Block Printing Class April 7th


Here is information for the block printing class I will be teaching on Saturday, April 7th.

What is block printing?  First of all, it is a lot of fun!  When you create a print block, you carve a design into a soft material and then print it on paper, fabric, wood…just about anything.  You do not have to be able to draw well, nor do you have to be an artist. This technique will allow you to make your own cards, printed fabric, etc.   The process I am going to teach can be easily replicated at home.

When is the class?  Saturday, April 7th from 11am-4pm.

Where is the class?  Community gathering room at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Franklin, NC.  Here is the address: 542 Saint Johns Church Rd, Franklin, NC 28734.  It is located in a lovely wooded setting and the room provides us enough room to spread out.  I am happy to help with directions or just put the address into your GPS.

Cost and payment:  The cost for the class is $35, it includes all of the materials you need for the class, the only thing you need to bring is a lunch.  I will accept cash, a personal check, or Paypal payment.  When you register, please indicate how you will pay.

How do I register? Please email me at and indicate your interest.  Please provide me with your name, telephone number and how you would like to pay.

What will the class be like?  I will teach you how to create your design and transfer it to your print block.  Then I will explain and demonstrate how to carve and print your block.  We will print on cards, fabric, and paper.  When you leave the class you will have your print blocks and everything you’ve created along with a materials list and directions.  The goal is to have fun and learn something new…it will be a stress-free environment.  I have been printmaking with adults and children for many years and it is a process that everyone seems to love.  I hope you will join us!

Here is a link so you can see the process.

Class is limited to 10 participants, so please register early!


“The eye is the jewel of the body.”


The tittle of this blog post is a quote by one of my favorite poets, Henry David Thoreau.  I felt that it was a good way to introduce the challenges of portrait drawing with middle school students…whew!

I have always loved doing self portraits with kids of all ages.  A few years ago when I was at a different school,  I was stunned at the backlash from my middle school students when I started a portrait unit with them.   Given the opportunity to bring in their own photograph or snap a quick selfie, did not change their wrath.  Their disdain truly puzzled me…I mean are we not living in the age where taking a million pictures of ourselves and posting them social media is the new norm?  Obviously I was missing the boat, taking pictures=cool, but drawing self-portraits=instant death to the teacher….

So in order to stop the outrage and tears, I quickly did some cropping to their photographs,  to my unit, and decided we would draw the eyes only.  Thank goodness the idea was met with far less resistance and in the end the kiddos created something beautiful.

Fast forward to this year, my second year at MDCS, I thought it was time for a portrait unit.  When considering my approach to the unit, I had a very loud aggressive voice in my head screaming: “ONLY THE EYES!”  Well I listened to that voice, and the unit went much smoother, no tears and no death threats…in fact at the end of the unit I noticed some feelings of pride…YAY!

So here we go….

Materials for the unit:

A black and white photograph of each students eyes.  I took close-ups of their eyes and cropped the. I let each student give me the OK and then I printed them.

rulers and yardsticks

medium weight drawing paper

various types of charcoal


Why eyes?

While eyes are not a complete self-portrait, they still give the students the opportunity to express themselves.  As an object for teaching drawing, eyes give students the opportunity to practice close observation and draw all the tiny details that make eyes unique to a person.  Drawing eyes also gives students the chance to create different elements and principles of art and finally it challenges them to create something 3-D on a 2-D surface.


The students started off looking at their photographs and noticing all of the different values, shapes, textures and forms that make up their eye.  Then we measured the photograph and cropped it so it would be in whole number measurements (i.e. 7 inches rather than 7 1/4).  This is important for the grid.  Students make a grid on their photo so they can enlarge their eyes and use the grid as a drawing map.  When measurements are in shole numbers, its a lot easier.  Give some time for this…it’s pretty amazing how using a ruler can create so many crooked lines….Their grid squares were 1 inch x 1 inch.


Next, we do some math…yep MATH!  My biggest paper is 24 inches wide.  Students counted how many squares they had horizontally and vertically.  In the example above it would be 3 x 6.   Students take each number and multiple it by 2,3 or 4…which ever number will get them closest to 24 inches, but not over.  In the example above, it would be 4.  Doing this gives them the dimension of their paper.  So the paper for the eyes above would be 3×4 and 6×4 or 12 inches x 24 inches.  That means the dimension of each grid square is 4 inches x 4 inches, therefor; these eyes would be enlarged 4 times the size.  The photographs I printed out were much bigger.  Printing them bigger makes it easier to grid and draw their eyes.

**A few tips for drawing the big grid:  use 4H pencils to keep lines light and have students measure their grid size at the top, middle and bottom of their paper (3 spots), this helps to get straight lines.

Once they drew the grid on their photograph and their paper, students took some time to experiment with values using the various types of charcoal.  They spent time creating gradations in order to make things look 3-dimensional.  This was super fun to see them try different things.

Then it was time to start on the drawing….I heard very little groaning….YAY!  They drew their eyes lightly with pencil, going square by square, using the grid as a map.  They then started shading……






Concepts that were tricky for students included: getting the correct shape of the eye, shading the small parts of the eye and drawing eyebrows/lashes.  They did a lot of practicing and experimenting to get it right.  In the end, each pair of eyes were dramatically different.

I will add some pictures of the fished product in a couple of days.  In the meantime, take care and thanks for reading!

Printmaking with Kindergarten

Teaching art to Kindergartners is super fun but can be challenging.  At the beginning of the school year one of the lessons I like to do with kinders is printmaking…well actually this is more of a mixed media lesson; but we get the ball rolling with print making.

Why do I like to start with this lesson?

  1. Students start observing and talking about elements of art in an artwork where they can identify the subject (the castle) but it is also abstract enough that they develop their own ideas.
  2. Students start with the most basic art element: line, and use it to make basic and complex shapes.
  3. Students start experimenting with color mixing.
  4. This lesson gets the kiddos using art vocabulary right away.
  5. Students start using homemade tools (a piece of cardboard) to make art.
  6. Students start learning how to use materials safely and responsibly.

Materials List:

  1. Heavy drawing paper.
  2. Cut up cardboard, I cut my pieces in rectangles about 3 inches long. Cups for making the sun/moon
  3. Watered down acrylic paint.  I used tempera paint one year and when it came time to paint, the tempera smudged.
  4. Trays to put paint on
  5. Crayons…this year we used them to create a resist.
  6. Liquid water color…I love Dick Blick!  I usually dilute it a bit.

We start the lesson by looking at Paul Klee’s Castle and Sun. 

I found this image here:

I start by asking the kids what they see…they come up with so many great observations, not just shapes and colors, but a few will talk about texture and the type of color…YAY!

I give a short demo on how to print, not paint, with the cardboard.  Each year I usually end up with a few painters, but I just roll with it.  I do not have any photos of the printing process…but here’s an example of what the kiddos create before they start painting.


We usually don’t start painting until the next lesson so the lines and shapes can dry.

We started the next lesson talking about the color in Klee’s work and  identifying some of the colors he uses.  Students used crayons to add some texture before hand to see the magic of a resist.  I love day two of this lesson because of the excitement of mixing colors!  Here are some of the results of the kiddos hard work…..




Take care and thanks for reading!

In the Classroom and beyond…

Life gets so busy, the past few years I have found myself moving homes, jobs, relationships, etc….

But all the relocating and lugging has been worth it, because I have finally found myself doing the things I love with the people I love.

So I have started a new category on this little ol’ blog: In the classroom.  It’s the place where I will be reflecting on and sharing my teaching practice…because, yes, finally I am back teaching art in a sweet school in a community that I love.  Check out my awesome room…………

IMG_2807It is usually not this clean/organized but I decided to snap a few pictures before my school’s Exhibition night…
IMG_2808 I am  excited to start sharing my adventures in teaching…Thank you for reading and take care…

New Work: Old but New Textile

Just recently I realized that:

1. I have not been blogging, and

2. Despite the name of my blog, I haven’t really written about or shown any of my textiles.

Good thing I finally finished two projects that I have been working on for quite some time.

Here is one of the two:


This is a textile that I started when I was living in Bangladesh and really was kind of clueless when putting the base layer together. Each of the fabrics were hand dyed by me using some clamp and stitch resists. Most of the fabrics are over dyed to create more texture and richer colors. At the time of construction, my only quilting experience was with the log cabin quilt. Luckily I wanted to construct with squares and rectangles. The goal was to create a birdseye view of a neighborhood map. I really love the structure of city and neighborhood maps and thought I would attempt to create one here. Then I did some stitch in the ditch to quilt it. Then I moved to another country and the quilt fell asleep until I drug it out about a month ago.


Here is a detail of what I added. I used silk organza that I hand dyed to create the people and the buildings and stitched them on with this great cream-colored button thread. At first I was going to continue layering rectangles with the organza, however that seemed to predictable and boring…so I thought I would continue with the idea of the map and use generic people to create a crowd that seemed to be marching to the city. I wanted the people and the buildings to be transparent, to give the idea that they were either emerging from the map, being sucked into the map, or perhaps hovering…my thoughts on that change regularly.

Anyway, there are times when I look at it that I know exactly what it means, and then…no clue, which is OK by me. Too much explaining leads to very little original thought by the viewer. I am happy to have completed it. I am happy to be back sharing with you. I would love to hear your thoughts about this old but new piece. I’ll share the other one with you real soon!

Take care and thanks for reading.

Just Pictures: Vermont

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted…I blame it on moving countries, houses, studios, oh and summer glorious summer.  More on my life transitions later, right now I want to share my trip to Vermont that I went on about a month ago.

Vermont is an beautiful place.  I had never been, but WOW, I fell in love instantly with its wildness and with the determination of Vermonters to keep it that way.  We spent time hanging out in swimming holes, in a community garden, on hiking trails, and with some wonderful people.

Check it out…



Take care and thanks for reading!

Just Pictures: the last 24 hours or the sky is falling….

June 6th…the movers came, packed up my stuff…

and then they and everything else, were gone…

June 7th, started with a trip to a very sterile doctor’s office…the packers packed my inhaler!

Then to school, here is the lake I walk by everyday and today I finally took a picture..


Off to an art show with friends…

Jet Stream chicks (although that was not the real name)



Walking to dinner with my pal Ali, it was like a Pissarro painting because, surprize…it was grey and rainy.


Then the sky started to fall



And then I realized it was time to head inside or get blown away…sleep time.


Take care and thanks for reading!

Ouch! My Fingers Hurt….New Work

I cringe as I type, two fingers on my right hand are sore, callused, and permanently molded to hold my X-Acto knife.

I am excited to say that I just finished my largest and most complicated papercut to date.  It’s filled patterns, swirls, and nature….all things I love.  It evolved quite a bit in the process, such as making the tree top bigger and adding more patterns in large open spaces. (see below):

I was inspired by many ideas for this piece, but mostly my future and moving forward to a new phase of life.  In a few short weeks I will be relocating back to Asheville, NC to focus more on the creative aspect of my life and to start to build a new community.  I am excited and anxious, but mostly I just cannot wait to get started.  I think the imagery in the piece can speak for itself, and if it’s not obvious, that’s OK, you can make up your own stories, that’s the beauty of art.

Here are some more pictures of the work as it progressed:

These are my tools…check out those teeny tiny scissors….I love them and they give my fingers a nice break.

Here is the final piece.  I have a few decisions yet to make on the work such as:

1. Do I want to keep it on white paper?

2. Do I want to give the paper a coffee wash?

3. Do I want a different color for each section of the work? i.e. light blue for the sky or green for the hills.

For now I will leave it on this off white paper.  In a couple of days it will get packed up with my other stuff and put on a boat headed for the US.  I’ll revisit the questions above in a couple of month when I see it again with fresh eyes.  In the meantime, feel free to give me your opinions.

Take care and thanks for reading!

New Work On Wood

I got excited the other day about my recent finds at my neighborhood thrift store…wood plaques.  You see I have been thinking about mounting some of my works on wood to solve the framing issues involved with works on paper and perhaps more appealing to those that want to purchase them.  So I was overjoyed to find something that I could reuse, that was solid, and came in varying sizes.

SO…………I started my first piece, which was pretty fun to make, although it was a bit on the smallish side for me……

Anyway, I learned a whole lot in this process such as:

1. Even though a pen says it is permanent, it is better to test it out…meh

2. Make sure the hole in the back of the plaque is correct with the orientation of the work…duh

3. If you are going to seal your work with varnish, don’t use water-color to paint with, use ink…damn

So I completed it just a bit ago.  It’s not my most favorite piece (I feel like it is a bit too cute…yes?  No??), but it did teach me the lessons above and a few more things.    Anyway, I am excited to try again, this time on a larger format.

Oh, I almost forgot, here’s the work:

Take care and thanks for reading!


Just Pictures: Prima Ballerina

This weekend I had the pleasure of traveling to the UK to visit some dear friends that I have not seen for a looooooooong time…7 years!  I was excited to spend some quality family time with them in the countryside and not in the busy city of London…I get enough city in Brussels.

Anyway, on the weekends my friend teaches ballet lessons to youngsters, one class of 4 year olds and one class of 7-10 year olds.  First off, let me say my pal has the patience of a saint to teach ballet to 4 year olds (which can be like herding cats), however; she was amazing with them!  They were cute and fun to watch.  The second class, with the older students, was also fun to observe.  One minute they were serious, straight-backed, straight-faced prima ballerinas and the next minute they were all giggles and smiles.  The studio was beautiful and the light was perfect.  I got carried away and took almost 150 pictures of the two classes trying to capture both their innocence and the adult-like seriousness that they maintained at times.  Below are pictures from the older class…don’t worry, not all 150 of them 🙂

Take care and thanks for reading!