I'm of the same sort of thinking at my middle school. I shy away from
acrylic paint. Oh, who am I kidding? I don't use it at all in my classroom
at the middle school level. I'd rather spend my $$$ on other neat supplies
rather than buying new brushes every year. Also, I've fallen in love with
SAX tempera paint which I think is just about the best on the market. If we
need a permanency to the paint...like masks...I just spray a fixative like
On brushes...I bought a set of high end quality brushes about 5 yrs. ago.
Actually I bought two classroom sets and I STILL have them in excellent
condition and I've only used 1 1/2 sets so far. Now...the COSMETIC of the
handles are chipped or missing but the bristles are still in great
condition. I also bought them with LONG handles and the kids seem to care
for them much better than the reg. length ones...makes them feel like a
true artist. I also bought expensive watercolor brushes this year. What a
difference they make! I also got a cheap set of tiny 00 brushes and they
all look like wee bushy trees now. You get what you pay for.
I've got to admit I spend LOTS of time discussing care of brushes with each
class, how to set up each table of 3 with newspaper and big water container
share between them. I keep the brushes in a big spray-painted coffee can ON
MY DESK and check the can before everyone leaves each day. For every dirty
brush I find they lose one minute of passing time. THAT WORKS! They have 5
mins. passing time and I've only had to keep one class two mins. since I
started doing this 7 yrs. ago.I'm a "bear" about brushes. Just takes good
training and a good system to make it work.
I also use cheap paper plates for palettes and they must use the same plate
for 2-3 days depending on project. They see me do it so it's no big deal.
Each student has a "cubbie" drawer which consist of a soda box that JUST
fits into one of the cabinets. One summer I cleaned out all the cabinets of
junk and made thin, thin shelves. Now all the soda boxes all fit in there
snuggly and I can fit up to 40 boxes into each cabinet...and I have 6
cabinets. In this way they can keep their 9x12 painting and wet palette.
Bigger paintings are for the painting rack.
I know of one high school teacher who, when the student turns in his brush,
has each student wipe his/her clean, dry brush on his/her own shirt to
prove it is clean. Another high school teacher has a big piece of white
paper on his desk in front of him and the students must wipe their brush on
the white paper to prove it is clean.That takes a little more more
deligence than I care to give at the time when kids are in the clean-up
mode. You gotta find out what works for you.
Los Cerros Middle School
968 Blemer Rd.
Danville, California 94526