Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Oil Academy

My advanced students and I have started learning how to paint with oils and a palette knife. It is soo cool and fun. I am taking classes through and then teaching my studnets. It is going to be a great time of learning and creating!

Today we started on our first canvases learning how to hold the knife and spread the paint across the canvas.

 Yes, I am very aware that I have lots more room than most art teachers!

And her is my little canvas.
Tomorrow we are going to learn how to create different strokes. I got ahead of myself and kept playing after I had the first layer of paint on the canvas. Hopefully my teacher doesn't get mad and make me redo it! :)

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Making my heart smile!

I love how-to art books. I bought probably hundreds over the years! Some end up worthless, and some are treasures.

This weekend I found a how to on Disney's classic characters. It was on clearance, and it was a little torn up, but a great book!

Kylie and I drew Mickey and Minnie Mouse the other night. 

Tonight, Kylie wanted to draw again, so Doug sat down and drew with her and Lexi.

It was soo sweet. I had to stop cleaning the kitchen and pick up the camera!

It was great for the girls to see Doug enjoy drawing. He said that tonight was the first time in 30 years that he has sat down to just draw! Wow! He did fantastic, and we started talking about getting him some art supplies! 

Yep, watching my family draw together (while listening to Maddie practice clarinet) does wonderful things for my heart!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Go Red For Women

My sister posted this video on her blog, she's cardiac care nurse and know her stuff (obviously..) so since she encourgaged us to watch it, I figured it would be worth the time.
It's a really funny video, but teaches all of us women that we really need to slow down and listen to our bodies!
Take 3 minutes and watch the video and learn about the heart attack symptoms for women. 
It's important!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Saving for vacation is a family affair!!

Back around Christmas the girls and I started talking about how much fun we had the previous year going to Disney right after Christmas in 2012. We got all nostalgic and decided that we wanted to go back. Originally we decided to actually spend Christmas 2014 at Disney World, but with Lexi's rabbit raising that happens during December, we decided to go over Thanksgiving. It actually works better as Doug already takes Thursday and Friday off, so we will add a few more days that he will be out that week, but he will be at his office for the end of the year.

Also right at the end of the year a Pinterest idea floated around Facebook that we liked. It was the saving each week the equivalent of the week it was during the year. While I have since found a plan that I like much better.. (saving the same amount but in REVERSE order..)We are doing the plan as it was orginally presented. 
Doug decided that we should do 2 jars, one for vacation and one for Christmas. This year the two are really tied together, but I liked the idea. The plan is that we will use the "Christmas Jar" to buy the incidentals and everyone's Christmas gifts at Disney. 

The jars so far have been even more successful than we thought they would be. Doug and I have both put extra earnings in the jars and the girls have responded in kind. They really like seeing their money added to the total amounts.  (you can see our jars in the background of one of the pictures below..)

This week, Kylie took it a step further and asked if she could empty out her piggy bank for the trip. We said sure and Kylie, Lexi and I got busy counting. We decided that piggy bank money would be the girls personal spending money at Disney. I'll take all of their HEAVY coinage and buy them Disney gift cards.

Here the girls are counting.  (Side benefit.. Kylie mastered counting out pennies into stacks of 10. Pretty impressive skill for a 4 year old!)

We even got Lexi off the couch (she has the flu) for a few minutes. She LOVES sorting and stacking... (me and my dad!)
Did you see the savings jars in the above picture?
The girls worked together.
And here is Kylie. She was so excited and she doesn't even have a concept of how much things cost! I was thrilled with the $77 total. That is more than enough for her to purchase some fun things for herself and Christmas presents for her sisters!
Lexi was so impressed with how much money Kylie had, she decided to get in to the action and went and got her very full, very heavy piggy bank!
Getting all of the change out of that thing was HARD work!
Look at that! That is a TON of pennies!
Lexi and I counted and counted and counted. She had $10 worth of pennies! Her total was $63.50. A great start for her, and it gives her a goal. She really, really wants a $30 parasol that she wanted last time we were there, but I talked her out of. So now, she knows that she has enough to purchase that, but it would take most of her money. She is pretty tight when it comes to her personal money, so we will see what she decides to do!

One of the best things that has come out of us doing the savings in the jar is that the girls can see it. We save monthly, but the girls don't see it and don't understand that part of being an adult. But they do understand and see saving for fun things they want and they can totally be a part of this adventure. 

The reality is that taking our family to Disney will cost significantly more than our savings jar, and will be paid for long before the end of the year.. but the life-lesson for the girls, .... yeah, going cliche' on you... priceless.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Autism, Art and Type A Flu

The flu hit our house this week. Doug went from fine to sick in a heartbeat. Wednesday he saw the doctor. (Maddie and Lexi both stayed home sick that day too. Just not flu... Yet.)

In case you don't know what the test card looks like, here is Doug's.

I felt like I was lingering on the cliff of getting sick all week, but I just refused. No choice. Between the girls being sick, Doug having the flu and deadlines at work, I didn't have time to blink, much less sneeze!

Friday was Valentine's day. Hmmm. Kylie and Lexi enjoyed the day. Doug was sick. Maddie tried school and was sent home with a fever. BIG BUMMER. She had to miss the dance at school, and she had the cutest new outfit. I worked. Here are Lexi and Kylie enjoying treats while I work. Thankfully Lexi got to go to school for her parties.

Doug got me Wiseman House peanut butter and chocolate meltaways for V-day. I super heart them! (And him..)

Saturday was a big art day for my students. We went to our regional Visual Art Scholastic Event (VASE) contest. I took 15 kids with a total of 27 pieces. It was a long day. It's really a pretty long process to prepare for the contest as the competition is STIFF and a "nice" piece doesn't even get a second glance. Almost 2300 pieces are judged in less than 8 hours, each with a personal interview. The pieces that receive a 4 rating advance to the area round and then from those pieces, they select around 225 pieces to advance to the state competition. All of this happens in the course of one day. It's amazing! 12 hours from start to finish. Except for the state round.. That will happen in a little over a month at another location!

Here are a few pictures of my student's work... I took these during the week. 

At the end of the night, I had 13 out of the 15 advance to area, earning 16 medals. 3 students received PERFECT scores. And one students advanced to state! And she's a sophomore!!! :) for a total of 17 medals to give out on Monday!

But I have to tell you, while having a student make it to state is uber cool, the best part of the day was watching my student with Autism conquer his fears and struggles and earn TWO medals. Oh how I wish I could share the picture of him sitting next to his pieces that advanced to area! My heart melts. What is so poignant for me is that in those moments before he left for the INTERVIEW (oh yes he did!) he was sitting at the cafeteria table obviously nervous. I told him that it would be okay and that he would do fine. He said, but what if he didn't understand the question the judge asked him. I explained that he needed to advocate for himself, to tell the judge that he struggled understanding things sometimes and that the juror was there in support of him! No one was going to try to trick him, that he could ask for help, and that everyone here was FOR him. So then he asked if he could tell the judge that he was autistic. I said YES!  He smiled and off he went.

As he walked away, I have to say, I worried if I made the right call. I could have asked that I be there with him. I could have asked that the officials tell the judge before he entered that he was a kid with disabilities. But I didn't. I wanted him to be able to own this moment. He did the work. He created the pieces, he needed the opportunity for a victory. And so I watched him walk away, just like the "regular" kids!

Over the next couple of hours, I worried about him, hoping that he would get to the right room to not get frustrated with the very long lines and wait time, and that he would be able to answer the questions asked. I even sent a student to check in on him. But I didn't go check on him myself. I sat at the table and waited. 

And then he returned. Sweaty and smiling! No, grinning really. I asked him how it went and he said good. That he sweated a lot, but he was able to answer questions and explained his artwork to the judges. (Cause, he had two pieces...that's two different rooms to find, two lines to wait in, two judges to have to talk too!)

Then when all 15 kids had returned we went to check out the work that had received 4's and had advanced. Both of his pieces were there, and the grin.. Yeah.

I share this story, not to make you think I am a great teacher, I'm not especially. But I love my students. I had 2 girls not medal yesterday, and Monday is going to be hard. But they are both freshman having to learn to listen to me and my way of doing things. Neither of them really wanted constructive feedback and only brought in their finished pieces at the very end, when it was too late. I had one student, fresh off a big award a couple of weeks ago, just do so/so. But man, for the this "special" student, yesterday was a turning point for him. I had four students receive double medals, and he was one of them... And one of those others, advanced to state! You can just imagine his dreams now! :)

And so with all of that, I leave you with the state piece. Yep, couldn't be prouder of MY kids!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Another Ice Day!

I woke up this morning with the phone vibrating my bed side table... No School today! Dangerous black ice on the roads, so no school!

So I am sitting on the couch, enjoying the fire and watching the Olympics!

Awesome day!

And it was great timing as my body has said that I am tooooo busy and I feel crummy today. Normally I'd just push through as I'm not going to miss work just because I feel run down. So I'm treating the day like the gift it is.

And I got my grade report from my January term grad class in Art History. I made an A!  It was the equivalent of 80 hours in January.. That on top of work, kids and family commitments, running and general life.. No wonder I'm tired!

This Saturday is another big art contest. I need school tomorrow so I can take care of art prep and paperwork, but for today, I'm enjoying women's speed skating! Go USA!

Monday, February 10, 2014

One Yard Fabric Projects

If you are a crafter and sew-er person like me, you've got a stack of 1 yard scraps that just sit and collect dust. 

Or you are in the store and see the cutest piece of fabric, but you think, what can I do with just ONE YARD!

Well, I found this book and am so pumped! 

I can't decide what to start with, but I'm thinking one of these three projects will probably it.

1. The scruffle scarf.
Maddie loves scarves, so I'm thinking I might start here.

Or what about this wall book hanger? I'd love to have a better way to store Kylie's books!

But then this little clutch purse is rather adorable and I never seem to have a cute little "date night" bag!

Oh where to start? I guess I'd better go find fabric. And who wants to use old leftover fabric? :) off to the fabric store I go!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

My world

It's not often that I get to use my theatrical lighting knowledge in my role as an art teacher. There are days when I miss the stage and the world of theatre and I wonder if I made the right choice.

And then I get to play in the theatre, work on sets and lights and help out with a show and leave with the certainty that OH YES, I MADE THE RIGHT DECISION!
I love helping, but man I love getting to leave. :)

So what brings this up?

Well, our auditorium at the high school is getting new lights. YIPPEE! We desperately needed an upgrade and I've been helping out with the programming of the light board.

We are moving from an analog system and old instruments that would throw the breakers if used at full capacity to cutting edge technology. We have had a huge learning curve. And not just us, the electricians weren't sure what to do either.

I have spent a lot of time this week figuring out how to program the board to use the instruments and working out the logistics of the light plot. It's been a ton of fun.

But hard. and because I'm the art teacher and not the theatre teacher, a lot of hours after school and on the weekend as I was expected to be able to do my real job!

But that's okay, because the theatre teacher is one of my best friends and if I needed help in my world and she had the expertise, she'd do it for me.

But also, because it reinforces in my heart and mind that I am exactly where I am supposed to be. Moving from the known theatre world to the art world was hard for me. And some days I really feel like the biggest impostor around. But then I get back in my classroom and I know that I am where I am supposed to be. 

Especially when it is 9pm on Saturday night!

Teaching theatre was fun and super hard. When I came in tonight, Doug and I reminisced about the days I taught theatre (and debate) and was gone 3 or 4 nights a week and many Saturdays. Those were really tough times. As he said, no way we could do that now.

And it's not just the schedule, I've found my true calling in art.

I love me some theatre and the technical design aspects of it are a blast, but thankfully, and happily I'll live in my art world and go over and play in my friend's backyard and then go home at the end of the day tired and happy.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Sticking around for Success

In all my years teaching, it seems like all I have done was to get the ball rolling, lay a strong foundation and just when things take off, we move.

Let's take a walk down memory lane...

Theatre Teacher in Texas 2 years
Theatre/Speech/Debate in NC 1 1/2 years
Back in Texas...
3rd grade inclusion math and TYC reading teacher 1 semester (plus a miserable summer...)
Theatre/Debate/8th grade reading 1 year
Theatre/Career Investigations/Speech/7th grade writing 1 1/2 years
Theatre Teacher 1 semester
Economics/Debate 2 years

Wow. What a journey. I am absolutely certain that I am a better art teacher because I worked in so many other teaching jobs, in so many different communities. I've taught in big cities and tiny communities; I've taught to the affluent and teenagers in a jail.

Then I finally found my way to Art.

And now, I'm in my 6th year of teaching art. AT THE SAME PLACE! Crazy stuff. And even better, I am here for the successes. I got the ball rolling and laid a great foundation for a program that was to be distinctly MINE and I'm here to see the successes.

It is an amazing feeling!

Yesterday I had six students receive big honors in the art world. One student won 3 Gold Key's at the 2014 Region-At-Large Scholastic Art and Writing Awards and has three pieces in the NATIONAL competition. And he is a Sophomore! Such exciting times.

I have to say, this stability stuff is pretty cool. I've never gotten to see the reward first hand and now I am. It's a heady feeling!

Here are a couple of pictures of some of students and their award winning works!

This first picture was taken back in the fall, but how cool is this, both girls received awards this week. Emma, a 3rd grader had her self portrait (upper left hand corner of the display) chosen  to be included in the Youth Art Month Exhibit at our state capitol. Heather, a senior, had one of her photographs awarded an Honorable Mention at the Scholastic contest.

And her are a few more pictures of my students and their award winning pieces!

I don't have a picture of my student who advanced to the National competition. I'll have to do that tomorrow!!