Monday, September 10, 2012

White Paper Sculpture

For a bit of a change, we started our 3-D Design Class with paper sculpture, drawing on the works of  Canadian paper artist Calvin Nicholls and Japanese American paper artist, Jeff Nishinaka.  The students were quite impressed and went to work.  They were instructed on exacto knife safety and some scoring and folding techniques, but they were free to use any method of constructing or deconstructing the paper to form their sculpture.  We used white tagboard and white glue.  On some the the more heavily folded structures we needed to use heavier glues such as wood glue and hot glue.  

This was an inherited class and prior to this year, the class was called "Ceramics".  The students were instructed in various clay construction methods and were required to complete 13 projects.  The previous teacher prided himself in developing a self-running class.  After a few years of teaching to this curriculum, I noticed that after about project number five, the quality started to diminish.  I suggested that we change the name to 3-D Design, Sculpture and Ceramics, hoping to introduce other media and techniques to the students.  

I am quite pleased with this first project!  Some of the students certainly went above and beyond.  They were supposed to observe an actual flower or animal  for this study.  Some did.  Others did not.  The posted results were among the better ones.  I thought I also uploaded a cool toucan, but I think he flew away.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

PDD Banyan Trees

A great resources for Art Teachers is the Pinterest Sight!  As a high school teacher who is constantly searching for new and exciting ideas, I find Pinterest amazing.

Two years ago, I took on the task of teaching two special needs classes.  One class of students have multiple handicaps, are wheelchair bound, and cannot speak.

The PDD class is for students with a Pervasive Developmental Disability.  Most are considered somewhere on the Autistic Spectrum.

As a high school teacher, most of my lessons involve things like perspsective, value, line, sculpture, composition, art history and the like.  To find material for these classes, I frequently look for elementary lessons.   I found this lesson on Pinterest from the website of  I thought it was a wonderful exercise in negative space.  I taught the students how to draw the tree trunk and add branches in pencil.  Then they were to color the negative space behind the tree in very bright colors.
It was a difficult concept for many of these PDD students not to color in the trunk.  Some did outline around the trunk.  I would have preferred that they not outline but I think they still look wonderful!  Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


This post should signify a new beginning for negativespace.   The thought occurred to me to start a new blog with a focus on the teaching of art.  

I decided to visit the old blogspot today to do that very thing.  I could not readily locate the old dashboard so I clicked on "Design".  My world instantly changed.  I changed my template to this nifty "flipcard".  Now all you have to do is click on the picture and you'll find any one of my fascinating old posts!  How cool is that?

I've decided not to start a new blog.  I will just "change direction" a bit.  So here it goes...

I do want to write about my day time job.  Yes.  For anyone who is new to the blog, I am a secondary public school art teacher.  As a secondary, public school art teacher I have much to post about.  There are lessons that I want to share with other teachers.  There are my thoughts concerning teaching and curriculum that I would love to discuss.  It might come as a surprise to some of you that public education is a very politically charged issue in this country at the moment.   I have a lot of thoughts on that.  I want to share some of the wonderful work that my students are creating.  I shared one at the end of last school year.  I will be sharing more. 

For the record, my schedule this year includes the following classes:

Art One - A year long class with a focus on basic observational drawing skills.  The foundation class of our Fine Art program for students who are seriously considering a career in art.

Cultural Art One - A semester long class for the student who is not seriously considering a career in art but is trying to fulfill the Arts/Humanities requirement.  I designed the curriculum with lessons that explore folk art from people of  many diverse cultures.   I am hoping to help the students build tolerance and appreciation for different cultures through the making of art.

Cultural Art Two - A semester long class which resembles an Art History class.  We start with Cave Art and work our way up to the Early Renaissance.  The students create a number of projects in addition to learning quite a bit about Art History. 

Three Dimensional Design, Sculpture and Ceramics -  I changed the name of our Ceramics class to make this class more interesting.  This year we started with paper low relief sculpture.

Fine Art Digital Photography I & 2.  I used to teach Black and White film photography.  Without a darkroom, I am now teaching digital.  

PDD Class (Autistic Spectrum Students) and MDS (Students with Multiple Disabilities)

I have a lot of things to say about all of these classes and I'd appreciate any and all feedback.  I do still plan to post some of my own art as well as random rants and commentary.  I do hope that having a bit more focus will help me get back to blogging a bit more. 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

So Proud of my Frugal Child

I am so proud of my frugal child.  She will be a high school senior next year and may actually entertain the idea of going to the "prom".  My eldest did not attend any of these "formal" dances...prom or homecoming.  My youngest has resisted so far.  However, this upcoming year will be her senior year and she is hoping to make the most of it.   She already decided to use her "Distinguished Young Women" dress for homecoming.

Today she wanted to venture out to the formal ware store which will be closing next Saturday, hoping for a bargain for prom.  The senior prom will be held at the Baltimore Aquarium.  Dates are not important.

Delaney found a $350.00 dress that looked absolutely stunning on her.  I commented that it was pricey.  The store was offering a 50% discount due to the impending liquidation.  This would drop the price to  around $175.00....still a bit much.   Daughter suggested "haggling".   "Do you think we can haggle for a lower price?"

I don't know, but you could try.

Daughter offered  $100.00.  Sales Lady says...."I'll have to ask the manager, but that's a long shot."  She comes back and says  " You caught the manager in a good mood."  Delaney gets $350.00 dress for $100.00.

I could not be happier.  My daughter is not only smart and gorgeous, frugal and moneysmart, but she is not afraid to haggle.

I did not do anything!  Wow!

Of course she has to find a date or  a bunch of friends to go to the prom.  But we have until May of 2013.  My redhead daughter is absolutely gorgeous but perhaps intimidating to most of the boys around here.
Yes I am biased.  Have you seen her pictures?

Monday, July 2, 2012

What's Wrong with these Kids Today?

On a recent visit from my California dwelling brother, he commented..."What's wrong with kids today?  They don't do drugs, they don't drink and they are serious about their education?"

It is so true.  Compared to our generation, most teenagers I know abstain from the mindwrecking substances with which we liked to flirt. (I'm not admitting to anything here).

My youngest is looking at colleges.  We purchased the Princeton's Reviews Guide to the 376 Best Colleges complete with stats on academic ratings, green ratings, food service ratings and student comments on the typical "Vaseline" University student.   Schools are rated using some criteria that are not found in other guides.   Some of the top twenty lists are things such as GREAT SCHOOLS FOR ENGINEERING MAJORS.  Other categories include Dorms Like Dungeons, Dorms Like Palaces, Most Liberal, Most Politically Active, Lots of Beer, Reefer Madness, Don't Inhale,  Party Schools, Jock Schools, LGBT Friendly, Birkenstock-Wearing, Tree Hugging, Clove-Smoking Vegetarians.  

Not to brag two much, but my youngest daughter is an excellent student, ranked second in her class.  I told her she can apply to some "Name Brand" schools and we will send her if she can get some major merit scholarships.

The first criteria was GREAT SCHOOLS FOR BIOLOGY STUDENTS.  She wants to major in bio, perhaps pre-med.

The first thing she crossed off her list were any colleges mentioning beer drinking, hard liquor, party schools, etc. in the description.  The second cross-off category are Greek life or Athletics dominates social scene, lots of Abercrombie and Fitch, and female students wear Ugg Boots and pearls.  (I can't imagine).

She seems to be gravitating toward schools with the Birkenstock-Wearing, LGBT Friendly, Culturally  Diverse students, Liberal, Students are not very religious  type descriptions.  Green Ratings are important and so are dorms like palaces(?)

If they had a book like this in my day I would probably have checked off Lots of beer, Reefer Madness, Party Schools.... 

Not that I'm admitting to anything.  As my brother commented, "What is wrong with kids these days?"  As a mother, I say absolutely nothing.  I'm not sure about the dorms like palaces thing, but most of the ones we've seen were more like hospital rooms (space wise) minus the equipment and private bath.

This same child is currently enjoying her Youth Music Abroad Tour; a whirlwind tour of Italy, Switzerland, Germany and France.  Needless to say.  I am very proud of her.  I also recommend this particularcollege guide to anyone.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Death Interrupts Morning Walk

I frequently feel motivated on summer mornings to move the old body and burn a few calories.  During summer break I have the luxury of sleeping past five.  I find that 7:30 is generally a good wake up time.  If I'm sufficiently organized I can get my morning exercise taken care of before the Mid-Atlantic humidity makes it impossible to move. 

Fiona, my border collie mix, is better than any personal trainer.  She follows me with her body and her eyes, to make sure I've selected the sneakers and socks.   She will not let me out of her sight until I have donned the baseball cap, sprayed insecticide and started in the general direction of Sam's lane.

Our walk is pretty routine.  Sam's lane is one quarter of a mile in length, wooded and private.   Sam, a retired U.S. Army drill instructor, who served three tours in Vietnam lives at the end of the lane in an old farm house.  Sam bought the "farm" about twenty five years ago and planned extensive and ambitious renovations. Unfortunately, heart disease, diabetes and strange maladies from his Vietnam tours have stolen his health and prevented Sam from "finishing" anything.  He does not walk very well but can climb onto his backhoe.  It seems that Sam's greatest joy is to dig holes.  He has an extensive pond system complete with waterfalls behind his barn. 

Normally, I try to walk up and down the lane with the dogs unleased about four to five times.   This enables the dogs to run about chasing things in the woods.  Some days I allow them to swim in Sam's ponds.  Some days we walk though the trails in the woods.  Black raspberries are in season now.  I found a new patch.  Sometimes I bring along a container to share with the rest of the family.

Today the walk was interrupted by death.   Living in the woods is what it is.  We have creatures.  Creatures fight, creatures die.  I am not quite sure which type of creature crept it's last but I spotted the turkey vulture before I smelled the carcass.  Fiona tore after the buzzard, while my intellectually challenged golden retriever Freja tromped through woods, hoping to roll in the odorous product.

My walk was ruined.  The smell was overwhelming.  I find it hard to enjoy nature when it smells bad.   Perhaps I will have to wait a week or so to allow the vultures and the carcass beetles to clean up the mess a bit.  Perhaps then I will find an interesting skeleton to clean up use as a drawing prop for my students.   I already have quite a collection of deer, fox, and raccoon skulls.   I'm wondering what I'll find next.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Irish Culture in the US of A

For the past twenty seven or so years, I have lived in the culturally deprived township of Dover, Pennsylvania.  Dover is considered to be a rural suburb of the thriving metropolis that we call York, Pennsylvania.  York's claim to fame is the home of the Continental Congress and considers itself the "First Capital" of the United States.    George Washington supposedly slept here.  Abraham Lincoln passed through here.  Our property was reportedly part of the trail to Gettysburg, a mere 30 miles from here.   York is on the west shore of the mighty Susquehanna River.  It is an incredibly beautiful, wide river with arched bridges and mile wide stretches worthy of sailing.   This river empties into the Chesapeake Bay. 

As a transplant into the community I have taken advantage of numerous cultural events.  I have participated in the York Art Association, my daughter has been a member of the York Junior Symphony.  I am a teacher in one of the local school districts.   I was a member of Penn State York's Pullo Center.   I vote.

Last week I decided to visit the Irish side of my heritage.   A friend of my father's wanted to celebrate Bloomsday.   She could not find any record of the celebration so we met at "Maewyn's" the local Irish pub to read some Ulysses and drink some stoudt.  I chose Murphy's over Guinness.   Maewyn's pulls a great draught, but they are inept in cuisine.  Kim and I read a few passages over lukewarm Irish stew but we enjoyed the company.

On Saturday, June 16th the actual Bloomsday proper I attended the Penn-Mar (Pennsylvania-Maryland) Irish festival  thinking I'd hear some traditional music perhaps or find some drunken Bloomsday afficianados, but was incredibly disappointed to find only bad "Irish rock" , and Irish dancers with wigs and China made kitsch sporting mooning Notre Dame leprechauns and keychains with your "Irish" surname.  Yes people wore green and drank whatever beverage they were serving,

 Not a cultural experience for daughter or self.  We had more fun at the Amish market next door.  Daughter was looking to buy a bohdran to supplement her Irish flute.   She has become quite good at it.  

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Oscar Wilde Sculpture in Dublin

Here he is in all his glory.  Oscar Wilde in Dublin's Merrion Square Park.  I did take my own photo but could not find it and had to borrow one of the many from Google Images.  When I was in Dublin about six years ago, our "guide" suggested that he was in his typical drunken state.  When I googled "Oscar Wilde Statue, Dublin", I found some rather nasty commentary such as "The Queer with the Leer".   Oh stop you asshole homophobes!  Oscar was a wonderful writer regardless of his sexual preference.  I loved Dorian Grey.  I also  love his socks1

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Stress Relief

Stress Relief

It's been a while since I've visited the old blog.  I haven't had much to gripe about, I suppose.  Actually I do, I've just been holding it all in and I am ready to explode with several months worth of thoughts, rants and mental diarrhea so I hope that any of you who might still find me are ready for it.   

It's frightening to come back to Blogger only to realize that I no longer remember how to post.  I hope this works.

Enjoy the hubby petting the girls.  They do say pets lower the blood pressure.  He still has his tie on here.  It was just one of those days.

Thursday, March 15, 2012


I need a new direction in blogging. Haven't had a comment in months. Perhaps I shall start an Art Ed specific blog. I am having a lot of fun with my Art History/Cultural Art classes. I need a link for Pinterest. I'll keep this open for ranting and pure art stuff.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Crazy Busy

Sorry I've been crazy busy. I have a gallery opening tomorrow in York. A good thing. York is a small town, but its where I live and teach so perhaps people will show up. My last few shows have been in New Jersey at Shazza's which was awesome, Elizabethtown (terrible), and Lancaster. Lancaster has a great art scene but I felt like I didn't belong. I do not live in Lancaster and I do not paint the Amish. You either paint the Amish or you need some trendy shtick which I do not do.

Anyway. I am actually excited about the York show. It is an invitational exhibit. I was invited to show with three other women artists. I feel that my little town acknowledged me a bit.

Also I am teaching all new classes. I wrote curriculum for Fine Art Photography, Cultural Art I and II and I am developing these classes and spend an incredible amount of time planning for these. I am teaching all three this semester and forgot how much work new courses require. In addition to these I am teaching two special ed classes, one for the multiply-handicapped and one for the autistic classroom.

And of course my children keep me busy. I have a high school junior and a college sophomore. The youngest is involved in everything, the oldest is doing well but her roommates keep her life full of drama.

Well, with that said I hope to be touching base more often. Peace out.