Wednesday, June 13, 2018


my dear faculty and staff until late August.
I kind of thought this was going to be my last year,
but it didn't work out that way.
I've completely fallen in love with the Junior Class who will be seniors next year,
and I want to stay to teach them about art and life.

We are loosing many of the great ones this year at Whitney.
Contracts weren't renewed, 
transfers were asked for or made, and others are retiring.
It's been quite a roller-coaster around here.

And I've been so busy with Finals, cleaning out my classroom and grading
that I've been neglecting my blog.
So hopefully I will be back real soon to finish up the 2017-2018 school year.
See ya soon.

Thursday, June 7, 2018



I have had the good fortune to teach with the most incredibly talented Drama teacher 
here at Whitney High,
Jodi Improta.
She came to Whitney in the mid 1980's,
 and like me,
 has been a fixture ever since.
She also heads up our ASB students.
I have also been blessed to have seen her two children born and practically raised here on campus,
Aric (29) and Ariel (27).
Ariel took at last 2 of my art classes here at Whitney and continues to be one of my favorites.
 Her degree is in Fashion Merchandising,
and she is also a dance choreographer and Zumba instructor.
She is hoping to one day be a teacher like her mom. 

But it's her son Aric (29) that I want to showcase today.
He has been playing the drums since he was a little kid,
and is currently drumming for 3 different bands,
and tours around the world with one called Night Verses.
He is a celebrated drummer in his field,
practicing his craft for at least 6-9 hours a day.
You can find several of his video performances on FB.

But for me it's always been his drawings that have pulled me in.
About 10 years ago his mom gave me a copy of one of his sketchbooks 
to teach my students with during my Zentangle Unit,
and I was blown away with his designs.
Since then he has started drawing these designs on his drum heads
 and manufacturers in the music industry have taken notice.
Now he works for two of them putting his designs on not only drum heads but on cymbals as well.

Aric’s drum-set with his original designs on the cymbals and the drum heads

His drum set up at his last performance.

We are all so very proud of him here at Whitney and I wanted to share his artistic vision
that has become a reality.
Congrats Aric!! 

Wednesday, June 6, 2018


oil pastels on black construction paper

It always flabbergasts me the level of sophistication that the 7th graders bring to my class.
Like in this oil pastel preliminary by Alia Cortez.
Just breathtaking!

And in this one as well by Emily Ahn.
She is using the pastels in 3 different ways all in one piece for a beautiful composition.

And check out the brilliant use of color and value in this one by Alanna Chan.

Shaniya Gentry went for a bit of extra credit
by using a pencil lead over the oil pastel to add a whole other layer of movement, texture and pattern.

Sunday, June 3, 2018


says Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams.
I say,
"If you are patient,
it will bloom".
I have patiently waited for this Bearded Iris to bloom for 5 years now.
What's funny is I had completely forgotten what color it was supposed to be.
I bought a small piece of this one at a garden fair years ago.
It has multiplied into 4 other pieces,
one a year until finally the original one bloomed this week.

Friday, June 1, 2018


Junior Kiana Sanchez and 8th grader Madison Plotkin recently teamed up 
to write and illustrate a children's book together. 
I feel this post would be more meaningful in their own words,
so I'm letting them write it together.

I, Kiana, had chosen the idea to publish my research on Adolescent Athletes Self Confidence, because playing sports, for me, has been such a roller-coaster of emotions with my self esteem. Once I was published in a Scholarly Journal, I knew I wanted to spread this message, so that teenagers and their parents can learn how to work together to ensure healthy mindsets. To further the understanding of it, I decided to create a children's book. I knew right away that Madison, a super eager artist in my class, would be the one to do the illustrations. Because I know how beautiful her work is, I wanted to give her lots of freedom with this project! Her kind spirit and talent had made me all the more excited for this project. 

I, Madison, had so much fun doing the illustrations for this children's book!  I felt so honored when Kiana asked me to do them, it was a dream come true!  The wonderful and captivating story that she wrote included a lot of action between the characters, with it centralizing around basketball, so I really wanted to capture the movement in each illustration.  With each character being so unique, coming from a different background and culture, I wanted to give each character their own individual page that was vibrant and matched their personalities.  This overall has been such a great experience and I truly appreciate Kiana for asking me to work with her!!!

Madison here!  I think that this one is the illustration that I most enjoyed doing.  I loved how Kiana gave each character a little background information that gives you a sneak peak into their life.  With this one, one of the characters, Sharon, has a really tight bond with her grandmother, Nai Nai Kim.  I pictured that the two would have a lot of fun baking together so I decided for them to be doing just that for this particular illustration.  I also wanted each character to have a pet that you could see interact and have their own little adventure throughout the book.  I thought a guinea pig would be quite fitting for Sharon.   

I, Kiana, am a basketball player for my school's varsity team, so I knew that it was the main sport I wanted to cover in this book. I think Madison perfectly showed the movement of the player as she is dribbling to the hoop to score. Not to mention, the annoyed face on the character under the basketball hoop is exactly how I imagined it. Her illustrations all include so much color and really make the scene lively. I also enjoy all the small details she adds to every piece. This one will be my favorite illustration from the book!

I'm so thrilled to be able to share this remarkable book with it's illustrations.
I can't wait to see it in it's finished form, 
and hope to get it autographed by it's creators.
Know Kiana and Madison that I'm so proud of the both of you,
and thank you for sharing and giving ll of us a preview.
Junior Kiana & 8th grader Madison