Thursday, January 15, 2015

Art Docent: Line as a Visual Element

Hey kids! Are you excited for today's art class?
(Yeah! Insert excited chattering and clapping.)

We're going to learn about line!
(Insert the chirp-chirping of crickets.)

I could tell the first grade class I taught today didn't think line was all that exciting. At first, I followed my lesson script with enthusiasm and fun facts like:
A line is a path between two points! Wait, it get's better...
A line can express a feeling. I know, fascinating, right? Like a horizontal line can be sleepy, a line full of angles can be angry or energizing, a thick line can feel heavy, a lightly drawn line can seem like it's floating.
A line can connect and create a shape, it can communicate by forming into letters or scrawling like cursive.
A line can--

--well, it can decorate...

I tossed the notes aside and jumped in with the fun stuff. I passed out watercolor paper, paints, brushes, water, and a black crayon. I had them sign their names first, earning a nod of approval from the teacher, and settled in with drawing lines on the paper with our black crayon.

Put your crayon on the paper and see where your line goes, I encouraged them.  I told them to draw squiggly lines, straight lines, circles, shapes, angles, dotted lines.

Hey kids! Draw whatever you feel!
(Huh? Is that it?)

Hey kids! Let's paint the white space in between!
(Yeah! Color! Insert applause and cheer.)

Some were done the second their paper hit their desks, and some consternated over each detail for the full hour. It takes all kinds of artists, and even though the enthusiasm I was looking for seemed a little mellow in the beginning, most of the kids were exited to show me their work and proud of their "line" journey.
Today's Drying Rack

Bianca's Sea Monster

Ruby's Hannah Playing in Heaven

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Just, That, Really?

One of my critique partners mentioned that I use the word 'just' too many times. So I did a scan on my 71,500 word manuscript and had to raise my brows. I had no idea! I used the word 'just' 268 times. Good grief! 

I did a control F and reviewed each instance and whittled all the 'justs' down to 152 occurrences.

I found this article on other words to be wary of: and discovered that I abuse the word 'that', too!

With over 600 cases of ‘that’ in my manuscript, I started down the long slog of reviewing each instance. After the first 100 or so, I questioned whether my usage was so awful. Some 'thats' flowed naturally and sounded good to me when I read it out loud. So, I did a little search and found an article by Grammar Girl that made sense:

So, I’ve decided to stop stressing. Each 'that' is worth reviewing, some need to be changed into stronger sentences, some are part of my voice and style and some work grammatically. To eliminate and avoid words doesn't make sense, but to evaluate them? Definitely! This was a good lesson for me, because now those two words stand out every time I use them. 

Along this same grain, is punctuation. Apparently, I abuse the ellipses and the m-dash, too.


Sunday, November 30, 2014

NaNoWriMo Winner!

Wrote 50,109 Words

What a slog! I kissed the timeline bar five times the entire month, meaning I was on track just that many times. The other twenty-five days I was thousands of words behind. Even though I had an outline figured out, I couldn't seem to follow it. My characters had other ideas, and I quickly lost sight of where I was going. There were many times where I thought, I'm not going to be able to catch up. I'm not going to be able to do this thing, to win.

But I'm too competitive. I could not NOT put the words on paper and fail. I had to put something down and that is the beauty of NaNoWriMo. I developed character's insights, I started my story from various points, I put them in weird situations to see how they'd act. I changed their motives and rewrote scenes, slapping it all down into a 50,109 word mess.

But there it is, a big mess that's been created and explored, and now, I can pick at it with my mental ax and see the best route to take. This pile of words will give me something to work with over the next eleven months while I revise, revise, revise.

It's a big pile, but damn! It feels good to win :)

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Art in Tacoma's WA State History Museum


My illustration, Blue Heron Fishing, was selected to hang in the SCBWI's Illustrator Exhibit at the Washington State History Museum in Tacoma. I was prepared to send my digital version, but at the last minute changed my mind and contacted my brother, the owner of the original collage. I made this traditional collage for his 40th birthday present several years ago, and he was gracious enough to let me borrow it back.

Washington State History Museum of Tacoma

Museum Patrons

Blue Heron Fishing

Tacoma's down town is a beautiful place and the museum was educational and fun. I enjoyed seeing the other artist's work. The SCBWI illustrators are a talented lot!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

At the WWSR

Ford Worden

Birthday Cards

Christmas Cards

I have a plethora of supplies spilling out of my closet that barely gets touched but once a year, usually around the time of the Western Washington Scrapbook Retreats (WWSR). I have reams of patterned paper, glue in various shapes and forms (dots, liquid, paste, stick, and tape), cards, envelopes, paints, embellishments, ribbons, tools, and lots of upcycle items like cardboard, fabric swatches, recipes, packaging, book pages, name it! A plethora!

In the excitement of packing for the retreat, I'd usually make a special trip to one of the major crafting stores to peruse the latest and greatest and to drop a couple Jackson's on more stuff.

This year, I changed my game plan. Instead of shopping retail, I opted to shop in my own supplies, and make do. Operation: Deplete Stash. I'm happy to report that I enjoyed the process. I didn't come away with twenty to thirty cards that were all the same, instead I came away with a variety.

Friday, November 07, 2014

Art Docent

I'm the art docent for a first grade class and my first project was to teach the students about primary and secondary colors. Each student had a paper plate with dabs of blue, yellow, and red poster paint, a paint brush, paper towel, a cup of water, and a line picture of a turkey, since it was nearing Thanksgiving break.

I had labeled the turkey feathers with the color's name, so the students could follow along and make the turkey into a color wheel. We first painted the corresponding feathers with the primary colors, then mixed those to fill in the secondary colors.

Turkey Color Wheel

At the end, I told the kids to stir up all the colors on their plate to make the color fun, right? It was fun, but the exercise didn't have the desired effect. Most of the kids were coming up with some variation of purple instead of brown for the turkey's body. If I do this assignment again, I'd have the kids bring in even dabs of the primary colors to the center of their palettes. They could mix them in the center and keep adding the color(s) they needed evenly for a nice, solid brown. Once that was accomplished, then they kids could mix their entire palette to make some muddy color of their choice.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

NaNoWriMo in Progress...

A Plotter and a Basher sits here.

This weekend I'll have a new office and new views to inspire my latest NaNoWriMo work in progress. I can tippy-tap on the keyboard while surrounded by the creative energy of others. It's the Western Washington Scrapbook Retreats weekend in Fort Worden! Bring on the rain! Bring on that creative zen!

I'll be plugging out my daily goals of 1,667 words per day, while making a stash of birthday cards, Christmas cards, and organizing one of the card swaps. Pure fun.

So what is the craziest thing I'm researching for my latest Young Adult Romance? Motorcycle Clubs. I've read Ralph "Sonny" Barger's memoir, Hell's Angels, watched a documentary on the History Channel, checked out the first three episodes of Sons Of Anarchy (does it get better?), and I am currently reading No Angel by ATF agent Jay Dobyns. I found a forum online called Ask a 'Real Life' Biker (Questions About Club Life) that was interesting and helpful.

I needed information on lingo, what size motorcycle would a young girl be able to handle, what distance can a rider do in a day, club life, and legit business options for the club to make money.

While I'm pondering plot points and character arcs and beefy-necked biker dudes, I'll be cutting out cupcake shapes and making sweet cards with my gal pals. I love the dichotomy. Wish me luck on my word's always a tough grind.
"Tellers of stories with ink on paper have been either Swoopers or Bashers. Swoopers write a story quickly, higgledy-piggledy, crinkum-crankum, any which way. Then they go over it again painstakingly, fixing everything that is just plain awful or doesn’t work. Bashers go one sentence at a time, getting it exactly right before they go on to the next one. When they’re done they’re done.” ~Kurt Vonnegut