Saturday, February 21, 2009

Desert Landscapes with WARM colors....

It's no secret that I'm not a fan of this climate, but it's amazing what I'll do for art and incorporate analogous warm colors and the desert beauty (which I have to admit I DO appreciate.....but in the winter) into a great watercolor project.

Here are some grades 2nd grade -4th grade examples of our Watercolor project of a Desert Landscape with Warm Colors. The emphasis was making it to "feel" more like a desert (warm, dry) than using actual colors of a desert, which does include some green. Not as much as would be desired, but yes, there is green there. If I posted all the amazing results of this project, there would be endless pictures. Sadly, I have to settle for posting only these few examples. The example above and below are second graders' work! On these, I've sent permission slips to enter these in a local competition and hang onto the originals for the State Fair this October. I'll provide the kids with photographs of the work until they get their originals back from my clamped claws. lol

3rd and 4th Graders

Friday, February 20, 2009

Caution, Zombies Ahead!

I think I saw this last Friday morning on the news or the Friday before. It cracked me up. Apparently in Texas and Illinois, some knuckleheads hacked into the computer of those traffic signs and changed the messages. There was one that said, "the end is near!"

Anyone that doesn't find this funny has NO sense of humor. Especially since they could have put in racial slurs, disgusting language and all kinds of offensive messages. I fear what would happen if I had the password and hacking ability. In Queen Creek, I would put: "Caution: Big Box nightmares ahead..." or "Welcome to Queen Creek. We'll screw over everything you used to love about this town....and make excuses for it." Or I would say, "Queen Creek....aka Gilbert Part II....Thank your town officials!"

So it's good that I don't have the time to mess with public traffic property.

Plus, if I got caught, I'd get arrested and lose my Fingerprint Clearance which means I would automatically lose my job. So I can't have such fun with certain statements. But if I get laid off due to how our lovely legislators spit in the face of education, then I can have fun hacking.

Wow, a funny Zombie picture turned into me being mad at my town and local and state politicians again. Go figure.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Valentines Day with the Kiddos plus Outakes!

I admit that I've been in a little bit of a funk since being bummed out about how President Carter's book signing went. It's a 3-day weekend and I have been a lazy oaf. I have a list of things I need to do before going back to work Tuesday and I have been nil at doing any of them. At least the house has gotten some attention. Sort of.

But allow me to add one more diddy from the book signing Fri night (then I'll move on. I promise). I forgot to mention, from the crowd of people taking pictures, the volume of the room was quiet like a library. Chris was the one in the crowd that went, "Thank you, President Carter!" and the President immediately looked up (nothing wrong with the man's hearing at age 82!) and said something very nice like "thank you" or "thank you for coming," or something like that. Can't remember what it was. So there was that. haha On our way out, Chris mentioned, "people were just being so quiet! So I had to say something!" I'm glad he did. :-)

I thank my husband for having such a centrist stance with politics that he can find the good in both sides and see the positives - that is the reason so many people miss out on what a good man President Carter is. They let their own politics get in the way.

Anyway, I was on that soapbox in my last post, so moving on....

We took the kids out for hamburgers last night for Valentines Day, since Chris and I celebrated the night before (the photo above of Christian is early in the day when he found the goofy Heart antennas I wore to work Thursday and Friday...). And we totally forgot about a family member's renewal of vows ceremony yesterday until TODAY. And we feel like real jerks for forgetting.

However, before we realized we totally flaked out on that, here are a couple shots from our evening with the kids. But now I'm trying to think of a gift I can send that says, "we love you. We totally suck and we're SO SORRY!"

It started out a little on the rough end, since Mikelle was in a mood.But then it got better.
Christian and his Daddy enjoying a Chocolate Shake!

Afterwards, we went to Borders Bookstore in the mall and let the kids pick out a book that had something to do with love. Christian picked out a VeggieTales Bob and Larry Book titled "God Loves You" and Mikelle picked out a book about that Critter character going to school on Valentines Day. And yes, I ended up in the bargain clearance section and ended up with a world atlas. Not really in the love theme, but the atlas was something like $7. It's not one of those high quality totally detailed atlases that cost upwards of $50 or more, but it's a good resource to have for the price. And what can I say? Sure, art is my first love, but geography isn't too far behind. So I guess you can find the love "tie in" somewhere in there! And it bugs me when people can't find anything on a map. Even if it the intersection from their house to the nearest 7-11. But that's me being a geography snob. Not very loving, I realize.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Jimmy Carter's Book Signing

I was so excited to go to former President Carter's new book (We Can Have Peace in the Holy Land) signing last night at Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe. The last time he was here (Dec 06), Mikelle had a Christmas program at school, so I had to do the right thing and go to the Christmas program. Well, this time, there was nothing pressing and I even asked Chris to work a 1/2 day so we could go. It would be our Valentines Day celebratory night.

I must say, I was disappointed. Sure, there were a lot of people there, but they wouldn't even let you "meet" the President. He signed the book you bought, but it was just sent through his hands like he was Ethel and Lucy in that episode with the chocolates assembly line. And he was blocked off from the people with velvet ropes. You could take a picture of him, but if they saw you lingering, they asked you to move along (the cops or the secret service or a CH employee). All I wanted to do was shake the man's hand (and sure, get a picture with him, lol, but if all I could do is shake his hand, I would have been content). Chris was already asked to move along, but somehow I managed to linger in the area where people were photographing him without any problem. Chris managed to sneak back and took some pictures. He even tried to get me and the President in the same pictures.
Yes, that's me in the red blouse with the clip. The back of my head looks great if I do say so myself.

And here is the side of my face with the President in the background.

And here's me with a blurry President Carter in the background.

I am glad I had the opportunity to go, but am trying to shake off bummed feeling I have with the "cattle call" and impersonal way the thing was ran. Maybe I kind find out when he's teaching Sunday School in Plains, Georgia and try to attend sometime this summer. But I would be royally pissed if I went to Georgia and he wasn't there teaching. In my opinion, there's really no other reason to go to Georgia! In his 2005 book, Our Endangered Values, he said:
Of the several hundred visitors who attend my Sunday lessons each week, only about 15 percent happen to be Baptists. When I take a few minutes to let my class identify themselves, there are usually about a half dozen "mainline" Protestant denominations represented, often accompanied by Roman Catholics, Amish, Mennonites, Mormons, Quakers, and Seventh-day Adventists.

Our church (also) welcomes Jews, Muslims, and other non-Christian worshipers, and we encourage everyone to to take part in the discussions. They are quite interesting and helpful to me, and over the years I have acquired an insight into the beliefs and interests of many other religious people.
I would love to be one of the Mormons that can attend one of his classes.

I get so annoyed when people criticize his presidency to the point that it maligns his character and who he is as a human being. And I can see their points when they mention political issues, but he acted with
Christian Courage in his Presidency than playing political games. Anyone that didn't like him due to partisan reasons, he actually made most of his decisions based on the issue than with party lines. Sure, with the hostages, having Christian Courage made him look like a wuss, but he was concerned about the lives of the hostages. He wanted them to come back alive and not compromise that in an aggressive attempt to end the crisis. And there was an attempt to rescue them, that not many people mention or seem to be aware of. Weather problems (sand storms, etc) played the biggest factor in why that rescue mission failed. Not the Carter Administration.

President Carter is also not afraid to tell it like it is as a Christian. I admire him for that.

As for his Humanitarian efforts, he has done more as an ex-President than any President we've had - no matter if that President was popular or not. And I know he doesn't do it for his own recognition. He does it to recognize the important cause because he feels it's the right thing to do. And he has the resources, being that he was President, to make these things happen.

And I don't care if you're Republican or Democrat - we're all human and when it comes to human suffering, it's great to have allies. I'm so frustrated that people judge others based on politics and their political opinions dictate on whether they feel that individual is a good person all around or if they should burn in effigy. It's unfortunate that politics do that to people.

About a year ago, there was an article on President Carter's speech to fellow Baptists. I'll paste about 1/2 of the article, but if you want to read the whole thing, go here:

ATLANTA -- Since his days in the White House, former President Jimmy Carter has served as an elder statesman on global issues and garnered the Nobel Peace Prize for his humanitarian work along the way.

Now he's using his religious credentials -- particularly his 65-year history of teaching Sunday school -- to bring peace to another warring party: Baptists.

He has spearheaded the Celebration of a New Baptist Covenant, an unprecedented three-day gathering of more than 10,000 Baptists that began Wednesday.

"It's hard to find an example of a Baptist layperson who has done more to put feet to his faith than President Carter," said Mercer University President Bill Underwood, who started planning the Atlanta gathering with Carter two years ago.

"I don't think there's anyone in the world who could have brought this diverse array of Baptists together ... other than President Carter because he is so respected for the work that he has done."

The former president continues to teach Sunday school about 35 or 40 times a year at his Maranatha Baptist Church, a small congregation near his home in Plains, Ga., which supports the mission programs of both the Southern Baptist Convention and the more moderate Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.

"Whenever a Sunday comes and I'm in Plains, then I teach," Carter said in an interview.

On Wednesday, in an emotional moment, Carter said the celebration was "the most momentous event" in his religious life and urged a renewed focus on the key aspects of Baptist faith, including salvation and unity.

"Unfortunately, the arguments and even the animosities that exist among Christians are like a cancer that is metastasizing within the body of Christ," he said.

That last line is one of the top reasons I admire President Carter. His Christian courage and seeing the true meaning of Christianity instead of the BS that exists among Christians as they tear each other down, which last I checked, is the opposite of what Christ taught!

Anyway, off my soapbox for now. For anyone that wants to simply be educated about what kind of man he is (not politician, but person. His character.) I recommend his book
Our Endangered Values (2005).

Happy Valentines Day! Since Chris and I celebrated last night (despite that I was kind of bummed by the time we got to dinner), we're taking the kids out tonight to do something "Valentiney". Don't know what it is yet, but that's the plan for now!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

A Little Perspective and Discoveries Made!

A few entries ago, I showed some 4th graders painting with watercolors on the beignning of their "Watercolor Discovery" project. I did this project for my 2nd-4th graders with a simplied version of the project for the Kindergartners and 1st Graders.

This is Mikelle's painting that I had her do ahead a time as since she's in 3rd grade (not at the same school), the kids could see an example from their own skill level. I love doing this type of art, but it would just make the students feel overwhelmed if they saw my example as opposed to a peer's example who happens to be around their same age. This also gives Mikelle the opportunity to have more art exposure as her school doesn't have a separate Art special, but they do art projects with their regular classroom teacher. I'm okay with that arrangement with her school, because the district we live in has their elementary schools as K-5 and are exelling schools. When she gets to middle school, she'll be able to take art. Whereas the district I work for has schools lumped into K-8 and as an art teacher for K-8, I feel spread very thin. Not to mention, the little kids are around the older ones and it is often not a good thing.

But as usual, I digress. Back to "Watercolor Discovery" The instructions were to just put colors together and not try to make a picture of anything recognizable. Most of the time when we sit down to start an art project, we have an "end result" in mind. But with this Watercolor Discovery lesson, the idea was to see what you end up with. After the watercolor paint dried and they returned to my class a week later, they would begin to incorporate simple line and shape to their watercolor "blobs". The results were phenomenal! Below the larger Grade 2-4 examples, are some Kindergarten and 1st Grade examples. They received the same lesson, just simplified.

4th Grader's finished work:
Adding the lines to his dried watercolor....
And the end results!

Some more beautiful Grade 2, 3 and 4th grade examples:

I told this 4th grader that she was going to have a difficult time getting this one back from me. Isn't it beautiful? Her little sister is in kindergarten and made one too (just smaller and lines with black crayon instead of black Sharpie).

Kindergarten and 1st Grade's "discoveries"

Shifting gears, grades 5-8 were challenged a bit more in the recent weeks as we brought on a little more precision and -dare I say it - "math" (*gasp*) into the equation. However, despite some of the expected frustrations, I think the end result was a success! They were to use one point perspective to design their own "hallway". I even had 7th and 8th grade challenge themselves more if they wanted, and if they felt they could take it on, they could take the assignment another step up and do their own "Initial City".

Thursday, February 5, 2009

More from the Student Art Gallery

Well, even though things are quite melancholy on the budget and economical front, and who knows if I'll have a job next year (and even if I do, will the money for SUPPLIES even be available?) and it's so gloom and doom, the talents and hopes for the future of our next generation remain.

Here is an example of some "mosaic" projects from a couple of weeks ago with the 2nd-4th graders. You may have already seen these in previous posts, or you may not. Right now the first Watercolor Discovery is in completion, and those are some awesome masterpieces that I cannot wait to share!And even though these next ones are older examples from last year, they are too impressive not to share. Last year, I incorporated a collage/cubism project from 2nd-8th grades (with modifications with lower grades) that educated them about Pablo Picasso, a little about his life, and how he came to paint in the style that he did. I showed the students this painting of him called "The Three Musicians"that he completed in 1921. We talked a lot about the source of the work, his imsporation and then of course the style.

Then the students were given a project. Grades 6th, 7th and 8th completed their own collage of "Three Musicians" and Grades 2nd-5th created a collage with one musicians. I was quite impressed by the results. Sure, that particular school year was a crazy one, but this project is a bright spot from it!

2nd Grader's Musician Collage
3rd Grader's Musician Collage

Two 4th Grade Musician Collages

Three 5th Grade Musicians

And the 6th, 7th and 8th Grade
s "Three Musicians"

Monday, February 2, 2009

Two Extremes: Budget slashes and cute comments from an almost 5 year old.

It's kind of a melancholy day, as on Saturday (Jan 31st) our lovely legislatures approved the 130 million SLASH of the K-12 education throughout the state. Who knows what that's going to mean to the district I work for, and who knows what that's going to mean to the district my kids' attend school in. I'm now on the district budget committee so I'm not just "wondering" and I can see the Armageddon slashing as it happens. I don't have time for such a committee, but this is the kind of thing that requires as much input as possible and the arts are vulnerable of course. I feel I have to be on that committee, even though the thought of seeing the bleak future as it goes down is not my idea of a nice afternoon.

Some of these cartoons seemed far-fetched (okay, the hell freezing over is way far-fetched) but the rest are pretty close to reality.To move off this yucky subject, allow me to share a "out of the mouths of babes" anecdotes from the last few days. Christian is the star of this show.

Christian deleted his name that was programmed in his Leapster (hand-held educational game device that Santa got for him)

Chris: You erased your name, Christian.
Christian: I put my other name in. This time it says "Deristian" (pronounced Deh-ris-chin.)
Chris: Dristian, huh? How do you spell that?
Christian: O-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o

And today. Christian was freaking out about a dead fly in our bathtub.

Christian: Get it out, dad! Get it out!
Chris: It's dead, Christian. What can it do to you?
Christian: DEAD things.

And with that, I'm ending this entry and heading to bed. We're all a little under the weather. Chris can't miss any work this week, but feels like crappola and my throat is not behaving the way it should. Christian is all stuffy and you can tell he's extra tired. Mikelle seemed to have something last week, but is possibly on the tail end of it.

Happy Groundhog Day! Punksatawny Phil saw his shadow, but that means nothing here in the dry uckky desert. Bleh.