Sunday, April 19, 2015

Where I am instead...

Hello, kind and sweet and wonderful and lovely readers of this ridiculously neglected blogsite. Perhaps I should offer an apology (and further beg of your forgiveness) for not being here but I don't believe that to be acceptable since... I'm actually not sorry for being so very not here. And I say all of this not from lack of appreciation but much more of absolutely pure honesty. 

Since last year about this time (maybe even a little earlier), I've had a great deal of challenge in my personal life. Much of this has to do with information I'm not at liberty to discuss openly (because it's information that technically belongs to other people) but some of it belongs to me as well as I have had my own share of some amazingly challenging health issues. This has included (but is not limited to) me having to see quite a number of medical professionals and even have to go through a biopsy in order to determine that I do not have cancer. (I repeat: I do NOT have cancer. PRAISE. THE. LORD.) I have been found to have other things though but... they aren't things that are new and are simply things that I've somehow always had but that still require some very focused, immediate, and steadfast medical attention. *sigh* It's not been fun or easy but I'm happy to report that I'm feeling so much better than I have in a very long while despite the toll it's clearly taken on me (and, in turn, this blog). 

All of this said, I've not stopped teaching art and/or creating it myself. I've simply being doing it in a capacity that is not so openly shared here or other social media conduits I have previously kept up. While not sharing is not so much "fun," it's been enormously instrumental for me and the continued movement that I make toward greater wellness and more solid ground. Not having the requirement or feeling or urgency to share has helped me find much more very real joy in my life and helped me to invest in being less of a producer of moments and a better of enjoyer of them. I'm more truly invested in life and it's paid off in dividends beyond what I could ever count. Basically? I'm less wired into a virtual world and more connected to the real one that always immediately surrounds me which has created richer relationships and greater value across the board and what I do have in my life? None of it is superficial or in excess in a way that I either want to or need to purge to make things more "manageable" let alone more enjoyable. 

The way it's all happened was certainly never planned (by me at least) but I'm happy that it has happened just the same. One any given day I can (and I do) look at my life and feel a beautiful and and wonderful peace which is always followed but a strong but quiet thankfulness. This is because I GET TO HAVE this life that I have. I've not been relegated to it and it's far and away from something that "is what it is." This is something that is beyond what could have been brought by mere luck or coincidental happenstance. Something this good can't and doesn't just happen - per my opinion or experience. And all of this brings me to the latest "development" of the place that I've been so blessed to find myself reveling in...

This was done with prismacolor colored pencil (a 72-count set) and blended with gamsol and then defined and dimensioned with Micron pens. I did not prep the pages (though you can do that) but I did do a light sketch to layout what you see. Also, no - the image or mediums did not "shadow" or bleed through the pages so they are perfectly readable still!

This is my Bible. And other than my family (which includes my husband, child, and our small menagerie of creatures), my Bible is the most treasured thing I own. I actually have a lot of Bibles but this one is very special to me because I bring it with me as much as I can in order to look at it whenever I might want to. Is it odd that it happens to have a huge illustration across the pages? Well... that's called Bible Journaling and it's something I have discovered over the past year where you study it in a way that allows you to visually illuminate the understanding (or even questions) you have right there in the place where it so originated.

Bible journaling is something that I'm only just starting. Prior to this I would highlight and annotate and do very quick drawings in the margins in pen for the sole purposes of explication. Bible journaling is something that I've been watching from the "sidelines" as it's been taking the world of social media by storm. (So... though I haven't been a participator and active contributor? I've still been reading blogs and such to not be totally out of "the loop" with things). In recent weeks though, I've decided to jump into Bible journaling myself and I gotta tell you - it's AMAZING and I love it SO Much because it's reinvigorated my understanding of scripture as well as ignited my enthusiasm to partake of The Word in ways that I don't think I have ever experienced in my whole life. This is something that I feel like I have been waiting for and I'm so glad that it's happened that it's now in my life.

So... this is what I'm doing these days and I'm still not sure that I will be sharing it on here the way I have today or that I will be returning to this blogsite any time soon but I just wanted to say "Hi" at least and say that I haven't totally forgotten about this place (where I once spent so much more time). Thanks so much for the patience, understanding, and support for me to have done what I have been able to do and keep doing as I am doing.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

How to Draw Out the Very Best Artwork from Your Students

How to Draw Out the Very Best Artwork from Your Students

I transitioned ALL the classes I'm teaching to something that is much more student-centered and promotes and allows greater range for individualized thinking, envisioning, and stretching. It's taken some real figuring out on my part but I'm happy to report that since doing this in the beginning of this year - it's going SWIMMINGLY. And why? Because I was able to figure out much of what (the above linked) notes is important within the new approach of teaching that I am not happily invested and engaged in with my BRILLIANT and adventurously thinking and imaginative students.

The linked article totally sums up, qualifies, and validates my newly adopted strategizes in all of the classes I find myself in. And also - doing it this way wasn't that hard, it was only different than what I used to do! (And I consider the difference that now exists to be BETTER.)

Monday, October 27, 2014

How the Walker System saved the student art gallery (and my sanity)

Gotta love when I can review something and like it enough to say lots of good things about it. If you're an art teacher (or gallery manager) who has a love/hate relationship with displaying artwork, you gotta see this!!! 

Don't mean to just put product reviews on here or even videos but I'm having such a good time figuring out iMovie as I've never really used it before. Also, videos are just kind of easier for me to do over written blog content. *shrug* Just tryin' to keep it real. ;)

Friday, September 26, 2014

It's official! And we even have the jacket to prove it...

It's would just happen that I would go and make some proclamation on here about how I don't know the next time will be when I'm on here and then I'm just all of a sudden on here two days later all, "Hi! I have one more thing to say..."

*insert awkward smile and wave from me here*


More than three years ago, I embarked on a journey that finally ended (with an unexpectedly beautiful flourish) TODAY. I cannot be more delighted and overjoyed to report the end of such an incredible... hmmm... fight? 

To be completely fair, it's not been a fight so much as it's been me just persevering and seeing this all the way through. And that is? It's the jacket that you see me wearing as I'm doing something that I rarely (well, honestly more like never) do - a bathroom selfie. I honestly cannot even believe that I'm wearing this jacket because... well... it has taken me YEARS to be able to get this jacket approved in order for it to be made to begin with!

Here's the thing: Nearly EVERY student-interest group/team at my school is (very obviously) visibly represented when you gather our students together in a whole group. The athletics teams all have official jackets and other sorts of team apparel. The choral, performance arts, and instrumental art groups have matching (read: UNIFYING) apparel that they "sport" with great pride. There's even students of certain social studies classes that get matching shirts every year at the end of the course study as a way to celebrate the bond that they have formed together and the love that they have discovered for what/how they have studied it. But the VISUAL artists in my school? Well... we (because I include myself in this) have allowed our artwork to be seen but never ourselves and while being behind the scenes is something that we very much enjoy, we (meaning: the art students AND myself) have always wanted to have some matching (read: unifying) "gear" to sport in school colors and in solidarity with our brother and sister artists who we spend all of our time designing and creating alongside in our beloved art studio spaces. 

I am a person of dreams as much as I am a person of prayers as much as I like LOVE to MAKE. THINGS. HAPPEN!!!! There have been SO many dreams that I have shared with the student artist community and we have always said, "Hey! Why can't WE get jackets too? We can even design better ones than *insert any other jacket that everyone else has here*..." (We really aren't trying to put other people's jackets down. Seriously.)

So after enough talking (and lots more praying), I got to work on trying to make an official jacket happen for the visual art student community. I drafted up a few designs, put out "feelers" for which ones were most preferred and then approached administration to get their blessing to do it. I was given a little bit of a maybe but ultimately a no. I was bummed but hardly discouraged because the issue was a matter of our uniform policy (that we have and try very hard to keep to for very good reasons). I went back to the drawing board in both literal and figurative ways and I tweaked the things that they said could stand to be tweaked and then I approached administration again. I was told maybe for even less time and then no even faster than the first time. I wasn't bummed though and instead I became very VERY determined to not take no for the final answer. 

Time passed and administration changed and every time I approached them and asked again and almost always with the same outcome and (for me) the same determined response. The more I was told no, the more I believed this to be just a problem that required a more creative solution that needed to be thought through. It only took me YEARS to get to a point where administration stopped giving me no's after their maybe's and their maybe's started looking more like OK. I don't even think it's because I "wore them down" - though I'm sure my persistent did that a little bit - and it was more that prayer is a strong force to contend with AND I was also willing to flex and bend and compromise with what was being requested of me and the whole business of this jacket. 

Long story a little longer, today I am wearing the OFFICIAL jacket that has been so many years in the works and at times that felt like a (pipe) dream more than anything. It's really only me and 11 other student artists wearing it but the offer was put out to everyone to join with us and we're all hoping that now that people are seeing the jacket? They will be encouraged to join us and get one for themselves and I will be more than happy to place a second and much larger order with Custom Ink. Maybe the next order will be even cheaper than the $49 that it cost us since the more jackets you order at once, the more everyone saves!!!

I would love EVERYONE at my school to be able to wear this jacket if they want to because the way the visual arts works is that I get to see/meet/know nearly every student at my school. Some just take the visual art courses for the general education/graduation requirement but even those student artists really treasure their time in the art class they take and want to take more even if they don't intend on ever "doing" art again beyond their time at the school. 

I also think that EVERYONE at my school ought to feel as if they can rightfully wear this jacket because I do believe that God has seeded the gift of creation within all of us because He truly did create us in His own image (and He is the master artist if there could ever be a master of the masters!) and because I believe we are called to be imitators of Him? Well... that means every last one of us is 1) called to create, 2) enabled to create when we seek to answer the call, and 3) CAN rightfully identify ourselves as ARTISTS because when we answer the call to create and then we create in His name and for Him - we are artists no matter where we come from who we think we were before we acknowledge and embrace ourselves as artists. 

Today is a day when big prayers were answered and blessings were provided with abundance and I couldn't not mention it here on the blog no matter how flaky I've been and how many times I've promised you that I would be scarce here. I had to tell you about this day. I had to tell you about how great God is and show you how he delivers in mighty ways when you dream for Him, PRAY to Him, and then CREATE FOR HIM. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Do I have to go back to the future?

This morning (Tuesday, 9/23/14) in the studio classroom
Clearly,  I have not held up any bargain/promise/proposal I have previously made to resume blogging. I am not even going to try and apologize about it anymore because I'm actually not all that sorry.

I mean... this blogsite has been really important to me. (Don't get me wrong on that.)  It has (more than) served its purpose of connecting me with other art teachers and working artists and designers. It's also been a terrific resource for folks if/when they have really REALLY needed it - be it for lesson plan ideas OR set/scene design ideas/how-to's/graphics for the many theater productions of which I have worked. I have gotten some awesome emails and comments from readers (about all of the aforementioned) and with every single one, I'm constantly humbled and amazed that anybody else thinks what I have done here has been useful or good.

(Please don't read all of this as a cry for validation and passive-aggressive request to feed my ego. I just seriously feel like I am 1) not that great of a writer to begin with, 2) OK enough at sharing what I have shared and 3) still learning so much myself that I am hesitant to "consult" because I'm still figuring things out myself/for myself - basically, I know I don't have the "answers" so I'm not trying to give anyone anything that is "half-baked.")

Related to all of the previous, the "fasting" I did years back from social media and then eventually from my electronic devices at large, I have found that since I have tried to return from that fasting, it's been hard for me to have very much of an appetite to keep up this particular blog anymore. I find that what I really crave (and am drawn to do) is to be more present in my classroom and with the incredibly talented (and hungry) student artists that I have been blessed to come to know. Despite how contradictory this sounds (especially since I am sharing this with you via digital social media), I find that one of the first things I want to do in order to start and end my days, are things that are not digital/virtual and are as tangible as possible.

In the past I used (and hated) using a teacher planning book/notebook. While I had lesson plans, I disliked writing them and I preferred using any (even every?) number of digital mediums/apps to write and archive them. Over at least half a decade later, I'm admitting that "my way" - of doing as many things digital as possible - is not nearly as productive or useful as I once thought. Through much too much trial and error, I've discovered that actually WRITING lesson plans in tangible ways (on real paper) has made teaching and learning (for both myself and my students) that much more tangible and REAL than it ever has been in digital format. This isn't to say that I have now decided that technology is bad but just... I have a new understanding of what it is good for and it's no longer as good for me (and my teaching efforts) as it once was.

My very well used Teacher Planning notebook - NOT digital!!! Thank you, Erin Condren for this amazing teaching tool. 
I've applied the understanding of the need for tangible things and organization in other areas of my life too. While I still use iCal across all of my devices, I don't rely on it as my sole means to keep me on track and on time. I have alarms and reminders set for things but I don't require them because I am actually remembering things before they remind me to not forget them. This is all because I'm using a paper planner (also from Erin Condren) for my non-teaching life...

I have no idea how my life was ever functioning at all without this Life Planner. Seriously. How did I do it? (Answer: I didn't)
The above looks fancier and like it requires more work to maintain it (as seen above) than what it actually does and I'm so thankful for that. I've come to find that it is true that when I fail to plan, I plan to fail and this has a domino effect in every direction of my life. This isn't to say I've become this incredibly regimented and "by the [planner] book" type of person of routines that cannot be deviated from and structure that is so rigid it hurts. Quite the opposite, I'm more relaxed and at peace and fully present than I ever have been in all of my life. I don't get worked up over stupid things and I'm truly able to do things like keep little things little because I have taken the time to better know the size and weight and TIME that most things take up in my life. And if something unexpected arises? I know how much size/weight/TIME I have leftover (or not) in my life in order to be able to squeeze/fit it into the time and energy that I DO have because I can see it so clearly as it's laid out in my planning notebooks.

None of the previous was ever possible for me when I did things digitally. Perhaps there's something wrong with me that doing this digitally has worked like this but I have found I just can't do things digitally as much as I have thought I could. I feel like doing things digitally (and thus asking less physically and cognitively of myself) has ended up giving me less HEART and SOUL to actually LIVE life as I know I have been called to do rather than giving me "convenience" and saving me time, energy, or money the way I have thought it worked when digitizing is used to its greatest degree.

Anyway, all of this is to say that 1) I'm still not clear about what I'm to do with this here blogsite though I know I'm not taking it down and 2) I'm still choosing to be more present in my actual and physical life more which consequentially means I am also choosing to be less present here (on this blogsite) and until further notice.

I hope you all understand. I hope that even what I am sharing now (in addition to what I have already shared) is relevant and useful in the dreaming, Praying, and CREATING of your own decision. In the meanwhile, I am being still and remaining in a holding pattern where I'm praying for each and every one of you, this blogsite, and myself so that I can better understand where/what I should create next.

God bless you, all! Have a great rest of your week and see you whenever I see you...
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