Last night we took the kids to Trunk or Treat at our church. There were over 50 trunks decorated this year. It was about 50 degrees and extremely windy. It sprinkled a little. Max was out of sorts all day with a fever… I didn’t really want to take him, but it’s a family thing, so we made him go. He didn’t feel good and he cried and screamed the whole time we tried to get him ready. He did not understand what we were doing and that added to not feeling well made a very unhappy Max. Sam kept saying “Max, do you want some candy?” Of course Max would reply with “Yes!” Then we told him he had to wear his costume to get the candy. He didn’t understand. He probably thought we were torturing him…the way we kept asking him if he wanted candy. I finally got his costume on him…after a huge struggle…and then we gave him a sucker to make him happy. I just kept thinking to myself, “what am I doing, making my kid go through this all for a crazy tradition?” I would never give my kid a sucker to calm him down…under normal circumstances. Anyway, by the time we got to church, he was fine, with sticky sucker all over his face and hands along with his fur from his lion costume. He had chunks of sucker stuck to the front of his costume, but he was happy. We got to Trunk or Treat 15 minutes early, and it was already packed! There were so many more people there this year than have ever been there before. We speculate that it probably has to do with the fact that we were having it on the 30th instead of the 31st. Jackson’s trick or treating is tonight, so I imagine we had a larger crowd because of that. By the time we left, after an hour, the lines wrapped almost completely around the church. I am sure they ran out of candy before it was over. We headed home after Savannah had a chance to ride the ponies. When we got home we gathered at the dining room table, dumped out all the candy, and let everyone pick something to eat. Max was pretty amazed at all the candy. Then we cleaned up a few things, turned on the fireplace, popped some microwave popcorn and heated up water for the hot chocolate. Jason, Micki and Grace came over and we hung out and watched Savannah and Grace perform for us in front of the fireplace. Each time, Sam had to announce the next performance. They did dances, told stories and sang songs. Very cute and quite funny. Karson wanted Jason to hold him the whole time. He loves to cuddle with Uncle J. Don’t know what that’s all about, but I think Jason secretly loves it. Max wanted to be like the girls, so he would get out there and do a crazy Max dance and every time, he would end up down on one knee with his hands in the air, “Tada!”

Today Max woke up throwing up, Karson now has a fever. I sent Savannah to church with my sister, and I’m staying home with the boys. I was going to take the kids trick or treating in the neighborhood tonight, but I am not sure if we’ll make it because of everybody feeling sick…I even feel a little yucky. I am sure it is some sort of flu. I just hope I don’t have to miss school.

A busy week

I cannot believe it has been a week since my last post…I honestly have been that busy. Sorry for you guys who check this blog every day. Last weekend was awesome and totally exhausting. The conference was everything I expected and more. I got to hang out a lot with Julia and we got to know each other a little better. When I have attended this conference in the past, I have gone by myself. It was a blast to go with a friend and made it so much more fun. I learned all kinds of neat things that I will be able to use in my classroom, but I haven’t been able to sort it all out, my mind is still on overload from everything I soaked in…and as far as processing it…well, the three huge piles of papers, pamphlets, lesson plans and such are still sitting on our buffet, if that tells you anything. One of these days…

I wanted to post a few things from the conference. One workshop I went to was Creativity in the Classroom…sponsored by the DIA. It was fun because we got to make something. That’s one thing that I really like about the MAEA Conference…it’s not just lectures and stuff…the workshops are usually led by artists, or at least people who know who they are talking to…and the best workshops are the hands-on type where we get to make something to take with us. Anyway, the presenter, Tracy Sellers, layed out all this stuff on the table and said “use what you want to make anything you want.” I was immediately under pressure to create something…but at the same time I felt free to use my imagination to create anything. Well, I have to say, that I do not work well (typically) in these situations. I don’t consider myself to have a great imagination, so I was intimidated…thinking I had to come up with something good…and fast because time was limited…and there was the added pressure that we would hang them all up and discuss them when we are done. I didn’t know what to do…I did paper mosaics in one of my classes at school before I came, so I just started cutting squares and gluing them down, with no plan. After I got tired of doing the mosaic design, I grabbed some markers and added some designs and lines…and as I did it became a bird…not realistic…not even finished…but it just happened which is kind of cool…and it was so different from everyone elses creations…I should have taken a picture because it was very interesting to see what the other people in the class came up with.

Another really cool part of this conference was that Sandy Skoglund came and lectured in one of our sessions about her work and the development of her art and the process of making it…it was so interesting! She also did an installation with 30 people who attended the conference and signed up to participate. Kellogg’s donated boxes and boxes of cereal for the installation which you can see below. The lady in the sleeveless blue shirt is Sandy Skoglund. They each had a glue gun…they didn’t finish it…that is why there is so much white left on the walls…it was a very time consuming process and my friend, Kathy, who participated it said she wouldn’t mind if she never used a glue gun again! It was fun to watch…I wouldn’t have wanted to do it.

In case you are curious, this was at the McCamly Plaza Hotel in Battle Creek, Michigan.

I also attended a workshop with textile artist, Sarah Kaufmann. She was so much fun…and very inspiring…I created this little book in her workshop. We all did our own thing with a bunch of really cool materials that Sarah brought for us to use. I am not any great book maker…and didn’t really intend for this to mean anything when I made it, but the more I look at it and the way I created it, the more I see of me and how I feel about life right now…kind of interesting, huh? The book is an accordian style booklet. The first picture is the cover and the other two are the inside, which took two scans because it is pretty long.

It’s also one of those things that I think I could have developed more if I had more time…the workshop ended and I had to meet Julia, so I didn’t probably do everything I would have liked to.


I found out that Sharpies now come in a 24 pack of colors…with colors of pink, baby blue, mint green, peach, lavender, and yellow orange! Not available yet, but I got a free sample from the SANFORD booth!

I got back in touch with the art teacher I did my student teaching under. She used to live in Jackson, but moved away (I didn’t know this until I talked to her there) in 1998 and now lives in Kalamazoo and teaches art at a Catholic school. She was so awesome, and I was sad that I had lost touch with her. She came to our wedding, and I think that may have been the last time I saw her…we talked on the phone a few times after that, but then we moved and she moved and neither one of us knew what had happened to the other. So it was cool to see her, although we had little time to talk…but, now that we have exchanged addresses and email, hopefully we can stay in touch.

Value painting

This is an example I whipped up for a project I am attempting with my 5th graders…I honestly don’t know if they will be able to handle it…but maybe, because it is basically like paint by number…only there are no numbers just different values. The students are taking a photo of themselves which has been altered in photoshop (poster edges) and printed out, and tracing the contours on the image onto paper using carbon paper to transfer. They will be doing a value scale with a color before this with at least 10 steps (different values)…then they will begin with the lightest value – white and the darkest value – the color…and filling in all those areas and so on until it is completed. Even though there is not a lot of creativity in this project, I am tying it in to Andy Warhol and pop art as well as teaching them some skills with values and painting, and I think the end product is pretty rewarding. I must say though, this scan doesn’t do it justice…it really looks much better in person. I also chose a color of paint (tempera) that happened to be slightly transparent which affected the darker values…but I am glad I discovered it, because I won’t let my students use this color for their projects.

Drawing Class

I don’t heave time to scan a drawing right now…I thought I would just update on what’s going on this busy week…like I needed one more thing added to it…but it actually turned out to be a really neat opportunity. Greg was teaching an adult drawing class at the museum this fall, but hurt his back and wont be able to finish out the remainder of the class. So monday night, I get a call asking me to take over the class…it meets every Tuesday for 2 hours. I decided to do it, but was a bit aprehensive about the idea of teaching adults…I also didn’t totally know what to expect, being that I only had a vague idea from a quick phone call to Greg of what had already been covered. So last night, I went to my first class. Two of the students were not there last night. But we had a good time. They are all wonderful people. I think I will really enjoy teaching this class if I can relax a little. Although I am a teacher, I am not always a great communicator or speaker. It is actually one of my struggles. I didn’t get a job once because of it. Last night we talked about contour drawing, how to do it, why it is important to practice drawing this way. We drew some stuff I collected from our nature trail at school yesterday. I talked a little about shading and showing depth in a drawing, because they all wanted to add shading to their contour drawings. We also did some ink drawings with a pen and I showed them some methods of shading with ink. I also set up a still life and they drew that using a viewfinder and produced some real nice drawings.

weekend pages

click here for a larger image

On Friday we got our new gas fireplace installed. We love it, it is so awesome! On Saturday, Sam and I went out for a few hours…the weather was terrible, but we bought some new flannel sheets for our bed which we slept on last night…oh, so comfy. We got some new rugs & towels for our bathroom…which we’d like to plan to fix up next. We ate at Joe’s Crabshack…splurged on snow crab…so yummy, and on the way home we stopped at a Starbucks knockoff called Espresso Royale for a latte and hot cocoa. It was fun. Relaxing.

I have been looking forward to this week coming up…I am sure it will be a great time of inspiration for me. Tomorrow we have a county wide professional development day…I get to meet with other art teachers in our county. In the afternoon, we get to share ideas for art projects. On Thursday, Julia and I are heading over to Battle Creek for the MAEA Conference, which lasts until Saturday…I love going to these conferences…I have attended two in the past and they have both been an incredible resource of ideas to use in my art class. It will be a great time I am sure.

Illustration Friday ~ Smelly

Here is my drawing for illustration friday…for more info check out Penelope’s blog. The theme this week was SMELLY. The thing that came to my mind was poopy diapers. With two kids still in diapers it seems that I am constantly changing them. It is funny because Max, our two year old, who still is not potty trained, always denies that he has messed his diaper. He never comes and tells me…and sometimes will just keep playing until Savannah comes along and announces that Max has poop. So that is what you see in this illustration…by the way, Max’s favorite toys are his grill and his play food…here he is cooking up everthing from eggs to apples on his grill.

Max paints a picture

I took my 5th graders outside to draw. It was such a beautiful afternoon, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to teach them about actually looking at what you draw, rather than drawing what you think it looks like. I find kids do this all the time. They draw the symbols that are taught to them rather than what the object really looks like. So after a little lesson on this, we headed out to the edge of the nature trail behind our school. It was a great place to draw. The kids found berries, milk weed, and other various dried and dead plants that were fabulous subjects to draw. The drawings they did were really great. Some of them, you could tell by their drawings, really understood what I was teaching them. I of course took my Moleskine along so that I could draw as well. They wanted to look at my drawings. They said I should be an artist. One of my students came up to me at the end of the class period and wanted to know if it would be ok if she went to a store and bought a book to draw in like mine. I, of course, enthusiastically, encouraged her to do so and told her I would love her to bring it in when she has done some drawings in it so I could see them. I wonder what my students will remember about me years later. When I began to get interested in art, I never saw my teachers, professors do any drawing except for the purpose of instruction. My students see me carrying my sketchbook – many of them recognize the small black book – I draw in it whenever I have spare moments…sometimes while my students are busy working on projects…I wonder what they think about that. I have noticed that my students have showed more interest in drawing since they have seen me drawing. This drawing is of my son, Maximus. He loves to paint. He is only two and barely knows how to do it, but he loves making marks of any kind…including crayon, all throughout our house. But it’s ok. I usually can get it off…or we are planning to take down the wallpaper anyway, so I don’t mind. One time he stood in our half-bathroom and drew short little vertical lines all around the room, including on the door, toilet and sink…we knew he was the culprit, because the marks were all at his level. We had a good little laugh and then were very thankful for the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. I drew this picture while he painted…it’s a little out of proportion, but I think that’s understandible…he was moving around a lot, as two year olds do, and I had to keep asking him to paint more…so I could finish my drawing, of course. The paper he was painting on was a piece of construction paper that Savannah had been practicing her letters on.