Janet Johnson Teaching Artist



40355 County Road 2, Roseau, MN 56751

Artist Janet Johnson lives in rural Roseau and draws inspiration from the woodland and the Roseau River, along where her studio is located. Janet enjoys gardening with her husband and caring for the constant flow of birds and beasts who live around them. She considers it a blessing to live amidst such peacefulness and beauty, and often uses the organic shapes and natural colors she sees there in her art.

Janet, a retired art and English teacher, works in a wide variety of mediums including photography, glass, mixed media, painting, drawing, jewelry, and print making. Her favorite medium, however, is pottery, both hand built and wheel thrown. As a full time art teacher, Janet always encouraged her students to develop their own voice with their work, and constantly studied new techniques and ideas to share with her students.

After retiring from full time teaching, Janet continued to teach art to both children and adults in groups or individually. She has also taught in area schools as an artist in residence, often working with teachers to develop an interdisciplinary approach to a subject. Often, Janet incorporates creative writing with her visual arts lessons.

“As much as I love creating art myself, I get just as much joy watching the light go on when I work with others in building their confidence in doing art. Ananda Coomaraswamy, a metaphysicist from India, once said, ‘The artist is not a special kind of person; rather each person is a special kind of artist.’ That’s how I want people to feel when I work with them!”

Picasso and Me

Overview of Residency:
Students will learn about Pablo Picasso and will be given an opportunity to create a stylized clay bas relief mask and a linear monoprint emulating Picasso’s style.
Optional activities, if time permits or more session are requested:
*Write a formula poem about yourself to accompany your mask.
*Create a self-portrait in ink and watercolor with a spin—it will represent four people!
*If preferred, the watercolor group project activity can be swapped out for the linear monoprint activity.

Age/Grade Level: 5-8
Length of Residency: 5-6 days, minimum of 55 minute class periods.
Number of sessions: 5-6 with each group
Maximum group size: 25
Please provide paraprofessionals to assist students with special needs.

Content of Sessions:

  1. Students will be given a brief overview of the class and classroom expectations, and how to work with clay slabs. They will be given a board to work on, a slab of clay, and a plastic bag to keep their work in. Tools needed for the day will be handed out. Students will be expected to return them, clean, to the buckets provided. As students receive their clay, they will be expected to smooth the clay slab to prepare it for their design work. If time allows, students will be given the worksheets for the next lesson so they can be prepared to choose the shapes they will use.
  2. Students will listen to and watch a slide show of Picasso’s work, paying particular attention to how Picasso changed or simplified various parts of a person’s face to create his imaginative portraits.
    Students will be given a work/planning sheet of the various shapes common in Picasso’s portraits which they can use to plan their bas relief masks. They will draw out their plan on 9 x 12 paper so that they have patterns for their feature choices. For those students who have a hard time deciding, they can roll dice to choose the various face shapes.
    Using the clay given to them in session 1, students will cut out the face shape they have chosen, and then will use the clay scraps to cut out the various facial features they will use on their masks.
    When their shapes are ready, students will be shown how to scratch and slip to securely attach their features to the face shape. The finished masks will set out to dry.
  3. Students will watch another slide show of Picasso’s work, this time focusing on his simple linear designs. (Optional activity may be switched for today with the watercolor group portraits. This time is essential for clay drying and bisque firing.)
    Students will plan a linear design, which may be a simple portrait, or it may be a simple stylized drawing of an animal, a vegetable, or a fruit. Detail must be simple!
    When they have a suitable drawing, they will duplicate that drawing in pencil on the back side of two pieces of heavy drawing paper. Students will not use words or letters in their drawings! The actual print will be a mirror image of their drawn design.
    Students will be shown how to ink a plate to prepare for their linear prints. Then students will take turns choosing colors and preparing their plates, then carefully laying the paper down on the ink, they will trace their pattern on the back side of the paper. When students carefully lift off the paper, their printed design should be on the other side! If too much ink transferred to the paper, try another one. It is important the paper only be touched with the pencil you are using to draw your design!
    Students will label and sign their prints, and will hang them to dry.
  4. Bisque fired masks will be returned to the students. Rough spots will be sanded, and glaze will be applied evenly with the brushes provided. Students may choose their own colors, and will be asked to share the glaze containers. When finished, students will place their glazed masks on the counter, then will wash their brushes and clean their work area.
  5. If additional time is required, students will finish glazing their masks. IF all mask glazing was completed in the previous session, students will use this time to do another optional Picasso activity or to finish their print making activity.
  6. This session, if needed, will be a class presentation of the masks created. Students will be asked to neatly fill in their names and a brief statement about themselves or their masks to be displayed with their masks in the display case, or at a public showing of their work. (e.g. county fair or in conjunction with a school concert.)
    Materials Needed:
    Ware boards and plastic bags
    Stoneware or Earthenware clay
    Pottery tools and sponges
    Twine or leather cord for hanging masks
    Block printing ink
    Printmaking paper or heavy drawing paper, 9 x 12”
    Brushes for glazing
    Glaze in a variety of colors
    Opt. activity:
    Watercolor paper
    Watercolor paint
    Transfer paper
    Fine tip permanent markers
    End Product:
    A bas relief mask in the style of Pablo Picasso
    Additional options: a linear monoprint in the style of Picasso
    a group (of 4) portrait in watercolor done by each student
    Displaying Student Work:
    Student projects done during this residency will be displayed in school showcases and/or a display will be made available to the public during a band or choir concert. These projects could also be displayed at a county fair.
    For questions or to request changes to this proposed schedule, contact Janet Johnson at 218-242-0698, by email to jej@wiktel.com, or write the artist at 40355 County Road 2, Roseau, MN 56751.

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