The Parroquia in San Miguel




We just got back last week from Beautiful San Miguel and once again the town exudes magic! We painted at our large casa (Alta Vista which means High View) for a few days, but by Tuesday everyone wanted to come down and paint at the Jardin. As you can see the main square is dominated by the Cathedral surrounded by clipped trees to provide shade, which makes this an ideal place to see and be seen. Michelle drew quite a crowd of appreciative art lovers, but some artists had difficulty getting started. The first thing to do is decide how much of the building you are going to focus on and then “Put it in a Box.” By that I mean draw your center line vertically, and then draw horizontal lines at each floor. Then you will know if you can even fit it all into your canvas. Then note where the windows are and finally you will find the outside edges. Just about everyone had to extend the steeple off the page but it made for a more dramatic painting anyway. When looking up the sides of the building seem to slant inward but that just gives it a majestic look so don’t worry if all lines are not parallel. More important is to get the play if shadow and light on the building, and remember…BE BOLD!

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View From Vist Alta




At the beginning of the week, we all decided that the view was so magnificent from the house that it was worth it to stay there a paint what we saw, however; easier said than done. If you just focus on what is far it will all be misty so, big foreground shapes are needed to contrast with the small distant shapes. Again, it is all about Shapes and Values. Squint and you will see similar shapes and color, and then put in as little detail, and value shifts, (ie, light and shadow) as possible. Focus your detail, fat paint, and high contrast to what is close up and let all Far detail be soft.

Bud and Emily, photographing the View, Lucy painting on the terrace!

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View of the Lift




Just got back from teaching my second Workshop in San Miguel de Allende, but I still wanted to say one more thing about the Park City Trip; that is, Finding Your Focus. When plein air painting, you are often faced with a whole lot of Green, so for a newer student, the first order of business is to take an hour or so, to mix many different colors of Green. I use, Ultra Marine Blue, Prussian Blue, Ivory Black, and 2 yellows, Cadmium Yellow Light and Cadmium Yellow Deep, and White. With those few colors, you can mix hundreds of greens! Nature is really quite colorful but sometimes you do have to look hard to find warm and cool colors in the landscape. Ask yourself, “does that green have a little red in it, or is it more to the blue side?” Then try to push the different colors so the warm and cool become more obvious. Second, try to simplify your dark colors into a shape. Don’t break up your dark shapes with spots of light. Third, make sure your focal point is not on the edges of your canvas, and note that a focal point is where the darkest dark is next to the lightest light and warm colors attract the eye first. Now, where do you think the focal point is in this painting?


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San Lucas Vineyards




Who knew there were so many vineyards in Mexico?! And so much good wine…not to mention the food…Chiles en Nogada, Guacamole, pork stewed in oranges and apricots, enchiladas… eeeeeeee! It’s a wonder we had time to paint! However; San Lucas Vineyards was an inspirational property, so beautiful, and so Large! We all agreed, someone has put a LOT of money into this real estate development just outside San Miguel. What with the vineyards, lavender fields, olive orchards, and Polo Grounds… I must say, we felt like we were in Tuscany. Be sure to spend a day and do the wine tasting. They do a first-rate job, and the fruit and cheese pairing is excellent! But, do yourself a favor and don’t get on the scales until you get back!


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Valley of the Moon




Normally I would not recommend mixing wine with paint, but when painting in Sonoma, California, in the heart of the US wine region, it seems like a good idea. If you are going to ask the owners of these lovely vineyards if you can paint on their property, it’s only good manners, to pause for lunch and sample their products…right? When we arrived in Sonoma the first week of September, it was right before the Crush, so the grapes were big a lush on the vines. The closest Vineyard to the house we rented was “Valley of the Moon” which is the oldest operating winery in Glen Ellen with some vines over 100 years old! This beautiful property, set in the valley between the Sonoma Hills, has an allay of changing colored chestnut trees leading to the vineyard. Lazy fat bees and hummingbirds flit among the vines and though warm, (low 80’s) there always seems to be a breeze under the trees. This last trip to California was a wonderful way to top off a summer plein air painting. I am already planning next years trips so if you are interested, please let me know.
By the way, I have been interviewed by a site for Bloggers that I barely remember doing…Isn’t the internet something? Link below for those who are interested.


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Cliff Hanger




Bodega Bay is a charming town and rocky shoreline just North of San Francisco and due West, one hour, from the house we rented in Sonoma this September. After painting in the vineyards a few days, we all decided to take a drive to the coast to paint the Pacific Ocean! As many of you know, teaching art is truly one of my great passions and I will go almost anywhere to share ideas and suggestions on painting with fellow artists. However; Georgia and Chrissie do EXTREME PAINTING! I have seen Extreme Skiing and Extreme Motorcycle Racing but I was not about to follow either one of them down those steep, rocky cliffs to discuss the color and value of the waves. None the less, I think we all came away with some of our most successful paintings. What a magical place to spend the day, capturing the majesty of this dramatic Country! And, for lunch, the Fish and Chips and the salty waitress at the local Boathouse were both just perfect!

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Fog and Memory




David Dweck wrote this quote about fog that is quite interesting. “To find Truth, one must traverse a dense fog.” That idea is particularly pertinent to artists because every painting begins with just a foggy idea of where you are going. The Morning we painted at Bodega Bay near Sonoma, that was literally the truth, as the fog kept rolling in and out. You would start the painting and ten minutes later the cliffs would disappear, then they would be back and the waves would disappear, so the only thing left to do was to try to remember where they were, what color they were and what value. Believe it or not, many artists say that the best way to get to the real truth of what something looks like is to paint only from memory. Artists have been known to put the model in another room and just walk over to look from time to time. Ira and I just kept cursing under our breath, but I must say the intensity of our gaze when we did get a clear view might have helped because we were all happy with our paintings! Now looking back on that day, my main memory is just happiness and gratitude.

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What Does It Really Take to Get a Doctoral Degree as an Art Educator?

Have you been thinking about getting an advanced degree such as your Ph.D. or Ed.D.?

Do you often wonder what it takes to be successful when working on a doctoral degree?

As a current student in the last few months of my Ed.D. program in Educational Leadership, I would like to share a few things I have learned along the way. While it has been quite the journey, it has also been a very rewarding experience. When I was entertaining the idea of pursuing my doctoral degree, I had many fears and almost talked myself out of going. With the support of my husband, family, and best friend, I moved forward with the process and I’m so glad I did.

Here is what is really takes to get a doctoral degree as an art educator.

piece of writing

1. Passion

Being passionate is important when taking on any big task. This is especially true with the work you’ll do as a doctoral student. You’ll want to start thinking about what type of research you want to do right away. Having a research topic in mind will enrich your studies as you move through your program.

To start, find articles about topics that interest you. This will allow you to see the gaps in the research and what questions you may want to look into answering with your dissertation.

You will spend a lot of time on your research. Make sure it’s a topic you’re passionate about and won’t easily tire from learning about.

2. Balance

In life, we are pulled in many different directions. The key to managing the chaos is finding balance. That’s why finding the right doctoral program is so important.

I chose a program where most of the work is done on my own time. We meet a few weekends each semester, and I also attended a week-long session with my cohort over the summer. The summer session allowed my colleagues and I to grow closer and enhanced my thinking. But the coursework itself was done mainly before and after our time together.

To figure out what program is right for you, you need to figure out what will work best with your schedule.

Think about how you will find a balance between family, work, friends, and personal time and still have time to get your classwork done. You do not want to burn out, so having a plan is key. Manage your time by penciling specific activities into your calendar. Schedule time for work, but also schedule specific time for doing fun things with your family and friends and for giving yourself some “me time.”


3. Perseverance

There’s no sugarcoating it–getting your doctoral degree is difficult. It is an enlightening experience that will provide value in your personal and professional life, but it does not come without tons of hard work and time-consuming tasks.

Make sure you have a mindset that can push you in times of frustration and fatigue. Grit comes from deep within, and you must have this to push through all the ups and downs that will come as you work on your doctoral work and research.

books about grit

One thing I’ve found helpful is to celebrate your successes as you move through the program. Celebrating smaller goals is a way to acknowledge your progress throughout the long journey. When you finish a semester, complete a difficult project, or meet a goal, do something nice for yourself. It could be a special dinner out or anything else you find enjoyable. These little things will keep you going and push you to stay motivated.

4. Support

Support is huge when working on a doctoral degree. Whether it’s someone to vent to or celebrate with, having a support system in place will be important for your mental state.

Also, make your friends and family aware of the time commitment you must put into your program. They will need to realize you won’t be as available during this process. Being honest will set the foundation for mutual understanding and give them a chance to support you as needed.

Another suggestion is to set some non-negotiables for yourself. For instance, if you have children and enjoy putting them to bed at night, set a non-negotiable that you will be there to tuck them in at least X times per week. Or, while you may not be able to make every birthday celebration or outing with your friends, you can schedule time once a month to catch up.

You’ll also want to be honest with your coworkers and set up a school support system. Reach out to your PTA and co-workers to see if there are areas in which they can help assist you and make life easier for you as you balance work and school. I have found this very helpful. You will be surprised by how many people are truly there to help you when needed.

5. Money

Last, money is a huge deterrent for many people pursuing their doctoral degree. Search for scholarships and sponsorships, or save if this is something you truly want to do, knowing that it will enhance your personal and professional life.

Student loans can be an option as well if you feel you can handle the financial payments when you are finished. You can also help lower payments by paying your interest while you are in the program or use loans as a way to supplement what you can’t pay on your own.

Overall, getting your Ed.D. or Ph.D. is a phenomenal accomplishment, and if it is something you want to pursue, go for it! Take into consideration all of these points and do what is best for you.

Are you thinking about pursuing a doctoral degree, if so, what is holding you back?

Are you currently working on a doctoral degree, what other tips do you have for those who want to start?  

The post What Does It Really Take to Get a Doctoral Degree as an Art Educator? appeared first on The Art of Ed.

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10 Photographers Your Students Will Love

Students live in a visual culture, and taking photos is a normal part of their everyday life. In order to push students’ work forward and challenge the way they think about photography, it’s important to introduce them to new and interesting photographers.

Here are 10 photographers to inspire you and your students.

1. Ben Thomas

Ben Thomas
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Ben Thomas takes photographs that look like paintings. His work is an interesting counterpoint to photorealistic paintings or drawings.

Challenge your students to look at their environment like it’s a flat painting and see if they can capture this feeling in a photo.


2. Daniel Mercadante

2. Daniel Mercadante
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Daniel Mercadante plays with color and light in his photos. When exploring his website, you’ll find both photos and short films. His project Rainbow Road is a great one to share with students when learning about slow shutter speeds and drawing with light.


3. Romina Ressia

Romina Ressia
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Romaina Ressia is a portrait photographer. However, she doesn’t simply capture portraits; she adds an ironic twist to her photos through props, clothing, and expression.

Have students explore how the content of a photo impacts the story by having them stage photos.


4. Sarah Meyohas

Sarah Meyohas
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Sarah Meyohas’ work often combines photography with filmmaking and performance art. Her project, Speculations, captures images in mirrors creating interesting dimension and repetition. Challenge your students to work with mirrors and see what kind of images they can create.


5. Pedro Correa

Pedro Correa
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Pedro Correa’s photos look like impressionist paintings. The images are often blurred, becoming more about the color and movement than a recognizable subject.

Correa is interested in “capturing” what he sees instead of “creating” it. He does not digitally modify his work. His series, Winter in Youth, best represents this.

Teach students about controlling shutter speed, then have them work to capture photos that look like paintings.


6. Charlies Petillion

Charlies Petillion
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Charlies Petillion’s photos will make you and your students want to purchase one million balloons. He has two series titled Invasion. Using white balloons, he creates magical spaces and photographs them. Be sure to explore his website for examples and to view the videos that show his process.

Consider using Petillon’s work as inspiration for an installation at a school event. The piece can work as both a decoration and a photo op.


7. Lorna Simpson

Lorna Simpson
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Lorna Simpson explores identity through her work. She often mixes photography and collage to create finished pieces, playing with proportion and juxtaposition.

Have students create a collaborative work inspired by Simpson. You could have four students each contribute one image to a single collage. A project like this could also lead to a great discussion about appropriation.


8. Shirin Neshat

Shirin Neshat
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Shirin Neshat’s photographs are powerful and packed with meaning. She explores identity, gender, and political issues in Muslim countries. A lot of her photos are a mix of image and text.

Students can explore a topic about which they feel passionate or reflect on a story they want to tell. Have students take a photo of themselves or another person, incorporating text as mark making and a way to tell a story.


9. Zanele Muholi

Zanele Muhoi
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Zanele Muholi uses photography as a way to document people and as a form of activism. Her portraits have stark contrast. Careful attention is paid to expression and adornment.

Her portraits make the viewer feel like they’re staring into the eyes of the subject. Have students reflect and journal about how one of her images makes them feel. Go further and discuss the power of an image.


10. Tyler Mitchell

Tyler Mitchell
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Tyler Mitchell’s photos are editorial and have landed on the cover of Vogue. They have also graced the pages of other magazines like Office, Candy, and The Fader. His photos are bold and carefully posed.

Have students explore his work and then set up a photo-shoot. Next, use the photos to design a magazine cover, learning how to combine text and image.


With evolving technology and resources, photographers are pushing the boundaries of how they create art and images to tell stories. Your students can do the same.

Whom would you add to the list?

After viewing the artists above, what is one new thing you want to try with your photography students this year?

The post 10 Photographers Your Students Will Love appeared first on The Art of Ed.

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How to Create Beautiful Fall Prints with Your Students

Printmaking is such a fun art process for our students to learn. It can be intimidating to think about doing printmaking with younger students, but it definitely can be done. One trick is to keep the materials and processes as simple as possible. I love to print with Gelli® plates because they are easy to use and fun for all of my students.

This time of year, many of my students are drawing things related to fall like leaves, scarecrows, haunted houses, and pumpkins. One way to bring those ideas into printmaking is to incorporate leaves. It can provide your students with a fun and timely art experience.

Check out these 3 easy steps to incorporate fall into printmaking with your younger students.

gelli print materials

Step 1: Inspire your students.

While your students may already be thinking about fall, you can take their ideas to the next level with some specific inspiration.

Here are a few options.

  • Read the book, Leaf Man, by Lois Ehlert.
  • Have a class discussion about what fall looks and feels like.
  • Show your students the video, Why Do Leave Change Color in the Fall, by SciShow Kids.

If you want students to expand their ideas beyond leaves, you can ask them to draw and cut out paper shapes like pumpkins or jack-o-lanterns to use later in the printmaking process.

Step 2: Demonstrate the printmaking process.

When teaching printmaking, it is important to model for your students. The process outlined below will work for a variety of monoprinting processes.

Looking for more in-depth information? We have the perfect resource for you! In the Creating with Gel Printing Plates PRO Learning Pack, you’ll learn everything you need to get started with the process


  • Gelli® plates or another monoprinting surface
  • Brayers
  • White or colored construction paper
  • Scrap paper
  • Acrylic paint
  • Wet wipes
  • Texture materials like real leaves, rubber leaves, leaf stamps, bubble wrap, etc.

making a gelli print


1. Roll Out the Paint

Have students put a few drops of two to three colors of acrylic paint onto the Gelli® plate. Fall colors would work well here! Then, have them take a brayer and roll over the colors until the plate is covered. After that, have students roll the brayer on a scrap piece of paper to help clean it. Be sure to keep the dried scrap paper as it makes fantastic collage material!

2. Add Texture

Now it’s time to add texture. Have them press leaves onto the surface and pick them back up to create a design. If you chose to read Leaf Man for inspiration, they might choose to create their own figure using leaves.

Be sure to remind students not to overdo it. You don’t want to lift off all the paint during this process!

3. Pull the Print

Finally, have your students lay their paper onto the Gelli® plate and rub the back for about 30 seconds to transfer the design.

This is a great process to run in conjunction with other projects, especially if you do not have a class set of Gelli® plates. You might consider having students draw their favorite fall activity or do leaf rubbings while they wait to come to the printing station.

gelli print

3. Give your students time to reflect.

Reflecting is such an important part of the art process. It allows even our youngest students to think about their work as well as the artmaking experience.

Here are a few ways to include reflection time for your students.

  • Have students write what they learned on a sticky note.
  • Let students share their work with the class.
  • Ask your students to think about the process of creating their art and what they enjoyed about it.

Your students will have a blast and be so engaged while creating their own fall inspired print!

What is your favorite fall project?

How do you use Gelli® plates in the classroom?

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