Welcome to Art Room 161

This blog was created as an extension of the dialogue that began in our classroom and the purpose is to share creative ideas, images, and critiscm. All posts should be appropriate for the high school classroom and critiscm should be helpful and positive.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Art Honor Society: Inspiring Mural Created by HSE Artists

Here's an article about our recent work with the Wyland Foundation Water For Life mural project that I wanted to share before our winter vacation- enjoy the break!

Smithtown High School East art students in Tim Needles’ drawing class collaborated with the science department and the National Art Honor Society to create a mural to enter into the annual Wyland Foundation’s National “Water is Life” Mural and Art Challenge. Their “Protecting Our Oceans” creation featured dolphins, marine animals, wildlife and a boat over an illuminated sky. 

This year’s contest was themed “Our Coasts and Climate,” and the foundation and its partners provided 100 schools with educational materials and 50-square-foot canvas murals to look at the economic, cultural and aesthetic value of the world's ocean resources. The contest encouraged students to work together while studying climate issues. 

The mural depicts the full eastern coast of the United States with local marine life and landmarks such as Stony Brook University’s R/V Seawolf research vessel in Port Jefferson. Winners will be announced in late January.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Media Art: Character Development

In Media Art class we are currently developing characters that we will be working with in animation.  we begin by sketching out ideas then create a character sheet like the one above of Kent Brockman from The Simpsons.  Next we will create a short pencil test animation of our character moving, below are a few examples of pencil test animations from The Simpsons and independent animator Bill Plympton's.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Digital Media: Digital Drawing Quotes

In Digital Media class we are finishing up our first digital drawing project which is due today.  The example by Lucas above shows what the finished product should look like.  As we finish up the   Digital Drawing Quote designs make sure you have the following:
  • Landscape dimensions about 10"x6", 300 res
  • Portrait has filled in pupils & runs off the page
  • Portrait is facing their quote
  • Quotes before and after statement
  • Colored background
  • Black or White .5" border
  • Impact typeface (28pt)
  • #needlesclass in bottom left (20pt)
We will finish up these designs today and prepare them to be shared on social media and in school in March as part of YAM Youth Arts Month.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

AP Art: Scholastic Design Contest

Today we will be working on a new design contest for scholastic awards students for Neiman MarcusStudents who submitted in the fashion and jewelry categories of the 2016 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards are invited to submit 2D designs of holiday ornaments. Students will have the chance to have their design transformed into a small, 3D ornament and distributed to Neiman Marcus stores across the country at the end of 2016. The student who submits the winning design will also:
  • Work with a professional sculptor to translate the 2D design into a 3D design.
  • Be featured in Neiman Marcus’s national publication, the book, which reaches more than 250,000 of its customers.
  • Have their signature on the back of the ornament, along with the Neiman Marcus logo.
  • Receive a $1,000 scholarship!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Digital Media: Drawing With Robots

This week in Digital Media each class will construct a robot that will be designed to draw.  Doodle bots (or drawing robots) are great, collaborative STEAM projects that can incorporate art and technology along with some creativity and ingenuity.  I'll help each class gather supplies but students will work together to create the class robot and to design a way for it to draw or paint.
After the class collaborates on creating a robot together we will form smaller groups and students will be given a selection of little bits and some everyday objects from around the school and work together to create their own drawing robots.  We'll hold a creative forum with each of the groups presenting their drawing robots and see which designs are most successful and why.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Art Honor Society: The Smithtown East Burgerman Mural

I'm thrilled to announce that today we I was awarded the Smithtown Children's Foundation Teachers Grant which will complete our funding for the National Art Honor Society's Smithtown East Mural with artist Jon Burgerman.  I'm so excited that we will be working together on this great project this spring!  Today we will work on planning some of the details and get up to date on the proposals.

Yesterday I presented the mural project with the School Improvement Team to the principal who approved it and was excited to hear about the work we've been doing and the future mural.  We also presented some of the design work we have been doing in class to revitalize the courtyard and make it a more accessible place for students and the school at large.

Tonight I'll be attending the Eighth Annual Kisses for Kaylee & Friends Dinner Dance at The Watermill Inn to accept the grant!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Extra Credit: 28 to Make

The Creative Live website is hosting a free month long creative challenge course in February.  Each week will count as an extra credit assignment if complete all 7 days of work and share it with their #28daystomake hashtag with #needlesclass.  It's a great opportunity to learn from some creative professionals and share your work in the community.  You do need to sign up but the project is free this month.

Week 1
Celebrating everyday objects through drawing with Kate Bingaman-Burt
Week 2
Exploring line, form, and texture with Ryan Putnam
Week 3
Hacking visual language and creative thinking with Lara McCormick
Week 4
Connecting to your context through observation and lettering with Erik Marinovich
You'll get the same 2 videos every weekend, when you'll be encouraged to take in the sights and relax with Brooks Chambers
You can sing up here and you'll be able to see the inspiration video each day that will give you the creative prompt.  I'll be doing the assignment as well so I hope to see you join us!

Monday, February 1, 2016

Film and Media: Welcome

Today is the first day of our new Film and Media class so welcome!  We'll review the work we'll be doing this year in class and talk about the 8 films that were recently nominated for Best Picture Oscars to begin.  We'll also learn the basics of stop motion animation and film editing which we'll be using for the rest of the year!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Edcamp Global

I'm excited to be virtually attending Edcamp Global Classrooms which began this morning and runs for a full 24 hours hours until tomorrow morning.  If you are not aware Edcamps are educational 'un-conferences' in which educators and in this case students volunteer and share the'r expertise and experience with free workshops.

This morning I attended a great workshop to start Edcamp Global Classrooms off about using robots for coding in the classroom led by Jenny Lussier with Donna Macdonald and Andy Plemmons on Google Hangout.  I learned a bit about what teachers and students are doing in schools coding with Sphero and Finch robots.

I'll be attending workshops all day but I'm really looking forward to joining my #k12artchallenge pal Arlene Shelton and her class this afternoon on Periscope, Twitter, and Google Hangout for a STEAM studio sharing some of their STEAM artwork with 3D printers, engravers, and robotics.  Any students that have some spare time today after the mid-term exams are encouraged to join a session and learn about some of the classroom work other schools are doing around the world!

Monday, January 25, 2016

Nationa Art Education Association's 2016 AET Outstanding Teaching Award

I was extremely honored this week to learn that I will be the recipient of The National Art Education Association's 2016 AET Outstanding Teaching Award.  This is a tremendous honor made all the more special by my nomination which came from my innovative art education colleague Rebecca Mir of the Guggenheim Museum.  I'm looking forward to traveling to Chicago in March to the NAEA National Conference where I will recieve the award and showcase some of the work we have done here at Smithtown merging art and technology at our developing makerspace in Digital Media class.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Drawing: End of the semester

Today is the final day of drawing class and I must say it has truely been a pleasure!  We will finish our collaborative Walt Whitman portrait in pencil, complete our last mural, and wrap up all the grading.  Before we come to a close I wanted to share the photo above of our two Shanti Peace Calender winners from class- artwork from Illysa and Kyle were both chosen for this year's claendar so congradulations!  I hope all of you enjoyed class, learned, and choose to continue on the creative path in the future-best of luck!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

AP Art: James Victore

I had a chance to meet up with artist and designer James Victore in Brooklyn yesterday as he was preparing to move his studio to Texas.  We have used his design work as an inspiration in class for a number of assignments in recent years as well as discussing some of his Burining Questions.

I asked James if he had any advice for art students and he said to share that "the things make you weird as a kid make you great today" and it's especially important to remember it in high school!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Drawing: Walt Whitman

Our last Drawing assignment will be a collaborative portrait of the great poem and former Smithtown teacher Walt Whitman.  Walt Whitman taught in the Smithtown school district in the late 1890s in a one room school house and had 85 students on his roster although at the time attendance wasn't compulsory and the actual attendance was usually much smaller. We will be dividing the image above of Whitman at 50 years old up into a grid and each student will draw a portion of the grid which will combine into a large portrait that will be hung.  

If you are not that aware of Whitman's work, his quintessential book of poetry Leaves of Grass is a great place to start and I'd like to share a piece of his advice with you from it's forward:

"This is what you shall do; Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body"

Tuesday, January 19, 2016


yesterday was MLKDay so this week we will take so time to remember Martin Luther King Jr.'s life and work.  Above is a drawing that I created on MLKday that serves as an example for our challenge this week.  This week we will talk about the message Dr. King spread and look at art that has a social impact.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Studio Art: Artist Trading Card Interpretation

Our final assignment for the semester in Studio Art class is to take the Artist Trading Card's we received from K-6 students around the world via the MiniMatisse ATC exchange and create an artistic interpretation like the example above from Emily.  Some cards have more information than others but we will choose cards blind and your work just needs to have a basis in the ATC.  The response works should be larger than ATC's so use your sketchbook and we will share and collect them on Thursday January 21.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

EdcampNYC 2016 Reflection

This weekend I traveled to The Mandell School in Manhattan to attend Edcamp NYC.  If you're not familiar with Edcamps, they are "unconferences" where educators show up and share their expertise volunteering to lead sessions the day of the event by writing their names down on a board.

I was immediately impressed by the facilities and overall feel of the Mandell School.  The classroom design was terrific and it was clearly a great environment for education.  They had rooftop gardens, and terrific visuals created by students with bright, positive classrooms- a space that made inspiration quite a bit easier to get to.  I joined the group of educators for breakfast and started my day with a session on designing makerspaces with Jeremy Sambuca of the Hewitt School.  He shared some great insights on the process of creating a makerspace along with some really valuable lessons he learned for better and for worse.

I also stopped into Lisa Nielsen's session on effective ways to share with social media and Twitter.  Lisa had some great tips about using Twitter statistics and deconstructed what a killer tweet looked like for an educator.  In the second session I joined some of my creative art colleagues for a session on Art Driven Curriculum led by Mandell School teachers Tiffany Della Vedova and James Long who shared some curriculum examples they use and opened up the discussion to the group.  There were some great lessons shared that begin with art and merge into other subjects such as social art projects inspired by the work of Allora & Calzadilla and the Shadow People Project.
I then joined a session on blogging and branding led by Starr Sackstein, Tony Sinanis, and Ross Cooper that was a wonderfully intimate conversation rather than a formal workshop.  I've talked to Starr about the regular blogging  she does at other Edcamps and she always has great insights and didn't disappoint. Tony shared some of his methodology on blogging and branding and Ross shared a great quote which I tweeted above: "Your digital footprint is your new resume".

After EdcampNYC I attended the after party at the Dazzling Discoveries Makerspace a few blocks away and I experimented designing with their DazzLinks shown in the photo above.  I also had a chance to do some 3D printing using Tinkercad and their Makerbots and printed one of our class architectural designs from last month's 3D #k12artchallenge.

EdcampNYC was a great experience overall. It was a day full of learning, sharing, and connecting and well worth the drive in on a Saturday morning!

Drawing: Mini-Comics

This week we are drawing and designing Mini-Comics in Studio Art and Drawing class.  We learned early in the week about the basic elements of a story, the folding techniques, and the variations in the media.  Today we begin drawing and designing our own.

You can base you comic on the character you created in our warm-up cartooning activities or start create new characters but the final comic should include 8 pages including a cover with your name and a title and a back with Smithtown High School East and Mr. Needles written.

After you comic is shaded, toned, and/or colored you should open it back up to one piece of paper and scan it.  We will be scanning these comics after they are completed to show and trade them.

Monday, January 11, 2016

AP Art: Heckscher Art Museum Long Island's Best

This week we will be working on creating pieces for the Heckscher Art Museum's Long Island's Best contest which we enter in February.  Students should choose an inspiration piece that was shown in the museum in the past year and use it as a basis for a response work.  The response should be original and not done in a different artist's style but a reaction that has a relationship with the original work of art in some way.  Above is a image form the exhibit Street Life: Private Moments/Public Record from photographer Berenice Abbott entitled "Fulton Street Fish Market" that is currently showing in the museum and below is an image of Rosalie and I with her photograph from last year that was chosen for the exhibition in the museum.  In addition to the museum show the contest awards a number of financial scholarships.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Drawing: Artist Trading Cards

This week we received our MiniMatisse exchange Artist Trading Cards back from classes around the world including: Los Angeles, Kentucky, Vermont, Minnesota, New Jersey, Illinois, and Croatia.  I've been handing out the ATCs to all the students that sent theirs out.  We are beginning a project in which advanced art students will use ATCs from young artists in elementary school as an inspiration for a new piece which interprets their vision.  Below is an example from Luke in Drawing Class to give you an idea of how it works but you don't need to work in the same size, you interpretation can be bigger and use any media.  The final pieces will be due after Martin Luther King day, the last week of the semester.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Digital Media: Redesigning the School Courtyard

In Digital Media we will be working with the School Improvement Team to re-design the school's courtyard and we will focus on 3 parts: landscaping, sculpture, and space usage.  We will start by working on ideas for interactive sculptures which can add an art element and can also be used as seating.  Below are a few good inspirational examples of the types of interactive sculptural seating that would work for our space.  We will design our seating using 3D Printing in Tinkercad.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Drawing: #OneWord

When we returned to school after the winter break Monday we began on a positive, hopeful note with the #oneword resolution project for 2016 based on alumni Jon Gordon'e book.  I showcased some of the designs from Studio Art, AP Art, and Drawing into a short Vine that I shared via social media yesterday which you can see above.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Drawing Class: Artist Trading Cards

The Artist Trading Cards we made earlier in the year in AP, Drawing, and Studio Art Class are now beginning to reach their destinations around the word and our cards should arrive shortly.  I received the tweet below from Abby Schukei, an art teacher colleague in Ralston,Nebraska who received some of our cards.  I'll post any other cards that are spotted out in the world here and to my twitter account, I'm curious where they all end up!

Monday, January 4, 2016

Happy New Year: One Word

Happy New Year everyone! Today we are going to work one creating a #OneWord resolution for 2016 and making it a graphic image we can use for inspiration.  This concept comes from author and speaker Jon Gordon who came from Smithtown along with Jimmy Page (not the Led Zeppelin guitarist) and Dan Britton who wrote the book One Word that Will Change Your Life.  Jon Gordon returned to Smithtown speak here a few years ago and was inspirational, below is a look at his Football highlight reel from the late 1980's which appears to be taken here at Smithtown East at points.

The idea behind choosing one word is that it's simple, memorable, and more realistic as a driving force for you but it's important to be authentic and think about what you really need in your life before choosing a word.  Here's a clip of Jon on the Today Show talking about the process and the questions to ask yourself when considering your word.  I chose my word. CREATE, early this year and painted it on the classroom wall as a daily reminder which has made an impact.

We are going to talk about how to choose your one word then you will create an 8"x10" design incorporating the word to use for inspiration.  Tomorrow we'll finish our designs and then Wednesday we'll share our work and talk about our goals and why we choose the words we did. Remember to keep it positive and focused, we are starting out on a blank slate in 2016!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Happy Holidays

Today is the final day of class in 2015 so I'd like to wish everyone a happy holiday and a terrific winter break.  Today the I will join students from the Art Honor Society to deliver 250 hand-made holiday cards to the Mills Pond Nursing Home and Rehabilitation Center in St. James that were created by the honor society and students in classes.  Pictured above is the AP Art class with some of the cards the created before our secret snowflake gift exchange.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Digital Media: 3D Printing Architectural Designs

In Digital Media class today is the final day to complete our Architectural Designs using the 3D Printing software Tinkercad.  When you are finished you are going to take images of different angles of the 3D design you created and combine them together in Adobe Photoshop.  Use one image and place it over an actual photograph to get an idea of how the structure would look in real life.  Jak's Architectural Designs below (you can also see him working on it above) is a great example of how complex the structure should be, it's modeled after the famous Torii Gate at Itsukushima, a Shinto Shine in Japan.

The final design should have 4 different images of angles on a clean white background and 1 over a photograph like the example below.  The example below from Victoria is reminiscent of Frank Gehry's EMP Museum in Seattle and shows what the final design should look like.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Holiday Cards for local Nursing Home Residents

In all of the fine art classes we will be creating hand-made Holiday Cards for the residents of the local Nursing Homes this week and we'll be delivering them on Wednesday after-school.  Create a holiday of Christmas card with a short note inside and make sure to include your first name and last initial on the back.

Friday, December 18, 2015

AP Art: Alumni Visit- JeriAnne Vestuto

Today in AP Art we have a special guest visit from SHSE AP Art and Art Honor Society alumni JeriAnne Vestuto who will talk about art, college, and the realities of life after high school.  She'll be visiting from Pratt in Brooklyn, where she is currently attending.

She'll be speaking with the AP Art and Drawing classes.  Check out some of her recent work above and below are a few examples of her previous works ranging from the Shanti Peace poster contest to her AP senior show!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Digital Media: 3D Architectural Design

In Digital Media class we are going to test out our 3D print design skills by creating original works of 3D Architectural Design using Tinkercad.  The demonstration I created is shown above and it give an idea of the kind of designs you can create.  For this project you should create a final design featuring 5 angles such as my example above and one can show your design in a real life space.  you have total freedom to create any kind of architecture- from your backyard to a baseball stadium to the space station so have fun.  The final design is due on Tuesday.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Art Honor Society: Holiday Card Donations

This month the Mr. Needles classes and the Art Honor Society will be creating Holiday Card to give to some of our local seniors at the nearby nursing homes.  We'll be creating and collecting cards until Tuesday December 22 when we'll be delivering them to our local seniors in person!

Scholastic Art Awards Due Today

Today is the due date to upload and mail in the Scholastic Art Awards so if you plan on entering make sure the work is finished by the end of the school day so that it can be mailed in time.  Students who enter work will receive extra credit (in AP art both Google # Scholastic contests must be completed for extra credit) in addition to possibly winning up to $40,000.  Included are some examples of great entries such as Jamie's colored pencil drawing above and Luke comic page below. Best of luck!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Digital Media: 3D Printing Design

To begin our work with 3D Printing in Digital Media we will use the Tinkercad program to learn the basics and enter their #uglychristmassweater community challenge.  You are welcome to design an ugly sweater for any winter holiday but first you must learn the basics of how 3D design works by doing the tutorials.  The final design is due on Friday and should include 2 views such as the example I created as a demonstration in class today above (use Photoshop to create the final image).  We'll be exploring a number of different 3D printing design programs beginning with Tinkercad which is web based to Morphi which is on the iPad and Meshmixer which is installed on the computers.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Studio Art: Doodle Art

Making Art with Doodles is as fun as it is creative and interesting and it's what we are going to be focusing on this week in class.  You will create a page of doodles that elevates itself to a work of art,  Just because you want it to look good when it's finished doesn't mean you need to pressure yourself or get self-conscious as you are drawing.  To create a great work from doodles I suggest you let your mind go and just draw whatever your subconscious leads you to.  Here's some great examples of artists who create art from their doodles and their work can be seen below:  
Jon BurgermanLei MelendresChris Piascik and Heike Weber

I myself do this all the time and have even used some of this method to create illustrations for magazines such as the Long Island Pulse like the example below.  The great thing about doodle art is that it actually relaxes you as you are doing it.  We are going to begin the process with some deep breathing and meditation then begin wandering on the page with our doodles and see where they take us.

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