Thursday, September 30, 2010

Free First Sunday at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston

It's that time again! It's the first Sunday in October this Sunday!

Take the whole family for an artful weekend

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Happy New School Year!

Here we are at the start of a wonderful new year!

You'll be able to find me each morning from 7:15 until 7:45 at the gate on 75th Street. I'll be there making sure that your students can enter the school grounds safely.

There are so many wonderful things ahead. You're students will be learning the Elements of Art and Principles of Design. We'll be drawing and painting and more!

The fifth grade art students are particularly fortunate this year. They will receive drawing supplies and a box to carry them, a set of watercolors, a sketchbook and a canvas bag to carry their art materials. Each of the groups of fifth grade artists will be creating a design to put on their group's bags. This should help them keep track of them. Help your student artist keep track of their bag. They will need to bring it with them to art! We'll be customizing the bags more as the year progresses.

You may hear your student reciting the "Art Rules". If not, ask them and count to three. I think you'll be surprised!

Our school year is opening with several projects that connect our students with other students around the country.  For the past several years we have taken part in the  Pinwheels for Peace project on September 21, International Peace Day. This is an opportunity for us to make art that encourages us to think about how each of us can make our world a better place.

Did you know that artists design money? We're looking at currency from different countries and then designing our own as a part of the Fundred Project. This project is the brainchild of Houston artist Mel Chin. The first, second, third and fourth graders will be taking part in this project.

Did you know that the Monarch butterfly migration occurs at the same time as Dias de los Muertos or the Day of the Dead? The Aztecs believed that the adult Monarch butterflies were the souls of dead warriors dressed in their battle colors. You can learn more about the Monarch butterflies and their migration at Journey North's Monarch Migration. All grades will be taking part in Journey North's Symbolic Monarch Migration. We'll be sending one student made butterfly from each class on the Symbolic Migration down to the Mariposa Monarca Biosphere Reserve in Michoacan.

The Monarch butterfly brings me to one of my favorite annual projects, Lawndale Art Center's Day of the Dead Exhibition. We have taken part for the past several years.  We will be creating a display of student artwork. Please join us on Saturday November 6 from 12 to 4 for the Family Fiesta.

I'll be offering a free papel picado workshop at Lawndale Art Center, 4912 Main Street, on October 28 at 6 PM. Please feel free to join us.

Well, that's all for now, but remember, the best is yet to come!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Summer 2010 or what i did for my summer vacation so far

Summer is a wonderful time to read and relax. It's also a great time to clean out the old and make room for the new.

At the beginning of June I attended CEDFA Summit XI in Austin, Texas. CEDFA stands for Center for Educator Development in Fine Arts. Every year for the past 11 years they have held a summit. This is the first time I have attended and it made me wish that I had been able to attend in the past.

In the course of two days I got lots of new ideas and information to think over and bring back to De Zavala Elementary. There were pre-summit sessions. I went to one on Fine Arts and Digital Literacy. I'm hoping to apply much of what I learned when school starts back up. We looked at Animoto and VoiceThread, Wordle and Artsonia.

I attended sessions for elementary art teachers led by Samantha Melvin and Nancy Walkup.

We used a two-part, self-hardening clay to create mixed media portraits. You can see my work above.

Nancy Walkup presented a lesson on Bento boxes. Nancy and I traveled together in 2008 as Japan Fulbright Memorial Fund Fellows. Bento boxes are partitioned lunch boxes. You can find lots of information and ideas for Bento lunches at Just Bento and Cooking Cute.

I came away from the whole thing inspired and thinking about what we'll be doing this next year!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

March is Youth Art Month!

Keep an eye out here for Youth Art Month activities!

Right now there are several events that are free to families.

March 6th is the first Saturday in the month and that means it is Hands On Houston at the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft!  This month's activities are as follows:
HCCC will host a celebration of the metal arts in conjunction with its current exhibitions, Iron: Forged, Tempered, Quenched, featuring American blacksmithed objects, and eXtreme Tea, featuring exquisite tea implements. Families and visitors of all ages will enjoy participating in a metal-embossing activity, watching live demonstrations by Houston Area Blacksmiths’ Association and other artists, and viewing the exhibitions. Complimentary tea will be served by Té House of Tea.
Té House of Tea is a tranquil, elegant tea house located in the Montrose/River Oaks area of Houston. Té serves a variety of high-quality teas, with a focus on small farms and fair trade plantations. For more information, visit
Clockwise from top left: Victoria Lansford, Darling, lotus have some tea...(detail), 2009. Tea infuser, strainer, and drip stand. Sterling silver, fine silver, 22K/sterling bi-metal; Russian filigree, Eastern repoussé, chasing, chain making, and fabrication. Photo by Victoria Lansford. Blacksmithing demonstrations by Houston Area Blacksmiths’ Association. Image courtesy HCCC. Zack Noble, Dr. Suess Bloom (detail), 2005. Forged steel. Photo by Tom Mills Photography.

Time: March 6, 2010 from 11am to 3pm
Location: Houston Center For Contemporary Craft
Street: 4848 Main
City/Town: Houston, TX 77002
Website or Map:
Phone: 713-529-4848
Event Type: familyevent
Organized By: Houston Center for Contemporary Craft

Sunday March 5th is Target Free First Sunday at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston:
Discover art through a variety of fun activities. Explore and make art, hear a story, watch a performance or Family Flick, and more! Each month offers a new opportunity to enjoy and learn about art.
Admission is free! No preregistration is necessary, and you may drop in and stay as long as you wish.
Recommended Ages: 4+

Time: March 7, 2010 from 1pm to 5pm
Location: Museum of Fine Arts Houston
Street: 1001 Bissonnet Street
City/Town: Houston, TX 77002
Website or Map:
Phone: 713-639-7300
Event Type: familyevent
Organized By: Museum of Fine Arts Houston

Keep an eye on this blog for more information.  There are some really special events being lined up and I don't want you to miss them!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Mosaics, Mosaics and More Mosaics

For our first unit upon our return to school we have been studying mosaics.  Over the past five weeks we have looked at mosaic work by artist San Francisco Laurel True.  Her work is featured in a video on  iTunes U on SPARK: Bay City Arts from KQED.

We went on to look at mosaic work by the great architect, Antonio Gaudi.  He lived and worked in Barcelona.  One of the most famous landmarks of Barcelona is Park Guell.  There are many extraordinary mosaics in the park including the Dragon Fountain.

We took a virtual tour of his life's passion and most famous landmark of Barcelona, La Sagrada Familia.  We zoomed in and out with the help of a CD that I got when I went to Barcelona as Fund for Teachers Fellow in 2002.

Students have made circular mosaics using paper on paper plates.

Finally, we are finishing up work on mosaics of our initials.  The students chose one of their initials, the first letter of either their first or last name and created their mosaic with small paper "tesserae".  You'll be able to see their work soon on the front bulletin board.

Take a trip to the Art Car Museum here in Houston for a look at some very unusual mosaics by art car artist and school teacher, Alan Bartell.  His car, Versatile, is on view there.
The image above is a detail of Versatile at the Art Car Museum.  Believe me it is much more spectacular in person.

The Art Car Museum is a wonderful place.  You can stop by on a week end and take in several art cars and other art by Houston artists.

Closer to home, you can see mosaic work by Jeff McKissack at the Orange Show.  The Orange Show is closed for the winter, but will reopen in March.  They were one of the sponsors of the Eastwood Academy mosaic mural titled "No Olvides Tus Raices" at 6635 Harrisburg.

On the internet you may want to take a look at some local mosaics at MOCAH, the Museum of Cultural Arts, Houston and follow it up with a driving tour to see some of their projects.

Keep your eyes out and you'll see that mosaics are all around us!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Kinga Shinnen! Happy New Year!

It's the start of a new year and a new decade!

The Japanese celebrate the new year on January 1st, the same day that we celebrate here.  Before 1873 the Japanese celebrated the new year on the Chinese Lunar calendar.  In 1873 the Japanese adopted the Gregorian calendar.  This is the same calendar that we use.

This is the nengajo I made for the year 2010.

It's a custom in Japan to send New Year's greeting cards called nengajo.  Nengajo are delivered on New Year's Day.  Most of these cards feature the Chinese zodiac sign of the new year.  2010 is the year of the tiger.

In 2008 I was very fortunate to be selected to take part in the Japan Fulbright Memorial Fund.  I was one of a group of 160 American teachers who were guests of the Japanese people and government for eighteen days during the month of June, 2008.  We were able to tour Japanese schools and stay with a Japanese family.  It was an incredible opportunity.

As we greet the new year I want to thank you for the opportunity to teach your children and be a part of your community.

Kinga Shinnen!  Happy New Year!