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Book Reviews

Best Books to Read on the First Day of School

Best Books to Read on the First Day of School

By on Aug 22, 2016 | 1 comment

Art and books are my biggest loves. Starting off any art class is best done with a book, but reading a book on the first day can help gauge a child’s listening skills, introduce art concepts in a lovely way and give the student a chance to get to know you. Watch this video to learn what books I love most…  Here are some links to Amazon to see the books Beautiful Oops! The Dot The Dot The Museum Shape Shift Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature The Rainbow Book Art The Shape of My Heart...

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Creative Books to Read This Summer – Art Made Easy 024

Creative Books to Read This Summer – Art Made Easy 024

By on Jun 15, 2016 | 9 comments

Today is the last episode of Art Made Easy Season One! When I embarked on this podcast journey, my intentions was to test out the platform, see if anyone was interested in listening to what I had to say and to share my love of teaching art through others. I’m proud that the show has over 65K downloads and has been in the New & Noteworthy section as well as the What’s Hot section in iTunes (K-12 education) since we began. That means that many of you tune in every week to listen. Thank you! To me there is no better way to begin summer, than to have a stack of books at the ready. Teachers need this time to recharge their creative batteries, take a break from the rigors of teaching and to explore new ideas and pursuits. Books can help take you there…to the place where anything is possible. Today’s episode shares three of my favorite books: One to help you form new habits, another to take you on a creative journey and the final one to allow you to step into the life of an artist/entrepreneur. Season Two of Art Made Easy will start in late August. See you then!   IN THIS EPISODE YOU’LL LEARN: – What I’ll be doing this summer (including exciting plans for Deep Space Sparkle)! – Which book can be used as a guide to help you get past “sticking points” in the creative process – What inspired me in different phases of my life & how creativity is literally a “living, breathing thing” – How visiting museums, libraries and nature will open your mind up to new ideas – What is a “morning writing commitment”? – If you really need to be an artist to teach art to kids – Why you need to listen to your instincts and that little voice inside your head – Why you can do anything, whenever, when it comes to creativity – How really knowing yourself is needed before you change any of your habits – Why you need to understand what others are motivated by   LISTEN TO THE SHOW: SHOW NOTES: The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron (affiliate link) Better Than Before: What I Learned About...

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Matisse Garden – Book Review & Video

Matisse Garden – Book Review & Video

By on Jun 13, 2016 | 5 comments

MATISSE’S GARDEN My favorite activity is popping into a book store to browse. I hardly do it anymore mostly because bookstores aren’t as plentiful. And doesn’t Amazon make it easy to buy your favorite books? But as I was walking down Sate Street last week with my daughter, we popped into The Santa Barbara Museum of Art book store. Nothing makes me happier than being immersed in colorful children’s book covers, except maybe art books written for children. Matisse’s Garden by Samantha Friedman is a must have book for your art room library. It moves past Matisse’s back story and dives straight into the process of creating art, choosing colors and seeing art in a new way. And if you don’t have any of Matisse’s works of art nearby, there are eight reproductions you can use to show your students. Nice, huh? I love the illustrations by Cristina Amodeo. Perhaps a little less saturated than I prefer but still lovely and appealing. I was so inspired that I decided to draw my own little Matisse Garden inspired by Amodeo’s illustrations. Here’s a video that shows how to use basic markers to draw organic shapes and create a composition of your own. I used a simple sketchbook and Faber-Castell broad-tip markers. I tried really hard to leave the colors flat, like Matisse, but I couldn’t resist. In the end, I grabbed a Sharpie and outlined the flowers. I think you are either in one camp or another. I almost always outline but I love the organic beauty of not outlining, too. I know. So many tough decisions in art-making. Which do you prefer? Outlining or not?     SAVE THIS POST!...

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Books to Understand Your Creative Journey

Books to Understand Your Creative Journey

By on Oct 12, 2015 | 2 comments

A few years ago, a good friend was collecting nuggets of advice for her daughter’s 18th birthday. She created an album and inserted notes from friends, relatives and loved ones.  I happily agreed to share my advice. When in doubt-read a book-Patty My friend was put out over the brevity of my note. After all, I had known this girl since she was a baby. Didn’t I have more to say? But for me, if everyone who ever had doubts or concerns or was curious or intolerant, all they had to do was read a book. The perspective you gain from reading someone else’s words is one of the most enriching activities you can do. I thought the advice was the truest thing I could say. I love both fiction and nonfiction. I’m a crazy reader. I often have 4-5 books on my bedside table, by my bathtub and in my living room–all book-marked at random pages.  I’ll pick up what suits me. Lately, there has been a huge influx of amazing titles by some of my favorite authors who are speaking about creativity. Here are the ones I have loved the most: 1. Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear   I haven’t finished this book yet and there is a very good reason for it: every sentence needs to sit with you for a while. Elizabeth Gilbert is a wonderful storyteller. She wrote one of my favorite books, The Signature of All Things, and infuses her knowledge of creativity and fear with stories and personal notes. That’s what makes this book so worth reading. She is speaking to all of us. As art teachers or parents or teachers–whatever roles we take on–understanding the stories we tell ourselves really helps bring our own creative voice to our work. And when you are comfortable with your voice, you can help others bring forth theirs. I shared my love of Big Magic with you earlier this week in this post. DSS Newsletter subscribers may remember the video link of Marie Forleo interviewing Elizabeth Gilbert. It’s one of the best conversations I listened to in a long, long while, so grab a cup of tea, find a quiet place and listen to what she has to...

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Inspired by Nature Anatomy & Book Give-Away

Inspired by Nature Anatomy & Book Give-Away

By on Jun 23, 2015 | 245 comments

How many times have you done a lesson on a butterfly and your second graders know more about butterfly anatomy than you do? I used to struggle to remember whether the body was called a thorax or abdomen. I fear no longer. This book is your side-pocket secret to enhancing any art project. Want to name the insects in this bug drawing project?  This book will help. Doing a Homer Seascape and need the names of cloud formations? This book has you covered. You see, what I love most about Julia Rothman’s Nature Anatomy: The Curious Parts and Pieces of the Natural World is that it helps you sound you a wee bit smarter than what you really are. It gives you a leg up on your pint-size audience. I’m no stranger to Rothamn’s books. My copy of Farm Anatomy: The Curious Parts and Pieces of Country Life is dog-eared and paint splattered. I have used this book for countless art projects from pigs to barns to cows to sheep. Nature Anatomy promises to be a similar source of art project inspiration. (You’ll have a chance to win a copy of this book, so stick around to the end of this post to see who to enter…)   Art Projects inspired by Nature Anatomy… I have two quick and easy projects to show you that were inspired by a few pages in the book. The first is a simple watercolor drawing. I’m using two products that are new to me. The first is  watercolor pencils by Faber-Castell. I remember when I first started teaching, there was a box of watercolor pencils in the art cupboard. I experimented with them but found that you had to press hard to achieve any amount of color saturation. Not great for kids. Faber-Castell’s pencils are so much better. They color easily without having to press too hard. They even come with their own pencil sharpener which is good. They also come with a brush. Throw that out or use it with your glue because it is terrible. For the brush, I used Royal Langnickle’s Aqua Flow brush. To use this brush, you fill the cartridge with water and squeeze the water gently. No need for a tub of water while...

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Paint Like Pollock: Art Project for Grades K-2

Paint Like Pollock: Art Project for Grades K-2

By on Apr 3, 2015 | 10 comments

As much as I love creating a big mess with paint, I wasn’t inspired to create a Jackson Pollock art project until I saw this post. I knew the technique of dipping yarn into tubs of paint would be a huge hit with my first graders. And it was. Plus, I could finally read Action Jackson! If you don’t have this book, it’s a must-read about Jackson’s painting process, not to mention a perfect read for the art room, which I define as the right amount of text to illustration ratio. To start: Place 18″ x 24″ sheets of construction paper on the tables for placemats. Mix 3-4 colors of tempera paint into tubs and place on the table. I use cafeteria trays to get all the supplies distributed and sorted before placing on tables. I used Crayola Washable paint but Laura from the blog, Painted Paper suggest Premier Tempera Paint. Worth trying! I didn’t have clothes pins like the Mrs. Seitz so I used a combination of masking tape and popsicles sticks. Clothes pins are a far better choice if you have them. Place either a colored or black piece of construction/sulphite paper at each table setting. Add small brushes to each tub of paint. How to be like Pollock: Children are a bit hesitant at first but I remind them of Jackson’s fearlessness with paint. This seems to loosen them up. The idea is to dip the yarn into the paint tub and then drag or dribble the goopy yarn over the paper to create marks. This works, but the first time the children try to dip the yarn into the tub, it doesn’t work. The yarn is dry and doesn’t sink into the paint. This is why I make the brushes available. Give the yarn some help by using the brush to dunk into paint. Have a little extra time? Creating the Pollock painting takes very little time. Only about 30-minutes or so. The mess it creates takes a while to clean up so factor that into your prep time. I used one 40-minute class with my first graders to finish unfinished projects. Many chose to add black paint markings to their dry Pollock Paintings. I gave absolutely no directions as to what to...

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