Saturday, July 28, 2018

Hyperhidrosis: Follow up post on antihydral

When I began this blog in 2005, I mostly wrote random posts about my life and the art I was making. Now, that I'm an art teacher, the majority of my posts are focused on that, but I still receive emails with questions about a post I wrote back in 2007, so I thought I would write a follow-up.

For those of you that don't know me well, you may not know that I have hyperhidrosis. Hyperhidrosis is, basically, excessive sweating. Most of the time, it is located to specific regions of the body. I have palmar (hands), plantar (feet), and truncal. I used to have axillary (armpits), but after using Certain Dri for a year, it's gone. My sweating is generally stimulated by heat (like most people) but mostly by anxiety. Only people with hyperhidrosis have any idea how much that can affect a person's quality of life.

When it comes to my hands, I make small daily decisions as well as major life decisions based on my hyperhidrosis. Whenever I write or draw, I have a folded piece of paper under my hand so I don't get my paper soggy. When I wear material that isn't sweat absorbant, I carry a wash cloth around in my purse in case I have to shake someone's hand. As an art teacher, I carry around my own pencil when I'm giving mini demonstrations so I don't have to borrow a student's pencil and hand it back to them "wet." It is hard for me to bond with pets because as soon as I begin to pet them, my hands start sweating simply because I don't want them too- it's all a mind game.

I've made huge modifications to my life regarding my feet- I never go without socks or something on my feet. I never wear sandals. I never wear flip flops. I sleep in my socks. If I try to wear cute sandals without socks, my feet immediately start sweating because I don't want them to. Then, my hands and everything else start sweating and it lasts all day. So it's just easier to wear socks. I also wear socks and gloves when I do yoga.

I wear biker shorts or spanx underneath all my clothes. Not to suck in tummy fat... to hide sweat stains in case I get overly anxious. I don't normally need them, but wearing them takes the anxiety of worrying about it away, which is probably why I don't need them.

As far as treatments go, I have tried drysol and iontophoresis- no success with either. I have considered surgery, but am nervous about it. I have also thought about botox injections, and that still seems like a good option, especially if it can be covered by insurance.

But the most effective thing I have found is still antihydral. I can't even remember how I originally came across it, but I've been using it for 11 years, now. I still experience the sweating, and I still wear socks all of the time. But it has minimized it- enough for it to be worth using for 11 years.

When I first got it, I had to use it every night for a few weeks to notice a difference. I put it on at night and use a blow dryer to get it to dry. Then, I try to follow asleep before my hands and feet sweat too much of it off. Now, I use it about twice a week to maintain everything. There are a couple of side effects, but they are worth it to me. If my hands and feet get wet for a little while, they get SUPER wrinkly. But they go back to normal pretty quick. Also, I carry lotion around in my purse because they look dry and scaly after I wash my hands, but the lotion pretty much takes care of that.

So there's my follow-up on antihydral. If I ever find anything that works completely, I'll write another follow-up. Until then, feel free to email me or comment with questions or suggestions of your own!

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Student data tracker for a Visual Arts Class

I teach Visual Arts at a high school in North Carolina. I am the only visual art teacher in my school, so I have the unique opportunity to teach many of the same students four years in a row, and some of them achieve AMAZING levels of growth. Below is an example of a watercolor piece that one of my seniors did in her Beginning Art class and then another that she made in AP studio drawing.

Beginning Art
AP Studio Drawing
This example is so important for other students to see. This student worked very hard to achieve this amount of growth; she wasn't "born with it." This year, I created a student data tracker so students can keep track of what skills they are working on, and what they have mastered. I'm sure I will make multiple adjustments to it as I continue to use it, but for now- check it out and feel free to adjust it for your own classes. On the bottom of the google sheet are tabs- Beginning, Intermediate, Proficient and Advanced- these are Visual Arts courses that we have in NC. My students keep this data tracker throughout their high school career with me. Let me know if you have any questions or suggestions!

Saturday, July 01, 2017

Why do you respect teachers?

An attempt to stimulate a re-examination of why you appreciate and respect teachers....

It's not your fault- you just don't know... I didn't know- when I was in secondary school, when I was in college, even as a first year teacher- the art of teaching is grossly underestimated. I remember respecting teachers and their profession- they manage 20+ kids all day long while imparting as much knowledge to them as possible- and they try to make it fun. Yes- this sounds noble and worthy of respect and this is why most people will tell you that they support teachers... but what they don't understand is that this barely scratches the surface. 

Stop for a moment to consider the amount of money a "decent" public speaker charges. Imagine that this person speaks for about an hour and uses some form of a slide show as visual aids. 

A good teacher "speaks" to a group multiple times throughout the day - but not for too long at one time because research shows that attention spans are lower in children- not to mention, we consider that even within one age group, children have different capabilities of paying attention. A good teacher also takes into account that speaking to a group is only one way to disseminate information. Many teachers prepare by creating videos of themselves so students can watch the video at their own pace and stop and rewind if they need to. Some teachers create some form of a "hyperdoc" ( to guide students through the content of the lesson- with embedded links to other websites and videos. Collecting these resources and designing them in a way that is meaningful to students is very time consuming. 

In addition to planning, designing and preparing the presentation of content, good teachers find engaging, fun and challenging ways for students to manipulate the content- writing assignments, projects, hands-on manipulatives- all of these, and many more, are carefully considered- which of these activities will enable my students to be most successful? We also like to give our students choice because the same activity won't be best for every student... and we have to consider that our students are each on different levels of understanding with each specific objective, and we attempt to scaffold our activities so our kids can work at a level that is just challenging enough without making them feel defeated before they begin. Choosing, designing and creating these manipulatives take time. 

Next, it is important that we assess our students to determine if they are able to master objectives based on the way we designed and presented the content. A good teacher spends a lot of time designing the assessment as well. Writing assessment questions is an art in itself. A true/false answer gives a student a 50% chance of guessing it right- this may not be the best way for me to determine if the student really understands the content. Questions and performance-based tasks are carefully crafted to give us the most accurate picture of what our kids understand and what they can do. 

Then, we must determine if something needs to be re-taught and why students didn't learn it the first time. This requires teachers to be humble. We have to accept that somewhere in our carefully crafted plans, there is something that we missed or something that didn't work, and we have to redesign a piece of the lesson. 


Most people are unaware of the amount of time teachers spend working behind the scene of the classroom. It is possible to work on some of this while my students are working independently and yes- sometimes I have to do that because I've fallen behind... but when I do, it robs my students of valuable individual time with me that will make the biggest impact on their success. 

I wrote all of this just to inform the average person of the unseen challenges of this profession. I know that most appreciate that I manage large classes of (in my case) high school students, that I am patient with them, that I attempt to teach them life lessons and all of that other truly important stuff, but many people aren't aware of what goes on behind the scenes. 

My job is very challenging and I love it. Designing and prepping lessons, materials and assessments requires creativity and high level thinking from me. I love the kids I teach and they motivate me to give them my best. I know most people respect teachers... I just want to add to WHY they are respected. 

And... in an effort to also address other stigmas or stereotypes ... I am an art teacher.

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Student Critique of Her Work

Watercolor painting by Aarika, Art 3

I chose Bianca Quinn as my subject matter because her performance in Tumblr Girls by G - Eazy was inspiring. (That felt lame to type.) The trickiest part for this piece was her skin tone because it differed in undertones. Tan but yellowish undertones but she also had purpleish undertones???? Gee golly.  (Yeah.) Elements used are line, shape, form, and color. When creating this piece I was focused on accuracy, execution, color usage, and if it's visually appealing (aesthetically pleasing).

Monday, December 21, 2015

By Graciela, Art 3
For this project I had to experiment with watercolor and try different watercolor techniques. I also had to demonstrate multiple techniques in my painting. I chose to draw a face because I really like drawing people and I wanted to make it a little bit more challenging. I drew her looking down and, I chose cool colors because I wanted to create a sad feeling. I decided to paint her hair colorful to make it stand out. I wanted her hair to be the focal point of the painting. I wanted to incorporate other watercolor techniques and create a really cool background showing new techniques I learned, but one problem that I had was her hair. Her hair started to blend in with the background so that's why I chose a background that was more simple.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Personal Critiques written by Art 2 Students

Matryoshka by Dianna, Art 2
This is an abstract painting that I recently made called ‘Matryoshka’ after the Russian Dolls. The medium is acrylic paint.

When I was making this project, I just wanted to quit and not even turn it in. I listened to various songs and looked up abstract painting techniques. I wanted a neon, crazy looking abstract vibe/feeling to it, but it really didn't come off that way. I used bright neon colors and mixed up colors too. I wanted to be like the professionals, but this is my first abstract project.Planning carefully, I didn't want a focal point anywhere in my painting. I wanted the viewer to look everywhere, and to be confused trying to figure out exactly what they’re looking at.

By Jeannette, Art 2
I created this artwork using ink pens. It features zentangle, micrography, and stippling. I feel I could’ve stippled the hair more. The lines of words by the sun and moon, I could’ve made it more straight. I forgot to shade the other sleeve, but I think it works out. I made this whole piece while thinking about opposites, everything that is good and bad. So I titled this piece, Opposing Sides. Most of my micrography has something to deal with opposites, but some of it contains parts of my pen name I created for myself.

Success  by Japreme, Art 2
 The objective of this project was to create a linear perspective drawing with accurate shading. I think I did well on most of the project. However, I think I could’ve shaded a little better. Other than the shading, I believe my project was very good. As you can see it clearly says “You’re on the road to success.” I did the project this way because it’s true. In high school we are all on a road to success by becoming successful people after high school and or after college. It’s something that I thought people should see to motivate people to get on the road to success if not already.

Abstract painting by Daequan, Art 2
In this abstract painting, I used blue, red, orange, green, purple, yellow, and black. While painting the project, I was trying to be a little creative because in most of my artwork, I never try to be creative or actually try to complete it. The reason I did some designs was because I probably liked the colors and I thought people would appreciate the creativity behind it.

I was unsuccessful because I tried too hard to make it creative and I messed up a lot of times where you could actually tell that I messed up, so I think I should’ve planned it better, or while I was doing it I should’ve thought harder about the colors I used. I was also unsuccessful because of where I painted most of the stuff. For example, I think some of the stuff I painted should’ve been in different places or smaller.

I think I will get a bad grade on this painting just because it’s bad, and I definitely could of done better, but I chose to rush because I wanted to hurry up and get it finished. 

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Student Critiques of their Work: Art 4

Artwork by Daniel, Art 4

This project was really interesting to do because it meant something to me personally when I was younger. To make this project I wanted to use different mediums to resemble the things you would normally see these objects as. I made the twitter page in the computer by making a template of how a comment would look like on a mobile device. The sky is painted using different values of blue and the poop emoji is made from colored pencil.
            From the start, we were asked to make a piece of art that would represent/have meaning on a social issue that is going on across the world. For example, global warming, bullying, and abortion are just few of many issues that we see every day on the news. The meaning behind my piece however, relates to me because I was a person affected by a bully on social media. Back when I was in middle school, I was normally picked on as a person who would be polite and caring to both my teachers and fellow peers. I was sometimes referred to as the teacher's pet because I loved helping my teachers out in any way I could. Most of the time, I would spend time focusing on assignments that were being assigned to us at the beginning of class and not worrying of others, but this all changed.
            When I first made a social media account I did not know what to expect from it, but as time went on I learned a very valuable lesson. This lesson was: friends can sometimes become your enemies and begin to have hatred for you. As the school year went on, I got picked on and when people said negative comments, I tended to get upset. This process of me being a victim of cyberbullying has made an impact in my life where I grew strong and accepted what others had said about me. People can say things to others and hurt you along the way, but if you have the right mindset and you don't care what others say, you can be a unique person. ​

            I chose to do this issue on cyber bullying because every day thousands of teens are getting bullied on a social media pages whether they are a little kid or a grown adult. Being bullied is not something that should be taken as a joke because teens have the highest rate of suicide as of right now because they are being bullied. ​I struggled to overcome this obstacle in middle school, but that did not stop me from continuing on in what I like to do best.
Queen of Hearts Critique, Josh, Art 4
“Revenge that comes from the Heart” is a mixed media piece created with watercolor and color pencil on watercolor paper. The subject matter of this is the Queen of Hearts and she is holding Alice’s head. The objective for this piece was to create an original character or create an original version of a character.

I created my own design for the Queen of hearts by changing her clothing and her hair style. Her outfit is red and black with a gold belt. The background and the edges are in different shades of brown and there red and black “Q”’s that are opposite of each other. The queen is holding up Alice’s bloody head and there are blood stains everywhere.

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Student Critiques of Their Work: Art 3

Briana by Auset, Art 3
Before we started this project, we looked at different techniques when using watercolor. I used blossoming and salt as my techniques in the background. We didn't have a specific objective or topic , but to just use watercolor in some way. This was a portrait of my favorite youtuber, Briana Hall a.k.a. SmartistaBeauty. Something i would've done differently was used another medium such as pen or graphite to draw her then just paint in the areas. Something i liked about watercolor was that you can do different things with it to accomplish any look. Even though it's not my first time using watercolor, i wasn't aware of the different techniques. It's versatile and gives you many options.

A Jolly Day Before Halloween by Julie, Art 3
This work was inspired by The Nightmare Before Christmas, and the idea came to me from a fellow classmate. Since it was my favorite movie and very close to Halloween, I decided to roll with that idea. I used Acrylics on Santa and Jack and water colors for the background. The background is meant to represent Christmas and Halloween. I think that this was also successful in the sense that it came out pretty nice. I tried to balance the background a bit with the main part, Santa and Jack. I think it kind of worked.

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Student Critiques of their Work: Art 2

Diamond  by Angel, Art 2
Hey my name is Angel, and this piece of artwork is of my dog and her name is Diamond. I created this piece of artwork with color pencil for a project for my art class. Overall, I liked how the dog turned out and how you can see the variation of color and value in her coat. I used blue, brown, and black color pencils to create the color of the dog. I personally feel that I could have made the background better by making the shades of brown similar. I don’t like how my background turned out because you can notice the different shades of brown that there are. If I had the chance to do this project again, I would test the colors on a separate sheet of paper to see if that’s the color I needed. Just to let the person know who is reading this that this was my first project using only color pencil. Feel free to give me feedback. :) 

Automatic Painting by Destiny, Art 2
 My Abstract Painting is made with pastel colors. I started with 3 sections using pink, blue and gray in one, turquoise and yellow with white in one, and all those colors in the middle. I then started to mix all the colors together to make a smooth surface of blended colors. After looking at it for a while, I decided to make it thick with texture so I put thick blobs of paint on and let it dry. Then, I put more thick blobs and spread it in little lines. Afterward, I used all the colors all over the canvas to make it look more unified.  

Automatic Painting by Seham, Art 2

I created my abstract art with paint. Also, in the beginning, I wasn’t sure what to do, even though with automatic painting you are not supposed to think about what you are doing, you just do it. I tried to use many colors that went together. One of the things I felt less successful on was that I used too much of the repetition of the same pattern, which I tried to change towards the end. Also, to make it look better, I drew lines to keep the project neat and to add some visual interest creating a variety of brushstrokes. In the beginning, I did not think I did that good of a job, but in the end it looked really good to me. In the corner I tried to draw something everyone knows, which is an emoji. I did not think I did well on that because you can see the texture of the white paint behind it, and I tried to fix it, but I could not. To make it look prettier to me, I added paint splatters and also I found a hard brush and made different patterns with them. Overall I think I did a very good job.

One Point Perspective Project by Cindy, Art 2
I made this  drawing with charcoal and graphite, and it was created on September 4th, 2015 at GHS. This linear perspective project depicts the Graham High School fine arts building. It was taken from a distance to show a one point perspective view of the hallway.

The focal point of the drawing is the middle of the double doors. Everything in the drawing goes to the double doors, like the curtains, walls, and lights. The shading/blending technique was used throughout the whole drawing. There are darker values in different areas of the drawing, like in the curtains. The curtains have a darker value while the ceiling is a little bit lighter. The element of line is also present in the drawing. All of the walls and the ceiling have lines coming from them and they all meet at the focal point.

I think the drawing is successful. It is successful because it appears to be neat and the blending is good. The drawing is neat enough to see that it is a hallway. Overall I think it is a great drawing of the GHS fine arts building because I was able to draw it and all the walls and objects go to the focal point.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Graham High School's Annual Art Exhibit 2014

Graham High School (in Graham, NC) recently held its Annual Art Exhibit showcasing at least one work of art by each of the students that took art this year. The kids worked really hard and created some great pieces! 

We are currently raising money to buy some exciting things to enhance our program next year. If you are interested in donating, find out more by clicking on this link:

More artwork from the exhibit can be seen below.

Work by Art 2 students
Work by Art 1 students

Self-Portrait by Graciela Sebastian, Art 1
Self-portrait by Julie Jackson, Art 1
Sculptures by Arely Castillo, Art 4
Daisuki Candelario, Art 3
MacKenzie Heckmann, Art 2
Graciela Sebastian, Art 1
Arely Castillo, Art 4

Daisuki Candelario, Art 3





Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Artists I Love: Tim Gagnon

Tim Gagnon is an artist that lives in Maine and was named one of the "Top 50 Emerging Artists in 2012" by Art Business News.  I absolutely love his "tree paintings," especially the abstract ones.

Gagnon offers dozens of painting tutorials on YouTube and more of his work can be seen on his website.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

"Renee's Cakes" (Original Painting)

This painting is from a photograph that I took at our friends' wedding a few years ago. Renee (the bride) is a WONDERFUL cook and an even better "baker" ... which is a good thing since her husband loves to eat :)

Aside from the appetizing nature of the subject matter, I was drawn to photograph this still life because of 2 main reasons. 

1. I love painting reflections. The glass cake stands and the coffee mugs sucked me in. 

2. The repetition in the objects on the table was so apparent that it seemed difficult NOT to come up with a good composition. There's repetition in the coffee mug, the icing drips, the texture on the cake stand and the baby's breath surrounding the roses. 

If you are interested in purchasing this painting, click HERE for more information.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Culture affects our perception

Image from "God Grew Tired of Us"
This post is devoted to a NC Essential Standard that I've been working on how to address in the classroom:
P.V.2.2: The student "recognizes how personal experience influences the perception of the environment."

Most adults don't completely grasp this, and I've really struggled with coming up with a way to get it across to teenagers. I chose to focus on this standard first because I think it will help them to be more accepting of differences they see in their peers.

After a bit of thought, here's my lesson plan:

Step 1: I will begin by giving them a short background of my personal education: the expectations that my parents, teachers and community had regarding post-secondary education (college was definitely an expectation). We will discuss how my background affects how I teach and what I expect from them. Once they understand this, they can help to explain their unique, individual needs to me.

Step 2: Each table will be given a question to discuss. Each person at the table will share their opinion regarding the question. Then, they will analyze how their opinions have been shaped by their environment.
Here are some sample questions: What is a good age to begin having children? When is it important to be on time? When is it okay to use your phone in public, and when (if ever) is it considered rude?

I teach at a very diverse school and sometimes the kids don't realize how often their actions are culturally driven. Hopefully, these table discussions will explain some reasoning behind beliefs/opinions.

Step 3: Some tables will be called upon to share their discussion with the class.

Step 4: I will show students an excerpt from "God Grew Tired of Us," a documentary about 4 boys who were orphaned in Sudan and came to America in search of safety. They are faced with many obstacles due to vast cultural differences. A portion of the documentary can be seen HERE.

Step 5: We will continue our class discussion, by applying these thoughts to how we critique and interpret art. We'll discuss the following questions:

1. How can we understand and appreciate an artwork made by someone from a completely different culture?

2. Can we determine if an artwork is successful if we know nothing about the artsit that made it or their background?

3. When, if ever, is it important to know the artist's background?

Please share any thoughts or activities that you've tried in your classroom related to this topic!

Friday, August 16, 2013

DIY mural for a kid's room

This is a mural that I painted in my son's room nearly a year ago.

First, I took tons of pictures of him blowing bubbles. I used a data projector to project one of them onto the wall, and I traced his silhouette. Then, I added the circles in a variety of sizes to be the bubbles. I found images that represent his specific interests and used those in some of the bubbles: breakdancers, cars, musical instruments and a soccer player.

You can find lots of good images to use for murals when you search "silhouette" or "vector" along with subject you are trying to find. Many of these are copyright free; just add that to your search.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Pre-Assessment in Art

With only a few more days before the start of school, I've been thinking a lot about pre-assessment, especially for my Art 1 students. These students will be coming from different schools with varying backgrounds of art, and I don't know any of them.

At the beginning of the year, I need to know what technical skills they already have, their knowledge of the elements of art and principles of design, how much they know about art history, and their ability to critique art. 

Within the first week, I will ask them to complete 3 drawings: a drawing of their hand, a self-portrait and a drawing of the corner of the room. Then, after several weeks of intense drawing instruction, they will complete the same 3 drawings and I will check for improvement.

I have also started developing a written pre-assessment test. This is the first year that I have given one, and I expect that it will be modified A LOT over the next few years. It was very difficult to decide what to include on this pre-assessment without creating a 3-hour exam.  Hopefully, this will give me a broad view of what they know, and I can give more specific pre-assessments before beginning each individual standard.

For a link to the pre-assessment, click HERE

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Artists I Love: Karin Jurick

I've been following Karin Jurick's art for at least 5 years now, and I love it. She paints everything: landscapes, animals, portraits, food- whatever catches her interest. She is known for her portraits that she paints from photographs of unsuspecting art patrons enjoying artwork in galleries. In these paintings, she captures unique body language that gives personality to her subjects while sneaking her own renditions of famous paintings into background.

Here are two such paintings:

She has maintained the difficult pace of completing nearly "a painting a day" for over 6 years now. Her large quantity of paintings has kept her prices affordable, especially in her Ebay store.

Interesting fact about Karin Jurick: She is self-taught. She intended to go to college, but began her career working in her parents' picture framing shop. After losing both of her parents, she became the owner. She began painting again in 2004, after more than 15 years of not painting, and sold her work on Ebay.

She has a blog where she posts her daily paintings, and more of her work can be seen on her website.

Summer Project #2: Family Tree Mural

 Here's another project I've started . . . and not quite finished. I love the idea of having a visual family tree in my living room. I have a four year old son and another baby on the way, and I want them to know who their family is (even if they only get to see some of them once a year). I decided to include our (my husband's and my) parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings, cousins, nieces and nephews. I found a basic image of a tree that I liked and used a data projector to project it onto the wall. After I traced it, I embellished it a little- adding extra branches, leaves, etc. Then, I added the frames and painted everything 2 shades darker than the background wall color. Now, I just have to print photos (in sepia tones) of each family member and attach them using double-sided mounting tape.

Attached to the tree is a string held by a bird. I added larger frames that hang down from the string which will include photos of our "core" family: me, my husband, my 4-year old son and our new baby (due Oct. 8)

So far, I've only added one photo- a recent ultra sound of "baby brother." (We haven't committed to a name yet). It's amazing how much he looks like our oldest already. Today marks 30 weeks! Another one of my summer projects is to get his room ready. . .

"Art with Mom"

I collaborated with Noah (my 4-year old son) to make this painting. I asked him to draw a picture for me (about 1 year ago), which I copied onto a 9" x 12" canvas in paint. Then, I painted the three crayons to look as if they are laying on top (trompe-l'oeil style). I went over everything that Noah drew with oil pastel to give it a "crayon look." I look forward to working with Noah on more paintings in the future- especially if we pass them back and forth.

Choosing a baby name for a boy

I have had the hardest time coming up with and committing to a name for this baby (Due October 8th). We have three names that we are considering . . . and are open to more- feel free to check "other" and leave a suggestion... although I hope everyone doesn't do that or we're back at the beginning of name choosing.

 I'm curious to see which name would win in a vote:
(not to say that this will, in any way, determine what we decide to name our son)

I'll post results on Monday

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world's leading questionnaire tool.

"The General Store" (An original painting)

I finished this painting a while ago, but it was in a traveling show for a year and unavailable for sale.

While painting this, I used a reference photo that I took at the Farmer's Market in Raleigh. They had all kinds of different soda in glass bottles soaking in ice, and the reflections caught my eye (I love painting objects with reflective surfaces).

If you are interested in purchasing this original painting, click HERE.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Survey Results: What should we name our son?

And . . . .the results are in.

Charles Jeffery Lampson (Charlie) came in first with 47.8% of the votes.

Samuel Jeffery Lampson (Sam) came in second with 39.1%

"Other" Names made up 21.7% of the vote- thank you to those of you who took this seriously, however, I did enjoy laughing at the less serious responses. (Glen and Patrick, I'm highly disappointed in your absence on this one)

Benjamin Jeffery Lampson (Ben) was the last choice with 8.7%

We still haven't decided on a name, but the poll did make me a little more confident about ruling out Benjamin. Over the past few days, I continue to go back and forth between Charlie and Sam. I never thought I'd be so last-minute, but I may end up waiting until after he's born to decide.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Still on the Easel

Here's a look at what I'm currently working on. I'm trying out a new process that has made painting even more fun. I started out with a photograph that I took (at the Durham Science Museum's Butterfly Garden). Up to this point, I've been using acrylic paint as well as collage to block in basic shapes.

Whenever I get the mail, I look through the catalogues to see if any colors/text/texture/etc. belong in the painting. Then I tear and glue. 

It has made junk mail much more fun.

Here's a close-up of the painting above. I think I'm finally at the point where I'm ready to continue on solely with paint so tomorrow, I'll break out the oils! I prefer oil paint to acrylic, but you can't collage over oil paint with gel medium (which is what I've been using). Since I've been alternating between painting and gluing, I've stuck to acrylic so far. I'm really excited to finally bring this piece together with some oil paint!

I'll post another picture when the painting is finished.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Grouping students in the classroom

I used to let students sit where they wanted in the classroom. I quickly learned that this is rarely a good idea. Now, I begin with assigned seats. They are posted on the Smartboard when they come to class on the first day.

On the second day of school, they have a new seating arrangement. In fact, they have new seats every day of the first week. This allows them to get to know the other students in the classroom quickly. After the first week of school, I change their seats every Monday.

The trick to this is that I use a completely random seating assignment. (I will explain my method for this below) The kids know this and accept their new seats with more grace because they know I am not purposely splitting them up from their friends.

However, I have had a class or two in the past that have required me to move away from the random seat assignments (and use teacher generated ones)- this is completely dependent upon their maturity and ability to stay on task even when they are randomly placed next to a good friend.

If you have a Smart Board in your classroom and Smart Notebook Software on your computer, you can follow the steps below to create random groups easily.

1. Open Smart Notebook. (I currently have Smart Notebook 11, so these screenshots/directions will reflect that.) Under the 2nd Tab on the left, click on "Lesson Activity Toolkit 2.0"

2. Scroll down to "Tools." 

3. Look under "Interactive and Multimedia" until you find "Random Group picker (text)" and insert it into the notebook.

4. At this point, I type in all the names of the students in one of my classes. Then, since I have seven tables, I select "7" as the number of groups. Then, I click "generate."

5. Now all of my students have been randomly placed at 7 different tables. I show my class this at least once so they know that it really is random. Then, I save it so that I can just regroup them whenever I want.

Monday, August 05, 2013

The First Days of School

During my first few years of teaching, I drastically underestimated the importance of building/nurturing/growing my "classroom family." Students are more likely to grow individually if they are able to work together as a group- developing ideas through conversation, debating multiple solutions and giving appropriate, constructive criticism. (This also simulates many work environments that they should be preparing for). During the first week of school (which starts in less than 3 weeks...ahhh! ) I spend time working on this.

Here are a few of my favorite games/activities (some taken and adapted from other teachers, some are original):

1. The "Wanted Poster": This is a way for students to share information about themselves in a creative way. I post them in the classroom as they finish. At the end of the first class, I ask the students to write one positive adjective on the poster of each person that sat at their table.

2. "Who Am I?" powerpoint: I go through a brief presentation that tells the kids a little about me. I make sure to answer questions that I will have them answer in later activities. (my favorite movie, things I do in my free time, my celebrity crush, etc.)

3. "Four Questions": I give each table a paper with four questions on it. They each choose a question to answer (verbally to the people at their table). Then, I call on students to share something that they learned about someone at their table. Here are a few examples of questions I use:

If you had a million dollars, what would you do with it?
Were you named after anyone?
What word describes you best?
Who is your role model? Why?
If you could be any animal, which would you be and why?
If you could witness any historical event, what would it be?

4. Show and Tell: This may sound juvenile, but my students LOVE it. On the first day, I tell them they have homework . . . and they groan. Then, I tell them their homework is to bring in an item for "show and tell" that will teach us something about them. Some of them pretend to think it's silly, but they know they love it.

5. People Bingo: I give students 10 minutes to find other kids to sign their name in the appropriate Bingo space. Examples of spaces: "Knows the names of all 4 ninja turtles," "Is allergic to cats," and "Has fainted or thrown up in public." They can't use the same person for 2 separate squares. They get a small piece of candy for a line and a slightly bigger prize (like a free late pass) if they get a "cover-all."

6. Class Mailbox: This is a new thing that I'll be doing this year. (I actually dreamed that I did it and thought it was worth trying). I plan to make a mailbox for each of my classes. I'll talk to the kids about how important positive affirmations are and explain that any time they want to give someone a positive affirmation, they can write it on a piece of paper and put it in the class mailbox. It can be anonymous, or they can sign their name. Every Friday, I'll "deliver" the mail to the recipients. During the first week of school, I will ask them at random times to write something positive about everyone at their table and put it in the mailbox. This will get them into the habit of using it, and on Friday, everyone should have received "mail." Later on in the year, I'll write another post about how this is going.

Friday, August 02, 2013

Lego Art!

The Alamance County Arts Council is hosting "The Art of the Brick!" 

This exhibition features a traveling show of more than 30 Lego Sculptures by artist Nathan Sawaya. It opens to the public on August 3 and the community has come together to plan lots of activities around the exhibition. The Graham Public Library, the Children's Museum of Alamance County, Alamance Arts Council and The Burlington City Park are offering "brick building" classes, competitions and tons of other activities from now through October! For a complete listing, scroll down to the "Calendar of Special Events" on this page.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Painting Commission

Here's a painting that I finished about a month ago for someone that purchased a commission through an auction that I participated in hosted by the Alamance County Arts Council. I had an amazing photograph to work from taken by Josh Drye. 

The mother of these two beautiful girls gave me carte blanche with the background. I had recently covered Alphonse Mucha in my art classes at school, so that definitely played a part in choosing the circular design of flowers that seemed to fit so well in this composition. 

If you're interested in commissioning a painting, check out my prices on my Commissions Page!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Summer Project #1: Website 'nip and tuck'

I only have 3 more weeks to finish all of my summer projects before the teacher workdays begin. I've been very unorganized this summer; I've begun multiple projects and have finished zero.

Project numero uno is to go through my website,, and give it a slight make-over. I have spent most of my time working on my "prints" page, and I'm going to start selling my prints via Canvas On Demand and Snapfish. This will eliminate a lot of the extra shipping and handling costs. I also added more choices. Here is an example of one of the prints that is now available.
To see other available prints, along with sizes/prices, and to "ooooh and ahhhhh" at what I have accomplished during my son's naptime over the last week, click here:

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Cultural Self-Portraits

Here's an assignment that I give Art 3 students. They are required to research a culture of their choosing and create a composite drawing that includes a self-portrait adorned in clothing, jewelry, make-up, etc. from that culture. Here are a few from this past year.
Arely chose ancient Greece. She also decided to include a pop of color.

Eddie chose to research the Aztec culture.

Here is Wynn as a Roman Gladiator.

Selena is a beautiful Egyptian Queen.

I love Usu's body language in his Japanese portrait.