Helping school children impact their environment through Art

Clean waters make for a healthy environment. Conservation lessons trickled down to kids putting their favorite sea creatures on the wall and thanking God for the responsibility to take care of them.

We love living close to nature, and everyone is learning how to keep trash (especially plastic) out of the waterways.

Our winning mural design of a coral reef was created by a second grader whose parents are scuba divers. He painted the first layer of color after chalking the outline. His little sister added a pink starfish.
Our winning mural design of a coral reef was created by a second grader whose parents are scuba divers. He painted the first layer of color after chalking the outline. His little sister added a pink starfish.

These last few weeks have been a STEAM-y mix of science, community  responsibility, and art. We also learned about how drawings on a basic shape or stick figure are like sculptures on armatures and shaped fillers. Composition became a key lesson when choosing from hundreds of student submissions.  The winning design of a lively coral reef was chalked on the wall by a second grader whose parents scuba dive.

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Chalk and markers for the rough drafts on Thursday.


Puffy paint for a coral reef lesson in first grade..


Air dry clay for a coral reef lesson with older students (grade 6).


Silhouettes emphasized a clean water lesson for third grade.

Trunk or Treat

img_20161030_170246I think these events are a great for the community and encourage children (and adult) imaginations. This ocean theme was my favorite booth setup this year there were very imaginative corals. I helped at this one, and when the candy ran out my son and I made balloon fish from the sea anemones.



Big Eyes

img_20161027_053928With a community art show and an ocean mural project this month, the entire school is excited about art. This inspired one generous benefactor to donate a hoard of foam egg cartons. I am now test crafting ways to use them in the classroom. I prefer to reduce, and reuse foam and plastic products, although they often accumulate more plentifully than we can repurpose them. These crafts are a good way to build 3D art thinking skills. We also like layering, pop ups, and puff paints to get away from flat paper while still being easy to store.

This week pairs of cups are hot glued to paper plates as fish eyes. Maybe you need eyes for something else, and the paperboard backing makes them friendlier to kid glues. I used the end of a glue stick dipped in acrylic paint to dot the pupils.


Some other ideas I have tried are crab claws and side legs, turtles, two types of flowers (daisy, rose), but I used hot glue because white glue did not holdthe slick foam.



img_20161014_114805I get a little feeling of joy that my son cooks and holds his cutting board like an artist’s palette.

While we mourn our friend Daniel (5/21/2000-10/10/2016) -forever 16- my son and I also treasure this day we have with each other. Please pray with us for Daniel’s mom and dad, sisters, and many others blessed to be loved by him.

This is the sunshine my teen son and I enjoyed together today.



Which way is up?

I made mannequins for my K-6 art classes  and transformed an abstract painting I did not like before. Now I like it upside down and sideways too. The working title is “Lazy Susan”.

Mannequins edited, resized and assembled from  and inspired  by the excellent positive vs negative space ideas at &

The background was an experimental draft for Iris Beholder.

King of Kings

I have had a period of sickness, and even after it passed it left some weakness behind. This has given me more opportunity to listen to books and consider how to apply the learning. This week the book was Second Samuel of the Bible.


When I am strong I sometimes put too much faith in my own power, but I really have everything by the grace of God. I called my mother, who is weak from muscular dystrophy, to remember humility and to add compassion to my prayers.

With The Grace of God

Thank you to the many friends who prayed for us in Florida during Hurricane Hermine. Special thanks to Gallivana of for her peaceful words during our night watches.

Today all of my local friends who had not been flooded or dealing with tree fall went out to assist those who were burdened. We are grateful to be spared, and blessed to be able to help. More crews are assembling to families in need after church.

This is where we went today after the waters receded enough to go in. Please continue to pray for the displaced and homeless in the storm paths (Baton Rouge, Louisiana also comes to mind.).IMG_20160904_221828

Doodling in Church

I have a busy head, and note taking with doodles helps keep me engaged. I also create along with and try new materials and techniques in my art journals, with variations.


These notes are for listening and make it easy for me to recall the key points I learned, so they are not as pretty as the work I plan out and carefully paint. Also, not everything I note down is an exact quote of the speakers, so I will link to their sites and podcasts whenever possible. Here are two weeks of notes from Seven Rivers Presbyterian Church. 


It intrigued me that BOASTING (and not boasting) has come up in several studies lately, even in the review of the 3-part 2015 Women’s Retreat — Unhitching from the Crazy Train.


We used to get in trouble for this at school, but that’s how my brain ponders ideas.

Those were the fun notes, now I have to start my homework for UT Tyler. After that, preplanning for teaching my art classes this week.

Have a super inspiring week.

Global Shorebird Counting 2016 dates

Count shorebirds, sketch and paint them too. Sept 2-6. Register your wetland location. 8)

World Shorebirds Day

Western Sandpiper closeup by Bob Smith on

The next World Shorebirds Day is upon us and as usual we are organising the more and more popular Global Shorebird Counting Program for the third time. The previous events turned to be extremely popular and we have been blown away by the response we got. This year’s Global Shorebird Counting will take place between 2-6 September 2016 at any part of the world. There have been a lot of misunderstanding in the terminology, ‘shorebird‘. Shorebirds are not only the speedy sandpipers feeding along the sea shores. Shorebirds are literally everywhere in the world. Of course we have plenty of extensive coastal mudflats which hold  tens of thousands of migrating shorebirds but we also have other habitats suitable for shorebirds or waders. Go counting on a braided river bed in New Zealand, a drained fishpond in Hungary, a salt pans in Spain, grassland in California, a mountain plateau…

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I Just Cannot Keep A Sketchbook For Long

I just used up all the pages in another sketchbook. I keep telling my students how important it is to practice. Some of them have such a joy in doing it, they need no reminders. I hope most of the others will catch the spirit of creativity and let it refresh their free time, no matter where life takes them.

4 doodles 14 doodles 24 doodles 34 doodles 4

One of the meditative activities I do is Bible art journaling, except I do it in my devotions notebook instead of my Bible. I use the borders in my Bible for some pictures and notes, but I do not want to cover up any of the actual scriptures. And I doodle a lot to work on ideas that may or may not make it into my paintings. My sketchbook never judges, and my mistakes are valuable learning experiences.

Some of the resources I look to for ideas is the 52 week devotional from Rebekah Jones Bible Art Journaling. She has begun a new challenge, but I am still working on the original one. I also find inspiration from Tiffany Zajas Living Life Joyfully. I find it very meditative to create these illustrations and think about the meaning in the living words.

If you find illustrations help stick key ideas in your head but do not feel artistically adventurous, you may enjoy one of Zondervan’s Beautiful Word Bibles with many illustrated pages to enjoy as you read the scriptures. There are great coloring devotionals like Krista Hamrick’s pages on Etsy which are easy to print to size on vellum and insert to your Bible as overlays or bookmarks. I could also recommend a scripture coloring book like “Be Still Inspirational Adult Coloring Therapy Featuring Psalms.” I have this one!

I also like the CBN Super Book App and the MySword Bible App. They are both easy to read and search for keywords. The Super Book has videos and a daily verse with games to help remember, plus a link to the full chapters.  MySword works offline with several translations from which to choose, plus optional maps, images and commentaries.

New School Pencils

A fresh pack of new school pencils, chalk, a box of unbroken crayons, sketchbooks and notebooks full of clean paper – and a new year has begun. At open house children who had been doodling through the presentation proudly approached me afterwards with their art. Again I am blessed to be an art teacher. It is the best job in the world.


Even so, I enjoyed the last of the vacation with some 2 minute figure drawings and a few 30 minute paint sketches.o

Bonus: A few glimpses at the chiaroscuro  by fellow artists, Don and Rich in Ocala.

An artist-in-residence

Here at Visual Fling, I have made a friend close to my heart, but across the world.  Over the years Gallivana has shared her gardens, family memories, and musings, and collected my art. I am deeply honored. Please enjoy a “gallery walk” through her home.


I have an artist- in – residence?  Do you? As a way of bringing a lighter, brighter look to my house, I have let her creative spirit have free rein in my domain.  There are new paintings ever…

Source: An artist-in-residence

The Gallery Wall

I have been using my summer break to work on figures and portraits. A few pictures here are by my friends at art club, gifts because my son was the model today and twenty days ago. I can see the improvement from my recent paintings, top two, and my earlier attempts.

What an artful week we’re having!

Time to Paint


I have time to paint, and time to tutor, and time to paint again. I may have to get up early to read more philosophers for my Ethics class, but obviously that is not something I do when I am tired. When I paint, I don’t get tired until I am done. Anyway, here is a collection of recent paint exercises up to today. Have a colorful life.


Zentangle Doodle Event

One of the libraries in the Citrus County Florida area is inviting adults to try zentangle. This relaxing drawing technique fills areas with patterns.

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Friday July 29, 10:30 AM 12:00 PM

“Everyone needs a break from the business of the everyday; a chance to slow down and concentrate on something outside the ordinary. Meditative drawing offers a chance to relax and engage the mind in a whole new way. Draw. color. and create your own masterpiece by joining us at Lakes Region library as we design Zentangle-inspired art.”

LAKES REGION BRANCH, 1511 Druid Rd., Inverness, FL (352) 726-2357

[Text extracted from the photo with Text Fairy on Android. Text to voice can also be easily generated from photos with Voxbox]

Archaeology Artifacts

We had fun making fake artifacts for K-5 adventure camp.  The library books accompany the displays. At our simulated dig the campers charted the objects before taking them to the “research” section to find them in these books. Then they placed them on our “museum” tables with companion pieces. Use the contact page to email a message to me if you would like more ideas on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, math) integration or unit studies.IMG_20160706_234655

(1) Foam insulation board Persian head carving, painted and sprinkled with sand while wet, (2) DK Eyewitness Books Archeology, (3) some of my beginner pottery (4) hand prints and petrography – not shown


Clay stamps simulating ancient coins and small sculptures

(1a) Hebrew and Greek Psalm 102:18 painted on slab of foam insulation board (1b) paper plate Hebrew/English/Greek decoder, (2) The Crafts and Culture of the Ancient Hebrews, (3) milk cap coins with hot glue designs and gold acrylic paint (4) scrolls – not shown (5) stamps to make ancient coins and small sculptures


(1) foam plate bowl with hot glue cabochons and ‘lions’ with metallic acrylic paints, (2) DK Eyewitness Book Bible Lands, (3) costume jewelry and bean beads, (4) more of my beginner ceramics & two Robby Wood collaborations- thank you Gary Hatcher and Z. Miles Mayfield at UT Tyler, and guest artist Robby Wood, for many clayworking techniques you taught us.


(1) can of tomatoes marked “use by 1811”, (2) cast iron trivet, (3) plated and stamped spoon, (4) DK Smithsonian Visual Timeline Inventions, (5) abacus – not shown


We camp staffers are looking forward to an adventurous week with the campers!

Day 1 – What is archeology? Cave art wall of hands, stick people, and animals

Day 2 – Simulated Dig

Day 3 – Pottery, clay impressions, and coin stamping

Day 4 – Reassemble “pottery” puzzles

Day 5 – Ancient writing on tablets, and scrolls found in pottery (time capsules)


Happy Weekend of the Fourth

My husband started teaching our son how to drive. They drove me places to paint, then practiced meanwhile without any backseat driving.

We also saw an alligator, a turtle, a fountain in a pond, and a sunset before the fireworks. 

I enrolled in my last three classes to complete my Bachelor degree, and groaned a little that they were not all available in one semester. Cried when I found out the costs so far over our heads. Nonetheless, I celebrate graduation as soon as these are done. We courageously charge forward.

We are enjoying our family time and the holiday, as we hope you are too.

This is a larger version of an earlier painting, and being a little excited about visiting Maine soon, I decided to block it out some more.