Project Based Learning Electives provided by the Berrien Springs Virtual Academy

Niki McNeil: Art Classes          Spring 2024

  • All students must complete a project for this class.
  • Classes begin the week of Jan. 22 - April 15

Teacher: Niki McNeil nikimcneil@comcast.net
269-876-6518

Location: Coloma
Format: In-person or Virtual options (see syllabi for details, not all classes have all options)
Masks: Optional     
Grades: 1-12

Registration with teacher required. Address and other details will be shared upon registration with instructor. Please see the class syllabus for more information and contact the teacher with desired class date and time.

Virtual Mondays 6-6:55 pm
Virtual Thursdays 10-10:55 am

Who doesn’t love Cats?!?!
My students are always begging to draw another cat, week after week. So per their request I’m now offering this fun Exploration of Art with Cats. Each week we’ll draw a cat in a new art style, inspired by a famous artist, or using a new art technique. You’ll find cats from impressionistic to graffiti, from Mondrian to Van Gogh inspired, and geometric to pointillism. Students will get to really explore a large variety of art types and techniques helping them pull their favorite parts of each and develop their own artistic style. 

Arts with Cats Syllabus

IN-PERSON in Coloma - see syllabus and header for more details

Wednesdays 1:00-2:15

Each week we will gather in the studio and explore a new technique or medium. We’ll create a mixture of directed paintings, abstract paintings, themed painting where students get to be creative or free paint. Acrylic and Watercolor will be our main mediums but we’ll be exploring some multimedia type paintings and do stations with a larger variety of mediums at least twice during the semester.

Please send your kids with an art smock or in clothes that can get paint on them

​Paint and Play Syllabus

Virtual Monday 8-8:55 pm 
Virtual Thursdays 11-11:55 am

“We’ll meet for one large project each week together and then a video lesson will be sent out to be completed anytime during the week. Students should expect to spend 35-45 additional minutes outside of class completing their second project.”

What is Art Journaling?

“On the surface, an art journal is simply a bound journal filled with color, art, or imagery with words. But when you start asking journal artists what art journaling is to them… you’ll get a variety of answers. Some may tell you it’s a place to work out their ideas, or to practice and document their growth as an artist. While others may explain that it’s a safe container for their feelings, or a retreat to escape from stress, or a place to explore their inner landscape. It can be a place to practice following your intuition, to expand your comfort zone with the unknown, to play with new art supplies, a place to heal, to reduce stress, to learn more about who you really are… What it comes down to… is that art journaling is really only defined by what YOU say it is.” Kristal Norton

Kristal said it well, in this class I will help each student make their journal one of their favorite possessions. Artistic students will build confidence in their journaling ability and strong writers will find freedom in being artistic. Each week students will find they are learning more about who they are as a person and who they want to be in the future. The important thing to remember in this class is there are no wrong answers, it’s about personal growth and happiness. No two journals will look the same, every age can benefit from this process.

What is Zentangle?

This class is inspired by the Zentangle way of drawing. We will learn 2-3 new patterns each week and work towards mixing them together in bigger creations. We will work with illustration pens, learning how the different nib sizes affect each pattern and when to use a thicker or thinner pen. Students will learn a better understanding of balance, symmetry, and weight in art.
We are our own worst critics. This class is to help us take our own art less seriously while also taking art in general more seriously. Students will learn that growth in a subject matter such as art comes from repetition and breaking larger more complex drawings into simple shapes. After just a few short weeks parents often notice a surprising increase in their student’s confidence level. We will be covering many different art styles and techniques in this class.
 
A student recently told me after 3 weeks of working with them that “art isn’t as hard as I thought it was going to be and I kind of like it now”
 
The goal of this class is to create that safe space for kids to express themselves and create lifelong friendships all while they are creating art. Some weeks I will offer examples of how to add journaling into their art, introducing them to the concept of art journaling slowly over time. These journaling additions are a great way to add thought processing and reflection in a time where our kids need an outlet more than ever.  I will also introduce patterning and Zentangle inspired art throughout the semester.
 
It is my hope that students will relate to each other through their art and realize that even though we are each unique, being different is ok, in fact being different is awesome!

Virtual Art Is Fun Syllabus

Thursdays from 9-9:55am
Thursdays 2:45-3:40 

Each week we will gather and learn a few fun facts about the animal of the week all while completing a drawing/art project. This is part animal trivia, part project based, and all fun! 

The goal of this class is to create that safe space for kids to express themselves and create lifelong friendships all while they are creating art. It is my hope that students will relate to each other through their art and realize that even though we are each unique, being different is ok, in fact being different is awesome!

For examples of the types of drawings we will be doing in this class please see the teacher expertise section where a link to my student’s art portfolio is provided. If you have a student who typically feels they “can’t draw” this is the perfect class for them. I have been working with students who do not see themselves as artists for the last 7 years and have had these same students who were forced to attend the class the first session, beg to continue on, many I’ve had in class for 3-4 years. This is not a draw this in this exact way, which is what helps these students be successful. The goal for me is to have no students works of art be identical, I encourage them to change things up and follow their gut.

Students will learn that growth in a subject matter such as art comes from repetition and breaking larger more complex drawings into simple shapes. After just a few short weeks parents often notice a surprising increase in their student’s confidence level.

A student recently told me after 3 weeks of working with them that “Art isn’t as hard as I thought it was going to be and I kind of like it now”

Virtual Art - Learn to Draw Animals Syllabus

Virtual Mondays from  9:15-10:10am

Each week we will gather to learn a little about a new artist, view and discuss their work and then create a drawing/art project using what we learned. 

We will look at the art and techniques of a few famous artists and create our own masterpiece by mimicking their techniques. Students are encouraged to take their own creative liberties making their art their very own. I am not a “this must go here” and “that must be yellow” type of art teacher. 

The goal of this class is to create that safe space for kids to express themselves and create lifelong friendships all while they are creating art. It is my hope that students will relate to each other through their art and realize that even though we are each unique, being different is ok, in fact being different is awesome!

For examples of the types of drawings we will be doing in this class please see the teacher expertise section where a link to my student’s art portfolio is provided. If you have a student who typically feels they “can’t draw” this is the perfect class for them. I have been working with students who do not see themselves as artists for the last 7 years and have had these same students who were forced to attend the class the first session, beg to continue on, many I’ve had in class for 3-4 years. This is not a draw this in this exact way, which is what helps these students be successful. The goal for me is to have no students works of art be identical, I encourage them to change things up and follow their gut.

Students will learn that growth in a subject matter such as art comes from repetition and breaking larger more complex drawings into simple shapes. After just a few short weeks parents often notice a surprising increase in their student’s confidence level.

A student recently told me after 3 weeks of working with them that “Art isn’t as hard as I thought it was going to be and I kind of like it now”

Mimic the Masters Syllabus

Virtual Mondays 4-4:45

As avid readers we already know we like to learn, experience, and connect through the written word, why shouldn’t a reader’s book club be the same way?! In this group learners will connect through a variety of weekly discussions and share their own reading experiences with each other. 

Illustrated Book Journaling- where art club meets book club. This is a safe space to talk about all things books and art related.  

Does your student need to slow down when reading? Are you looking for a way to instill a love of literature? Illustrated book journaling is a fun and creative way to not only get kids excited about reading but to help them to master reading critically (many times without them realizing it).

Illustrated Book Journaling provides a way for visual learners to create their own composition of the story using small drawings to help them remember the important themes of the books as well as a way to document the quotes that stood out to them in the story. It causes students to stop and reflect on a book instead of finishing and forgetting it. These skills all transfer over to the real world of book reports and research papers. Plus, it is a wonderful way to keep track of all the books you have read. I know I personally have enjoyed looking through my journal and sharing it with other avid readers and artists.

The group material will be often be dictated by the students enrolled. They will share what they are currently reading, their favorite reads of all times, and what’s on their to-be-read list. What we learn to draw each week will be based on what the students are reading and requesting to learn to draw for their journaling entries. Students can choose to buddy read with other group members or all be reading different books. The goal is not to discuss in depth each and every book read, but to instill a love of reading and provide a bit of accountability to read regularly while providing a social outlet with like-minded students.

We will talk books, share favorite quotes and passages from our stories read, learn some drawing techniques and work together to brainstorm what should be added to our journal entry for each book. As students work through the process of what to include on their journal entry for a book; we will discuss the people, places, and events that played a major role in the story. We will talk about what we learned from and want to remember about the story. We will talk about the passages of the book that stood out to us. 

No art skills are required. Students are welcome to use stencils transfer paper or tracing paper to add objects to their journaling entry if they do not feel confident in drawing. I will have short lessons on drawing objects often found in illustrated book journaling entries (Mountains, Clocks, Buildings, etc) or objects requested by students. We will learn techniques such as balance and scale as we plan out our journal entry as well. As everyone walks away from a book with a different outlook each journal entry will be unique to the reader, we will encourage each other through this process and our different outlooks.

Please be courteous of other learners and choose to discuss books that are appropriate in nature for the entire class. While I know many students enjoy scarier or more controversial books, we want to stick to books that work for most readers in the group.

We’ll be using a free app called Slack to hold our group discussions between classes. Slack has a very flexible system allowing you to get email or pop up notifications, but also have do not disturb times where no notifications will be sent. We’ll learn the ins and outs of the platform in our first class. Students are expected to spend time in our discussions each week, plan on an additional 45 minutes per week interacting with their classmates outside of our live class.

We’ll start at the very beginning “What is Illustrated Book Journaling” and move on from there learning everything we can about the topic.

Weekly Discussions Threads 

  • What are you reading (or listening to)? - Following an outline provided
  • Favorite quote of the week
  • Response/Questions to classmates - “what you are reading” using outline provided
  • Illustrated Journaling brainstorming 

Ongoing Class Threads:

  • To Be Read Lists
  • Favorite Reads  
  • Illustrated Book Journaling Shares

Supply List:

  • A Good Illustrator Pen (I prefer Faber Castell XS)
  • A Ruler (I prefer clear or see through and 6 inch length)
  • Pencil
  • Eraser (Large rubber eraser is best)
  • A Journal with Quality Paper (I prefer a 6x9 inch dotted journal)

Illustrated Book Journaling Club Syllabus

*Please note: it is important to make as informed a decision as possible when choosing your student's Community Resource classes. Most locations will allow a student to drop a class after one meeting, at no charge if it wasn't a good fit for the student, but not all. Some classes plan ahead based on the number that have signed up and have purchased materials, hired teachers, etc. and there might be a fee for class time or materials given to the student if the student drops after one or two meetings. The school cannot pay for classes that students do not complete, so choose wisely; if you do not take the class off of your student's schedule by the deadline, you may be asked to pay for the class time incurred prior to dropping the class. 

Teacher of Record:  Lisa Van Plew-Cid