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!