Monthly Archives: March 2015

National Art Education Association Conference 15

I am down in New Orleans for a few days attending my first NAEA conference!  Checking out sessions related to at risk students, art therapy, technology use in the arts classroom, portfolio creation, motivation, the impact of the arts, arts advocacy, etc…  My kinda stuff!

I love the title of this session, “How a #2 Pencil Changed My Life” (and we aren’t talking about state and federal pressure to give students tests)!

Presenter/Designer D’Wayne Edwards has been creating shoe designs since age 17 for many of the major brands and ball players/rappers.  He is 45 now.  The digital age allowed random kids in school drawing sneakers to upload their designs.  He created an online design contest “Future Soles” sponsored by Nike. In year 2, they actually began creating the winning pair of shoes, which were worn during play and endorsed by a famous player.  D’Wayne was the second African American sneaker designer, when he began.  In 2011, he opened the contest up to include women designers.  He owns over 40 show patents worldwide.  He has mentored many upcoming designers working with Jordan @Nike.

D’Wayne says he started off as a dreamer, misunderstood. People told him he couldn’t do it. He knew his true passion was always drawing with a #2 pencil, and discovered after working for LA Gear, Sketchers and Nike, that he really loved teaching and mentoring.

So, after all that success, he retired so he could focus on other people’s big goals related to making great things happen for others.  He created his own school, PENSOLE (PENcil + SOLE), in Portland, Oregon created to be the school he wanted to go to, but never did.  He competitively recruited 30 students to come to Oregon the first year, to learn the skills that exist in product marketing that do not exist in regular schools.  This school is free for all attendees and very intensive.  For more info, go to



Gram K creating art at 93!

My mom took this photo of my grandma, re-discovering painting with friends and her activity director at an “Art with Heart” session hosted at her assisted living facility a few weeks ago.  I love this!  Gram  hasn’t painted since the 1980s, when she took a few acrylic painting classes for fun.  I have her two framed acrylic paint farm scenes on display in my classroom studio at school.  I know some of my artistic gifts come from her.

Gram has dementia and sometimes (especially when she’s tired), she gets frustrated about not remembering, trying to know what comes next.  Mostly she is happy.  Walking the halls, making puzzles alone or with friends, visiting with family, and now crafting and painting!

Dementia and Alzheimer’s run up both sides of my family tree.  For me, this photo of her enjoying the creative process, even if she won’t remember it, is proof that this skill set and the instinct to make stuff will be with me til the end of my days. 

Don’t forget to keep putting a pencil or brush in my hands!  

Go Ask Lev #7 Art For Art’s Sake

It’s never too late…

Thought Catalog

If you’d like to Go Ask Lev, email him here.


Dear Lev,

Hey! Hi! I’ve found it really difficult to be concise but here’s my best try, cutting out a lot of context:

Do you think in artistic fields you need to start young to be truly successful?

I know the easy answer is there can be success at any age, but I feel like that only applies to hyper-talented people and even then there has to be luck at play.

If someone starts taking writing or acting or painting etc seriously as a job option at 17-18 and working towards it, as opposed to 24 (my age), don’t they then have the time to develop, make connections/collaborate with others, and therefore forever have a huge advantage?

With so many people trying desperately in every area to ‘make it’ and work consistently, and a lot of industries already…

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iPhonography – First Week of Spring 2015

Photos taken in the Sandhills Region of NC.  For more, please check out my work on Stockimo/Alamy (Becca Lynn Weeks); #beccalynnweeks


American History’s Biggest Art Theft Hits 25 Years Unsolved


It was the morning of March 18, 1990 — exactly 25 years ago — when a security guard at Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum got a nasty surprise. Hours earlier, thieves dressed as police officers had entered the museum, immobilized the security guards with duct tape, removed 13 works from their places and got away. Those works, including several Rembrandts and Vermeer’s The Concert, are valued by the FBI at a combined $500 million, making it the largest single property crime in the nation’s history.

A quarter-century later, the crime remains unsolved — but, as interest in the anniversary emerges, so have clues.

Even though the criminals appeared to have gotten away scot-free, the clues have been trickling in since the very beginning. Most of the works, per TIME’s original coverage of the theft, are not especially significant ones, which indicated from the start that the thieves were no…

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All Leaders Are Readers

“Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.” – Harry S. Truman

We launched our new pilot program down in Guatemala last month, called Libros Para Ninos. Donations from members in WNC Presbytery have contributed to the purchase of a small lending library of Spanish children’s books in one public elementary school in our sister Presbytery in Suchi. 

We are moving forward with raising funds to make the same pilot program lending library happen in our sister Presbytery in Sur.  

A few of my simple illustrations have been used to produce cards, which you can give to someone if you choose to give a donation to this project their name as a gift. 

If anyone is interested in helping with the literacy work we do in these two regions of rural  Guatemala, please let me know in the comments and I can get you more information about our work there and how you can help!


This year’s journey is winding down. I think in terms of school years with the new year starting in August, not January. Reflecting back, this academic year has been different in so many ways.  I’m back in the classroom after 14 years on the sidelines, happily returning to the daily work of facilitating the creative process with young people.  Learning about and using technology/social media  that didn’t exist back in 1999.  Discovering new challenges working in a secondary alternative school vs. a “regular” school setting.  One of the biggest learnings for me this year has occurred while moving through the sense of grief that comes with students transitioning. Doing school with only the most at risk kids means developing relationships with students aged 10-21 who are much more likely to come and go quickly, because of a variety of factors;  Coping with constant changes in our student population due to behavior issues, dropping out, moving, prison, changes in mental health status, foster care placements, chronic absenteeism, accidental death, gangs or apathy just to name a few.  Drop out prevention and transitioning are not new to me at all, it’s been a big part of all of my previous job descriptions.  However, the grief left behind when we “lose” a kid in the process feels so much more intense here.   


I am Identifying with the idea of expressive arts as a possible career change going toward retirement, I found Heidi’s posts on WordPress today and checked out her site. I’ve considered going back to school for an arts therapy degree, but with 3 degrees already completed and money (20 year student loan payoffs, don’t get me started) still owed for the last, it seems a foolish waste of money at this point. Yet that’s where my thoughts keep ending up. Taking my education-arts-administrative-mama-life lived adventures into that direction in my continuing quest to help others once I leave public schools (at least formally) behind. One of my most profound growth experiences as a human to date, was through the guidance of a grief counselor-life coach who was also an artist. She had a red leather couch (I had a red couch in my assistant principal office at the time) and as I sat and followed her activities, I simply opened myself up in ways that she and I didn’t anticipate. It was as if suddenly after searching for 47 years, I’d found my true center. Unpacking years and processing things while making my own art that had been lost to me for decades. I will continue to check out Heidi’s site and wanted to share it with others. She has added to my hopeful possibilities and next steps by sharing her adventures. Are there other expressive arts teachers and facilitators out there blogging? I’m sure there must be. If you know of any, please share their info with me. Thanks!

Wild Call of the Soul

image © Heidi Spitzig

Practicing is striving; practicing is a romance. But practicing is also a risk, a test of character, a threat of deeply personal failure… Every day I collide with my limits, the constraints of my hands, my instrument, and my imagination. Each morning when I sit down, I’m bewildered by a cacophony of voices, encouraging and dismissive, joyous and harsh, each one a little tyrant, each one insisting on its own direction. And I struggle to harmonize them, to find my way between them, uncertain whether this work is worth it or a waste of my time.

~Glenn Kurtz

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Interviewing The Artist


What’s brought on all this spray painting malarkey?


Hey it’s not malarkey. Malarkey means meaningless nonsense and I would appreciate it if you do not call my work that. To answer your question, I can’t actually remember what has brought this all on. A year or two ago, I think I stumbled upon a cool video on YouTube showing spray paint art and at the same time my wooden desk was looking quite old so put two and two together and hey presto! You get a spray painted desk.


Isn’t spray painting illegal?


I can tell that you are probably British. We tend to associate spray painting with vandalism but many other countries see it as an expression of art. In the US it is quite popular. Spray paint art and the spray painting you have in mind are quite different as spray paint art focusses on…

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