Friday, December 6, 2013

Everyone loves Pete the Cat!

Pete is a cool cat! When his white shoes change from red to blue to brown, and back to white again, he stays calm and rocks on. Pete the Cat: I love My White Shoes is a fun children's book that I used to teach a drawing lesson on perspective. While I read the book to my elementary age students they couldn't help but chime in during reoccuring text, and sing Pete's song about his shoes. The book really engaged the children, and it was great that they participated in the read aloud. After we finished the book I asked the students if they knew what perspective meant. Two students explained to the group what it meant - when an object appears solid (with sides and a top) and lifelike on the paper. I think the best way to teach art is by doing. Each child got a piece of paper and a pencil. Step-by-step I drew Pete the cat for the children, and had them follow along. Pete's face and body were closest to the viewer (foreground) so they appear larger. Pete's back legs and tail were further away (background) so they appear smaller. An angled sidewalk that is wider in the foreground and narrower in the background also gives the illusion that Pete is coming toward the viewer. After the drawing was complete the children used either marker, or watercolor to bring Pete to life. Outlining Pete in black marker was the final touch that really helps make him pop off the page!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Give Art

Tis The Season to give original artwork to your friends and family. Artwork is a unique gift that is long lasting. I have created a new collection of original collages that are inspired by the beautiful colors, shapes, and textures around me.  Each collage will arrive matted and ready to be framed. Collages can be purchased individually or grouped together to make a nice trio or quartet.  

Visit my ETSY shop to view all my original collages.

Friday, November 15, 2013

First Thanksgiving

In November we spend a lot of time in our classroom learning about the Native Americans, Pilgrims and the events that led up to the first Thanksgiving. We read books, examine artifacts, and discuss how the Native Americans helped the Pilgrims. At the easel the children paint their own teepees incorporating Native American symbols they learned. Not only does this activity reinforce what we are teaching, but it gives each child a chance to express their point of view. Each painting is unique, and when they are all hung together in the classroom it shows a wide range of ability and individuality.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Celebrate Hanukkah

I am leading a Hanukkah crafting event with children in grades K - 4 at Temple Beth El in Chappaqua on Friday November 22nd at 7pm. The children will explore a variety of age appropriate crafting and art activities. Younger children will make their own gift wrap paper and collage using hanukkah motifs. The older children will be beading and making their own hanukkah candles using sheets of beeswax. There will be something for everyone to do and make!

Temple Beth El
220 South Bedford Road (RT. 117)
Chappaqua, NY 10514 

Private Art Classes

Since 2008 I have been teaching art to children in Southern Westchester. I teach regularly at the Bronxville After School Club, the Summer Arts Program at Hoff-Barthelson Music School, and privately. Private art instruction gives your child an opportunity to explore art materials, techniques and art mediums in the comfort of your home. Classes are tailored to fit the needs of your child. Studies have shown that children with regular exposure to the arts are better able to problem solve, have longer attention spans, and feel more successful. I also believe that art gives children the chance to make their own choices, build trust in themselves and develop self-esteem. I am currently available to teach private art classes. Parent feedback has always been positive, and children have fun while learning. Please feel free to contact me if you would like to learn more about one-on-one art classes or small group art instruction (up to 6 artists). 

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Wabi Sabi Gets Kids Talking

“Wabi Sabi” written by Mark Reibstein, and illustrated by Ed Young is a story about a Japanese cat named Wabi Sabi, who wants to find the meaning of her name and ends up learning so much more. In The New York Times Reibstein states: “Wabi sabi is a way of seeing the world that is at the heart of Japanese culture. It finds beauty and harmony in what is simple, imperfect, natural, modest and mysterious. . . . It may best be understood as a feeling, rather than as an idea.” In the story Wabi Sabi travels from the city to the mountains to find the meaning of her name. Along the way she meets different animals, and asks them if they know the meaning of her name. Beautiful, oversized, collaged illustrations help support the story by drawing the reader into the story. A robust discussion began after I finished reading the book. We talked about the children's names as well as where the children's family originated from - Japan, Ireland, China, Vietnam, and New Jersey. When I asked them if their names had a special meaning some said yes, while others did not know. Those children who did not know were frustrated. One child suggested they go on a journey like Wabi Sabi to find out the meaning of their name. This is a great story to read to children because it starts a conversation that is about them and their family history. The children's names were the main focus of the art project we did together. I had the children write their names on a long strip of heavy white paper. I provided them with an array of art materials. They either visually represented the meaning of their name or created a beautiful design that reflected who they are. I also emphasized to the children that their artwork should have wabi sabi - beauty, imperfections, nature, and harmony. In the end I think everyone created artwork that was very unique and personal. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

Hand Knitting

Extra Yarn, written by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Jon Klassen, is a story about how a girl named Annabelle brings a community back to life. The story is set in a sad, bleak town. When Annabelle finds a magical box filled with colorful yarn, she begins to knit. First, she knits a sweater for herself and her dog. Then, she knits a sweater for everyone in the town. Eventually she "yarn bombs" the town, even the trees. Annabelle's knitting changes the town forever. I enjoyed reading this book to my elementary age students and they liked it too. They understood how the illustrations and words supported each other and enjoyed the main character's determination and knitting stamina! I also used this book as a vehicle to teach the students how to hand knit. It is an easy process, but does require good listening and fine motor skills, the ability to follow directions, some finger coordination, and a lot of patience. Once the children got the hang of it they couldn't stop!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Celebrate Autumn

The trees in my neighborhood look beautiful this time of year and their changing colors are spectacular. Every day it is a different show - bursts of red then golden yellow. The changing leaves inspired me to teach a class that celebrates autumn. I collected a lot of leaves, mostly maple, and some birch. I taught three leaf activities - leaf rubbing, leaf printing and leaf wreaths. The children tried all three activities. Rubbings can be made more challenging for older children by moving the leaf to a new position under the paper and continuing with a new color crayon. It is okay if the leaf rubbings overlap. The completed leaf rubbings should cover the entire paper. The leaf printings work best when you brush on a small amount of paint on the raised side of the leaf. The leaf should be placed straight down, smoothed with the tips of your fingers, and lifted back up. Leaf printings look great to me with white showing through. The leaf wreaths can be made using white paper plates. Cut out the center of the plate. Use small leaves that can be glued onto the rim of the paper plate. If you have time you can paint the paper plate first to add more color to the base of the wreath. Enjoy the fall! 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


Etsy is an online community where you can buy and sell handmade goods, vintage items, and related supplies. I have a shop on Etsy where I sell my original collages. I have made a few sales over the years, but more importantly it has given me a forum to show my original collages. Recently, two of my original collages - Saxon Woods 1 and Cold Spring - have been featured in a Treasury. A Treasury is a collection of items that have been selected by a member on Etsy. The  items usually have something in common such as a theme, color, or texture. Every Treasury is unique. It is meaningful to me to that my artwork continues to be selected by my peers on Etsy. 

Links to each Treasury:

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Heartsong Summer Camp

For a select group of children the summer is not over yet! They have two exciting weeks of day camp to look forward to at Heartsong in White Plains, NY. Since 1992 Heartsong has been providing music and art therapy to children with special needs and to their families. Heartsong's nationally recognized program provides a creative outlet for children who might be limited verbally or physically. Heartsong states: "This is accomplished by using music and art in its many forms and styles to nurture an individual's emotional, physical, sensory and cognitive development." 

Through a generous grant from ArtsWestchester I will be teaching art at Heartsong's two week summer camp starting on Monday August 19th. I am excited to share my passion for art with the campers! I will be teaching a variety of art projects that will utilize different art materials and techniques. Through the art process the children will have an opportunity to socialize, work on new skills, and build their confidence and self-esteem.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Recycled Musical Instruments

Recently I saw Landfill Harmonic, a YouTube video about people living in a slum built on a landfill in Cateura, Paraguay. The people make a living by picking through the trash and selling anything that has value. They are also using the trash to make recycled instruments. The instruments are made of wood, oil cans, tools that tenderize beef, forks and other ordinary items. The people of Cateura say they are enriched by these instruments and have formed the Recycled Orchestra. 
I teach in a music school where music plays an important role in the curriculum. Landfill Harmonic inspired me, and I decided to have my art students create their own musical instruments from clean garbage that I collected at our school and my home. At the beginning of art class the students watched the video. I guided a discussion about the video afterwards -  how did the people live, what were they able to create from the trash, and how did the video inspire my students. Then, the students went to our "landfill" to select materials for their instruments. As the students began to work I realized not only was this a great recycling project, but it was also about problem solving. Some students struggled with the construction of their instrument. Specifically, they need help with how  to connect two pieces of garbage together; which adhesives to use; how to manipulate cardboard; best painting methods (always paint light colors first); and so on. As I went around the room to work one-on-one with my students I realized that I was solving their problems instead of prompting them to solve their own problems. I quickly changed my wording so that I was guiding them toward the right solution. As the students completed their instruments I displayed them around the classroom. I was thrilled that they put the time and effort into making their instruments look as authentic as possible. They literally took garbage and turned it into a 3D object. But, even more important, I believe they learned new skills and gained confidence in what they were capable of achieving.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Free Art

I believe it is important to nurture children's creativity. The last time I met with my students I had a chance to talk to them about the content of our art class. I got a lot of great feedback from them about what they were still interested in accomplishing in the weeks remaining in the course. I listened to them and decided to make changes in the curriculum to meet their needs. They wanted to have a free arts day and I thought it was a great idea too. So this week I brought in all types of paper and assorted materials for the students to use. I had fabric, wallpaper samples, buttons, gems, beads, assorted wooden pieces, clay and so much more! The girls had a great time just being creative. They used their imaginations and came up with some unique pieces of artwork as well as practical items (bowls made of clay). Every week we mimic a different artist's style but this week the students were working on their own artistic styles. 

Friday, April 26, 2013

Celebrate Spring!

Flower week celebrates the rebirth of flowers and plants, and the arrival of Spring! During circle time we introduce the topic of flowers to our preschool students by reading books to help explain the varieties and how they grow. We discuss with the children the parts of the flower and use manipulatives and games to reinforce learning. Walking trips outdoors show children real life examples of daffodils, hyacinth, forsythia, and tulips. Art is an integral part of our preschool curriculum so flowers were painted at the easel. Although light blue paint was used for the sky to unify all the paintings, each child picked their own flower to paint using a book to guide them. I believe children learn best by "doing". As the week progresses the topic of flowers is presented in many different ways ensuring that learning is occurring.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle is a favorite book for story time in our preschool classroom. The book tells the story of a caterpillar eating and eating until it is ready to form its chrysalis and metamorphosis into a beautiful butterfly. The children like the colorful pictures, especially of the fruit  and different types of foods. I like reading this part of the book as well because it introduces the days of the week, and numbers. In addition, it provides an opportunity to count. Our classroom has The Very Hungry Caterpillar puppet. The children retell the story to each other using the puppet. We brought the story to life by making a caterpillar out of an egg carton. We cut the egg carton into pieces that contain 3 egg holders. Then paint the outside bright green and add an antenna (Pipe Cleaners), eyes and a mouth. Once all the caterpillars are complete they are placed in a brown bag to represent the chrysalis. Meanwhile, children are using their fine motor skills to cut out a butterfly shape that has been traced (by the teacher) on a piece of Manila paper. Students use spoons to put small blobs of paint only on one side of their butterfly (use 3 different colors). Once there is enough paint on the butterfly wing fold the paper in half and smooth with your hands. Press down firmly all over the paper. Open the butterfly to see your unique symmetrical design. Once the paint has dried staple on your caterpillar to the center of the butterfly to represent its metamorphosis into a butterfly. 

Throughout these activities our preschool children watched real caterpillars grow bigger and bigger until they formed a chrysalis. The chrysalis were transferred into a mesh butterfly cage. Once the Painted Lady butterflies emerge from the chrysalis they will be set free outdoors by the children.

Note: Fold the butterfly in half before it gets painted. It will be much easier to refold the butterfly after the paint has been placed on one wing.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Be An Artist: Alexander Calder

When I introduce Alexander Calder to children I like to focus on the circus people and animals he created. He made his circus figures using wire and embellished them with ordinary items that might have been lying around his studio. Calder's circus is an important part of his body of work. This year I decided that not only would the students create their own circus figurines out of pipe cleaners and Twisteez, but they would create their own circus scene in a recycled shoe box. I began by asking the students if they had ever seen a circus. Then we discussed the things they saw at a circus. I also used a book about Calder's circus to show them images of his circus figurines. Our discussion and the visuals I provided helped spark the children's imaginations. Then I let them pick their shoe boxes. A mix of construction paper and felt in assorted colors were used to cover the brown cardboard on the inside of the box. The felt was cut into different shapes to create a circus ring, a high wire, stage curtains, and stars to fill the night sky. Although one class session was not enough time to transform the inside of the shoe box into a complete circus scene, the students are off to a good start.   

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Be An Artist: Andy Warhol

The last time I met with my after school art class I took a photograph of each child. At home I used my computer to take all the color out of the photograph. What I was left with was a black and white image of each student with great positive and negative spaces. This is good. When I talk about Andy Warhol to children I like to show them his celebrity self portraits. His use of bold color in unexpected ways is innovative and exciting. I give the children several copies of their self-portraits so that they can create a series like Andy Warhol. I explain to them that artists often create many versions using the same subject. This process helps artists better explore their subject. I think it also allows the child to take risks and try different ideas. I like the way the children's self-portraits look together in a group and encourage my students to walk around and take a look at their fellow classmates work. Children love to see themselves in different ways. I saw children using bold colors, lines, bullseyes, dots like Seurat, and stripes in their self-portraits. They were at ease trying new and unconventional designs.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Be An Artist: George Seurat

I introduced my students to the French painter George Seurat and explained to them that he was famous for using dots - many tiny dots in his paintings - a technique that is known as Pointillism. His most famous painting, La Grande Jatte, took 3 years to paint and was very large ( 7 feet high by 10 feet wide). I showed them a book that had images of the painting so they could see all the tiny dots. Up close the dots looked separated, but from far away they become a cohesive whole. Then the children chose an image to fill-in with tiny dots and dashes (a cupcake, dog, hearts, a flower). I told them to imagine how George Seurat must have felt painting his enormous painting La Grande Jatte. I asked them if it was easy or hard to fill-in their image with dots? Did their hand hurt? Their answer was "yes" - it was much harder than they thought it would be. Some students used only one color throughout big areas, while others blended several to give their image more dimension. Dots that were small and perfect compared to dots that were wide and imperfect created different feelings as you viewed the artwork. I believe giving students the opportunity to learn by doing is an excellent way for them to better understand different artists and their techniques. 

Monday, February 11, 2013

Preschool Valentine Project

This project is a great way to work on fine motor skills in preschool aged children, while making a special valentines gift. Begin by letting your child choose the paint color(s) they want to paint on the heart shaped box. They can paint the box one color, or the lid one color and the bottom another, or create a pattern all over. One person painted strips, while another pressed down on their brush to make an abstract flower on the lid. Paint the box with the lid on, then remove it when you set it aside to dry. This will insure that your lid does not stick to the box during the drying process. The next step is to write a secret note to your child's special person(s). We used a heart shaped piece of paper and helped each child write I Love You and their name. You can modify this based on your child's capabilities. The note gets folded up and put in the box. Shh, it's a surprise! The last thing we did to make this box extra special was put colored gems on the lid. Children chose the colored gems, and the design. Some designs were: a smiley face, a border, a flower or an all-over design. One child made a pattern using blue and red gems around the edges of the lid. The gems were big and small so we also talked about size while we worked. We used tacky glue because it is strong and adheres best. I placed the glue on the box with a q-tip for each child. Children are engaged and learning throughout this multi-step project, because they are having fun creating a gift for someone they love. 

Friday, February 1, 2013

Recycling Project

Students at Hoff-Barthelson Preschool learned about the 3 Rs - reduce, reuse, and recycle - by creating a scene from The Nutcracker. Clean garbage that were destined for the trash found a new use in another form. A brown shipping box became the living room. Paper towel rolls and green ribbon turned into trees. Plastic Easter eggs were transformed into mice. Students also learned the story of The Nutcracker by listening to the music and hearing the story read aloud during story time. Hoff-Barthelson Preschool does a recycling project every year.

Photo by Zak Failla

Monday, January 28, 2013

Artist Residency at Unity Gardens

On February 4th I begin a 10 week artist residency at Unity Gardens, a senior residence, in Mount Vernon, NY. Each week I will introduce residents to an artist and their artistic style. A variety of art techniques and materials will be explored. An art show of the participant's work will be the culminating event. This artist residency is funded with a generous grant from ArtsWestchester, a non-profit programming organization located in White Plains, NY. In 2009 I was selected by ArtsWestchester to be an Artist Roster and have completed 3 artist residencies in Southern Westchester. 

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Etsy Treasury

Several of my original collages have recently been featured in Treasuries on Etsy, an online marketplace for handmade and vintage items. A Treasury is a collection of items that an Etsy member selects and posts. Usually Treasuries have a theme or convey a mood. I am proud that my work has stood out and been selected by my fellow Etsy artists.

Breathing Under Water: Beach Blanket

Happy Weekend: Cubed

Remaining Neutral in Westchester: Beacon

Look So That You See: Wavy Lines