Monday, January 16, 2017


Through one of the hardest, 
longest weeks of the school year.
There are four of them.
The most brutal is the one when we come back from Summer Vacation.
The second is the week before Xmas Break.
And now I just got through the third one,
the week coming back after Xmas break.
that means there's only one left.
The last week of school. 
oh man,
it's going by so fast.
Only two weeks left before half of the school year is over.

Friday, January 13, 2017


Alumni Brian Kesinger,
son of Sue Kesinger,
 our retired Whitney High Music teacher,
was an art student of mine back in the day.
I'm trying to remember all the art classes he took with me,
at least 4-5 from 7th thru 12th grade,
as well as taking outside art classes at Rolling Hills High School in Animation studies.
He had such a strong portfolio by the time he graded Whitney
 that he was accepted into Cal Arts to study Animation.
At the same time he was also asked by Disney Animation to join their team in Burbank.
Let's see,
work at Disney right out of High School
(his dream job)
or spend 4 years at Cal Arts getting his degree?

Needless to say he joined the Walt Disney Animation Studios Team in Burbank in August of 1996.
Here is Brian & his wife Jenny,
who also works for Disney Animation with Micky Mouse.

They hired him as a Story Board Artist,
 and his first movie he began work on was Tarzan.
He drew the interior of the ship at the beginning of the movie
 as well as a lot of the foliage in the jungle
(which I still have some of his original sketches he gave me to teach with)
He has since worked on countless movies for them.

Also noteworthy are his own line of art & characters he has developed in a Victorian Steam Puck flavor.
They are based around his Tea Girls.
The process he came up with is brilliant.
He brews up tea and uses it to watercolor and splatter with.
When dry he comes in with pen & ink.
He also brings in a bit of watercolor for a touch of subtle color.
Here is an admirer posing in front of his work at the Downtown Disney Gallery.

 Since those first Steam Punk Girls
he has brought on other characters as well like Otto & Victoria below.
You can clearly see his extraordinary style on this magazine cover.

Brian' work has created such a huge demand
 that he not only sells it thru the Downtown Disney Gallery,
but you can order it thru his online Etsy store  
along with calendars, phone covers, originals & prints,
coloring books, sketchbooks, and so much more.
Check it out!
Walking your Octopus was Brian's first book seen here at Barnes & Noble.
He has also published Traveling With Your Octopus and now Dressing Your Octopus
that has just arrived below.

Going to Disneyland & Disney World is a favorite pastime of the Kesingers.
Here's Brian with his mom Sue & his two children.
When Brian was a student in my class 
his mom or dad would drop him off at Disneyland for the day with his sketchbook,
and Brian would sketch the people & characters all day long.
He filled several sketchbooks before he even graduated from Whitney.

 But it's what's happened recently that has put his career over the top.
This excerpt in Brian's own words from his Facebook page tells it all.

"Omg! I'm speechless right now. Last summer the prime minister of Canada #JustinTrudeau commissioned a drawing from me of his family in their Halloween costumes. His office asked how much I charge and I said all I want is a picture of him holding it if he likes it. I received this photo in the mail today... I guess he liked it!!! They informed me it's now hanging in his office." 
Damn Brian, 
this is soooo cool!!
We are all so very proud of you here at Whitney,
I'm just bursting with joy for you! 

Can't wait to talk to your mom about this
She's got to be over the moon proud of her boy.
Much love to you and your family from all of us here at Whitney.

Thursday, January 12, 2017


hand dyed wool yarn & handmade knitting needles

So many people have approached me over the years 
when they see me knitting in public, 
to tell me they gave up knitting because they couldn't "get it".
I tell them to try it again until they do get it because it's a global skill.
That means you will probably fail at first,
you must practice over & over until to get it.
Then you will have that "Ah Ha" moment when it becomes easy.
Think about learning to ride a two wheel bicycle, or learning how to snow ski.
Or watch a baby learning how to walk,
see them fall many times before they get it.
Same thing.
So don't give up!

Then there is senior Helen Park who took to knitting like a duck to water.
I was dumbfounded as I watched her get it from the get go.
There never was a struggle like I'm so used to.
So it was a real pleasure teaching her this very complicated global skill
(usually it's like pulling teeth)
Another benefit was that she is the only student in the Intermediate class.
Usually I'm trying to teach at least 10- 15 kids at the same time how to knit.
The reason the class is so small,
is that all my brilliant 8th graders had to start their languages this year 
so they won't be back till their 11th grade year when they can fit me into their schedules again.
And of course my Beginning seniors last year all graduated and there was only one junior,
who had room in her academic schedule for me this year.
so I'm thrilled to work with her again and share all she makes with you.

Just so you know,
Helen mixed up food coloring to dye her wool yarns with before she started her sampler.
She also learned 10 different knit/purl patterns that she incorporated into this piece.
She knit each pattern separately,
then learned to sew them together to balance her design.
Just in case you are wondering,
Is Helen all alone with me the whole 55 minutes of class?
I have 3 other classes going on during Helen's class period this year.
Ceramics II, Intermediate 2-D Art and Advanced 3-D Art.
I just bounce from one group to the next all period.  
A great calorie burner let me tell you  :)

Wednesday, January 11, 2017


part three

I think I have mentioned before that we have a class that does a LIVE Broadcast
 every day for all our students and community.
Mr. Z (Rod Ziolkowski) teaches this class called Multimedia Communications period 2,
but the students are responsible for the entire show
 from production to direction to editing, writing, camera, grips, set design,
the list is long.
All our students look forward to this daily LIVE broadcast 
that goes at 9:00 a.m. during their homeroom classes.
It showcases our students & staffs many talents & personalities,
introduces new staff members,
goes on location around the city to interview & show off people, new places & eateries.
At anytime you could go online and pull it up to watch each day's video
at Whitney High School Live.

Well Mr. Z,
who walks by my classroom several times a day, 
was fascinated watching the kids weaving on the loom.
He asked if his LIVE show could feature seniors Shreya Sheth & Jacqueline Yu.
Of course I was thrilled for them,
and said Yes!
They were excited when I told them but a bit apprehensive & anxious.
So they took the finished weaving off  the loom and placed it on display in the office,
re-warped the loom,
chose a different weft (chenille yarns),
 and wove a bit to get this new one started before going on the live show,
and of course picked matching outfits
because they are a team!
They went LIVE on camera where they were interviewed by the moderator,
and demonstrated the weaving process.
Here you can see the new weft yarns and landscape design.
Shreya wove while Jac described what she was doing 
so that hopefully all our students & staff will take a turn on this loom.
I'm so terribly proud of these two girls,
not only have they impacted the Arts here at Whitney, 
but they have touched all the students & staff with their creation
here in the Whitney Community.
They will be back again to show you how this current weaving turns out.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017


part two

The Earth Looms first trip outside to see the light of day with it's creators,
seniors Shreya Sheth and Jacqueline Yu.

Warped up and ready to weave, 
and a close up below.

Of course there was signage.

All dressed up with Jac & Shreya having started the first bit of weaving along the bottom.
Because there was so much windfall around the school,
the girls decided the weavers (weft) would be plant based. 
So every morning before school and during snack the girls and I would forage for windfall,
and place it in the basket outside with the loom,
as you can see below.
Did we (I) purposely cut any plants?
Maybe I did a little,
like the day lilies.
I wanted some colorful blooms in there of course!
Also posted were directions for the passers by to be able to learn to weave.
I honestly was surprised and saddened to find out that not many of our students 
were never given the opportunity to weave in Elementary School or at home.

And they came,
tentatively at first,
so that it wove up slowly.
But the delight showed on their sweet faces.
And the passers by were intrigued.

Then they started slipping in from the P.E. field for a quick fix,
hee hee

and it really started to grow,

until they were lining up to take their turns.

Even our new Principal wanted a turn at it.

And then it was done.


But there is more so stay tuned  :)

Monday, January 9, 2017


reclaimed wood, drill, hammer, sanding equipment, nails, dowels, 
wood glue, brackets, wood burning tool & acrylic paint 

Ever since school started this year,
I've been so excited to show you what my babies,
seniors Shreya Sheth & Jacqueline Yu have been creating.
A community Earth Loom.

I saw the idea this summer on Pinterest
 and shared it with the girls to see if they might be interested in trying to pull this off.
They were super enthusiastic about it because last year in the Intermediate class 
they loved the Weaving Unit on the frame Looms.
So starting with the first week of school 
they researched and drew out designs,
and found pieces of old wood that I'd dumpster dived for that they thought might work.

Second week of school they started construction.
I brought in my husband's table circular saw and off they went.
Shreya above with a satisfied smile on her face,
Jac below holding her breath and wishing for the best.
ha ha
Both girls learned how to use this saw in their first year of 3-D art when we made the Wood Angles.

Next was sanding the wood pieces.
They started off using sandpaper and doing it by hand.
that was way too time consuming and would have taken them half the year.
So I brought in the hubby's electric sander and off they went again.

Here's Jac below taking a photo while I'm taking a pix of the two of them.

Jac just looked too adorable in this neckerchief. 

Next they decided to stain the wood with acrylic paint, 
something that we had tons of thanks to Alumni Anne & Emily Allen's mother
and her generous donation.

The nailing and gluing together was next,
but the wood was hard for these little cuties to go thru
so they pre-drilled many of the holes.
I love this picture of Shreya up on the table sitting in the middle of the loom with drill in hand.

One of the things I was most impressed with during this whole process 
was the fact that these two worked so well together.
Every move they made was discussed first then they did each step together.
Talk about teamwork!

I sent the kids to Home Depot with $40 to buy casters 
so went could roll the loom in and out the door.
That's what Jac is working on here.
While at Home Depot 
they also asked for help with how to strengthen the pieces of wood they glued together
 to add height to the loom.
They came back with these metal brackets above with spikes that they nailed over the joins.
Plus they brought me back change!

 Oh, oh, oh,
and one last touch.
The girls wood burned their names onto the feet of their loom.

Before these dolls rolled the loom outside 
which we will see in Part two,
I added a neckpiece I had made in the 1980's for good luck.
The necklace has a special feather from the duck my son used to feed 
at my mother's mobile home park she lived in when he was a baby.
And then the girls found another feather to add as well
and bound the whole thing onto the top mid part of the loom.

This whole shebang took these little ones only 17 days 
and I'm so proud to have been able to show off their process.
I look forward to showing you Part Two so you can see what happened next.

Sunday, January 8, 2017


For my son's 28th birthday this last year,
 Zach wanted us to go to an Escape Room.
(Zach middle left)
I'd never heard of one before, 
but I guess they are the latest trend with a group of pals.
It's all about being locked in a number of rooms that are full of clues about how to solve a mystery,
and you try to beat the clock to solve it.
We had an hour and 8 people working hard to discover and find all the clues 
 out before time ran out.
One of the best players we had was my ex husband Inars.
He was as sharp as a tack.
We were very close to making the timeline,
and missed the last clue by only a couple of seconds.
There is always the next time.
I would do this again.
But wear a good pair of shoes.  
You do most of it in darkened rooms with flashlights,
and there is a bit of stepping on each others toes.