Monday, August 29, 2011


Castleton State College near Rutland, Vermont

Sorry I had to remove the video that I previously had posted here. But there are some amazing videos in the article I have linked below.

I was listening to NPR today, about Hurricane Irene, and the commentators were wondering if the storm had been "over-hyped". I guess they were hoping NYC would be devastated; a meatier news story, perhaps? (In case you don't know, I live in the lower Adirondacks of northeastern NY, but I was born in the City so I have a serious attachment.) Frankly, I give kudos to the mayor of NYC and the governor of NY for acting so quickly to make sure that the people in our biggest and most amazing city were kept safe and I do not think their actions were too extreme.

I'm a big NPR fan, but they upset me today with all this talk of "over-hyping". Perhaps they haven't seen the videos from my neighbor to the east, landlocked Vermont? Or from 5 minutes north of my home in Lake George, a resort community that has seen massive flooding? Or a little further to the north in our beautiful Lake Placid region of NY? Or along the Mohawk River less than an hour to the south of me? Or east into Granville? Or how about Connecticut? Or to the south along the whole eastern seaboard of our country? So the big cities, NY and Boston were spared from major damage, thank goodness. Still, a lot of people have been devastated by this storm, so whether or not the winds were as high as they expected, or whether or not the subway tunnels flooded, I do not think preparing to save lives from a storm is over-hype. ** Check out this article, with more photos and videos from places like Wilmington Vermont, the Catskills of NY, western Massachusetts, etc.

Anyhow, I want to send my prayers to my blogger (and other) friends who have suffered losses due to flooding, or downed trees, or wind damage from Irene. If you haven't done so, check out the two videos posted here and here by Barb from Barbara's thought of the day, who is located in Vermont.

Saturday, August 27, 2011


I love color. I'd actually do to do this to my hair in a heartbeat, if I had enough length and knew how to get these brilliant colors (I mean, my white hair will take dye quite well, I'd think). And I love teaching color. But I want your thoughts on something.

I've noticed a lot of people on Pinterest who are pinning a video (here's the link: Roy G Biv) by the musical group They Might be Giants to use in their classrooms.

Truth is, I have trouble with the whole Roy G. Biv acronym. As I said, I love teaching color; it's probably my favorite thing as an art teacher. But hey, my color wheel doesn't have indigo on it. I don't have a bottle of paint that says "indigo" on the label. What the heck is indigo, anyhow?!
(this image is from the video)
In the video, the color pointed out as indigo (the second stripe from the bottom) looks like violet to me, and then the color they call violet (the bottom) looks like a blue-violet, actually almost ultramarine. (An aside here: there used to be a color of tempera paint in the Sax Versatemp line called "ultra blue" which was this type of blue, and mixed with magenta it made the most spectacular purples, but sadly it doesn't seem to exist any more.)

Anyhow, I tend to teach a traditional red/yellow/blue color theory, but then I tell the kids that there are different KINDS of reds and blues and you get such different results. I'll put out trays with red, yellow, blue, AND magenta (for a "substitute" red) and turquoise ("substitute" blue). I used to add the ultra blue as well. And then we mix away.

The kids discover they can make different violets and oranges if they substitute the magenta for the red, and they discover that if they mix them (red and magenta) together, they get a wonderful cherry color. We note that the turquoise makes a great green but a terrible purple, and then we discuss why (yellow in the turquoise). With ultra blue we used to discover a whole different range of violets. I show the kids that if they mix compliments, or all three primaries, or else just a random bunch of colors together, they might get all sorts of browns and grays. And we mix black and white and look at how much different the gray is from the one that we can get by mixing, for example, blue and orange.

So, cute as it is, no Roy G. Biv video for me. What are your thoughts on this?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Very Pinteresting...

Love this poster and must make a copy for my art room! Why am I posting a copy of it here? Because I found it on Pinterest, and this post is about Pinterest. I've recently become somewhat of a Pinterest addict, but I'm still trying to figure out the best way to manage it before it becomes unmanageable. I know lots of you are pinning; what are your thoughts regarding my points below?
  • I've been pinning for maybe 3 weeks and already have maybe 60 followers and follow about the same amount of other pinners (some of those showed up immediately when I joined Pinterest and I don't remember having selected to follow them, but I haven't wanted to "unfollow" them because gosh, that just seems mean). Anyhow, having 60 followers is a LOT in a short time, considering the slow and steady build up of blog followers in comparison. YIKES.
  • Every time someone new follows me, I get an email that asks me "follow (name of person) back?" - originally I would look at the person's pinboards and make a decision, but after a while I just starting clicking "yes" because, well, it's faster and easier. Am I overdoing it?
  • And then, of course, there are people who just follow some of your boards, but are not your followers - maybe a little confusing? And there's boards I follow where I don't follow ALL the boards of that person, so I'm not officially "following" that person. Huh?
  • About the emails: I used to get an email every time someone re-pinned one of my pins, and I had to change that because every time I opened my email I had like a zillion emails telling me "so and so re-pinned your pin...." So now I just get an email when someone leaves a comment or "likes" one of my pins, or begins to follow either me or some of my boards. Good enough, I guess, but still a lot of emails. I don't want to turn it off though, because I like to know when someone says something.
  • Some people I can find their profiles, but sometimes not. I wish I could. I like to know who I'm dealing with. But that's probably because most people are linked with their twitter or Facebook accounts, and I chose to separate that connection because, frankly, I don't need 60 or more people I don't know looking at my Facebook page, since my primary purpose for being there on Facebook is keeping in quick touch with a few family members and close friends.
  • I can't figure out if someone looking at my Pinterest boards will see the link to my blog. I guess I need to put it in my info that shows up under my photo, because I want people to make that connection, since it appears to me there are endless numbers of art teachers using Pinterest.
  • Somehow I think pinners are finding their way to my blog because in the last couple of days I've had a leap in blog followers. Hmmm. Maybe it's not from following me on Pinterest but instead from clicking on things from my blog that people have pinned on their boards. Speaking of that, I wish there was an easy way to find out when people have plucked something from my blog. Every so often I find some obscure image from an old post show up on someone's board. But I guess it would be too crazy to start notifying about all that as well as the other stuff, plus pins can be plucked from any online image, so not just from blogs.
  • When you go to your Pinterest "home page" you scroll through mountains of recent pins (from people you follow, I guess). One thing I notice is that we (art teachers) are all re-pinning stuff from each other, so a lot of our boards are kind of alike. It's hard not to want to re-pin all this stuff; so much is so cool. But am I defeating my original purpose of joining Pinterest, which was to organize ideas?
  • Speaking of organizing ideas, I can't figure out if there's a way to MOVE a pin from one board to another. For example, if I start a new board, and I think an old pin would be better on the new board, is there any way to get it there (other than re-pinning it, and deleting the original pin, which seems cumbersome)? Let me know if you've figured this out.
I guess that's all that I wanted to say, other than, by the way, if you want to check out my pins (and if you aren't already following me on Pinterest), you can find me here. And if you follow me, I'll probably be following you back! Happy pinning!!!!!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Bulletin boards & art room views

My room finally is ready for me to set up; yeah! All the problems I was upset about are OVER. So today I spent the day getting started - here's what I've done. My "theme" for my bulletin boards is Art is Fantastic - I'm planning on finding ways during the year to incorporate fantasy stuff - castles, dragons, and lots of shimmery shiny stuff. I've chosen this because it's likely that I'm retiring this June, and I want to go out with style - and especially with lots of dragons!

By the way, you can see my rules above; the kids all know the #1 art room rule is NO WHINING. The art room should be a happy place.

The middle photo is my class reward chart. After considering several options, this year it's a castle. The left-hand photo is of colored stickers that I will be using for bricks. Every time a class has a good day, they will get a colorful brick added to the wall. The class that reaches the top first earns a "pop-pop party" (popcorn and popsicles). We usually get through the chart twice in one year, so the second time around I will use star stickers instead of the bricks.

On the right is my word wall, as yet empty, though my recycle box (paper) is full from June cleanup.
On the left - the empty space will be filled... just not today. And I'll talk more about "the 6th grade zone" another day. On the right - the principles of art - I've posted them for Mr. E, who has been discussing the various incarnations of these principles. These are the ones I chose for some reason or other... And of course there's the wonderful Mr. Brush posters.
I haven't hung these up yet - but on the left is a list of all the elementary classroom teachers. I like kids to see them for proper spelling. On the right, is my schedule for the upcoming year. Note that we are on a 6-day cycle. It's a great way to schedule, very flexible. And if there's a snow day, we pick up where we left off, so nobody misses a class.
This bulletin board used to say "Artist of the Month", and it's where I display the artist we are currently studying. But I changed it this year because I wanted more flexibility, so that different grades could be studying different artists, and it doesn't have to be a monthly thing.
On the left, inside my storage closet I have shelves for each class. And what's that on the right? (oops it's sideways) It's a box of sheet rock scraps and you'll have to check in probably later this fall or winter to see what my 6th graders do with it. Hint: I think I mentioned this project as a newish blogger a year and 1/2 ago.

And here's more views of my storage closet, full of random junk and what-nots. Our wonderful school building is 11-1/2 years old. Prior to that, the district existed in 3 tiny buildings in 3 towns. One was a primary, one a middle school, and one was a high school. I taught in both primary and middle. All the casework in my closet came from the other buildings. When you have something that works, why not re-use it?

I forgot to get pics of my super-duper color wheel table, but I posted about it here last year, plus you can see it, along with my "it's always sunny in the art room" window shade, and more at my "My happy art room" tab, though I still need to work on this page.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Macro Momma's Mystery Pics

1 2
Can you ID these pics? Hint: they were all taken while on vacation at the coast of Maine, frequently using the macro capabilities of my little digital camera. Answers below the last pic!
3 4
5 6
7 8

1. rosehips
2. moss / seaweed
3. barnacles on a rock
4. seaweed bladder on rock
5. some sort of barnacles on seaweed on a white rock
6. design drawn on beach sand (by a kid)
7. another rosehips
8. more moss/seaweedy stuff
9. no, not jellyfish or octopus. Just another rosehips.

OK, I'll admit it; I posted this silly stuff to keep me from telling you all how ANGRY I am because of something school-related that I know I shouldn't/can't post here. Let it suffice for me to say, with barely 3 weeks till school starts, my classroom is... uh... not ready and I can't show you the bulletin boards because I cannot hang them up yet.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Some bloggy stuff

(These are not my legs; they are my son's. It was wonderful having him with us on vacation.) But this post is NOT about vacation; it is about blogging.

Recently a newer blogger, Sheena, who blogs at Midnight Mona Lisa, asked me a question. She noted that my readership has been growing steadily and asked for advice for both herself and other new bloggers, to help them get their blogs out there. She thought that perhaps answering this question would be a good idea for a future post. So first I commented on HER blog to respond, and now am putting my response out here for all of you, as per her request.

Keep in mind that I've been blogging less than a year and 1/2 now, and I didn't have a clue what to do when I started either, and I'm not particularly tech savvy which makes it even more challenging. Most of you are WAY more proficient than I am with the technical end of this stuff. For me it's all a bunch of guesswork and occasional panic. But when I started I knew I wanted readers, so I applied some logic and here's how I proceeded and what I suggest:
  • I posted comments on LOTS of blogs, and each time I added my blog address in the comment and boldly invited (begged?) people to come visit. I think this helped to get visitors for the first time
  • I try to always post a good pic at the top of each post as a "hook" to get people to want to look at it and also try to have an interesting post title. Lots of us who have been blogging a while follow dozens and dozens of blogs and can't always look at every post. But I know that if something hooks me,either by the pic or the post title, that's the first one I look at.
  • Post a LOT. Readers will get to know you better and will come back to see what you are up to. You need to give readers a reason to want to keep checking in.
  • Don't be afraid to express opinions and be quirky. After all, we are art teachers, and are therefore often a little odd, right? I've noticed that some of my more opinionated posts have gotten the most visits. People seem to enjoy posts where the blogger really speaks her (or his) mind (with a sense of humor).
  • Continue to make comments on blogs, so bloggers will get to know you and will check into your blog to see what you have to say.
  • I don't think there's anything wrong with asking bloggers to add you to their blogrolls, though I didn't do this. I'll be adding Sheena.
  • I think how you arrange your blog can help. I try to use labels that will make it easy to find me on an internet search, and I put my labels and archives in a prominent place on the blog so it should (hopefully) be easy for a reader to hunt for something in my older post. Also make sure your readers can leave comments - set it up so that you get an email telling you whenever there is a comment, as sometimes someone will leave a comment or question on a post from a year ago and you want to make sure you see it! (and be sure to respond to those questions/comments).
  • And finally, don't be afraid to ask for help. I find bloggers really come through when you post a technical question. I'll admit that sometimes I don't understand their advice, but there have been times that it really helped.
Don't get discouraged - your blog may sit sits quietly for a while before it takes off, but suddenly it will grow and grow. Good luck!

(This is me doing one of my favorite things on an overcast day on the Maine shore - slogging through tide-pools!)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

My family of sculptors, a vacation story

Let me explain the post title and the 2 sculptures above, starting with the one on the left...

You've read about my grandfather Harry Levine in prior posts here and here and here. Well, for the first time in my lifetime, there's a mini-exhibition offering a sampling of his artwork, at the public library in Wilton, New Hampshire. The bust on display, by Grandpa (pictured above and below) is of my dad, as a young man. It normally resides in the home of my my nephew.

Also above is a little sampling of grandpa's artwork on display, including photos of a violin (or fiddle) he carved, which resides with my other big brother, the most musical of we three siblings.

The display was organized and set up by my big brother Hal, who and most of the work on display came from his home. That's Hal by the library with my son Ben. Thanks, Hal, for setting up the show and also for showing us around your lovely library.

The display was the 2nd link in an artsy few days, the first being the Chihuly exhibit in Boston, and the 3rd being today's beach activity that created the other sculpture pictured at the top of the post and below.

And that's Ben - again - today on Goose Rocks Beach, in Cape Porpoise, near Kennebunkport, Maine. What does a family that consists of an art teacher, an architect, and a slightly offbeat and creative recent college graduate do when on vacation at the ocean? Why, we play in the sand, of course!!

The big debate was what to build. In the past we've done a huge Buddha-like cat, an alligator, a lizard, a dragon, a frog, and a mermaid, so those ideas were out. How about perhaps a unicorn, or giant spider? Not too practical with sand. A turtle? Nah. A castle? Nope. We considered a hippo. But it's already a big animal. How about a giant hamburger? Boring. So an evil demented octopus was the compromise. Two little kids came along and named him "Crazy Hary the Octopus" and wrote his name for us around his moat, in the sand. We added a few silly props found on the beach, took a swim in the chilly but refreshing Atlantic, read a few pages, and had a lovely day.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Chihuly! Chihuly!!

I'm head over heels. In love. With Chihuly.

It's like a party of flowers, and undersea shapes, and vegetables, and sea sponges and coral outcroppings; sort of Alice in Wonderland meets Dr. Seuss with a taste of The Little Shop of Horrors. It feels like a tropical fruit salad, or maybe a party. There's birdlike shapes, and silvery planet-like orbs. And towers and chandeliers and boats filled with the most amazing things.

I spent the day with my husband and son (that's them, and me,below) at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, most of it at the most amazing art exhibit we've EVER seen - Chihuly "Through the Looking Glass".

I've included these photos with us in them, mostly for a sense of scale. The stuff is SO much bigger than you'd think from photos. And the color is richer, and more luminous. Hard to describe. Just amazingly amazing!

This photo is from the "Persian Ceiling". I just can't post all the pics, but imagine looking up at a ceiling overhead, filled with richly colored glass in every shape imaginable, illuminated from above, that looks like sea shells, and oh there was an octopus, and then we found this angel, and all the amazing shapes, and the spectacular colors...

I'll admit to be
ing late to jump on the Chihuly bandwagon. The truth is, you've just got to see this stuff for real. Photos will never do the work justice. But we tried, shooting hundreds of photos between my son and me.

Tomorrow is the last day of the show, so I was lucky we were able to time our visit to Boston (we are here to scoop up my son and take him with us to Maine) and see this amazing show. The museum was packed; so many people waiting to see this spectacular exhibit! As a matter of fact, it was supposed to end today, but they extended it due to the huge crowds. People really DO care about seeing art!

I wanted to bring home an exhibit book for school, but they were
a pricey $50 and anyhow were sold out, but lo and behold there was ONE just sitting there, with a binding that needs re-gluing, for HALF PRICE. Lucky me! I can glue it myself!

Definitely expect Chihuly lessons sometime later this school year. Maybe in the middle of cold snowy monochromatic wintertime?