Saturday, December 22, 2012

Merry Christmas! (and a restful holiday break!)

Merry Christmas and a peaceful and happy New Year!!! 

I'm taking a break this week to finish getting ready for Christmas and re-charge my batteries for the New Year!  Back to blogging projects from my art room in the new year!

Be happy and healthy! :)

Sunday, December 16, 2012

In One of the Stars...

With heartfelt sympathy to the families of Sandy Hook Elementary , Newtown, CT.

May they somehow find peace.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Handcrafted Christmas Cards - 2012

I spent this weekend designing and creating our family Christmas cards.  I have had the materials:  Blank cards, red scrap booking paper, ink pads, butcher twine type string, assorted stamps, since September.  Stumbling across a 50% off sale at Michael's Arts & Crafts and stocked up ahead of time.  I had all intentions of having the cards done and ready by Thanksgiving but Hurricane Sandy and numerous other life detours delayed my creating them until now.

Some of of what kept me from starting the cards was my ever changing ideas for what they would ultimately look like!  Enter inspiration!  I recently purchased this book by Genine Zlatkis.  She is an illustrator and blogger that lives in Mexico.  Beautiful drawings of birds and nature!

   I found this kit on another trip to Michael's Arts and Crafts.

Here's what was inside!
A soft eraser like material to carve into stamps and a linoleum type cutter with two size blades, one thin and one thick.

I sketched several ideas before I came up with this tree.
I like how it ended up looking like a wood block carving.

  I was recently gifted some beautiful handmade paper that I stamped the trees onto.

I stamped the trees onto sheet after sheet of beautiful handcrafted paper!
Enough to make 50 cards.

I cut them out and glued them to some red scrap booking paper that has a great tree bark like texture.

  I had furry company the whole afternoon!

My "Studio" was the large hassock in front of the chair which I sat.
Worked away while watching "It's a Wonderful Life" and various other Christmas movies with my daughter.

Here's the finished product outside and inside.
You can't see it in the picture but there are also three snowflakes stamped on the front of the cards in superfine white glitter.

  I tried out different sayings for the inside until I came up with this...

The inside of each card is lined with green tissue paper with the saying:

"Joy to the World"

Don't you just love the little Gnome guy in the corner?!

The little Gnome dude is a stamp I picked up last year!  Just couldn't resist him!  He graced the front of our cards last year with an evergreen branch and red berries.  I had to use him again!  I will also stamp him in the bottom corner of the envelopes.

This is picture of our fireplace mantle all decked out for the holidays!  The wreath I constructed from grapevines that grow in the woods on our property.  I was able to make two large and one small wreath with what I pulled out of the woods this year.

I used these hexagon blocks I made in July to make a garland.  They had been sitting in my stash of projects in progress.  These were much inspired by all the beautiful handmade garlands I have seen on the web.

Our tree is filled with these cute little critters (all different animals) that are made of natural materials along with candy canes, pine cones and handmade ornaments this year. 

Enjoy the Holidays!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

"S" is for Spiral and Snail !

Ok... So, if I have not made it abundantly clear yet.  I LOVE teaching art to my Kindergartner's!!!  I can't begin to tell you how they brighten up my week!  I wish I could bottle their enthusiasm and excitement!  They are always so excited about everything we do in art class!  We have been working with all the basics...  Shapes, lines, color, art material procedures and I am now working on teaching them to draw by using lines and shapes.

Before Thanksgiving I needed a subject for another painting/drawing with shapes project for my Kinders.  So, I went to the main source...  The Kindergarten teachers and asked them what they were working on in class.  They said the letter "S".  Perfect!  I decided quickly on spiral lines and then I would show the kids how to turn their spirals into snails!  I was excited and the Kindergarten teachers were excited to have the educational connection between their  room and mine!   (I aim to please!)

And thus, the lesson "S" is for spiral and  a Snail was born!

Ok, so this is not the best visual I have ever made for a lesson but I was in a rush and it has served it's purpose! I also made a large visual with step-by-step directions for drawing their snails.

I started the lesson by explaining that they were going to be drawing a spiral and use it to create a snail drawing.   Their hands instantly started to shoot up in the air as they excitedly began to tell me how spiral and snail start with the letter "S" !!!

First we practiced making spirals in the air.  I went through each drawing step one by one.  When the kids were done with a step they would give me the "thumbs up" so I knew they were done and ready for the next step.  I stressed that each snail would look different since we are all different people.  I gave them different options for drawing the heads, eyes and faces and also letting them add shapes and lines to decorate the snail's shells if they wanted.  I had them trace their pencil lines with a black Sharpie before we painted them with watercolors. 

When they were done painting we put them on the drying rack to dry.  The second class I had each painting pre-stapled to a colored paper.  I had the kids glue painted paper scraps I pre-cut all around the frame to create a border design and finish them up!  I like how the papers resemble mosaic tiles!

I cut up old pieces of bulletin board paper I had used as floor protection under paintings we had done in the past. (recycle and re-use!)  I also printed out some photos of painted papers I had taken last year and cut those up as well.

Once they were cut up I put them into little baskets on each table for the kids to use.


The kids were so excited to take their finished snails home! Here are some of the  completed snail masterpieces!


 Here is a preview of our next project...

"P" is for painted paper Peacocks!

This display board is much better than my rushed snail one!

My example is still in progress.  There is more work to be done on the tail feathers!
How to draw a peacock direction poster is hiding under my example.

Some painted papers one of the classes made today!
We will begin to turn them into Peacocks next week!

Hope the rest of your week is creative!  :)

Friday, November 23, 2012


Hoping everyone had a peaceful Thanksgiving!  As we enter the Holiday Season, take some time to remember what is really important...  As I sit here drinking my coffee I am watching the morning news...  It's filled with stories of Black Friday shopping.  Pictures of  people waiting in lines to get into stores to shop, for what?  Is it really that important to get that TV or the latest toy before everyone else?  Relax...  Take some time to spend with your family and friends, make some holiday decorations, bake some cookies to share, donate food and holiday gifts to your local Help Center for those less fortunate than you.

I promised my daughter that I would go into the attic and pull out the garland and lights for the inside stair railing.  I will gather greens from our property to fill my flower boxes and hang the wreaths on the front porch.  Mostly, I will take time to reflect on what I have and that I am lucky to have it.


Friday, November 16, 2012

Color Wheel Skies with Birch Trees - 5th Grade

My classes are studying color at the moment.  I had my fifth grades review the color wheel and it's order by creating skies using a grid a basis to paint their colors in.  Every two rows combined two colors that were next to each other on the color wheel.  Red-Orange, Orange-Yellow, Yellow-Green, etc...  I made up a chart with each color combination in order so they could visually see what colors went in what rows.  It really helped!  The chart helped them to see where to place their colors without getting confused.  I let them have a little artistic license with how they painted the rows in as long as they stayed in color wheel order. and stressed that our main objective was to be able to remember what colors were next to each other on the color wheel for future reference if they did not have a color wheel to look at.  I also made up small color wheels that I printed out and laminated so each student had their own to look at. 


the next step was to create some birch trees using a pulled paint technique.  There are a million demos out there for this technique.  The one we used was to take pieces of mat board that I cut up into rectangles that they could easily hold and dip the edge into black paint.  I poured a small amount of black paint into small plastic plates that I covered with tin foil.  When we were done using the black paint for the day I covered the plates with more tin foil to save it for another day.  I also saved the mat board pieces to reuse if they were still decent.  This saved a lot of prep time.  When we were done with the paint for good, I just took off the tin foil, threw it out and saved my plates for another day!  I have been using the same plastic plates since last year by using this technique!

They drew out their trees onto some white drawing paper and pulled the paint along the side of the trees using the mat board rectangles.  I did have the students practice their pulling technique because it needed to be a quick pull so they did not get too much paint on their tree.  We let them dry, then cut them out and glued the trees in place!  They came out really beautiful!  Enjoy! :)

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Day 10 - Power Restored!!!

Well, I am blogging this from my local library as they are open again and since they are the only ones in my area with their internet back up and running.  I am here loading my grades for the first marking period!  They have to be in by Tuesday mid-night and I knew I would not have time to get both of my schools done at work!  Thanks for all the good wishes and thoughts from everyone out there!  We finally got our power back on Thursday evening. We were happily being trapped in our neighborhood all day while the power crews replaced three telephone poles on the street below mine.  Since that road is the ONLY way in and out of my small development, no one was getting in or out.  It looked like a power crew convention with all the trucks and guys up in the air replacing all the power lines!  I was never so happy to see anyone in my entire life!  Special thanks to all those guys who worked day in and day out to get our power back!  They came from all over the country!

I had gotten my mother (who is 81) to finally leave and go stay with my brother and his family on Wednesday before the snow storm rolled in.  They live at the shore and even though the area by them is even more devastated than mine, they have a generator and heat.  It was a brisk 38 degrees in our house by Thursday and by then both of my kids also had head colds and sore throats (the fun never ends).  Wednesday's snow storm came and went in a flash and wasn't so bad by me.  Pretty minor as Nor'Eastern's go around here.  We only had about 2-3 inches of snow (which melted by the next day) with very little wind.  My brother on the other hand got 6-8 inches at the shore!  It's usually the other way around!

I will check in during the week from school.  My daughter's school opens again tomorrow for the first time in two weeks.  No telling when our cable lines will be replaced but I don't care, I HAVE HEAT and LIGHT and can cook in my house and not have to go out to eat!  I'm off to go home and roast a chicken!

Everyone stay safe and warm! :)

Monday, November 5, 2012

Day 7 - No Power

So we made it through the storm without any property damage and I am very, very thankful for that.  My town was devastated with trees and power-lines ripped down as well as hanging everywhere/laying on the ground and across roads.  We are at day seven with no power and our schools are still closed in town.  They hope to get them open by Wednesday. My school district wear I teach in is re-opening today.  The kids just had their Halloween Parade and will "Trick or Treat" in town tonight.  In my home town the kids will "Trunk or Treat" at the high school - still too dangerous to walk the streets.

We are burning lots of wood in the fireplace to keep semi-warmish.  Using the camping stove to cook on the front porch.  Town opened the Senior center as a warming center which has been a god send!  We have been able to charge things, fill water jugs (I have septic and well — No power no water) and get news updates.  Cleaned out/threw out everything in my refrigerator yesterday and need to do the downstairs freezer tonight.  Power is slowly coming back on — Lines were extensively damaged.  If I'm lucky we will be back on line by the weekend (if I'm lucky).  Gas rationing started this weekend so I have to go search for gas after school.  We are on odd/even days and today is my day.  Pray for everyone who lost everything they own...  We will have a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving...

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Shape Abstracts - 1st Grade

My first grades created these shape abstracts back in September.  This lesson focused on shape review, proper painting technique/procedures and following directions.


I instructed them on which shape to draw and how many.  Three circles, three triangles and two squares.  They placed them randomly on their paper, positioning them how ever they wished.

The kids traced their pencil lines in black oil pastel and painted them in with tempera cakes.  Everyone did a great job!  

Here's hoping that Hurricane Sandy does not hit New Jersey in the way they are predicting! Not looking forward to days of no electric again this year for Halloween!  Lost power for four days this time last year in a freak blizzard that took down several the trees in the area!  I was supposed to be attending a workshop on STEM to STEAM on Mon and Tues but it has been postponed due to the impending weather.  Of course I got the notification right after I finished writing and putting together two full days of  lesson plans!!!  Instead of a nasty trick from Mother Nature, I am hoping for a Treat!  Be safe and good luck to all of you in the area!  :)

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Color Mixing - 1st Grade

It's Fall people!  When you teach elementary school it is time for lots of pumpkins!  Kids just LOVE pumpkins!  Who doesn't love pumpkins, right?!  The other week while checking out the blogs I saw this post by Patty at Deep Space Sparkle.  A simple but beautiful lesson using pumpkins!  Pure inspiration!  I started my first grades on their pumpkins the next day!


My students started by drawing their pumpkins in pencil using the directions Patty gave for drawing her Starlight Pumpkins.  They traced their pencil lines with black oil pastel and set to work painting!

I gave them red and yellow tempera paint and demonstrated how to mix the colors on their pumpkins to get orange.  When the kids finished painting, they put them on the drying rack to dry.

Previous to the second class, I painted some large sheets of tag board green and gave them different textures.  I cut them up into small pieces that the students cut their leaves from.

 Love the scraped texture on this one

I cut this plastic lid to make the scraper

Overlapping swirls
Made the swirls with this small scrubbie from the dollar store

I cut them up into smaller pieces the students cut their leaves from.  I also gave them gold paint for their vines, stems and to add a little to their pumpkins. They LOVED the gold paint!  Here are some of the finished pieces...  Have a great weekend and go pick some pumpkins!