Need A Hand?


I have recently had the chance to look back at my past 3 years of Secondary School teaching and browse my way through most of the fantastic work that’s been produced in that time. Whether that be through photos or actual work that is on display in my home, there are a lot of pieces that, even I, can’t believe they were created by students rather than professionals. One of my favourite sketches of all time is the work below by Agnes (S3 from Notredame High).

Agnes had very fine slender fingers and so her beautifully sketched drawing of her hand reminded me of the work by Klimt or Schiele. She could not see the beauty in her style and found no great pleasure in drawing or Art in general, so it’s amazing that she had such an elegant style and observant eye. I had stored this piece inside an art book to keep it flat, so it was an absolute delight to re-discover it.

I will have to buy a nice thick black frame for it over the weekend and show it off on a wall like it deserves, but until then, I thought it would be apt to award it ‘Artwork of the Week’.


The Meebo Chatterbox

Anyone interested in getting in touch with me can now use the Meebo Chatterbox on the bottom right hand panel. This is alongside commenting and/or emailing The Chatterbox lets you edit your nickname and type to me in real-time. So if you see that I’m online, I’ll be available to chat or you can ask whatever question or request you’d like. This app allows me to get feedback to you quicker than ever before, your messages are private and no others will be able to read what you’ve written.

Hopefully this will aid the site by allowing a more real-time instant chat. If it’s successful, I might change the interface to a group chat and turn this website into the new facebook… ‘artbook’, it sounds good doesn’t it?

If you plan to abuse this system I can just block your I.P address, which would block the app from your house or an entire network, so I wouldn’t be too ferocious if I were you.Β  It also censors curse words, so if you want to type “fun you” or “go fun yersel” that’s fine… pretty pointless though.

I had to delete Meebo as it was slowing down the loading of the blog. Some people had used it, but I’m sure it won’t be missed and there are enough methods to contact me already.

Peer Evaluation


Marking can become extremely boring, as a teacher you are prone to do it at least once a week or even once a day, but it’s the big word that goes around schools; ‘assessment’. ‘Assessment is for Learning’, ‘Formative Assessment’ and ‘Final Assessment’, assessment, assessment… assessment.

This is all extremely important for teachers to have to do and for pupils to have to go through, but often there is very little reward for those that don’t do so well, other than knowing that they didn’t do too well. That is why ‘Peer Assessment’ is so important. It makes the whole thing more interactive, more involving and therefore more interesting and important to the pupils.

By changing the marker from the usual Mr Smith or Mrs Jones and placing it as the responsibility of the pupil, you are putting power into their hands and which pupil does not want more control over their learning.

Art & Design is great for Peer Evaluation. Pupils already can see what is good and what doesn’t work, even though they’ve had no formal tutoring. There’s something inert inside us that makes us very visually aware from a young age. It’s then pretty easy for us Art Teachers to teach how things should be and not.


I have developed a quick single period peer assessment that can be printed out or changed to suit your needs below. Having now practiced this method for two years and received praise from other art teachers who have tried it, I would suggest this task for all pupils.

It involves the pupil completing a self assessment first by filling out pupil effort out of ten, a star (good point) and a wish (something that could be better) and then finishing with a mark out of ten for the work. This not only gives them a comparison, it also gets them familiar with the task to then perform it five more times for other pupils.

After self assessment all pupils should move around the classroom to another pupil work and complete the task again. I like to give pupils a different coloured pen so as to avoid confusion if a part of the assessment is missed (i.e. “Which pupil with a purple pen marked Lisa’s work last? You forgot to mark in effort.”) The pupil work and sheet should remain on the table and only the Pupil and their pen should move.

Pupils should move five times and mark their peers appropriately. Some classes will work, some won’t. Though it is worth trying with all pupils as there is much to gain from seeing peer marking and performing peer marking.

After the peer marks have been completed, the pupils return to their original seats to look at their marks, stars and wishes. I would then normally ask individuals if they agree or disagree with statements made.

The final part of the task involves some mathematics. Pupils add up their five peer marks and divide by five, rounding down. This will give them a peer mark to compare against their original self mark.


Pupils with:

Peer > Self – They are being hard on their work and don’t see the good things that others do.

Self > Peer – Are being big-headed about their work and consider it to be of a better standard than others do.

Peer = Self – Pupils are spot on with how they perceive their work. They are aware of their audience and have an empathy with them. This is the more suitable state for anyone that wishes to be creative and public.

Although this sounds very complicated with lots of parts, discussion and freedom, it is a very rewarding lesson for teacher and pupil alike. I would advise all teachers to try this task at least twice with two very different class years before writing it off completely.

In the files box (bottom right panel) you will find a download-able copy of the end of unit peer evaluation form or you can click the image above to enlarge and then right click save. You can use this copy or change it in Photoshop, all that I ask is that you let me know how it went and if you would try it again.

Notredame Website

About a year ago I had planned with Mrs Lyons, the PT of Art in Notredame Secondary, to set up an individual art department website. Visiting the school during Holidays we set up several ‘sets’ to use as a menu for the project. I also had plans to make the site look more realistic, without cleanly designed buttons, tables and the usual internet hocus pocus… just to make it look more ‘arty’.

notredame logo


Frayed Edges


Claire-Louise C from Notredame decided to create a CD booklet and package for her Higher Design. This involved months of research, photography, image and resource finding. This collection was then brought together to form an eight page booklet and jewel-case leaflet.


Based around the band ‘The Fray’, Claire-Louise had a very clear theme in her head. She wanted to mix together old burnt pages of books with images of antique jewellery and magical creatures.


While all this was going on Claire-Louise also had to learn composing images in Photoshop, how to scan them, clean them up, how to lay out a CD package with correct resolution and sizing. Then she had to finalise them for printing and then bind and trim the prints to a professional standard.



back box

Easier Than Balancing On A Lily Pad

showoffTeachers interested in developing more computer aided practice into their work should bookmark Pupils can work in pairs or individually, and an artwork can be produced within a 50 minute period. The teacher should have an email address prepared so that pupils may email the finished work to them. No hard-drive space is needed as only the link is sent, the image is stored on

Below is a copy of my image produced within the 50 minute period (actually finalised in 20 mins). All image sources for my image below and previous pupil images are from Google images. It is advisable to get pupils to open up two windows, one with their chosen Google Image, the other with artpad.

Picture 6

Replay my image on artpad.

The Joys Of Artpad

I have spent a lot of my time arguing that the Art Classroom is the most important place to be, but on some occasions it helps to get out of confinement of the subject classroom and book some time in the computer suites. Technology plays such a huge role in art making now, you would have to be an idiot to ignore it. You need the internet to promote yourself, you need layout experience to organise business cards and catalogs, photo-books and promotion. Almost every image ever published has grazed its way through Photoshop, the software helps to clean up the image, to re-size, lighten or crop.

It is for this very reason that I think that all artists need some technical experience, and frankly, the more the merrier.

I had the opportunity to book some computer time for some S2 classes in Gleniffer. Below are some of the works and their links to Artpad where they were produced. Artpad allows the pupil to draw and replay images, it is a good stepping stone into basic computer drawing techniques using colour and opacity.

Click the blue links to replay each work on

Below Louise G has proven that ‘try, try again’ works. Unfortunately she had lost her classroom work and her computer had crashed several times. Louise kindly produced another image for me outside class time and I am grateful that she did. Although it’s not to her top ability, it shows promise and has been a very good experience for her to try.

Picture 1

Replay Louise G’s work.

Rachel W uses brush opacity to her advantage in this version of the Arc De Triomphe.

Picture 2

Replay Rachel W’s Arc over at artpad.

Beth W shows how a simple quick sketch can be made more interesting with a little dab of colour.

Picture 3

Replay Beth’s bird on artpad.

Jerome shows us how a very simple line drawing with a little touch of colour and wear can look dynamic and interesting.

Picture 4

Replay Jerome’s Rugby ball on artpad.

Heather provides us with this strange but detailed look at animal anatomy.

Picture 5

Horse Trot over to see Heather’s work in replay.

Hair And Now


Heather M (S3) had started her intermediate year pretty badly (hope she doesn’t mind me telling you). She was not very interested and showed no enthusiasm for the subject at all. Somewhere along the way she regained a passion, whether that was through the worry of failing or just finding her interest again, something good happened. Working for herself, and taking work home, she was able to catch up on missing work. The final solution below is an example of how it’s never too late to turn your intermediate unit around and that when you put your mind to it, you can produce something great if you want to.

A beautifully textured pencil work, stylistic and slightly surreal…


Back To School

Depressing isn’t it? Seems like you just got away from the place and now it’s time to go back again. No matter… on a brighter note ‘the art classroom’ will be back up and running on full steam again. Sorry the updates have been lacking, even the internet goes on holiday sometimes. Some quick points and I’ll see you again for the first real update tomorrow;

β€’ Congratulations to Amy B from Liverpool for guessing the correct answers to the drumstick competition. The answers were ‘Brown’ and ‘Queen’. The custom sticks are on there way to you. Happy drumming!!

β€’ Well done to all S4 pupils on receiving their exam results. I hope they were what you were expecting.Β  The art classroom would like to hear from you to find out how you got on.

Fang Shui



Kirsty M (S3) had found great difficulty in observing images and reproducing them through drawing. We are all wired up differently and so it’s not surprising that we all approach things differently, especially when it’s creative. Instead of tackling something that she couldn’t do, Kirsty tried something she could do and I think her final solution above has very nice aspects to it. It’s simplicity reminds me of Japanese prints, which is very apt, as a lot of her cat ornaments are of Japanese origin. It’s bold colours and minimal detail makes the image commercially and visually appealing. In other words; I would quite happily have this image framed and wall mounted in my home. A very interesting collage that makes a playful and free image.