Monday, May 3, 2010

The Coat of Many Strengths

I've spent the past several days sewing--something I'm not particularly adept at. Marj Watkins helped me to create a pattern for the "Coat of many strengths" I'm doing with Mrs. Conklin's third grade class. Scroll down a bit to see what we are doing and get a preview of what the kids came up with for strengths.

End of an Era

We took down the play structure so many children played on when Suzanna's School was open. It's the end of an era. I will not open the preschool/kindergarten here again. The class room is now my studio, and I am painting on silk.

I'm not through teaching, though. I'm not quite sure what may teaching will look like. At present, I'm working occasionally with children in other schools. I would like to teach at art museums, and maybe after school programs at the Y. I want to do artist in residences, and art activities with children that support their learning in academic and social areas.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Hundred Family Coat--third grade style

This week Mrs. Conklin's thrid grade class made patches for a "hundred family coat" to offer at the PTSA auction. A Chinese story tells of Boachu, who went to find the missing sun. The people of one village wanted to help him, but they were very poor. Each person cut off a piece of their clothing and from all these pieces, they made a warm coat for Boachu. The coat kept him warm when the demons tried to freeze him.

We talked about the patches of the coat as symbols of each person's strength. We brainstormed our own strenghts, and each child drew something that symbolized their strength on a piece of silk. My job now is to sew them all together into a "hundred family coat" of our own.

Here is a sample of some of the patches: Rhiannon loves music, Lauren is a writer who looks for "just the right word". Jake loves speed; he is showing flames on his dirt bike. John feels "tough". Talia loves her sister, who loves snakes. Mason is pure energy!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

River, age 21 months, loves to draw. Most of River's drawings to date have been lines. She's practicing making a mark on paper, exploring color and just beginning to control the marker or colored pencil. She usually names her drawings "moon", even when all I can see is straight lines. Only in the past few days has she started to make something resembling a circle. When she drew the orange lines ("Flower", bottom left), I told her I thought it looked like a flower, and colored in some of the petals. She then picked up the green marker and added the leaf. I think it's our best collaboration yet.

Friday, November 27, 2009

creating a character

Last Friday, Marj Watkins and I did an author/illustrator presentation for Family and Book Fair night at our local elementary school. The idea, based on needs expressed by a 5th grade teacher, was to do a mini-class on character development in writing. She suggested we teach children how to "show" a character's traits rather than "telling" about them when we write stories, i.e. " Laura sang as she helped her mother wash the dishes" rather than "Laura always did her chores cheerfully", or "Laura was a good girl. She always helped her mother."
My part was to support Marj, writer of the Rotaida books, and possibly to teach children a bit about how an illustrator approaches showing who a character is. We each spent two days preparing, in a very logical way, with illustrations and sample sentences. At the last minute, I created a penciled figure children could draw clothing on to illustrate a character of their own, and tossed in my runestone stamps, for some good old hands on activities. 
Of course, we didn't exactly get to do our mini-class. Neither of us works quite as logically as we were trying to teach, and the children went straight to the hands on activities. THEY didn't want something that smacked of academics once school was out! As I joined them in creating a character, I tossed aside the step by step instruction handout I had created and let my character just become who it would as I drew, just as the children were doing.
I think there is a place for both ways of working, depending on where you are in the project: from the inside (letting the character develop as you write or draw) or from the outside (determining the person's character traits and then deciding how to write about or draw the person).

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

sarah's picture

This is by Sarah, age 5. Her sense of design and color, and her use of tinsel is just delightful. Sarah was one of my first students way back when I started Suzanna's School. She would be....15 years old now!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Scribble art

Here is a fun art project I've done with both children and adults. I remember doing it with my mother when I was a child. The result is always beautiful and the process fun and relaxing. It's a wonderful way to get in touch with the joyful compassionate child in all of us. I recently did this with a group of caregivers who work hard and long taking care of elders and of very sick or terminally ill people. It was so gratifying to see careworn faces relax and smile!
Use a permanent marker for the lines. Just scribble anything! We used Crayola trademark washable markers to fill the spaces with color, then touched the marker with a brush dipped in water. The colors ran together beautifully! Texture was added when the piece was dry using crayon or marker to make dots and lines.