewpoints, the mathematical and physical complexities and their real world applications. I highly recommend it!

Antiques Roadshow – Useful Art Teaching Resource

I was just watching Antiques Roadshow with my husband when some Maria Martinez work was being appraised. I thought, “We talk about her in Ceramics!” Antiques Roadshow has a fantastic search engine including images of art and videos of the appraisals. I think it would be awesome to show one of these clips after learning about an artist in class!

Water Etching with Mod Podge – A New Obsession

I am always looking for new ideas for ceramics. It is just one of those mediums that inspires experimentation. I have recently signed up for the fantastic newsletter from Ceramics Art Daily and came across this demo on water etching. Since I’m not a big fan of wax or shellack for high school students, I wasn’t so sure if I’d be doing water etching in the near future. But I, was definitely wrong. The folks at Atlanta Clay have done a spectacular job showing off this great technique using Mod Podge. I bought 1 gallon of it at Dick Blick ($30-$40 or so) and I’m pretty sure it will last me all school year too.

Check out this awesome demo. I am incorporating mod podge water etching soon. I’ll for-sure post the results!

-Shalanah Dawson

Principles of Art Zazzle Poster

Principles of Art print

Here it is. I’m sure I’ll do a couple iterations of this one (excluding the neon colors 🙂 ) But it was fun to create. Look at it or buy here.

-Shalanah Dawson

Elements of Art New Poster Design Zazzle

Elements of Art Poster print
So it is back to school time (almost) and I was visiting with the other art teacher (she is also the department head) this past week. I noticed in my room that several of my Elements of Art posters were ripped and in bad shape from falling and the summer cleaning process. I love the content on the posters; however, they are impossible to read for students from far away except for the titles (line, shape, form, color, texture, space and value). I thought it is about time that I just redesign these for learning and economy. So here it is! I hope other art teachers enjoy and use it as well. My next poster to tackle is the Principles of Art and to put up some throwing on the wheel guides. So stay tuned!

-Shalanah Dawson

New for 2011-2012 – Youtube

Just yesterday, I purchased a screen capture software – iShowU HD – for my Graphic Design and Digital Photography classes next year. I have created two YouTube videos that will be used for students to follow if they are absent or need a refresher on the project or tools. I’m enjoying it so far! More videos to come as the summer continues 🙂 .

– Shalanah Backus

Awesome Projects for Graphic Design Class

I came across this site while I was designing my Commercial Art Course (soon to be called Graphic Design). Great projects for Photoshop and Illustrator. I have yet to try out the “Smiley Face” project, but I might have some of my advanced students try it. Below are two examples from this project. Cool huh?

Mr. Moriarty’s Computer Graphic Page
Smiley Face Illustrator Project

– Shalanah Backus


MLK Day Shalanah Backus High School Art Project

For MLK Day, I had my classes design a printed mural to commemorate MLK Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Students were responsible for creating single letters or blocks with designs on them. We then assembled those blocks into excerpts from Dr. King’s famous speech.

Despite some minor hiccups, I love the way it turned out. Each letter in the image above was made from a 3.5″ x 3.5″ MDF block. Students then carved letters into blocks (remember to have them reverse them!). We then inked and printed them. If you’d like to give it a go sometime, I am supplying my letter sign-up sheet, actual text and a brainstorming sheet in a Word document.

I Have a Dream Woodcut WKSTs (.docx)

Give this a try next year, or use the idea to create a mural of your own!

-Shalanah Backus

Working on it…

I started a Commercial Art site for my high school class, but now I have expanded. It now includes all classes I teach. See it here! (

It is going to take a while, but I am slowly going to upload galleries onto the Waconia Site of student work and make a new – with only my artwork and a link to my teaching site. Goal for summer 2011. But you can see it’s all a work in progress.

-Shalanah Backus