Piece #18 – How do all of you bloggers do it?

Piece # 18 – How do all of you bloggers do it?

I admit it.  I have a love /hate relationship with computers.  I’ve been rather angry at the two ancient models that we have in our home.  By the way, when did something 5-10 yrs. old become ancient? I did just say that. geesh.

 I do admit to having a love/love relationship with my snazzy, ultra-speedy iphone.  At some point in the last few months I realized I was actually keeping up with my email.  It is so simple to take care of when waiting during a practice or event to pick up my lovely children.  My new addiction to Pinterest is fed by the trusty phone app that doesn’t leave me on hold like I often am when sitting before the computer. 

I appreciate all of you dedicated bloggers.  When I first discovered art , diy, and teaching blogs I was so excited to find that I am not alone in my endless quest to move furniture. I am not the only teacher who would spend too much time figuring out how best to make sculpture cats and dogs so they can “rain down” in school.  Reading your ideas has been fun.  My creativity and problem solving skills are being challenged. I am encouraged and motivated by all the amazing art  projects so many of you generously share on your blogs and through pinterest.  I have too many ideas filling every space  in my head.  Art students BEWARE!

I find it hard to blog.  It’s not about the ideas, but the mechanics. Being an artist I want to see,  and yes touch the images that will be shown on the screen, not work  indirectly behind a dashboard.  Why is it that every time I try to upload images I am left searching and hunting for the picture files?  I have them organized by date and alphabetical order but still  have pictures disappear into the vortex of “shared files” or other bizarre locations.  There are Jpegs, tiffs, bitmaps and of course differnt artistic programs are incompatible….

When my laptop screen died (Ok, I do admit to possibly tripping,  dropping it really hard and breaking it) I did use it as an excuse to not blog. 

No, this is not a new computer, but the fixed up old one from from a family member’s work place.  It was ready to be recycled and was rescued for my use. I am thankful, it did get me through my online classes.

The idea of fighting with the desktop for an insane amount of time to write a few paragraphs about a project was daunting.  And I would miss working from my couch.

But in my mind I was blogging.  

During the summer  my sons and their cousins (and I also) gathered around the huge mosaic project and worked through a Harry Potter movie marathon. We did the same thing during the Olympics.  I wanted to write how the creation of such a large group project can foster a sense of community and sharing.

Ella made a great peacock painting. 

Eva and I got “girlie” and made ballerina art. She also brought me a party hat so that we each would have one on during one of her lessons.

I do have things to document and share.

So  how do you do it? Do you resent the time away from the art because you are documenting the art?  Does it feel like a chore?  Does it ever get to the point where a blog can be completed in less than an hour (or two)? 

At the library this week I found WordPress for Dummies.  I eyed it for quite a while before checking it out.  

And right now I sit on my very comfortable couch with the old laptop minus a working screen but hooked to the monitor from the old computer.  Whew! 

Maybe, just maybe I’ll figure all this blogging stuff out.  But the art, no, I’ll never give up the art.


Piece #17 – Feeling Blue?

1-Candy apple red door 002Piece #17 – Feeling Blue?

Paint something red…..


I completed seven professional development classes online in six months.  Now let’s face it –  when I was a college student this would not have impressed me.  But now that I am a wife, mom, and teacher, I have to say I am proud of my forays as a student.

But now what?

During these months I grew used to the long hours required on the computer and the deadlines looming ahead of me. 

It’s not like I don’t have lots to do. It’s just that this has been something challenging for me to do on my own.  It wasn’t about the boys or our home.  It was about me growing.

…and now I have been feeling blue. 

Shuffling around things in the basement I came across the Candy Apple Red “oops” paint that I found on clearance at a home improvement store. 


I started to paint.  No…not on a canvas.  A door. 

It’s the interior side door of our house. You know, the not as pretty one that everyone uses instead of the front door.  The white one. After the first coat the door appeared almost pink….yes, this made the males I live with a little nervous… and I wasn’t sure it was a good idea….

But then it started being fun.  I don’t know how many coats it now has on it.  It is not a perfect example of the proper way to paint.  I just started rolling on the paint.  A few places are uneven, and there may even be some visible paint strokes  (SHOCK). 

But regardless, there is something uplifting about this bold, surprising pop of color. 

How could anything with the name “candy apple red” not cheer you up?  When has color impacted your mood?

Piece #16 – If it can break the truck is that seriously too much paper?

Piece #16 -…if it can break the truck is that seriously too much paper?

I KNOW!!!!!  Do you see me happy dancing?

No, it did not break the truck. The paper was limited to 600 lbs. worth because much more and 


Seriously… Have you ever seen so much? 

I have and it’s in my basement!  Sometimes we just get such wonderful little blessings and other times they are whopping BIG!.

It started with a phone call and a statement like this, “Can your husband be home to help me lift the boxes of paper I have for you?”  It seemed a bit worrisome of a request.  I mean, I am not a wimpy paper lifter…

My husband’s cousin works at a paper printing company about an hour drive from where we live.  Years ago after learning what I do he mentioned that at his work stacks of paper can accumulate after printing jobs are completed. Rarely can the extra papers be used because each job has its own distinct paper requirements.  He thought there might be some nice paper to draw on and would I like some if he got the ok?


Oh the quality!  Thick velum.  Huge pieces, sizes like 26in. x 40in ( big x BIGGER). Smaller pieces of  bright orange card stock!  Thick bright white papers.  It’s the stuff you save  for very special projects.  I used the paper with my private students and took in bunches to school for my art classes.  Time and art projects came and went until I found that I was guarding the dwindling quantity very judiciously.. 

Unbeknownst to me there was a conversation at the family gathering this Easter.  My husband mentioned to his cousin, “Cousin, it looks like Wendy is getting low on that fabulous paper you gave her.”

Said cousin then contacted his boss, and then contacted the president of the company, who said, “YES, you may give your cousin’s delightful wife who teaches art some of the extra paper! “

Cousin then uses a FORK LIFT to get the boxes of paper, some even UNOPENED onto his truck. 


Now, do You know what 600 lbs of large paper looks like?  It looks like ALOT!

Here comes the critical question….

Can 600 lbs of paper fit under the bed?

Piece #12 – Student guest blogger!

Piece #12-  Taylor’s Blog

awesome nyc by Taylor

My name is Taylor, I am 12 years old, and my artwork is called awesome nyc. This is a piece of art that looks like ncy I wanted it to look like nyc because when I went to visit my aunt there last summer I had a lot of fun. Plus I want to live in nyc when I get older.       –taylor    

Taylor’s project was made with chalk pastels on black paper.


Piece #10+1 – Maybe beautifully incomplete is complete?

Piece #10+1 – Maybe beautifully incomplete is complete?


Now, as an artist I must admit that I have a flair for the dramatic. THIS WAS NOT ONE OF THOSE TIMES! (refer back to piece #10)

Turns out I had a gall bladder attack, with a lovely little stone irritating my pancreas.  Apparently pancreatitis is a big deal and that led to a week in the hospital –





 (Another blog, another time.)

I missed the last two art sessions.  Just out of the hospital I visited the kids on their last day, walking cautiously in a sweatshirt and ultra-casual pj bottoms (sporting cows).  And NO ONE expected the mosaic to be finished…whew – dodged that one! 

All the kids signed the back of the board and it waited until I got it out again the next year… we continued to work on art curriculum…still not finishing it….Kids who worked on it signed the back. 

Then GPCCA became a satellite school for a larger private school and reduced the student population to pre-k and elementary grades.  The mosaic continued to wait…

Sadly, then came the announcement that due to declining enrollment the school would close its doors the end of May 2011.

SIGH… I brought it to my home where it still waits.

Beautifully incomplete…

It holds memories of teachers, kids and parents from a small, exceptional window of time. Maybe it is fitting that there are more spaces to be filled…

What do you think?


Piece #9 – It is still missing pieces…

Piece #9 – It is still missing pieces…

I have it at my home. It is hanging in the hallway at the top of the steps, one of only a few places it would fit.  Every time I climb my stairs –there is a bittersweet memory.

I see it, smile, remember, and long to finish it. 

The image on the top of this very blog is from this unfinished mosaic that belongs to the small private school Greater  Perry Community Christian Academy.


My art kids started it.

But the school closed.

And. It. Was. Not. Done.    Sigh….

What do you do with a project that spanned over a couple of years, was signed and worked on by almost all the kids that attended this school? Had it been completed it would have been moved on to hang on the walls of another private school – a place where no one has the memories of big kids laughing while working on it – a location where no one there remembers all the little fingers that put color on it. 

It came home with me.  Maybe I’m supposed to love it and remember…

There are countless hours of work left to do.

I do find it exceptionally gratifying to cut and put the small little pieces on it….

Or should I host mini reunion work days?

Have you ever had to leave a special school project unfinished?

 More on why we started this large project to come.


Piece #8 – Top 10 reasons you should consider teaching private art lessons:

Piece #8 – Top 10 Reasons why you should consider teaching private art lessons:

10.  No grades.

9.   No commuter traffic.

8.  Talented students who spoil you with their creativity and ideas.  Your students LOVE art.

7.  Supportive parents.

6.  Individualized instruction. You can focus on your student’s needs.

5.  You are teaching a student, not just a concept or project.  You really get to know the kids.

4.  Your students’ victories in art mean more to you.

3.  Teaching is part of your life, not your entire life.

2. The opportunity to create alongside your students.  I don’t work on their projects, so I demonstrate all the techniques and ideas on my own.

1.  The freedom to take a project in a new direction because your one student has a great idea.



Piece #7 – Entangled in Zentangles

Piece #7 – Totally entangled in zentangles

Have you seen this book? No, I mean really…I can’t find my copy.  I remember looking at this thin, smaller-than-most book and thinking I would be sure to put it where I could find it quick.  You know, with the “really cool” books that you really dig right now?  This is not the first time I have lost it. Yes, I did a high and low search for it once before on the morning of an art class…..did I find it in time?  NOooooo.  Did my student and I still attempt to zentangle? YOU BET!

It all started with the new book section of my local library.  They had it sitting all proud and interesting along with those dull books on things like nutrition and exercise.  Of course I went right for it.  (Shout out to Newport Public Library!)

I thought of Megs – my bright and shining student Megs, who likes pen and ink. Megs is a busy, active, extremely creative lady who is involved in everything.  She and her family (and young grandchildren) run a produce farm. She quilts and sews and is always trying new art forms. In past winters after the outdoor chores lesson, she has come to take art classes with me. Megs likes making small, intricate, detailed drawings.  This book is so up her alley. She got art-happy the minute she saw it.

 I promptly ordered my own copy and have pulled it out often.  The book is well-drawn with fun examples of this simple step-by-step pattern drawing.  The patterns are built upon each other and then before you know it they appear very complex and detailed.  They also look ultra cool.

 That’s not all folks!  It’s Therapy!  This type of drawing promotes that wonderful therapeutic effect that occurs when your hands are busy and you are engaging in a creative process that is fun, but not too demanding. It’s great to zentangle alone, but it also promotes that “quilting circle” experience when done with others.  If interested in more, you can check out Sandy Bartholomew’s site here.  Me?  I’m still hunting down the book. Not under the bed….

Piece #6 Education is ironic?

Piece #6 Education is ironic?  

I just finished a taking course on Assessments in Standards-Based Education.


A very clear goal of Standards-based education today is to provide our graduates with the ability to adapt to rapid changes in technology, to solve problems, to work with others, and to think creatively.

“Authentic assessment” is a fancy name for projects, portfolios, oral interviews, experiments, debates, recitals, and theatrical performances.

 You know, the fun stuff…

These projects require kids to go beyond the basics.  They have to demonstrate a basic knowledge of a subject and expand on it to produce thought-provoking results.

Here is the ironic part…………

I found it very ironic that the most positive examples of successful authentic assessments mentioned in the class occur in the arts and in coaching.

Teachers in the major subjects of study are instructed to learn from the music teacher who gives immediate feedback, who provides an opportunity for a performance evaluation. 

The coach who teaches his players to practice over and over and then to perform is given credit. 

And it is the drama teacher who takes the kids from learning to speak clearly, to understanding and memorizing lines.  This knowledge is put to the test in a performance that also includes the building of sets and creation of costumes. Technology is used to provide light and sound. 

I SO don’t even need to go into what the art teacher brings…

“Real world” types of projects are used in these areas of study daily.

 Now, when lack of money is an issue, what is currently being cut from our schools?


These classes that promote creativity, problem solving, and adaptability…

(all listed as major goals of standard-based education- see above)

are deemed not critical and are the first to be taken from the students.

Now, that being said I generally believe that if you are going to point out a problem you need to offer a solution.  ? ??   Do YOU have one?

Piece #4 – What happens when an art teacher takes classes in Standards-based Education

Piece #4 – What happens when an art teacher takes classes in Standards-based Education…

Whew! Doesn’t that sound like a thrilling topic! This winter in my year of schooling I took five different classes on the subject.  FIVE. 

There were reasons I did this:

  1. The classes were free to educators (yea!).

  2. The classes were online classes (school in pj’s another plus).

  3. The hours counted as Professional Development.

  4. The courses required a serious amount of paper writing (eh-)   

  As an art teacher I must admit to finding the information at times irrelevant to my area of speciality.  I’m not going to get into a deep debate about the entire educational system.  HOWEVER…..

There should NEVER ever, ever, ever be an “US vs. THEM” mentality between teachers.

 What regular classroom teachers do is HARD! Nevermind the issues we all deal with:   behavior problems,  time limits, increasing number of students, etc.   Working to align standards and instruction and all it entails is difficult.  It is time-consuming, and unless the teachers are incredibly creative with their time, it leaves less and less room for ALL THE FUN STUFF.  You know…. all those little extras that make learning memorable and fun.

I have always respected the teachers around me, but my level of understanding for what dedicated and talented teachers have to do has increased.

Our students need everything we can offer them, strong core instruction, amazing arts programs, foreign languages, technology education, great sports opportunities, and more.  Instead of fighting to keep our own programs in schools, ALL OF US need to work together and come up with a solution that will provide every opportunity for our kids.

Thus sayth this art teacher….