Kent Kids Art Day is Saturday, March 7!

What could be better than making stuff out of junk and duct tape?


Bring the kiddos and make some art with us THIS SATURDAY at Kent Kids Art Day!  $10 gets you in the door and kids get to make a bunch of cool and different art projects.

A huge thank you to Ballard Reuse for the generous support of recycled community arts programs for kids.








“Our Community” at Catherine Blaine


zentangleAnother community art series with my good friend and colleague Carolyn Grane!  This time we worked with 3rd grade students at Catherine Blaine K – 8, right here in my own neighborhood, Magnolia.  (Seattle, WA)  The 3rd graders had been studying about the concept of community, what it means to be a member of a community, and how communities can be small groups of people to larger neighborhoods, cities, states, countries, and even larger, to the entire world.

In our first art session, students were introduced to “zentangle,” a widely popular drawing/doodling method.  If you’re not familiar with zentangle, check out the many inspiring images and techniques available on the web.zentangle

As this project is all about community, we played “pass the paper,” and had students draw for several minutes on one sheet of paper, then pass the paper to the next person and receive another doodle to elaborate on.  For some kids, it was an exercise in sharing and letting go.  For everyone, it was a chance to learn from each other, and to create something greater than one mind and one hand can accomplish alone.zentangle

Students finished the first art session with cutting out circles from tissue paper in preparation for lesson two.  We did not use templates, as we were not looking for perfect circles, but rather, taught the “chop off the corners of a square” method, which I thought was great practice in dexterity for little hands, and again, right-brain problem-solving.  I remember learning this technique in kindergarten or 1st grade, so I am always happy when I come across students who haven’t yet had that type of artistic learning, and I have the chance to share something useful and magical with them.

In the second classroom session, students cut out silhouettes of buildings, houses, and people shapes from their collaborative doodle drawings.  We also created the “fireworks” background on the panels, which would become a 15′ mural in the entryway to the school.  Additionally, the students made a mini version on paper that they could take home.  Their take-home piece tied in with a geometry lesson, as they were learning about shapes such as trapezoids, etc. and cut out these shapes to create buildings in their mini collage.


Finally, Carolyn and I put it all together in three panels, one for each 3rd grade class.  One class created Magnolia, an urban neighborhood near downtown with steep hills, crowded with houses and apartments.


The next class created the downtown Seattle skyline.


And the third class created the world, with dancing people all around.  The earth was created using text in the many languages that the families at Blaine speak in their homes.  There are around 15 languages spoken, and we translated various definitions of community into these languages to create a further layer of community collaboration within the piece.


We are so excited to see it installed!  A big thank you to Julie Cox, Principal at Blaine, who wrote for a grant from the Seattle School District to fund this program.  Also, thank you to the wonderful 3rd grade team of teachers, and the parent volunteers.  We couldn’t have done it without you!

Hero’s Journey: An Artist Residency with the EMP

EMPI’m excited to be working with the Experience Music Project this year as Artist-in-Residence, in the Curriculum connections program, doing outreach with schools.

The EMP is an adventure in inspiration.  Their curators blend art, music, and technology in innovative, interactive exhibits that invite museum visitors to “play.”  Many of the exhibits delve so deeply into a topic, you could spend a couple/few hours exploring one thing.EMP_1

I especially enjoyed seeing the Hendrix exhibit.


Icons of Science FictionIcons of Science Fiction is pretty cool too.

Fantasy Worlds of Myth and MagicI am working with the Fantasy: Worlds of Myth and Magic exhibit, and connecting exhibit content to literacy/creative writing through visual art.  (*The program serves students in grades 5 – 12.)  My first session was with a 5th grade class.  Students had been writing fantasy stories, creating characters, and mapping their imaginary worlds, like Tolkien with Middle Earth or Terry Brooks with Shannara.

middle earth mapmixed media art dollWe worked on character development through drawing and sculpture, and over the course of 5 art classes in a week, they created storyboards, character studies, and a 3-d model of their main character and narrator of the story.

I decided my character here needs a bow and arrow like Katniss Everdeen to complete her Hero’s Journey.  Who would your hero be?

A huge bonus in teaching with the EMP is that the staff photographer is scheduled to come photograph the students’ work so that when the class visits the museum, photos of their artworks will be projected onto the Sky Church Screen.  What a cool experience for the kids!

Thank you to the Experience Learning Community Foundation for funding the arts in public schools.

shadow box imaginary worlds and a playground for a flea


shadowbox_stageinamagicalforestWhere is your imaginary world?  Is it a chocolate lake with a sugar beach, cotton candy palms and licorice vines?  Perhaps it is in the middle of a volcano, with molten lava rivers and bizarre rock formations that must be scaled, jumped, and climbed.  Through imaginative play, we journeyed to our own imaginary worlds to determine the setting for this artwork.


Each child deconstructed and transformed a cereal box, decorating it in layers to create a background, middle ground, and foreground.


We explored paper sculpture techniques such as quilling (or rolling), folding, and creating tabs to make things pop-up.


Building dimensionally in layers was the challenge for most students, resisting the temptation to just glue everything flat on the background.

shadowbox_ WP_002496 WP_002501 WP_002516

playgroundforafleaMy overflow project: a playground for a flea.  Students build upon their new paper sculpture skills, this time in a fully 3-d format, building from the ground up.

For more shadow box art, see my earlier post, Shadow Box Art Books.

Mosaic column at Lakeridge Elementary


mosaicThis project started as an after school program for youth-at-risk.  Nadine Smith and I team-taught a 13-week program in drawing, painting, collage, ceramics, and mosaic for students in grades 1 – 5.

mosaic columnUsing the students’ work as a starting point, we created a design featuring orca whales (the school mascot) and an underwater scene of Puget Sound.  The kids made clay seashells, fish, and starfish, and we incorporated these ceramic pieces into the design to add some texture and dimension into the mosaic.

We did the tile-work in our studios, and now we are installing panels of tile-work onto the column.  Once all the panels are up, we still have a lot of work to do, seaming, cleaning it up, and grouting.

It’s going to be beautiful when it’s finished.

mosaic columnmosaic column

mosaic column


mosaic column

Tile installation at Cougar Ridge

CRinstallation5I keep wanting to rearrange the tiles.  All 640 of them.  And 192 filler tiles.  That’s 832 tiles on 8 boards, 3′ x 5′ each.

CRinstallationBig thanks to the many volunteers who helped us install the tiles on the boards.

Next step will be grouting and then the boards will be framed.

It brings so much color to a gray hallway, which now has become a beautiful gathering place as parents and children walk to and from the playground.  They stop and look at the tiles.  I hope they will continue to look closely and discover not only their own tile, but the beauty of all the children’s patterns in nature.

For more about our process, see here and here and here