Thursday, December 26, 2013


My sister is an animal lover. Her pets are just as loved as one of her children and over the summer her beloved Pedro passed away. Pedro was a small cream chihuahua that was loved by everyone for his quirky antics and anxious disposition. He was also our chihuahua Pepe's papa. I wanted to do something for her for Christmas, and I wanted it to be something about Pedro.She had given me an ornament last year of our Harley and it was my favorite gift.

I "appliqued" and slightly embroidered a portrait of Pedro.  I worked on creating a value map from a photo and used fabrics that related to her favorite colors and also to Pedro.. I layered them up and used wonder under to attach them together. Trying to embroider some of the details is a little more difficult through more than 2 layers of fabric and wonder under.   As a first effort, I don't think it was half bad, and I definitely want to incorporate this into my crafts curriculum now. I must say, I really miss the little guy and I really enjoyed creating this for my sister.

Testing out the bones for the background

Building the layers

Saturday, December 21, 2013

I am the Walrus...

In November my friend Mary and I presented a workshop on modeled sculpture at the 2013 OAEA conference. I started the "Walrus" as my sample. Just a bit of newspaper, paperclay and tape. After the workshop, I continued to work on him during my lunch duty at school. I would roll my cart(a short AV/tv stand with a drawing board on top) with me and work while I check hall passes and wrangle the "escapees". And after numerous lunch dates with the walrus, Medusa and the mermaid(a few of the other sculptures I am working on) and finally a classroom day of painting examples and demonstrations, he is now finished and painted.  I took my color selection to Facebook and let some of my friends help me decide his fate.  The nice part is that he kids really took off and the idea of layering their paints. I can't wait to share their results in my next post! Now the really hard part begins....figuring out what to name him..or her. Suggestions are very welcome!

A little bit of creepy clown happening here..
Looking a little loved this stage.
Zombie Walrus

Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Classroom Project

I am blessed to have a community of people who are constantly on the lookout for unusual items for my students to recycle or a great deal on supplies to help supplement my secondary visual arts classroom. It isn't unusual for a random box of doll parts, wool pieces or games boards to be dropped off. And it is always a pleasure to see my students come up with creative solution in how to use these supplies. The hard part is knowing that there are a lot of other supplies that my students still need and that it will be difficult for them to attain unless I purchase them. I often pay for items out of pocket, just like every other teacher in my district and across the the country. I know I am not alone in this. I consider myself pretty lucky that my husband doesn't get angry when he notices as I toss something extra into the cart. He just smiles and asks what or who is it for this time. I wouldn't even want to guess how much I have spent this calendar year alone, but I know it is more than the $250 allowed on the federal income tax form. I spent that before school even started. And like most teachers, I don't mind spending a little here or there, but at then end of the year it all starts to add up.

The monies available to my classroom come directly from the supply fee that students pay. It stayed the same for over 10 years despite increased costs in materials but was recently reduced to help offset the financial burden to our students and their families who can't  afford fees. It is also for the district because they compensate if a student can't pay so then no student is denied a class because they can't afford the fees.  Before the reduction, we were able to purchase every supply our students needed, but now to offset the reduction, many of the supplies we used to purchase with the student fee have to be supplied by the students instead. It is difficult when half of the students don't have erasers in an art class during the drawing unit. At the end of every year we are recycling as many supplies as we can that some of the students throw away or forget like binders, brushes, paper, sketchbooks, pencils, color pencils, rulers and paints. We put out recycling tubs but often hit the maintenance room at school to do a little "dumpster diving" on the last day. I know I am not alone in this because many of my colleagues are in there with me digging as well.

My students deserve the same technology opportunities as other districts have, but I can't purchase those items. Often times because the arts aren't considered a core subject I can't get updates in technology or supplies like digital cameras, document cameras or tablets. I know that technology is a huge advantage for my students if it is available. And I know that my students are not prepared with 21st century skills in the art when they leave.  Some of the basic expectations for my students entering college in the arts field are simple photo editing opportunities, photo manipulation,  basic Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator skills and the use of digital drawing tablets. Digital portfolios for college applications are difficult for my students to complete and puts them at a disadvantage in comparison with other students.

As teachers, we have been continually asked to do more with less and we have accommodated these requirements, but with new standards and requirements, new evaluations and new common core connection but no new monies it becomes personally quite expensive. I am thankful for my creative colleagues who help to develop creative ways to solve our problems, my community for their donations and I am thankful for the opportunity to apply with The Classroom Project for much needed funds.


Intro's Introduction to Brushes.....

I can't help but hear Janet Jackson's "Control" in my head whenever I start to talk to my students about brush control, types and usage. They are always worried about how to stay within the lines and how to really use their brushes! And they are always a little apprehensive about starting to paint.  A big portion of their student fee goes to buying a quality set of brushes for our students. For most of my students they have never seen these types of brushes. They are use to the watercolor mop brushes since working with acrylic isn't in our elementary curriculum.  The set is a 12 piece set of Golden Taklon brushes from Hobby Lobby that they will use all year and hopefully into their advanced classes as well. It is a great inexpensive set that contains 5 types of brushes in different sizes; 4 rounds,  5 flats, a fan, a filbert and an angle. They come in a cool plastic tube that doubles as a brush stand and water cup. I personally love these brushes myself and usually pick them when I paint and I have a pretty pricey collection of brushes that I can use. It takes a little while for them to learn how to manage the paint. We discuss how to not overload, how to mix, clean and store and what the brushes do individually. We start off by drawing the individual brush types then we paint a variety of brush strokes with each one. This year their favorite brush was the angle and the filbert. We then spend a little time learning to create hard edges and just basically staying inside the lines before learning to blend with them.


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Donors Choose!! and we are choosing classroom cameras!!

A few months ago my friend used a donation site to help procure some technology for his classroom. He was able to receive enough donations to fund an Ipad to help accentuate and accelerate student learning. And then I received an email from a good friend and retired art teacher Peggy E. suggesting I look into a program called Donors Choose.  At this point I decided it was a sign and I should get busy looking into it! Donors choose allows donors to select teachers and programs they would like to donate towards.  What a fabulous way to support education and your favorite subject! So in my final prepping for the second semester classes I realized I really needed a few classroom cameras.

Last year we ran into some "hiccups" in the drawing and intro class projects. If students didn't have a camera to gather images in our composition studies and in our quest for non-internet inspired reference photos, they used their cell phones. AND if they didn't have a cell phone with a camera they borrowed their neighbors. It worked out but only because my students want to see everyone succeed and are willing to help out their peers. But students then had to text images to my email account and occasionally data and text charges were incurred by students. They also need the cameras to get ready for their digital portfolios and document their progress in the work process journals.! I decided to go ahead and give it a try and right now we are only $84 away from the goal! AND Currently there is a matching organization willing to donate dollar for dollar until Saturday (but only if you use the code INSPIRE in the code box) So really, we only need $42 dollars in donations!! I am so excited for my students!!!

If you want to check it out and see what Donors Choose could help you with or even  to donate to my cause, then please follow the link below!

What a fabulous way to support education and your favorite subject!

Have a fabulous week and thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Until next year....

Even though the OAEA conference is over, the excitement and ideas are still buzzing around my head!! I love the recharging and inspiration that conference brings and I love the process on the days after of brainstorming and figuring out how the creative genius I just experienced can be worked into my own classroom. Not even kidding here, but I have a list of over 35 things already and I haven't even started going through my notes.

 My friend and fellow OAT Mary H and I presented on k-12 sculpture and we hope everyone will try a little sculpture in their own classrooms. We had a ball and hope that everyone walked away with a little knowledge and  inspiration of their own. In less than an hour and 45 minutes pretty much everyone made away an armature coated in Plastercraft and a started modeling with the paper clay! AND bonus for me I had a former student in the workshop!! I am starting to feel really old now! Tons of people to thank for all of their help so a big thank you to Cameron D, Leah S, Ashley R.and the biggest thank you to the woman known as Rader for getting coffee, water and taking pictures and helping in every way possible. A huge shout out and thank you to Katie Cahill of Sax/School Specialty for her donations and work as well!



Saturday, November 2, 2013

OAEA Conference 2013 Toledo Bound!

This year the Ohio Art Education Association is hosting their annual conference in Toledo, Ohio and the theme is "Reflecting the Standard".  Along with another fellow arts educator, Mary Haas from Eastern Elementary, we are presenting a 2 hour workshop on sculpture k-12 in the classroom. One of my finished example pieces is a frog since Toledo has a theme of frogs in many of their arts venues and around town. I am excited to present for so many different reasons. Mainly because it is always fun to share out what my kiddos can do and have done and because I LOVE sculpture in the art room!! Please enjoy a few of the in progress works below from my students! All of the works are made from a newspaper/cardboard armature and a plaster gauze and paperclay exterior. More images to come!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Hurray for Paperclay!!!

I think that Paperclay is the wonder medium. It deserves it's own superhero cape in the world of sculpture materials. It can be modeled, painted on, molded, cast and recycled and it is fabulous for high school students. I think it could be adapted for many grade levels though depending on the project and your budget. have never heard of Paperclay? Paperclay is an air dry modeling medium that is water based and can be cleaned up easily, dries in 24 hours and works a lot like clay.  You can make your own, there are several recipes on the Internet that use easy to locate materials, but I can not testify for their quality.  I have used a variety of brands but I personally prefer one from School Specialty. It is Sax Paperclay. As far as the cost per student and per project it really can vary. I spend less than $4.00 per 1 lb block of paper clay. The students use what they need, put back what they don't. We have used it to create all kinds of sculptures, jewelry pieces, ornaments, figurines. Anything you really can think of.

A few tips:
1. You can use solid Paperclay to mold an object or you can apply it over an armature. We usually apply it over an armature of newspaper and tape covered in Plaster gauze.
2. You can recycled the Paperclay if it has dried out by soaking it in water. You can create slip if you use more water than Paperclay and stir. Although, you will be stirring for a while.
3. Use water to attach the paperclay to the armature, also a wet sponge or papertowel will help to smooth out the texture.
4. Apply it in thin layers so it doesn't crack. It doesn't crack normally but if it is too thick all that moisture has to get out somehow.
5. You can sand the Paperclay to smooth it out but it needs to be wet sanded.
6. Acrylic paints are fantastic to finish it off with. Just apply them in thin layers so that they don't get too glossy.

If you try it, please let me know what you think!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Still life season: Don't forget to renew your artistic license!

It is here and I have to admit I am anxious for it to be over already. Still life season. The weeks in the year where nothing gets put away where it SHOULD go, the room is in total disarray and my desk becomes completely lost for the remainder of the school year. So long fancy glitter desktop that I spent a week coating and layering.....I won't get to see you again until probably June. I should explain why the room transforms into a possible episode for the show Hoarders. I don't set one still life, I don't set two still lives, technically I don't set any, but in my room there are 7 still life sets AND many students set up a personal still life as well. So there is no counter space, extra table space or any extra space period. Which, in a classroom where there are almost as many sculpture students as introduction to art students that can be issue when it comes to storage space and places to put "stuff."

                      Getting back to the part where I don't set the still lives anymore........I bring in boxes and boxes of interesting items junk for the students to peruse. We spend almost a whole week setting them. A day or two "playing with the items and arranging them at seats and then begin placing them in a final setting over the next few days. While they are setting them they start creating thumbnails, and then begin final sketches in pencil, charcoal and also white charcoal on black paper. During this time we also talk about what a still life is and why artists have used them forever.  We begin discussing what makes an artwork successful, and how the arrangement and the objects of the still life can affect the final drawing. We look at what might be communicated to the viewer of the artwork.  Then we brainstorm lists of "have to find" items to truly complete their sets and finalize their message.

I am a firm believer in the idea that students will do better if they draw what they love, if they have a say in what they use to draw with and if they feel that they have ownership over the whole process............and why shouldn't they. Honestly, it is more enjoyable for them and less stressful for me to allow students to set them and the majority of the time they are better than what I would have tossed out there all on my own. And the really cool thing is that it is a perfect example of practicing 21st century skills (Collaboration, Creativity, Communication), not just with me but with their classmates and between classes as well and they still have the opportunity to have their independent and individual style show through in the final work. 2 more weeks and we will package up and put it all away, ending the season. But who am I kidding, we will still be a top contender for Hoarders: Education Edition.