Wednesday, January 30, 2019


clay, natural & manmade fibers, wood, wire, & sawdust firing

Last years senior,
 Rachel Kannampuzha,
outdid herself with these two exquisite vase forms. 
I so wish I had photographed them next to something like a coffee mug,
so you could appreciate how tiny and delicate they were.
The first one is probably only 3 1/2 " inches high by 3" wide at its top rim.
The second one is even more petite,
about 3" by 2".  
I couldn't figure out which one I loved more.
Her craftsmanship in both was impeccable,
and I felt they belonged in a gallery setting.

Her requirements were to build a small pinch pot out of clay,
and to pierce holes for attaching fiber, wood spokes, twigs or wire at a later date
for a mixed media work.
I directed Rachel to my Pinterest board on Ceramics 
where I've saved many examples of this construction technique.
Before she began she made several sketches of her design ideas 
so she would know where to pierce her holes.
Next we sawdust fired both and then she went to town embellishing them.
In this sweet one above she used many different materials to decorate with;
waxed linen, wood spokes, thin leather cording, and pine needle weavers.
Brilliant Rachel!!

When she turned these two pieces in to be graded,
I made such a fuss over how lovely they were,
that on her last day of her senior year,
she walked into my classroom and gifted me with the piece above.

I almost fell over!
 I was so thrilled to be given such an incredible work of love and beauty.
Thank you Rachel,
it is on permanent display in my studio home on the fireplace mantel where
I can see it everyday and remember you,
and the beauty and innate talent you brought into my classroom.
I miss you and look forward to catching up one of these days.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019


Trying out my new glasses so I can see my newest 7th graders better with.
Welcome aboard young ones for the ride of your life.
I'm going to take you were no teacher has ever taken you before.
To my 2nd Quarter 7th graders,
it was hard giving you guys up.  
It only took me 8 weeks to get you in my clutches,
to get you right where I wanted you,
but alas,
I must bid you farewell.
But I hope to have instilled the Visual Arts within your hearts, minds and hands
so you can carry it with you
with fond memories for the rest of your life.
I will miss you greatly,
you were all so very sweet and dear.
And don't forget to return on the nite of Open House to show off your art to your parentals.
Love, peace and happiness to you all.

Monday, January 28, 2019


for all the lovely cards and gifts from my students and their parents
during this Holiday season.
Senior Sally Tan sure knows what I like,
a cool handmade wood box full of Xmas blooming narcissus.
They brought so much beauty and joy into our home.
A big thank you Sally to you and your family for this much enjoyed gift.


glass, mirror & pottery shards, misc. beads & buttons, wood frames, colored sanded grout
& paper collage accents

I think one of the favorite assignments of the year for my 3-D kiddos
are making these Mosaic Frames.
They learn how to cut glass and grout, 
both of which are super fun,
and extremely satisfying.

I thought junior Kiana Hernandez made one of the most beautiful designs
using a combination of paper collage text with clear glass over top,
and milky glass & pottery shards.
Her soft color scheme and floral design was gorgeous.

Next up were two 8th graders,
 Kira Curry & Heer Patel,
both choosing floral designs.
I really liked how Kira limited her color palette to a monochromatic one
using mirror and black glass shards to compliment her pink glass.
Heer picked a primary scheme to work within and also choose to include
dimensional round glass used in brandy snifter decor.
Those are really difficult to grout around and I warn the kids ahead of time,
but Heer made it work beautifully.

Here is a close-up of 8th grader Bhumika Kalaimalai's.
She is a very talented designer and has been featured several times this and last year as well.
She found broken sea shells and combined them with glass & mirror.

Two of my favorites were these by senior Sophie Yang and 8th grader Sophia Oporto.
Sophie (left) had the most difficult frame to grout.
I believe it took her all day long and she had to get permission from all her teachers 
so she could miss their classes and finish her grouting.
It's really critical to finish the grouting at one time.
The reason it took so long was because she used a huge variety of dimensional
pieces in her frame.
In other of words if all the pieces are on the same plane,
it's easy to grout,
but if your pieces are all kinds of different heights,
man oh man it's challenging.
As you can see below she had a button that was really flat next to a huge tile piece
 that was really high (bottom right).

Sophia had a similar problem.
I'm think hers took her about 2 1/2 hours to grout.
She created handmade polymer pieces to incorporate into her design.
We see piano keys and a violin & it's bow.
And then the music notes and color scheme pull her frame all together.

Here we see frames by junior Dustine Ansiboy & junior Kareema Mohamed.
Dustine found a broken plate that worked fabulously in her format,
and Kareema chose a very difficult design to pull off.
She morphed her yellow/oranges into her pinks and reds
(see my garden sphere that took me a year to pull off here).
Hats off to you Kareema! 

Two more 8th graders made incredible frames as well,
Emma Bertel & Alaa Malabeh.
Emma chose to use various height pieces,
hanging in there to grout it.
I believe it took her at least 3 hours.

What I really enjoyed about Alaa's were the pops of coppery oranges, tans & browns.
Subtle and sophisticated. 

I really enjoy the pieces where the kids incorporate pottery shards.
I think it's because my mother & aunt used to play tea party with me
when I was quite young,
bringing out their beautiful hand-painted tea cups and saucers,
mostly made in England.
To this day I collect stunning plates to use in up-cycled projects
and I love sharing them with my students.
I've found some new beauties for this years kids.
Like this next and last one below.
We end with this brilliant work created by junior Rachel Tibayan.
She has it all going on her,
the paper collage text showing, glass, tiles, pottery shards.
It's just gorgeous Rachel.
And she did it all in a neutral color scheme.

Sunday, January 27, 2019


junk mail, fabric & lace odds & ends, Modge Podge, gesso, acrylic paint, watercolor, sharpie 
and anything else you want to throw in

Senior Samantha Tun bravely jumped in as she undertook this challenging assignment.  
It's a wonderful mixed media Still Life.

She was required to paper collage down junk mail onto the surface of a stretched canvas.
We both decided this piece would look really cool on this elongated one she found.
Why junk mail,
in the original assignment it was supposed to show thru a bit;
some text, some images, and a bit of color.
like the Junk Mail books made in her previous art class the year before.
But Sam was enjoying painting in acrylic from a previous assignment 
and asked if she could change up the assignment a bit by using acrylic instead of watercolor.
I love when the kids ask to try something new so I told her she could if she watered down the acrylic so that the mail images might still show thru along with all the other fabrics & laces she collaged down first.
But we both discovered that that didn't happen.
But what did show up really well were the fabrics and laces.
They created amazing texture thru the acrylic.
After collating down all the mail and textiles she loosely gessoed with a brayer.
again allowing mail and textiles to show thur
 but also giving her a nice ground to paint over.
I had her set up her own still life and off she went painting over all the textures.
Also since our school diesn't have the funds to frame out the kids paintings on stretched canvas,
I have them bring the paint over the side edges
to make piece look finished off.

Congrats Sam on an outstanding job!

Thursday, January 24, 2019


clay, glazes, & oxides

In the past several years for the whistle unit,
we have done Burnished Non-Objective Whistles,
but last year I decided to bring back Realistic & Abstracted Whistles;
they actually resemble something or are a made up creature.
The kids had a blast and brought in a lot of whimsy.

Making the clay actually whistle is a real challenge,
but last year the kids caught on pretty quickly,
like junior Dustine Ansiboy above.
We all were highly impressed with her realistic heart form
as well as how she glazed it with ceramic watercolors & Transparent glaze.

We were also super delighted by the rest of these whistles you will see.
Like the one above left by senior Christian Balbido.
The addition of the hat and nose brings in a bit of fun.
Senior Renee Kim choose to try a more realistic view of her shark on the right.
You can kind of see where you place your lips to blow on Renee's shark nose.

Senior Ashley Scott made the adorable piggy on the left.
I love that she placed his smile to the right
as this adds so much personality.
And junior Michelle Son went with a made-up creature with a slightly fierce expression.

Lastly we have senior Shreya Gupta, and juniors Lina Kim and Angela Mak.

I was told once by alumni Megan King that making her clay piece whistle 
was a highlight of her Whitney High School days.
Makes me so happy!!   

Wednesday, January 23, 2019


My daughter Danielle and boyfriend Tristan were out to dinner for their first year dating anniversary at The Steak Tavern in Laguna Beach,
and asked waiter if Teemu Selanne,
ex Anaheim Ducks Hockey Player extraordinaire and owner of resturant was in the house.
The waiter who turned out to be Teemo's son 
& sent Teemu over to their table and he delivered their dessert to them personally,
which made Danielle's night!
He took them on a tour of the hidden and private rooms in the restaurant for VIP celebrities,
and even took pix with them.

Dani grew up with a brother who was playing hockey since age 5,
was dragged to all his games and grew to love the sport.
When she grew older her dad would take her to the Ducks games at the stadium in Anaheim,
so she has been watching Teemo play on the ice since she was about 12 years old.
He is her second favorite player,
Andy McDowel being her first. 
What a thrill this was and made the evening even more special for my girl.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019


clay, glazes, oxides, ceramic pencil, & sawdust firing

I remember doing my first nude in my Ceramics I class when I was 16 years old.
Like my students,
my teacher,
Sally Foster Wilde,
gave us a choice between a male or female.
I choose a male and was completely in over my head.
She had us work in a  Reductive technique meaning we had to carve the figure from a block of clay.
That was my first time to do that as well.
The entire assignment was extremely difficult;
I remember my proportions were out of control,
and my craftsmanship was lacking.
And the only nudes I had seen were in art history books,
so those were my references.
But it was good for me to go thru this process.
I learned a lot about myself and my skill level,
as well as having to hang in there and push myself into something out of my comfort zone.
And even though it didn't look as good as some of the others in the class,
I was pretty proud of myself for having finished.

So as you view some of these works,
you may question why I put my students thru the same assignment.
You may also question if this is appropriate for a high school student.
(Most of my students who need nudes in their art portfolios for college 
have to go to outside art academies and pay for live models to work from).
Some of these might make you uncomfortable.
But I want to push these kids as I was pushed
 into a place they probably would never go on their own;
a risk that is too great.
It expands their minds and fine motor skills as well.
It's good for them and it's a part of life
as well as an art form to be studied and enjoyed.
And I save this assignment for my second level kids,
the ones who are going on in the arts and need this for their portfolios for college acceptance.
So are you  ready?
Here we go.

We start with junior Chloe Chang.
She picked the female form.
I asked the kids to work to at least 12 inches high,
most went over that.
I believe Chlo just made it to 12 " high but it ended up probably at least 20" wide.
There were several things I liked that Chloe did to her piece.
I love how she ended it with an organic lip,
and how she finished it off by applying Red Iron Oxide to her hand
 and stamping the form in various places.
You've got a nicely shaped behind as well Chlo.  :)
And do you see a bit of blue from the sawdust firing.
So cool.
That's very unusual.
My assistant and Alumni from 2012,
Alyssa Olea,
has been experimenting with different substances she is putting into these firings.
She is getting  interesting effects from salt, banana peels, cow dung, oxides, 
pine needles, newspaper and hay.

This next one was done by junior Eugene Ho. 
I believe that Eugene was able to get his to at least 18 inches high,
quite a feat.
He chose to do an older, slightly overweight male.
Love how he captured the sagging pectorals and the slight pouch of a belly.
And I felt the markings from the sawdust were gorgeous and striking.
Bravo Eugene. 

And then there was junior Julia Ruiz' piece.
A glorious male upper torso.
We all really loved how she glazed and decorated it. 
I'm pretty sure Julia was surprised at how well it turned out.
We were all so proud of her.

Next up was senior Sarah Oh.
Sara's piece was the smallest but looks larger here than it really was.
I'm guessing it was about 10" wide by 18" high.
All the other students started with much wider bases,
but Sarah started much smaller.
There is so much to love about Sara's female form.
The relaxed pose,
the ceramic pencil surface designs drawn onto either side,
the very realistic breast forms,
and how much of the body she built,
plus the asymmetrical ending at the top.
Just lovely Sara!
And check out the backside.
So fabulous, fluid and real.
You rocked this assignment Sarah.

We end with senior Ylia Madayag and her healthy looking male form.
It was quite an attention grabber at both Open House and Senior Awards Banquet nite,
as you might imagine,
but no one complained or protested.
I personally was holding my breath,
not sure what to expect of our parent community.
I was really proud of their openness, respect and acceptance of their children's work.
What I really liked about Ylia's piece was how it opened up at the top,
how she flared out the lip for such a pleasing ending.
I also thought the sawdust markings were quite lovely as well.
You are a brave young woman Ylia, 
and I'm so proud of you for giving this piece your all,
and not caving to all the teasing you got as you worked it out.

Monday, January 21, 2019


We finally had a small bit of snow that stuck to the ground for a few hours.
It was there when we woke up this morning at the cabin.
So beautiful with the sun shining down on it.

Thursday, January 17, 2019


A huge bonus about being a blogger are the dear friends you make online.
I have made several who support my students & I, 
one in particular,
Liz Ackert from "I'm Going to Texas" blog fame,
who never misses a morning with her coffee checking out what's new on my blog.
She takes time out of her day to write the most thoughtful & beautiful comments
 for each child that is featured that day.
And in turn,
I have several students who also check the blog everyday 
to see if they've been featured and if Liz has sent them a comment.
It makes my heart so happy for them.
I am so very thankful for her daily support that I wanted to send her a special handmade gift.
This was my Pinch Pot demo. from this year for my Ceramics I class
and I managed to get it glazed in time before Winter break.
What I didn't manage to do was to get it in the mail before Xmas. 
But I was thrilled to see yesterday that she had received it and featured the pot on her blog.
I'm so glad you like it Liz,
I was really pleased with how the glazing turned out.
It showcased all the surface decoration I demoed for the kiddos;
pinching, paddling, stamping & applied decoration
plus scoring on a foot and handle.
For the glaze,
 I first stained the piece along the top 1/4 of the pot with Rutile oxide,
staining the other 3/4 with Cobalt Carbonate.
Then I dipped entire piece into our new Transparent Blue-Green glaze.
I hope you enjoy your coffee in your new mug Liz.
And Happy New Year.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019


for being given one more student helper to get me thru my day here at Whitney.
Back in the day I used to have one T.A. per period, but the last couple of years I've only been allowed 1 per day.
It makes it really difficult to prep for and check in and out supplies for nine different art classes a day.
So when my new Principal asked if there was anything he could help me with I said "Oh yeah?
Gee, could I possibly have one more T. A.?"
He said"I'll see what I can do."
And then the next day in walks senior Madison Greenwald,
a young woman I've taught since the 7th grade,
 incredibly smart, organized, sweet and responsible.
Oh Yeah!!!

So I wish I had a before pix to show you,
 but in 2 class periods my new student helper,
took my mess of a yarn storage area and tuned it into this.
A work of art!

Now the kids don't want to touch it for fear they will ruin it.
So they are being so careful to put yarns away in the correct cubby holder.
Thank you Madison.

And btw,
Maddy's mother is an ex art student of mine from the mid 1980's,
Alice Choi.
When I first saw Alice at Back to School nite in Sept.
she said you probably don't remember me.
She looked familiar so I asked "Should I?"
She told me her name and it all clicked in place.
OMG, yes!
Alice is now a Law Professor at Cal State University at Long Beach,
and I couldn't be more proud of her.
It's funny how I can remember Alice but not what I had for lunch yesterday.
Boggles my mind.

Sunday, January 13, 2019


aluminum foil, cardboard, newspaper strips, starch, paper collage, wire

These wonderful birds were made last school year by my 3-D beginners,
and man oh man,
 did they have fun building up the foundations with the aluminum foil.
That was the first step.
Then 2 layers of paper mache' strips were put over the foil,
creating a very strong surface.
Wings were added with cardboard,
and legs with wire and nails.
All the students brought in a color resource to work from,
but they were allowed to distort or exaggerate to give the birds more whimsey if desired.
But I have to say that not many of the students took advantage of that option.
Let me show them to you.

We start with 8th grader Annie Nguyen's adorable piece.  
We all loved it's quizzical expressive quality as well as how she mounted it.
It was Annie who thought to use nails for it's legs,
and the pinecones for embellishment that she found outside the art room door.
I was most impressed with her paper collage work to achieve the color and texture she wanted. 

 Junior Dustine Ansibly really nailed this incredibly realistic toucan
and it feels as if it is giving us the business.
I also liked the way it looks so naturally perched on the piece of wood she found.

Senior Hana Kim was able to capture the sweet gentleness of her bird. 
Her paper collage was applied so very delicately with just the right amount of color
on her white body..

And senior Inna Sikar was able to pull off a highly realistic form
and then used primer and paint to finish it off so expertly.

I really enjoyed how senior Ricky Gallardo finished off his sculpture 
with select pieces of Asian newspaper over his primer for a very graphic style.

And junior Sahana Ramesh came into this class with years of painting experience
outside of school,
and impressed us all with her skills in both the building of the form and the finishing.

And don't you just love this little guy by 8th grader Shivani  Kedila?
Especially the eyes and legs.
And he has so much personality.
I just want to adopt him.
I'm hoping that this year the kids will name their pieces.

This beauty was made by 8th grader Sophia Oporto.
The form is outstanding as is the paper collage finish and the legs.
Way to go Sophia!

Here is another personal favorite by senior Sophia Yang.
I love how dimensional the body is, 
how she added the wings and the tuft on top of the head,
The paper collage is also remarkable.

But it was this last one by junior Angelica Luza that completely captured all our attention
when she unveiled it.
we were all cracking up because it was so very realistic looking
and because of the way she posed it.
I believe she used textural paper towels for the paper collage
then she stained it brown.
And displaying it on the plate was a brilliant idea.

Can't wait to see what this years group will come up with!