Thursday, February 12, 2015

Art Docent: Texture

I thought it would be fun for the first-grade kids to create images, painting with glue and paper to create texture in their art. I brought bins of paper in various solid colors, visual texture, and tactile textures like basket weave, glitter-paper, corrugated cardboard, die cuts, and paper doilies.

I started the lecture by asking them if they remembered the first thing they touched in the morning and what it felt like...soft pajamas, warm sheets, rough carpet, fuzzy slippers and so on.

Then, I had them imagine the other things they'd touch getting ready for school from their clothes to their breakfast. I told them to imagine the lights suddenly went out and it was pitch black! They still had to brush their teeth, but how could they find their toothbrush and toothpaste? I brought a black bag that contained a toothbrush, toothpaste tube, comb, scrubby, exfoliator, file and a calculator. Without taking the items out, they felt around in the bag, trying to guess what was in there. I asked if they could tell what item didn't belong?

It was a lot of fun! This was the first lecture where I felt the kids were really engaged. Success!

The lesson, however, was a bit of a rough one. I showed the kids how to paint the paper onto their cardboard hearts...I chose this shape because I thought the kids might be interested in making unique valentines. I pre-painted the hearts blue, so the background could be the sky, water, the color of a room, but it would be done, and they could focus on glueing the surface with their imagery instead of spending the limited class time covering the background.

The blue background threw them for a loop. Was it the back? Should they glue on the blue paint? Then they didn't know if they should tear the paper? Cut it? What should they glue down? Should they really glue over the top of the paper? I explained all these things, but there was still a block in getting started. They felt unsure of what they were supposed to do.

I quickly realized that even though I had examples for them up on the board: pizza heart, animal faces, city, random, robot, shapes, words, they really needed one theme to get them started. I think they felt overwhelmed.

Most of the kids enjoyed it, but unfortunately, I didn't get to walk around and snap pictures like I wanted. Clean up was a massive effort! I scraped glue from twenty cups back into the jug and then stood in front of the sink washing glue cups and paint brushes. Oy!

I did manage to get a snap shot of two texture hearts:

Top: Shark Reporter by Ruby
Bottom: Our City by Bianca

Supplies: paint brushes, Mod Podge glue, glue cups, paper towels, paper and cardboard, painted cardboard hearts, and yarn for hanging.

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.