Sunday, September 30, 2018


 After months of no rain,
everyone in Southern California is hoping for our first big shower.
The clouds started coming in early tonight
looking like flying saucers.
Everyone in the parking lot at Ralphs was taking pictures of them.
And then off in the distance we saw this crazy formation below.
Apparently there is a hurricane coming up from Mexico that is suppose to dump some rain on us.
Bring it on!!
We are ready for some water!

Friday, September 28, 2018

Thursday, September 27, 2018


watercolor brushes, paper, & pigments
fine felt tip markers

we've come to the end of seeing the artwork from the 2nd Quarter 7th graders from last school year.
These were their Final
and there were so many exceptional ones in the bunch.
This assignment requires 3 class periods to complete.
One day to lay and flick the watercolor down in a Color Scheme they can name,
and 2 hours during Final testing to outline their found creatures,
then Zentangle them in.
These are each so very unique and whimsical.

Audrey Cho

Kameryn Mitchell

Aaron Park & Kayla Hamakawa

Akarsh Suresh

Bianca Contreras & Matthew Bautista

Krystal Lin

Koa De Leon & Rachel Song

Tuesday, September 25, 2018


junk mail, gesso, watercolor, marking pens, charcoal

This is such a great assignment;
part bookmaking, part written story, part illustration and part interactive.
It requires huge critical thinking on the part of each student,
and is fairly difficult to finish on time.
It is their First Quarter Final and a bit of a challenge.
This year I'm only featuring one finished book.
It was done by former senior Sarah Oh.
She writes about a true story in her life,
a big life lesson for her and her younger brother.
And it's sad, poignant & funny all at once.
It's brilliant!
Take a gander.
And please enlarge to be able to read the text.

To build these books we start with recycled junk mail that I save all year long.
I ask the kids to pick out their favorite pieces visually and try to organize them within a color scheme.
I also have them pick out a couple of envelops.
They gesso lightly over all these pieces of junk (both sides)
so that you can just see thru to the visual/text underneath.
When the gesso is dry then they pick a color scheme 
and watercolor those colors over both sides of junk mail.
This whole time they are thinking and about and writing out a story to tell based on a theme.
I really enjoyed this glimpse into Sarah's childhood and her traumatic event with her turtle,
and the lesson learned.
Because this book is interactive where one page must flow into the next
 from top to bottom and side to side,
the kids must pick where to begin their drawing.
Most start with the front cover then work their way inside.
They use a marker for this.
Then they go back into each page's drawing and paint in additional gesso
to make part of each drawing pop.
I also ask them to bring some Zentangling into the drawings,
as well as a bit of charcoal for value and shading.
It's a heck of a lot of work, 
but usually the kids rise to it.
But there is always usually one child who doesn't quite finish on time.
Yet it's a valuable learning experience on so many levels.
As you can see in Sarah's book,
she is a gifted storyteller as well as illustrator.
I was laughing out loud reading her book for the first time.
We've reached the end.
Thank you Sarah for sharing your story with us!

Saturday, September 22, 2018


oil pastels on black paper

This pastel took my breath away when it was done in the 7th grade class.
I loved everything about it from the diagonal horizon to the textural foreground.
And for me what made it so very sensory was how Koa used her colors
in the sphere then repeated them in the background.
Really sophisticated for one so young!

Friday, September 21, 2018


clay, glazes, oxides, glass shards

Before I have my students build a full on 3-d Coil Pot,
I have them first learn to roll coils and try them in an Inlay assignment.
Inlay is a beautiful way to bring Surface Design into the lid of a Slab or Lump Box.
I've even had kids build it into a side wall for gorgeous results.
To Inlay means to cut away and replace.

So what senior Augustine Lee did above in his sweet home was to roll out a slab of clay,
cut away his outside design format (his house shape),
then to decide where to bring in his inlay design.
He chose two separate places,
the roof attic and the lower floor.
He cut and pierced out those two spots, 
removed the clay,
and replaced with coils,
 a slab carved out shape to later fill with glass shards in the second firing,
 and rolled balls.
He also did a really nice finish with his oxides and glazes.

The kids were also required to incorporate a repetitive stamped design into the outside border area.
You can really see above right where senior Christian Balbido carved away parts of his middle triangle so that he was able to melt glass shards into it at a later date. 
Senior Shreya Gupta (above left) asked if she could draw in her repetitive design 
instead of stamping it.
Of course.
I like to be flexible with new ideas for old requirements.
That's how and why I keep changing up assignments to keep them fresh.
Thank you Shreya!

Superstar last and this year,
junior now senior,
Dustine Ansiboy,
 created one of the most intricate and exciting designs in the class.
I also really liked how junior Liam Abalos
 finished off his piece with black glaze and milky blue glass with the little white dots in the border.
Really striking.

Another favorite was this one by senior Ashley Scott.
I admired her sense of design all year with many of her works being my favorites.
Check out the cool and various stamps she used in her borders,
and how she thought to repeat some of them inside her Inlay.
That creates Visual Flow.
 The way she finished it with the staining of the various Oxides is also quite appealing.
And the melted glass for her windows,

Wednesday, September 19, 2018


watercolors, brushes & felt tip markers

So in my day we called it doodling.
We did it while we talked to our friends on the telephone with the cord wrapped around us, 
trying to get as far away from our parents as the cord would reach.
We did it all over our "Peachies" (note folders),
and I especially did it in all my boring classes 
along the edge of my notes in English, Math & Science.
These days it's been elevated into an art form and I see it everywhere I shop.
Books & magazines in the grocery stores, 
 coloring books for adults at the book & crafts stores,
and of course how-to books as well.
It's fun for the kids and teaches them so much about design, patterning & texture.
I like to throw in watercolor as well to give it a beautiful backdrop.
And the kids love the watercolor lesson.

We start with Kayla Vicencio.
I really like how she threw in text with the floral designs and paisleys.

These two were done by Zoe Hoksbergen & Ashlyn Wong.
Both girls used a warm Analogous color scheme.
They put in so much time and effort to craft them and draw in all the lines.
Then more time to fill in some of the shapes as well.
Fabulous work Zoe & Ashlyn!

Some of them are really subtle like Krystal Lin's above,
while others are bold and powerful like Matthew Bautistas.

Loved the color schemes that both Faith Osaji & Daniel Yorba picked (Primary).
Yet each looks so very different.
Both equally as wonderful and powerful.

We end with Salome Agbaroji.
She designed so much movement into her piece.
I almost feel that those spirals are dancing and leaping for joy under a warm Caribbean sun.

Fantastic job all of you.
I'm so proud to show you off to the whirled.

Monday, September 17, 2018


scrap fabrics, lace & doilies in new & vintage in cotton, linen & silk,
copper pipes & twigs,
lots of string, big pots to steam in, perle cottons & embroidery needles

It all started here with the student's tied up bundles filled with eco-dying materials 
such as leaves, flowers, twigs, spices, fruits, and vegetables.
Probably a couple of bugs too.  :)

We had 6 different pots going to simmer their bundles in;
blueberries, turquoise & purple Rit, clear water, eucalyptus & mulberry leaves.
The results when the kids opened them up were stunning!!
Each child made 2 bundles for contrasting fabrics.
Here are the bundles drying out for a week before opening
(it's so hard to wait)

Before they began designing and constructing their banners,
they each chose two pieces of cloth from their bundles that they didn't like.
We placed these pieces in the center of the table
 then went around taking turns picking pieces we did like.
 The seniors got to pick first and the poor little 8th graders were last.
We went around the table twice
 so that everyone got two new pieces to incorporate into their banners.
We were looking for fabrics that had some contrast from their original bundles.
I so enjoyed watching the kids trying to be patient and wait for their turn 
and then the really hard part,
making a decision.
Seniors Lauren Gammage, Hana Kim  and Ricky Gallardo especially had a good time with this.
I loved the expressions on their faces,
the pleasure they were getting out of this process.

So without further ado,
let's see these banners.
We start off with this breathtaking piece by junior Sahana Ramesh .  
Incredible design and such lovely colors she was able to extract
 by the goodies she brought in to dye with.
(I provide a lot of dried windfall that I collect for the kids
 and they bring in fresh dyestuffs from home as well)
Of course the butterfly she constructed was amazing.
Below are some close-ups.
Note her Polymer bead for the butterfly's body.
Love the crisscrossed and woven strips below with tiny French Knots.

Here is senior Hana's cat she designed.
I loved it so much I bought it at Open House to teach with.
I thought it was very clever,
and can move this project in possibly a whole new realm,
doing recognizable subject matter.

And check out all the embroidery stitches and cool details 
that junior Kiana Hernandez has incorporated,
and how she even used the twine she wrapped her bundles with as braids down the sides.

This next one really appealed to my sense of order and balance.
Junior Angelica Luza used the design rules (Elements & Principles of Art) learned in the 2-D class 
and brought them into her design here.
The diagonals leading our eye to the focal point,
strong contrast between values but in a subtle way.
And even thought she didn't get a chance to finish all her embroidery stitches, 
it still demanded our attention.
One of these days you must finish this Angelica so I can get one more pix of it.

This one was another beauty that I purchased at Open House 
and hangs in my studio up at the cabin.
And everytime I look at it,
it makes me happy.
It was created by 8th grader Bhumika.
The vintage laces and embroideries are so lovely and add tons of visual interest.
And I always love buttons in a piece like this.
The symmetrical design feels so good to my eye, 
along with the feathers and the frayed edges.
Bravo Bhumika!
There is just so much here to enjoy and appreciate.

I feel so badly that I can't remember who made this exciting work.
I will ask the kids tomorrow at school to help me identify it.
It's such an interesting  composition, part symmetry, 
part asymmetry which is really hard to pull off.
And love the John Muir quote below it contains.
The paper was even eco-dyed.

And isn't this a pretty one?
Those lace doilies really look terrific in these pieces.
Here is another I'm not sure who made it,
but I'm guessing 8th grader Annie Nyugen.
Check out the great colors Annie has pulled together,
as well as the wonderful focal point.
Also note the many layers of fabrics she has stacked and sewn together.

I promise this is the last one I need help remembering who made it.
So help!!
But don't you just adore the pocket full of dried flowers?
And the bow with the shell under it?
So very lovely!
A close-up below.

This incredible work belongs to senior Ricky Gallardo.
I believe it was the longest banner in the class,
and Ricky put his heart and soul into it.
He designed it into 3 parts.
There are so many fabulous details from the tiny pinecones he couched on 
to the tic-tac-toe grid, 
and the loose flowing strips on each side bottom.
Of course the words and colors pull it all together.

And this one stopped me in my tracks by senior Sophie Yang.
It was my very favorite and I almost bought it at Open House,
but another teacher scooped it up before me.
The close-up says it all.
Tons of effort going into the embroidery, 
the embellishments,
the couching of the bounding string,
but it's the woven strips that really pull me in with  the X's and O's.

I also really like the greyish turquoises and reds together,
 the braiding,
and that sweet window above with the flowers in it.
This is an outstanding piece Sophie,
and I'm so very proud to show it off.

Thank you all for putting so much effort into these banners.
And a very special thank you to Australian artist India Flint
who introduced me to Eco-Dyeing,
to her many books on the subject,
and now to her on-line workshops where I continue to learn so much.

Sunday, September 16, 2018


I have often admired and collected other Ceramic artist's workss.
Last school year while visiting my son and his fiance',
they took me to a very special Native Plants garden in Sun Valley, 
where in their gift shop I found the most delicate nature inspired Porcelain plates.
Immediately I thought my students could make these.
Of course I had to buy one for myself  :)
They became a very popular new assignment for my Ceramics I students.
First I had them collect small dried leaves, twigs, bugs and flowers
 and press them into the bottom of clay stamps we made.
We weren't able to pull them out of the clay before I fired them 
because as the clay dried it shrink around them,
so I loaded the stamps into the kiln
 and the nature parts burnt away as the stamps went up to 1800 degrees,
bisque temperature.

In fact,
they were so much fun that I made a few myself for Xmas gifts for the staff in the office.
The largest one abovewas probably only 3" by 3".
The longest next to it 5" by 2".
A close up below.
I cranked these out one afternoon after school,
and needed about 20ish to account for breakage and chipping.
Plus I wanted to keep one for myself  (above right).
One of my custodians walked into my room when I was making them 
and put dibs on the center elongated one in the top photo.

The smallest,
 after shrinkage were these two end pieces above,
about 1 1/2" by 1 1/2".
I had so much fun working in the Porcelain,
 especially so small and with such thin slabs.
After they were bisqued fired I had the help of one of my talented T.A.'s last year,
Lynette Lee,
 who applied most of the ceramic watercolors in the center areas.
Then they were dipped into our Transparent glaze and fired to 2150 degrees.

Soon I will post the gorgeous pieces the students made,