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, January 23, 2015

Last Day of the Semester!

Today is the last day of class in my Media Arts and Drawing classes so all work must be submitted, most importantly the final projects.  Yesterday I blogged about the final project in drawing so today we will look at the final project in Media Art.  The class has been working on the Speak Truth to Power contest.  The great example above is from Alix and it shows how the final film should appear with proper credits and documentation.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Drawing: Charcoal Self-Portraits and Final Portfolio

In Drawing class we are coming to an end this week and completing our Charcoal Self-Portrait project. The piece should include some finishing work and be cut down to size eliminating excess paper such as the terrific example above from Natalie.  After the grid drawing is completed in pencil (see the image below for reference) the tones will be completed using condensed charcoal, charcoal pencils, and blending tools (tortillions, meaded erasers, and in my experience the best blending tool, your fingers).  The completed drawing should be handed in on Friday but if you are not finished speak to me and we should be able to set up a time to work over the testing week.

Your final project is simply to choose you six strongest works that were created in class and assemble them into an exit portfolio which we will review on Friday.  I'll sit with each student and review the work and we'll grade the final portfolio together using a rubric.

If you finish early and want to work on a short extra credit drawing you can create a piece for the Ocean Awareness Student Art Contest which might be treated in the same vain as an Illustration Friday drawing.  Below is their prompt:
Submit a work of art, a poem, a written work, or a film about plastic pollution in the ocean. Look for connections between science, creativity, environmental advocacy, and your personal interpretation of theme Our Oceans, Our Plastic. Remember, there are no right or wrong ways to advocate, but give your piece a unique and powerful voice.
The contest is for a good cause and you can use your imagination and photo references to create your image.  If you want to you can speak to the Marine Biology teachers for reference and concepts that might work.  There are also some excellent pieces on the website that are previous winners.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Media Art: Improv Sketch Comedy

In Media Art we are ending our class with Improv Sketch Comedy.  Here's an example from an improv show with the Muppets I did as an example above.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Last Week of the Semester!

This is the Last Week of the Semester, which in some classes such as Media and Drawing means the end of class so lets review what's due before it's all over!

Today any student that is applying for 2015-2016 AP STUDIO ART class must submit their portfolio of 12 works and their application!

Media Art: The final project Speak Truth To Power student video competition is due Thursday

Studio Art: The final Photoshop project is due Thursday & midterm Thursday/Friday

AP Art: The Japanese Hell piece is due Wednesday and the final Breadth section is due Friday

Studio Art: The final Photoshop project is due Thursday & midterm is Thursday/Friday

Drawing: The final charcoal project is due Thursday and the exit portfolio is due Friday

Thursday, January 15, 2015

AP Art: Japanese Handscrolls- Jigoku-zoshi

In AP Art our final Breadth assignment for the quarter is based on the Japanese Handscrolls of Jigoku-zoshi depicting the 8 great hells and the 16 lesser hells in text and painting.  The scrolls feature some really interesting illustrations which have become popular in modern tattoo and illustration culture.  The final piece is due on Wednesday 1/21/2015 after which we will assemble the best 12 Breadth pieces.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Drawing: Large Scale Charcoal Self Portrait

In Drawing class our last big project is creating a charcoal self portrait on large scale paper.  The time lapse video above shows some of the technique we'll be using.  We have photographs to work from and we're using the grid method to transfer the proportions of the image but the tone will be done using a variety of charcoal tools.  The final project is due Wednesday 1/21/2015 and will be the last grade of the class.  Below is an example of a charcoal portrait I created of MLB Baseball Hall of Fame player Hank Aaron (which he was nice enough to sign!)

Tuesday, January 13, 2015


I wanted to share a cool, creative, and cost effective program that I've been attending every year- the New York City Ballet ART SERIES.  Each year they choose an artist to create a work for the space in the lobby and they present a ballet for the affordable price of $29 which includes a small piece from the artist.  Last year the photographer JR did an amazing photo of the performers on the floor and the year before Faile created a great totem of street art silk screened woodblock prints.

This year the artist is DUSTIN YELLIN who creates terrific 3d paintings and collages or bodies using sheets of glass and resin pressed together.  Take a look at the video above, its great.  Extra credit to any students that go and bring in the free artwork!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Studio Art: Design- Poster ReDesign

In Studio Art we are starting our 2nd Design project today which is a Film or Television Poster ReDesign such as the amazing examples above of Stars Wars series by artist Olly Moss.  Each student will choose a film or show and sketch a redesign for the poster then complete the work on Photoshop.  The final design is due Friday as a JPEG saved in the public drive.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Studio Art: Design and Photoshop

In Studio Art we began our Design unit and started learning the basics of Adobe Photoshop.  Our first assignment is to create a simple logo for yourself using your initials on Photoshops such as the example I created in class as a demo above.  The list of vocabulary terms is in the quizlet link above and the test on the is Friday which is also when the completed logo is due in the public drive.

Media Art: Speak Truth To Power student video competition

In Media Arts class our last major assignment is creating films for the The Speak Truth To Power student video competition.  The contest encourages high school students to become engaged in human rights and is sponsored by New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) and the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights (RFK Center) and is based on Kerry Kennedy’s book Speak Truth To Power.

Contest participants must choose one of the RFK Center Human Rights Defenders identified on the website and create a 3-5 minute video short  film. We are looking for student films that utilize creative storytelling to teach others about a human rights issue. The format is open to documentary, stop motion, narrative, digital photo essay or other innovative explorations that involve filmmaking components.

We are looking for films to creatively answer the following questions:
  • What is the human rights issue and who is the activist who has attempted to improve the situation?
  • ​How did the activist attempt to improve the situation?
  • How is their work connected with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights?
  • ​How is this work connected to the student's local community (neighborhood/school)?
  • When relevant, what is the activist's organization, or how is their work being continued in the world?
  • What can the activist's life teach us?
The example above from Harborfields was the winner of last years contest and it gives a great sense of the expectation.  The final film is due Wednesday January 21, it must be submitted online, and will be the final film of the semester.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Studio Art: Drawing Self Portraits

In Studio Art class we recently completed drawing self portraits in pencil using the grid method and above are some great examples from: Marissa, Luke, Nicole, and Shannon from the period 3 and 7 studio art classes.  We will be hanging these and other great portraits in the gallery space later this month.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

AP Art: Long Island's Best: Young Artists at The Heckscher Museum 2015

In AP Art class we will be working on pieces for the Long Island's Best: Young Artists at The Heckscher Museum 2015 show.  Log-in and read the rules and review the art shown in the museum this year and choose a piece to work from such as the example above 'Eclipse of the Sun' by George Grosz.  Each student should create a reaction piece to one that has shown in the museum this year and write a short synopsis about it.  More information and examples are available on the website but the pieces will be due on Monday 1/12/2015

Monday, January 5, 2015

Media Arts: The Stephen Fry collaborative animation project

In Media Arts class we will begin the new year by watching the final cut of the collaborative animation our class participated in last month along with UK actor Stephen Fry for the Your Fry project.  The completed film is show above and includes each students animation along with my own.  We will critique the piece and watch some of the other entries from around the world and reflect on what we learned and what we would like to do with the film in creating a Public Service Announcement.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Happy Holidays

Today is the final class of 2014 so have a terrific Holiday break!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Media Arts: Oscar Season films- Nebraska

In Media Arts this week we will be watching and reviewing the 2013 Best Picture Academy Awards nominee Nebraska directed by Alexander Payne and written by Bob Nelson. It stars Bruce Dern,Will ForteJune Squibb, and Bob Odenkirk and was nominated for the Palme d'Or at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, where Bruce Dern won the Best Actor Award. It was also nominated for six Academy AwardsBest PictureBest DirectorBest ActorBest Supporting ActressBest Original Screenplay, and Best Cinematography.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Extra Credit: The Long Island Connected Educators' Summit Logo

The Long Island Connected Educators' Summit is an innovative free conference for teacher that
connects teachers who use social media technology for education such as Twitter, Blogging, and
Instagram. The are looking for a new logo and the contest is the final extra credit assignment for the 
quarter. The due date for the contest is 1/15 so the extra credit will be due 1/14.

The Long Island Connected Educators' Summit: a FREE learning event that allows passionate 
educators to spread innovative ideas through conversation and collaboration

Who: All Students, Teachers, Designers.

When: December 15th through January 15th

Awards: The new logo will be used as the official logo for the event. The winner  
will be awarded a $50 Amazon Gift Card.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Scholastic ART Awards deadline

This week is the deadline for the Scholastic ART Awards and students from each class entered work but I wanted to share a really impressive graphic novel piece above by Luke from our 4th period Studio Art class.  This was a short make-up assignment and he managed to complete 3 full drawn & inked graphic novel pages with original characters in 3 days, really impressive work on a short timeline!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

AP Art: Alumni Visit from Sabrina Shankar

Today in AP Art and Drawing we will have an alumni visit from Sabrina Shankar who was in AP Art last year and is presently attending SCAD in Savannah, Georgia.  She'll discuss the first semester of college, expectations, the workload, her work, and the college itself.

Monday, December 15, 2014

AP Art: Advanced Layering Technique

In AP Art we are currently working on Advanced Layering Technique using mixed media.  The vine above is a time-lapse video of my demonstration from last week so you want to build a complex surface using different media and personal elements.  The final piece will be due on Thursday but remember to submit you art work to the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards by the due date on Wednesday as well!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Media Arts: Animation

In Media Arts class we are finishing our hand drawn pencil animation film and today at the end of class each student should have the minimum 50 frames finished (but not necessarily the film which can be longer).  Next week we will work on some basic editing, sound, digitization, and completing the film!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Art Honor Society: Holiday Cards

This month in Art Honor Society we are working on our winter community service project making holiday cards for the local Nursing Homes and 6 year old Addie Fausett of Utah who wished for a "lifetime of holiday cards" for what is likely her last Christmas due to a Brain atrophy.  Above are an example of some of the cards Doug, Jamie, & Jackie made this week in club- we'll finish them up and mail them next week during our holiday party.

Next week we will also feature a guest speaker, alumni Sabrina Shankar, who was in the AP Art class last year and is currently attending Savannah College of Art and Design.  She'll be discussing the first year of college, expectations, SCAD, and show us some of her first semester work!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Art Honor Society: Holiday Cards

Today in Art Honor Society we will begin making Holiday Cards for our winter community service project and review some of the details of recent contests and the upcoming induction ceremony.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Studio Art: Pencil Drawing grid self-portrait

Today in Studio Art we are beginning our grid self-portrait pencil drawing by drawing a 1/2" grid over our source image and a corresponding 1" grid on our paper.  The video above demonstrates how this is done but be sure to make your grid accurate or it will alter your portrait and potentially ruin your piece.

Use a diagonal line to quickly check if your grid is drawn properly if the diagonals match then the grid is correct as seen in the image below.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Drawing: Artists and Ink

In drawing class we are currently working with ink so we'll look at two of my favorite artists who work with ink and use it in interesting ways. The first is the "Gonzo" artist Ralph Steadman who has a great loose style and is known for illustrating writer Hunter S Thompson's work and Flying Dog beer.  Take a look at some of his work, it's not totally consistent but it is consistently good!

The second artist is another great, Peter Beard who is known for mix photographs, drawings, and sketchbook collages together.  Peter lives out near Montauk when he's not in NYC or Africa and since much of his work contains nudity I included a few pieces below which are "school appropriate".

Friday, December 5, 2014

Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes

This week we have been creating paper for origami cranes and today we'll look into the story of how the crane became a symbol of peace through the story of Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes.

Here's a pretty amazing tribute to Sadako using paper cranes to create an image of Sadako herself and below is a show Japanese anime showing how the story of Sadako is taught in Japan along with the history of the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and the memorial museum.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

AP Art: Duck Tape Drawing

In AP Art we are currently working on Scholastic Art & Writing challenges such as the Duck Tape award so I thought I'd share my favorite tape artist Aakash Nihalani.  Take a look a some of his simple but amazing geometric tape street art work and his website.

Here are the 3 options to choose from, take a look at each and create a piece to enter along with your other work:

The Gedenk Award for Tolerance: Consider what we can all do to learn from humanity's mistakes

The Duck Tape Brand AwardIncorporate Duck Tape into your art work

Creativity and CitizenshipExamine opinions and ideas on the topic of Technology and Privacy

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Art Honor Society: Induction Planning

In this afternoons' Art Honor Society meeting we will be planning this years Induction ceremony and events.  We would like to have a concurrent art show and alumni talk so we'll discuss the details and plan the February event.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Studio Art: Japanese Origami Cranes

In Studio Art class we are going to be talking with students in Japan via social media and creating a collection of Japanese Origami Cranes.  Students will create unique textile designs (there's an example of traditional textiles below but you can feel free to be creative) on paper then fold them into paper cranes for our Japanese counterparts.  I took the photo above at the Hiroshima memorial in Japan and it shows how origami cranes are traditionally grouped, we'll create a similar grouping of 1000 cranes as well.

We will also talk with students in Japan via the Going Global network

Media Art: Animation

In Media Art we are beginning to work on our big animation project and we are currently in preproduction writing and storyboarding the film.  The final animation will be due the in 3 weeks right before our December break so make sure the foundation is strong so you don't end up lost in the process later!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Media Arts: Stephen Fry Animation

Today in Media Arts we will complete and submit our stop-motion Stephen Fry Animation after tweeking the transitions and digitizing the drawings.  We will try our best to sync the sound and then submit the final animation.  Above is a short intro I made this weekend that we'll add to our animation from Vine.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thanksgiving Gratitude

As we head into Thanksgiving I'll share some gratitude! Yesterday I was featured on the school district website with some photos from taken in our drawing class thanks to a recent interview I did for the podcast Talks With Teachers and I'd like to thank the school district administration and Brian from Talks With Teachers for supporting my work and the arts.  I'd also like to thank all my students and their supportive parents for making teaching worthwhile!  Have a safe and happy thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Drawing: Scholastic Week

This week in drawing class we will be creating work for the 2015 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards.  In addition to the regular categories each student should choose one of the three categories below and create a work which will be due next Wednesday (Dec 3, 2014).  Each category has links to more information along with examples of previous winners.

The Gedenk Award for Tolerance: Consider ehat we can all do to learn from humanity's mistakes

The Duck Tape Brand AwardIncorporate Duck Tape into your art work

Creativity and Citizenship: Examine opinions and ideas on the topic of Technology and Privacy

Monday, November 24, 2014

Art and Media Art Honor Society field trip to MoMA & NYC

On Friday the Art and Media Art Honor Society had our annual field trip to NYC and this year we visited the Museum of Modern Art and the Henri Matisse's Cut Outs and Robert Gober's The Heart Is Not a Metaphor exhibitions along with the fantastic permanent collection.

The Matisse show was enlightening and it was great to see the pieces we've been studying up close along with background on how they were created but it was also very crowded!

Bring your pictures from the trip to the next honor society meeting and we'll post a few more up on the blog!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Art Honor Society field trip to the Museum of Modern Art

Today is our Art Honor Society field trip to the Museum of Modern Art in NYC.  We will be leaving promptly at 8am and returning this afternoon around 3-4pm.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Japan Society's Going Global Exchange

This week we are participating in Japan Society's Going Global program and we will collaborate with students in Japan, Pakistan, the United States, and Iceland.  We will begin with two short questions:

1. What's Your Sentence? (take a look at the video above for context)

2. Who's your hero? (and why?)

Each student will answer both questions on a piece of paper then we will log on to the social network: http://goglobalsns.org/ and we'll share one of our answers.  We will then have a conversation about the different answers from each of the countries and what we have learned.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

AP Art: Monoprint Series

In Studio and AP Art class we are working on  Monoprinting this week using Gelli plates.  I demonstrated how to create a print on Monday and we will be printing all week with a final series of 2 multi-toned prints due on Friday at the beginning of class.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Remembering artist and friend Jeff Fisher

I was shocked to hear the news this weekend that friend and mentor Jeff Fisher passed away suddenly.  Jeff was an inspiration to me and so many of my fellow artists many of them Smithtown students.  Jeff was really an outstanding illustrator as well as an impact-full teacher and a vivacious personality.  He taught figure drawing and location classes at the Drawing Studio in Smithtown since I started teaching in the district 16 years ago and he left an impression on everyone he met.  The quote below is taken from the introduction to his Drawing Studio class and exemplifies Jeff himself. 
"When you mention the word “artist”, there are a few who stand out above the rest. Their style, lovely and immortalized, has the ability to touch our souls. They were not regarded as the elite during their short time on earth. They were the rejected, the outcasts, the young who dared to break from conventional teachings and try to experience art in its rawest, unbridled, most passionate and most rewarding form."
The best way to remember Jeff is through his impact and his artwork and there may no better example than his work with fellow Society of Illustrators members at Walter Reed via the Joe Bonham Project drawing wounded service members from the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts.  The video below shows Jeff at work on the project and accompanies the New York Times article on the project.

I was honored to be asked by Jeff to participate in a exhibition of illustration and cartooning he put together in August at Gallery North in Setauket with friends of his from the Berndt Toast Gang of artists and I'm so thankful I had a chance to celebrate with him at the opening.  Jeff made a pronounced impact on everyone he worked with and will be greatly missed and condolences to his wonderful family.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Art Honor Society: MoMA Field Trip

Next Friday the Art and Media Art Honor Society will embark on our fall field trip to the MoMA in NYC to see the Henri Matisse Cut Outs show.  We'll be leaving at 8am and returning at 4pm and we'll be stopping for lunch in the museum and a snack at Starbucks.  It should be a fun trip with a ton of great artwork, take a look at some of the shows that are on display on the link above, we'll be discussing them non Wednesday!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Media Arts: The Stephen Fry Collaborative Project

In Media Arts we are starting out our first collaborative animation project focusing on English actor and author Stephen Fry using a clip of his audio and our own imagination.  We talked about the audio clip and broke it down into what needs to be animated and who is responsible for each aspect.  Your 5-9 index cards will be checked and graded on Monday and we will combine our drawing and look at a rough draft!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Art Honor Society: Printmaking

Today in Art Honor Society we will be working on some Printmaking techniques using the Gelli plates after school.  In classes this week we will do prints based on the Brooklyn Art Library's print exchange theme "Just A Second".  In the club we will work on some advanced techniques and allow students who haven't tried printmaking to give it a try.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Studio Art: The Alison Bechdel Doodle Dare

This week in studio art class we'll be taking part in the doodle dare posed by MacArthur "genius" winning cartoonist Alison Bechdel and the WNYC radio show Studio 360.  She began the drawing and you will be asked to finish it using whatever media you'd like.  Take a look at my first attempt above, it's a great creative challenge- good luck!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Studio Art: Drawing Portraits

In studio art class we are having advanced photo students photograph the class in order to create our next self portrait grid image.  This week all the students will be photographed in our classroom and the images will be printed and we'll use them as reference for a drawing.  Below are two examples from period 4 and the photograph below shows what the process looks like.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Interview with NASA engineer Bobak Ferdowsi

I had a chance to talk with NASA engineer and director of the Mars Curiosity Bobak Ferdowsi on the Weird Education twitter chat with "The Weird Teacher" Doug Robertson!  I asked two questions that apply to our art and media classes, take a look:

As a scientist spotlighted w/ a mohawk what's your advice for colorful students who are less accepted in school?

I always remind people that it takes all types - diversity is scientifically shown to help business. Find a group of people who recognizes you for your positive qualities - best part of science and engineering is that we judge on results, not looks (goes both ways, sometimes “bad” fashion is part of it).

What's your biggest takeaway from attending school in Japan? My class learns & collaborates w/ Japanese schools

Understanding more cultures and thought-processes helps me approach problems from different angles & work better with others.

Here's a link to the Storify of the entire #WeirdEd chat to explore for more questions and answers: http://t.co/IPLfTaiIKm and below is the video of the Mars Curiosity landing that made Bobak a meme!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Media Art: Rotoscoping Basics

This week we are working on a collaborative short film and media project based on actor and author Stephen Fry who we just saw in Stephen Fry in America which you are critiquing with our template today.
We'll be creating our media with a number of different techniques including rotoscoping which we'll demonstrate in class.  Rotoscoping is creating animation from real source images (in our case using some tracing to save time and expedite our animation).  We looked at a clip of Koko the Clown and Betty Boop above which was created by Max Fleischer who invented the rotoscope.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Studio Art: The Walking Dead gets artsy

Fans of The might've noticed that the tv show featured a Caravaggio last night of The Denial of Saint Peter which we saw last year on our field trip to the Met Museum. Today in Studio Art well talk about why the writers and producers chose to include the painting and what it may be symbolic of.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween!

Today we will be doing figure drawing using models from the class in costume in all of the art classes.  I'll be taking pictures and posting some of them here and on Instagram and I will be grading the drawings so make sure to give it a real effort.  I know some of you are shy and might not want to get up in front of the class but remember- models get candy!  The photos above of the "Witches of East" show two members of our fantastic computer department getting into the spirit, I'll be posting some from class below!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Talks with Teachers podcast

I was honored to be the guest on the educational Talks with Teachers podcast hosted by fellow teacher Brian Sztabnik this week. I met Brian at a recent Long Island EdCamp conference and we met because he noticed my very visual note-taking (I draw most of my notes as you can see from my tweet below).

The conference was a terrific learning experience and we recorded the podcast shortly afterwards. We had a great conversation about teaching, creativity, art, and some classroom philosophy that you can download or stream on iTunes from the link above. I 've been listening to the Talks with Teachers podcast for a few months now and they have a great array of inspiring educators such as: Dave Burgess, Joy Kirr, Tom Whitby, Starr Sackstein, and Grant Wiggins I recommend listening and joining the conversation about education!

Drawing: Illustration Friday- Puppet

In Drawing class we are working on the current Illustration Friday theme of "Puppet".  Here's my entry, a take on finger puppets, yours are due later today!

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