we help adults teach art to kids

New Year. New Challenges. New Joy

The only thing better than celebrating the holidays with my family is clearing out the decorations. Sounds a bit “Grinchy” but the truth is, I love the normal days as much as the special ones. My beautiful, 12 foot-pine cone and nature inspired tree made an early departure as it didn’t quite survive the hot California weather. I’ve never had a crunchier tree.

Honestly, it feels great to have the house in working order again.

Like many of you, I have some time off before teaching again and I plan to use it to re-establish my goals, get caught up on some DSS work and think about how I want to feel in the new year. The latter is especially important to me because it drives my business.

Here are a few things I’m working on….

#1 Maintaining a Positive Outlook 


For me, it begins in the minutes (or in some case, seconds) before a new class arrives in the art room. This is the moment when I clear out the energy from the last class, refocus my priorities and remember why I teach. It only takes a second, but when I think about how each child is someone’s baby, I remember my purpose and how honored I am to be a part of that child’s life.

Of course, it’s not always easy thinking this way.

It’s very easy to get caught up in dissatisfaction. You know what I mean. The feeling that you are being taken for granted, you aren’t appreciated, your schedule is ridiculous, the class behavior level is horrible, the staff doesn’t take you seriously, you don’t get paid enough for the work you do…the list goes on and on. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Rockin’ Your Disadvantage…a little story

During lunch one day,  one of the teachers at my school told me a story about her recent staff development conference. She was grouped with other teachers from different districts and like most meetings, you spend a few minutes introducing yourself.

In my friend’s group was a first year teacher from Los Angeles teaching her first Kinder class. She had 40 students. The teacher from my school also teaches Kinder and has 21 students. My friend is an amazing teacher. She is calm, lovely, brilliant and adores children but she was riveted by this young teacher from LA. Apparently, this gal was completely unfazed with teaching forty 5-year olds in an inner city school. She explained how she wrangled her kids together, the strategies she employed and how she taught that large of group. Her enthusiasm was contagious. It also served as a reminder to my friend that whenever you think you have it rough, there is always someone in a more difficult position.

Perspective is an easy thing to understand, but difficult to maintain.

My intention this year is to continue to remember why I teach. To see each child for their creative spirit and to make sure I’m not the reason why they don’t like art later in life!

#2 Amping up the Organization

I’m a moderately organized person. This means that I mostly know where things are, remember most of my appointments and my day runs fairly smooth. But I can do with some improvements.

Last July, I created my Art Teacher’s Workbook and received tremendous feedback. One lady from Texas wrote to me and suggested I make the workbook in the style of an Erin Condren Planner. I had no idea what she meant so I googled Erin Condren and found her website. Holy Moly. Planner Paradise!

While I don’t think my Art Teacher’s Workbook will morph to a planner of this beauty and scale, I fell in love with the old fashioned, colored pens and sticky note planner and order the deluxe version for myself.


Isn’t it beautiful? Inside there are photo-stickers, personalized events and inspiring quotes. Love my smart phone but this is much prettier.

But because I love my Art Teacher’s Curriculum workbook so much, I decided to create a printable calendar to go with it. Would you like one? Here you go:

2014 art calendar

CLICK to Download the DSS 2014 Calendar

Now, back to my new organizer….

I need this organizer because I’m up to my ears in video and PDF production for my new PTA/Art Docent/Home-School Art Curriculum. I have over 60 lessons to produce and it’s not easy. I need to be uber-organized and efficient with my time if I’m going to make my Spring deadline.

PTA/Art Docent/Home-School Art Curriculum

This is a partial shot of my planning board. It’s where I visualize how a curriculum will look and work together. It has many layers: first I develop the grade level standards and expectations, then I develop a lesson, teach the lesson, photograph the lesson, design the art lesson plan PDF, videotape the lesson tutorial, edit the video and finally, package it all together.


After it is completed, I may have to take a mini-vacation to escape all things video/camera and computer related. But until that time, I’m fully enjoying the process.

 #3 Maintaining a Healthy Daily Routine

I’ve gotten into the habit of waking up to a glass of water with fresh squeezed lemon juice. That’s how Martha Stewart starts her day so I figured I would, too. Hydrating is becoming more important for me, not just for my energy level but to keep my skin as healthy looking as I can manage. I’ve also been drinking less coffee which I’ve been fighting because I love coffee. But I just don’t have time for it anymore. A cup in the morning and an espresso in the afternoon seems to be working out well. This helps with the hydration factor, too.

I joined a Yoga studio last Fall and love it. I’ve done Yoga for years in my bedroom with a Namaste video but practicing with other people challenges you more. It’s harder and I feel better afterwards.

Walking along the coastal bluffs and beach is the source of my creative energy and it’s when I get all my ideas. It’s easy for me to do this because there are no snow drifts blocking my door or thwarting my efforts. I slip on my tar-ridden beach shoes and head out the door. These walks are the reason why I can maintain a positive perspective (see #1). I can’t say enough about the benefits of sunshine, fresh air, and nature to keep your head in good working order.

I would like to loose a few pounds though. Lifting weights will need to become a part of my daily routine if that’s going to happen. I’ll keep you posted.

#4 Charitable Givings

2013 was a glorious year in so many ways. Deep Space Sparkle hummed with activity and the feedback from this community has buoyed my enthusiasm for creating even more art resources. I’m eternally grateful that art has been a part of my life as it has brought me so much joy. Part of my gratitude is paying it forward to a young college-bound student pursuing an art degree or entering a creative field. The Deep Space Sparkle Art Scholarship will be awarded this Spring to a local Santa Barbara student in conjunction with The Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara. It’s through your support of this business that has allowed me to offer this wonderful scholarship. It’s my goal to offer two of these scholarships next year. I’m excited to make that happen.

Those are my four focus points for this year. What are yours? Have you incorporated a new routine that has worked? Do you need a new perspective at work? Would love to hear from you….


  1. Wow! What an inspiring message! Thank you and Happy New Year!
    I’m going to try the water and lemon juice thing. Sounds wonderful!

    Kim D.

    December 30, 2013

  2. Your website has helped me through this entire school year! I am eternally grateful for the work you do! I have sone pretty awesome “snowmen at night” projects I would love to send you pictures of from my first graders. Wishing you a wonderful 2014!

    Amanda Shuler

    December 30, 2013

  3. Thank you for your inspiring post! Your scholarship is a wonderful idea, I was really moved by that. Thanks for all you do, and for how you have improved art in our homeschool. I am looking forward to this new offering of yours, it sounds intriguing!


    December 30, 2013

  4. This is an interesting post — Thanks so much for sharing — and thank you as well for the calendar!
    Wishing you a safe, healthy and abundant new year!


    December 31, 2013

  5. Hey Patty,
    Thank you so much for all you do! You really are an inspiration to me! Happy New Year!


    December 31, 2013

  6. Patty, I consider you my mentor. After teaching high school art (and being pink slipped!) I came to a K-8 Charter School 4 years ago, without a clue as to what to do. Finding your website truly saved me. I’ve learned your style of teaching well enough so that I am now creating my own lessons. Some day I hope to have a website and share my ideas with others too. I will always be grateful to you and hope that we can meet in person some day so that I can thank you properly. Carol Wiltse


    January 1, 2014

  7. Thanks so much for your inspiring message and wonderful lesson ideas. I teach art for both children and adults. I think your goals are great ways to refocus. Thanks!


    January 4, 2014

    • Thank you! I love goals but this year am focusing on what feels good. So far, so good. Have a wonderful year Mary.

      Patty Palmer

      January 5, 2014

  8. Patty, Love your site. I too teach 450 Pre k-5th grade students per week at a public school in NYC. Your lessons are fantastic and I love the visuals you share of the students work. A special Thank-U for including the incredibly, lovely literature suggestions along with many of the lessons. We all know how important the stories are, and for so many reasons. May the year be filled with inspiration & PEACE…


    January 5, 2014

    • Thank you so much Sheeri. It warms my heart knowing my lessons are being used. And like you, I love incorporating children’s books into my lessons. Children’s literature is my biggest love next to children’s art!

      Patty Palmer

      January 5, 2014

  9. Dear Patty, Coming back to school today, Sunday January 5th, and opening my computer in the 42˚ temperature of my classroom (yes heat has been turned off all break!) I booted up my computer to begin checking e-mail. Your newsletter was the first thing to catch my eye and I can’t thank you enough for your letter of four goals beginning with maintaining a positive outlook. While I normally don’t have any issues doing this, it is feeling a bit overwhelming coming back this January. It was the perfect New Years sparkle I needed. Thank you. Leslee Shepler

    Leslee Shepler

    January 5, 2014

    • What a lovely comment to receive. Thanks! Thinking positively, despite how annoying it sounds, makes the day so much happier. Being unhappy or perturbed about something takes too much energy! Have a great week.

      Patty Palmer

      January 6, 2014

  10. Oh Patty!!!! – I am so excited for the new program! We have been having so much fun with all of your lesson plans…my 4th graders are still talking about the White House drawing…and stick with the videos – they are so amazingly helpful and helped me “teach that lesson soooo much better….and then I did a lesson from the “old” plan and they were like …ehhhh…so back to your curriculum for this months lesson! Your are TRULY amazing – thank you so much for sharing your gifts and spirit with us all!

    Kimm Lytle

    January 5, 2014

    • Thanks so much, Kymm. Your enthusiasm keeps me going!

      Patty Palmer

      January 6, 2014

  11. Hi Patty, this is so funny that I just found this section on you purchasing the Erin Condren planner. I was looking at them as a teacher has one at the school I teach Art . I decided against getting it as it was more for a teacher, NOT an ART Teacher for all grade levels, like I am.
    Like you, I teach art to the whole school, So I don’t know all 660 students birthdays nor do I need to keep grades, so many of the areas would not work for me. I will use YOUR teachers workbook for that part.
    But I see by the photo, that you must have purchased the personal Life Planner, not the teacher edition. May I ask, now that you have been using it for a while, how do you like it? Do you use it alongside your Art teacher work book? So do you carry two planners? Your own version for your art life and then your personal planner ( the Erin Condren one)?
    My favorite planner by far that I have used for years is the PLANNER PAD, but it is ugly, plain and downright boring. But I love the concept of a brain dump area at the top where you can dump all your things you need to do then place them in their own categories that you create each week, then you filter it into your week like a funnel. I have contacted the Planner Pad several times telling them to make their book PRETTY and they don’y listen! If I could take your Art work book, the Erin Condren colors and happy inspirations and the PLANNER PAD format and put it into one book, that would be perfection.So Patty,,,, get on it girl! We need all those things wrapped up in one amazing planner that we can download and purchase from YOU!!!! I’ll be your first customer.

    Robin Torres

    July 11, 2014

    • Haha! I love when you stop by, Robin. We think so much alike. I bought the Erin Condren Life Planner and although it’s pretty, there are a few things I don’t like: the size 9too small) and the large spiral ring in the middle of the book. The spiral makes it hard to write on the left hand side of the book. Weird but that bothers me!
      I’m thinking about creating an art teachers planner similar to my art teachers workbook but it’ll have to be a bit down the road. Love your ideas, so keep ’em coming!
      Hope all is well.

      Patty Palmer

      July 11, 2014

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