St. James Art Teacher Catherine Russell joins us this week on the blog for a report on our fifth graders’ recent study of Digital Art! Mrs. Russell earned her degree in Elementary Education from LSU and was named Teacher of the Year at Bains Elementary in 2012.  This is her 6th year teaching art at St. James. 

In the art studio, I try to expose all young artists to as many artists and techniques through exploration of the elements and principles of art.  I strive to provide each student with the opportunity to create using a variety mediums so that when they leave St. James, they are well versed in the basics of art education.

Every year, I try to save something special for our older students. In addition to our typical traditional art projects, I love to introduce our fifth graders to graphic arts and digital media. We begin by exploring photography.  Students take photographs highlighting our school campus, as well as portraits of their peers with the iPad.  Later in the year one of their favorite projects is called “Morphing the School,” where they are provided a theme and asked to transform the school through photography. For example – a student may be assigned “Under the Sea,” so he or she would use a picture of the school and digitally transform it into a watery wonderland full of extravagant sea life. Fifth grader Stella Silva reflected, “I liked how we were able to make something from our imaginations look real, by using technology.” Her classmate John Rodgers Lambert added, “It was fun learning how to use tools to layer pictures on top of one another.” Check out our slideshow for a few highlights.

Another fun project is from the angle of graphic design and advertising. We talk about graphic design and that profession’s duties – exploring how it often helps people promote a product or a business.  We then discuss products and slogans. Students are then tasked with taking a well known product and pair it with a famous work of art and digitally transform into an advertisement! Their imaginations and creativity never fail to impress me!

It is my hope that after spending their early years here at St. James, students are able to enter middle school with a well rounded understanding of a variety of artistic genres, forms of art, and artists – old and new – who proved inspiration to us all.

– Catherine Russell