Sunday, March 13, 2016

It's been a long time...

Well, it's certainly been a long time since I've posted anything on this here blog. And the main reason is because I haven't needed to! My school district uses a Learning Management Software called Canvas, so any time I need to direct students to website, images, links, or files, I simply publish them in Canvas. "Canvas" is an unfortunate LMS name for an Art Teacher, in my opinion, as when I ask students if they want to create a painting "on canvas," I usually get very confused looks until they realize I'm not asking them if they want to work online. Which, by the way, would totally NOT work. I have a gripe with Canvas, because although the software has been in use for a little over 5 years, the available tools within Canvas are not particularly conducive to having students share their own images in discussions. If I create a discussion board, my student can't take a picture of his/her artwork from their phone and embed it into the discussion without first leaving the discussion and going to a completely different set of menus, outside of my course, where they would need to upload their picture to their Files... then they can go back to the discussion and write a post in which they can embed the image. #firstworldproblems? Clearly. But apparently this exact concern has been an open ticket for Instructure since 2011. Rude.

Anyway, since I don't need to use this blog to post info and updates for my students, I am hoping to carve out time to write posts ABOUT my lessons, activities, and the awesome artwork my students have been creating. Today we had a reception at the Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers in New Brunswick, NJ for an exhibit that featured work by 24 of my students. I'll try to update this post with some pictures later!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

National Coffee Day! Painting with Coffee!

Greetings, folks! I haven't been able to blog at all since the new school year started. I am now teaching art at a Catholic high school in Edison, NJ (and so far I love it! My students rock!).

This morning while I was making my 1-hour (yep) commute to work, I heard on the radio that today is National Coffee Day. Painting with coffee is something I discovered on Pinterest last year and never got to do with my students at RMHS.

Armed with excitement, a prep 2nd period, and free coffee for teachers provided in the cafeteria each morning, I whipped up a quick Google Slides presentation about painting with coffee. My slideshow featured a coffee-ring-stain portrait by Malaysian artist Red Hong Yi and a video of Mary Doodles painting a picture of a penguin with coffee. I also explained what a resist is, because I included a series of three coffee paintings that made use of wax resist.

Red Hong Yi making a coffee portrait
Most of my students were still finishing their previous assignment (sketchnotes about sketchnotes... so meta!) but a few got to try out painting with coffee, and more are looking forward to trying it on our next Free Choice Friday.

I didn't take too many pictures today, but hopefully I will remember to add more later.

"Because you know what happens when you drink coffee, Ms. Walker"

I am also excited because I think Red Hong Yi's artwork will transition perfectly into a lesson about Vik Muniz (and Wasteland), which we can use a springboard to do some environmental awareness projects. Yes!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

#Reflect31 Day 5

My experiences and knowledge from being a student, educator, and teammate in different fields are all interwoven, like the crocheted blanket here. My goal as an educator is to be like the crochet hook; I strive to be an educator who empowers students to stitch together their knowledge and experiences. Sometimes our connections -- whether it be of knowledge, with people, or to other aspects of our lives -- can feel like the tangled knot of yarn here. It's important to remember that our students often feel this way, too. Untangling a knot is hard, but when we draw on our knowledge and support network, we can work through the knots and create masterpieces.

A teeny bit of insight into the symbolism pictured above:

  • The graduation pendant represents my own experiences as a K-12 student
  • The paintbrushes to represent art
  • The coin purse was a gift from my mentor teacher during my provisional teacher program
  • The book represents my training & experience in Higher Education (Marcia Baxter Magolda is my favorite Student Development theorist)
  • The roller skate wheel represents roller derby; my roller derby families have been some of the most supportive people in my life post-college
  • The background is a baby blanket that I am crocheting for the child of a friend from college

While I was editing the image above and adding text (on twitter I posted a version of the pic with the text in the image), my cat decided to take over my carefully planned display:

What a little knucklehead

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Ms. Walker Makes: DIY Vanity & Organizers

Sometimes when I'm not teaching or lesson planning, I like to make DIY projects. I know I have found a lot of inspiration for my home decorating projects online (hello, Pinterest!), so I have decided to share my results and products... Starting with this nifty piece of furniture that I transformed last summer.

I moved back to NJ from Massachusetts, and in my new abode I needed a new way to store my shoes and makeup. The piece of furniture that I desired needed to have a narrow depth -- only about as deep as my foot is long -- in order to not block a set of drawers positions perpendicular to it. And it needed to fit under my window.

An old twin-sized headboard with shelves turned out to be the perfect base for this project!

I used the instructions from this blog post to paint and finish my my particle board/laminate headboard with great success! If you want to refresh some cheap furniture, this is the  method to use.

While the existing structure provides shelves for beauty products, I need to add some additional shelving for my shoes. Enter crates from the craft store!

I used L-shaped brackets and a power drill to attach an additional shelf inside of each crate, then had my dad (best dad ever!) cut a board of wood to rest on top of the crates for the long shelf.

Of course, having this awesome piece of furniture to hold my stuff was all well and good, but let's be real -- I also needed to be able to organize my cosmetics! This is where things got crafty...

I had already purchased a few rolls of cute-printed wrapping paper from the Dollar Spot at Target (Shoe boxes of supplies look much nicer when wrapped). I used some of the paper to wrap a clementine crate as my base container and a toilet paper tube (yep, keepin' it cheap) for eyeliner pencils. I had a few pastel mini Chinese food style take-out containers leftover from my cousin's bridal shower, which nicely held individual eye shadows & chap sticks. In my search for little open-top boxes, I found containers intended to hold sugar packets at Christmas Tree Shop. Throw in a couple glass jars, and I had a very accessible, useful way to store my makeup!

I've used this cute method of storing makeup brushes since college! All you need is a clear container (mine is a candle holder) and some plastic beads. [Shout out to RDs Treya & Janel from William Paterson University circa 2008 for teaching me this trick.] The organizer tray that holds my hair products & deodorant, etc. was from Michael's arts & crafts store.

So, of course, my vanity isn't always styled this neatly. I went minimalist for the photo shoot... my version of minimalist.

When I get a chance, my next DIY project to share will be my jewelry organizers! (Or maybe the hand-dyed duvet cover & curtains that I made last summer... we shall see.)

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Advanced Art: Artist Statements

Choose TWO of the artists below. 
1. Go to their websites
2. Take a look at their work
3. Read their artist statements.

This will help you prepare for your Final Exam project, in which you will be making (or planning) a work of art based on a provided artist statement.

Guy Laramee

Leslie Wayne

Mike Kelley

Edward Burtynsky

Nuala O'Donovan

Nathalie Miebach

Julie Blackmon

Monday, June 8, 2015


Here are the resources for Review Day for our final exams!

striving not to make your life like this... at least not from art

Art IV:
Art History Digital Flash Cards
Memory Game (in class)

Art II:
Color Theory Digital Flash Cards
Printed Packet (available in class)
Quiz you can take at home: (blocked at school)

Advanced Art: You will be creating works of art based on provided artist statements.
To review examples of work + statements from professional artists, see this post:

Your alternate option is to do a guided written critique, similar to your mid-term exam.
All additional resources will be provided in class.