Paint Crew tasks for your Art Class

real set-up that i used with large class sizes, 35+ students (pre-2020), high-school, general elective, no art prerequisite, back-to-back x5. meaning organization and efficiency was a huge priority for me. students achieved a high level of success with their art. i assigned a new paint crew about every 6 weeks, rotating the roster so everyone got a job. some students would eventually volunteer and i was happy to let them thrive in their studio area of expertise :) 

also depends on your teaching style and preferred environment. but i prefer organization and cleanliness. i found that assigning the paint crew after explaining the mediums and expectations was a win-win for all. 

i was also very hands-on in assisting the students as needed with their jobs. for example, i can usually clean brushes faster than them. or i gave them a head start by filling buckets during the passing periods. some students were just shy and needed an extra boost of encouragement. but it all worked out really well for the 2 years i was in the classroom. 

i assigned 1 or 2 students on each job, plus i had 3 floaters. if anyone was absent, i knew who to call on. they were responsible for their task related to daily set-up and clean-up. if the students didn't help me/help them with the set-up and clean-up, then we didn't paint... and that rarely happened. they love to paint! 

Paint Crew Tasks

  • paint (2 students) - started with watercolor tray sets, then watercolor tubes when they were more advanced. next tempera or acrylic. student-grade acrylic preferred over tempera. TIP: don't use brown paint! students already seem to know how to mix up all their colors and make brown. why add more mud to the mix? let the school clubs use up all the brown paint if you have in stock, we had a lot. or i let students use brown when i was introducing a new medium :) they learned early how to make browns with complimentary colors, and also how to make a natural black. for paint storage i had a metal muffin tray with 6 wells that was easy to clean for tempera. for acrylic i used the same metal trays but also lined with a plastic condiment cup. the old paint would harden overnight to pour fresh paint on top the next day. i tried not to waste a lot and only pour out what was needed for each day. then students in later classes could refill what they needed. 
  • palettes (2 students) - the round plastic 10-well paint trays clean-up faster than the square shapes. for acrylic we used paper plates and was able to reuse them (for a long time!) by wiping off the excess paint, blending all the color to a neutral tone, and sometimes using the leftover white paint as a clean coat if needed. start with a decent quality paper plate. 
  • brushes (2 students) - handing out to start and cleaning up at the end. we had a basic long handle flat brush that the students enjoyed using. plus, a selection of short handles too. every student pre-cleans their brushes and leaves in buckets at the end of class. 
  • newspaper (2 students) - solution for brush cleaning while painting and eliminated a ton of paper towel waste. also keeps a large portion of the table clean! we already had stacks of whole newspapers. we made smaller stacks from the newspaper and placed in the center of each table (a long rectangle shape).  occasionally they would need to refresh the paper, but it really held up well in between classes and would dry overnight. if it was really messy and had a lot of paint on it, no problem, we got rid of it or peeled off the top layer and added a few new pieces of newspaper. 
  • water buckets (1 student) - sturdy 1-gallon buckets with handles. lasted the entire class period (1 hour, 4 students at a table) and students could pre-clean their palettes and brushes at the end. not filled more than half. student puts all the brushes in 1 bucket for end of class clean-up. i've also done this set-up at a banquet style table... a few buckets spread out for as many students that could fit at the table. 
  • paper/canvas (1 student) - lots of 9x12" and 12x18" drawing paper, for beginning watercolor and acrylic. then for in-depth projects i mostly used 90 lb watercolor paper. as budget allowed, we used student-grade 140 lb watercolor paper or 12x16" canvas boards. if they didn't want to keep the boards, then i recycled them with a coat of paint. 
  • sink and countertop (1 student) - the lightest job if it was kept up. often preparation for the next task assigned. (no days off, lol!)
  • floaters (3 students) - backup if anyone was absent or something new came up that i needed help with. 
  • tables - all students were responsible to clean their area. 
  • plus - positive attitude and a healthy imagination for all 

the cover image on news feed is an actual photo of my high school art classroom! 

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