Sunday, June 30, 2013

Beautiful Starry Nights and Heroes Remembered

9 Year Old's "Starry Night" Look at that tree! Wowsers!
My heart is heavy as I start this post. 

However, I have to put that aside for a moment as I brag on my June Session art kids. 

The last day of that session was Wednesday June 26th. 

Here are some Starry Night completions that make me wish I can jump into the pictures like Burt and Mary Poppins!

7 Year Old's "Starry Night" Cool effects in the stars and what a village!
6 Year Old's "Starry Night" Check out those peaks, stars and a rocket!
And here is my older student's progress on her Patriotic Collage! The picture of it head on (above) shows the glare from the still drying top coat to protect the surface.

And my own collage in progress - before it may have become a "hot mess"

This week is the fourth of July, so I'm taking this week off from classes and my July session starts next week!

As for the reason for the sadness. When 9/11 happened almost 12 years ago, we lost a lot of EMT workers (police/fire/medical). Tonight was a tragic incident involving the most EMT worker deaths since 9/11, and it happened literally in our back yard. 

I mentioned in a January 2009 post of our plans to build a house in Wickenburg and then hopefully have some sort of "summer shack" 30 miles up the road from there in the Yarnell/Peeples Valley area. Well, here we are 4 years later. We have our land in Wickenburg and we're hoping to break ground there soon.  As for the "summer shack", we still hope to eventually make that a reality.

Because of the record heat this week, I wanted to go up to Yarnell/Peeples Valley yesterday to first, get away from the crazy heat and two, see how it felt up there at 4500 feet. 

We started our "trek" in North Phoenix at the construction of the Phoenix LDS Temple. Since we'll be living in Wickenburg, it'll be our closest temple. It was 119 degrees as I stepped out to snap a picture or two.  Yes, you read that right. 119. It hasn't been that hot in over a decade.
Phoenix/Peoria Arizona LDS Temple Under Construction
We then drove up to and then through Wickenburg where it was something between 114-116 degrees (not much difference to Phoenix, but hey, it's something!) and then we climbed to the 4500 feet up to Yarnell. 

It was still warm up there (104), but it was 15 degrees cooler than the 119 down here. So we hung out up there for a bit before continuing onto Prescott where it would be another 10 degrees cooler and we'd have dinner. 

While in Peeples Valley, I saw smoke to the south near the steep climb from the desert floor to the top of the Plateau where Yarnell is. I worried about it. I wondered if anything was being done to contain it. It looked still manageble and small (but I'm not a firefighter or expert, so it's just my observation from my vantage point on a Saturday afternoon).

We continued north to Prescott and soon, the smoke was no longer visible behind us.  And by the way, the road from Wilhoit to Prescott is nuts. I haven't been that carsick in a long time. I thought that in the future when we live in Wickenburg, I can eventually "commute" to Prescott for my Masters Degree at Prescott College, (they offer a Masters in Art History and Criticism) but after that stretch of road, I'm not too sure!

However, in this heat, Prescott was quite welcoming. We enjoyed another 10 degree reprieve and as evening approached, it was even nicer. We had dinner at Bill's Pizza in downtown Prescott, just across the street from the Courthouse Square. Let me tell you, Bill's Pizza is AMAZING. I am definitely going back there!

There was an outdoor concert in the park at the Courthouse Square, and since it cooled down a bit once the sun started to go down and there were happy grey pillows of happiness in the sky (clouds), the grass of the park was a great place for people to gather. 

However, we knew we had to head home. In other words, back down to the sizzle.

After hitting Diary Queen in Prescott Valley, we took the Interstate route home (different than the route we took to get there). I wondered about the smoke I saw near Yarnell, but heard nothing on the radio. 

Until today. 

Not only did the dry conditions and wind and high temps help this explode into a devastating wildfire, 19 firefighters from Prescott all lost their lives when their team was trapped. 

Over 200 homes have been burned down and half of Yarnell is now gone. 

If there is any good news in this madness, this conflagration isn't believed to be human caused. It's believed a lightning strike from Friday 28th which sparked this and it "smoldered" for a day or so. 

I wish they could have gotten on this when any smoke was seen. But like I said, I am no expert. I don't know when or how these matters are determined.

I am just sick about this. I'm sick at the huge tragedy that has occurred. We've had huge wildfires in AZ in the last 10 years, and up until now, no lives have been lost. In 1990, 6 lives were lost fighting the "Dude Fire" near Payson. Colorado has had a horrible wildfire in the last month and two lives were lost when two residents didn't evacuate in time.  The most firefighters that have been lost due to wildfires was about 14 I think in Colorado in the mid-1990s.

But here we day into a new wildfire and we have a whole team of firefights just.... gone. 

My heart aches for them and their families. My heart aches for those that have lost their homes due to this fire. 

Some News links:

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Summer Starry Nights!

The Starry Night Mixed Media Project strikes again! I've done with my elementary students back at Heartland and I've done them with my Cub Scouts (Bears) back in December. However, up until now, I hadn't done it with my summer classes!

Well, now is as good of a time than any to rectify that! 

The reason it's a "Mixed Media" project is because the background (first stage) is done with oil pastels. I put out white, yellow, gold, and blue oil pastels. From there, the students make their "starry night" about 3/4 to 2/3 of a way down the blue surface.

Stage 1: Stars and "Starry Night"

This one is supposed to be counter clockwise vertical...
Then the second stage is to add multi-layers of the mid-ground which is the mountain and hills. I try to encourage the students to overlap a little of the sky they created as to create that depth of space. However, it's hard for some students to grasp the concept of covering up something they just drew.

Stage Two: Mid-ground of Mountains and hills.

The third stage is adding the village to the foreground. And tomorrow, I will encourage them to put in a large tree (also in the foreground, but even perhaps overlapping a house or two), reminiscent of the tree in Van Gogh's original 1889 "Starry Night".

Third Stage: Village and up-close Tree if applicable

My older student is also on a collage project with a patriotic theme. I previously picked up some old maps and magazines with the patriotic colors and themes in them (this time of year is great for finding those). I went to a used books and magazine store called Bookmans. Wow - that place is dangerous. I'm glad it's ind of far away enough to not beckon me more often! 
Here is her "Textured Hand" project that she completed after her "Designer Hands" project. 

Yes, I know I've said plenty about the heat here. Well, no need to say it again. It's said perfectly from this newsclip this morning. 

A friend on FB immediately tagged me and sent it to me saying this had ME written all over it. And as you can see from Cory, the weatherman, I'm not the only one who feels this way! Click HERE.

And just so he is not misunderstood as too dramatic, this is the extended forecast in which he was referring:

Friday, June 21, 2013

First? Day of Summer

This week my art classes wrapped up their HAND projects (mostly)! I challenged my older student doing a project called "Designer Hands". It begins with drawing a hand holding a writing utensil and then copying it at least two other times. 

Then the fun part begins with her choice of squares or circles (she chose circles) in the background and she can embellish them however she wished.  You can also see the other examples of the similar projects next to her as we scouted for ideas and other inspiration.

Her beautiful finished work is top, left.

I had my younger students on a project called "Textured Hands". This is fun because they stillg et to draw their hand, but they're a little young for the challenge of proportions. Therefore, they get to trace their hand and thenput it in whatever environment they choose. We enjoyed looking at these below examples for inspiration!

Textured Hand 'In Progress'

His Textured Hand "In Progress"
Our 9 year old's completed "Textured Hand"
Our 6 year old's Textured Hand Project
My Textured Hand in Progress

Today is the first day of Summer and it really shouldn't mean anything around here. Summer here tends to start much earlier (Um...April? If we're lucky. When it starts in March, I get really cranky!) than the earth's current position in its yearly resolution of the sun. It gets harder for me every year, but there are ways to deal.  

Here is one:
Yes, that's really my car. Sure, this method won't work everywhere unless you want parking tickets and to be towed, but it works in this particular locale. I really do feel it should be a LAW to provide covered parking everywhere or at least have trees planted all over parking lots to give off that shade.

I've even noticed that I have so much less energy. Usually when I hit the treadmill or head to aerobics, I can just go go go for the 30-60 minutes without having to stop (unless nature calls or I need more water). But lately...especially at aerobics...I'm just exhausted and I feel like a wuss going at about 60% capacity. I know it's the heat. It sucks out your reserves like a vacuum.

Plus, the cabin fever of kids in the house gets to you too. Therefore, another way to deal with the summer is obviously cooling off. We tried to deal with it today by heading to the splash zone at the mall.  Mikelle came too, but she didn't want to play in the water. 

And SOMEONE was thinking when they put that Splash Pad in.  Usually developers around here have no brains. They just want their money and then they go back to whatever other state (not this one) that they live in.  But THIS time, someone was thinking.

It's also shaded.

Now to try to head to the treadmill matter how exhausted I feel...

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Fathers Day 2013

As promised, here are the Fathers Day Projects my June Summer Art Students completed last week to present to their Dad's last Sunday! They reported that their Dads loved them!

The blocks with the "We Love Daddy" is by two students that are brother and sister. That way they can work on the same amount of blocks, but their Dad would get just one set. 

7 Year Old Student's Dad Blocks
6 and 9 year old Students' Dad Blocks
As for our Fathers Day, we presented Chris with an Iphone case with the below collage of pictures.  The uneven parts on the sides aren't shown on the actual gift. It's cropped in a nice even vertical rectangle on a metal plate as part of his Iphone case. 
We also gave him a funky photo holder of a shark that looks like it's eating someone (it's more funny than violent), but I didn't get the picture of it. However, I do want to order a print of this picture below of Christian and Alexander from last October for Chris to use for that photo holder:
Now for our Fathers Day pictures. When you have an almost 13 year old, it doesn't matter if you've taken these pictures every Fathers Day/Mothers Day/Easter/Christmas or what-have-you since her birth. 

She'll still act appalled when you ask her to get in the picture (and surprised that you're taking the picture and appalled that she's expected to be in it), and fight you on it even though it means you might be slightly late for church. At least it's summer and all the lucky people have left hell - I mean town - and there were still plenty of soft seats available.

The making of a Fathers Day picture:
I don't recall Christian wanting to hide. This is just what happened with this shot.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Awesome Octopuses

Yesterday was class 2 of the June Art Mega-Session. The Fathers Day project is completed, but the pictures to show off their projects will have to wait until after this Sunday. 

After we finished the Fathers Day stuff, we began Awesome Octopuses

What better way to conquer the summer then start with "cool colors". Actually, I'm getting ahead of myself!

Here are some examples from the original lesson plan. It is from Grade 3-5 students in Wisconsin. The beauty of a mixed-media project like this is it can be modified for younger and older students.  The students start with pencil and then waterproof black ink pens to draw their 8-legged creatures. Then, the background is embellished with watercolor paint of cool colors such as purples and blues.

And as detailed below (and the first picture on this entry) is 12 year old Brooke's completed Octopus. I permitted some green to be added to the cool color palette as green can go either way. A green with blues and purples gives it a cool effect, and green with yellow and orange sends it more warm on the color wheel. 

 And just like green can go either way, so can its opposite color:Red. If you use red with the blues and purples it gives off the cool appearance as opposed to using it with oranges and yellows.

The other kids are still working on their Octopuses, which is just fine. We have plenty of time to finish them. We're not on a time crunch like the Fathers Day project that we started with. 

Sharpies are great for these kind of projects because the watercolor doesn't react to the ink and causes it to bleed or anything.

As for the home front outside of the art classes, not much is going on because we were in the 112 degree range this week. It is hard to get out and do anything, let alone want to do anything. However, Mikelle is getting ready for Girls Camp in a few weeks (her first year!) and I of course try to throw in my aerobics or treadmill session at least 5 days a week for that therapy. 

Also, one of the hosts of the yearly Halloween party commissioned me to do some artwork for his parents. Therefore, I'm also working on that. As all artworks, I'll post it when it's completed and given to the customer.

X-Man with Mom's Glasses!
The other night, however, Mikelle and I captured Alexander in his genius and comical glory once again. 

And seriously...after all the knowledge about vertical videos, Mikelle committed that transgression with this one. Oh well. The cuteness still works.

Click HERE to view!