Radio Station Mural


Debbie and I were asked to do a children's mural for a wall in the General Manager's office (Al Knickrehm) of WIXN of Dixon, Illinois.

General Manager, Capt. Al.


Our student artists: Joel, Abby, Molly

Debbie showed pictures of old-time radios to her classes of 5th and 6th graders. They then drew them out and painted them as imaginatively and colorfully as they wished.

Debbie and I then sorted through them to find the most appropriate for the office wall. We then sketched their drawings in pencil on the wall, composing them into a flowing and interesting mural.

On Friday, at noon, after filling up on Al's pizza, Debbie, me, and 3 great kids (Joel, Molly, and Abby), took to the wall and painted each radio. Once we all got accustomed to what we were doing, it went along like a dream.

After the kids' parents picked them up at 3 p.m., Debbie and I continued on outlining and highlighting the radios.

This makes 8 ... count'em 8 ... murals we've done around the city of Dixon.

Below are the pictures of the day. Click on any image to enlarge.

Debbie and Joel getting started.

Debbie & Abby trying to stay out of each other's way.

Completed mural view 1.

Completed mural view 2.








Students "Address the Earth" through Art

photo from Sauk Valley News
Reagan Middle School students gather around an etched copper panel that will be put on display in the school. Each plaque was designed and etched by the student through the help of local artist Mike Mcnamara and teacher Debbie Thompson. (Alex T. Paschal/photo)

My two friends were in the paper again with their work with students and art-- Debbie Thompson and Mike McNamara! The unveiling of the copper piece was yesterday, Friday at Reagan Middle School in Dixon.

Since Jack (my boss) and I had a prior business commitment at the same time in another town, I wasn't able to personally attend the unveiling ceremony. Luckily, we were able to stop by Debbie's classroom earlier to take a sneak peak and to take some close-up pics of the individual pieces (those will be published later). She had it hidden from the kids by putting in her classroom bathroom. She rushed me into the john (so I can take a few pictures) because she didn't want the kids to see the assembled piece until the unveiling.

Read below the newspaper's account of the event.



DIXON -- It's earth-friendly artwork made from scratch, and on recyclable material to boot.

"Students Address the Earth" features more than 120 3-by-5-inch copper sheets, each with an eco-themed etching done by a student.

Reagan Middle School art teacher Debbie Thompson held an unveiling ceremony Friday for the 100-pound piece, which will be displayed near the school's cafeteria entrance.

Students used permanent marker to make a drawing on the sheet, and guest artist/sculptor Michael McNamara of Dixon dipped the pieces in ferric chloride, which eroded part of the copper, leaving the hand-drawn designs slightly raised.

Images of pandas, hands and stars dot the copper landscape, forming a shiny metal patchwork.

Fifth-grader Jessie Scheck, 11, drew mountains, trees and grass on his copper piece. He said he had never worked with the material before, and that it was a lot of fun.

The project was part of Thompson's yearly guest artist program for her fifth- and sixth-grade art students. Most of the materials and McNamara's expertise were paid for with a grant from a private foundation.

"We wanted to do a group project with students dealing with the environment, to teach them what their part might be in recycling," McNamara said.

Kreider Services staff also gave a presentation on its recycling facility.

Kreider trains disabled adults and teaches them job skills.

Jul Adams-Watkins, the nonprofit's public relations coordinator, explained how they collect recyclable materials from local businesses, which they process and sell.

"It's not just a commercial situation," Adams-Watkins said. Recycling "is a personal decision."

Reach Malinda Osborne at 815-625-3600 or 800-798-4085, ext. 526.

Guest Artist Program -- Day 3

Student getting expert instruction from art teacher, Debbie Thompson.

Wooo hoooo! The paintings are signed, brushes cleaned and paper palettes thrown out. Canvases are everywhere (almost 150 of them).

Today was the easiest and most relaxed of the project. Mostly because the kids were very used to the system and we just really needed to do some minor detail work and sign the paintings. I have the kids just initial the paintings because, as most kids do, if they signed their whole name, most of them would use most of the lower half of the canvas to accomplish this task. So, we did the 3 initial system. Only one child signed it kind of in the middle. I just looked away and kept my mouth shut. heh

Wrapping those stripes around the canvas sides.

They really accomplished a lot for 11-12 year olds. Each class is around 42 minutes, then subtract initial set up, teacher talk, artist talk, paint .... paint .... paint....questions...answers, refill paints, paint... paint...clean your brushes...empty your water, clean your space...bell rings AND OFF THEY GO.

Another honor awaits some of the young artists. Five to six paintings will be selected from each class to be displayed at The Next Picture Show gallery in Dixon. The gallery has a lower level that showcases student artwork throughout the 4 county area. When the gallery has an opening (juried adult art exhibitions) every 6 weeks or so, the student gallery also has their opening to the public. This brings in the students' family and friends who might otherwise not ever come into the gallery. It becomes a way of life to the general public.

Just adding her intials!

I believe the next opening is next Friday, (Oct. 19) for the Color Shots 2 (a color photography show). It will be fun.

The local paper sent a photographer and reporter today to interview the kids. Thanks for stopping by Melinda and Alex.

Well, it's time to get ready for the Y. I'm kinda beat and would like to skip this part of the evening, but a good set of crunches never hurt anyone, right?

Almost finished with the last minute touches.

Line up of artists and canvases.

These are my "as finished as they can be" demo paintings.

Guest Artist Program -- Day 2

Two down, one to go! Enjoy the pics of the classes below.

After finishing up yesterday, I was really pooped. When I got home around 3 p.m., I did some minor (and I mean minor) housework, online banking, emails, updated this blog, and then did some serious talking to myself about making sure I went to the Y for my workout. I view workouts like a visit to the dentist. Never, ever look forward to it, but feel good once it's over with. Also, Debbie is a Y fanatic and she would be just as tired or more after today's art challenge!

So what's my excuse, right?

Well, Jeff wanted me to pick up an Italian beef for him and Gyro for me at Benny's in Dixon after my workout. Which is VERY conveniently located across for the Y (and McDonald's come to think of it). It's a freakin' conspirancy. So, I figure it's better to eat that kind of stuff AFTER a workout.

Okay, okay....on to DAY 2 with the kids.

A row of paintings of the still life with Anaheim peppers.

The second day is always a bit easier than the first. For one thing, both the kids and myself are more comfortable and familiar with each other. Second, they have picked up some skills, like handling a brush, mixing paint and overcoming the fear of covering a canvas quickly. Which is what we need to do with so little time between classes.

I came in just 15 minutes earlier to help Debbie get the paint palettes loaded for the kids. It's just 15 minutes, but it sure makes a difference. We even had time for a cup of tea! How civilized.

The first day, we only had ONE absence out of 6 classes (and that was after 4 days off for these kids--Columbus Day). Today, almost each class had an absence. Weird, huh? The weather has really cooled also. Monday it was 88 degrees, today it topped out at 54. Kids get sick so easy...today a bunch of them had on shorts, tshirts, and flip flops.

But, I digress.

5 of the 6 paintings that I started the demo's with after one day. Hard to do a lot and teach at the same time. That's really, really hard.

Today was also extra special because Debbie's daughter, Arin (beautiful, brilliant, an artist in both the visual and writing arts) stopped by after lunch to just sit and paint along with the kids. Nice to have another adult...sometimes it feels like it's us against them just by sheer numbers!

The second day on the Oranges on blue-dotted cloth. Kinda fun.

Later, Jenny Bubrick (sp?) a friend, substitute teacher, and quick wit stopped by to help Debbie and I with refilling palettes, cleaning brushes, assisting in the shhhushing, etc. By the end of the day, we were all getting a bit punchy and little comments & jokes, puns (whatever) started to fly amongst all of us, just to see if any of the kids got it. Ninety-nine percent of it flew over their heads (we could tell by the way were met with complete silence) and it just made us laugh even harder. We were getting so goofy.

Cut Apples on Striped (soon to be ) Cloth, 2nd day

In each class, we got to about 75 percent completion. Which is good, because we have to be done by tomorrow. We started putting in the darkest darks and the lightest lights and the kids were amazed when some of their paintings started looking like what they were actually painting!

That is such a cool thing.




Paint mixing...and getting those apples just right.

Time out for middle school silliness!

An updated shot of my work on the second day.

2nd day of the kids' work. Some started adding their stripes. Love the abstractness of it.

Last class of day 2...discussing technique. I hope.

Pears all lined up at the end of the day.

Childrens' Guest Artist Program -- Day 1

Today was the first day of the 3-day "Guest Artist" program at Reagan Middle School in Dixon, Illinois. This is my 3rd year doing the painting program. We are doing fun fruit/vegetable still lifes. There are 6 classes of kids every day doing 6 paintings.

The first day of painting for each class was blocking in the painting by starting the background first and maybe some shadow blocking in. If the class was a quieter class, we moved on to starting the actual fruit/vegetable. Boy, does listening make a world of difference. Kids that talk too much, or daydream a bit are a lot farther behind. AND if the class has more of the chatty Kathys than the quieter ones, the whole class stays behind.

Debbie Thompson is their teacher (and my best friend). She has the patience of a saint. We've done this so often, that we have a real system down now.

I'll post more as the week goes on. I started out taking pictures, but as the day wore on, with all the brush cleaning, palette reloading, and spill clean ups, I forgot about grabbing a camera.

Stay tuned for more kid art this week.

Painting, Demo's, Classes....

"Autumn Layers"
24" x 30" oil on gessobord

Got in my studio a bit earlier than I normally do on a Monday. That's because my butt is behind the eight ball on several projects coming up. So, the painting above was completed first. I hung it in the hall outside my studio and it looks like it always belonged there. Until I sell it!

On Wednesday, 10/3, I am speaking and demonstrating for an artists' group in Oregon, Illinois. I've picked to demo in acrylics because I can probably finish it in the one sitting. It will be a fun simple fruit still life. I went to (sorry) Walmart yesterday to pick up some fun fabrics and fruit for a bunch of still lifes. The demo still life will also be one of 5 that will be used next week for the "Guest Artist" program at Reagan Middle School in Dixon. Each class of kids will be doing one of them. So the still life will be doing double duty! This is just sketched and underpainted to get a head start.


Just below are two stages of the next landscape. It will also be an oil on gessobord, same size. The subject is a waterway (Pine Creek), with some Angus cows at dusk. I got pretty far along before I realized that I was hungry. Supper awaits! Homemade garlic mashed potatoes, Swiss steak, and biscuits. How's that for a fall supper?


You'll have to wait for my cows to appear more fully. Until next...

Silk Screening adventure

Last night, my teacher friend, Debbie, and I had a practice silk screening session in her garage. She is having her art classes do an interesting project between the Dixon Schools and the art gallery, The Next Picture Show, in town. The kids will learn how to do simple silk screen projects on clothing and accessories, then do a fashion show at the gallery on an opening night (for another art show) in February!

Since neither of us had done silk screening in maybe over 30 years, we thought it wise to practice and see what the pitfalls might be with a bunch of 5th and 6th graders!
Besides the cold temperature in the garage (even with a space heater), we had a good time playing with the ink and figuring out how much to use and how elaborate a design we can get away with for quality prints.

The picture at the top are some of the finished t-shirts. Not bad for a couple of neophytes in silk screening.
Oh, yeah, Debbie sent a call out to other schools outside of Dixon for the use of any silk screens, brayers, etc., and you should have seen the immediate response of other art teachers willing to loan equipment and even delivering them for this project. Thank you everyone!