Welcome to the Art Studio!

A little about Sra. Avena:

Hello! My name is Sonja Avena, and I am in my 8th year teaching art. I am a graduate of Meredith College where I studied studio art, and am certified to teach K-12 art in North Carolina. Although originally a New Englander, I’ve called Raleigh home since 1990 and raised both of my children here. My son Steven attended Virginia Tech, and my daughter April is currently a student at the University of Idaho. When I’m not dreaming up new art lessons, I enjoy traveling the countryside visiting national parks with my partner, Eric, going to movies, playing with my pets, Maisy and Fern, planting flowers in my garden, and of course, making art!

Email and contact info:

Sonja Avena – 919-855-9811, savena@cemcs.org

Important dates:

Upcoming Art Contests and Deadlines:

NC State Fair–deadline will be in September, 2020–more to come!

Links for online learning tools:

Here’s a link to some great virtual museums around the world:

Art Museums with Virtual Tours -Best Gallery Tours from Home


Volunteer sign ups: 

Please contact me if you would like to volunteer in the art room. The times we are most in need of volunteers are with our K-1 classes, which are held between 9 a.m. and noon on Mondays and Wednesdays.

Wish List:

We are always in need of more hand wipes, tissues, and hand soap!  Anything that you have around the house that could be used for weaving club, such as types of string, yarn, or beads would be great too. We are also always in need of sharpies of different colors as well.

Art Room Expectations:

  1. Be safe: Enter the art room with self control and a positive attitude. Use our art materials in accordance with how we are taught. Stay in our seats unless otherwise given permission to move around the classroom.
  2. Be respectful: When the teacher is giving instructions we are quiet. We are respectful of our fellow students when they are answering or asking questions as well. We are respectful of our art materials and only use them with care. We are respectful of fellow classmates artwork as well as our own. We are just learning!
  3. Be kind: We only offer kind words of encouragement to each other. Although we may be frustrated with own artwork at times, we know this is part of the creative process and are kind to ourselves as we persevere in our creativity.

*If a student is unable to follow the rules they will first receive a warning, followed by a reflection form which calls for them to consider which rules they have chosen not to follow and how their choice is interrupting their or others’ learning. Continued inability to follow rules will result in an office referral and/or call or email home.

Ongoing projects in the art room:

Our K-1 classes are in the process of learning about symbolism and our own environment, so we are working on creating mixed media “family trees.”

Grades 1-2, and 2-3 will typically have the same project but differentiated for ability level. Currently we are working on a project in the style of the Pop Artist, Jim Dine. Here’s a link about his bio and his work: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_DineStudents are working on art in his style, using the symbol of the heart for inspiration along with oil pastels, bleeding tissue paper, and careful use of contrast with warm and cool colors.

Grades 3-4 are learning about the Mexican folk art creature known as the “alebrije.” Alebrijes are fantastical creatures that were born from the dreams of a man named Pedro Linares. Here is a link about how he began creating them: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dmTSY-VozkA. We will be learning about using air-dry clay as well as building an underlying armature to support the sculpture. Students will finish with painting their alebrijes using patterns.

Grades 4-5 are excited about the prospect of sewing their “Ugly Dolls.” These are funny little hand-sewn “dolls” created by husband/wife creative team, David Horvath and Sun Min Kim. We are practicing various stitching techniques as well as pattern planning. Hopefully this week will get to stitch them together!

MG students are finishing up a collaborative project in which each student-led team chose a North American work of art (from Canada, the U.S., or Mexico) and divided it into equal sections. Each student was responsible for reproducing their own section using various media but with close emphasis on the art element known as “value.” Students also had a mini-project in which they gained practice in creating values of different colors by painting a mandala color wheel. Next up on the agenda–mixed media self-portraits!


Year-long, School-wide Goals:

Developing a positive attitude toward learning
Most learning activities are individualized. Each child engages in learning tasks that appeal to them and they find the activities geared to their needs and level of readiness. Each child works at their own rate, repeating tasks often, if they like, and experiencing achievements! In this way, each child naturally builds a positive attitude toward learning itself.

Developing self confidence
New tasks will be built upon what the child has already mastered. A carefully planned series of successes builds upon inner confidence in children. It assures them that they can learn by themselves. Confidence-building activities contribute to the child’s healthy emotional development.

Building a habit of concentration
Effective learning presupposes the ability to listen carefully and to attend to what is said or demonstrated. Through a series of absorbing experiences, children form habits of extended attention, thus increasing their ability to concentrate.

Fostering an abiding curiosity
A deep, persistent and abiding curiosity is a prerequisite for creative learning. By providing the child with opportunities to discover qualities, dimensions and relationships amidst a rich variety of stimulating learning situations, curiosity is developed and an essential element in creative learning has been established.

Developing habits of initiative and persistence
By surrounding children with appealing materials and learning activities geared to their inner needs, they becomes accustomed to engaging in activities on their own. Gradually, this results in a habit of initiative which is an essential quality of leadership. “Ground rules” call for completing a task once begun and gradually results in a habit of persistence and perseverance for replacing materials after the task is accomplished. This “completion expectation” gradually results in a habit of persistence and perseverance.

Fostering inner security and sense of order
Through a well ordered, enriched but simplified environment, the child’s need for order and security is intensely satisfied. This is noticed in the calming effect the environment has on the child. Since every item in the Montessori classroom has a place and the “ground rules” call for everything in its place, the child’s inner need for order is directly satisfied.

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