Friday, November 30, 2012

A perfect gift idea

Not that I'm biased or anything... but Sign Painters is an amazing book, newly published, and one of the two authors, Faythe Levine, is my talented and beautiful niece, daughter of one of my two big brothers.  The book currently is available through for $15.80, and having just received my copy yesterday, I want to highly recommend it.  The book has been receiving great press since its release: it even received two mentions this week in the NY Times!        In one of these mentions, it was included in an article about coffee-table book picks - WOW!  The photos in the book are particularly beautiful, and having done some sign painting myself many years ago, I am wowed by the talents of the sign painters who are the focus of this book.  By the way, Faythe's prior book, Handmade Nation, about the resurgence of DIY crafting, is also worth a look-see. 

Faythe's dad, my brother, is a name some of you might be familiar with.  Rick Levine is a well-known astrologer (yes, really) whose daily horoscopes and daily Planet Pulse podcasts are available at or  Perhaps you've come across his annual book while shopping at Barnes & Noble.  Your Astrology Guide 2013 is also available at amazon, and no, neither Rick nor Faythe asked me to or expect me to post here about their books.  I'm doing this because I am proud of their successes, and because this is a gift-giving season, and what makes a better gift than a book? 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


Wow, thanks!  I have reached the crazy number of 800 followers.  It's been a long road, one that I intend to continue to travel. 

My blog has had 464,713 views since I began blogging in May 2010.  That blows my mind.  I am aware that a large part of the jump in readership comes from Pinterest, which is why a post from May 2010 (my 7th post, just shortly after I began blogging), is my most viewed post ever, with  11,618 views!  This is ridiculously crazy. The post is about the weird and experimental toothpaste batik method, that I actually have posted about on 4 other occasions.  You can find the other posts by looking through my cloud of labels on the right of the blog. 

In the 2-1/2 years I've been blogging, I've written 468 posts.  My number one traffic source (that's how people find their way to your blog) since I first began blogging is my blogger-buddy Mr. E, though in recent weeks Pinterest has been my biggest source.

 A while back, I added the page 'A Happy Art Room'.  (You can find it by clicking the tab at the top of the blog.)  It continues to get a HUGE number of views, which is odd, because I'm a retired person.  Again, I believe it's because of Pinterest.  There's a photo on that page of my color wheel table (which I left behind for my successor, since it was never really my table to take with me) and I've seen images of it re-pinned countless times on Pinterest.

Anyhow, thanks so much for continuing to visit.  I love the exchange of ideas and opinions, and look forward to many more years of active blogging.  I've still got lots more to post, so keep on visiting! 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Random images from a lakeside Thanksgiving

The frost is on the pumpkin
    My main intent for this blog is as an art education blog, but honestly, some of my posts containing my nature photos get the most views and the most comments, so today I am sharing some of my oddball outdoor photos that I shot on Thanksgiving day (while the turkey was in the oven), and a few more from the morning after, all at my lovely Loon Lake.
Thanksgiving day, a kayak, and a loon
Two loons!
My favorite photo, morning after Thanksgiving
This photo is begging me to edit in eyeball details!
frosty morning
frozen ground
Identical twins.  No kidding.

 Oh well.  Above are two sideways photos, not intentionally.

Tell me what you think....
There is no religious intent here.  I am Jewish.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Thursday, November 22, 2012

NYSATA conference - all the juicy details

OK, so maybe the details are not so juicy, but I got your attention, right?  So now I can tell you all about my state conference! 

The photo to the left was me with a fellow blogger, 'Mrs. Impey', who blogs at Art Room 104.  She's been posting a lot of really valuable information on her blog, especially for other NY art teachers.  It was a real pleasure to meet her!  If you haven't visited her blog yet, stop in and see what she's up to!

Meanwhile - I've had a lot of questions about my workshops and my handouts.  I taught three workshops, all wonderfully successful.

The first workshop "Great Ideas with Recycled Materials" was jam packed - I had made 65 copes of my handouts, and I didn't have enough for everyone in the room!  So if you are one of those people who didn't get the handout, please email me or leave me a comment on the blog with your email address and I'll get it right out to you.  (If you leave your email address, I suggest you write out 'at' and 'dot' to prevent getting spam.  I unfortunately can no longer give out my email address on the blog, because I have become a big spam target. I have also had people ask if they can 'have my PowerPoint presentation'.  To that request, I will have to say NO.  My PP was mostly images of student artwork from my classroom, with a few students appearing in the slides as well.  I spent many hours assembling and editing the presentation, and I want to retain ownership of the images.  Sorry, but I hope you understand. 

 This workshop was not rocket science, or some miraculous innovation. I talked mostly about uses for cardboard shipping boxes, and cereal box cardboard, though I touched on several other materials (old CD's, shoe box lids, assorted junk, magazines, etc) as well.  If you are a regular reader of my blog, you've already seen many of the projects that I talked about in my workshop, and can find them here on my blog by scrolling through my labels on the right, and clicking on 'recycled art'. 

My 2nd workshop was called "Get Stuck on Papier-Mache", and, like the prior workshop, I had an image-based PowerPoint, handouts, and also many physical samples of the various projects I discussed and demo-ed.  I would say about 50 people attended this workshop.  Sorry these photos below are sideways, but I'm trying not to argue with  Blogger these days, so sideways will have to do.  On the left I am demo-ing my unique papier-mache process, and on the right discussing the construction and painting of an ice cream cone.
My final workshop, titled "Time to Play with Papier-Mache" was later the same day.  My goal was to give people a chance to try out the stuff I demo-ed in the morning, so that they would have at least a partially completed sample to take home.  I think there were about 25 people, and about 1/2 had attended the morning workshop.  Participants made a wild assortment of papier-mache cats, pigs, ice cream cones, and masks, as well as some unexpected things that I will show you.  Here's some of their work.

A couple of gals made really cool tree structures, which was totally unlike ANYTHING that I had discussed or demonstrated.  I hope they will send me photos of them when they are done!  Funny thing, last time I taught a hands-on papier-mache workshop I also had people doing unexpected stuff - that time, one gal made a papier-mache paper bag structure (in other words, it looked like a slightly crumpled paper bag when it was done), and another made a giant lizard. 

And this one guy made a super-awesome huge fish, beginning with a structure of rolled newspaper tubes.  Again, this was something totally different than anything I had shown.  Kudos to the wonderful creative people who attended my workshop!  It was so much fun - I'd love to see all the creations finished.  

The best thing ever was to have people walk up to me toward the end of the conference and tell me that my workshops were their favorite workshops of the whole conference.  I put a lot of time into prep, and it is so nice to know that my efforts were appreciated by attendees.  For those of you who have never presented at a conference, let me tell you, it is so worthwhile.  While my organization doesn't have the finances to pay presenters, I believe I get paid back many times over by all that I gain by presenting.  I've met people that I might not have met otherwise, and people will recognize you and talk to you when they see you later in the conference. You make new friends.  You also will professionally gain, because you will have to figure how to present the best workshop possible, and therefore it will refine your presentation skills. It is extremely gratifying.  Believe it or not, I'm actually kind of socially a bit reserved, and teaching workshops has totally brought me out of my shell.  Give it a try!

By the way - while I don't have photos, I did also attend some really nice workshops.  Since I am not an active teacher, I only attended hands-on fun stuff; I totally skipped out on workshops about the Common Core, and SLO's and assessments, etc.  Lucky me!  I attended a workshop on making paper beads - though after the fact I can tell you I will NEVER do this again.  UGH.  Tedious!  I also attended a fun workshop where we experimented with painting using the edges of cardboard triangles.  And I attended a 'Friday After Dark' workshop where we explored using chalk pastels with some under-painting on textured paper.  I guess I had never used really GOOD pastels, because I was blown away by the intense vibrant colors.  And the teacher was the wonderful person who gave me the Art Teacher Barbie last year - my best gift EVER!  (totally not kidding!!)

All in all, it was a fantastic conference!

Finally, here are some photos from a couple of keynote speakers, both of whom wowed me with their bodies of work, and the deep thought processes behind the work.  Very impressive.  Keep in mind they were shot from way back in a crowded theater presentation, so there are people's heads at the bottom of the photos.  The first two pieces are works by Jennifer Heckler.
And these luscious jelly donuts are the paintings of Emily Eveleth.

Monday, November 19, 2012

The NYSATA TASK Party - Pure Silliness!!

The concept behind a TASK party is simple.  People write tasks for others to do, and put them in a box.  There are ample oddball materials made available, and you pull a task from the box and use the materials to complete the task.

Some of you might have attended the TASK party at the NAEA conference last spring.  I was there briefly and did not like it.  It had started hours before, and when I walked in, it was a chaotic mess and someone came up to me and immediately was in my face singing a song.  I was out of my comfort zone.  But my roommate had been there earlier and had loved it, so when NYSATA decided to hold a TASK party, I decided to give it a second chance.  It was held after Saturday night's dinner, right in the same venue, and was totally silly and fun!  Since it was a room full of art teachers, the tasks were mostly pretty artsy.  Tasks that involved singing songs loudly in public mostly seemed to have been put back in the box.

Anyhow, three of us who had been sitting together (me, my Regional chairperson, and a lovely gal from another region that we had just met that day) decided to work together.  Our first task we pulled was to wrap someone completely in dry materials.  Our new friend was game to be wrapped, so we grabbed materials and wrapped and laughed.  If you look carefully, you will see that she is laughing and smiling under her mesh head-wrap.

Next we had to make a sash for NYSATA's President Elect.  That was easy.  Meanwhile, some people were building a 'box made of dots' by sticking together CD's with the multitude of sticky-dots that were on the materials table.  Others had built a giant giraffe; still others had dressed a bride, groom, and bridesmaids and held a wedding.  Another group built a drawing machine operated simultaneously by 5 people with their arms hooked together.   While I photographed lots more, I didn't want to post pics of people without their permission so these few images will have to do. 

Later, me and fellow blogger Jen built a paper brick road, and then skipped down it.  Here's Jen.  Sorry you have to turn your head sideways; keeping the camera horizontal simply wasn't something I was thinking about!
Finally, tired out, I headed back to my room.  Most of the time I feel pretty young, but dancing after eating chocolate mousse and drinking champagne seemed to be take its toll on me, and I figured it was time for me to call it quits.  Anyhow, it was a really fun night!

I promise to write much more about the whole conference, including telling you all about my workshop presentations, but I wanted to share the silliness first.  The rest will probably get posted tomorrow.

Thursday, November 15, 2012


This is the view out of my hotel room in Rochester, NY. I'm here for the NY State Art Teachers Association annual conference, which officially begins tomorrow morning. I'll be a busy girl teaching workshops and possibly helping at the registration desk. Can't wait!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Magical Morning

the view from our dock, before embarking
At the end of October, I had a magical paddle in my kayak, that I never shared here.  We had stayed overnight at our 'camp' on the lake: me, my husband, and his visiting daughter.  After breakfast I looked out the window and the lake was covered in a foggy mist, like you would expect to see in the early morning.  But it was 10am.  I said "We need to go out on the lake.  NOW."

I got in my kayak  my husband and took the rowboat, and away we went.  With only one (obvious) exception, these photos are basically unedited.  It was amazing out there.

into the abyss
hubby and daughter, rounding the bend
Seriously, blogger has rotated this photo UPSIDE DOWN. I didn't ask it to.   Look carefully, and you will see bubbles and a pine needle floating on what should be the water.  Crazy.
This is really what it was like!  Those bubbles are from  my husband's oars.
What's that?  It's a loon in it's winter coat!
Lonely loon seemed happy for our company

From the middle of the lake - nary a ripple...

Fooling around with editing.  I intended this to be rotated, but Blogger rotated it back.  Oh well.

So why did Blogger think THIS should be rotated?!

So quiet and peaceful!  Luckily Blogger didn't rotate them both.