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1. Mouse 1 and Mouse 2

Mouse One and Mouse Two... New Critters on #ZonkeyStreet

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2. New Critters on Zonkey Street

A new batch of Critters on Zonkey Street 

Pizzly: A hybrid of a polar bear and a grizzly

J-raf: We farm these for the meat ;)

Liger: Cause who doesn't like ligers?

Gator: With love

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3. Download Project Flop: Free for Christmas!

Did you get a Kindle for Christmas and need a good book to read? Well, I've got another present for you! It's the eBook Project Flop and it's free!

Download Project Flop for Free December 24-26!
Click here!

The only class I ever failed in college was ‘Intro To Art Education’. Ironic, as I am now the Arts Department Chair at Apex High School. So why a book about failures? Because I believe I can’t take credit for my successes unless I take credit for my failings. There are hundred’s of books about classroom successes. This is a book about failures

Kindle Edition on Amazon 
Paperback on Amazon

All project start off with the best intentions. Whether you create the lesson from scratch or borrow it from someone else, in your mind you envision success. You write your lesson trying to plan for every situation that may arise. The supplies are laid out, a presentation and a demo are reviewed and practiced, and everything should go off without a hitch.

Then, be it fate, a misalignment of the planets or perhaps the art gods are angry, the lesson falls apart. Regardless of your preparation the students don’t understand. As for your enthusiasm, the class simply doesn’t share your zeal for the project. You try to pull it all together but in the end, for lack of a better word, it fails. Worse off, you take it personally. You feel like you failed. You will be happy to know that you’re in good company.

Project Flop consists of stories from some of the biggest failures that Ian Sands ever taught at Apex High School. Some projects were domed from the start, others appeared successful till an unexpected twist occurred.

Kindle Edition on Amazon 
Paperback on Amazon

Here are some of the best failed projects!

I wanted a project that would out do any project we had done before or probably would do again. I came up with the best idea in the world. A giant replica of the Mona Lisa created out of balloons. Click Here to see The Monalloon!

Interactive Chalk Mural:
I was standing in the courtyard watching the students snap photos of their friends inserted in the art. I leaned over and asked the creative writing teacher what she thought, expecting obvious praise. “I hate it,” she said. View the Interactive Chalk Murals!

Expressive Skittle Portraits:
The project created a class full of students weary of gluing rows of candy, angry moms tired of purchasing Skittles, and a hungry mob that circled the trailer waiting for any chance that the door might open. View the Skittle Portraits!

Broken Kites:
March comes in like a lion and after having been cooped up all winter in a musky auditorium, I thought it would be fun to take the Art History class outside and let them feel the wind in their hair. View the Kites Project!

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4. Sketch Song Project: First Release

With Sparkcon coming this weekend to Raleigh, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to release the first set of CD's from the  Sketch Song Project!

Back in the late 80’s I owned a Tascam 4 track recorder. Using regular cassette tapes, I was able to create multi-track recordings. I can compare the songs I wrote and recorded to that of an artist’s visual journal. These weren’t polished works of art by any means but rather rough sketches.

Most tracks were recorded in one take with mistakes becoming part of the song. All the songs chosen for this project hold promise. However, if one listens to the recordings with anything other than a sketchbook mentality, they will miss the value of the work.

In total there are 100 CDs produced for this project. I’ve selected 20 songs and created 5 CD’s for each song. Like all my artwork, all 100 CDs will be left somewhere to be found.

I plan to leave at least the first ten CD's at Sparkcon on Saturday. Hope you find one!!

This is the first song to be part of the Sketch Song Project. The title of the song, I used to be a Wombat is based on the name of a band I was a member of back in the late 80's. We were the Wombats and had fun playing clubs in NYC like CBGB's. All the lyrics in this song are made up of lyrics from other songs we wrote. I still find it interesting how well they strung together.

I Used to be a Wombat

I found a piece of yesterday
It was such a long road away
The sun was half way cross the sky
I pull the cover cross my eye
I never think I’ll dream again
Till you are with me my old friend
Been down before
Not anymore

Don’t think I forgot just where I sat
Don’t think I don’t know how I got where I’m at

Starts with once upon a time
Was living in a nursery rhyme
This old souls be burning out
And I might live my life without
When did the night turn into day
I’m gonna find another way, another way.
Another way

Don’t think I forgot just where I sat
Don’t think I don’t know how I got where I’m at
I used to be a Wombat

Something strange is coming over me
Somehow all of this, was meant to be
focus on the sound
Take a look around

I’ve been down before
Can’t you see me
Don’t you need me anymore
anymore, anymore

So run, hide if you must
Your heart may fade but never rust
We’ll only take the tumble yall
We all start to crumble yall
When vampires come to snatch your soul
Out of the blue they howl so
Come home, come home

I used to be a Wombat


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5. Sketch Song Project: Burning CDs

So I went to the store and picked up some CD-R's so I could burn a song on each for the 100 Sketch Song Project

I was thinking I should pick up some printable labels but then I thought, why not just spray paint right on the CD? So I picked up some spray paint instead.

When I got home I created this little Zonkey stencil out of a cereal box. Isn't it cute!

Then I spray painted the stencil on CD #1. The song is "Use To Be A Wombat" just in case you wanted to know.

This is the CD on top and the stencil once removed below.

Here is the CD in the case. It's almost a complete package. This little project has a lot of parts!

Stay tuned!!

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6. Song Sketch Project: Moving Along

Progress on the Song Sketch Project is moving along slow but steady. The first three album covers are complete and I've started work on the next four. If you're aren't up to speed on the project, read about the idea and how it got started here.

This is the second set of images. These are done so next step will be to cut them out, fold them up and place them inside a jewel case.

Meanwhile, the 20 songs play list is completed and all songs mixed down from cassette tape to MP3. The quality is less than perfect but what can one expect from 25 year old magnetic tape...

Stay tuned!

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7. The "100 Sketch Songs "Project

Back in the late 80’s I owned a Tascam 4 track recorder. Using regular cassette tapes, I was able to create multi-track recordings. I can compare the songs I wrote and recorded to that of an artist’s visual journal. These weren’t polished works of art by any means but rather rough sketches. 

Most tracks were recorded in one take with mistakes becoming part of the song. Although songs held promise, if one listened to the recordings with anything other than a sketchbook mentality, they would miss the value of the work. AKA be sorely disappointed :)

I got to thinking, it would be interesting to see what would happen if I put these sketch songs out there. How would people react? Listen to the song and laugh like one would at a blind contour drawing? Maybe they would throw it away? And the long shot, maybe enjoy them for what they are.

With that thought, the 100 Sketch Song Project was born.

In total there will be 100 CDs produced for this project. I’ve selected 20 songs and will create 5 CD’s for each song. Like all my artwork, all 100 CDs will be left somewhere to be found.

Today, I started work on the first two CD inserts. 1 of 100 and 2 of 100.

Each will be folded up and inserted in a jewel case along with a CD containing only one sketch song.

Here's a look at the first CD.

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8. Zonkey in Art History

Cave Zonkey:
The earliest depiction of a Zonkey in Art History is this cave painting dating roughly 17,000 years ago. These Paleolithic cave paintings contain over 364 images of equines as well as 90 paintings of stags but this is the only know cave painting of a Zonkey.

Barking Zonkey:
Keith Haring and I both attended the School of visual Arts in NYC. His work was a big influence on me and obviously from this work, mine was for him.

Zonkey of the Great Wall of China:
Over time, many people have scratched their names as well as other images and symbols upon the Great Wall. See above, this Zonkey image's date is unknown but scientists believe it may be as old as summer 2014.

Banksy created this tribute to the Zonkey with spray paint on a wall in an unnamed city.

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9. Zonkey Products

That's right Coke, you know where it's at! Zonkey Cola!

Here's where I stop and pick up my groceries when I'm on my way home from virtually spray painting the rest of Apex. It's the Food Zonkey!

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10. Trip to Wrightsville Beach

A weekend excursion to Wrightsville Beach and some fun Zonkeys. Above, ate at 22 North. Yum!

I used to teach middle school in Sampson County so i gave them a Zonkey too.

Zonkey will keep the pool open! Go Zonkey, go!

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11. More vGraffiti near and around Raleigh, NC

Found a few fun places that looked like they needed a Zonkey. Above, a doorway on the side of an outdoor shopping mall. This spot didn't look all that attractive yet it was right in a place where everyone would view it. Went with pink stripes to pretty it up!

They just leave these trains sitting all over the place. you think they would move them to a train yard or something but no. I was looking at some of the other graffiti and like the outline effect so i tried to mimic that with this Zonkey. I'll keep looking and working on that.

Tomorrow, i'll be in Wilmington and i'm sure i'll find a place or two that need a Zonkey!

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12. Street Art : Gripes

I'm not one to complain. In fact, I bet if you look through all the posts on this blog you won't find even one post where i'm complaining... till now :)

OK, here's the thing. It's 5:30 in the afternoon and your driving home from work. The traffic is heavy, stop and go type stuff and all you want to do is get home. Then, of all things the train lights turn red and the little bars come down so you can pass. So what's the big deal? It's just a train right? Well no.

You see, the trains in Apex for whatever reason actually stop dead in the middle of the crossing. The lights don't stop flashing, the bars don't go up, the train doesn't move. The trains in Apex literally block traffic in apex for an extended period of time right at the peak of rush hour.

Next, this is a photo of downtown Apex during Peakfest. Peakfest is an annual event where the streets of downtown apex are closed (I know, what's up with Apex and road closings?) and they have venders and food and bands. So what could be so bad about that?

Well, my band the Dead Hamsters applied to be on of the bands to play but we were rejected! That's right. My home town of apex rejected me and instead go some lame bands from who knows where that sucked.

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13. Street Art: The NC Museum of Art, Raleigh

(above: Zonkey of the NCMA sign)

Yesterday, I stopped by the NC Museum of Art for their ArtScene 2014 Spring Teen Event. Three Apex student's work was accepted into  the show, which is pretty exciting. The Museum made a day of it with live bands, food, art activities that everyone could participate in and even free entry into the current exhibition: Estampas de la raza/Prints for the People: The Romo Collection 

I'd like to think I have a pretty good relationship with the NCMA. I've work on a few projects their including taking part in a think take group for their virtual Game Design class, leading a week long Street Art workshop and having an artwork selected for the Art of the Auction. With all that in mind, the NCMA makes a pretty good spot for a little virtual graffiti... don't you think?!

Did you know that there was a Zonkey born in zoo in Mexico this week?? At the same time, this exhibit about Mexican prints is opening up at the NCMA.. so doesn't it make sense that a Zonkey appear on this wall at the NCMA??


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14. Street Art: More from Apex, NC

Zonkey outside the Music & Rock School building. A great place to learn to play an instrument certainly needs great art!

I'm not sure who Wrench is but I tried to match the colors of the Zonkey to compliment the writing. I like the large, forward facing Zonkey portrait. It works well on this type of space.

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15. Street Art: Washington, D.C.

Spent last Friday in Washington DC checking out the art in the National gallery and also the Hirshhorn Museum. The photo above is part of the National Gallery's Sculpture Garden. This is part of the bench that surrounds a fountain pond. In the back is a stabile by Calder. I choose the red stripes on the Zonkey to compliment Calder's red.

I really enjoyed the Hirshhorn's recent exhibit titled Damage Control: Art and Destruction. There was one work of art where the artist didn't like what he created so he burned it and baked it into cookies. How fun os that?! You know what else is fun? A Zonkey. So now the Hirshhorn has one. Their collection is now complete!

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16. Street Art: Apex and Raleigh

Along with the street art I saw when I was in San Diego, I'm now trying to do a better job of documenting the Zonkey street art I find from all my travels.  

Here are some recent examples from Apex and Raleigh. I also have some to post from my trip to DC.. coming soon!

Zonkey on a train in Apex NC

Zonkey on a wall at City Market Raleigh, NC

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17. Words in Art

April 12, 2014 | 3:00p – 7:00p

Join us for an afternoon of wine and cheese, and book and poetry readings. View our April exhibition, Words in Art, including the Apex High School Showcase and meet some of the talented writers and poets working in the Raleigh area. 

Text Art by Emma

To celebrate this event, Apex Art Teacher Ian Sands has made three of his books available as free downloads!


Jirst Bluefin's biggest problem is being ignored. Kacela Middleton is the one person in the world who is never ignored. Jirst is about to discover that sometimes it's better to be ignored for no reason than to become popular over nothing at all.

Free Sunday and Monday
Amazon Kindle, Download Now!

Tucker's Aunt Nyce is his mom's little sister only she isn't that little and she isn't that nice. He has to get used to it though because he's stuck working at her beach restaurant The Crab & Grab for the next two weeks.

Free Sunday and Monday
Amazon Kindle, Download Now!

Crushing Turtles

Tori crushes turtles. She crushes box turtles and painted turtles, sliders and musk turtles. She secretly wishes she could go to the beach and step on baby sea turtles as they leave the nest. The only turtle Tori hasn’t crushed; the only one she wants to crush, lives in that lake. It waits at the bottom buried in the mud. Tori has never seen it but she knows its there... and she hates it.

Free Sunday and Monday 
Amazon Kindle, Download Now!

Text Art by Lizzie

Text Art by Madyson

Text Art by Curtis

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18. Zonkey!

The Zonkey, yes a real animal a hybrid mix of a zebra and a donkey, has been a staple of Apex Art Teacher Mr. Sands' critter drawings. Sands has painted Zonkey on a bus, on a billboard and on his business cards (see below). 

Still, Sands has always had one problem. Translating the 2D drawing to a 3D creation. Though he tried numerous times, he was never successful in his attempt. 

Finally today, the vision of the 3D Zonkey was brought to fruition by student Megan. You may remember Megan from such classes as Art Two.

"Look Sands, Megan's Zonkey is better than yours!" stated (soon to be x-Apex Art Teacher) Kimberly Sudkamp. 

Sands was ecstatic to see such a well created stuffed Zonkey. "I'm ecstatic to see such a well created stuffed Zonkey," stated Sands. "This is the best day of my life!"

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19. Love Is Better Than Pancakes : February 2014

Love Is Better Than Pancakes is a monthly post of artwork that explores the temporary state of the subject matter. Each month, through a set of five images, a material will be explored. Each image, like the subject they explore, are temporary and will be replaced by the next month’s set.

February 2014:

The Samsung Galaxy phone incorporates swype technology. This allows the user to simply swipe a finger from one letter to another in order to produce text, eliminating the need to press each individual letter.

I wondered what would happen if I swiped the screen without putting any thought into what words I wanted to appear. I drew little zig zags and circles and then captured whatever words the Galaxy thought I swyped.


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20. Love is Better Than Pancakes ...

Love is Better Than Pancakes
a website by ian Sands

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21. Obey the Zonkey

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22. Death of MyCat

Well, the snow has given me a day to play... A student posted a work of my art on Facebook..  I'm pretty sure she stole it... Anyway, it reminded me of a project I have wanted to do for a while.. So with my student sent inspiration and the driven snow I'm putting it all together. 

This work (above in progress) is titled

Death of MyCat

As an Art History teacher, I've often thought of using my critters to recreate works of art. The piece my student stole was a cat so I thought I would start here. Death of Marat, by David, above.

I'm also working on Saturn Devours His Son. I've also almost got enough critters for a Last Supper.

stay tuned..

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23. The 2014 NAEA National Convention!

If you're looking for me you better be heading to California! This week I will be attending the 2014 NAEA National Convention in San Diego, CA.

So first, if you’re a convention attendee, you are probably looking for that free book. Well here is the link! It will be available free from March 29th - 31st.

Free download: Click Here!

Now, the 2014 NAEA National Convention? What's that you ask? It's a gathering of more than 5,000 visual art teachers, university professors and museum educators. We all get together with the common goal of advancing art education.

Presenting You Say?

Yes! Not only am I attending but I'm also presenting. How exciting, yes I know! Chances are I might even talk about a project you worked on or even show a photo of your art.

On Saturday I'll be co-presenting with Jessica Balsley on a presentation titled Using iPads in the Art Room. Jessica is the founder of the Art of Education blog. Did you know that I was a contributing writing for the Art of Education? See, you learn something new every day!

So Sunday morning, between 11 and 12, I'll be at the Art Of Ed booth #310 for a Meet and Greet! Stop by and say hi!

On Sunday I'll be co-presenting with Robb Sandagata, Sherri Fisher and Jack Watson. That’s a pretty amazing lineup! We are presenting New Weird Ideas! How appropriate :)

Then, also on Sunday, I’ll be presenting in the main ballroom! Yes, the one that holds everyone! So needless to say, I’m a bit nervous about that one... It’s the Ignite Session. 20 slides in five minutes!

As a special added bonus I'm pretty sure that Davis Publications will be handing out free copies of the April issue of SchoolArts Magazine that just happens to include and article about the Singing Tiger project we did right here at Apex High School! 

So that’s the deal. I’ll be back after Spring Break and if this year is anything like last year, I’ll be coming home with some very innovative ideas that will keep apex at the Peak of Great Art making!!


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24. Back from NAEA14 San Diego!

For Spring break I flew to sunny San Diego for the 2014 National Art Education Association Conference. That was fun! Here is a quick look at the people, place and presentations I met, went to, was involved with...

The Place:

The conference was held in downtown San Diego right next to the Gaslamp District. It was also pretty close to Pacific Beach (see photo above). I tell you what, I liked this place. Except everyone in California runs.. after a while I felt like yelling at them to sit down and take a break!

San Diego is not far from LA and there is a lot of famous street art in LA.

Now, there is a lot of street art in San Diego...

No, actually I created both these on my iPad on the plane ride back. Virtual street art :)

The People:

On Sunday Morning I joined the old gang for a Davis sponsored coffee Art 2.0 Meet Up. This is an amazing line up of educators including Tricia FuglestadTheresa McGeeCraig Roland and Art 21 Star Samantha Melvin to name a few..

Janine Campbell was there, participating in International Bring A Scone To Art Class Day.. keeping it international because she is from Canada.. well, Michigan, but close enough.

I also had a chance to hang out with a few of my Teaching for Artistic Behaviors friends like Katherine Douglas. Here I am sitting with Nan Hathaway. She is my new BFF as you can tell because she sat right next to me.

I also spent some time with the Art of Education peeps! Cassie Stephens who has a new art related outfit every day, Mr. E who has a new bulletin board every week, and Jessica Balsley to whom I send 4 new articles every month. Wow, I saw a lot of people!

The Presentations:

The one complaint anyone can have about an NAEA conference is that there are too many great sessions to choose from! I'll tell you upfront if there was one session that was my "Wow" session it was Art 21: Teaching With Contemporary Art. It reminded me of all the great things theme based teaching has to offer. So more of that to come! I also sat in on some great TAB/Choice sessions. So yes, more student direct teaching to come.

In between going to sessions I also presented. Above is from the ignite session. it was 20 slides in 5 minutes. The slides change automatically so you have to talk quickly.

Above are a few photos someone took from that same presentation and posted on Twitter.  Interesting, the slides chosen..

* Opening slide,
* International Scone Day slide,
* Nicholas Sparks same stuff inside different shell outside slide,
* and Picasso was a jerk slide.

Photo of the sun setting on the last night in San Diego...

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25. San Diego Street Art

Everyone in San Diego is a Zonkey. The advertisement at the bus stop wouldn't lie!

All along Pacific Beach there are these ugly, cement barriers. One each barrier is spray painted, No Smoking. These are ugly. Zonkey makes them less ugly. Zonkey makes them beautiful!

We stayed at Tower 23 Hotel in Pacific Beach. Very contemporary. Very Zonkey!

Parking? No. Zonkey? Yes!

All the electrical boxes in San Diego are painted. I didn't have time to "paint" one but still managed to make it Zonkeylishus!

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