Monday, November 26, 2012

Thankful List

Some thoughts about the things that make me thankful...

10.     The ability to laugh in the face of disaster.  This has certainly made life more pleasant and

9.       Eyesight remaining relatively stable.  These peepers have always been very light sensitive.
          And, bifocals notwithstanding, I can still see what I'm making pretty well.

8.       Food and shelter.  These are tough times, and I'm grateful to be able to pay my mortgage,
          despite pay cuts, and other nonsense.

7.       The kiln.  Life was all about mooching, before I became an owner.  It's almost as crucial as the
          washer and dryer…  Almost.

6.       Work-a-holic-ness.  I am thankful that I was raised with a strong work ethic.  There is never
          enough time in the day.  I often hear kids say that they're "bored".  That is a phrase that was
          never acceptable or used in our home.

5.       My students.  Each day is a new learning experience for me.  Kids sap my strength, but
          they offer joy and laughter in return.  It seems like a more than fair exchange.  It kills me when
          they draw little pictures, or write letters, or tell jokes.  They just never stop giving.

4.       My friends.  I'm a curmudgeon.  I don't have a lot of friends.  But, I treasure those that I have.
          They fill my life with laughter, and happiness.  They are supportive and kind, and not just when
          it's convenient.

3.       My pets.  Both of my cats are complete characters.  One is an angry, miserable tramp.  But, I  
          love them to bits.  And, Betty is the most loyal dog ever.  She wags her tail at 5 a.m. each
          morning.  You can't beat that for positive attitude.

2.       My parents.  My mom and dad raised us in a home where we all cared about each other.  They
          always provided for us spiritually and materially.  I remember calling them with the supply list for
          my first college design classes.  It was a ridiculous amount of money.  They didn't even flinch.
          Or, I remember telling them that I wanted to go back to college to get my teaching credential.
          Again, no flinching.  Both of them always want what is best for their children, and provide the
          help and support for our happiness.  

1.       My family.  My sister has volunteered in my classroom each Friday for 12 years.  It is a 2 hour
          drive.  One way.  My brother has a house full of my art work, and always gives the best presents.
          He is so generous, and thoughtful.  My other sister makes me laugh.  I love spending time with  
          her.  I wish that she lived closer.  And, all of their spouses are wonderful and kind, too.  But that
          is no great surprise.  Oh, and they all have pretty fabulous children.  Sitting at the "kid table" at
          Thanksgiving is a delight.


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Why We Read

The Big Blue Faux Swedish Bookcase

Today, after school, I was talking to a student about the importance of reading. I'm sure that she was just staring at me, and thinking, "Whatever, lady." But, I really meant it. Reading is like breathing.

How can we live our lives without having read Dickens? Any Dickens. My personal favorite is ever changing. Sometimes I think that I love Our Mutual Friend the best. But, then I remember Miss Pross and Sydney Carton in Tale of Two Cities, and my opinion changes. How can we not feel the frustration of faithful Gabriel Oak in Thomas Hardy's Far From the Madding Crowd, when we too, know how it is to pine away, filled with unrequited love.

There is so much emotion in reading. It never fails that I cry during read alouds in front of my class, or that I have to stop to laugh. This year, during The Watsons Go to Birmingham 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis, I got to the part where Kenny hears the church exploding, and finds the shoe that he thinks belongs to his little sister. I just lost it. It's one scene that just perfectly sums up the suffering during the Civil Rights movement. My students stared, and some nervously giggled. It's amazing that a book can have the power to completely silence a room full of children, and can force a tired, jaded teacher to sob.

I remember taking a required writing course during a Spring Semester in college. One afternoon, the professor read to us from "Araby", a story in James Joyce's Dubliners. Towards the end, he broke down, and pulled out a handkerchief. He told us that the language in this passage was so lovely that it always made him weep. Crossing a bridge over the River Liffey, after arriving at the Dublin train station on a backpacking trip, made me think back to this professor. Imagine Joyce forging such a distant connection over time and space.  

I want my students to know that I mean what I say about reading. It is important. It's a lifesaver. It's a way to explore and learn. It is an escape. It brings joy and sorrow. I number Scout Finch, Jo March, Adam Bede, and Elizabeth Bennet among my best friends.

Cupboard of Treats

Some Old Faves

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Back to the Brush

Recent Cardboard Collage

I've missed painting.  Somewhere along the way, I've taken a huge detour from being a painter. It has been a lengthy hiatus. Recently, while sitting in my new dentist's office, I spotted some kind of cool abstract paintings. They were layered collages of shapes and colors. Since I had a root canal and two crowns, I had the opportunity to study them at great length. My sister donated a package of perfectly cut rectangles of cardboard for my classroom. Guess what? They are my new experimental canvases. With a couple of coats of house paint, they are primed and ready to go. Here's some work from the olden days. Future posts of newer work are in the pipeline!

Corazon on Canvas

Comic Collage



Saturday, November 3, 2012

Just What the Doctor Ordered

"We're not making a lot of money, so we might as well have fun."

Thanks to Liz Crain, we were able to attend Lana Wilson's seminar at the Richmond Art Center today. What a fantastic experience. The ride there, with Liz, was wonderful. The seminar was a pleasure. And, finally, there were some amazing gallery exhibits at the RAC. This day was exactly the motivation required to nudge me back to work in the studio. My favorite Lana quote of the day: "I'm not very happy if I'm being careful." Me too! I'm shaking off my end-of-October inertia.

Sink mat and stamp texture for a teapot...

Pressing a Buddha tile...

Layered tiles...

An assortment of feet...
Underglaze layering before combing...
Carving away into the clay...
Adding bits of colored shavings back onto the tile...

The results of the inlays and the carving...

Making a teapot top...

The teapot...
My new Lana Wilson bowl...

"When you're in a field for a long time, it makes sense that you would change your mind."