The Art of Teaching

 "Art has the role in education of helping children become like themselves instead of more like everyone else."

I have been blessed for many years to teach art in many schools as a professional teaching artist.  For my friends...that means I teach art and only art because that is my profession.  I have no formal education in teaching...but I have had tons of professional development throughout the years.  (A lot with the Kennedy Center for the Arts, through the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge.)  

That being said, (or I believe) teaching is a gift I was given.  It is very easy for me to break things down into understandable steps and sequences.  Then present this to my students (any age) and help them apply and retain this information. is creative...and say....Yeeessss.  But there is a way to give knowledge, then let go and watch and see how it is applied.  Art is the best for this... I give my students a bit of information.  Then I sit back and see how they assimilated it, what their brain does with it, and what they decide to present to me and the world with this bit of knowledge.  

The cumulative mural above is one of my favorite projects this year.  Dr. Autrey and her students at Belfair Elementary in Baton Rouge are my helpers in this fun project.  I teach curriculum connected art to reinforce what the students are learning. So Dr. Autrey and I meet and discuss the coming curriculum and we pick something.

 Rain-forest was picked in January.  I decided we would do a project for each layer of the rain-forest.  We begin with the rain-forest floor and I picked beetles.

Aren't these great!  Happy smiling face.  (My students are ages 3-5 a Montessori school)

To begin with I do a little presentation on rain-forest beetles and we look at colors and patterns and habitat.   Then the given instruction is directional drawing...draw a large oval, draw a line in the middle of your oval from top to bottom,  add a small circle to the top, etc etc.  We had previously discussed patterns, and the students were asked to create a pattern on the beetle.  This is where I let go, I might make suggestion in the application area...are you drawing thoughtful lines? did you color that entire shape? etc.  But, I let them use what information I gave them and see what they come up with.  Its pretty amazing!  I am always so impressed, amused and captivated with what little children can do.

So our collaborative, cumulative mural started on the rain-forest floor with beetles.

Then the students read VERDI a book about a snake in the rain-forest.  We did Verde snakes...the snakes have a pattern but the biggest and most trying skill was the cutting of our snake.  (Scissors are a big skill when you are little.)  

Next we moved to the emergent layer and did some toucans.  This was watercolor painting of the bill and tail, and then following directions and sequence for putting our toucan together (pre-cut shapes by me).  

Our last part of the mural were watercolor flowers.  We read the book THE REASON FOR A FLOWER.  The children had started a garden by this time and were planting seeds and such, so this kept the lesson current and still connected to our rain-forest. These flowers took way longer than I thought, but mainly because this class LOVES to paint and really take their time.  

Dr. Autrey helped with creating the tree and the class painted the tree leaves during class time.  These murals make for a very fun hall, plus with the informational signs other students can learn a bit about what Dr. Autrey's class is studying.

Below I have included another cumulative project with Dr. Autrey and one from Magnolia Woods Elementary.

The class was learning about the Earth.  They learned earth, water, gas, and then plants, mammals, etc.  I connected with lines shapes and patterns and different stories that showcased each project.

The students at Magnolia Woods read the Gigantic Sweet Potato (illustrated by me) and then we worked together to create this 3-dimensional art.  The Gigantic Sweet Potato is about working together.

Students work hardest for teachers they like and respect. When I am asked, “How do I get students to like and respect me?” my immediate response is, “ Like and respect them first.”
— Dr. Debbie Silver in Education Week Teacher

I hope you enjoyed a glimpse inside a couple of the classrooms I visit.  You can contact me through my website with any questions about visits or lesson plans.  

Painting is my passion, but teaching is a gift given to me. 

Have a great day!


Wild Roses Painting

"The artist is not a special kind of person, rather each person is a special kind of artist."

close up wild roses painting

Being an artist sometimes gets a lot of attention, but really each one of us is creative at something we do.  

The photo above is actually what I see when I am painting...lots of puddles of color.  I have decided that really what I do is push paint puddles around.  I work with fluid acrylics on canvas. I thin the fluid acrylic with water, create a puddle, sometimes I add more color, sometimes I let it dry.  I then repeat the process....over, and over, and over.  I look for places that need dark colors, places that need light color, and I just keep layering.  

It's this crazy process that keeps me fascinated.  Each artist has a process all their own.  Whether they are a painter, a cook, a homemaker, the process of creating is as individual as the person.  The product is wonderful (this painting made me very happy) but the process keeps my creativity alive and growing.  When I step back from the puddles and look at the painting. (smile) HAPPY! 

Painting by Marita Gentry ... Wild Roses

The above painting is called "Wild Roses" it is very large, a 36x48 canvas.  I actually LOVE working large even though I do smaller paintings a lot.  The most important thing is enjoying the process.  I hope that each person can see that they are an artist and enjoy the creative process of what you do.  Now....if you are a great cook, enjoying the product is right up my alley.  

The picture below is the  painting on my easel.   This painting is going to a gallery.  I would love to keep all my paintings, but I also love to find them wonderful homes.  I have just created an Etsy store.   Please visit.  I have original watercolor quotes, original paintings, and I have created prints of a few of my favorite paintings.  I hope you visit and enjoy.  

Remember, " Each person is a special kind of artist"  Enjoy the process! Have a great day!

Marita Gentry painting on easel

New Year New Studio

Well Hello,

I havent posted a blog in almost a year and a half.  Did I stop painting?  Have I given up my creative dream?   NO...

Brent and I built a new house!!  Yea! and I LOVE my new house. But while we built the house we were living in an apartment that would be my new art studio.  So basically I was without a place to paint for a year. That was actually very HARD.

Let me go back...Brent always had a dream of a music room. A room where musicians could gather and jam, or he could have small music parties.  So, before we built the house, we built his music room ( a 40x60 building...way bigger than our house) ha!  If the husband gets a music room the wife gets an art studio.  Part of the music room building is my studio.  It is a 20x20 room.  There is a small kitchen next door and a room we used for a a sewing room.  And, of course a bathroom. All this was built and finished before we started our house.  When we sold our old house we moved into the studio.  It took us about a year to build our house.  We built a pole barn and made it a house.(That is a completely different story for another time.)  I will be telling you about different parts of that experience in the future.

SO...we FINALLY moved into our new house and I had a blank studio. It was a bit daunting.  I had a studio I loved at our old house, but this new studio I had designed especially for my needs.  I had two walls of windows, 9 ft ceilings, white walls, light fixtures everywhere(there is no dark corners in this studio) but, now that it was ready to be a studio, I felt like it wasn't working. Did I have too many windows? Where could my desk go? Where should my easel go? The merry-go-round in my head was busy.

I did what I do best when I am trying to figure out a room.  I just kept sitting in it and thinking about what needs I had, what task I needed to do,  what supplies I had, and what kind of storage I needed. After reading many many many many blogs about other artist studios, looking at thousands (well maybe just a lot) of pinterest pictures... it started coming together.  Finally I knew what I wanted.

Now the tour...

My Happy Place

This is MY HAPPY PLACE.  This wall has my desk and my drawing table...and three lovely windows.

drawing table

A close up of my drawing table. Years ago (like 20) my dad built this for me.  I realized after a couple of years I needed storage under it and added all the shelves myself.  When I was working on the studio recently, I took the old top off (it was particle board and with all the water I use it was starting to swell) and put a new top on.  This top is made of finished grade plywood.  Very smooth.

Work Table

My work table...yep this is a Pinterest find.  I saw something similar on Pinterest and built this table myself.  I built it to be standing height.   My husband added the wheels.  I love this table. It is 4' wide and 6' long.  I love the storage underneath for canvases and paint.  This table  make me happy.

storage wall

My storage wall... got to love all those containers. Containers make me happy.  Its not perfect, but boy do I like all my supplies on one space. 

work station

I like to keep my table work station compact.  I want to be able to clear the top to lay a large painting on it.  

studio counter

The studio counter and sink area.  The sink will be at the far end.  Brent hasn't gotten to that honey do project yet(he has done so many I am OK with waiting).  I chose a basic support system for the counter because storing large canvases can be a problem.  I believe in stocking up when I buy them so I always have several waiting around to be painted

my esel

My easel...and a painting I am working on.  I bought this easel from the estate of a Baton Rouge artist several years ago.  It was well loved when I got it, but I have added a lot of mileage to it also.  I love to collect things with stories.  My last studio had 8 ft ceilings, I had to take the wheels off the easel and I could never really stand it up.  Now I can do anything I need to with it. Happy happy.

The comfy couch

My happy place to sit...the comfy couch.  This is one of my favorite pieces of furniture. I got it years ago at an antique action.  It is the perfect studio couch.  I recently recovered it...OF course. This stripe finally got me inspired to move forward on the studio.  I love the happy colors and it adds a great pop of color to the studio.

I have bookcases on both sides that stretch the length of the wall.  I keep books on art, all the pieces and parts to the books I have illustrated and much more stored in these shelves.

I choose white for the walls because reflected light can show up in your paintings.  White walls and some really great daylight light bulbs give me the option to work at night. It isn't as great as daylight, but its pretty good. 

Well that is the penny tour.  I am really happy with how this space turned out. I am ready to paint on a regular basis and spend some serious time in this happy place of mine.  I am very thankful I have a place to create and doodle.  I have a strong belief that each person should have a room, a corner, some space that is all their own. Thank you for visiting and I hope you enjoyed it.

Blooming Flowers

I'd rather have roses on my table than diamonds on my neck. ~Emma Goldm


I have been painting flowers. I have had several commissions for flowers...what do I realize?  I love to paint them.  I always will.  In the art world subject matter and painting styles go in and out of fashion.  As an artist the thing to do is find what you like and paint it anyway, to the point that it becomes its own statement.  Your voice as an artist.  I will always want to, and enjoy painting flowers. (maybe because I also love to garden)   

When I have a commission I do not like trying to get one painting just right so that it speaks to the client.  What do I do?  Paint several paintings and let the client pick.  Why? you ask.  Isnt that a waste of time?  hmmmm as an artist there is no creative endeavor that is a waste of time.... AND the paintings the client does not pick I take to galleries that carry my work.  Happy for all involved.   In the case below the client ended up buying two. Always good. (smiling)

Day Lilly

Steel Magnolia

Steel Magnolia

Double Roses

When you have only two pennies left in the world, buy a loaf of bread with one, and a lily with the other.

Donated Dragonflies...

Acadian Art Gallery in Baton Rouge, Louisiana is a gallery that carries my artwork.  I try to support my galleries by supporting their causes.  I was one of the artist picked to paint a table for a fundraiser for our local children hospital.  The gallery gave us a table and we were to paint it as we pleased.  I picked a theme I thought would work for a child, or a garden room.  So my table is a little buggy.  I really like the paint on the raw wood.  I finished the table with a clear gloss acrylic.

Dragonfly table
one table leg has ants and a beetle bug.

one table leg has ants and a beetle bug.

the other leg has caterpillars and ladybugs.

the other leg has caterpillars and ladybugs.


The Path

This is the painting I painted for a Brent.  It is a large painting and is now hanging in his new music room.  Several months ago his mom wrote an article in memory of his dad.  I was touched by it.  I wanted to paint a painting that illustrated the article exactly how I saw it in my mind. I am happy with the painting.  I loved the man in the painting as a father and I LOVE the man I gave it to.  The article follows.

The Path

         It came into being over a period of time, and was made unintentionally and without conscious thought; it just happened.  Troy made the same trip back and forth to the barn several times a day, thus causing the path to develop naturally. It was by no means straight; it skirted a fig tree in the back yard, then went around the chicken house and through a gate into the pasture. As he walked down the path, he would at times be joined by a donkey, his dog, or maybe a couple of goats, or even a goose.

          Sometimes his steps were eager and hurrying because he was wondering what was going on at the barn. Had Buttercup had her kid, and were the eggs hatching yet under the bantam hen? What about the coon dog puppy? Maybe today would be the time it would show interest in treeing and barking at the coon hide used for training. So many things to see about and do.

          Apart from the animals, there was always something to do with the tractor. If it didn't need working on there would be work to do with it. All these things kept interest at high pitch at the barn, so no wonder a trail was formed after a while.

          As time went by, however, his steps became slower and more halting, and the trips to the barn were fewer, but never stopped entirely. Sometimes a cane was necessary, but he still made his way back there to check on things.

          The barn and its surroundings were not in the greatest shape as far as neatness was concerned, but he was not overly worried about orderliness; he just wanted to enjoy what was there, and creatively make what was needed out of things that were never intended  to be used in the ways that he came up with.

          When the time came for him to let the animals go it must have been a grief to him, but he didn't complain about not being able to keep things as he always had. He realized that his trips down the path were becoming fewer and more of a burden than a joy, so he quietly went about the business of letting go and making the best of a different way of life.

          The path is gone now, grown over with grass as it was in the beginning, but we will remember it as a symbol of the pleasure he had in the simple things of life, just as we will always keep his memory green in our hearts.


By Chris Gentry (Mama, Nanny)

Written for my family

May, 2013

Whats new?

It has been forever since I have posted.   A lot has been going on!!  I have been of course teaching(five different schools before the holidays), painting, and illustrating.  As well as helping my husband build my new studio. (YEA!!! It is beautiful, I hope to post pics soon).  Not only have we been building.....but my daughter is getting married!  There have been lots of wedding plans.  In fact the wedding is less than two weeks away. Yikes!

I have also updated and changed my website. I did have several sites each for its own purpose.  Now all my art, paintings, illustrating, design, and blog is on one site.  I will still  be learning all the ins and outs of my new site, but at this time I am happy with my new look.

Before I go I will leave you with a picture of my latest project. Below is the cover I just submitted for the next book by Pelican Publishing.  In the world of publishing, till it is printed, things can change.  I put a Mardi Gras twist on Mother Goose. I also enjoyed adding the hand lettered title to this cover.  

I hope to get back to regular posting.  See you soon!


New Orleans Mother Goose



Seeing Sea Turtles

Oops! I did not get a post up last week.  I have been working like mad for the show this weekend.

A Frolic Through Dr. Doolitle's Festival of Animals


..if you are in the Baton Rouge, Louisiana area stop by. 

Below is one of my favorite paintings from the twelve new ones I have been working on. I love the expression on Blue Hawk's face.

Blue Hawk Bubbles


My friend Holly Stone-Barker from the

Papered Moon

is also showing work.  We will be having an art craft for children, fun fact finding game that can when you a prize, and music by

Brent Gentry and the Fantabulous Stool Pigeons


Sounds like fun to me!!!


Its Personal

I am still creating...but this time I am using my sewing machine.

 This creation  isn't business this is personal .My father-in law passed away earlier this year and it has been very hard for my husband as they were very close.  So he asked me to make a quilt out of his daddy's shirts...and I threw in a pair of jeans and khakis to round it out. 

 I like to make crazy favorite kind of quilt.  But....I wasn't sure I wanted to attempt a king size crazy quilt. (how to keep it square?, how how how?) Since I am not a professional quilter but a random creator of quilts I looked to several quilt blogs I follow.  I liked the idea of a row quilt.  A row has all the same design or blocks...but each row is different.  As you see I made a symmetrical row quilt.  The center row is just squares, but the rows going out mirror each other.  I really wanted a feel of a crazy quilt. To get that feeling  I worked hard to keep the fabrics really random.

Below you can see I wanted some of the details left on the clothing.  I purposely cute the squares to include seams....

and if you look carefully pockets.

My husband intends to hang it on the wall of his music room. 

My creations are all personal as in they each have a part of me in them, but some are for business.  This one is just personal.

Our lives are like quilts – bits and pieces, joy and sorrow, 
stitched with love.

Hug your loved ones!!

What a Nose!

 The elephant goes like this, like that,
He's terribly big,
And he's terribly fat.
He has no fingers,
He has no toes,
But goodness, gracious,
What a nose!

-Nursery rhyme

Bleaux the Elephant

This is one of my new paintings for a gallery show in September. I will be giving more information about the show soon! Its going to be a BLAST!

Just Painting

If you have a garden and a library, 
you have everything you need.
-Marcus Tullius Cicero

Painting flowers is one of my favorite ways to relax....along with gardening, and reading.
This pot of begonia's sits on my porch. I have purple cushions on my chairs and I loved the way the peachy orange contrasted with the purple cushions.
Take some time today to do something you enjoy.  I shall paint!

Secret Commission

Here it is!  ... the secret commission I was working on last week. 

A friend(Darrell Rollins) asked me to paint this painting for his wife (Sonya) as an anniversary present. He had seen my painting.."The Edge of Blues" that I painted of my husband...Brent.  (below)

Commissions can strike fear into my artist heart, because I am creating something on demand.  I have gotten used to them and enjoy commissions. But... I always have just a bit more fear when starting a commission of someone that I know.  Will I really be able to catch the likeness?  I have learned over the years to let go of what I think the person looks like, and paint the shapes and shadows.  It always works.  I am happy with how it turned out and so was my friends.  

The photo for the painting of Darrell was taken by Misty Buhrmester. You can see some of her photos here. She is new to photography, but I love what she does.

Happy Anniversary to a great couple!

The Busy Life

The great part of being an artist is that I get to work on very different art projects and commissions at the same time.  This week I am revving up on several projects and will show you a glimpse of a few.  

The next three images are the beginning of a series of pattern designs for fabric. This particular project is dear to my heart . I will tell you all when I have a completed project.

I have always had a passion for photography. I do this creative venue just for fun....what fun! This week I was asked by my friend Amber to take pictures of her very cute...but active...toddler.  In the thirty minutes that I took pictures I ended up with about a hundred. Not only do I run around madly(really I did...she is very active) taking pictures, but then I spend time editing them.The good thing about taking this toddler's pictures is I got lots of hugs!! Always a bonus.

This is my favorite...what a cutie!!

I am also revving up to complete about 30 paintings for a show in September...(more to come)
All the paintings are of animals, insects, and lovely creatures of the sort. Press releases for the show need to be out by this weekend.  Hurry! Hurry! Marita

I worked on a very cool commission which I can show you next week. (its a secret)

And is beginning here in the deep south. The planning of art-in-residence programs begins.  This planning includes lesson plans and testing.  It also includes conversations about updating testing procedures(to follow common core standards), and changing lesson plan formats so they are better connected for teachers.

 I do my share of seeking inspiration. (big smile) which includes sketching, sitting on the porch drinking coffee, and reading...

My favorite spot. A artist has to stay inspired!! (another big smile)

I have already started next weeks list.
That's okay, I enjoy the busy life.

Painting or Jpeg?

I am a traditional artist, but sometimes my work needs to be digital for the final does this work for me.

I always start with traditional art....watercolor and acrylic on canvas is my favorite.  So today I will show you how that works....

The job....create a journal using "Playground" as a theme.  ( this was for a competition called the Great Talent Search put on by Lilla Rogers Studio)

So I sketched....and sketched ....and sketched .(tons of 10 pages)

This is finally the sketch I liked the best.

But... when I started painting, the background felt conflicted... to much stuff going on.

So I painted it simpler. 

I painted it again in a whole different color scheme and got this painting...

In all the transition, I added friends that enjoyed  the playground too!

So now I scan my image, or take a picture and upload to Adobe photoshop.

I need to add the word "Journal"

I do this by creating the word in Sketch Book Designer Pro. (Another program I use to draw using my wacom pad.)

Then I start playing with all my elements...cutting, pasting, changing colors...
This is the final product. I submitted.

As you can see I took out the background color...adding brown paper. I took the flower elements off her shirt and added them on a side border. I also moved the dragonfly so that the word "Journal" would be a part of the design and not feel separate.  

I did not get picked for the Great Talent Search, but I enjoyed the process and enjoyed showing how I get where I am going sometimes.

A swamp princess in the making.

The process of developing a character.
Sketch #1 

Sketch #2...
 done with Sharpie markers.

Sketch #3 
I am trying to figure out what her body is going to look like.

Painting...need to work out issues with the frog...

The steps I go through to work out a character. 
 This poor little princess is supposed to have stringy hair, and a wart on her nose.  She is a swamp princess.  When all is said and done I still think she needs work, but I like where she is going.  
P.S. the background hasn't gotten very swampy has it.  Just added a quick landscape so I would have a finished look.

Morning Sketch

 Warm up sketches...morning sketches..just sketches.  This is the one I did this morning. I take them from life, or the one above, or I just make things up.
I have been drawing a lot of characters so this morning I picked a picture of a New Orleans house I took several years ago.  Waalaa!  
Some morning when I come into the studio, I already have ideas for a current project, or I am ready to continue finishing something...I take right off.  Some mornings are slow. That is when I give myself free sketching time. Time to warm up and draw some thing completely un-related to any project I am working on.

I also sketch when I listen to my husband play music. Like most musicians there is always a jam going somewhere. The sketch below was done in Mountain View Arkansas on the square.(Musicians gather most every night in the summer to play music)

Happy sketching...morning, evening, or just sketching.

Cluttered Studio Cluttered Mind

A lot has been going on in my life...
I have taken a course on "Making Art That Sells"(click here for more info)
working on a couple of book projects,
creating art for galleries, 
finishing up the school year and all the lesson plans that go with it,
teaching a summer art camp...
AND... helping my daughter plan her wedding,
AND...building a new art studio. (photos coming soon)

That means that my studio was just work, dump, work, grab, work, jump, work, work...
but no cleaning.  A few of my projects have finished, and I am starting a few more.

My solution:

Guess what!
 It worked.

Here is a before shot

This is the nice cluttered spot.  The rest of the studio was really quite embarrassing.

My paint table after cleaning. SO nice! Makes me feel like I can think.

See the top of the shelf under the bulletin board. There was so much was really daunting.
All sorted and put away in the correct spot.

My drawing table is clean, all the supplies nicely tucked in their boxes.
A feeling of contentment is stealing over me. Smile...sighhhhh.

And look! Yes! even the computer area is clean with no papers.
What do you say are all the papers from?...sketches and  photos I take, printed out to used as reference material. Sometimes a manuscript or two..if I am working on a book, and if it is during school...lesson plans run amuck everywhere.

So now....the studio is de-cluttered and so is my thinking.  Well, actually I took a few days off from creating and that can refresh the mind also.  Ready to start back again tomorrow.

So maybe your feeling a bit over run like I was...take a moment and breathe, make a plan, rest, then get back to it.  

Happy creating!

Dragon Goes AR

There's a Dragon in the Library is now on the AR (Accelerated Reading) list.
I AM SO EXCITED!! Teacher friends and educators, this is a fun book for your child to check out and read.  They then can take a test on what they have read and earn AR points for school.  
The interest level is K-3rd. The AOTS level is 2.9.
I am thrilled! YEA! 
You can check it out here.