The American Half Century of Art

I was teaching second semester 11th grade humanities, the students studied American history till about 1939 the semester before. As a group we discussed what was different about America than the rest of the world during and after World War II. One of the areas was The Arts. There was no rebuilding of broken city’s here only a growth in American culture and economy a perfect storm, ideas and money to make new art.
My students researched American artist that made interesting advance in artistic concepts, and they looked at the art that they liked too. They then choose an artist to emulate their style not so much their subjects.
The results were fantastic; we got new Frakenthaler’s, Nevelson’s, Warhol’s and more. Along with each of their paintings they wrote a description of the artist’s work.

History of Sculpture Flattened on the wall

Each student researched and then choose two different sculptures to study. One must be out of the canon of western art, the second in the traditional scope of western art. They then wrote a page about the sculpture describing the Method, the Subject and the Reason that that sculpture was created. Then they: sketch, drew or digitally manipulate the 3D sculpture into 2D drawing.
The student will then transfer the image onto a piece of plywood, cut out the image and then paint in the drawing. This will then be places on the wall of flattened sculptures.



Who is your Master?

Students choose an artist, craftsman, architect or designer and research their methods of creation, subject of their work and the reason for creation of their work (MSR).
Then they studied their master’s body of work. Then they planned their work around MSR. In the case of Armond Radford; he painted in the style Basquiat but used acrylic on plywood. His reason for creation was similar to his art master in that they were two African American men that wanted to stick their finger in the eye of convention.
Another student; Veronica Closson, wanted to painted in the style of Morris Louis, using paint and gravity to make the composition. I would have loved to see the mess in Louis’ studio because Miss Closson destroyed my space trying to make work like her master. In the end she had more success changing her method, digital output on paper rather than using paint.



Senior Art Show

High Tech High's Teen Spirit @ Cassius King Gallery,
Gas Lamp District, San Diego March 12th, 2004.
All of my seniors exhibited some or all of their Who is Your Master Project at this show. We also had student musicians and a student spinning. The gallery was perfect and we wish it was still around. We are taking donations to build our own gallery if you would like to contribute, please do.


Frieda Journal

Frieda Journal Project was inspired by Frieda Khalo‘s journal that she kept while she was sick in bed for three years. Each day she would complete a two paged spread. I had my students come to class with their journals that I supplied and work for an hour on a two paged spread. The results were fantastic, very detailed and personal small art. They used collage, markers, watercolor and what ever they could find. We listened to quiet music and drank tea. Every once in a while I would ask to look at a students book, then scan a good two pages, and blow it up and frame it. It changed the scale of the work but it really worked. The kids loved it.


Eaton Project

The Eaton family
commissioned a painting
16 feet by 18 inches,
and 50 students created
and painted it for $1000.



Black and White Hallway

125 students painted with
black and then white, over
and over to create a crazy
hallway for a high school.



Series of Four

Students made a
series of four paintings
and related them to each other in one way or another.


Value Studies

Students found a landscape they liked and reconstructed lines, shapes, hue, and value.

When I taught art in other place I had students do all kinds of art exercises, most of which they left in my classroom at the end of the year. My students needed to learn about value and relationship between different values. I would tell them, “You can make the sky any color you want” and the result was often negative because they would change the values along with hues.
I came up with “A New Value” this had them find a landscape they liked and reconstruct, lines, shapes, hue and most importantly value.

1) Choose an image 2) Scan it 3) Print and trace 4) Scan the trace 5) Using the color picker in Photoshop color in the trace
6) Print the new Image 7) Try painting it, the paintings turned out great

Altar Project

The class researched
cultural and religious
altars and then made
their own altars.



Like Manet, your
painting will have a
figure from the past
and something from
your vernacular.


Digital Baroque

Students chose a
Baroque painting
from the 1550-1650


How to Kill Allegory

Spring 2006
We will respond to
the elements of art:
composition, line,
shape, color and




Whale Evolution

We wanted to make a statement about
the evolution of whales on a building in San Diego.
We made the whales and then got shut down.



Intersection Mural

2006 Mural Painting
Designed and Painted By
25 students on
45 Canvases (2’x2’)



Listening with Your Eyes



Consultant Learning

“Consultant Learning” was a concept that I learned about after I did this project. However since they have published their idea I’ll give them credit. Essentially I told the student to make a art for people and I would grade them by how much money they made. Some of the kids made paintings for teachers and offices around the school. I paid them with “Art Bucks”. Others really sold their work and I let them keep the money and most of them got an “A” in the class. I liked this method but found it a little too money oriented. The reward for doing a good painting should be a good painting.



All the state standards in a week

I wanted to get students working right away. I had each class paint yellow then red (on paper attached to the wall) and then the next class yellow and red, till the work was balanced and rhythmic. They were given instructions not to destroy images, rather embellish what was painted before them. Symbols were discouraged and balance (color, line, shape and texture) was enforced, by rotating each group of students every five minutes or so.
Then when the work was balanced, we applied it to the wall, cutting shapes out of the paper to emphasize the positive and negative spaces.
Then we realized that the work needed something else. That is when we made the blue and green paintings and cut it into shapes that went on the red and yellow. This illustrated contrast, form, shape, balance, and more. In a one week period, 120 students hit every California state standard in visual art. Then we started to really make art.
The most important thing to come away from this is if you make anything it is still better than studying standards.



The Shift

The shift is when a culture changes its taste in fine arts, methods of creation, subjects and/or reason to create the art.
These three terms Relationship – Influence – The Shift will be the buzz words of this class.
All of the art and writing that we will be doing and studying will center on the themes of Relationship – Influence – Shift.

"The Shift Wall" is also very cool. The stuendts painted the wall at HTH where they showed their art. My best moment at HTH was after graduation the shift wall was empty because everyone took their paintings home. Have a look . . . Shift Wall



Analog Flash for Windows

This project was meant to focus the students' minds around the concept that they are either making art about Physics and Engineering or using physics and engineering to make Art.
We decided to use the school’s interior window boxes as a constraint and to display their work. The 24 x 24 x 5 inch windows were perfect for: Analog Flash for Windows. Analog: because most of the projects are mechanical. Flash: references the program for interactivity. For Windows: not for PC but the actual windows at High Tech High.



A Bite out of the
Norton Simon Fall 2007

Each student choose one work of art to replicate. A"bite" of this larger painting was created. Next, each student coupled the painting with a writing component. A postmodernist method was employed when writing and painting. The result is a series of rebellious, reactive and enlightening "original" pieces of art and writing.



The Strain in Art

Students will take their new knowledge of art history and create a work of art or some mechanism to describe the strains of influence in art.



Geometric Cut-outs

by Diane Rodrigas & Kiberly Barajas Inspiered by M.C.Escher



Boy"s Bathroom @ HTH

We really like bathroom art and thought it would be funny to dedicate urinals to staff, students and classes.



India Wall

  If you can't make it to India you could at least walk down the hall at High Tech High. We used a limited pallet and simplified the original art work to make the subject more assessable to non-Hindus.



Picasso's Influence on HTH

Like the show that traveled the countries’ modern artmuseums, the students at High Tech High will make art that reference Picasso’s contributions.

Planning, Management and Exhibition

Quote Painting

The quote painting is interesting, I am thinking it will be election time and there will be a lot to say. The kids will learn about, digitally altering images, mixing paint, the idea that edge is important and value matters more than color.

What could you hide in a book?
This is a cool assignment because “The Book” is hiding something in side. What do books hide?
We will critique their Ideas in class. The students will make mock ups in Photoshop of their ideas, they will answer these questions.

Mini Kiosks with Video
The Subject of the work will be artists’ and their work, or a variation of this theme, maybe an art style, movement or theme within art.  I am going to say pick an artist and if the kids say, a writer or musician. I’ll determine if it is ok, I don’t want music videos, I want thoughtful artfulness.




The Blood Bank Project

This project was a collaboration betweenthe San Diego Blood Bank and High Tech High seniors. It was also a collaboration between the Biology / Multimedia Teacher and the Art teacher.

The students learned about blood, blood diseases, blood in the body, blood banking and blood politics. They also educated the community and brought awareness to the issues that surround our San Diego Blood Bank.




Plein Air San Diego

During the two week intersection class (winter 09) I took my 26 students (24 girls) around San Diego to paint Plein Air. That is French for painting out side in front of the subject, with limited editing in the studio. This was more difficult than I had imagined. No one was injured and only few people cried. We all had a great time by the end.






We came up with the title of the project and logo before we even decided what the project would really be. We both knew that art has math and math has art, so we went for it, and the results were fantastic. Our students produced great art that had an understanding of math, art history, composition and most importantly self expression.




Bacon Paintings

This semester with my return to 10th grade we are going to make Francis Bacon paintings.
We will emulate his style and the students will learn: mixing colours (he was British), using Sketch-up, Photoshop and transfer technologies. Most of all they will learn composition and how to paint. Not too shabby for a month's work.



Rome Trip

During intersession January 2010 Bret, Paul and I are took 25 students to Rome. On this site you can see place that went.



Cubes Gone Wild

This project combined: welding, design, geometry, 3D Molding, and two demanding teachers. Patrick Callahan of the UC helped us define and experiment with this project. The underlying issue is that student have a hard time understanding the X, Y, Z coordinates in abstract form. We have given them a context and need for them to learn these geometric functions. Welding is fun and scary too.

Piredoic Tabel

In this project students will learn about the elements, the similarities and differences they have to one another, and the significance of their arrangement in the Periodic Table. 
The final product will culminate with the creation of an
interactive Periodic Table of Elements including a
representative painting of each element based on the
students’ research. 
Tamayo Museum Spring 2010

The Ruffino Tamayo Museum in Oaxaca Mexico is fantastic. Since the first time I visited the museum on my birthday in 1999 I thought it was/is great. Each room is another theme, pink, blue, green, etc. The antiquities are there because Tamayo thought they were cool, funny and crazy. It is not a chronological retelling of native anthropology, but a celebration of cool stuff.
We are going to recreate this museum, in the hallways of High Tech High, with flattened cutout paintings and piñatas of pre-Hispanic sculpture.  Then in May I want to take a group of my students to Oaxaca to check out the real thing, it should be a great semester.


The Failures of War

In this project students will present a series of 4 prints that discuses the Failures of War.  Along with an accompanying poster all displayed for exhibition night. Just like: Callot’s “The Miseries Of War” c1632, Goya’s “The Disasters of War” c1810 and Birk's “The Depravities of War” c2007 our students will show the Failures of War, this project is not anti any country or ideology, it is critically looking at the aftermath and destruction of war. This project is not political.


Finger Paint Fail!

I wanted the students to make a Fingerprint Impressionist Painting. They would pick an Impressionist and take a part of one of their paintings and then copy it to a canvas. Then I thought they would finish it by making broken strokes with their fingers. My rule is that I do the project first my self. I did and I failed. I worked on it for 6 hours and could not make it work. So I scrapped the project and made something different. I put this on my DP so teachers can see the importance of doing the project your self.

Object paintings

After the failure of my Impressionist Finger-painting I needed to make an alternative. I look above me and saw my water jug painting that I made. I knew making this painting would teach them, Photoshop, composition, measuring, value study, proportion, balance, contrast, positive and negative space, drawing, line, shape, mixing colors, color correcting and so much more.
The Last Judgment

We had just finished the Francis Bacon paintings, and discovered the Michelangelo books lying around. So for our next art project we decided to take characters from Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel and paint them. The process started with copying photos from a few books of Michelangelo’s Sistine chapel, then projecting them on the board, and finally tracing and painting. This project helped students learn how to shade and blend, to create more realistic paintings. 

Art For Teachers

This project was for Teachers that are enrolled in HTH’s credential program. The goal was to learn how to have students make original art without knowing how to draw. Each teacher had to find a Superhero, an animal head and an instrument on the internet, cut them out in Photoshop, trace, scan, color and shade.