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New Art Class Helps PTR Students Develop Thinking Strategies and Resiliency


“Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.” – Scott Adams, Author

In March, Ptarmigan Ridge Elementary School (PTR) added a 30-minute weekly visual arts class for their students. While they still do regular art projects in their homerooms, visual arts offers them in-depth learning of the subject. 

Visual Arts Specialist Brian Fox, who teaches the class, is a 35+ year education veteran who previously worked in neighboring districts like Puyallup and Eatonville as an administrator, choir director, and more. 

Fox says he shows students how to see the world as an artist."

"Art is an important part of the curriculum," Fox said. "The same way our music teacher, Mr. Garcia, teaches quarter-notes, eighth-notes, and rhythm is how I teach lines, colors, shapes, and form."

Fox teaches the students three types of drawing styles:

  • Observation - drawing what you see (e.g., shape, texture, edges)
  • Memory - drawing images without a visual and to retain what you see 
  • Imagination - drawing fictional images that are realistic or out of the ordinary

While these three styles differ, they commonly help students develop visual thinking strategies. 

"Everyone (students) will have a little bit of a different opinion," Fox said. "There are a lot of critical thinking skills that we learn in this classroom. Being able to sit in a room and know we have different points of view when looking at the same thing is a great learning experience for kids." 

PTR 5th Grade Student Kennadie Manues says the drawing style she has learned from the most is observation. 

"I realized that I have never done observation drawings," Manues said. "It gives me the chance to look at some of the smaller details in things we draw."

Also, Fox says his classroom is a non-judgmental, safe environment for students to develop their craft, and for that, it inspires those like PTR 4th Grade Student Lucas Rogers.

"I can make mistakes and that encourages me to keep drawing," Rogers says. "It also helps me perseve to not give up on anything."

While art may not be a long-lasting hobby for some students, Fox wants it to make a long-lasting impression on all of them. 

"Learning how to see as an artist opens up a different perspective in life, Fox said. "On the elementary level, our (teacher) jobs are to expose students to all kinds of options so they know what they can specialize in for when they get older.

To keep up with the PTR Visual Arts Classroom, follow them on Instagram.