Mad Lib Illustrations

I had a substitute a week or so ago, and while I was gone I had my students do mad lib illustrations.  I got the idea from Organized Chaos.  So my fifth graders would randomly pull from three different cups–one for subjects, one for actions, and one for places.  Then they would make a sentence out of the 3 words/phrases and illustrate it.  When I got back the following Monday, I laughed out loud at what I had waiting for me.  The kids said they enjoyed it too.  The word cups are now apart of my “free draw” station where kids can go if they finish early. Here are some of my faves.

An octopus baking a cake in the North Pole.

An octopus baking a cake in the North Pole. (This kid is a fantastic artist)

Santa Claus playing checkers in the forest.

Santa Claus playing checkers in the forest.

Penguins sneezing in outer space.

Penguins sneezing in outer space.

A shark eating spaghetti at Six Flags.

A shark eating spaghetti at Six Flags.

Mrs. Maxwell eating at Chili's.

Mrs. Maxwell eating at Chili’s.

I have a nice, artsy dress on, no?


Thanksgiving festivities were fun and full!

Playing games at Ryan's Grandma's

Playing games at Ryan’s Grandma’s

Fajita dinner at my folks'

Fajita dinner at my folks’–with Will & Bailey and their sweet daughter.

Passing around Princess Nell

Passing around Princess Nell

So many wonderful things and people and food. We are so very blessed.

And we are about to head out and get a Christmas tree!



This past weekend I had the privilege of attending the Texas Art Education Conference in Dallas.
It was great fun–lots of awesome workshops, and ran into a lot of old and new friends. The Hilton Anotole itself is beautiful. And they were in the midst of Christmas-a-fying it this weekend.
One of the main speakers at the conference was Magda Sayeg. She has an exotic sounding name, but she’s a Texas girl–from Houston and currently lives in Austin. I really enjoyed hearing her story. She started the yarn bombing phenomenon.

She enjoys changing everyday objects so that people notice them again. And how yarn bombing kinda reveals and conceals things at the same time. It’s brings something warm and human into a cold urban environment. And it’s pretty. Cool stuff.

We saw some in Dallas a few years ago, in the Bishop Arts District.  Ryan was all dressed up for his grad school interview.


Maybe I should start knitting something today. It has been awhile.
And I’ll close with a thank you for the buyer of all those mugs! I have an idea of who you are…. Thank you!

Autumn Pretties

Yep, I’m feeling better than I was during my last post.

And then I had only three days of school this week and now its already the weekend again.  Say what?! Pretty awesome. I feel like I don’t even deserve the weekend, but I’m not complaining.

So last week I started a new drawing with this..


Then I played around with it on Pixelmator and created this.

I am a fan of asymmetry, so I prefer the original drawing, but I’m happy with both of them. And both are available at my shop. For instance…

And since then, I’ve been adding to the original flower.  Here is the work in progress ..


I also wanted to share a pumpkin. Because there are a lot of pumpkins going on in my life right now…
And speaking of pumpkins. Here are my 1st graders’ finished pumpkins (I showed an in-process photo a bit ago). They are so adorable! (Click on the image to make it bigger.)
IMG_2135 - Version 2
They are hanging up next to some kindergarten fall trees. The fall trees have finger-painted leaves.  Lots of teachers have told me how much they love the pumpkins. You know, that really means a lot to an art teacher–complimenting students’ artwork.  So, if you have the thought, you should tell them (and of course that goes with any compliment–if you think it, you should say it).

My 6th graders are also working on some beautiful Southwest Landscapes in chalk pastel. Once I upload some photos I will have to share.

So much wonderful eye candy in this post.   Here is one more, by an illustrator I like named Tegan White.  It’s called “The Last Acorn of Autumn.”



A few months ago, some of our good friends visited. They have two precious babes, and one of them–who is about 2 1/2 I think– occupied himself by drawing for a few minutes. At the time, I had just gotten into Zentangle, and so I saved the drawings, thinking they would be great starting points for a zentangle piece. First I worked on this one.
IMG_1791 - Version 2
Which I recently completed.
I call it “Collaboration.” And I’ve started working on the second one.

Meanwhile, my students and I are getting excited about fall. 1st graders are drawing and painting pumpkins, mixing red and yellow to make orange.

Next week they are going to cut out the pumpkins and leaves and glue them to a black paper and draw stars. Night time pumpkins. Got the idea from Deep Space Sparkle.

4th graders are making some beautiful moonlit pumpkins, learning about making tints and shades (making a color lighter or darker depending on the light). I forgot to take pictures, but can share some next week. Kinders are making fall trees and finger-painting the leaves. Again, forgot to take pictures.

I feel like I share more 1st grade projects than anything else. I guess I really like 1st grade.

And I like my job.

I'm thinking/hoping that by "live" she meant "leave"...

I’m thinking/hoping that by “live” she meant “leave”…

Lots of fun things to look at.

I drew another “zendala” doodle..
And I stold a “Lamppost” framed print. Thanks whoever you are!

(AND there is free shipping, worldwide, at my shop through tomorrow, just saying. You have to click this link though to access it.)

My first graders talked about how the primary colors are SUPER because they make all the other colors on the rainbow, so we made primary colored SUPER HEROES.
IMG_2068They loved it. And they loved this song to go along with it.

And I’m working on a pirate ship..

Using micron pens and watercolor pencils.  Watercolor pencils are so fun!  They are like magic. Art magic

This is what happens when I don’t blog in awhile. I have to hit you with a lot of little things at once.

I found the above on Society 6, by artist Bianca Green. I also like this one.

Every day’s a good day when you paint.

This past week I started painting with Kinder-3rd, which of course is always very exciting for them.

A very blurry picture of some 1st graders painting

A very blurry picture of some 1st graders painting

When we paint, we like to watch this Bob Ross remix which the kids absolutely love. We watch it as least twice every class. I think I’ve shared it on here before.

One first grader said, “This song really helps me focus!.” And a second grader,”This is a thing of joy!.” Another second grader, “Why does he keep saying ‘Ibalee’?.” (as in “I believe”).

In closing, happy birthday to my wonderful Daddy!

Taken when I was 17, at the Spanish Steps in Rome.

No Worries

It about time for a now post! (I meant to say new post, but I think “a now post” might work for me too)

I got this fun book recently with lots of great ideas.

And then drew this.


(And of course it is available at my shop).

I’m working on another one also, but things are moving much more slowly now that school has started. It is going great so far by the way.
It’s so great to be in my 2nd year and not my 1st anymore! There are still good days and bad days–but I am sleeping much better than I did this time last year!

Some Planning and Pretty

I’m doing something right now that I’ve been putting off for awhile. I’ve started to plan for next school year. I’m sifting through my lessons, deciding which to keep and which to chunk and when they should happen. The thought of doing so has been kind of stressing me out, but the act of doing it is actually fun. (You can click on the image if you want to see more detail)
Screen Shot 2013-07-22 at 1.20.05 PM
So you see there I have my Scope and Sequence for last year, next to one for next year. Each week gets a row and each grade level gets a column, plus an extra column for links to resources. These aren’t the detailed lesson plans, just a map of when who is doing what. And it is all subject to change–field trips, assemblies, fire drills, my own whim. It feels good to have a general map though.

You can also see, on the left, some beautiful watercolor flowers. Those were painted by a friend–this friend was a classmate of mine at UNT and helped me get my current teaching job. She has started her own design endeavor, Merely Paper, and you can download this beautiful desktop image for free on this blog post. It has calendar of July on it (covered by my Safari windows on my screenshot), so I can only imagine there will be an August one before too long. You should also check out her Etsy shop.

This is a screenshot, not the  actual shop.

This is a screenshot, not the actual shop.

Back to my planning. Last year, I began things by having a general idea of what lessons I wanted to do the first six weeks. Everything else was a blank. After that first six weeks I was living week-to-week, always stressed thinking–Now what are we going to do next week? By the end of the year I was living 2 weeks ahead, because I was getting more quick and confident on deciding on lessons. But now I have already done a whole year’s worth of lessons! So like I said, it is now just a matter of deciding what to keep and what to chunk. What to tweak and what is golden as is.

So I paused for a moment of procrastination to share all that, because it’s actually kind of fun. And makes me dread the coming of school a bit less.


Today I have been doing something I’ve never done before, attending an online conference.
It is put on byThe Art of Education and is 4 hours full of 10-20 min presentations from some of the best and brightest art educators. Conference attendees have access to the videos and handouts for the next year.
They are actually in the last hour right now, but I am on information overload…

view from the other side

view from the other side

…so I’m going to go back and watch the videos later.

As I have been watching the presentations and chatting with other art teachers, I have been jotting down notes of things I want to do next year. Some of these goals I already had, some are new, or some are just more specific. Like…

  1. Using iPads at least once with every grade level. Theresa Gillespie gave a great presentation about practical ways to do that.
  2. Communicate with parents better. Specifically, I want to create a Facebook page for our art program. That way parents who follow it can know when I’ve added pictures to our online galleries, when we need supply donations (old tshirts, bottle caps, TP rolls, etc), or when I need volunteers.
  3. I want to collaborate with the classroom teachers more. For instance, I noticed last year that 5th graders did a biography project. Well, I could have them do an art project based on the person they have been researching for their biography. There is an iPad app that turns any picture into a stamp. They could draw a portrait of their person, take a picture, turn it into a stamp. Or add text to the picture with the WordFoto app. There go two goals in one!
  4. I want to try doing art centers with Kindergarten

I am trying not to bee too ambitious with these goals, but I think these are all very doable. Last year I was afraid of getting too overwhelmed, so I just tried to do the bare minimum. Which is fine, but next year and I can do more things. I’ve also been thinking about doing an art show, perhaps in conjunction with open house. I could use a service like Artome, that does it all for you, or I could organize it with the help of parent volunteers and students. These are all things I will have to talk to our new principal about. I’m excited to meet her.

This has gotten me pumped for next year. But I’m glad I still have many weeks ahead of me before then!


Well, it’s officially summer. Spent some time by the pool yesterday with some oldie-but-goodies-friends.

And I’m officially very sunburned because I stupidly did not wear sunscreen.

Yep, it’s all very official.

Good thing I’m only sunburned on my front side, because I have a massage scheduled today that would otherwise be very painful.

Ah the life of a teacher in the summertime. Across the street from our house their is a school that is still not out for summer break. This is their last week. I feel for those teachers. I walked the dogs by a group of rowdy children at said school this morning and just felt so free.

And I’ve been able to spend some time doodling in front of the TV.

In pen..

And then in oil pastel…

I really enjoy oil pastel because of the potential for color-mixing, but it is difficult to do fine details with them, because they are so thick.

I want to draw more from life, not just abstract doodles. It just is more stressful because you actually want it to look like something. But anytime I get frustrated, I need to practice what I preach to my kids. Never give up on a drawing. Make beautiful oopses. Use the mistake. Don’t just give up and start over (a.k.a. Don’t waste my paper). If I can’t do that, how can I expect them to!

That actually is one of the strict rules in my classroom–no new paper. To save paper and to encourage kids to think outside the box and use their mistakes. Sometimes this means tears. And the tears really tempt me to break my rule. But usually friends who sit nearby will offer suggestions on how to make it a beautiful oops, and I will too, and they will sit there in frustration for a few minutes. Then I have to walk sway and let them figure it out, and by the end they are usually pleased with themselves. There have been a couple times I have broken my rule and nearly always have regretted it. Usually if I let one student start over, then all of a sudden no one is happy with their art and everyone wants a new paper. Which is very annoying. So I’ve learned my lesson a few times about that.

So that was a little tangent, but I hope you liked it.