Thursday, January 29, 2015

Teaching Lesson

One of the ladies whom I used to paint with asked me to teach a watercolor class to the ladies she now paints with, and so I did. I think my friend normally paints with about seven ladies. Last year I did an acrylic class with them. I thought that class had gone fairly well, but maybe I was wrong. Maybe they did not like my teaching techniques or maybe they did not really want to do watercolor. Anyway, only two ladies showed up along with my art buddy. It made for a good time - only having the three of them was easy to teach. 
I gave the ladies a couple of choices to paint. They chose the lighthouse. It is the same one that I have used on other teaching occasions. To me, it is has some nice watercolor effects - great for teaching. My painting has some drawing problems that I did not notice until the painting was done. I do not like the main part of the house. Oh well. It was the watercolor techniques I was after.

On Tuesday, I had my regular Big Girls art class. We did watercolor animals again with better results. One of the girls did not come because she did not want to paint watercolor animals again. Hmm. Let me tell you what I think when girls or ladies do not show up to class where they are regulars. It is kind of like being on a team - it is a commitment. You don't just not show, because you don't feel like it or don't like what the teacher teaches. You are part of a class. If you have a legit excuse, I understand. As a teacher, I work and plan on each person being there. It is kind of an insult when a person decides she has better things to do. If a person is going to be a no-show, have the courtesy to let me know ahead of time. I will get off the soapbox now.

I would appreciate if anyone who comments would also tell me how the word verification worked or did not work. 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015


I've been working on my comment settings. Someone let me know how the word verification is working.

Update: Lately I have seen this "I am not a robot" rather than word verification. So, I asked Jo how she put it on her blog. She made it sound so simple. Well, maybe not for the simple minded. After going in and changing the settings on comments, I still do not have it. So, I tried something else. Spam only bothers me on old posts. So I changed those settings. The "I am not a robot" is cool, though.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Taking a Bite

Last night I made salmon croquettes with dill sauce straight out of Southern Living.  With salmon, egg, oniouns, celery, and spices the croquettes were good and good for you. The dill sauce was made with Greek yogurt.  Then I made Brussels sprouts with lemon and garlic and Parmesan cheese roasted in the oven.  Another good for you food! Then I topped it off with some healthier banana nut bread made with almond flour, coconut flour, etc. I think I need a good housekeeping badge.

Not only did I cook an excellent meal, I started a painting yesterday. 
This is the start, but not the finished piece. Sometimes I like the rough cut better than the finished piece, but this one does need some more work. I needed to be on the right side of my brain, and I couldn't seem to get there. So, I stopped. But it felt good to get out the pastels and go at it. Now let's see if I can get 'er done. It helps me to see the photo of my work.

One of the ladies from the Wine and Watercolor party called and asked me if I wanted to help paint on the latest set of Duncan Little Theater production - The Sound of Music. After much debate, I decided it would be fun to do. So, tomorrow morning I am suppose to meet and paint on the set. I'll let you know how it goes. I've painted some murals before, but not for a production like this.  Hopefully, I did not bite off more than I can chew.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Wine and Watercolor

Both art classes went well yesterday, but I was one tired artist when all was said and done.  I started the Little Girls art class with some drawing exercises to get them in their right brain. We did some simple drawings where we looked at the object being drawn, but not at our paper. The idea is to look with your eyes and let your pen follow your eyes and not to be concerned with how the drawing looks. The drawings are usually pretty comical, and I teased the girls lots, hopefully setting a precedent. I want them to have fun. I want them to be comfortable with each other and me. It is important for them to show their work to each other and not be embarrassed or shy, so I insist on looking at and talking about individual drawings with all included. 

We did the blind contour drawing several times before I let them draw and look at their paper. It is amazing how often people will draw something either from real life or from a photo, but not really see what they are drawing. They draw what their brain thinks and not what their eyes see. Then I set up a still life with a teapot, a cup, and a pear. The object of this lesson was to see the relationship between the objects and set them to the paper in a pleasing way.  I don't expect a lot of these first drawings, but these lessons are things that I will constantly repeat. We did some shading and tried to make a finished drawing. One girl finished first and was done. No amount of talking about what needed to be done to make a drawing better encouraged her. She was done. The other girls were willing to work until their moms came to pick them up.  Interesting.

I shut my eyes for a few minutes in between the Little Girl's art class and my Wine and Watercolor class, but only a few minutes. I probably should have spent the time going over my next lesson, but since we were painting roosters, I decided to wing it. Ha.

Twenty-one people showed up for the Wine and Watercolor party/class. As I figured, some were serious artists and some were there to party. It all went well. I talked a bit about color and technique, and then we dove in. Probably if this had been a real art class, I would have done more demonstrating how the painting should go. Instead, I encouraged everyone to be creative and have fun with their painting. I spent quite a bit of my time going from person to person to "fix" little problems. Most were fixable. Values (darks and lights) were the biggest problems.  And just like my Little Girls, they started off whining and worrying (needed more wine), but soon fell into the mood and knocked out some nice paintings. When I started showing their work to everyone and pointing out interesting art, they were like my Little Girls again - they protested. The truth is everyone likes to see each other's work and they like for theirs to be shown off. I try to find something good in all paintings. And like the Little Girls, some people finished early and that was that.

All in all, I think it went well. They were nice in their critiques of me. Personally, I felt I needed to be even more prepared. It's funny how you prepare and think you have it all under control, but when you get up in front of 20 people lots of things slip from your mind. Anyway, I'm glad it is over. I think I learned more about teaching and what to do next time. Next time will be next Wednesday. I will have a small class of watercolor with more serious students. I've taught these ladies before, so it should go well. Famous last words.
You can find me. I'm the one with the look that says, "Are we done yet?"

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Yesterday's Day

Yesterday was spent in preparation for my Wine and Watercolor class tonight that the Chisholm Trail Arts Council is putting on. They are using me as a fund raiser. There will be 20 + women tonight painting and drinking. Some will seriously want to learn watercolor while others will be there to party. I think this could be right up my alley, since I am rarely serious and wine will loosen uptight watercolorists. As a warm up, I have my little girls art class this afternoon (no wine). We will be doing drawing techniques. I need to start taking photos and showing what I teach. But that would be way too serious for me.

Yesterday I also went to my usual early morning workout. Our class has dwindled to just three of us. Sometimes we have others join us, but not on a regular basis. There is a young girl who has joined us a few times in the past, and she showed up yesterday morning. I'll call her K. It seems that K has gotten engaged this past week and now has incentive to come to exercise. She is a tall girl and a bit overweight, but still very attractive. I enjoy her.

Yesterday's exercise class was filled with lots of girl talk with K telling us about her engagement, how he proposed, wedding dates, venues, dresses, etc. K currently lives with her boyfriend. She told us that he had gone to her father and asked to "trade her for a new leaf-blower." We all got a kick out of that story. She went on to explain that her boyfriend knew how important it was to her for him to ask her father's permission to marry her. She said that her father kept him talking for "45 minutes" - that he did not make it "easy" for her boyfriend. While I smiled and nodded my head, I was thinking: Really?! Seems pretty easy to me - after all, you already live with the guy. Why bother to ask for her hand when you already have her? It made me wonder if he had asked the father earlier, "May I sleep with your daughter? Can she move in with me?" Now that would have been something!  I know, I know. That is just how it is in the world today. But still, I thought girls are making it way too easy these days.

Yesterday's workout was lots of arm exercises. Then I cut 20 mats for my art class and cleaned 20 whiteboards for palettes. Then I packed up and went to town to set up for the wine class watercolor class. Today I am quite sore, but I was down a pound or so. And I 'm excited about art today. I'll let you know how it goes.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Recent Readings

An English teacher friend of mine recommended that I read "The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry" by Gabrielle Zevin. She said it was "closer to fluff than true literature"(whatever that means) but she "loved it nonetheless." (I rarely use words like "nonetheless" and wondered why it was all one big word rather than three little words).  I said I would give it a go right after I finished "The Ship of Brides" by Jojo Moyes, which she also recommended. I finished "The Ship of Brides" pretty quickly and enjoyed it. It was rather simple, but I liked the different character's stories, and I loved the ending. It was about Australian war brides being shipped to the UK after WWII.  Before I could read the next book she recommended I had to read "A Year in Provence" by Peter Mayle, which I had given to Toby for Christmas. You see, he loves the movie "A Good Year" based on another Peter Mayle book. He loves the movie because of its setting in Provence, France. He loves the story of wine and accountants and leaving the hectic corporate world for life as a grape grower. So, I bought him another story of Provence. He loved the book and wanted me to read it too. I did. It was fun. I don't want to live in France. Now Italy...

Now I finished my friend's recommendation "The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry." I loved the story, the characters, and the writing. What my friend did not mention was the ending. It made me cry. Dang it. Being a menopausal crazy lady, I'm not sure I needed my emotions messed with in this way. Not only did it make me cry, it made me miss my father. In some ways, it makes me miss my mother.

I miss my father because we liked to discuss things -  like books we read or summers we spent or just life we lived. If Dad had been big on movies, we might have discussed them, but he rarely sat through a movie. He did take me to see "The Man Who Would Be King" although he had to get up and walk around. He may have gone outside to smoke a cigarette - who knows what he did while I watched the movie. He loved Rudyard Kipling, but he could not sit still. Anyway, we had lots of discussions - sometimes while he drank coffee and smoked a cigarette and rested in the shade.  Dad would take me with him on Saturday mornings to the junk stores in the older parts of WF. He would tell me stories of when he was a young boy and lived in that area - how he rode his bike down this hill, where his friends lived, how he made deliveries here for his uncle who had a business there. We talked lots while we did construction work, and we did lots of building. He was quite proud of my carpentry ability.  Once while we worked, he told me that all three of the contestants on Jeopardy had missed a question on the book of poems, "The Marriage of Heaven and Hell." I said, "William Blake." He was surprised that I knew the answer, but he loved it too. His reading poetry to us kids when we were young had paid off. We discussed lots of things, but never politics. We came close once when he had a chance to visit the White House during the Clinton administration. Dad was a yellow dog Democrat, but I was having a hard time talking him into going to see the White House and meeting the President. He finally said, "Well I voted for him, but I don't like him much." End of discussion.

The last four years of Dad's life, the radiation treatments had destroyed what little hearing he had - making conversation difficult if not impossible. Dad could not hear me well, but that did not stop him from talking to me - telling me stories of his life - things he thought were important - meaningful to him. I enjoyed his stories, but I missed being able to respond - conversations were one-sided. I still miss those discussions. "The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry" reminded me of that. Maybe the father/daughter relationship in the story was not meant to be sad, but that is how it was for me.