Relay For Life


Relay for Life

Image via Jenni’s Pinboard

Relay for Life is raising awareness about cancer:  the staggering number of people who are affected (even in our own community), the questions and research that are driving campaigns, and the heroes who are fighting on the front lines.

I’m sharing my project with you to help raise awareness as well as funds for cancer research.  My hope is to collect donations as I paint, and these donations will help my Relay for Life team achieve our fundraising goal (each member hopes to raise at least $300, and my goal is $1000).  The painting will be donated to our regional cancer centre, and they can choose to display the artwork or use it to raise more funds.

If you would like to help me raise money to fight cancer, please visit my fundraising page here:  Nip-Rock Around the Clock.  Thank you!




My inspiration:


**I will continue to add updates as I make progress on my painting.



Posted in Regional Art | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Painted Turtle Art Shop



Bringing one of these bags home is like having a loot bag from a birthday party. I can’t wait to get home & dig in to my treats.

The Painted Turtle Art Shop in Thunder Bay has been my favourite art supply store since I began shopping for art supplies.  I began taking visual arts courses in university in 1994, and was introduced to this wonderful little store by my professors, who gave each of their students a list of supplies for their courses.  The owners of Painted Turtle were so welcoming and helpful, especially to wide-eyed, first-year, rookie art students like me.  They had the patience of saints as they helped me with my list; they would explain some of the materials that I wasn’t familiar with, and would even show me ways to save some money.  …and I received a discount for being an art student.  (big thumbs-up)

Screen Shot 2014-03-30 at 8.58.16 AM

A few years ago, the Best Art Shop Ever moved from their long-time Red River location to 33 S. Cumberland Street.  At first, I wasn’t too sure if I liked this idea, because it’s hard to give up a bit of tradition.  It didn’t take long to enjoy their new home on Cumberland Street…


Look at all the space!

There is nothing better than going to your favourite art store and feeling like you’re at home.  Lorraine and Angie are two of the friendliest artists/shop-owners I know, and do their very best to help their customers.  Discussions over materials that would be just right and personalized service are just a few reasons why I keep coming back to the B.A.S.E. (oops, I mean Painted Turtle).


If you’re on Cumberland, look for this storefront. Then, park your car and stay a while.   


*Storefront image credit: Painted Turtle website.  

Posted in Regional Art | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Using Google+ Communities to Encourage Feedback

Last semester, my students enjoyed using a Google+ Community to discuss ideas with students in Mexico.  This semester, my grade 12 students are using a  Google+ Community to connect with each other, with me, and their student-teacher.

Screen Shot 2014-03-21 at 4.35.44 PM

It isn’t always easy to share thoughts in school, and it can be really tricky for students to comment on each other’s work in class.  We often encourage students to give each other feedback, but this process can be awkward if we haven’t provided guidelines or a means by which students can offer their thoughts.

Screen Shot 2014-03-21 at 5.58.30 PM

Excerpt from Ontario’s Growing Success Document

I’m hoping that, by using a Google+ Community, students will gain a bit of perspective on their work.  Right now, they are merely sharing their work, and haven’t provided feedback for others, but they know that we will be doing this very soon.  Before we graduate to this next level, we will talk about the expectations for peer assessment, and agree to a few criteria to guide our comments.

In Monday’s Art Chat, a few art teachers discussed a variety of ideas, including peer feedback. *please don’t mind the technical glitches*

Do you have any tips or techniques that encourage students to discuss each other’s work? If you use guidelines, would you like to share them?


Posted in Art Education, Education, Growing Success, Ontario | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Craft vs. Art in the Classroom

I used to snub my nose at craft.  For some reason, as I studied fine art, I was convinced that craft had a place beneath art, maybe reserved for those with less creativity.  Oh boy.

A few summers ago, my family visited the Mennonite Heritage Village in Steinbach, Manitoba.  As I walked through the exhibit in their Permanent Gallery, I began to feel embarrassed because of my assumptions and attitude toward craft.  The care with which these pieces were created put many of my own artworks to shame.

There is something to be said for the refinement of technique; the quality that grows from repetition, practice and development of skill.

This morning, I attempted to create a pencil charm using my daughter’s Rainbow Loom (I had gained the confidence to try after successfully making her a bracelet yesterday).  I was making something, but I don’t feel that I was being original, because I was following instructions in a step-by-step format.  Someone else had thought of the design, and I was merely becoming familiar with the technique.  But is this something that should be frowned upon?  No, I don’t believe it is.

IMG_1105If I continued to develop my skills with the Rainbow Loom (and all of those wonderful elastics that have now invaded every room in my house), I would soon feel confident to begin experimenting and creating my own designs.  Perhaps, I could even start to express ideas visually using an unassuming material such as small, colourful elastics.  Think this is a stretch?  Consider the work of Olek, and her crochet/conceptual/street art.  Hmm, the lines between craft and art are beginning to blur…

~~  Craft, technique, skill, craftsmanship…  ~~

  • Do we rush our students, in an effort to cover as many topics as we deem appropriate for one of our classes?
  • If they are hoping to develop their skills, are they losing out because they have fewer final artworks to display?
  • Is the emphasis on process vs. product considered an investment, since we are helping our students to develop the skills needed to produce quality art?
  • How much time should be devoted to technique?

What are your experiences?  Does this relate to current conversations about teacher-directed vs. student-directed learning?  What about process vs. product?  Feel free to comment.


Posted in Art Education, Education, Education Reform, Genius Hour, Ontario | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Cold But Beautiful

My family and I just returned from a quick trip to Duluth.  On the way down, we noticed how quickly the shoreline changed; the lake is still frozen in Red Rock, but there was plenty of ice shifting and open water between the border and our destination.


A bit of contrast was added to this photo to emphasize the textures


We also enjoyed our time at On The Rocks Art Studio & Gallery.  For some reason, I hadn’t noticed this little gem on previous trips to Duluth, but I’m so glad we did this time.


I really hope that plenty of people visit this studio.  There is such a variety of great art for sale, and the atmosphere is creative and inviting.  Two bonus points for having a pet turtle and for displaying a record from The Muppet Show.


Posted in Regional Art | Tagged , , | 3 Comments



I always thought that inspiration is for amateurs.  The rest of us just show up and get to work.  If you wait around for the clouds to part, and a bolt of lightning to strike you in the brain, you’re not going to make an awful lot of work.  ~Chuck Close


(I can’t wait to share this with my students)


WISDOM Trailer from Andrew Zuckerman Studio on Vimeo.

What is your favourite piece of advice?


Posted in Art Education, Education | Tagged , | 2 Comments

How Do You Support Risk-Taking in Your Class?

Screen Shot 2014-03-06 at 9.49.15 PM

Art of Apex Portal

Many educators agree that risk-taking is a quality that they want to encourage in their classrooms, but it may be difficult to support it in the classroom.  We may tell students that they can learn from making mistakes, but who wants to make a mistake if they’re being graded?  The notion of working for high grades can work against those who need to learn through experience.

Katherine Douglas, Melissa Purtee and Ian Sands joined me for an Art Chat earlier this week to discuss the Art of Apex Portal.  A lot of time and effort has resulted in a well-constructed site that encourages independence and creativity in the art room.

“You have to find a way to truly support standing on the edge and taking a risk”  ~ Katherine Douglas

If I was a student at Apex, I know that I would feel comfortable taking risks and trying new ideas.  I know that I would want to see how far I could push my limits because I’ve been provided with a failure-safe way to learn what I want to learn.




Posted in Art Education, Education Reform, Genius Hour | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments