Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Pet Project

Grady and I are studying ancient Egypt.  In our studies, we discovered that families in ancient Egypt kept a lot of the same kind of pets as they do today (with the notable exception of monkeys).  A suggested activity in the book we were reading was to survey people we knew about the kind of pets they have and make a bar graph to show what we discovered.  I posted our query to Facebook and my FB family and friends rose to the challenge admirably.  30 people responded to our survey and it was interesting to see what kind of animals you all included in your family.  Also, several people included wildlife living on their property, so we tried to reflect that on the graph as well.

As we talked about how to interpret the data we collected, we decided the most accurate depiction would be to show how many households include each kind of pet, rather than the number of animals of each kind.  Many families had more than one dog or cat and one family who owns a farm has 7 chickens and 11 ducks, and that would just look misleading.  Also, in the interest of saving space, several kinds of animals were included in the catagory "other", including: geese, monarch caterpillar cocoons, a blue heron and a beaver.  According to our system of counting each kind of animal per family one time, we plotted this on the graph as a 4.  The rest of the results should speak for themselves.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

I've been a long time gone...

...so I'm going to keep it short and simple, mainly to get myself back to blogging!  I've posted previously about doing mandalas.  Recently I shared this with some friends and a couple of them decided they wanted to try their hand at it.  Their results were breathtaking, in my opinion.

First, here's my mom's:

She told me what each of the elements means, but I'm going to leave it up to your interpretation, just for fun.  There is not enough mystery in our culture.

Here is my lovely friend Alicia's.

It is as vivid as her personality and she took great delight in breaking the "rules" by going outside the circle.

My own artistic endeavors have been mainly of the literary variety here lately.  I have a really cool idea for a book, perhaps a series, and I've been working on that a bit here and a bit there for a few weeks.  Today's bit was the first really solid writing I feel like I've done so far (as opposed to just shaping the concept).  I won't be posting any of the actual writing here but I'll keep you up to date on my progress.

I would love to hear your thoughts on the above artwork, so feel free to comment!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Follow the Road

I am THRILLED about the prospects for next year's theatrical endeavors.  The spring production for my school is especially exciting.  I have officially decided to stage "Oz!", a fantastic musical adaptation of L. Frank Baum's classic novel.  I have high hopes and great expectations for the rising generation of performers that will make up the cast for this show.  I am also opening this show up to the entire school, including even the youngest students (who else would I get to play munchkins?).  I think this will make the production that much stronger.  We have a lot of talent in our school and I can't wait to get to it.  If you want a sneak peak, you can listen to samples of the songs here.

Now, that doesn't mean the Christmas concert isn't important, too.  I have a lot of cool stuff I'm working on for it, but I'm still working out a lot of details and I'm not ready to reveal anything in that area yet.  I will say, though, that students who have never considered getting involved in the music program before may want to give it some thought.  We're changing our approach to this area and it's a whole new ballgame.  More on that as summer winds down.  Right now, summer is just winding up and I hope everyone enjoys it!  I myself will be going on vacation next week to spend some well-earned time in the pool.  I hope you all have similarly pleasant plans.

Keep checking back for more status reports on my artistic progress--I'll keep you posted!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

I Only Have Eyes for Horus (and James)

It has taken until the third post to do it, but I'm finally able to blog about what this blog is supposed to be about. (There was probably a more eloquent way to put that but it's 1:15 am and I'm already thinking guiltily about how tired I'm going to be in the morning).  Granted, I could blog about my wonderful husband with whom I celebrated our 7th anniversary today, but he reads this blog and hates to be talked about, so maybe I should just move on to talk about what I said I was going to talk about: my new experiments in art.  Specifically, mandala art using oil pastels. 

I've done a lot of color exercises in the last 2 weeks and several projects that I thought were going to turn out better than they did, but the one I did tonight is what I'm most interested in right now, so that's the one I'm going to share:

This piece is based on the Egyptian hieroglyph "the Eye of Horus", which ties into several figures in Egyptian mythology.  I blended several shades of green because green is a very significant color in the history of this symbol.  I had been working with the image of an eye and with shades of green in separate pieces but when I started reading about this specific eye symbol I knew that the two would go well together.  I'm still not sure I've got the mix quite right, but I think it's a good start.
Here is the original eye drawing:
The curliness is actually additional experimentation gone wrong.  Once I got the purple and red filled in I knew the colors were not what I wanted, so I decided to play around with the curls while I was at it.  I'd still like to go back to this version of it and try again, but not until I've finished the Eye of Horus to my satisfaction.  Now take a look at my color experimentation:

The scroll work began to look like a fixation with the letter S after awhile, but that is my last initial so I guess that's okay.  Pardon my doodles, I tend to treat my margins like scratch paper.  I wasn't very deliberate in my placement of shapes or colors so this one's a bit of a mess, but it was only every meant to let me see what the different shades looked like next to each other.  Lastly, here's something a little more refined with the greens.  The scrolls were added a day or two after the rest and I immediately hated them so I'll have to work on that:

I fully expect some version of this to show up as a projection backdrop in "Oz!" next year, if we do end up doing that show.  More or on that some other time.

All of this is proving to be an excellent exercise on what this medium of art can do and of what it really takes to develop an idea into a finished piece.  It got a lot easier and a lot more fun when I stopped worrying I would mess it up and accepted the fact that there were going to be several versions before I got it the way I wanted it.  Actually, there was an intermediate stage between the red and purple eye and the green eye that is currently the "finished product" but I think I've posted enough pictures.  I only wish the blending and smudging I've been doing came through in the photos.  I've been going to bed with rainbow fingertips.

So that's it for now.  I'm finding all of this really exciting and incredibly therapeutic.  I'll keep you posted on the latest developments!

And now I'm going to very sneakily add that James is a wonderful husband who supports me in all my whims and whimsies and does twice as much before breakfast as mere mortal husbands do all day.  He'll deny all of this and really believe he's not that great, but that's part of what makes him that great.  I love him dearly and wouldn't give him up for anything.  Sh, don't tell him I said any of this, he'd be embarrassed.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

When You're Headed Down Hill, It Gets Faster Near the Bottom

Once again I fail to deliver on my promise that this blog will be about the arts, but I have a really good excuse.  School is almost out.  I can feel it in my bones.  My students can feel it in their adrenaline levels.  They're bouncing off the walls, rattling the bars, demanding freedom.  I know there are certain things we need to do before the school year is out, but I'll be honest, I know how they feel.  I look longingly across the room at my electric piano, my oil pastels, heck, even my Beatles Rock Band instruments.  No time for artistry in this last week and a half it would seem (too busy blogging, I guess).  The spring concert for the elementary and middle schoolers and the spring musical for the high schoolers have both been completed successfully.  Most of the big projects and milestones we've worked toward have passed and we're counting the days.

Except for graduation.

My husband will be graduating a week from Saturday with his Masters of Divinity and I couldn't be happier for his achievement, which will mean that we actually get to see other more than twice a week (maybe.  He is a minister, after all).  In 3 days my first baby will "graduate" from kindergarten, cap and gown and all.  I have trouble believing this.  How can he be graduating?  I just brought him home from the hospital!  But that's okay.  I'm used to him shocking me with signs of how old he really is.  There's a more serious shock than even this on the way.  Next Thursday my other babies graduate high school.  Or most of them do.  The kids that were fledgling 6th graders in chorus when I was a brand new teacher are going out into the wide world to find fame and fortune.  College awaits to, as Bill Cosby said, "Give them a running start before they hit the wall".  I told several of my colleagues at the performance last Friday, "Just about the time they get really good, I have to give them away to other people."  This is true.  They hit their personal bests last Friday and now I have to let them go.  I can only hope that they will use what they have learned to go on to even greater things.  I'm bound to have a hard time keeping back the tears next week as these wonderful young people go boldly forth to blaze new trails.  I'm sure Friday will be an emotional day as they visit around to say goodbyes.  But then, Saturday will be the first day of summer break, and well...

Beatles Rock Band is waiting.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Stormy Weather

I had thought to launch my new blog with a photo of the exciting art form I have recently undertaken, but that will have to wait. Lena Horne, a great vocal artist, passed away today and I must pay my respects.

Lena Horne is best known for her signature song, "Stormy Weather", which she performed on stage and screen, but also to the troops overseas during World War II. She was a talented black singer with a contract at MGM at a time when, as she said herself, "the studio didn't know what to do with me". She was a first rate performer, but could never have a starring role in a film because her performances had to be edited out of prints sent to states that didn't allow black performers on screen. The most notable exception was the all-black musical Cabin in the Sky. Even then, one of her most charming performances, "Ain't It the Truth", was cut from the final film because censors thought it too risque to show a black girl in a bubble bath. She was a strong voice in the civil rights movement and refused to perform for segregated audiences.

Lena Horne will be sorely missed in the music world, but at least now her beautiful voice will be heard in a place where they don't care what color she is. God bless you, Ms. Horne.