I went to an art show...

My husband teaches at Gwendolyn Brooks Middle School in Oak Park.  On Tuesday night Mr. Leban's school had an art show in conjunction with their holiday concert by the band and choirs.  It's always fun to see what other schools are doing in their art classes.  Mr. Leban even had three students demonstrating their art skills at the show - one student was drawing fashion designs, one was making a marble-maze skill game out of wood, and another was making cube-like art toy figures out of wood (Mr. Leban teaches art in a wood shop/sculpture studio, in case you didn't know).

Brooks Middle School has a really cool hallway/lobby area outside of their auditorium for putting on their art show.  There were tons of parents and families passing by and checking out the artwork.  Many watched the student artist demonstrators and learned something new!  I enjoyed talking to the artists and learning about their work.


art auction!

Mr. Gene Evans (father of Katie, 8th grader) came in to visit and talk to the 8th grade art classes about his job as an art dealer, appraiser, and consultant.  It was really cool to hear about his job, since it's art-related without any art-making involved... just art appreciating!

Mr. Evans brought in three different art pieces and had students place bids on them via a mock auction.  Although the winners didn't get the art, they did receive candy cane prizes for their accurate appraisals!  We learned a lot of new things about art and even a little bit about how to spot treasures within our own community via garage sales, estate sales, and thrift stores!  For example, artwork is always more valuable when it is signed!  Good tip to remember for making our own art!

Thank you Mr. Evans!


What is Mrs. Leban doing?

Right now I have a student teacher, so I don't get as much one-on-one interaction with students as I am normally used to.  I am surprised at how I never seem to run out of things to do, though. 

Having a student teacher means that I have to be able to explain my job to someone else and teach them to do it well.  This is a surprisingly difficut task, since a lot of my daily "jobs" I do on auto-pilot (meaning without really thinking about it) - for example, in the middle of the week I will start thinking about the next week and what's planned for art class.  I will go make copies, double-check a powerpoint presentation, or find artwork samples - things like that.  Sometimes I start planning artwork displays in my head, and I'll start gathering supplies a day or so before I begin putting artwork up.  I might have to make a banner or title, or put up background paper - all of this takes planning that I just kind of do on my own - to try to remember it all and say it out loud and explain it so it makes sense to someone else is tricky!

So... what else am I doing lately?  I'm re-organizing and cleaning out the art closet... again.  I think I did this the last time a student teacher was here.  But it got messy again. :(  oops.

Also, I've been working some more on my National Board Teacher Certification projects.  You wouldn't believe how much work it is!  It's the biggest project I think I've undergone to date - even more than my Master's degree.  The scariest part is that I have to videotape myself teaching and submit it to be scored by a panel of total strangers - eek!  And after I've written my zillion papers that are required along with the videotapes, I have to take a test at a testing center.  I am very nervous.  Wish me luck!


Mr. John Carman Visits

Today, for the last day of 6th grade classes ("B" Term), John Carman came to talk about art with us! 

Not only did he show us some paintings that he made, he talked to us about what it means to be an artist and what good art looks and feels like.  It was pretty cool.  Thanks Mr. Carman!


Decorative Painting with Bill Fisher

On Friday, 8th grade students were treated to a visit by decorative painters and artists Bill Fisher and Emily Quinn.  Mr. Fisher is a parent of two current Sandburg students, and was willing to come over and talk about his working experiences in art, along with providing some hands-on activities for students to try.

Students got to try out three different faux textures using tinted glazes: one was the look of faux marble, one look replicated wood grain, and the other was using a blue tint and cardboard to recreate an almost stone-like patterned effect.  

To the left, you can see photos of students as we tried our hand at creating faux marble.  What a fun way to finish out the first quarter of art for these 8th grade students!

Thank you Mr. Fisher and Mrs. Quinn!

art blog links


Sandburg Middle School Art Homepage

ARTSONIA Student Art Gallery

Wishlist @ Blick Art Materials

Amazon Wishlist: Sandburg Art Books

Sandburg Middle School

Elmhurst CUSD #205


Applied Arts Class - Mr. Leban
this is my husband's art website for school

Blue Frog Beads
owned by a Sandburg parent

Pock-it Palz
made by Luisa Castellanos, Sandburg Alum

Cube Craft
because they're fun to make

Yo Gabba Gabba
i love this show - seriously

i LOVE fonts, this is where i get them


8th grader writes fashion blog - wow!

Tonight I was hanging out at Mr. Leban's school because it was parent-teacher conferences, and I was introduced to this blog by an 8th grader in his district (not his school, not a student of his). I was blown away by how amazing this was - I especially like the self-portraits that Tavi has done of her outfits.
I was I was that confident in myself at that age! Sadly, I was polar opposite - but this blog is inspiring nonetheless so I thought I'd share it with you. An incredible artistic eye, a really amazing fashion instinct, and some really funny (and sarcastic) writing all combine for some good reading/viewing/blogging/etc...


ArtRageous Oak Park!

Although I teach in Elmhurst, I live in Oak Park, so I hear about lots of really neat art events that go on. Right now there's a 10-day event going on in Oak Park called "ArtRageous Oak Park" with a whole series of different events going on throughout the village. It runs through next weekend, and they have a website that details everything.

One of the events that really caught my eye was at a local store I love to shop at, called Fly Bird. They're hosting a LIVE artist collaboration - "10 in 10 days" - where 10 local artists are going to work in the store over 10 days. You can come in to shop and watch the artists work at the same time! Details are posted on the store's website.

A couple of artists will be part of the "10 in 10 days" event whose work I personally enjoy: Shawnimals (creator of Ninjatown and Pocket Ninja!) and Nerfect (creator of Diabolical Hot Dog!).

If you visit the event, take a photo and show it to me - I'll give you extra credit in art class!



So, I was thinking that this 7th grade portrait looked very similar to Mona Lisa... then, after it was hung up in the library, one of the maintenance men said to me, "Hey, one of those paintings in the library looks just like the Mona Lisa!" - and I knew exactly which one he was talking about! What do you think?

And then there's this painting reminded me of the Francis Bacon painting Figure with Meat from the Art Institute in Chicago. How weird, since both student's paintings are self-portraits?!


Art Show!

I'm going to be in an art show soon. Elmhurst College has an art show with artwork from former students (alumni) that they host during their homecoming festivities.

Today, I framed and matted my artwork for the show. Here's a preview:
It's a drawing I actually made last year, but I finally framed it and matted it. Sorry about the glare from the glass (I took the photo with my iPhone), but if you come to the show you can see it in person. Actually, if you come into my classroom you can see it right now because it's there!

Here are the details of the Elmhurst College show (I borrowed this right off of their website):

Reception for the Fifth Annual Alumni Art Exhibition
36th Birthday Celebration of the Accelerator
Sat. October 10th 5:00 – 7:00 p.m.
Barbara A. Kieft Accelerator Art Space

The Art Department presents its 5th Annual Alumni Art Exhibition in the Barbara A. Kieft Accelerator Art Space throughout Homecoming weekend. The show will feature work in a variety of media including photography, painting, drawing, printmaking and sculpture. The reception on Saturday evening also marks the 36th ‘birthday’ of the Kevatron machine (Accelerator). The event hosted jointly by the Art Department and the Physics Department is both an art exhibition and Physics Department reunion and reception.


Where the Wild Things Are...

Sixth grade classes are completing a project insipred by the children's book, "Where The Wild Things Are" by Maurice Sendak. We're making black and white sharpie drawings of monsters using lots and lots of texture, crosshatching, and stippling. You'll be able to check them out soon on our Artsonia gallery.

This project is fun because it makes me look forward to the movie version that's coming out soon! Today, I found this article on Wired.com that talks about the monsters in the movie and how the moviemakers combined costumes, animatronics, and computer-generated effects to create the incredibly realistic monsters in the movie. You can check it out here:

The official website for the movie is really awesome, because you can check out the trailer and look at photo galleries from the movie. Here's the official site: http://wherethewildthingsare.warnerbros.com/



This weekend, I bought a new game for my Nintendo DS called "Scribblenauts." You're probably wondering, "Why is Mrs. Leban talking about a video game on her art blog?" But here's why: this is one of the most CREATIVE games I've seen in a long time - and it's way fun, too.

There are these puzzles that you have to solve by writing words that then appear in the game. For example, write "T Rex" and a huge T Rex appears. The problem is witing down the right objects to solve the puzzle. Usually, a T Rex just means trouble because as soon as he appears, he's angry and hungry and destroys all the people and animals - game over. The more creative your solution is to the puzzle, the more "ollars" you earn (ollars are like points, which you can use to buy objects and levels later on).

Currently, I'm trying to figure out how to get an injured patient to the top of a mountain where the hospital is. So far, the ladder isn't tall enough, and all of the vehicles I've tried (hot air balloon, plane) won't fit both me and the patient. Maybe I need to try tethering him to the plane... hmm... gotta go try it out!



Today Mrs. Lazzaro showed me how to use Photoshop to take the foreground of one picture (the puppy) and superimpose it onto a different background. I made this sweet puppy house gargoyle image.
Soon, we'll be using Photoshop in 8th grade to put our clay gargoyles onto castles and other buildings.


iPhone photo apps.

Mr. Leban is way into iPhone apps, particularly ones for the iPhone camera. I thought I’d go over some of our favorite ones that we use. If you try them out and come up with some cool photos, I’d love to see them!

Here are some of our favorite photo apps:
  1. OldCamera – this camera app makes photos look like they were taken with an “old” camera – black & white, high contrast, grainy, and soft. My favorite is to change the setting so that all of my photos are square instead of the standard rectangle shot.
  2. iPhotoBooth – (see below and to the right) this app lets you take 4 photos and puts them into a photo strip, just like a photo booth.
  3. Polarize – this very simple app puts your picture into a “Polaroid” frame. You can add writing on the bottom strip if you like, too.
  4. UFO Camera GOLD – this one is great fun. Add your own UFOs to any photo and adjust it to make it look like they’re really there.
  5. TiltShiftGen – we use this app to focus on a particular part of a photo, and make the rest blurry. It gives a photo an old-fashioned effect, but really draws the viewer’s eye into the subject of the photo.
  6. ColorSplash – make a photo black & white. Then restore color just to the parts that you choose. Fun!
  7. KittyCamera – ok, this one just might be my favorite. The sample image really says it all. Add Hello Kitty cartoon details on top of your existing photo (this is my brother, Mr. Miller, who works at Bryan Middle School). The cartoon changes each time - I like the fact that I never know what to expect each time, and it's usually pretty funny!



On 09.09.09, I went and saw the movie "9" with my husband and my mom. We went to the premium cinema, which has cool recliner chairs and waiters and waitresses to take your order. (There's me and my mom in our seats!)

It's neat because the entire theater only seats around 60 people, so you need to have reservations. The bad news (for middle school students, at least) is that they only allow adults in (21 and over) and it costs more, too.

But since the movies are so expensive nowadays, I figured a few dollars more for a cushy seat was worth it. And this theater usually plays movies that are drama or action or suspense-type movies - not usually PG-13 stuff, let alone an animated movie! So I jumped at the chance to go this time.

The movie itself was pretty good, but kind of dark for a "kids" movie (so was Coraline, though, and I LOVE that movie!) - but it is also a film that Tim Burton helped produce, so I kind of expected that. He's the guy who made "Nightmare Before Christmas" and "Corpse Bride."

(There's Mr. Leban... he approves of this film - thumbs up!)


what happened to the old website?

Today i discovered that my old website is not at the old address. The new address is:

So, if you come across some dead-end links, it is probably a result of this. Hopefully, by the time school starts, I'll have all the loose ends fixed up. However, if you notice any problems, don't hesitate to email me.




On June 13th Mr. Leban and I were married! On the left I've posted a picture from the big day. It was so much fun, and everything went smoothly - I wish we could celebrate like that every weekend!

So, what this news means for students here at Sandburg is that my last name has changed to Leban (it's pronounced "LEE-bin"). So when you see this on your new classes schedule, don't panic! - I haven't quit! - it's the same old me, just a new name. (Hopefully you enjoyed art class and that's a good thing!)

In the next few weeks before school begins, I'm slowly but surely switching stuff over to the new name (like email address, web page info, blah blah blah...). I'm pretty sure I'll forget something along the way, but hey, that's how it goes.

Have a great rest of the summer - see you all before you know it!



I'm trying to migrate my art videos to Teachertube because we can access it here at school. (Students can't access Youtube from school.) You can check for the latest here:

teachertube - msmillerleban

...but right now I'm frustrated because the site keeps running really slow and/or freezing up. More on this later.


stop motion

i made a new stop motion film today using my new robot pencil sharpener. i posted it up on you-tube. here it is:

also, a student was asking today about stop-motion software for macs. i started searching (hopefully for something that was FREE...) and i found this pretty good review site for different stop-motion software that's available. if you're looking for a program to use at home, you may want to try out one of the programs reviewed here:


New Art Institute Wing!

Today I went and visited the new wing of the Art Institute downtown. It was opening day, and all kinds of exciting things were going on! There were a bunch of exhibits of new art (and recognizable old favorites too) to see.

The opening day festivities were hosted by Target, and they were giving away free water bottles and snacks, which was cool - but my favorite thing was that the TARGET DOG was there and you could take a picture with him!

So Mr. Leban and I couldn't resist. We totally had to wait in line to get our picture taken.

Here it is:
I couldn't believe he was so well-behaved and let me pet him!

Before going home, we stopped by Millenium Park (it's right next door to the Art Institute) and took a picture in the reflection of the giant bean sculpture.

Here we are!:


Missing MANGA Books!

A while ago, a student borrowed a couple of Manga drawing books from me, and they were never brought back! To make matters worse, I don't remember who it was that I lent them out to!

These are the two books that I am missing:
How to Draw Anime & Game Characters, Vol. 1: Basics for Beginners and Beyond
by Tadashi Ozawa

Draw Manga: How to Draw Manga In Your Own Unique Style
by Bruce Lewis

Can someone please help me out by 'fessing up if you were the borrower? Or, if you know who it was, please let me know!!! I don't have money to replace these books, and if I don't get these books back, I will no longer be able to let students borrow books to take home. That's sad! :(


After School Art Class

After School Art Class is FULL for the last session of the school year! The last session is going to be all about jewelry-making. We're going to start with some resin bottlecap pendants (I'm thinking they'd make pretty cool pins, too...) and we'll then move on to metal symbol pendants that we will cut & file from copper sheets. Mr. Leban (my fiancee, I've talked about him here before) is an art teacher who will be helping us out with the second pendant project, as it's tricky!!!

I am very excited about this last session, as it is something that I do not get to do very often! We'll be sure to post some pictures on artsonia once we get some finished products!


6th Grade Extra Credit Contest!

[6th grade students - if you choose to enter this contest, make a copy of your submission and give it to Miss Miller to earn EXTRA CREDIT in art!]

The Elmhurst Cool Cities Coalition is happy to announce a Grade School
Poster Contest
“Saving Energy at Home”

The contest is open to all Elmhurst children in Grades 1-6.

Prizes include Three Grand Prize $100 Savings bonds for the winner of each theme taken from all entries and Six First Place Finalist $50 Savings Bond for an entry from each grade level for a total of $600 in savings bonds.

The Prize winning posters will be displayed at the Cool Cities Energy Fest in June 2009.

How to Enter

This contest is open to all Elmhurst students in grades one through six. Posters must be received by May 10, 2009 to qualify.


Kids, create a poster from one of these three themes:

1) Reducing Use of Electric Energy at Home
2) Reducing Use of Natural Gas Energy at Home
3) Conserving Water Usage at Home

Judging Criteria

Creativity and originality
Accuracy of information
The ability of the poster to educate others on how to be energy efficient


Poster size: 8 ½ x 11 inches
Any type of writing or drawing instrument can be used
Each student may enter only one poster
Poster must be the work of only the student
Do not fold the poster
Each poster must include on the back the following information:
Theme Title; Student’s name; Grade level; Teacher’s name; School Name
School Mailing Address; Principal’s Name; School Telephone number
Signed Parent statement that the work has been the sole work of the student
All posters become the property of the Elmhurst Cool Cities Coalition

Submit all posters in a sealed 10 x 13 envelope to: The Elmhurst Public Library
% Cool Cities Poster Contest
125 S. Prospect Ave.
Elmhurst, Il. 60126


art show.

Oak Park middle schools have an art show each year at OPRF High School. Some of the high school students give tours of the art department there to the show visitors. Last night was the opening, so I went with Mr. Leban, who teaches at Brooks Middle School. Above, Mr. Leban poses for the camera. You can see student artwork in the background.


NAEA Art Exhibit!

The students who created the YMCA mural (Hannah, Julia, Emma, Margaret, Jazzmin, Sean, and Erin), will have their artwork (via a digital photo of the mural) in the NAEA convention exhibit: "Landscape for the 21st Century" art gallery in Minnesota at this year’s NAEA convention.

Each of the 186 participating schools are represented in a slideshow form that will be shown at the convention. This slideshow, along with the submitted artwork, is available for viewing at this link:





Evening with the Arts

Sandburg Middle School
Cafeteria and Auditorium spaces

Thursday, March 26th, 2009
6:30 to 8:30 pm

Evening with the Arts is an end-of-the-year show for all fine arts-related areas at Sandburg. The purpose is to celebrate and experience the efforts and achievements of students in various creative arenas throughout the school year, and to raise awareness of the importance of arts education and creativity in school. All visitors a play an active part of the event, so there is something for everyone to see and do!

This year’s events are scheduled to include:
· 2-dimensional art gallery
· 3-dimensional art gallery
· Computer art & video watching/listening stations
· Video/animation screenings in the cafeteria
· Collaborative art project – come and make art - create a section of our project!
· Student artist demonstrations (from various media)
· Solo vocal music performances
· Duet/small ensemble music performances
· Instrumental music performance
· Community sing-along
· Other events TBA


This event is possible in part thanks to generous financial donations and volunteer work by the Sandburg PTA and its members.



Our Mural!

Yesterday after school, we finished our YMCA mural! Above you can see a photo of our final work... pretty nice, huh? A special thank you to after-school art class members: Hannah, Julia, Sean, Jazzmin, Margaret, Emma, and Erin who are the student artists behind this AWESOME work! In the next few weeks, our work will be taken down here at school and brought to the YMCA for installation.


Film short I made.

Today I did a demo for 8th grade on stop-motion animation. I thought it was funny because it looked like the two Miss Miller cubes were going to fight!

p.s. This is a video I posted on YouTube, so you can probably only view it from home. Sorry 'bout that.


March = Youth Art Month!

March is Youth Art Month!

There are several ways that the Sandburg Art Department is celebrating:
Thursday, March 26th = Evening With The Arts celebration begins at 7 pm.
Friday, March 27th = Elmhurst Art Museum K-8 Exhibition opening reception from 3:30 - 5:30 pm.

All are invited!


Student Art Display!

Sandburg Middle School has student artwork up on display in the district office for the month of February! Congratulations to the following student artists whose work is part of the display:
Nora Corry, Ginny Watson, Evan O'Brien, Julia May, Timmy Kindelin, Michael Goetz, Hannah Schwarz, Maxine Adams, Kierstin Kurczek, Annie Nyberg, Marco Lappo, Bianca Battaglia, Josiey Jelinek, Matt Hogan, Annie Viola, Katie Grotto, Riley Russell, John Kopach, Ava Heemsoth, Jon Mitchell, Wade Kinney, Cal Skiles, Danielle Jabczynski, Cooper Alimorong, Meredith Carbonetti, Colin Kaminski, Nick Gaudio, and Paul Rafac!


try this!

Obamicon.me lets you re-create images in the styles of Shepard Fairey's famous Obama image. Try it for yourself! See what I did?!


snow days.

two days off for severe weather, huh?

...I hate when this kind of stuff happens. But we'll work through it. I'm posting here on the off-chance that students (or parents) might come here and read this before we meet in class again next Wednesday.

Our final sketchbook drawing was going to be due today, Friday, January 16th. But school was cancelled on the 15th (Thursday) somewhat unexpectedly, as well as today. My best guess would be that most students DID NOT bring home their sketchbooks to work on the assignment...

I'd like to remind everyone that you CAN do sketchbook drawings on ANY blank white paper - you do not actually need your sketchbook! And you can find the topics list (by grade level) on the Sandburg Art website (see "handouts, worksheets, & links" page).

Here's what I'm going to do. Any student that HAS their final sketchbook drawing completed AND turns it in at the beginning of class on Wednesday, January 21st will automatically receive one bonus point on the assignment (hey, it's only a 7-point assignment, so that's pretty good!). That's your incentive for being responsible and for fulfilling your obligations as a student. It's a "thank you" from me.

...The bad news is that we probably won't get to complete our current in-class projects, at least not the way I was hoping to. 7th grade can probably finish a print, 8th grade can still finish their cube sculptures (they're easy to take home if we have to!), but 6th grade will probably get a little bit shorted - we may not get to make stamps like I was hoping to. So I apologize for missed opportunities, but hopefully I can make it up to you in art class next year!


Paper Sculptures

I made myself out of paper - twice! One is done using parts of a photo, and the other is drawn on. The red one is my "elegant evening-gown" look. The other is more everyday, casual wear.

8th grade students are also making themselves out of paper. We'll post photos of those on our Artsonia gallery as soon as they're finished.

In the meantime, check out this cool site called "Paper Critters" to design paper cube-toys online. Enjoy!


7th Grade In-Class Assignment for 1/8/09.

[EDIT 1/8/09: I just discovered (as we are sitting here in the lab) that student users are currently BLOCKED from posting comments while on the computers here at school. So this former "assignment" is now being offered as an extra credit opportunity, should you choose to complete this from home.]

Answer the question below by leaving a comment on the blog. See directions (top of the column to the right) for posting a comment.

Complete the following statement:

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