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Painting Over Photos (Rotoscoping)

“I only hope that we don’t lose sight of one thing – that it was all started by a mouse.” – Walt Disney

Rotoscoping is an animation technique that animators use to trace over motion picture footage, frame by frame, to produce realistic action. Originally, animators projected photographed live-action movie images onto a glass panel and traced over the image.

This project is the second of three projects designed to introduce my students to most of the tools in the Sketchbook by Autodesk app. You can read about the first, which was a 3-part project, here: Digital Drawings 

Not only is the technique of Painting Over Photos to create animations, it’s a great way to learn to use and apply the many brushes in the app and to learn about the importance of carefully arranged layers – both critical thinking and problem solving in one exercise with a little bit of creativity and self-expression mixed in.

The assignment was to open Sketchbook with a photo (any subject matter) and add a layer right away for painting an outline. Next steps are to:

1. Add a layer between the first two for “sketchy painting” (finding lights and darks)

2. Duplicate the outline layer, place it under the “sketchy” layer and flood fill a medium tone.

3. Delete the original photo.

4. Add a background.

All these steps can be seen in the tutorial video:

This project was due on Tuesday, October 27, when Halloween was definitely in the air. Although I don’t plan projects around holidays to respect the cultural diversity of my student population, the students themselves often choose to include holiday imagery. Using Sketchbook to carve a pumpkin is fun and there’s no mess! Here are a couple of Halloween projects:

Max L – My favorite part of this artwork is the night sky background. My least favorite part is probably the nose, mouth, and eyes. They didn’t look as 3D as I thought they would. The inspiration for this was that I wanted to find an object with lots of different shadows and colors. One of the concepts I learned was moving layers behind layers so you could color fill without effecting the other layers above it. When I removed the real photo background it surprised me because with the texture and color from before, it looked like there were a lot of random places with different colors. The first step was to outline the pumpkin. Next, I used the paint tool to fill in spots where I saw different shadows and coloring. I duplicated the outline layer and color filled it. I then moved it under the paint so it didn’t interfere. After that I added the starry sky background and the textured ground.

Taryn L – If you can’t tell this is a dog in a pumpkin costume and it is really cute. This assignment was a little tricky so I hope it came out the way it was suppose to. Even if that is not how it is supposed to be it looks cool. Either way I’m proud of this drawing.

On the other hand, this one, by Ekakshar B., is much more personal and documents this moment in history, the time of the 2020 pandemic. Yet it also seems to send a message of hope and optimism with the “sun shining on me”.

Ekakshar B – This is my digital drawing of my self. I am currently wearing a mask in this picture because of the current times. Towards the Left side of the drawing I tried to make the colors brighter so I could show that the sun was shining on me. If I were to change anything on this picture is that I would make my eyebrows a little less big. That was my self portrait hope ya liked it!!!
Also if you look at it from a distance it really looks like the sun is shining on me.

Many students identified immediately with the cartoon/animation possibility with this medium, gravitating toward a fun and cheerful approach, while others chose to paint over photos of pets, would-be pets, and references from the visual culture:

Kieran G – Nyan cat. Nyan cat. Nyan– Oh! Hi! I was just doing some meditation in space with the Nyan cat. We were flouting to the Amun’s us spaceship.

Maxwell B – My favorite part of my drawing is my kitty and drawing him. I wasn’t sure what to draw so I thought about my Kitten and thought why don’t I draw him? I feel like I could make Scooter my Kitten In he drawing more shades and textured and maybe work on the overall drawing of him. I learned how to use layers and textures to draw over pictures. I was surprised that it was hard to texture and add shadows to Scooter. To make this drawing I started by having two layers one with the picture and one with the Outlining then I added color then adding texture and shadows then a nice background to top it of.

Madison D – My favorite part is All of it because this is a picture of my work desk.
I don’t think i have any thing bad to say about it.
My inspiration was the photo that i accidentally took
The one thing i would Change are the pencils the lines started to merge into each Other and didn’t look good.
I learned Concepts of how to trace.
Nothing surprised me.
When i was looking for photos I found a photo that i accidentally took so i started to draw it the flower, pencils, markers.

Lily T – My favorite part that I did in the piece was drawing the arms and the salad bowl. The hardest part to make that looks even remotely decent was the face, the nose and mouth were really hard to do. I like to call the drawing: “Where did my soup Go?” Because there’s a lidl but no liquids. I used a stock image to draw over because stock images are random and funny.

Ava T – My favorite part was tracing the outside of it and my least favorite part was coloring the yellow part of the shirt
I’m not really sure, I just kinda thought it would be funny
Probably the face, I don’t really like the eyes. It’s just messy
I learned this is much much much much harder than I thought, I don’t know ??
How honestly difficult it would be to color this picture and that how well I kind of liked it ??
I put the picture in then I made a new layer and traced the outside then I colored the shoes, shirt face and pants then the background and the little honey drips.

Skylar G – I love the rose, my least fav is the background, I just love dogs that is why I made this, I would change the background because in my opinion it is horrible.

Nina P – My favorite part of the art is the main orca. I learn a lot about lighting and shading because the original picture had a sunset and the lighting was different to normal lighting. The way the art came out surprised me.

Ryder B – My favorite part was filling in the dark spots and outlining everything. I created this artwork by drawing over another photo in sketchbook. I learned that i like drawing people. The inspiration was that the character the art is based on is from a show.

Danny B – My favorite part was trying to match the colors and finding a way to make it work. I liked that it came out amazing!

There are so many excellent artworks responses to this assignment. I’ve already broken my own self-imposed rule of showcasing ten images in a post by including twelve in this one. All of the rest of the eventual 100+ can be found on our online gallery at Artsonia: Painting Over Photos (Rotoscoping)

I hope you go there to see them! Enjoy!

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Digital Drawings

Digital technology is the same revolution as adding sound to pictures and the same revolution as adding color to pictures. Nothing more and nothing less. – George Lucas

Over the past two weeks, the Miscoe Hill students in grades five and six art classes have been learning to use the Sketchbook app by Autodesk. We began with the basics of drawing tools, flood fill, and layers with this tutorial:  Students were given the week to practice during studio time after the introduction and in their asynchronous time later in the week.

The second week we followed up with a tutorial on adding layers, changing opacities, and experimenting with textures:

Again, students were given the week to practice during studio time after the introduction and also in their asynchronous time later in the week.

It’s worth noting that when I make the videos, instruction is my priority, not necessarily making good art or showing off my skills. What you see happening is the creative evolution of applying tools for the sake of applying tools, in this case covering all the basics to help young art students gain fluency with the digital medium. The result is a meandering stream of consciousness, which I hope helps my students free themselves from the “cookie cutter” approach to assigning one-size-fits-all art projects.

The final tutorial was for adding photos to the existing artwork, which shows students how to add photos in Sketchbook, leading to the next week’s project as well. With this particular exemplar, I added photos that I had in my camera roll with a desire to bring our backyard barnyard and a visit to Maine to my otherwise pretty sedate artwork. In the tutorial video I make preposterous suggestions for what the kids might add:

Mrs. Gentili – This artwork was created with the Autodesk Sketchbook app. I used a bunch of different tools, including the paint brush, felt pen, eraser, airbrush, flood fill, opacities, photos, and texture tool. I did not have a plan when I started this. I let it evolve as I experimented with the tools. I like how it came out especially considering that it was unplanned. If I were to change anything, I would make the window outlines consistent.

 They didn’t disappoint!

As always, I found myself delighted when scrolling through the many artworks uploaded to both Google Classroom and Artsonia. I enjoy each and every one of them and take particular delight in those who take their own unique path or start with something similar to the exemplar and end up with something very different. Here are just ten of the myriad of truly wonderful artworks by 10 – 12 year old art students and a whole lot more can be seen on our online gallery on Artsonia:

Lia R – I uploaded some pictures from “The Lion King”. This drawing was inspired by that movie. The pictures were uploaded from safari. These were the trees, Mufasa in the sky, a faint galaxy, and the Rafiki holding Simba. I drew the rest. I like this art because it looks like there are galaxies and fireflies.

Madeline O – If I could redo my artwork I would fix the lines on the road, and the erase some more parts of the stop sign and the little pond thing. The thing that I liked the most is how some of the stuff in the picture are drawn on and some stuff is a real picture. The thing that was the most hardest to do was the road and mountains because before the picture was there of the mountains the road and mountains were the same color so it was hard to find a different color for the road.

Rory G – I decided do make a kind of abstract city scene. I wanted it to have lots of color and to be pretty unique. I put in some pictures that I had taken and one that I found online. I used a couple of textures to make it really pop. I also used different layers to make the textures and add one.

Michael L – My favorite part is the scene the T-rex is eating a bird and blue the raptor is coming after him. Jurassic world inspired me to make this painting. I might change the background. I learned some of the tools like the line tool, circle tool and the rectangle tool in sketchbook. The bushes pop out because of the shading underneath it looks more 3D as well as the windows and fences.

Caleb R – The Spooky house is my drawing, but it is also my house. The house itself is not a huge home for the mobs, in fact the mobs are always together. Although I think I hear someone at the door. Oh wait, it was just Vamp the vampire practicing his jump scares on the roof. Wow I wonder what’s for dinner, better ask Valk the witch. “Hey Valk what’s for dinner” , I yelled. “Beef stew”, she yelled back. Hey let’s talk to Pump the pumpkin. “Hi Pump”. “Hey I’m trying to scare Victor” Pump said. Victor by the way pretty much just sits in attic all day trying to scare Vamp.

Ana K – My favorite part of this artwork is the outfit (a folk Ukrainian outfit) and my least favorite it the face. My inspiration behind this artwork is my culture.If I had the option to change my art, I would spend more time on the face and the proportions. While making this I learned more about the Autodesk Sketchbook brush and pen options and how to layer artwork. To create this by sketching out a base human, coloring it, adding shading, dress details, then by coloring the background and adding an image of spruce.

My favorite part of this artwork is the images of my cat’s food. My inspiration for this project was when I wanted to draw my cat for summer memory but it didn’t match the theme so I had to change it to a mini-golf course. That made me want to create another artwork of my cat and since this was a open ended project, I decided to draw my cat. If I were to create it again, I would make the background lines straighter. I learned how to change opacity and add texture to objects like the fish. I was surprised that the cat food cans came out as good as they did. I started by drawing the cat with the shape tool and then moved on the the fish. I made the background lines with the straight line tool and then added shadowing, texture, and images. Lastly, I used the fill bucket to color the drawing in.

Emmet K – I got this idea from castles but I did not want to make a regular one so i made this one. I used the artist pen for a lot of things and a air brush for the sand in the air. I am surprised how good it came out. I learned how to add photos, and i learned how to save a pen that I like.

I drew what you see when you get into the app sketchbook. I drew this because I did not know what to draw and I thought I should draw what I see so I drew what I saw. I would draw this again it was way to complicated. At first I was not going to add clip art as the letters but I had to so I did.

Jack P – This is my digital drawing of a house also there is a dog in the window with two little bunny’s and there is a sunset.

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Summer Memories

“Memory is history recorded in our brain, memory is a painter, it paints pictures of the past and of the day.” – Grandma Moses

I am thrilled to be back with my fifth and sixth grade students now that we are back in session again. I am teaching remotely and daily the faces of the kids and their voices bring me joy. Although quite full, the days go by quickly and I feel like we are making good progress.

The kids are working with paper and utensils they have at home because our art kit supplies haven’t yet arrived. The first project, featured here, is to draw a summer memory with pencil first and color using either markers, crayons, or colored pencils. There are quite a few skill builder exercises involved in this assignment, starting with ideation (make a short list of favorite memories and choose one), draw 1/2″ margins on all four sides, sketch lightly with pencil, and add color. Once the artwork is complete, my students learned to take and crop photos of their work and to upload them to both Google Classroom and Artsonia. On Artsonia, students wrote Artist Statements reflecting on their work. Here are just a smattering (10) of the 100+ artworks and artist statements:

The summer memory drawing is about has a lot to do with me and my friends. I’ve found that I do have a lot of good friends who are there with me. My picture shows me playing with bugs, (this is something we did a lot in the summer together), and stargazing. We stargazed a lot at night and it was a great memory. I drew a bucket filled with inspirational words and quotes to show how I’m trying to fill my life with positive things. And all of the planets and stuff in the sky just shows how crazy it felt to have these memories. – Lia R

My summer memory is located at the harbor of the Atlantic ocean. I went whale watching in this picture and we saw 8 whales which 2 of them were calves. I also saw a few that had been attacked by killer whales. There were also a few islands and trust me they we’re huge. The houses on the islands were huge so I believe they must have costed a lot. The people at the sanctuary had named the whales by there fin because every whale had a mark on their fin that no other whale had. I loved this trip and can not wait to go back. – Ekakshar B

The summer memory drawing is about when I was looking out the window and I saw 3 of my favorite birds that I see near my house. Nobody was in the picture it was just birds. The setting is my backyard. I drew it with a pencil then I colored in the picture with crayons. I think my picture came out good for drawing these birds for the first time. If I were to draw this picture again I would add trees and the furniture on my deck and maybe I would use color pencils. – James R

The summer memory drawing is about when I was sitting out side at my grandparents house that is in the cape and we where looking out at the beach. It was so pretty only half of the sun was above the water. It looked so magical. This was definitely a summer I would never forget. – Sloane R.

The summer memory my drawing is about how I remember the beach of when we got there a week or two before school. I feel proud of how I didn’t just make the rest of the page all water and made the sky pop out behind it. There were chairs in the shallow water and we put our chairs in a semi circle. I think this came out really good with the sky, the water and the beach. If I were going to draw this again I would definitely put the other peoples chairs around us and put some people playing in the water, an maybe make the chairs bigger. – Corbin D.

The summer memory drawing is about the sunrise I saw in Plymouth, MA it was around 5:30 am and there was a beautiful sunrise on the ocean. I loved doing the shading. I thought it came out beautiful, the shading looked very nice. If I were to draw it again would change a bit on the ocean because I think I could have darkened the ocean better. I loved doing this project and I am looking forward to doing more. – Sadia D.

The summer memory my drawing is about when I got my braces on. I really like having braces because I like the way they look and also because they don’t hurt as much as I though they would. I chose to draw me with my braces because I really like drawing people. I drew this use colored pencils. I think it came out pretty good. I wish I payed more attention to detail though. – Evelyn C.

I drew myself reading a book in my bed, because it is one of my favorite activities, I think I did a good job but you tell me. I simply drew it from my mind and Made it up as I went along, and when I changed my mind about something it was a good thing I only used pencil when I drew it. If I were to draw it again, instead of the doll I would probably draw a cat and have everything book themed, because that would be my dream! – Claire G.

The summer memory my drawing is about is when I tuned my whole room into a fort. The picture is of a castle in the background and a little tower in the foreground. I simply drew this with some colored pencils, crayons and a colored sharpie that I used for the border. I like this drawing very much and I am proud to say that I made it but I don’t like the background. ( the background is a failed attempt at a blended sunset ) I would have loved to go back and retry the background but I can’t. – Oliver S. (Me to Oliver: Oh, but Oliver, you can draw it again knowing what you’ve learned through this drawing!)

I drew my family’s camping setup. We have our two tents, our two easy ups, and our campfire. We went camping at Sweet Water Forest. I drew this picture with only colored pencils. I think it came out pretty good. If I were to draw it again I would make things smaller because you can’t really see my parents tent. – Taryn L

If you’re anything like me, you feel the warmth and closeness of family in these drawings. During the Covid pandemic so many families spent considerably more time together than they normally would and the kids will always remember this. Some of the memories featured in the drawings are about spending time with family or friends in nature, with birds, stars, and fireflies. I know these memories from my own childhood and love seeing today’s kids enjoying life’s simple pleasures.

There are many more drawings of summer memories on Artsonia at this link. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.


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Couldn’t Make It To Open House 2020?

Couldn’t make it Open House this week? No worries at all!

This is a super busy time of year and one can’t do everything! It was a pleasure to see so many parents and guardians Tuesday night and I appreciate your stopping by Zoom to say “hi” and hear about the 5/6 Art program. If you weren’t able to make it, please know this post contains all that you missed and more (way more).

Here is what the room looks like in a 360 Panorama (click on the photo to see the room): 

I am happy to introduce myself through this video where, as always, a picture tells a thousand words:

And to share the message I relayed during Open House:

To give you an idea of the projects we accomplished last year, you are invited to attend our virtual art show at this link: Art Show at the Miscoe Hill EXPO

Also, feel free to enjoy this 5/6 Art highlight reel, which gives an overview of the projects and program over the past few years:

Also available is information about this school year, including a breakdown of grading criteria and my contact information. Here is a link to the page: Art Class 2020/2021

Speaking of contact information, I have emailed every address I had for my students’ parents and guardians last night. If you did not receive an email from me, please let me know at agentili@mursd.org 

It was a pleasure to meet some of you this week and I look forward to meeting the rest of you one day soon. I hope the school year is off to a good start!



How I Spent My Summer Vacation Five/My Husband’s New Love

“It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer. Charlotte was both.” – E.B. White, Charlotte’s Web

This is the fifth in a series of posts written after a summer spent chiefly at home during the time of COVID-19. Except for occasional grocery trips, visiting my mother, or a trip to the wide open beach, we have been home. I’ve put together these five posts to document this Home Time, with a keen focus on the silver linings of the situation. This final post is about my husband’s new love.

When I taught third grade in the late 1990s, Charlotte’s Web was an annual treasured chapter book my class and I read together. Those were the days of Literature Circles*  and the kids would adopt and switch roles as they read the book together. There were many opportunities to check for understanding with this method of learning. When my husband, Dick, told me he’d like to try reading a book for the first time since he was in high school (over sixty plus years ago) Charlotte’s Web immediately came to mind as a good place to start because I knew the book well, and like Fern, we live on a farm.

Sixty years without reading a book, and frankly, being kind of boastful about it! Dick and I couldn’t be more opposite. I read all the time – all kinds of books, sometimes taking turns between two books at the same time. We’ve been married for fourteen years. I’ve seen him read newspapers, especially his son, Keith’s, small town newspaper, The New Boston Beacon. He reads magazines, too, particularly those about farming and horses. If you were to ask him what his favorite book is, he would say, “I don’t have one, I don’t read books.” I would ask, “Really? Never?” He’d shake his head, “Nope. Never read a book except when I was in school.”

In his own little world

When the Covid-19 pandemic closed everything from schools to museums to restaurants, we were suddenly home all the time. Once I got past the fear and anxiety the pandemic induced, I welcomed the chance to be home. Making art, sewing, catching up on projects, binge-watching TV, gardening, and reading could keep me busy for a long time. Dick is a home-body, too, or rather more a farm-body. His whole life he has raised animals. Starting with pigeons and rabbits when he was a boy, to cows, horses, pigs, prairie dogs, llamas, and emus later on, and now with our current menagerie of alpacas, goats, peacocks, chickens, and doves. He has always been an avid outdoorsman, whether farming or as a landscaper, as he was for thirty years. He had his own business, incorporating several trucks, machinery, and crew. With the early mornings and being dead tired at the end of the day, there wasn’t much time for reading.

Recently retired and home all the time because of the pandemic, when in late March Dick mentioned an interest in reading, he voiced concern over not remembering what he was reading and having difficulty with unfamiliar words. My teacher sensibilities kicked in immediately as I wondered if he had a learning disability and if I’d be able to help him work through it.  I asked Dick if he wouldn’t mind reading Charlotte’s Web to help me gauge his abilities. He acquiesced. As he read he would check in after each chapter and we would talk about the book. He would summarize the key events, setting, and plot. It seemed to me that he understood what he had read just fine. When he finished the book I asked if he had minded reading a children’s book. “No” he said, “It was a good story.” Phew. I am still embarrassed about asking him to read it, though.

Once I knew Dick could read just fine, I suggested he read A Walk in the Woods, the story of two friends hiking part of the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson. I had read it years ago, had really enjoyed it, and happened to have a copy on hand. He read it and liked it, except for all the facts about the history of the trail that were, in his opinion, non-integral to the story. That’s exactly the way Bryson writes, and different from Dick, I love him for it. In fact, I read two Bryson books this summer – One Summer – about the summer of 1927 (the year my parents were born) and The Body – A Guide for Occupants, which were both fascinating AND full of facts.

I kiddingly refer to Dick and his late uncles as “the last of the Framingham cowboys” because of their love of horses, riding, and all things cowboy. When he was a teen and young adult, Dick would dress as Tonto and ride with his uncle, Lone Ranger (of course), in the local parades. See for yourself:

And here is a live action video of Dick riding not one but two horses:

I was aware of the cowboy and western genre of novels, yet never having read them, I wasn’t sure what he’d like. I did some research and ordered the collection The Steve Dancy Tales by James D. Best for him. It was early in the quarantine and shipments were slow, so they didn’t arrive for a week or so. Then I remembered The Red Pony by John Steinbeck, which I knew I had somewhere in the house. Dick read the book and when I asked him about it, he said, “It’s a good story, but it’s miserable. Nothing good happens.” Yup. Quintessential Steinbeck!

The Red Pony

Once received, the James D.Best series took a little while to get through. It was a joy to see Dick reading with intent. He would happily fill me in on the sequence of events as he read. I enjoy hearing his perspective on plot twists and character pitfalls and triumphs. There were six books in the series plus another I had bought “just in case”.

Reading in the Peacock Room next to a portrait of my father we had placed there for a whole family Zoom meeting.

When he had finished all seven Best books, I downloaded some collections of short stories to the Kindle app on my iPad so he had something to read while another set of books were on order. I couldn’t keep up! As much as Dick never read books as an adult, he is also somewhat of an accidental Luddite, eschewing the use of cell phones or computers. To see this non-computer, non-device using husband of mine walking around carrying an iPad was surreal and prompted reality checks (and photos for documentation) every time.

Around this time, my brother Bill came down from Vermont and stopped by following a visit with my mom. We got to talking about Dick’s new love of reading and he mentioned the author Larry McMurtry and Lonesome Dove. I had the series ordered within an hour of his departure. Dick loved the books. He read them everywhere.

Some of the books in the series were 800 pages long

My personality is such that I need stimulation and am always doing something, whereas Dick has the ability to sit in complete stillness and to find the “zen” in all tasks, especially those most menial (for me), like weeding, for instance. Honestly, there have been times over the past few months when it has struck me how still Dick is when reading. When he is completely absorbed in the storytelling. What a gift.

Maine summer vacation

I asked him what he likes about reading and he said, “It’s like you’re in the story. You’re there wherever it takes place. You feel what the characters feel.” So here we are, essentially grounded by the pandemic, and through his reading, Dick has traveled from the Texas panhandle to Monterey, California and throughout Montana and Wyoming.

Dick’s new love of reading has truly been a silver lining of this Home Time, this time of the pandemic. The timing of it seems almost providential in preparing us for what was to come early this fall.

I started writing this series of posts in August, hoping to have them published by the time we returned to school this September. The day after Labor Day, Dick called his physician about feeling tightness in his chest, neck, and throat. During this time of COVID-19, neither of us was eager to go to a hospital, but we had to have it checked out. Before we knew it, Dick was being transferred from the local hospital to a bigger hospital by ambulance. After a week of every kind of test you can imagine, Dick underwent open heart/bypass surgery.

Imagine my surprise when, the day after his surgery, I called the ICU at 6:30 in the morning to check on Dick and see how he did overnight. “He did really well,” said the nurse, “and he mentioned he had finished the book he was reading and wants you to bring in another one.” I was not expecting to be talking about books the morning after surgery!

It’s been a little over a week now since the surgery and Dick has been home for a couple of days. While he was in the hospital, I cleared a shelf on the bookcase in the family room for his books. Dick’s father made the bookcase for him about forty years ago. In the photo over the bookcase is Dick’s grandfather, who had been a policeman in Italy before coming to the United States.

Dick’s book collection

And here is a closer look at the books. In no time I’ll have to clean off a second shelf for his collection.

A few of these books are 800 pages plus

While I know it will be weeks before Dick is able to participate fully in the tasks of farming and gardening (described in two of the previous Home Time posts), now that he is home, he can at least feel included. Yesterday he came outside to enjoy the beautiful day while I did the farm chores. Soon he will be doing what he can, within his restrictions, to help. Meanwhile he has several books to enjoy to help pass the time of recovery.

Home Time

This is the final post of five posts about the silver linings of Home Time during the quarantine for the COVID-19 pandemic. They are recorded on this blog as pictorial essays of our life in central Massachusetts from March – September 2020. Thank you for reading them. I look forward to continued silver linings as we begin to open up the state over the next few months. And I hope you are enjoying your Home Time just as much as we are. – Alice

He is the happiest, whether king or peasant, who finds peace in his home. – Johann Wolfgang Goethe



  • Peralta-Nash, Claudia, and Julie A. Dutch. “Literature Circles: Creating an Environment for Choice.” Primary Voices K-6 8.4 (April 2000): 29-37.
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How I Spent My Summer Vacation Four/Pottery

“I am still learning.” – Michelangelo

Did I just compare myself to Michelangelo? As if.

This is the fourth in a series of posts written after a summer spent chiefly at home during the time of COVID-19. Except for occasional grocery trips, visiting my mother, or a trip to the wide open beach, we have been home. I’m putting together four or five posts to document this Home Time, with a keen focus on the silver linings of the situation. This post is about my pottery work and my progress in teaching myself wheel throwing in a rustic pottery studio in my backyard.

Summer Pottery Studio/Year-round Wood Shop

As an art teacher I have summers off. For years I spent my summers in professional learning, taking classes to stay current on technologies and methodologies and to get to next lane in our contract salary schedule. Having topped off at Masters plus 60 credits a few years ago, I found myself with actual free time during the summer. After teaching and extra-curricular work at the end of a school year, I would always find my creativity needs depleted. With a BFA in Painting and extensive experience in 2D art making and digital work, I had always been intrigued by wheel throwing, especially as something completely different from the flat plane of 2D work. I always enjoyed the hand built clay work I facilitated with my students in school and wanted to extend my clay experience into the summer. So I bought an inexpensive wheel and set it up in my husband’s wood shop (thank you, honey) in one of the barns on our property. I found a kiln nearby in an online yard sale site, added common tools, and I was all set.

Pottery studio area with St. Samuel by Odysseus Wolken

A friend and former student, Sam Odysseus Wolken, who is a working artist in the Santa Clarita, CA area, made the painting on glass the hangs in the studio. We call him Saint Samuel, and he has become my muse.

St. Samuel

Because this summer of the pandemic has been so wonky, especially with concerns around schools and education, I worked a lot more than I had anticipated. I was part of my school district’s working group on reopening our schools this fall. We met several times virtually and contributed to cloud documents between meetings. And in a group of arts leaders from throughout Massachusetts, I collaborated on the Arts Education in the Time of a Pandemic: COVID-19 Reopening Guidelines for Massachusetts PreK-12 Arts Programs. I also facilitated development of the Massachusetts Art Education Association Reopening Guidelines with a team of art educators from across the state. This was important work. I believe that seeing guidelines for teaching the arts with the protocols in place during the pandemic has had a tremendous influence on education decision makers who otherwise couldn’t necessarily wrap their heads around the possibilities. Many districts cut arts positions initially and then restored them as time went by and budgets became more well defined. I am grateful to have been part of the process of keeping the arts alive and vital in schools. In my own district, our advocacy helped to make art classes a part of the learning program and schedule, so different from last spring when we we termed “enrichment” and most sadly, “optional”. I’m writing this two days into the new school year and I already see the impact of being included!

During regular school years, I typically open the studio around Memorial Day. Due to the demands of unplanned remote learning last spring, I didn’t open it up until July 4th. Truly my Independence Day. After working and sorting through the various summer projects a teacher stores up throughout the school year earlier in the day, I would typically go up to the studio around 3:00 and throw until 5:30 or 6:00. A big part of my time in the summer pottery studio is feeling like being outdoors. The large windows that open all the way allow for moving air (with a fan assist) and great moments of changing weather. Especially rain and thunder:

Another big part of my summer pottery work is goal setting. Last year’s goal was to design and 3D print stamps for imprinting on the clay. It was a process through which I learned a lot about designing for 3D printing for a targeted result within the tolerances of clay. You can read all about that in this post. This summer, I had the 3D printed stamps all ready and chose to focus on creating large bowls and plates incorporating consistent imprinting.

Go big or go home

Large bowl

It feels good when everything goes as planned. And it’s crazy frustrating when it doesn’t! You might think throwing pottery is like riding a bike, but it’s not that way for me. It takes about 10 small pots to find the muscle memory and another few to connect it to active thinking. Throw in some inconsistencies with clay and it is pretty challenging. I look at a lot of YouTube videos to help make the steps more concrete for myself and this year I found Earth Nation Ceramics to be super helpful.

When I’m throwing on the wheel, time flies by. I lose myself in the process and emerge relaxed yet rejuvenated. My most challenging yet favorite part of it is pulling up the walls. When it goes well, it feels like flying.

Rather than wearing an apron in the hot summer weather, I have these “clay clothes” that I change into before going to the studio. I seriously get covered with clay and I don’t know how people DON’T! And secretly I think I love it.

Speaking of cleaning up, the studio is without running water. At the end of each session, I’d bring my clay tools and towels into the back yard and use a hose to clean them in a double sink we found at the Brimfield Flea Market a few years ago. This relatively primitive system works pretty well.

Double sink

Double sink

With pottery you have to respect the process. If you throw one day, you have to trim the bottom the next day, or it will dry out too much. If you’re making a handle, you can make it first before throwing or trimming and it’s dry enough to apply by the time you’re ready, after a couple of hours. In summer I build my daily schedule around two things – a beach day each week and pottery.

Pottery with tools

Pasta bowl with tools

After about a week to ten days, the pieces are ready to fire. It doesn’t take long in my double chamber kiln compared to the one at school, which is triple chamber.

First firing

Second layer

Third layer

I bisque fired just three times this summer due to the late start. Here is the bounty of my “labor”:

2020 Pottery

2020 Pottery

I’ve already set a goal for next summer to try working with porcelain. This year I worked with a light brown low fire stoneware with a low grog. I really liked it. Next year I want to experiment with some other clays to see the difference. During the early spring months, I will glaze this pottery to fire as soon as the weather warms up. There is no heat in the studio and pottery has a very low tolerance for temperature changes. Yes, I learned that the hard way. Here are examples of last year’s pottery, all glazed and fired:

2019 Pottery

2019 Pottery

A lot of people spend Labor Day weekend closing up summer cottages, I spend it closing up the clay studio.

Labor Day Pottery studio

When I cleaned it for the last time this year, I savored the time spent in the space, developing craft and getting lost in the creative process. I realized this year how important this time away from the rest of the world has been to my overall health and well being. I realize painting and creating 2D work doesn’t offer the same tactile experience as working with clay, however the time spent immersed in creativity away from all other stimulation is essential. I’ve promised myself that I’ll spend similar time in my indoor painting studio throughout the school year, no matter how hectic this school year feels. I’m grateful for the Home Time necessitated by this otherwise overwhelming pandemic.



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How I Spent My Summer Vacation Three/Family

¨You don’t choose your family. They are God’s gift to you, as you are to them.¨ — Desmond Tutu

This is the third in a series of posts written after a summer spent chiefly at home during the time of COVID-19. Except for occasional grocery trips, visiting my mother, or a trip to the wide open beach, we have been home. I’m putting together two or five posts to document this Home Time, with a keen focus on the silver linings of the situation. This post is about Family and how we’ve been able to maintain and support family relationships throughout a summer of social distancing and sanitization concerns.

Mom and Dad 1953

My mother and father met at North Adams State College when they were both pursuing careers in education. My father had already served in the US Navy and went to college on the GI bill. My mother had worked for a year for the telephone company after high school to save money to pay for college.  They both became educators and married in 1953. They then created my seven siblings and me.


My father passed away in 2008, of pneumonia after a few years of living with Alzheimer’s disease. He left a legacy in our family, which has grown exponentially. The photo below includes most of the family as we gathered for my nephew’s wedding in June 2019. Missing are some of my nieces and nephews and their children.

My family 2019

Once the pandemic hit and we were all in quarantine, we didn’t leave our house except for groceries. My husband, Dick, and I took over my mother’s grocery shopping. My mom, Barbara, is a nonagenarian living independently in a senior living facility in a neighboring town. Prior to the pandemic, she had been accustomed to riding in the facility van to shop. When Massachusetts went into lockdown, her residence locked down immediately, pretty much isolating all residents in their rooms from March through mid-June. We were able to see her briefly and from a distance on St. Patrick’s Day, when we dropped off a traditional Irish dinner and some green carnations.

March 17

That was the last time we saw her on the same physical level until mid-June. My mother’s neighbor, Carol, who lives across the hall, would photograph my mother from her doorway when our packages were delivered so we could see my mom’s reactions. She also sent photos of my mother outside during walking time that was carefully structured by floor and exit to minimize the numbers of people outside at one time. Throughout this entire period of quarantine, Carol has been a kind and loving friend to my mother.

Carol’s photos

My mom’s residence management company has been appropriately vigilant throughout this pandemic period. They continually share testing results via text messages and communication regarding protocols and precautions on a regular basis. Locking down in mid-March signaled the end of the large dinner buffets, which were a primary source of social engagement for many residents. Dinners were delivered to each apartment for residents to consume in isolation. Social areas on each floor were closed, ending the small group socialization around games of pinochle, mahjong, whist, bridge and cribbage. It was pretty bleak, but necessary.

Although my family and I could talk to my mother on the phone, I missed seeing her face and worried about her being isolated. We started visiting her from the ground outside her apartment to her window on the third floor. It was challenging at first, shouting so voices carried three floors up to my mom in her open window:

For someone who works with iPads all the time, I’m embarrassed to say it took a full week before it occurred to me that we could talk over the phone and I could bring another device for video recording. I could then send the video to my siblings in other states. I also posted them in social media to help lift the spirits of my friends and extended family. My mother, the queen:

I was teaching remotely throughout this extended period, but my schedule was such that I wasn’t “live” with students until the lunch hour. Preparing for remote teaching takes at least double the time as teaching in person, so I appreciated the flexibility and the opportunity to self-manage my time. I have a habit of getting a lot of work done early in the morning, which dates back to when I was widowed at 35 and single parenting my three year old son. Typically, I’m up and working over coffee by 5:30 in the morning almost every day, which is when I have the most clarity.  It works for me.

Early in the quarantine, my husband and I set up a routine where about every 7-10 days we would arise at 5:00 to get to the grocery store during senior hours at 6:00. We would don our masks and gloves and do our own shopping as well as my mother’s. Once at home we would wipe everything down with disinfecting wipes. We’d repack my mother’s items in fresh bags, label them, and drive the half hour to deliver them to a table at the front of the facility, where they would be sanitized again before being delivered to my mother. We’d have a quick visit and be home by 8:30 to start the work day.

Delivering groceries

A pattern developed where once we had dropped off the groceries outside the lobby, we would park the car and walk over to the spot under my mother’s window and give her a call. She’d come to the window and we’d talk. In lieu of a hug (I think) she always did a little dance or something to entertain us:

When I started mixing the video up with iMovie, which I would do on my phone on the way home, my mother’s inner “ham” emerged:

My family is spread out from all over New England and all the way to California. I would text these videos to my siblings in a group chat that would go on and on. I know group chats can be challenging, yet there was something wonderful in crossing the miles or isolation with this communication. A picture really does tell a thousand words. A video with sound tells a million.

Early in May, my mother received her federal stimulus check. Legally blind, the one thing she saw was the president’s large, black signature on the accompanying letter. She almost threw it away thinking it was propaganda. I posted the video below with the following caption: “My mom got her stimulus check yesterday & thought it was fake because all she saw was the president’s signature. She was going to “rip it up and throw it away”. My siblings & I intervened. Today’s video suggests she may be making plans to spend it”:‬

In this video, I suggested to my mother that she might blow a kiss. She obliged and then added a little “floss” dancing:

This video from early June gives you a sense of the distance and communication challenge between us:

Suddenly, during the second week of June, everything changed! We were allowed carefully scheduled (thanks Polly!) and timed in-person visits in a large tent in the courtyard area of the facility. Elbow hugs were as close as we got, yet we were thrilled and happy to be on the same floor and able to talk from just six feet away!

June 16

Isn’t this festively decorated gazebo so classic? What a wonderful space for a visit!

June 16

And from that day forward I have been able to see my mother almost weekly ever since.

June 25

July 1

Another blessing during this planned visit period, is that my siblings from other New England states would drive as many as three hours each way to visit for just half an hour with my mother. After their visit, they would come to our house, often bringing take out. Like most, my large family is very busy, especially over the summer when good weather prevails, and we often don’t see each other much except around the holidays. These visits with my out-of-state siblings were truly a gift and silver lining.

During the second week of July, the residence shifted into the next phase of quarantine. Residents could leave the facility with a family member or in their own cars to shop and go to doctor’s appointments. Coincidentally, my mother had an appointment scheduled that first week and I gladly transported her. We celebrated her first outing with an ice cream treat!

July 8

This loosening of protocol also enabled us to pick my mother up and bring her to our home to sit outside and visit with other family members while masked and socially distanced.

July 18

July 18

Below: On a trip to a routine lab visit, my mom wore her new baseball mask. A long time fan, she was pretty excited for the Red Sox season opener. However short-lived it proved to be, it was good to have baseball back. The quiet of stands without fans was a little weird, though.

Red Sox opening day

As summer went on, we got pretty good at hosting family visits. We developed a preferred layout for the tables and chairs, grouping each “quaranteam” by table. We purchased individual plastic serving tongs and spoons and placed sanitizer and disinfecting wipes in prominent places. We wore masks for most of the time, taking them off only to eat or drink. Most of all, for every gathering, the weather fully cooperated.

July 25

July 25

How lucky are we to be able to host family gatherings for my mother and her adult children, grand children and great grand children? Talk about silver linings!

August 1

August 1

In the middle of August we were able to take my mother to lunch outside at a restaurant at a local golf course. It was pretty exciting for all of us, and only the second time we had dined at a restaurant all summer.

On an outing in mid-August, we took my mother to get an ice cream before delivering her groceries. The ice cream stand happens to be nearby to where my son works. My son hasn’t seen his grandmother all summer because he works with the public and has been concerned about possibly exposing her to Covid. He lives in another town so isn’t part of our household “quaranteam”. He also works many Saturdays so hasn’t been able to come to the family gatherings outside at our home. While my husband and I were standing outside the car with our ice cream, my son happened to drive by. Seeing us, he pulled over to say hello. Imagine his surprise to see his grandmother sitting in the back seat of the car. Imagine my mother’s delight in unexpectedly seeing her grandson. This is one of my favorite moments of the summer.

August 14

For our most recent visit with my mom over Labor Day weekend, we picked her up and brought her home for a few hours to enjoy lunch and read her Kindle in our screened in gazebo. It was a lovely visit and nice to be able to relax with her and enjoy her company. Also, it made us feel like we were making progress and moving forward and beyond the stressful quarantine. Even for just an afternoon.

September 6

The pandemic-forced Home Time this summer has led to some beautiful moments and memories. While this post is singularly focused on my mother and my family, we have made memories with my stepsons and their families, across the miles between Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Florida, thanks to messaging and FaceTime. We have eagerly tuned in virtually to proudly witness grandchildren receiving high school and college diplomas. If nothing else, the simplicity of life imposed by quarantine and lock down has allowed us to hone in on relationships and family. And from where I sit as I close this post, that’s a silver lining.



How I Spent My Summer Vacation Two/Backyard Barnyard

“I don’t know which is more discouraging, literature or chickens.” – E. B. White

This is the second post about the summer of 2020, a summer spent chiefly at home during the time of COVID-19. Except for occasional grocery trips, visiting my mother, or a trip to the wide open beach, we have been home. I’m putting together two or five posts about this time to document this Home Time, with a keen focus on the silver linings of the situation. This post is about our physical space, a small gentleman’s farm we share with chickens, alpacas, goats, doves, a peacock, and a lot of backyard birds. You can read more about my husband and me and our little farm in the first post in the series.

The video above includes the storm’s fast moving clouds over the roof of the front of the house and heavy rain and thunder as viewed from my summer pottery studio. I’ll write about the studio in a future post.  Other future posts will include family connections and my husband’s recent hobby, all with a focus on the silver linings found in pandemic quarantine – or – Home Time.

Side yard with chicken coop


It is appropriate to begin with chickens because they brought joy to teaching last spring with the Make A Chicken project after we brought home a new batch of chicks in mid-April. They’ve been growing like crazy this summer as you can see in the following photos:

Chicks in April

Chickens in August

Of all these beautiful chickens, one I admire is Snowy, named for her white coloration, which stands out among the still beautiful rusts and golds of the other chickens.


We have four other hens, who we count on for eggs, that reside in the coop attached to the main barn. Our peacock, Lapis Lazuli, lives there, too. Lapis is the last of four peafowl we’ve had over the years. He is one of the original two males and female we bought several years ago. The female, Cerulean, hatched one peachick we named Krishna, after one of my students (from India) suggested the name because the Hindu deity of the same name always wears a peacock feather in his crown. Our Krishna’s father, Pavone, was the first to die and he was followed within a few years by Cerulean and then Krishna. Lapis is getting older, and each year we can see it in the sparseness of tail feathers and uneven display. He is still beautiful, however, as you can see here:

Lapis Lazuli

Aging but still splendid, he is the inspiration for my Peacock Room, a former guest room, now doing duty as my remote teaching classroom.

What I see while Zooming

What everyone else sees while we’re Zooming

One of the best times of the day while teaching remotely is the mid-day lunch break when I can stroll around the farm checking in on the plants and animals. These are our barnyard friends:

Alpacas: Andy Warhol, Man Ray, Ivanhohhoho
Goats: Frida Kahlo & Judy Chicago

The alpacas started the summer with more wool on their backs than usual due to our shearer not being able to travel due to the pandemic.

Needing a hair cut

Finally in early June they were able to be sheared. Shearing day is always a busy day on the farm. And it ends with the alpacas feeling a little underdressed and shy.

Shearing day before and after

The two goats are always eager for snacks, especially those offered by sweet grandnieces:

Gemma and Judy

Gianna with Ivanhohoho and Judy

Josslyn with Ivanhohoho

Gemma with Judy and Frida

Along with our barnyard animals, we always have many backyard visitors, most of them with wings. While I love them all, especially those with bright colors, my favorite are the hummingbirds:

Hummingbird soaring

Hummingbirds at rest

Hummingbirds in flight

We feed the birds year round, and they are a delight no matter the time of year. Here are some brightly colored Orioles, Grackles, and Cardinals!

Baltimore Oriole (male)


Baltimore Oriole (female)


And on really special moments, I catch the Cardinals feeding each other and they look like they’re kissing:

This Home Time has provided a great opportunity to enjoy and appreciate the birds and the beasts in our backyard. Taking photos is a rewarding hobby as well. It enables me to relive the moments and the memories. I wonder if down the road, kids in schools and historians will take a look back at what we were doing during this time. Not the politics and pandemic, but the human interest side of things. How were people spending their time? As long as this electronic media survives, this series can shed light on what was happening in my backyard at least. Whiling the hours with the birds and the beasts, camera in hand, and always looking for those silver linings.


How I Spent My Summer Vacation One/Gardening

“Take thy plastic spade, It is thy pencil; take thy seeds, thy plants, They are thy colours. – William Mason, The English Garden, 1782

This is the first in a series of posts written after a summer of Covid-19 pandemic quarantine. I believe we as a society have exhausted all the negative adjectives (uncertain, unprecedented, unimaginable, etc) for this period in history, so in order to best represent this time for me, I’m just going to call it Home Time. 


My husband, Dick, and I have been home since March 13. He is already retired and my school went remote in March to keep everyone safe and to try to stop the spread of the Coronavirus. We are lucky to have a home we love. My stepsons and my son are adults who have established their own lives, so it is just the two of us in the day-to-day. We get along well, our strengths are very different, yet they complement each other. My husband is a gentleman farmer and we live on a small farm with alpacas, goats, chickens, and doves. I am an artist/educator who enjoys painting, creating art with technology, and working with clay. I am lucky to have both a summer pottery studio and an indoor art studio.

Dick and I in our shared summer studio

Living on a small farm provides many opportunities for divertissement. The gardens and animals keep us physically busy in the out of doors and provide visually interesting subject matter for photography.. The bird feeders placed just outside the window afford me opportunities to photograph visitors from close proximity. Within our empty nest, although it is a modest space, I am lucky to have places to work on my artwork, including an indoor studio for 2D work and a rustic pottery studio in a barn. Earlier this year in April, I took over the dining room to set up a mask making station. Although I hated to occupy the dining room this way, we haven’t been able to host indoor visitors anyway, and I’ve cranked out 60+ masks for friends, family, and to donate. Interesting to note, this has been a great exercise in design thinking, as I worked through four iterations before arriving at one I really like.


These posts about school summer vacation will primarily focus on Home Time and how I’ve spent my summer in this space. In today’s post, I’d like to share some of my photos of the flowers that have provided an endless array of color and vitality throughout the spring and summer of Home Time. In future posts I plan to share about the farm animals, backyard birds, my pottery, family connections, and my husband’s recent hobby, all with a focus on the silver linings found in pandemic quarantine.


There’s something about gardening that is so rewarding for me. Enjoying the sometimes literal fruit of our labor is the most obvious best part, yet this year especially, finding the Zen in the activities of digging, planting, and pruning is helpful in maintaining purpose and focus in my life.

While I am the planner for the gardens and take responsibility for the flowers, I would have to scale it way back without the help of my husband, Dick, and his experience and agility gleaned from thirty years experience as a landscaper. Whether tackling the large pruning tasks around the yard, or preparing soil to welcome new plantings, he is always knowledgeable and willing to help.


We look forward to Memorial Day weekend every year because in New England, it has come to symbolize planting time without fear of frost. We can plant seeds underground earlier and perennials have often emerged from the soil, but the safe planting of annuals doesn’t take place much before then.

Annuals in the back of the truck

It is very important to us to get the plantings in at the cemetery before the Sunday of Memorial Day, especially for my two veterans – my late husband (Marine Corps) and my father (Navy). Our local Boy Scout troop places flags at the graves of veterans on the Sunday prior to Memorial Day weekend and red geraniums on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend. Here is a view of the cemetery with the calls of a Baltimore Oriole overhead:

And some shots of the cemetery with perennial Stargazer Lilies and Yucca plants blooming:




I couldn’t be more pleased with these Yucca plants. While visiting a former professor in Harwich in about 2000, my son and I dug up the roots from a tangled mass in his yard. “I doubt they’ll ever grow”, he said, ‘but take them anyway.” I’m so glad we did! They are positively majestic when they flower.

Yucca flowers

Over the years when we visit the Brimfield Flea Markets (closed this year) I keep my eyes peeled for porcelain enamel bowls to use as planters. When we get them home, we drill holes in the bottom for drainage and use them around the yard for potted plants. This year, our garden center was not nearly as well stocked due to the pandemic, but there was enough variety for the pots. Based on availability, I decided on a pink, periwinkle, and off-white theme this year. The pots go crazy throughout the summer. I trim them at least weekly and feed them every few weeks.

Porcelain enamel pots


Porcelain enamel pot on waterfall

Another garden tradition is the zinnias I plant along the front walkway. The local garden center, Angel’s, always sets aside a flat or two of State Fair Zinnias for me. I plant them in May and watch them gradually take root and grow as much as six feet tall.

May zinnias

September Zinnias


I love the annual cycle of perennial blooms probably even more than the immediate, delightful display of annuals, believe it or not. The anticipation and expectation of first blooming Crocus, Daffodil, Hyacinth, Jonquil, Tulips, and Irises in succession throughout the early spring are a colorful reward for tolerating winter.

Crocus, Daffodil, Hyacinth, Grape Hyacinth, Jonquil

Bearded Iris

Columbine, Bleeding Heart,

Columbine, Bleeding Heart, Spiderwort, Iris, Bee Balm, Snow Drops, Iris, Rhododendron, Spiderwort

And then further on in June, the purples of Lupine, Clematis, Bee Balm, and the orange of Coneflower:

And then the pinks roll in:

Mandevilla, Gerbera, Sweet Briar Rose, Geranium, Petunia, Aster

When the pinks thrive, the peonies and poppies bloom and the wisteria and false indigo share their violet hues:

Peony, Spider Wort, Poppy


Wisteria, Iris, & False Indigo

The end of June and through July are the most prolific flowering times. Every day there’s a new bloom and discovery:

Mountain Laurel, Rose, Aster, Cornflower, Primrose

Blazing Star, Day Lilies, Stargazer Lily

Last summer, Dick put up a new fence to replace the space where we stacked stove wood. The new fence provides a great backing for some taller plants such as Hollyhock, which I envied for years growing along a former neighbor’s house. I put in four plants last year and although they are supposed to be biennials, they popped up beautifully again this year. And the colors:




By far my favorite flower ever is the Delphinium and we are lucky to have a few different varieties:




This year we bought two Mandevilla vines for either side of the gazebo and secured the trailing vines to the ground with tent stakes and twine. It has been a pleasure to watch them grow:

Mandevilla vines

August Mandevilla

Last, but not least, are the Morning Glories. I plant them from seed every year even though some always pop up from years prior. I always mix up the varieties, so I’m constantly surprised and delighted when a new coloration blooms:

How blue is this blue?

They trail along the new fence:

Morning Glories trailing along the new fence

And I set up a twine trellis for them to create a little nook on the front deck:

Morning Glories on twine trellis

A little nook

Bright and beautiful until the sun passes by when they curl up and withdraw into themselves:

Curling up at the end of their bloom

And there are always more the next day

All around the yard are the perennials that provide the ongoing color throughout the summer:

Hydrangea, Rose of Sharon, Lavender, Black Eyed Susan, Day Lily and Yarrow, Sunflower, Jimsonweed, Queen Anne’s Lace, Daisy

So, let me ask you this: If we are asked to stay home and keep our physical distance from others, is it the worst thing? Not at all. Can we take this time at home to appreciate everything already happening in nature around us? We sure can. Can we add to it in a way that creates beauty and in turn nurtures our souls and our joy? Without a doubt. Let me leave you with this –

As the Hydrangea pinkens with the coming of cooler nights and the end of summer, I know the Monkshood flower is just thinking about making an appearance, usually not until October, the final bloom of the year. Of course, by the time it blooms, the trees will have filled with fall color, and the purple of the Monkshood will find its complement in the golden hues all around:



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End of Year Message 2020

Art is a language unto itself. Along with speaking and writing, you have inside you your own artistic voice. It is a powerful voice to harness when you really want to say something. Art can be your best friend when you’re trying to work through what’s going on in the world around you. – Alice Gentili

Today is the last day of school. A year like none other, it will require time to process and reflect upon. And that’s another post for another day. This my end-of-year message to my art students and their families:

Here is the transcript of what I said (while holding a chicken):

Hi Class –

Tomorrow marks three months since we started remote learning while quarantined. We were plugging along in mid-March, but in mid-April, we hit our stride little . At that time I introduced you to this chicken, who was then, only about a week old. This is Snowy, and next Im going to show you a picture of what she looked like back in April.

Here she is when we first got her in April, when she was about a week old.

Wasn’t she cute? She’s grown a lot since then. But so have you.

You’ve grown a lot, too. Think about the past three months and all you’ve accomplished. For some of you, remote learning has been a gift, and for others it has been a challenge, for a whole bunch of different reasons.  I’ve watched as many of you have kept up with assignments all along as others took a little longer, but eventually you caught on. I’ve watched you grow as artists, taking the steps necessary to try new things and then to stick with it until you’ve created something remarkable. And honestly, that’s what art is all about both in school and remote learning AND in life.

As for me, I’ve never spent so much time tracking student progress in our grading system as I have for the past three months. In fact, teaching art for me has never been about grades. Art making, even as I was a child, was never about grades. When we are in physical school, and you’re in class, and you’re in the art room and you’re working on projects, I can help you as things come up that you’re struggling with. And I can give you a little pat on the back when things are going really well. I see you when you’re trying to work through the distractions of the school day and class. Or not. I enjoyed coaxing you in school and sometimes pushing you to take the next step.

I never saw you at the end of the day, though, when all the classes were over and the distractions of the school day were gone. You were simply you then. And during this time of remote learning, that’s all I’ve seen. You, at home, with your family who loves you. Them taking my place coaxing you and sometimes pushing you. I am grateful to your family for all of their help.

One last thing I want to share with you is that with the arts, grades will never motivate you to do your best work. Art is a language unto itself. Along with speaking and writing, you have inside you your own artistic voice. It is a powerful voice to harness when you really want to say something. Art can be your best friend when you’re trying to work through what’s going on in the world around you.

And in just the past three months, I’ve been watching you develop your artistic voice. You, at home with your family, and me, monitoring your progress on Google Classroom. The three of us have come though this together. And if we had to do it again, I think we’d rock it.

I hope you have a wonderful summer. I thank you for your participation throughout remote learning. And fifth graders, I’ll see you next year. Sixth graders, I’ll be right next door to Mr. Hansen’s room. Don’t be a stranger.

Bye bye. Cluck cluck (bye bye in chicken talk).

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Drawing Act 150 Submissions

The first section of chapter thirty-eight of the General Statutes is hereby amended so as to include Drawing among the branches of learning which are by said section required to be taught in public schools. – Massachusetts Drawing Act of 1870

I began posting about the 150th anniversary of the Massachusetts Drawing Act on March 16, 2020, with this post: Drawing Act 150: Let’s Celebrate following a meeting with the Drawing Act Coalition that had been held the week before at the MA State House. That was the week that schools closed because of COVID-19.

Soon after, I began remote teaching my fifth and sixth grade art students. I was committed to making the Drawing Act celebration happen and led the young artists through a series of lessons focused on drawing and the Drawing Act. You can see those lessons that follow the one above here: Light on White and here: Human Made Object.

Needless to say, our focus on celebrating the Drawing Act has been diminished by remote learning and by not being able to hold a school wide art show, where visitors would have been encouraged to make a drawing to be submitted to the state wide celebration. However, everyone can still participate individually (see flyer below), and I expect to lead my students through another drawing unit in the fall, which will culminate in Drawing Act submissions. Until then, I’m still submitting some of the artworks to be included on an electronic display.

Join me in congratulating the following students, whose names are on the artworks below, artworks which are being submitted to the Drawing Act Celebration to be held at the Massachusetts State House and other locations this fall and electronically until then:

(Click on first image to see a slideshow)

Congratulations to all of these artists! If you would like to submit a drawing to the Drawing Act 150 Celebration, see the flyer here:

NEW 2020 05 Drawing Act Flyer summer edition

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The 5/6 Miscoe Hill Art Show Has Been Updated

“The artist’s job is to be a witness to her/his time in history.” – Robert Rauschenberg

The Miscoe Hill 5/6 virtual art show has been updated! I’m always proud to share the creative work of our young artists with our school and greater community. I’m especially proud to be able to share the work created by my students through remote learning in this virtual art show. Click on the photo to enter the show.

Miscoe Hill 5/6 Virtual Art Show







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Stop Motion Animation/Wk11 Remote Learning

“Animators can only draw from their own experiences of pain and shock and emotions.” – Hayao Miyazaki

We’re nearing the end of remote learning for this school year. The final assignment, Stop Motion Animation, is meant to introduce many of my students to creating animation to harness their emotions and creativity through story telling. The posted lesson:

🎬MUST: Watch the video which explains the lesson.

🎬Once you’ve watched the video, make a plan for your video. Choose the materials you want to use.

🎬Invite your family to join you in making the video, if you’d like.

🎬Open/Download Stop Motion Studio to your iPad and open.

1. Experiment with the app before you commit to start shooting a video.

2. Shoot the video (one minute maximum).

3. Select the video. Click on the sharing arrow (sharrow) to send the video to your camera roll.

4. Turn in to Google Classroom.

I held back from using iPads for learning for the first two months of remote learning to help cut down on screen time, saving them for the final few assignments instead. As always my students took full advantage of this new dimension of creativity!

Look at this Star Wars based video by Lily T – complete with sound effects and narration:

Had we worked on this project in class, students would have had a full array of action figures, cards, Scrabble tiles, keyboard keys, Alpha-Bits, modeling dough and whatever else they could find in the room to work with. During remote learning, they were restricted to whatever materials they had at home. It didn’t stop them.

I first saw this one on a Thursday night at 9:00. It made my whole day:

This imaginative story as told by Alexa L:

Alexa’s artist statement: I used some of my toys for the characters, a few to help my character move or standup and some thread to help hold something. The story of my video is there is a man and a hedgehog, the hedgehog is the king though. The man steals king hedgehogs crown so king hedgehog calls his guards which are the other animals. The other animals chase the man down and he throws the crown backwards and runs while the guards chase him. The crown lands in front of the hedgehog and he puts it back on. I really like how it came out, I like the story but I also really like how it is funny too. If I did anything differently I would maybe choose a different character for the man because it was pretty annoying to get him too stand.

And this carefully crafted heartwarming message from Caelin F:

Caelin’s artist statement: For this I chose to just ask everyone how they where doing. I did this with penny’s, a lot of penny’s. I think it came out cool, if their was no shadow in the background it would look a bit better, but over all it is good. If I could do this again I would do it on a different desk.

Another very sweet video; this one by Sierra L:

Sierra’s artist statement: For this project, I used an app called Stop Motion and I took pictures every time I moved my main character forward a few inches. My main character is an astronaut bunny, and I filmed it so that the bunny walked forward, and then turned right and walked towards the camera. Then, a sign appeared and slowly it developed and in the end had a little message written on the note. I’m very happy with how it came out and if I had to do it differently, I would maybe try to make my video a little longer.

This video is appropriate to the week during which it was created – the week of social unrest and protests in reaction to the murder of George Floyd; may he rest in peace:

Last but not least, this collaboration by brothers with drama, action, sound effects, and titles via iMovie after using the Stop Motion app:

Here is the artist statement by Mark: My stop-motion story is about a man(Bob) who is driving his truck but it breaks down right when a car was speeding around the corner and hit his car he gets out of the car and he shouts at the driver(Joe) and gets his crowbar but as he does that a upgraded little tikes hits the other car and goes flying into the air and hits the ground hard but he(Little Timmy) is okay so gets his pan and hits the guy(Fred) living in the trailer (the trailer behind Joe’s car) then Bob does a jump and destroys a piece from Joe’s car then Joe gets his dart gun and aims at him while that happening a motorcycle comes and hits the truck and does a flip and lands on the trailer, Little Timmy went to help him(Hank) up and then Bob throws dynamite and everyone runs but turns out it was a dud then Little Timmy, Bob, and Joe all started to argue, but then an air plane crashes into the wreckage then Little Timmy and the girl(Clara) helps get the pilot(Karl) out of the wreckage and Little Timmy makes a stretcher out of the wreckage and put Karl on it, and if things couldn’t get worse it does a boat with animals sailing it then every thing explodes because the dynamite was a time bomb but it turns out to be a movie with a director, a camera person, and a mic person.

And here is Fady’s artist statement: My stop-motion story is about a man who is driving his truck but it breaks down right when a car was speeding around the corner and hit his car he gets out of the car and he shouts at the driver and gets his crowbar but as he does that a upgraded little tikes hits the other car and goes flying into the air and hits the ground hard but he is okay so gets his pan and hits a guy living in the trailer (the trailer behind the car that hit the truck) then the guy getting the crowbar does a jump and destroys a piece from the guy who crashed into his truck then the guy who crashed into him gets his dart gun and aims at him while that happening a motorcycle comes and hits the truck and does a flip and lands on the trailer, the guy with the little tikes car went to help him up and then the guy with the truck throw dynamite and everyone runs but turns out it was a dud then the little tikes guy, the truck guy, and the guy who crashed into the truck all started to argue, but then an air plane crashes into the wreckage then the little tikes and the guy who crashed into the truck helps and gets him out of the wreckage and little tikes makes a stretcher out of the wreckage and put him on it, and if things couldn’t get worse it does a boat with animals sailing it then every thin explodes because the dynamite was a time bomb but it turns out to be a movie with a director, a camera person, and a mike person.(By the way there is going to be a similar one with my brother because he was helping me with the production of this stop-motion)

You can see all of the Stop Motion Videos in this gallery on Artsonia

Stop Motion Gallery

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Presenting Photography/Wk10 Remote Learning

“My life is shaped by the urgent need to wander and observe, and my camera is my passport.” — Steve McCurry

When we wrapped up our focus on drawing during week eight of remote learning, it was time for something completely different. Photography. Specifically, a look at photographic composition based on the work of photographer Steve McCurry. I chose Steve’s work for us to study because his photographs take us all around the world. Having been quarantined for over two months due to Covid-19, during a spring with a lot of rain, I was feeling as if we all would benefit from a change of scenery.

Hummingbird through my family room window

Personally, I take a lot of photos of the birds who frequent our many bird feeders. I wasn’t sure what my students regularly photographed, if they photographed, so the assignment was to take photos around the home, yard, or neighborhood:

📷MUST: Watch the video which explains the lesson.

📷Once you’ve watched the video, take a journey with your iPad, photographing things that interest you, that you’re curious about, that you enjoy. You are free to choose your own subjects to photograph, although some of you might want to take pictures:

  • From a bird’s eye view
  • From an ant’s eye view
  • Close up
  • Of a person
  • Of an animal
  • Of a quiet outdoor scene

📷Once you’ve taken 30 or so photos, open the editing tools in the Photos app. Crop them as needed to make them look good. Use the enhance wand if you’d like. Don’t overuse the filters and make them look too funky. We’re going for clear, well lighted photos.

📷Once edited, look through the photos seeking to find the Compositional Elements from the video:

1. Rule of Thirds

2. Leading Lines

3. Diagonal Lines

4. Framing

5. Figure to Ground

6. Fill the Frame

7. Center Dominant eye

8. Patterns and Repetition

9. Symmetry

📷Choose six photos and label them with the Compositional Elements that apply, using the text mark-up tool in the editing platform of the Photos app.

My students have iPads as we are a 1:1 school, so cameras were readily on hand. We are also a Google Suite school, so all instruction and turning in of assignments is through Google Classroom. I had shown my students how to use the mark-up tool in the Photos app on the iPad to add text to a photo for a few earlier remote learning assignments, so they were all set with that.

During live sessions on Google Meet that week, we looked at Steve McCurry’s Curated Collections on his website. The landing page features his most recent curated collection and you can see the others by clicking “older posts” at the bottom. I captured one very rewarding session with fifth grade student, Alyssa, in this video:

The kids did a great job with this project, so the next week assignment (Week 10 Remote Learning) was to present their photographs with an Adobe Spark Page. Here are the Google Classroom instructions:

🖼MUST: Watch the video which explains the lesson.

🖼Once you’ve watched the video, delete the captions from the 6 photos you turned in last week. If you didn’t do the photography part, it’s not too late. See the assignment “Photographic Composition” below in the class stream.

🖼Open/Download Adobe Spark Page to your iPad and open.

Add a:

1. Title with your first name and last initial

2. Cover photo

3. Your 6 photos in a photo grid.

4. Artist statement as caption to your photo grid.

5. Final photo with/without caption.

🖼Generate a link to your project and copy.

🖼Upload link to this assignment.

And right away, the Spark Pages started coming in. The week after they had been submitted, I uploaded the links to a Padlet.

Presenting Photography Padlet

I could have had the kids upload to padlet, but we had already included a lot of new technologies, and I was afraid the additional upload would have been too much. I love seeing them all in one place. I hope you’ll take a look through the pages and I hope you enjoy them!


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Drawing Act150/Human Made Object/Wk8 Remote Learning

“The teacher showed us how to see proportions, relationships, light and shadow, negative space, and space between space – something I never noticed before! In one week, I went from not knowing how to draw to sketching a detailed portrait. It literally changed the way I see things” Daniel H. Pink

This post features the work of my fifth and sixth grade art students who have been exploring drawing through lessons primarily derived from the Drawing Instruction manuals of 1872 by Walter Smith, which he developed to guide educators after the establishment of the Drawing Act of 1870. May 13, 2020, marks the 150th anniversary of the Drawing Act of Massachusetts.

Lizzy S

This is the third of three posts about our work with Drawing Instruction as defined by Walter Smith. I recommend the reader (that’s you!) begin by reading Drawing Act 150: Let’s Celebrate followed by Drawing Act 150/Light on White/Wk 7 Remote Learning before reading this post. This post, Drawing Act 150/Human Made Object//Wk 8 Remote Learning, showcases the culmination of the exploration of contour, light, and shading for my students. Their artworks from this post and our online gallery at Artsonia will be emailed as digital artworks to be included in the statewide celebration. Everyone from across the state is invited to participate in this event:

NEW 2020 05 Drawing Act Flyer summer edition

The assignment for this final phase of the project, Human Made Object, called for students to choose a human made, manufactured object from around the house to draw. These are the instructions they read in Google Classroom:

✍️Once you’ve watched the video, choose a human made, manufactured object from around the house. Set it on a white surface and illuminate it with a flashlight or lamp.

✍️Sketch the edges/outlines of the object. Add a grayscale at the top or bottom or on another sheet of paper if you forgot to leave room.

✍️Add shading to your drawing making sure you find areas in the human made object that correspond to every section of your gray scale.

✍️Blend with a tissue or soft paper if you choose.

✍️Erase any extraneous marks. Use your eraser to bring back the bright white areas.

✍️Take a photo of the page to include only the sketch, no background, no grayscale. Crop these out if they are included.

✍️Type your first name and last initial using the Mark-Up option in the regular iPad photo editing tools. See how-to links in earlier assignments.

Still of lesson video

Had we been at school rather than in our homes with remote learning, students would have had charcoal pencils, kneaded erasers, blending stomps, as well  as Yours Truly looking over their shoulders offering suggestions and demonstrating technique as needed, AND providing reminders about how to photograph artwork, I expect the final drawings would have blown our socks off. However, given that was not the situation and my students were working with #2 pencils and tissues for blending on paper on hand, these young artists knocked it out of the park! (But then again, they always do!) See for yourself (click on a drawing to view as a slide show):

I’ve documented our process with this project for myself as well as art educators across Massachusetts who would like to celebrate the Drawing Act 150th anniversary by submitting student drawings. These were my plans based on the resources I gathered. Feel free to use as much of this as you’d like and to tweak it to make it your own great fit for your demographic of students.

I had planned to have a drawing table set up at our spring art show where visitors could create a drawing to submit to the celebration. Because of school closure due to Covid-19, that didn’t happen. I look forward to doing this again in the fall, maybe even in physical school, and will reach out at that time for submissions from the community. I’m really glad to have had this trial run, even as remote learning. It has given me a good sense of how my students will respond (eagerly) when I facilitate this again. I am looking forward to celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Massachusetts Drawing Act of 1870 with a lot of artwork and a whole lot of people in the future!


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DrawingAct150/Light on White/Wk 7 Remote Learning

“There is strong shadow where there is much light.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

For the past two weeks, we’ve been looking at the way light falls on an object and trying to capture it in a drawing with pencil on paper.

Our focus on drawing is directly influenced by the celebration of the Massachusetts Drawing Act of 1870 and the opportunity to submit drawings to a statewide celebration. You can read all about the Drawing Act in this post from March 16, 2020: Drawing Act 150: Let’s Celebrate. At the time of the post, we had just been released from school for what we thought was a two week quarantine due to the rise in incidents of Covid-19. Since then, schools have been closed through the end of the school year. Despite this shift, the Drawing Act Coalition, with the leadership of House Representative Mary Keefe (Worcester) and MassArt Chief of Staff Susana Segat, continues to meet to entertain ways to adapt, revise, and continue the celebration. At this time, entries are still being accepted via email. Because my students have school iPads at home, the Drawing Act unit is still viable. And so we soldier on.

For a couple of weeks, early in the time of remote learning, students copied the drawings of Walter Smith, who (literally) wrote the book on drawing instruction. This is the video I released to students to introduce the lesson and share information about the Drawing Act and Walter Smith: Drawing Instruction

At that point, ALL assignments were optional, so I know not all students participated in the lesson, although many did. Here are a few examples of the work that was submitted:

We took a break from the Drawing Act unit during Week 5 of remote learning – the week before April vacation – to lighten things up with the Make A Chicken project. Once we returned from vacation (staycation) and were energized and ready to get back to the business of drawing, I shared the skill builder lesson video with my students for How to Draw and Shade a Sphere. In teaching remotely, we are limited to the assign/submit method of instruction rather than the casual over-the-shoulder glance at student artwork during class in the physical classroom. We also have limited opportunities for communication. Normally, in a unit such as this one on Drawing, kids would enter the classroom and take sketchbooks from the class bins, read a prompt on the white board and start sketching. This is when those over-the-shoulder glances are so important, both as checks for understanding and as formative assessments. Then we’d move on to direct instruction in the form of a 5 minute demo with the document camera while all looked on. It’s at that point, currently, where remote learning begins, without the benefit of the “bell ringer” or warm up exercise. The video above replaces the 5 minute demo in remote learning, except it isn’t in person AND there’s no “ask me a question” opportunity. Despite the physical disconnect, my students did well with the assignment. Some chose to blend with a tissue or their fingers. Here are two of the 100+ spheres turned in to the Draw and Shade a Sphere assignment:

During week seven of remote learning, I shared the video Light On White  as an introduction to the lesson. The goal was for students to explore the way light falls on a white surface and the grays that are created by multiple geometric planes receiving the light at different angles. As you can see in the video, I offered the idea of folding paper with origami and sketching it, or randomly folding paper and sketching a less organized subject. I wanted it to be open to individual creativity (always) while exposing all students to the concepts of value, shading, and light. As you can see in the artwork below, there is a nice range of organized and random paper foldings. You can also view these artworks on Artsonia here. If you click on one of the photos below, you can view the gallery as a slideshow.

During the week that my students were working on this project, I invited them to join me for a half hour virtual class to fold paper with origami. Electives class live sessions are optional in our district, so I was happy to some have kids attend the sessions. Although I originally invited them to make paper cranes or to show me how to make something, I came across an easy way to make Baby Yoda with origami.

That option met with universal approval. We had a lot of laughs and bantered back and forth, yet made some pretty sweet Baby Yodas!



Make A Chicken Project/Wk 5 Remote Learning

“Do not count your chickens before they are hatched.” – Aesop

Because if you do, surely you will have underestimated. Both the quantity and quality of the Make A Chicken project assignment far exceeded my expectations for my art students in grades 5 and 6 at Miscoe Hill School, in Mendon, MA. Three key events came together as I assigned this project on April 13:

  • My husband and I had added eight chicks to our little farm on April 8. They were precious and sweet and truly brought much needed joy to our lives as we quarantined due to COVID19
  • On Facebook, I had seen the work of Massachusetts College of Art and Design Professor Chuck Stigliano and his students as they responded to his Chicken Challenge assignment: https://www.facebook.com/MassArtBoston/posts/10157789254776201
  • My school district was set to enjoy a school vacation from April 20-24. As we entered our 5th week of remote learning on April 13, I wanted to assign something cheerful and engaging to be accomplished with found materials already at home.

Patrick C

As we approached the fifth week of remote learning, I still hadn’t seen or heard from about half of my 196 students. Families were adjusting to learning at home and the many challenges they were suddenly confronting. Students weren’t yet sure what their responsibilities were and it was a nebulous time for many. I had been pushing out simple drawing tasks along with a weekly wellness check-in, where I asked students to send a photo or short video of themselves or what they were doing to pass the time to share with the rest of the class. I would upload the photos and videos to Animoto and create a weekly video to share via Google Classroom and as an unlisted video on my Youtube channel. More students participated in this weekly check-in than with the weekly drawing assignments. After a few weeks, my district shifted from “practice” and “optional” assignments to “regular” assignments and participation grew immediately.

During the week of April 13, I pushed out the Make A Chicken assignment with an introductory video:

I fielded questions throughout the week and shared creations on social media as they came in. It was a daily delight to look at the fun submissions to Google Classroom. And curating chickens for publication became my morning focus.

Liam F

That week, students were also asked to complete a survey about the art materials they had at home. As it turns out, many did not have colored pencils, chalk, crayons, or paint. The only items 100% of my students had at home were pencils, paper, and scissors. The Make A Chicken project allowed for everyone to create and create they did! Here are just some of the chickens that were submitted (you can click on a photo and view the collection as a slideshow):

In all, about 160 hand-crafted chickens were submitted. Some are shared above, and I’m happy to add that you can see these chickens and more on Artsonia in our Make A Chicken gallery: https://www.artsonia.com/museum/gallery.asp?project=1981037

My principal, Jennifer Mannion, was inspired to Make A Chicken and I was delighted to find this image in my email one day:

Jennifer Mannion, Principal, Miscoe Hill School

How creative is that?

And it just kept happening that people from all aspects of my life shared their chickens with me! This is the absolutely magical thing about the Make A Chicken project! For the first time in all my years of facilitating art making in school and sharing artwork via social media, this project is the first that knew no boundaries. Art teachers reached out to me for the lesson and family and friends across the United States shared chickens with me that they had made. Here is a special gallery of “affiliate” Make A Chicken submissions:

Sarah G of New Boston, NH – Granddaughter


Nellie M of Denver, CO – Great niece

Julia G of New Boston, NH – Granddaughter

Jayne M of Somerville, MA – Sister in Law

Pam S of Bridgewater, MA – Second Cousin

Penny S of Raynham – First cousin once removed (my father’s cousin)

My father’s cousin, Penny Sawyer, not only shared the quilted chicken (above) with me, she shared the story of the original quilt maker, Barbara LaFlamme. Barbara was a friend of Penny’s who I had also spent time with visiting quilt shows with Penny and my mom. Barbara passed away after a long illness in June 2019. When Penny introduced us, she knew we would enjoy each other’s company because Barbara was a former teacher, retiring after 30 years of teaching art. In her spare time she enjoyed quilting and crafting. And indeed we did enjoy each other’s company, especially when Penny and Barbara would drive up to visit the Thimble Pleasure quilt show at Blackstone Valley Tech with my mother and me. The photo below is from a visit to my home after the quilt show, apparently around St. Patrick’s Day, 2018:

When Barbara’s family was going through her home after her passing, they found some unfinished quilts, including a collection of chicken squares. As Barbara and Penny often worked together (at least conspiratorially) on quilts, Barbara’s family gave Penny the unfinished quilts.  Penny took the chicken squares and sewed them together to make this beautiful quilt:

Barbara and Penny’s Chicken Quilt

I especially enjoy the stitched sayings around the edges(Penny) and the incredibly detailed stitchery and beadwork on the individual squares (Barbara):

I’m grateful to the Make A Chicken project for taking on a life of it’s own as I stumbled through the middle weeks of COVID19 enforced Remote Learning. I have enjoyed sharing the creations across social media where I believe they were enjoyed by all. As we go forward into the final six weeks of remote learning, I’m focused on maintaining the joy, creativity, and humor the Make A Chicken project fostered. I thank everyone for participating and once again thank Chuck Stigliano for the idea. Thanks for reading, “peeps”:

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5&6 Art Show at the Miscoe Hill EXPO 2020

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” —Theodore Roosevelt

Before quarantine, tonight I would have hosted the annual Art Show at the #Miscoe Hill EXPO for my 5&6th gr art students & their families. Believing exhibition is important for young artists, I created a virtual show via ThingLink and my students and I would be honored if you could attend. Simply click on the photo below to get to the virtual art show. Once there, click on the targets to view the artwork and read project descriptions. Thank you for viewing! Enjoy!

Click on the photo to go to the show


“Do You Feel The Vibes?” Art Club Interactive Bulletin Board

“Do you feel the vibes?”

In October 2019, the Miscoe Hill 5/6 Art Club created an interactive bulletin board to represent emotions through paintings and music. They traced each other in positions that represent the emotions they were trying to convey and then used tempera paint on cardboard to fill the tracings in with color. They then selected musical compositions from around the world and tied them to each figure with a link via QR code. The mural was designed and executed by the Art Club members from vision through QR codes.

Left half of the interactive mural

Right half of the interactive mural

Center section

Art Club


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At Home With The Every Day Drawing Challenge

Happy Saturday! I’m happy you can join me for this presentation! Please feel free to add comments below the video. I’ll respond just as soon as I can!

Thank you for coming!


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