Sunday, September 30, 2012


"Success is the good fortune that comes from aspiration, desperation, perspiration and inspiration." - Evan Esar

Such good news!  How surprised and delighted I was to receive an "acceptance" e mail from Somerset Memories regarding my heritage banner submission! And after several months, the Autumn issue arrived. 

Cover note on complimentary copy

Autumn 2012
Here's a peek at two of my three pages.  But hurry out and get your copy or order it here.  As always, there are TONS of really great projects by so many talented artists to inspire you!

Remembered, Lamented pages 10-11

"Where the determination is, the way can be found." - George S. Clason

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


"Never find fault with the absent." - Proverb

And so I beseech you to forgive my long absence!  School starts early here in Texas and with summer ending and a new school year beginning I have been preoccupied with many duties and delightful distractions.  

6:00 AM, Still Dark, Commuter's View

Mid August was time to put behind me those crazy and not so lazy days of summer.  Gone are the hours for lolly gagging in La Grange with my talented and sweet hearted college buddy.

Sherri with her group quilt at the Quilt Museum, La Grange, TX

Be sure to attend the International Quilt Show  at the George R. Brown Convention center in Houston, TX on Nov. 1-4, 2012.   You will see Sherri's  Austin Art Group's work on exhibit.  Don't miss it!  They are award winning! 

No more trips to the airport in the near future...

George Bush International Airport Passenger Pick Up

No more roaming with camera in hand...

Old Katy Grain Storage

Gone are the days of lingering in China Town...

Ocean Palace

Loitering in art galleries...

Time to say good bye to summer and gear up for another exciting school year...

End and Begin

which I always begin with an "all school back to school project."  And this year the hands have it!  All 131 of them!

4th Grade
Saying "Hello" to what is to come!

And that includes creating and concocting!

 "I like work.  It fascinates me." - Unknown

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Musings with Munchkins and Matisse 

"What is real is not the external form, but the essence of is impossible for anyone to express anything essentially real by imitating its exterior surface." - Brancusi

I was privileged to have taught two sweet little girl "munchkins" after school each week.  One was in second grade and the other in fourth.  Each year matters developmentally and, although they are both interested, interesting, and talented, the outcome was uniquely their own!

First step was the inspiration.  We enjoyed lolly gagging over Matisse's masterpiece, Woman In A Purple Coat.  

Woman In A Purple Coat, Matisse, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

We perused other books about Matisse and analyzed his style.

Open Window, Collioure, Matisse, National Gallery of Art, Washington
The little girls were really struck by Matisse's inside/outside, planes, and happy colors in his painting Open Window, Collioure.

The art room was tweaked here and there until it was converted into our own makeshift Matisse-esque scene.

Here is the second grader's work in progress...

2nd Grader Working Toward Completion
...and the fourth grader at step one.  The photo is not too clear, but the only one at this stage.

4th Grader's First Steps
Each girl plowed on week after week as they became very acquainted with every straight line, curve, organic and geometric shape and form until finally....they finished!!!!

View Through the Art Room's French Doors, 2nd Grader
Did you find Woman in A Purple Coat in each artwork? And the good news is.......

View Through the Art Room's French Doors, 4th Grader
.....they both won medals!  
Congratulations, Girls!  Thank you, Matisse!

"Blessed are they who see beautiful things in humble places where other people see nothing." - Camille Pissarro

Friday, July 13, 2012


Pid-dle [pid-l], verb (used without object), to spend time in a wasteful, trifling, or ineffective way; dawdle (often followed by around):  He wasted the day piddling around.  verb, pidd-dled, pid-dling. 


Today I piddled.  I am not ashamed of it.  Basically that is because I don't think piddling is ineffective in the end.  It is just a part of the creative process, at least for me.  If I piddle, seemingly wasting away minutes and hours experimenting with materials or arrangements of treasured scraps, it will pay off at some future time. I don't mean with this little experiment I am about to show you! You will have to wait and see what else is to come! But for now..........

Left Over Experiments from 8th Graders
 I started out with the scraps above.  Then I added some rubber stamping.

Altered Scraps, Stage 1

Next I rooted around in my many bins of "stuff."  I came up with some bird themed postage stamps from my father's cast off stamp collection- a gold mine!

Bird Postage Stamps

I really liked the varied textures the bird images had to offer more than the birds themselves.

So I ended up altering the bird stamps.  Sorry, Dad.  I couldn't resist!  But I was pretty unhappy with where I was going.

Needing Improvement

I dawdled long and hard.  

Back to Basics

Searching...I realized what I liked from the start was ALL the colors as a group in the collection from the 8th graders. 

Done Dawdling

This is what I ended up with.  It was a good way to spend a rainy day. 

"So you see, imagination needs moodling-long, inefficient, happy idling, dawdling, and puttering." - Brenda Ueland

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Medieval Musings or Mayhem?

“Most risks we might not take if we could see what we would have to go through to reach our goal. Yet, we would never not take most risks if we knew the great learning experience and soul enrichment they would bring.”  - Linda Eyre

As a teacher of ten year olds with limited exposure to art materials and techniques, I am regularly faced with the challenge of promoting risk taking.  Thankfully, children are much less inhibited, in my opinion, then adults.  However mixed media projects usually incite a bit of anxiety even for the most daring.  My guess is that the given project at first seems too different from what they expect to be doing as "art."  There are always a handful of real "scaredy cats," but with enough TLC even they can be coaxed into tackling the blank canvas.

My school teaches the history of the Middle Ages, Renaissance, and Reformation in the 4th grade.  That means a treasure trove of art history to integrate!  A few years ago I was privileged to take a work shop in NYC with Lynne Perrella. See this great post about the workshop at Broken Heart Art: It was a jam packed day of wonderful instruction from Lynne with a Medieval theme.  Although the techniques, wisdom, and insight given by Lynne can translate to any theme, she unwittingly inspired our next 4th grade endeavor.  Why not teach the kids some of Lynne's techniques and have them make a Medieval style banner?  And so we did! That is not to say we were without the challenge of running from kid to kid answering questions and helping them shmoosh this and that this way and that before this and that dried!  Mayhem?  YES!  And how very grateful I am to have an assistant!

4th Grade Banner
The student works were selected for display at a teacher's convention! 

4th Grade Banner
We had to solve some unexpected display challenges.  The 4th grade work flanked a very large, encaustic, clip art Medieval "dude" made by an older student.  She, too, was a little daunted by the risk of deciding on a palette and using a quilting iron to melt cast off crayons.  And gold leaf?  I whole new animal!

Encaustic Clip Art Image on Foam Core
In the end, even the scaredy cats learned that taking a risk doing something new and "strange" gave them a sense of freedom and made everyone a winner.

“One of the most important things I've learned is that creating a vision ... is the beginning of making it happen.”  - Linda Eyre

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Renaissance Reconstructed, ReMixed, and ReDone

A portrait does not merely record someone's features, however, but says something about who he or she is, offering a vivid sense of a real person's presence." - Metropolitan Museum of Art website

The ancient Greeks and Romans depicted important people in profile on coins.  As time past this individual likeness became a one size fits all in the figure type.  Then in the 15th c., Eureka!  Portraits that actually showed a likeness to the sitter were reborn!  This was a reflection of the humanist interest in man-each individual man, woman, girl, and boy!  

Approx. 54-68 AD

Most portraits painted during the Renaissance followed a conventional format.  The profile view of the ancient past was again employed in the 15th c. 

Portrait of a Man and Woman at a Casement, ca. 1440-44,  Fra Fillipo Lippi (Italian, Florentine), tempera on wood

Often the sitter is in the foreground and in the background we are presented with an enchanting Italian landscape which properly diminishes in space!  Check out that true to life blue mist!

Battista Sforza and Federico da Montefeltro, ca. 1465-66, Piero della Francesca 

Renaissance artists soon began to use the three quarter view as well, allowing the viewer to be more engaged with the sitter.  Sometimes a window sill was included with items or objects that symbolized something about the subject. And keep noticing that gorgeous landscape!

Portrait of a Lady, c. 1490,  Domenico Ghirlandaio

My 5th grade Renaissance scholars needed a new challenge this year.  So I got to thinking, why not roll all these concepts into one long art history and studio lesson?  First we learned the art history basics.  Then the students were instructed to come up with a thoughtful question on the topic.  Next, technology!  A Face Time date with "Mr. Martinez" from Ars Opulenta (  By the way, you too, can contact him for a technology instruction date. Each student used my i phone to ask him their pre-approved questions and each answer invoked hearty discussion and often many giggles as the students learned about clothing laws and hair dying techniques among other things!

Next the studio part.  The kids selected printed images of Renaissance portraits by the masters.  They were asked to use them as a jumping off point to sketch a landscape on water color paper.  We spent several classes getting acquainted with water color painting. 

5th Grade Student Work 2011-2012

Next the kids made "complicated paper" a la Anne Bagby  This involves designing and cutting EZ Cut ( and printing paper. This paper became a new set of Renaissance clothing for their figures.  To finish off the "edited" portraits they added faux wood, scrapbook paper frames reminiscent of the casements sometimes depicted during the Renaissance.

5th Grade Student Work
The 5th graders are now begging for a field trip to Italy!

"... Just to sit and look at the landscape. An inner quietness. After dinner, to sit on the back porch and look at the light. No need for talking. For any kind of communication."- Lee Krasner

Friday, July 6, 2012


"To penetrate into Italy is like a most fascinating act of self-discovery- back, back down the old ways of time.  Strange and wonderful chords awake in us, and vibrate again after many hundreds of years of complete forgetfulness." -D.H. Lawrence

What life! Beauty everywhere!  It is simply impossible to take in all that Italy offers! Abundance!  Life lived there may be the only remedy.  When traveling to Florence and the Tuscan countryside, you would profit greatly from experiencing and understanding the vast treasure trove with Eugene Martinez of Ars Oplulenta.  His comprehensive knowledge, deep insights, and clever wit will enhance your trip quadruple-fold.    

If you happen to be of Italian descent, as I am, Eugene is the one to guide you to your Italian past.  My dear childhood friend and I journeyed to the village my grandparents were born in and immigrated from with Eugene.  What an adventure!  Hours of hearty conversation while driving through mountainous terrain to the ancestral village and then...

...from one far away hilltop we spot from another, the medieval village still standing! 


In a short time we were facing my great grandparent's door.

Door knocker.

Then standing in a garage that was once their bedroom.

My grandparents told me the town was old.  What they didn't tell me was how old and how rich in history.  

Casalciprano Alley

By the end of the day Eugene answered my question.....

Last page of my sketch book for The Sketch Book Project 2011

"I think I feel automatically at home in Italy." - Boyd Rice

Thursday, July 5, 2012


"Every day is a new beginning, Every morn is the world made new." -Sarah Chauncey Woolsey

And we creative people certainly welcome a new start each day! My daily starts are not merely for myself, but also for the 140 students I teach.  Eight projects for eight grades. Task #1: Build their skills and stretch their critical thinking.  Can young people understand what mixed media offers in terms of creative expression?  Are they able to learn the elements of art and principles of design and still pack a punch with a message?  You bet they can!

The Local Park

Eighth graders sure do love themselves.  They love being both an individual and part of the group.  For our 8th grade mixed media workshop, my students took photographs of the school neighborhood (our community/group) and did wonderful things to the photos in the computer lab.  The printed photos were "mixed" with "media" in the art room creating individual expressions of the community using guidance and direction from In This House by Angela Cartwright and Sarah Fishburn.

The Bead Shop

The Local High School

The Chamber of Commerce asked us to create a body of work that could hang together. 
So we decided to unify with the format and somewhat with color.  This made the students' first experience working with mixed media a little easier by eliminating some choices.  The good news: a gold, silver, and bronze medal were awarded to three students at our area competition!  Three cheers!

"A beginning is only the start of a journey to another beginning." - Anonymous