The Divine in the Mundane

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Asiatic Lily

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Sedum

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Hosta

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Lichen

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Magnolia

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It’s amazing I ever get where I’m going because I’m always getting lost along the way!

These images are from my front yard.  The most typical of suburban plants you can find.  Yet I get mesmerized from my mail box to my front door every morning.

It most likely stems from being cooped up for way to many months.  All of a sudden one blade of green grass is enough hope to allow you to dream of being warm again. But the morning dew is what distracts me enough to pull out my camera.

My camera is like a microscope and telescope all built into one.  It allows me to filter out that which is over-stimulating and at the same time see the world at a distance.

I can only imagine what my neighbors must think about the woman sitting in her front yard flower bed talking to herself (but then again they must be used to it).

But I was talking to myself. These words came right out loud and I was not thinking them:

Even the most common, through a lens, looks majestic.

Now this is where I started talking back to myself.  I thought where ever that beautiful observation came from, which I swear was not me, I agree with you!

I said out loud. “You are so right!”.

When you here a voice inside you that you know not to be your own, yes, you could call yourself bat-shit crazy. But, I’m of the opinion that we all have a higher Form within us.  You can call intuition, you can call it God, your Higher Self –whichever; it’s there.

It’s that we don’t hear it until we are quiet.

I urge you, while your walking your dog, walking yourself or walking to the mailbox, try it.

Grab your camera and hone in on your little part of this world.IMG_4370

Even the every day can appear majestic! 

A Walk in the Park

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Have you ever seen anything so beautiful?

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Are these designer trees? Nah, Mother Nature couldn’t have made something that cool.

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“I live here!”

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It’s funny. I live in rural Rhode Island.  It’s filled with nature. And yet, my kids want to go to Central Park in New York City to see “spring”.  “REALLY???”

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Well, actually they wanted to slide down the granite slide in the park.  It’s my sons favorite thing in New York City.  We drove all the way to NY to slide down a slide.  Yep.  He’s a cheap date.

It’s a glorious place that Central Park and it’s free.  I think most of the best places in the world are :)

For Kicks

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Thank you Lord for the shoes I’ve just received!

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Nothing like new shoes. Nothing like the rainbow!

I spent my morning teaching another generation how to make Gods-eyes.

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25 kids and you could have heard a pin drop.

So many parents and teachers forget this one… I think the kids enjoy the rhythm as soon as they find it. Their concentration is unbelievable.

The group ranged from 5 yrs-14 yrs.  That is a large disparity and yet it interested all of them.

You should have seen me out in the woods hunting for all those sticks!

yeah. way better than popsicle sticks.

Way better!

Flight Patterns

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   Have I mentioned I love birds?

I spend countless hours watching them feed and fly. I can’t help but feel they are more elevated than us humans.  Let’s face it, they figured out how to go from land dwelling to flying!

This painting comes from my countless hours thinking about what it must be like to fly, to soar, to catch the wind and feel the sun.  What is it like to hone in on a specific location and then depart & elevate yourself until that location is merely a spec.  Would it allow you to always keep a balanced perspective? From way up high, all the things us humans occupy our time with would seem so trivial and insignificant compared to its whole.

I often wonder what birds observations of humans are?  What must they think about these creatures so preoccupied with that which no one can see?  What is it like to fly overhead and see trees and water and grass, but also to see buildings, landfills, crops that they would never eat because there’s poison on them, smoke stacks, highways with moving cars, cruise ships, all the things that do not belong in the landscape.  What would that be like?

What is it like to know it is time to leave and then in some magical way, you take form with all who are like you, no pushing, no shoving, no cheating, no martyr-dome.  You fly. With a common destination, you take to the sky, you know your place in the group and you work as one to get there.

Hmm. Humans may find birds simple little creatures but man, I find them spiritual.

Oh by the way, The green little bird in the corner, that’s me.  I love the Ugly Duckling who never feels like it is with its own.  It’s always wondering why it doesn’t fit in, only to find out it was never supposed to.  It’s not a duck.  The more I open my eyes, the more I see these ugly ducklings.  They are my flock, even if we must fly alone among the others.

PUT A LID ON IT

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Yep, that sums up this week.

Above are two vessels I made whose lids did not fit.  So I am trying again.  The tops have hollow discs so that I might try making some polymer clay flower bouquets like I once used to do on wooden boxes. Here are some examples of the flowers I used to create:

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It will be interesting to mix polymer clay with pottery clay.  I haven’t really seen anyone doing that.

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Ahh, two more vessels whose lids did not fit!  I made two more lids and hopefully they work.  Next week I will have two make two more vessels to fit the extra lids I now have…It’s an ongoing dilemma!

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It wouldn’t be a week without making a few more mugs… I bought these rubber stoppers so that I could create my own travel mug.  The lids work!  So I am making a few more…I really need to move on to dishes and bowls though.  My husband is cutting me off from any more mug cabinet space!

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Did I mention I went into a 2nd grade class to teach about coil & pinch pots?  The kids are studying North Eastern Native American Tribes. They are so excited to get these pots back.  I rubbed them with iron oxide so that they would look “historic” and all of their details would stand out.  I can’t wait to see their faces :)

OK. Off to finish that darn bird painting!

Be Creative People!  Be Creative!

Making Waves

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I’m so lucky to have a 10-year-old child because she asks me the best questions and demands answers.  This weeks question was – How do you paint waves? And thus started my lesson plan for my 9-14yr old acrylic painting class.

Gosh, painting waves is a struggle for adults and you want me to teach this to a kid? So I set out to figure out the best and most fun way which brought me to The Great Wave Off Shore of Kanagawa.

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Popularly known as “The Great Wave”, it is a famous woodcut print by artist Katsushika Hokusai.

Now I did spend time showing the kids other forms of waves.

Frozen waves are photographed on Nantucket, Massachusetts. Photo by Jonathan Nimerfroh used by permission

Check this link to frozen waves:  http://www.grindtv.com/culture/frozen-waves-captured-nantucket-surf-photos/

And another fabulous tutorial on drawing waves by illustrator Bob Penuelas:  http://www.clubofthewaves.com/surf-art/tutorial-how-to-draw-a-wave.php

But ultimately the “Great Wave” by Hokusai won out.  It’s color, pattern and graphic style is hard to resist.

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I set out with a blank slate trying to figure out how on earth I could break this down into something teachable, when it came to me…

The waves in Hokusai’s woodcut were created in three layers.  Ahh, break it down into three layers and everyone could actually create a wave painting.

Now if you’ve been following my little class I’m teaching, you’d know we did woods in three layers:

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So with that understanding, we were simply changing the subject matter.  Who knew these concepts would tie together? So the kids set out creating three separate layers of waves:

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and as usual, the results were amazing!

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That is not an easy task and if Katsushika Hokusai were alive, I’d thank him for this image which allows many of us to deconstruct the chaos of the sea. So cool!

Which brings me to the uncompleted paintings from the week before (check out last week’s blog: Inspiring Kids to Let Loose and Have Fun with Color) :

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We worked on completing these paintings this week…

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…and had the added bonus of sharing our love for our animals!

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Which brings me to the incredibly slow pace of my own personal project…my bird painting…I got a little bit further this week, but not far enough! A little further to go… I guess you’d call it birdy-baby-steps!

And so I leave you with the hopes that you all have a very

GOOD FRIDAY! -take care!

Dia de los Muertos – Terminado!

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Oh my goodness, when I look at these skulls I can’t help but smile.  They are so silly and playful!

This is not something I had on my to-do list to create, but my friend Christine prompted me and I’m glad she did.  I love them.

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skulls

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The skull in the center with the heart on the forehead is my favorite.  I think this one I shall keep. My friend was going to load them on Etsy for me, but now she is working full-time, so I may have to sell these at the Narragansett Art Festival this summer…

Hmm…Birds next… Definitely birds!

Ode to Heather Galler. Inspiring kids to let loose and go crazy with color!

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Art class show n’ tell again!

This class begins with inspiration from a New York artist named Heather Galler.

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Her work is crazy colorful and adds everything but the kitchen sink.  I love it!

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I asked the kids to bring in a picture of their pet this week.  You should have seen their eyes when they realized they were somehow going to reinterpret their brown, grey and white pets into color-scapes.  They were freaked! …but of course we could break it down into steps and make it do-able.

Now this is where it sort of went wrong, I didn’t really consider how long the pencil sketches were going to take.  Long story short, they took up 2/3 of the class.  Another miserable thing – I brought in my good camera and took some awesome shots of the kids working on their paintings.  When I plugged my camera in this morning, I realized there wasn’t a memory card in the camera the entire class…UGHHHH! That is the worst experience!

So in a nutshell, we sketched, we loosely sectioned off the pets into areas and started color blocking.  No patterns at this point, you simply fill in the animal with colors that are visually appealing.  We did talk about when you might want to add tints and shades, we decided pastels and full on color would give us the same effect.

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This is as far as we got before time ran out.  Still color blocking…

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Next week we will accomplish the final step.  Pattern.  I compiled a sheet of all different fabric patterns.  We talked about some of the names of patterns like hounds tooth and chevrons.  It would be great if some of the names sink in…the patterns are timeless and are great design principles.

pet painting tutorialMy portrait is going to some best friends who recently lost their family member, Honey, to Lyme Disease.  Heartbreaking stuff.  Heather Galler outlines her pets in black, but something about a Golden Retriever prevented me from doing so.  They are just so soft and furry, I thought the black paint would be too harsh.  We will see what my friends think, I could always add it if they thought they’d like it.  I also didn’t add pattern to the background.  If I was painting my cat, I think I’d go wild, but for a tribute to Honey, our quite friend who always followed, I didn’t want anything in the back to compete.  Again will see if my friends want stars and stripes.  I can always add more, but taking away is a bear!

All in all, I have to tip my hat to Miss Galler because this exercise was way more difficult than I anticipated.  Bouncing colors off each other is no easy task,  I changed some sections quite a few times until I was happy with the color harmonies.

Next week is the final class of the acrylic session.  I have another lesson planned, so we will have to figure out how to finish this project and still be able to start & finish another…WILL DO IT! I’m sure!

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Alas my giant bird painting hanging unfinished over my mantle is coming along at a snail’s pace.  I get so frustrated because there just isn’t enough time in the day.  I need to go back to watercolors.  They are quick and finite.  Acrylic allows me to repaint an area I don’t like twenty times.  It’s the definition of insanity!  I spend hours on an area only to cover it up and try something else.  Not fittin’ for my personality.  I need to be forced to hand over the painting… I hope to get this done soon!

My Day-of-the-Dead skulls are finished from the pottery studio.  I hope to take some pictures at the beginning of next week.  They are awesomely fun!

‘Til next time…keep on creatin’

Translucent vs Opaque

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HAPPY SPRING!!! I say as we await 4 more inches of snow today in Rhode Island!

I wanted to share my weekly kids art class with you.  Their work is stunning!

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In 2013, when I was undergoing my daily 365 challenge, I created this painting.  I always loved it for its spontaneity and happy colors.  It came to mind recently when I started teaching as I thought this technique has quite a few teachable moments.

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Each week I try the project and create notes before I have the kids do it.  This way I can make sure I can conceive of all of the teaching points.  This project teaches the difference between translucent paints (commonly watercolors) and opaque paints (commonly oils and acrylics).  The dark opaque background makes the light flowers pop.  I encouraged the kids to use loads of water to keep the watercolors transparent.

The Second lesson in this project is the concept of NEGATIVE SPACE.  All good artists consider their subject matter, but they also think about the background, the shapes on the paper where the subject matter is NOT.  With the black paint, the kids have to go in and really think about what they want their flowers and fauna to look like.  Are the black spaces around your flowers equally as interesting as the flowers?  It’s important to think about this in a composition.  I also pointed out that the watercolor painting in itself, is sort of sloppy and all one tone.  Your eye can’t really decipher where one thing begins and another thing ends.  But with intense contrast, like the difference between paint that is see through and paint you cannot see through, you can distinctly manipulate your image.

…and of course, THEY GOT IT!!! These are my students work ranging from ages 9-14.

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The last two paintings are interesting…  The two students had a VERY HARD time adding black opaque paint to their light watercolor paintings.  It freaked them out!!!  They DID NOT WANT TO EDIT ANY SPACES FROM THEIR PAINTINGS.  At first as a traditional adult, I thought “YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG!!!” but then the teacher in me came out and thought “who am I to tell you what your art is supposed to look like!” and then I thanked the two students for opening my eyes to a different way which was equally VERY INTERESTING!

So, all in all, another great week.  It’s been an awesome experience (even if I am terrified of going in and teaching every single time!)

Please teachers out there… Please tell me this feeling goes away!!!

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and thank you to my mother-in-law for driving from far away to take part in one of my classes. That was pretty cool!

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The VALUE in a Painting

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Week 2 of my acrylic painting class for kids age 9-14.

Let me start by saying I research A LOT!!!  My premise for this painting class is:  If I don’t have fun painting the same project as an adult then I am NOT going to ask the kids to do it.  The premise comes from having a 10 year old daughter who DOES NOT LIKE TO BE BABIED.  She wants to paint adult stuff.  She wants to be like mom.  Well, that’s a tall order.  These kids are 30 years younger.  That’s a lot of experience they haven’t experienced yet, but I get it.  I was that way too.

So I found this project via Pinterest:

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I would love to give credit to the amazing teacher who came up with such a beautiful way to communicate a very valuable painting lesson.  (<——No pun intended there, but we are speaking about VALUE and tints and shades…) However, as many times as I tried to search for who to give credit to, I kept being led down dead ends.  All I could find was LAKE-MILLS.  I’m assuming it’s the school?  If anyone else knows anything about these images, send it to me and I will include it.

So like a good teacher, I tried it to make sure I could communicate the lesson the best way I know how…

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These were my notes.  I hand them out to the kids each week as reference. This way as I’m walking around helping different students, other kids can move ahead with a visual prompt.  The lesson was about communicating distance through light, medium and dark shades.  The three layers of trees are created using a lot of white paint, equal white and black, and a lot of black paint.  Objects in the background always appear lighter because of the gasses in our atmosphere.

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It just so happened that there was fog coming through the trees in the back yard this week due to the warm temperatures and left-over snow.  I showed them this photo to hit home just how accurate this phenomenon is.  Thank you LORD for the synchronicity :)

My Class

Unfortunately, I wasn’t fast enough to snap all the students finished projects, but they got it alright.  What I love about this project is that each persons interpretation of trees is entirely different.  Like nature and like humanity we are all so incredibly different.  So all though everyone was asked to create the same concept, each students work was entirely their own.

So art teachers out there, what else you got?  Do you have any other projects that are a sure-fire-hit?  Do share!

I have a few more up my sleeve, but I’m always looking for more!

Thanks for taking the time to read my blog.  It’s so cool that the internet allows us all to share creativity.

So very cool.

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I’ve started filling in my birds…Look how cool my painting looks next to my daughter’s work.  I think they will have to stay together!