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.

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Creating AR Art with EyeJack

This year we've been working quite a bit with augmented reality and we've been using a number of different tools but a new favorite is the Eyejack app. I've seen some amazing work in galleries in NYC created with this tool and always wanted to try it but thanks to some new updates it's much easier to use and create witj. I've shared some of our creations in a few recent conferences and online workshops and decided to create the simple tutorial above to show how the AR creation process works.

Monday, October 18, 2021

2021 ISTE Creative Constructor Lab Conference

This weekend I attended the 2021 ISTE Creative Constructor Lab Conference and presented 5 workshops on topics ranging from augmented reality to animation. The event is always a great experience because it's focused on creativity and innovation allowing many hands-on learning sessions and design challenges. 

I helped close out the mainstage session on Friday evening with a design challenge using Adobe Creative Cloud Express (formerly known as Adobe Spark) to create a short visual story focused on social-emotional learning and mindfulness tools. Here's a look at the Padlet with a few examples of educator stories.

The next session was focused on animation and we explored a varied of tools and approaches from simple free digital 2D animation tools like Brush Ninja to experimental tools like Google's 3D Monster Mash. That session was followed my a Creativity Salon in which attendees could chat and ask questions so we discussed some fun and engaging gamification tools and new emerging media. 

On Sunday, I had the opportunity to present with my pals Jen Williams, author of Teach Boldy, and Matt Dombrowski and we shared how to create GIFs and different ways to use them in class. As mems and GIFs are always popular with kids it was an interesting session and fun sharing our work out on social media.

The final session of the weekend was on augmented reality and I showed off a new AR tool that I've been using called EyeJack which allowed me to combine the social-emotional story from the 1st session along with the animation from the 2nd session together into an augmented reality work. The image above shows how easy the process was and below you can see it in action! 

It was a fast and furious conference but always enjoyable and in addition to sharing I was able to attend some great sessions and take away some new tools and tricks. My book STEAM Power is currently on sale in the ISTE book store as part of the event along with Jen's book which is fantastic so check them out!


Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Welcome to the 2021-2022 School Year!

Welcome to the 2021-2022 School Year! This year I'll be working as a district technology integration specialist so I won't be in the classroom but I wanted to wish everyone a terrific school year.

For all my STEAM fans I wanted to share that my colleague, an artist and educator, Dr. Sian Proctor is heading to space in tonight aboard the SpaceX Dragon Resilience as part of the 1st all-civilian mission to orbit with Inspiration4x at 8pm! She’ll also be the 1st African American woman to pilot a vehicle in space, pretty amazing!

Friday, June 18, 2021

Congratulations Class of 2021!

Today's the last day of school for seniors so congratulations Class of 2021! It was a pleasure to work with you, have a great summer, and best of luck in the future!!

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Last Day of Class (in person)

Today is the last day of class in-person unless you are a senior so be sure to hand in any work that you might owe and take your work with you! It's been a pleasure working with you through the toughest year ever as the pandemic threw many changes our way but we made it!

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Positive Press for our Art Projects

Excited to share some recent positive press we have had such as the NEWSDAY article we are mentioned which came out this week on our ongoing storm drain project with Mrs. Williams science classes at HSW. The class is also featured in my article in the latest issue of NYSATA News along with some great student art from Kiersten, Alex, and Kayleigh. Thanks to NYSATA for celebrating my NAEA award as well!

Monday, June 14, 2021

Benjamin Cono competing at the US Olympic Swim Trials

Proud to have a former student, Benjamin Cono (HSE class of 2014), competing at the US Olympic Swim Trials in Omaha, Nebraska this week in the 100 meter & 200 meter breaststroke events! We're all rooting for him & celebrate his perseverance, watch the 100m finals tonight on NBC!

Friday, June 11, 2021

Film: Our Final Film

In Film class it has come time to make our Final Film as we have just 4 days left of class. It is a choice film so you may take on any genre and create a short film which will count as your final project. We'll discuss the options today in class!

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

AP Art 2021-2022 Summer Assignments & Meeting

Today the AP Art 2021-2022 class will meet for a short review of the summer assignments and an explanation of the AP Art test in it's current form- some changes have been made in the last few years some parts like a section based on your best 5 pieces of artwork like the example shown above still remain while the other sections have evolved to emphasize the creative process and exploration. Below are the AP Art summer assignments:

AP Studio Art 2020 Summer Assignments


PART 1: Complete all 5 Assignments

1) Juxtaposition 

Artists like MC Escher, Rene Magritte, and Meret Oppenheim are known for Juxtapositions in their artwork.  A Juxtaposition is an act or instance of placing two things close together or side by side, especially for comparison or contrast. An example is to create a Juxtaposition landscape where two opposing elements come together for a purpose. In some of Escher’s landscapes you will find he takes two different environments and places them together as one.    Try to work from life as much as possible. 

 2) A Self-Portrait WITHOUT Showing Your Face

(without showing your face)- The important thing here is to reveal something about yourself without using your face. In fact, you need not use any part of your body at all in this assignment. Instead, you are challenged to portray who you are in some alternative way. What image can you create or invent that would tell us something about you - your personality, your interests, your character, your inclinations, your talents, your passions, your obsessions, your desires, your needs, your likes and dislikes, your essence?

3. Humans and the Environment

Create a work showing the contrast between humans and the environment around us. This too can be personal or social (environmental, philosophical, imagined, ect) and literal or figurative. Try to stay away from the cliché imagery and find a unique take on a very ancient theme.

4. Inspiration- Take a look at this list of artists from ART21 and choose any artist that interests you. The list includes contemporary artists who use varied media such as: Maya Lin (Vietnam Veterans Memorial) and Barbara Kruger to Anish Kapoor (Cloud Gate) and Rafael Lozano-Hemmer. Research the artist using the website with videos and then create a piece responding to (not copying or in their style) their work.  https://art21.org/artists/ 

5. Shanti Peace Poster-  Create a 8"x10' poster for the Shanti Peace Poster Contest, the theme is peace and you are free to use quotes from Ghandi, Martin Luther King, and/or John Lennon if you wish.  Please see the Shanti Fund website at https://www.shantifund.org/mission-index-impact .

PART 2: Choose 1 of the assignments below:

A. Create a body of work of 10 artworks based on a question in any media

Use a question to inspire 10 works of art using any media.  The question can be personal (Something you’re asking yourself) or aimed at a larger group (focusing on your family or community or a larger group such as the country) or it can be open to anyone. (such as a philosophical question like what is the point of life?) The 10 works should look like they’re from the same artist but they do not need to be in the same medium.  The artwork should be related to the AP test you plan on taking.

B. Create a body of work of 10 artworks based on a big idea

Use an idea to begin creating artworks that are related in any media. The idea should be specific enough to entice an audience and keep them interested.  As a good example, you may want to explore TED talks or the art in ART 21.  The 10 works should look like they’re from the same artist but they do not need to be in the same medium. The artwork should be related to the AP test you plan on taking.

C) Sketchbook

A sketchbook is the single most important tool for any artist.  It’s a way to explore with technique, media, style and ideas without the pain and anxiety of struggling with a large project. 

A Sketchbook is a Never Ending Journey, Not a Destination.

Assignment:  Use your 9x12 black, hardcover sketchbook that you already own.  Fold over your first clean page

and write “summer sketchbook”.  Complete AT LEAST 60 Pages in this sketchbook over the summer.(remember to number each page).

Mediums: Paint (acrylic, tempera, watercolor), marker, pencil, colored pencil, crayons, oil pastels, chalk pastels,

stamps made out of erasers or potatoes, and ink.  Use anything that will make a mark – Be Inventive! 

mat knife, box cutter or X-acto knife, scissors, wax paper, ect (digital tools are also great)

Subjects: When working try contour line, gesture line, completed value drawings with strong lights and darks.

Try a variety of different subjects that include: People- family, friends, as well as strangers (try them still),

or capture movement (at the mall, or playing sports)).

Still Life- arrangement of dishes, eggs or lemons wrapped in different textured cloth.  Pay attention to the

smoothness of the eggs against the rough quality of the towel. Do several views of the same still life.  Use

different media.  Finish at least one well rendered piece after completing several views.  Draw a pinecone,

all or part of it, or any cone, to show the repetition in the pine cone patterns and details.  Look at material

such as: a shirt over a chair, a sheet around a pillar, clothes on a line etc. Draw this with color (watercolor,

pastel) and overlay it with another medium like pencil or ink.  Draw your bicycle, the family car, children’s

toys, are all good subjects.

Landscapes- observe and record your surroundings.  Draw a composition looking out of a window in your

room using the window as a format.  Draw something from your backyard and simplify it into a contour

drawing.  Show as many details as you can with just lines.  Create a drawing that shows diminution. Create

a drawing that shows loss of clarity due to distance (sfumato).  Draw landscapes using Linear and atmospheric


Draw from your memory or imagination- Create a drawing from life in any material that has a mysterious

mood.  Create a fantasy environment.  Transform everyday objects like food into fantasy creatures. You should try to draw in your sketchbook every day.  Draw from observation/imagination. Work with a variety of drawing, painting, and design techniques.  DO NOT WORK ONLY FROM PHOTOGRAPHS!!! 

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Studio Art: Final Exam

 This week is our final exam (which will be paired with a final portfolio) so today we will review together in class. The test is short, only 20 questions, covering a range of things we learned this year and we will use Quizlet to study as we have in the past.

Monday, June 7, 2021

Studio Art: Completing and sharing our mini-comics

This week in Studio Art we will work on completing and sharing our mini-comics. They should be colored and photographed before physically handed in for a grade. When we are finished we will share and critique some of the different approaches students took with the comics. To start off the conversation we'll look at the work of Nathan W Pyle's Strange Planet comic series which is a personal favorite.

Friday, June 4, 2021

10 Days of School Left

Happy Friday everyone! This is a reminder that we have 10, that's right 10 days of class left so be sure to get any incomplete or late assignments in because we are almost there!!

Thursday, June 3, 2021

Film: Hunt for the Wilderpeople

This week in Film class we are watching and critiquing the film Hunt for the Wilderpeople in preparation of our final narrative film project together. We will look at director Taika Waititi's take on the book Wild Pork and Watercress by Barry Crump. We will look at the work in context of Taika's other films as well as the symbolism of elements like wild Huia and explore the underlying themes and issues that made an impact on us watching it.

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Digital Media: Final Choice Project

In Digital Media we begin work on the Final Choice Project today! Last week we reviewed the research projects and explored our final project together so you should have submitted a proposal on a Google Doc for what you would like to do and what you timeline would be for doing it. Is there something you would like to explore further? Above is an example of Angelina's animation from out OKgo animated music video which turned out amazing. 

The final project should be completed by June 15 so make sure you have ample time to finish what you are setting out to do. Below are some of the possibilities but you can propose something else as well:

  • Classic Construction, Cardboard, and Upcycling
  • Film, Video & Animation
  • Web Design, Social Media & Podcasting
  • Coding, App Design & Video Game Design
  • Digital Drawing & Design 
  • 3D Design, Printing and Construction
  • Augmented & Virtual Reality

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Studio Art: Creating A Mini-Comic

This week we are drawing and designing Mini-Comics in Studio Art class.  We will learn about the basic elements of a story, the folding techniques, and the variations in the media.  Then we will brainstorm ideas and begin drawing and designing our own.  We'll learn some warm-up cartooning activities and start developing new original characters then work on the final comic which will include 8 pages including a cover with your name and a title and a back with Smithtown High School East, the year, and Mr. Needles written.

We will begin learning how to fold the paper and create the book then sketching out a simple storyboard like the student example seen above.  Once we have a storyboard in full color we'll create the final min-comic like the examples seen below.

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. The cover and back should be fully toned and colored with the title and your name. Below are a few finished student comics from previous classes.
A number of former students have become comic book artists and work in the film industry creating films based on comics.  We'll take a look at a few during the process of this assignment.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Memorial Day weekend

Today is our final day in May before the Memorial Day weekend so be sure to submit any work and I'll see you all in June.  If you are not aware the holiday began on May 5, 1868 when General John A. Logan issued a proclamation calling for "Decoration Day" to be observed annually and nationwide; he was commander-in-chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of and for Union Civil War veterans founded in Decatur, Illinois. It evolved into Memorial Day to honor military personnel who have died in the performance of their military duties while serving in the US Armed Forces.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

AP Art: VR Artwork

Now that the AP Art test is complete we will begin experimenting with new techniques and technologies to better our creative toolbox for next year. We'll try creating a work in Virtual Reality like the example shown above with the Oculus Rift.

Monday, May 24, 2021

Studio Art: Henri Matisse's Woman with a Hat

This week we will take on the challenge of recreating a master painting in Studio Art class and will create a version of Henri Matisse's famous fauvist portrait of the Woman with a HatThe image is one of the paintings we studied last week and is on the Quizlet.  Try to recreate the painting using watercolor and pencil as close to the original as possible.

Friday, May 21, 2021

Film: Stop Motion Animation

Today in film class we will continue our stop-motion experiments and collaborate on planning our short animated film next week. 

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

AP Art: The AP Art Test

Today we will be taking a final look at the AP Art Test before submitting the work, be sure to go through all the writing and images one last time and make sure everything looks right. We will also make sure we have a backup folder with all the images numbered and the writing on a google doc in case there are any issues in the final upload or assessment.

Monday, May 17, 2021

Studio art: Figure Painting

This week in Studio art we will take on the challenge of Figure Painting and learn some of the proportions and techniques that help create a realistic figure in watercolor and pencil. Here's a great example of what's possible in the medium from painter Fealing Lin of San Marino, California.

Friday, May 14, 2021

AP Art: AP Art Showcase

We are less than a week away from the AP Art test so we will begin putting up some of our best work in the showcase to share the creative work we've made this year. 

As some students are remote it's not compulsory but we will fill the showcase with work and share some of our process with the school.

Here are some examples from over the years at Smithtown East, some of these students are now professionals!

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Studio Art: Creating Watercolor Washes

Today in Studio Art we are learning how to create flat and graded watercolor washes for the sky, ocean, ect.  this technique is really useful in creating landscape paintings so it's an important one to learn. Once you understand how to create a wash you can learn how to layer in clouds and create realistic sky and water paintings.

We will learn how to create a flat wash using the wet on wet and the wet on dry techniques then looked at a graded wash which gets lighter and fades as you paint.

Here's an example of a wash in progress, layering it slowly and having patience is key to success with this technique.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Digital Media: 3D Design

In Digital Media our second 3D Design project is due today which was a choice based project. Be sure you save the file as a STL and upload it with a screenshot in Google Classroom for a grade. We will be critiquing some of the work tomorrow in class together and see what everyone came up with!

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Studio Art: Watercolor Painting Basics


Today in studio art we will be learning the basics of watercolor painting as we begin our plein air painting series.  We will be learning a few different approaches and techniques during this unit and cover both landscape painting and figure painting. 

Be aware that using paint take more clean up time so we'll be taking a few more minutes to set-up and clean-up each day.  Additionally, each student will be responsible for their own brush and set of paints and water that they will need to organize and clean each day. 

We will be creating a series of paintings but you will choose your best to submit for a grade so allow yourself to make mistakes without having to start over from scratch each time you paint. The final paintings will be due next week so we have some time to learn and experiment with the different techniques.

Watercolor is an additive process so it's always better to begin lighter and add layers of color and tone rather than starting with really bold color that might not be able to be altered. In addition to the set of paints and a brush each student will need water and a paper towel to paint with each day.

Monday, May 10, 2021

Film: Interview with actor/screenwriter John C Reilly

"Keep growing, keep moving and you’ll find the world that you need" 

This Friday's advice comes from Oscar and Grammy nominated actor, singer, and screenwriter John C Reilly who you probably know from films like: Step Brothers, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, Chicago, Gangs of New York, Boogie Nights, Casualties of War, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, and one of my favorites What's Eating Gilbert GrapeI interviewed him a few times over the years but here's a snippet from the press tour for the 2011 film Terri in which he plays a high school assistant principal. 

Mr. NeedlesWhat's your advice for students who are being bullied or having a difficult time in high school? 

John C. Reilly: If you’re in high school and you’re freaking out about your place in the pecking order and you feel like a monster or an outcast and you feel like, in the deck of cards that is high school there’s the aces and the kings and queens and you’re like the three of clubs, just know that this is true for every single person in the world- the moment you get out of high school that deck of cards is thrown into the air and those who were kings and queens often end up the assistant manager at the grocery store and those who were the three of clubs end up on press junkets for movies starring themselves, it gets better for everybody, and you just have to get through it. Keep growing, keep moving and you’ll find the world that you need. 

Full story: Short and Sweet NYC

Friday, May 7, 2021

Studio Art: Crane Day


In Studio Art today is Crane Day! We designed paper and learned how to fold origami cranes so now we will finalize them and string them together. The image below maps out where different parts will end up when the final crane is folded. 

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