Sandy Drobny: “It fills me with joy to hear a parent recount a story of their child’s visit to a museum, being fully mesmerized by a painting they had learned about in class, or recognizing an artistic style such as Pointillism or Impressionism.”


I focus on teaching the basic principles of art through a wide variety of projects. The goals I have for my students are the same ones I have for myself as an artist. I want them to experiment with materials, to express themselves creatively, to learn from their mistakes, and to be able to reflect on and appreciate the beauty of their own artwork. I strive to help each student find their artistic voice, and to assist them in developing a lifelong love and appreciation of art. My classroom offers a positive atmosphere where students are challenged, uniqueness is encouraged, and imagination can soar.

I give students the opportunity to work with many different mediums, which allows me to stretch students’ imaginations and to increase their awareness and understanding of art. I teach my students that art is not rigid and that it is an expression of self. Students set sail on a voyage of self-discovery in my art classes! They learn how to communicate and express their feelings through art. Students also develop critical thinking skills and a sense of craftsmanship through technique. Most importantly, students will discover that making art is fun.

My students also learn to appreciate the historical and cultural aspects of art. Each year, we feature a few art projects based on famous artists and their respective techniques. Our art program provides tools that help students interpret the ideas of established artists, assisting them in expressing their own ideas through art. Lessons on line, color, value, form, shape, space, and texture are woven into the curriculum. There is an emphasis on projects related to art history, multicultural diversity, and holiday themes. Students experiment with different art styles, both realistic and abstract.

Each year, students in all grades work with acrylic paints to make lively self-portraits on canvas. Students in all grades work with clay, paper mache, or other 3-dimensional media. During Black History Month, African-American artists such as Jacob Lawrence or Faith Ringgold are celebrated. Opportunities for field trips are plentiful, as there are many wonderful art museums in our area. Trips to the de Young Museum are commonplace, and the Berkeley Art Museum is within walking distance of our school.

Artistic Media and Techniques for All Grades

Drawing: lessons on contour drawing, line, shading, composition, and geometric patterns using pencil, markers, colored pencils, crayons, and chalk pastels; still life, perspective, landscapes, point of view
Painting: tempera, watercolor, acrylics, self-portraits on canvas
Cut Paper: lessons on shape, positive/negative space, silhouettes, paper weaving, collage
Color Theory: the color wheel, primary, secondary & tertiary colors, color mixing, complementary colors, value, shades, color relationships, warm & cool colors
Sculpture and Mixed Media Constructions: ceramics, clay modeling, junk assemblage (working with recycled materials)
Printmaking: rubbings, sponge & stamp printing, string painting, carved block printing, silkscreen, found-object printing, repeat patterns
Other Projects: sewing, marbleizing on paper, African masks, working with felt, sand painting, jewelry-making, braiding techniques, weaving on looms, tie -dye on T-shirts

Curriculum by Grade

Kindergarten students focus on developing basic skills, hand-eye coordination, using scissors, proper use of glue bottles, paint brushes, and the concept of sharing supplies. The majority of art projects, at their level, will be cut-paper, drawing, and painting, although 3-dimensional art projects are also an essential part of the art curriculum. Kindergarten students learn about artists such as Piet Mondrian, Georges Seurat, and Georgia O’Keefe.

First and second graders have lots of fun exploring new concepts in art as they strengthen their artistic abilities and discover new creative challenges. They draw, paint, sculpt, construct, print, cut, sew, and weave. Students learn about cave paintings in Lascaux, inventor/artist Leonardo da Vinci, and the colorful, paintings of Vincent Van Gogh.
Third through fifth graders build on art lessons learned in the lower grades. They push themselves to draw more realistically, and to practice a variety of drawing techniques. Third, fourth and fifth graders will have the opportunity to study the artwork of Picasso in depth this year. Our annual “Build With Trash” art project encourages recycling and reuse in a fun way. Working over several class periods, students use hot glue and duct tape to create sculptural art pieces made with repurposed recycled materials. Students eagerly display their intricate creations at our Open House art show in May.

Featured Artists and Techniques by Grade

Kindergarten & First Grade

  • Piet Mondrian (geometric color blocks)
  • Jackson Pollock (action painting)
  • Georges Seurat (Pointillism)
  • Paul Klee (line drawing)
  • Georgia O’Keefe (flower close-ups)
  • Vincent Van Gogh (Starry Night)

Second & Third Grade

  • Michelangelo (Sistine Chapel)
  • Vincent Van Gogh (Impasto Paintings)
  • Joan Miro (Fantasy Landscapes)
  • Leonardo da Vinci (Mona Lisa)
  • Gaudi (Tile Mosaics)
  • Pablo Picasso (Cubist portraits)

Fourth & Fifth Grade

  • Pablo Picasso (Cubism/Distorted Portraits)
  • Salvador Dali (Surrealism)
  • Michelangelo (Sistine Chapel)
  • Keith Haring (Line Drawings)
  • Anni Albers (Bauhaus, weaving)

About Sandy Drobny

Sandy Drobny has shared her enthusiasm for art with The Academy’s eager young students since 2002. She holds a B.S. degree in Environmental Design from the University of California at Davis. Her professional background is in one-of-a kind artwear and textile design. As an artist, she specializes in reusing discarded materials in new ways. She has held coveted Artist in Residence positions at Recology (San Francisco’s city dump) and at the Society of St. Vincent de Paul of Alameda County. Her work has been featured in gallery exhibits on both coasts and in number of print publications, including San Francisco Magazine, Readymade, Handwoven, and “Ripley’s Believe it or Not.” Ms. Drobny brings her passion for weaving and textile art expertise into the classroom on a regular basis. This year, students will be weaving on table looms and creating their own handwoven fabrics. You can read more about Sandy Drobny’s work here:

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