Sunday, December 12, 2010

Graphically Speaking

One of the young Arts on the Block apprentices tweaking her original t-shirt graphic to be used on all shirts for the non-profit. There were many wonderful designs created.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Life of an Artist

I showed my picture books and mixed media fine art during my artist talk to young apprentices at Arts on The Block. I talked about some of the challenges artists face in making a career for themselves in the arts. It's all about maintaining balance in one's life and honoring one's gifts.

Choices for Teens

I worked with a group of youth during college night at the University of Maryland Baltimore College in the Choice Program. Students are mentored by volunteers and participate in art activities. I led a printmaking activity where students carved into styrofoam plates and thick foam shapes and then printing on paper.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Healing Stories for Teens

Yesterday at Arts on the Block I shared two books that I thought would go great with this months theme, " Creative Individuals Who Know and Believe in Themselves and Their Gifts." The book for young adults, Alicia Aftermath, written by author/illustrator Lulu Delacre after her daugther died tragically in a car crash in 2004 shows how spirits can still soar after devastation. The picure book Bird by Zetta Elliot was beautifully written about how a young boy uses drawing as a means to cope with his older brothers addiction and grandfathers death.

A Great Cause

The annual Art Gala and Auction at Centronia was wonderful. So many artists, so many supporters, so little time.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Centronia Silent Auction

Took one of my collages to DC today. It will be apart of a silent auction to benefit Centronia school in DC.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Showing Off Glue Print

An Arts on The block apprentice showing off a print he pulled from a plate created using glue on cardboard. The design consisted of fine linework of a butterfly and was very successfully executed.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Marketing for Artists

I attended the Teaching Artist Institute's Fall Quarterly Workshop on Marketing in Baltimore today.  We learned about  marketing strategy, target audiences, effective marketing pieces and marketing tools. The four speakers were very informative and presented their area of expertise in a poignant and succinct way.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sketching and Desiging

A teen is sketching out tshirt designs at Arts on the Block. Each student had to come up with 3 designs. The goal was to communicate in a creative way the essence of the organization that targets creative teens and gives them job training skills

Monday, November 15, 2010

Clip, Cut, Paste

A sixth grade student views my display of books and illustrations
I started my new student centered residency today through the Kennedy Center's DC Partnership Schools Initiative. The residency I created called "Clip, Cut, Paste: Piecing Our Stories Together" was designed to explore the art of collage, bookmaking and creative writing. 3rd and 6th graders will work with me over a period of 10 weeks.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Sticky Lines

High school students in the Arts on The Block program for gifted teens sketched designs of butterflies and hearts in their sketch books and then meticulously drew the image on cardboard using glue. After drying, the cardboard plates will then be inked up with a brayer and printed on cards.

A Book of One's Own

We're coming to the end of my 6-week Kennedy Center Residency at The School Without Walls. The residency "Clip, Cut, Paste: Using Technology as a Bridge to Creative Writing" was designed for 9th and 10th graders. Most of today was spent reflecting on what we did over the past weeks including narrative writing, creating blogs, e-books and collage portraits from recycled paper. Everything will be compiled in a collaborative book and distributed on the last day during a reception.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Arts on the Block

I'm now working with the non-profit, Arts on the Block in Montgomery County Maryland assisting mosaic artist Carien. I'm very excited to be working with such talented young people in this jobs training through the arts program.

Write Your Heart Out

6th, 7th and 8th graders at Takoma Elementary School worked with me on improving creative writing skills during my artist residency in October. I shared the works of prolific writer Jacqueline Woodson and other contemporary writers.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Joy of Self

Middle school students created flag books using accordion folds and made self portraits from recycled magaznes for the cover in an afterschool program in Takoma Park called "My Story, Our Story."

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Ties That Bind Us All

Kindergarten students in Falls Church worked with me for two days decorating paper, making collage, visualizing their Grandma's and Grandpops and learning how pictures truly tell a story. I read to them from a variety of picture books.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Write Thing

I'm back at Takoma Park Education Center teaching a series of writing workshops to 6th, 7th and 8th graders. I've been deep in the library looking for great examples of descriptive writing.

Monday, September 6, 2010

I Am Not Afraid

Young court involved teens illustrated a poem by Maya Angelou during my art residency at a detention center in Maryland entitled "Life Doesn't Frighten Me" from The Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

I Love Books

This summer I read as many young adult novels that I could get my hands on (pictured above) as well as poetry books that I could share in my writing and art workshops.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

American Library Association in D.C.

 I signed my children's books at my publisher Lee and Low Books booth, during The American Library Associations Annual Conference and Exhibition held in D.C.'s Convention Center. Over 19,000 persons attended and there were over 6,500 book exhibitions.The ALA is the oldest and largest library association in the world.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Listen To The Wind with Susan Roth

Author, illustrator and Washington Children's Book Guild member Susan L. Roth treated Guild members to a hands-on collage workshop at the Channel Inn in S.E. Washington. Members created self portrait people out of paper, recycled ribbon and cloth as part of Roth's "Let's Hold Hands" (susanlroth/, international art project created to encourage friendship among children of the world. These artistic symbols of good will be gathered and exchanged with persons in faraway places around the world.

Following the workshop Susan Roth talked at the monthly luncheon about the creation of her book Listen to the Wind: The Story of Dr. Greg and Three Cups of Tea, which spent 52 weeks on the New York Times' list of best-selling picture books. Listen to the Wind tells the remarkable story of the Pakistani village of Korphe, and Greg Mortenson efforts to build a school.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Collage and Poetry

5th graders at Dogwod Elementary School in Reston, Va. created collage illustrations during my author visit for poems they wrote in class.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Oyster Elementary Finale

Author and Illustrator Jennifer O'Connell (left), art teacher Carole Whelan (middle) and I pose after the Author Cafe event at Oyster Bilingual school in D.C. This event with parents and 3rd grade students marked the end of a semester long bookmaking project. I'd been collaborating with Carole for over 3 years.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Masking It

As my residency at Waxter draws to an end, I allowed youth the chance to paint one more time. They created  3D masks from heavy card stock and used cut paper to form features.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Building Books, One Page At a Time

Elementary school students in Prince George's County, Maryland hold books that they created as part of  the county's Write-A-Book competition. Students competed with others in their grade level and genre (picture book, illustrated fiction, poetry, non-fiction) and each participant received a certificate and a medal.

I gave two presentations that day at their school in Bowie. I discussed the art of illustrating and writing children's books and demonstrated several paper decorating techniques used in the creation of my books. My captive audience of 2nd through 5th graders were especially attentive, given that they just recently participated in the competition and were eager to share their books with me. I was impressed by their discipline and the attention they paid to detail in their creations.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Look At The Spring In Me

Youth at Waxter created collage portraits from cut paper. It's interesting how each girl's portrait utilized color, shape and line differently to make a unique statement about themselves and their connection with nature.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


Youth at Waxter Detention Center created awesome paintings today using simple overlapping geometric shapes. If they had a choice the girls would paint at every session.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Residency Comes To An End

March 24 marked the last day of my Spring art and writing residency at The School Without Walls in D.C. through the John F. Kennedy Center. I worked for six sessions with teacher Kamel Igoudjil within his Techniques of Writing class. The overall objective of the residency was to explore art and technology as a bridge to creative writing. During this last class, each student gave their perspective about the products they created and shared what they learned along the way. Clearly creating the blog was a favorite of many students, though some expressed their excitement about using their hands when they cut and pasted collage portraits from recycled materials. Others were excited about using the computer as a tool to draw and create art that could be used to illustrate blog entries, while some students preferred creating the ebook from an essay they wrote that explored global and cultural issues affecting youth. 

I had just purchased a flip video camera the day before and used it for the first time in class to interview students about their views on the residency. The students were very articulate. I was pleased to have been given an opportunity to work with these bright and motivated students and especially happy to collaborate with such a gifted and erudite teacher.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Presentation at Shady Side ES

Today I presented to multiple classes of 2nd grade and 4th grade students at Shady Side as part of their special activities during Book Week. I talked about how artists come up with ideas for creating pictures from the words of a story and how artists strive to make the words of a story come alive for the reader through the use of color and composition. I also talked in depth about my creative process which includes 3 components - sketching and drawing; painting using a variety of techniques and composing the pictures utilizing collage. The students were not only attentive and inquiring but very bright and receptive.

Artist/Writer Reunion

It's been over 10 years since I saw Sally Derby, author of the ward-winning picture book "My Steps." I illustrated her book, which was published by Lee and Low Books, Inc. in New York. The last time I saw Sally was when I lived in Huntington, WV. I had an art show at the Renaissance Gallery. Sally was signing books. Pictured above in Shady Side, Maryland, Sally and I both were invited as guests at the local elementary school during Book fair week.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

I'm Back!

Just returned from a week long trip to the Netherlands. I was invited to present an arts workshop at the 11th annual Boekids Children's Literature Festival in The Hague at the Council of Justice. My collage workshop was exciting as the 8-12 year olds cut and paste images of their grandparents on paper. My workshop, I was told, filled up first in enrollment. This was the first time an American was invited to present. What an awesome trip it was. I met artists and writers from Sweden, Wales, London, Surinam, Africa and all over Europe.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Exploring Artists Books

Students explored artists books and learned how they differed from text books and other books. They each made flag books from papers they painted in earlier classes. They learned how to make accordion folds and how to adher flag sections in an alternating pattern on the folds.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Hands On Paper Sculpture

5th graders at East Baltimore Charter School explore paper sculpture as an art medium. They cut and formed three dimensional shapes and forms from color constuction paper. I was very impressed with how the students stayed on task and experimented.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

A Fruitful Teaching Journey

Yeah! My teaching artist training with TAI (Teaching Artist Institute) concluded today back in Baltimore, where it all began, some four months ago. Teaching artists and their teaching partners, along with staff met for five hours to assess the month's long training, test residences and share experiences as well as devise next steps for continuing our journeys as visual, performing and theater artists in the schools. I'm pictured here with my teaching partner Sandra Alger (left) and visual artist team leader, Maria Barbosa (center). The student pictures are the final  result of my four session residency, "Every PictureTells A Story" at Longfellow Elementary school in Columbia, MD.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Look and Feel of Water

5th graders expressively painted bulletin board paper with tempera paint to illustrate water's texture, look and feel. These papers will be used later to create collage pictures that relate to water experiences. One of the overarching themes for the 5th graders this term is water quality in their community in East Baltimore. As I build my lessons, it's important for me to tie into the curriculum as much as possible.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Book Beginnings

Second grade students from Oyster Bilingual School in DC, paint with paste and tempera during my school visit. Students brush the paint on paper, then use paint scrapers to create lines and texture. Art teacher, Carole Whelan has invited me over the past 3 years as part of a book project where students are introduced to professional artists and illustrators and create their own artists' books. My first visit three years ago was facilitated by the National Museum for Women in the Arts.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Using color, shape and line, first graders at an East Baltimore school skillfully created a flower garden from cut and torn tissue paper. As a teaching artist, I will be working with 5th grade as well as 1st grade and Kindergarten weekly through May.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

My senior high students at D.C.'s School Without Walls are learning to create blogs integrating their creative writing. They've been using images found on the internet to illustrate specific aspects of their personalities based on the five senses.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Self Identity through the Arts and Technology

Using language art coupled with visual art and technology, I will be collaborating with Humanities/AP teacher Kamel Igoudjil at the School Without Walls Senior High School in D.C., in an exciting 6-week residency through the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. I feel fortunate to be working with Mr. Igoudjil again, a 2009 D.C. Mayors Art Award recipient in the category of Language Arts. In our first session last week, students wrote about the origins of their names in their journals and created cut-paper collage self portraits using recycled newspaper. These portraits along with their creative writing will be incorporated into blogs, e-books and podcasts in the  upcoming weeks. 

Saturday, February 6, 2010

A Successful Collaboration

The student above created a striking visual narrative about 
her little sister learning to walk for the first time.

I can't believe the 4 day residency is over. It was great teaming up with art teacher Sandra Alger at Longfellow Elementary, and putting to practice everything I learned in the intensive 5 day Teaching Artist Institute (TAI) seminar. Master teaching artist Maria Barbosa, offered her expertise and support throughout the months long journey. The 2nd graders struggled to finish up the fantastic scenes they created from cut and torn paper that they decorated in previous sessions with me. They pasted down the figures made from simple shapes. The people they created represented significant people in their lives and the final composition told a great visual story. The session culminated with a Gallery Walk and students roamed from table to table admiring their classmates art, offering thoughtful comments and feedback. What an awesome experience. Every picture truly told a story!

Figure It Out

In the 3rd session of my "Every Picture Tells a Story" residency I showed my second graders how to assemble a person using basic shapes cut from paper. The students used the painted papers they made last week to make these figures that represented special characters in their families, as part of their visual narratives.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Spring In Me

What is it about nature that holds a promise for us? During a four week residency in a correctional facility in Maryland, I start working again with women and explore collage, painting and paper decorating. We began the first session with a discussion about spring and its significance in their lives. Through the art of collage, these women learn how bits and pieces of paper can be cut, torn and assembled to form something new and beautiful. With ordinary materials they are literally piecing together new forms of expression.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Color Expressions

Today was my second of 4 sessions scheduled to field test my new art residency with my teacher partner Sandra Alger. I taught the second graders 3 paper decorating techniques to create unique textures- paste paper, and watercolor using plastic wrap and salt. We explored how color expresses ideas about people, places and events. The kids really got into the lesson. The papers will be used later to make pictures of their special relative.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Every Picture Tells A Story

I started field testing my new residency "Every Picture Tells A Story" at Longfellow Elementary School in Howard County with a 2nd grade class. My residency was developed in a five-day seminar designed by the Teaching Artist Institute (TAI) in Baltimore. My teacher partner and art teacher at Longfellow, Sandra Alger will collaborate with me in her classroom.

During this first session I talked about how pictures convey visual information about people, places and events. I shared my picture book Grandma's Purple Flowers and the class helped to identify characters, setting and events in the story. Towards the end of the session I asked the students to identify a special relative that was significant to them. Sandra and I passed out a worksheet that we developed. Students wrote the relatives name and information about activities they did together on the sheet. The students then drew 3 simple thumbnail sketches on a second sheet that will be used later to develop their visual narratives.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Success With Paper

I started teaching art workshops at another Juvenile Detention facility in Maryland in December, through the non-profit organization, Class Acts Arts in Silver Spring. Classes were held Christmas eve and I wanted to introduce a project that was fun and meaningful, in addition to teaching them new paper decorating and folding techniques. We made cut paper ornaments from shiny foil paper and then made others that they glued on the front of blank cards or simple accordion books. They used rubber letter stamps to form messages in the cards. I then taught two folded paper techniques to make long garlands from wrapping paper that could be later used to decorate the tree that was on their unit. Each girl experienced some level of success as they cut, tore, folded and embellished paper.