Building our Characters

Art I students have been working on their modeling clay characters for their upcoming claymation movies. They built an armature out of aluminum wire and then began adding modeling clay to it.

What does 162.5 lbs of modeling clay look like?

Finally received the materials that I asked for after winning the ‘Our State’ Magazine lesson design contest. $450 in modelling clay and two rolls of aluminum wire for armatures. Thus begins a new adventure. Art 1 students will spend the entire second 9 weeks studying animation, designing their own claymation character and creating short films on the subject of bullying geared at younger students.

I already have a lot of other materials that we will need from having taught this before including ‘delrin’ ball bearings for eyeballs, a double boiler for melting and mixing clay colors together, a portable burner to heat the double boiler, 25 lbs of sculpey to make props, a toaster oven to cure the sculpey, and other things I cannot remember. I will take another picture once I get all of that together as well.

There should be lots of images coming through the rest of the semester of our progress on this fun project. We will begin this adventure when we return from Spring Break in two weeks. For now, they have to finish their self-portraits.

Texas NAEA – day 3


Jesus Moroles

Artist talking about his artistic career and discussing his artwork

10:00AM – 10:50AM – Engaging Students through the use of Media Images and Pop Culture – Curriculum and Instruction track
Sejal Patel

Students feel naked without their cell phones. I think many teachers would say they feel the same way. How do we incorporate this need for technology into the classroom? Students are also up to date on the most recent trends in culture. How do we incorporate this culture knowledge into the classroom as well? Students bring in images to discuss and critique. ‘iLook’ – ‘iSee’ – look ati it – see it – describe it – analyze it – interpret it – consruct meeaning from it – inspired by Brian Kennedy. When was it made, viewer’who is looking’content – who or what is in it. What is grabbing their attention? iDeas – generating ideas on sticky notes and making an ‘idea wall’ iMindmap – drawing out mindmaps as a group. iSearch – students love to see visuals first – before they do any other research iMake – assignments- emulating the iconic – recreating a famous artwork.Pick a popular painting – how would you change it so it is interesting to you now?
-animating the painting using photoshop. Logo advertisement – identify a product – photo – logo – advertisement – come up with an object you don’t see advertised in a magazine. The six word memoir – story telling – moving image and sound-one minute video. photo animation product.

11-12 lunch

12:00PM – 12:50PM – Exploring a Student-Directed Curriculum With Beginning Level High School Artists – Secondary track
Caro Appel, Mark Coates, Gino Molfino

Need to email her for a copy of the presentation, she moved way to fast to take accurate notes. Discussed lessons that she uses in a beginning art course: alternative materials in self portraits – materials have meaning -portrait drawing -show film called ‘wasteland’ -photographing poses -simply photograph into values -fill in the values with materials. Give students a theme for their artwork, but then give them the freedom to allow for personal expression and choice within the context of the lesson.

1:00PM – 1:50PM – What Can Go Wrong?! – Secondary track
Mary Ann Dobson, Britt Petracek

How to adjust lessons when they ‘fail.’  Wasn’t as good as I was hoping it would be. They needed to spend more time on explanation. Tried to put to much into one presentation. They gave out a cd with lesson plans on it that I have not had time to look at yet. There was emphasis on taking the best out of a lesson and refining it to make it better. I think everyone that has been teaching for awhile knows how to do that. Gave out a cd with a few good lesson ideas. One new thing I did learn was that there are online gesture drawing tools like ‘quickposes’ and

4-5:50 – Kaleidoscopes, the Wondrous Blend of Art and Science – Secondary
Genevieve Anderson Hands on workshop where we each created our own kaleidoscope from PVC pipe, glass, mirrors, and PVC connectors. Large packet of information on history of kaleidoscopes, how this lesson connects to math and science. Good parts list/price comparison to recreate this lesson in your own classroom. Good ideas on how to ‘finish’ them by designing the outside of the kaleidoscope as well.

6:30 – 8:20 PM
Plaster Master, A Variety of 2D and 3D Lessons for Classrooms on a Budget! – Secondary – Lenny Cabanero-Harvey

Lessons adapted from the book ‘Plaster Studio’ – you can use joint compound to fill in cracks in plaster sculptures or plaster wrap sculptures. We created a sand/plaster impression and a painting on burlap infused with joint compound. To make a sculpture lighter build with newspaper/foil and masking tape then plaster as the final layer.



Texas NAEA report – day 2


8:30AM – 9:50AM – The Meantime: Before Digital/After Analogue – 2nd General Session
Annette Lawrence

Speaker talked about her artistic career and her artwork

10-11 Vendor Hall – continued talking to vendors and photographed Texas Scholastic artwork display

11:00AM – 11:50AM – The Art of Catching Criminals – Super Session
Lois Gibson

Forensic artist Lois Gibson spoke about her history as a sketch artists/forensic artist for the Houston police department. Started off as a model/actress until someone tried to kill her. Eventually ended up being successful sketch artist. She is in the Guiness Book of World Records as the ‘world’s most successful forensic artist.’

Two books: ‘Faces of Evil’ and ‘Forensic Art Essentials’

She pushed her 5 day workshop on learning the essentials of being a forensic artist a LOT. Still good information though.

12-1 – Lunch

1:00PM – 2:50PM – In the Studio Workshop: Forensic Artist Lois Gibson–The Art of Catching Criminals
Lois Gibson

Hands on workshop with Lois Gibson. She gave an excellent handout on the forensic art process. New ways of looking at how to draw eyes, noses, mouths. Had us practice these techniques by drawing the mug shot of a ‘dirty white boy.’ Then we worked from photographs of various parts pulled from different people’s faces. Eyes from one face, nose from another, etc. This is the way a forensic artist works. They have a book of photos of different facial types and the witness picks from the images. The artist then compiles these parts into a new face. Our composite drawings turned out to be president Clinton. It was interesting to look at everyone’s drawings during this process as all of our sketches looked almost identical. One of the cases she talked about was a very recent case. During the workshop, she received a phone call about that case, but did not take the call.

3:00PM – 3:50PM – Navigating the Online Resources Available for the 21st-Century Art Classroom – Technology
Stephanie Clegg

I already ‘knew’ Stephanie through our PLN interactions in the art teachers group on Facebook (1009 art teachers and growing), but it was nice to put a real person with the online persona. She spoke about a lot of technology that I was already aware of, but one of the new things I did learn included: Google Reader (subscribe to blogs! – why didn’t I know about this before?)

4:-5:50 – Copic Marker hands on workshop

Presented by officials from Copic marker. Copic markers are the industry standard professional markers. They are used in many different industries including fashion, architecture, engineering, commercial art, concept art, etc. I learned lots of little hints and tricks about using these markers. Normally they only present to colleges, but college instructors are becoming frustrated that students coming in from high school do not have experience using these markers so they are starting to try to get them into high schools. The problem is the expense. Copic markers are VERY expensive. $5 a marker expensive. They are refillabe and the tips are replaceable, but there is still that initial expense up front. They promised us a REALLY good discount if we ordered directly from them, but I can actually get a better deal through Dick Blick, so I am still researching this (i.e. bugging Copic marker for a better deal) It would be nice to combine funds from marketing and interior design classes to buy a ‘school set.’ but even that may be out of reach.

6:30-8:20 – Liquitex – product presentation

Presented by the official artist for Liquitex. Lots of good information on Liquitex acrylics and how the products are cross-compatible. Example you can use their spray paint, tube paint and paint markers all in the same painting. Colors are the same in each of the lines. Received an ‘acrylic book’ with excellent information on how to use each of the mediums. We each received one of their paint markers (only those at this presentation received them) and are the first in the US to have them (they are not available in the US yet)

9 p.m. dinner




NAEA the ‘un’official report – the good, the bad, the ugly

Ok, here is the down and dirty (from my point of view) on the NAEA 2013 conference.

Let me start off by saying that I lived in Texas for 7 years and my father-in-law still lives there. So other than the food (which I will touch on later) Texas is a ‘been there, done that’ state to me. It would be interesting to hear from someone who did the museum tours and ‘touristy’ stuff on their opinions of Texas. So I instead focused on the convention itself.

I feel that I missed out on some by staying with my father in law in the suburbs of Dallas instead of staying in the hotels downtown. It felt like I missed out on some of the potential connections made by ‘living’ with a large group of art teachers for 4 days. The commute wasn’t bad, but the parking was outrageous. $12-$15 dollars a DAY makes Charlotte parking rates look cheap. Was still cheaper than hotel rates though.

Thursday didn’t really feel any different than a state conference. I think because a lot of teachers didn’t come in until Thursday night/Friday that Thursday was very sparse.  Friday, on the other hand, you really started to feel like you were part of something special. Large groups of people everywhere you looked. Workshops a lot fuller. Saturday was the same. Sunday I had to try to get on a plane early so was unable to attend any of Sunday’s events I also presented on Thursday and that was a great experience. Jack Tovey, Linda Evans and I had never met before in person, but had instead planned our entire presentation online. AND we had a seamless presentation. I heard about (or saw) several other presentation on similar subjects where there were multiple presenters, but they EACH had their OWN presentation that they had to end one and then start the next persons. We actually modeled what we presented.

For the most part, the workshops I chose were good/great. One of the things I really liked about the national conference as compared to state were the choices available for every hour of the conference. For many hours I had hard choices to make about which of the presentations I wanted to attend. While many were pretty much exactly the same as you would see at a state conference, the sheer number of choices available made all the difference. Often at our state conference there is only one or two that you are really interested in attending for a given hour, while at the national I often had to narrow down from 5 or 6 that sounded interesting to me.

The vendor’s hall was a-mazing. It literally took me 3 hours to go through and see everything that I wanted to see. The vendors that gave the best ‘swag’ I went back to several times (Michaels was the best – a full set of acrylic paint, full set of oil pastels, full set of tortillions and several other things I’m forgetting) I ended up with two pretty nice bags of supplies that I gave to two of my more talented (but very poor) students. The new Skutt kilns send you a text message when they are finished firing. The Liquitex booth had several local students doing a large spray painted mural. Lots of cool to look at and do if you wanted (many vendors had ongoing make and takes – most geared toward elementary) I was able to meet our local Sax rep in person and finish planning our spring PD workshop that she is presenting for us. So, good stuff all around. On Friday I went to the presentation by forensic artist Lois Gibson and then also to her ‘in the studio’ workshop where we worked on our own ‘police sketches’ I learned a lot of interesting pointers that will definitely help me in teaching portrait drawing to my students. I’m trying the exercise on making one student the witness and the other the sketch artist later this week. It was interesting to see how, as we were all drawing from the same description, everyone in the workshops drawings looked very similar even though we had only pieces to draw from that we had to composite.

Friday night I went to two vendor workshops which were free (copic markers and Liquitex products) and learned some good pointers for both. Copic promised us a ‘really significant’ deal though and in actuality I can get a better deal through Dick Blick, so that was a disappointment. Liquitex pushed their ‘low fune’ spray paint and their new paint markers which aren’t even available in the states yet. Saturday night I did the ‘kaleidoscope’ workshop and the ‘plaster masters’ workshop. I learned new things in both, but thought the kaleidoscope workshop was better. (mostly because I don’t teach sculpture)

Ok, so now the bad. First and foremost. No free wife in the meeting rooms!?! Seriously? The theme for this years convention was ‘making connections’ and we couldn’t even connect to the internet? Same thing at the hotel where some of the presentations took place. In this day and age, I wouldn’t even accept a location for a convention that did not provide free wife. Then to make matters worse, on Saturday, the free wifi in the ‘common areas’ wasn’t free either! NAEA needs to get with the times and either cough up the funds or only have conventions where they can get it for free. You look at almost any other convention, professional or educational and you’ll find free wifi.

The ‘general sessions’ were awful. I mean really really bad. AND there were no other choices during those times. Either suffer or sit outside and wait. The Jesus Morales that everyone else is raving about? Yeah. Not so much. I mean what is so great about pillars of rock? I guess I’m with my kids when I say I don’t like contemporary art. The president’s speech and awards was just as bad. Why can’t we get artists that the kids are excited about to get the teachers excited about the same artists? Why are we forcing contemporary art down our own throats and then forcing it down our students as well? Sorry folks, but I would rather teach my students fantasy and comic art that gets them excited then to try to get them to understand an artist that I don’t like myself.

You want to go see the vendors? Great! BUT only 10-3 AND you have to MISS other presentations to go. I get that if they didn’t do that they would have been overwhelmed, but how about extending the hours a little and letting us go during those ‘general sessions’ as well? That’s one thing I don’t get (and I’m even on my state’s board) is why they think they need to FORCE us to go to some of the sessions at State and National conferences.

Now the ugly. The food. There was no place nearby with reasonably priced food. Sure you could walk 4-6 BLOCKS to get something reasonably priced. But nearby? not so much. AND inside the convention center? $3.50 for a bottle of Coke. $2.50 for a regular priced candy bar. $2.50 for a SMALL SNACK sized bag of chips. $6 for a small sandwich wrap. Seriously? I literally went without lunch on Thursday (ate breakfast at 6 a.m. and dinner at 7 p.m) Friday and Saturday I bought Subway the night before and brought it with me. I was lucky and I had that choice. Those staying in the hotels did not.  In comparison, I ate at Rosa’s on Friday and Saturday night (one of my favorite restaurants when I lived in Texas) The pictures of the food? Guess how much ALL of this cost me? $8. oh and in that brown paper wrapper you see? FRESH HOME MADE tortillas. Yum.

So would I do it again? Definitely. Would I present again? Already planning on trying. Just hoping others will have the same complaints as me and we can get some of the bad fixed.

Texas NAEA Report Day 1

This year I was fortunate enough to both attend and present at the National Art Education Association conference in Fort Worth, Texas from March 6th to March 10th. After 20 years of teaching art, this was my first National conference.

On Wednesday, I arrived and after settling in at my father-in-law’s house, went to the convention center to finish registration and to meet my presentation group in person for the first time. I was presenting with Linda Evans from Wisconsin and Jack Tovey from Florida on ‘Internet Inspirations, Information, and Interaction: Joining the global internet community to facilitate teaching Art’ a Technology themed presentation. We had completed everything from the initial presentation proposal through to the final presentation entirely online. We used Google Docs, Google+ Hangouts, Gmail and Prezi to organize, meet and put together our presentation. We met in person at the conference center to run through it together one last time before our presentation on Thursday.

On Thursday, I arrived at the convention center bright and early to start the ‘official’ conference.

9 a.m. – 9:50 a.m. – Best Presentations  –  Professional Development track – Lynell Burmark

Excellent presentation on why visual learning is so important and how to improve presentations we give to our students – Text should be kept to a minimum if any text is used at all. Better to use images that represent what we are trying to teach and then use ‘bullet points’ or no text at all and instead lecture over the images and instruct without written notes in the presentation. She gave us a quiz, one with text slides about the information and one with images/lecture and everyone remembered the information better on the image/lecture presentation. One of the best quotes from this lecture was ‘do you want your child in a classroom where all they learn is what the teacher knows?’ – This really applies to the way my district approaches teaching/learning.

10 a.m. – 10:50 a.m. – Check out the artists I posted! Teaching art criticism with blogs – Higher Education track
Karin Tollefson-Hall, Stephanie Danker

Presentation on teaching art criticism by having every student have their own blog (blogger) that they posted images to on a weekly theme. This is very similar to what I already do in my classroom with ‘Museum Monday’s where students have to post an image from a museum and then do a written critique of the image. These instructors did not require their students to write any more information about the image other than information on the artist for the image and citing their source. To me, this is a missed opportunity to have their students practice their critiquing skills by explaining why they chose the images they chose and how they felt they related to the theme assigned. Maybe we just have more emphasis on writing skills in the public school system?

11:00AM – 11:50AM – Digital Art: Community Connections – Secondary track
Evangeline Christodoulou

Presentation on how she teaches her graphic design and digital photography classes. Interesting points on ‘connecting to the community’ by taking students on ‘walking’ field trips and photographing the neighborhood to use in their assignments. Having teachers post ‘ photographers welcome’ signs in their doors so students know what classrooms they can and cannot go in that day (might be an interesting idea for Chritina Nuss’ students) Two things that I took away from this presentation were that we need digital cameras and a working color printer for the art department. Need to look into writing grants for this equipment.

12-12:50 – Reimagining Professional Exchange & Peer Networks in a Digital Age – Technology track
Michael Murawski, Dana Carlisle Kletchka, Elyse Eidman-Aadahl

One of the main things I took away from this presentation was how ‘ahead of the curve’ my district is. Both in technology and teacher training in that technology. The presenters did not have the correct dongle they needed for their presentation. After this they seemed to flounder. Most of the people in this presentation (including the presenters) were from museums from across the country. Only one or two were actual classroom teachers. There was some good discussion about how to keep an online PLN active and relevant, but there was also time wasted reading and discussing an article about how birds spread knowledge.

1:00PM – 1:50PM – Internet Inspirations, Information, and Interaction: Joining the global internet community to facilitate teaching Art – Technology track
Jack Tovey, Donald Peters, Linda Evans

This was my presentation. We presented on using the internet to collaborate and tools to assist with that collaboration including: ArtEd2.0, Artsonia, Google+, Pinterest, Edmodo, Blogs, Photo Sharing sites, and others. After viewing some of the other presentations and also discussing with other teachers during the conference, I liked that we actually modeled what we taught. We had one presentation that we had developed together and we presented it together with us seamlessly changing from one speaker to the other over one singular presentation. In other presentation on similar topics with multiple presenters, each presenter had their own presentation that they would have to change hardware as they changed presenters. Our presentation can be seen at:

2 p.m. – 3 p.m. I spent this time visiting the vendors. One of the best things about any art conference is always the vendor hall. The vendor hall at the National Conference was HUGE. It literally took me a total of three hours to visit all of the vendor booths and talk to the ones that I was interested in. I brought home a ton of information and samples to pass off to my students and to other teachers in my building/district. One of the main things I accomplished was I met with Nadine Dresbach who is our regional Sax Arts and Crafts representative. She will be doing the NCAEA region 7 spring professional development workshop at N.F. Woods on April 27th. While there, I was able to finalize with Nadine what exactly she will be presenting and teaching to the art teachers of Region 7 on that date.

3:00PM – 4:20PM – 1st General Session – Best Practice Lecture
F. Robert Sabol

Presentation and awards by the president of NAEA.

430-455 – Making Contemporary Art Accessible: Blogging, Art, and the Classroom – Secondary track
Rebecca Belleville

This instructor uses Tumblr in her classroom to have students collect and group images. Student chooses an artwork on a theme given then groups it with images that the student feels relate to the image. Student then writes how these images relate to each other. Interesting in allows students self-expression while still getting them to talk about artwork in a higher order thinking style. By requiring students to write how their images relate, allows the student to show they way they are thinking and relating to the world around them.

5:00PM – 5:50PM – Claymation Collaboration: Incorporating Clay Animation Into the Curriculum – Technology track
Amy Bravo, Keenan Woods

Presenters didn’t show up. This was disappointing in that having won the ‘Our State’ contest for best lesson plan submitted I will hopefully be teaching claymation to my art 1 students this semester. Even though I have taught claymation before, I was hoping to get some last minute tips and tricks. This session was PACKED, which shows me there is a need and desire for this type of presentation. Made me think that next year I should submit a proposal on the same topic with maybe the addition of a hands on workshop where teachers could make their own claymation figure.

End day 1.




Annual Art Gallery Opening

A few images that I took from our annual Art Gallery Opening last Friday (2/11). Note the students posing as Mona Lisa and living statues. =D