Tag Archives: inspiration

Happy New Beginnings in 2014



Carpe Diem.
And when nothings seems to be going right, go left.

xo -MJ


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Prehistoric Beauty

faux fossil1

Have you ever thought about the lifespan of a fern? They first appeared on earth 340 million years ago!

faux fossil

Ferns hold such a beautiful texture, most of which is hidden from the naked eye. Relief prints can be made to help capture and understand the hidden beauty of a fern.

fern press1

Students pressed ferns into clay as well as made fern prints using white ink on blue and black paper. For more information about creating fern prints in clay to produce a faux fossil, view my complete tutorial at ART ENGINE.

fern prints
Look at these lovely ferns covered in white ink.

And bask at the beautiful freshly made prints.
fern print blue

fern print black

Have you printed nature before? What textures tickle your fancy?

Have a LOVELY day!



Filed under Creating Art, Inspiration

Happiness is…

being an ART teacher.
Mrs. Hammond

-Given by a friend and great collaborator back in my days at Columbia U. What are you up to these days, Ms. Coyne?



Filed under Inspiration, Teaching Art to Children

The Evolved Snowflake

The sun is so generous to share her afternoon beams of joy with me. At the end of the school day, when my teacher work is done, the lighting in my art studio inspires many clever photo shoots of freshly made works of art. Showcased below are images of kirigami snowflakes.

kirigami snowflake

Kirigami is the art cutting paper to create intricate symmetrical designs. Does the term remind you of origami? If so, it is because they both end in “gami” and when translated in Japanese, “kami” means paper. Origami is the art of paper folding. “Ori” means folding + “kami” means paper = folding paper. Can you guess what “kiri” means? That’s right: “kiri” means cutting. Therefore kirigami = cutting paper. Typically, kirigami begins with a folded base, which is then cut and opened offering a magically surprise in the end.


These snowflakes were created using a tri-fold technique which produces a 12-sided snowflake. To read through an informative snowflake tutorial, visit Michele Made Me. And take the time to snoop around her beautiful website, it is one of my favorite places to spend free time!

Have you made your holiday decorations this year?
Or maybe a clever advent calendar?
If so, please share your creations!

Have a lovely first day of December! -MJ


Filed under Creating Art, Inspiration


I just have to share this image with you. It illustrates the JOY of my Friday.

How stunning is this selection of contour ink paintings? I can’t get over the way each piece is unique yet they work together as a unified whole. Harmony.

The photo itself offers so much to the collection of artworks. The way the sun’s rays kiss the floor so calmly. The shadow of the afternoon light.

Just in case you were eager to zoom in, two close-ups await you below. All images are of observational ink paintings of African masks created by my fourth grade artists.

Happy Friday! -MJ


Filed under Inspiration, Teaching Art to Children

Happy New {School} Year!

September marks the beginning of a new year for teachers, children and parents. It may be a tough transition for some, but for others it is an exciting time. I always did enjoy the Staples commercial that synced “It’s the most wonderful time of the year” with an overjoyed father taking his children shopping for supplies. Watch it on You Tube below. Classic.

For teachers, September means promise. It opens us up to an array of opportunities to make this year the most successful year yet. This year we will try out new classroom management tactics. We will re-design our studio space to make it exciting, user friendly and a comfortable work environment. Oh, and we will start report card narrative writing two whole months before they are due. Let’s make those last three statements into “I” statements because that is what I plan to do. What are you excited about this year? And if you are not excited, you can share those thoughts too…

Above is an image I found on Grey Matter. I plan on including it in my selection of inspirational phrases that hang in my art studio. I have shared a few of my favorites with you below:

Celebrate Differences

Feed Your Curiosity

Practice Making Creative Choices

Always Play First  (shared by a fellow art teacher I met in grad school)

Practice Makes Better  (a friend of mine heard this from their child’s teacher)

Take on a Creative Challenge Today!

Trust your Hands  (shared by a fellow art teacher)

Creativity Takes Courage  Henri Matisse

See. Think. Wonder.  (Visible Thinking, Project Zero)

Today is a New Beginning

Feel free to use these in your classroom or studio to encourage awareness, openness and risk taking.

Have you tried anything new that has lead the year to a successful start? What are you most proud of in your space?

Happy New Beginnings! -MJ

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Computers are now able to perform functions that used to be executed by human hands and voices. But they can’t compare with the endless amount of creativity that the imagination is capable of. The 21st century requires your resume to include phrases such as innovative, inspired, and creative. Out-of-the-box thinkers are no longer weirdos, they are the music makers, and Pinterest is their hot spot.

I am a collector. I love saving colorful, interesting, pretty things: artwork, advertisements, children’s drawings, postcards and such. I have a large box in my studio where my inspiring objects live and wait to inspire something new. When do my treasures get attention? Not often. And I forget about what I have because they are tucked away and out of sight. Like a skipping record or a reoccurring dream, every so often I tell my self I must organize, must organize, must organize my treasures on a board, a super big board that is categorized and neatly put together for my viewing pleasure.

But this has never happened.

Until now.

Through Pinterest I have archived visuals for future artistic inspiration. I have virtual spaces dedicated to lesson plan ideas, art making ideas, home design, humorous quotes and meal recipes; so that when I am on a mission, I have a pimped out launch pad. Below you will see a selection of images from two of my boards on Pinterest.  If you wish to view them, visit the link at the end of this post.

My DIY Art Making Board

My Children's Decor Board

Pinterest defines itself as a virtual pinboard. Virtual means in cyberspace and easily viewed from any computer, iPad or phone with internet service. Basically, it is a free online space where participants can share their style through pictures. Pinterest allows you collect images online or from your computer and paste them to a “board”. A board is a virtual space that is categorized to your liking. Remember that vintage dress you saw on modcloth.com? PIN IT, and you will have pasted it to a virtual space where it will live forever. Then, when your paycheck comes in, you know how to spend it. By pinning, you are copying a found image and pasting it to another space, your board. This does not mean you are stealing, just referencing. For when you click on the image that you have pinned to your board, you are directed to the website from where it originated. For example: Let’s say you are in the process of designing your baby’s room. Via online hunting, you have found a changing table, curtains and bedding that are of interest and will guide your future shopping. All these great finds are online, so, rather than print them out and save them in a folder on your desk that will soon be covered by other clutter only to be lost in your memory, you can PIN the images and save them in a space titled “baby love” for future reference. When you decide to purchase them or just wish to revisit the website, click on the image and you will be directed to the site.

Pinterest has also introduced me to the wonderful world of blogging. I recently was captivated by a PIN I saw of a 12-sided snowflake. By clicking on the image, I was directed to the website where it originated and was introduced to a beautiful, smart and easy-to-follow tutorial about 12-sided snowflakes and collage snowflake fun. This tutorial inspired an art activity for my first grade classes that was a huge success. It is not often I come across a blog that offers projects that are do-able and are written so darn well. Her tutorials are witty, honest and clear. The website is www.michelemademe.com. Take a look. It will make your day.

snowflake tutorial from michelemademe.com

Check out the colorful and fantastic boards of Sun Porch Studio on Pinterest by clicking HERE. Every time I log in, I am welcomed by a rainbow of inspiring images that give me goosebumps. Not only because they are delicious eye candy hand selected by yours truly, but because now I finally have my big boards of inspiration at my fingertips. Whenever. I. Wish.


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