ame 143 what do we mean when we talk about cookie cutter art art made easy podcast

What Do We Mean When We Talk About Cookie-Cutter Art: AME 143



In all of my years of teaching, there is one thing that has lead me to scratch my head literally every single time I hear this phrase… and that’s “cookie-cutter art”.

It really drives me nuts.

It used to send me into a tail spin of feeling upset and discouraged about myself as an art teacher.

But today I see it as judgemental and feel that it’s time we have a very frank conversation about what it means when we say “cookie-cutter art” and what do we really mean to say.

This episode is for all the newly hired art teachers to the well experienced art specialists, who can benefit from learning the various expectations we have of teachers, because we could all use more tools in our tool box that we can get!

So we’re going there… sharing how I think the term “cookie-cutter” should be used and the truth behind it’s connotation.


– What are people implying when they say “cookie-cutter art”

– My personal definition of “cookie-cutter art”

– How so called “cookie-cutter art” can be a perfect platform for growth

– How the many nuances of teaching art creates different results for every child.

– Why we need to give grace and support to all the new art teachers




TAB: Teaching for Artistic Behavior

You can visit Patty through Deep Space Sparkle on Facebook and Instagram




What do you think?

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  • Miranda

    I much prefer the term “recipe art“ 🙂

    • Virginia

      Love it!

  • Kara Sabatella

    Patty, thank you for this heart felt podcast filled with wisdom and thoughtfulness. I felt you were taking my exact thoughts on these subjects and putting them into words. I keep saying a mantra to myself and other art teachers I know (which isn’t very many I’m sad to say)… “Art teachers UNITE” !! Feel the kindness for your fellow art teachers.✌ So sorry for the loss of your dear brother Lloyd. ?

  • lisa.smith

    Thank you, Patty for taking the time to encourage those of us who are passionate for creativity, but may not have the “papers” to prove it. I have loved art all of my life and have had many avenues and opportunities to use that creativity in teaching environments with children. I always said that the ultimate job would be to teach art in an elementary school. I taught second grade for eight years, never really expecting a position to open up because they just don’t come around that often. To my surprise, last year our art teacher left to teach at the high school, so I jumped at the opportunity to apply for the position and thankfully I was given the job. Immediately I found myself on the precipice of excitement and nervousness, feeling a bit shaky and unprepared, yet having a whirlwind of ideas spinning in my head! My main fear was that I wanted to teach all that I am supposed to teach on all grade levels, but there was no set curriculum and while I have years of experience, I don’t have the “papers” to prove it. I have an Ed.S. in Early Childhood, but my years of art experience far outweigh that sheepskin hanging on my wall. “Would I be an adequate art teacher?” and “Were my ideas good enough?” were questions that ran through my mind daily. That is, until I found your website while surfing the Internet in search of ideas. I appreciate the encouragement that you give to new teachers. Your wisdom and guidance has helped me greatly as I have presented some of your projects to my class. I find that the lessons are easy to execute and fit nicely into elementary standards. I appreciate the time that you take to make your podcasts and lessons. I am fairly new to Deep Space Sparkle, but the projects that we have done have turned out really nice! Thank you again for sharing your talents! It is refreshing to know that there is a place that I can go to for helpful teaching tips, techniques, art show ideas, and other helps!

    So sorry to hear of the passing of your brother, Lloyd. You and your family are in my prayers. Have a blessed Christmas.

  • Tracy

    Thank you for sharing this. I am a certified art teacher who began my career almost 20 years ago teaching elementary then high school art. I left for some years to raise my children and have now returned as the art coordinator for my school district. As coordinator, among other duties, I write lesson plans for the elementary art teachers who are not certified. Your program has helped me so much. Some of the teachers I work with have art backgrounds and some don’t, so being able to break lessons down in a way that is easy to understand for both them and the students helps them all feel successful. This is the way I look at it…there is a whole spectrum of creativity that each child naturally has. The children who are naturally more creative always add extra nuances to the lessons and make them unique in their own way. For the less creative children, it helps them feel successful. I always hate to hear someone say that they can’t draw or do art. I think they feel that way early on if they aren’t shown techniques and methods to create art, and they simply don’t know where to begin because it’s so overwhelming. Then, the feeling that they can’t create art stays with them forever. Teaching art in this form is a win win for all spectrums of creativity in children. I’m so glad you shared your opinion, and I was very touched to hear about your brother. God bless him and your family.

  • Linda Tvedt

    Loved this podcast! Thank you for sharing your heart and passion for children and art. And sending you much love, as you are grieving the loss of your brother.It is brave of you to share your thoughts at this vulnerable time!

  • Rebecca Brewer

    Awesome podcast! So sorry for your loss….big love is felt deeply. Lifting you up Patty!

  • Virginia

    Loved today’s podcast. The art teacher is teaching “cookie cutter” lessons just like the history and science teachers do. As teachers we present the information according to a set of standards and children give us back based on their experiences and skills.

    Many prayers for your family during your brothers death.

  • hanan khalil

    So sorry to hear about your brother. Big warm hug

  • snolen23

    Thank you for this! It always upsets me when fellow teachers say, “You do so many crafts; They are so cute”. the words undervalue how important it is for 5 year olds to work with their hands creating and developing so many skills. Thank you for sharing your passion! Also, So sorry about your loss! You and your brother were lucky to have each other. Sending lots of support and kindness this year!

  • Christy

    Wonderful Patty❣️ I love your word of the year CLARITY❣️Thank you so much for this podcast❣️

  • Jennifer Eagle

    Thanks Patty. It sounds like you have sometimes been hurt by people’s judgments of your art lessons. I LOVE them and think they are a real gift to both teachers and students. I use DSS lessons in most of my classes and feel that the students have more than enough chance to express their personal creativity. Thank-you for your continued inspiration.

  • Katie

    This was SO encouraging! Thank you, Patty, for your heart to lift others up and your courage to state your opinions with conviction.

  • Cynthia Bird

    I have tried “open ended” projects. The large majority of kids will look to other resources for inspiration for their direction, so why not lead them to the goal for a successful project. You wouldn’t give them open ended math problems. Parent’s prefer a project that looks like something especially if they are paying for the art classes as in my situation. (I teach at a private Lutheran school and a homeschool co-op.) I LOVE the cuteness factor in your projects, especially for the younger students, and they feel successful when they are completed. The truly creative kids will put their own spin on the project regardless. I have also been faced with defending my curriculum to parents and students and explaining that there are critical techniques and mediums that are taught through these projects. Many of the projects contain fundamental building blocks necessary to take art to another level. It is my personal goal as the art teacher to find a project that every child can feel successful with, especially if they struggle in their skill levels. The variety in your vast curriculum provides that option. It really isn’t until high school that the students want to do unique projects, but many of them lack the creative talent to do so. With my middle school and high school, I try to balance with some choice in subject but use a specific technique. Pleasing everyone as the art teacher is impossible. I think the reward comes from the students themselves when they complete projects that they are proud of showing to others. Encouragement and displaying students art is a vital part of that result. Cookie cutter to me means that they all worked towards the same goal, but their personalities come through in the finished project. Students learn from this approach same as they learn from doing the same math problems.

  • Kathy Greene

    I’m so glad I listened to this. I am a retired art teacher that holds a Masters Degree in Elementary Art. I always TAUGHT the kids techniques to use for drawing, painting and clay first…by incorporating them into my lessons while encouraging the kids to make choices within the projects to make them unique in their own way. BUT they were very successful because they learned the basics. We had a teacher who put out materials and just let the kids “explore” and do their own thing each week (who felt very superior to all of us who were teaching real techniques…) I guess the Principal of her school put her foot down following the class where they had “glitter fights” and all ended up with glittered hair… 🙂

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