Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Busy girl; random thoughts on painting prep and more

I've been busy, and as a result have been a very bad blogger.  
'Gulliver' - installation at SUNY New Paltz
I may be retired, but somehow I seem to fill up my calendar ridiculously fast.  Between teaching my weekly after school class (I currently have just three students), and enjoying the magnificent autumn, and prepping for four (yes, four; I'm insane) workshop presentations at my state conference next month, and working on sewing projects and beading projects, attending meetings for this and that, and prepping and freezing the remnants of our garden, and attending my 40th college reunion, and subbing a couple of days ago for the gal who replaced me, it's a wonder I have any time to do anything else, but, on top of it all, today I attended my first Beginner's Yiddish class (and I think I'm in WAY over my head), and somehow I still find time to eat too much, sleep (not enough), read, watch trashy reality TV, exercise (once in a while, anyhow), and figure out how to use my new laptop.

Below, a few views of SUNY New Paltz, my alma mater, 40 years after graduating
Wow.  I'm tired just re-reading what I wrote in the run-on sentence/paragraph above.   If you didn't quit reading after the exhausting first paragraph, I actually do have some things to share.
 Above and below, views from the Tang Museum at Skidmore College.  That's me above wearing stripes.  The cups in the pool made awesome sounds as they bumped into each other.  And the work below?  Look at all those matches!  Cool, or what?!?

Anyhooo  - A couple of days ago I subbed in my former classroom.  She warned me ahead of  time that her schedule is so crazy that she was afraid that after I subbed once I would never return.  And yes, the day was pretty zany, but I had a great time and will be happy to come back.  My former students treat me like a celebrity when they see I'm in the room, even after 2 years.  But when I came home, I felt half dead.  My voice was shot, and so were my feet.  Luckily, we had reservations at the local dinner-and-a-movie place, where we saw The Judge (excellent) and had a nice dinner while we watched, that I did not have to cook. 

But about subbing - I'm prepping a workshop for the NAEA conference in New Orleans this spring, called Designing Your Program to Say Yes to the Mess (or something like that).  My subbing day definitley helped remind me of certain points I will be sure to make.
  • First is what I call 'curriculum choreography'.  Sequence your day and year to make it easier for you to manage the materials of a multiple art classes/grade levels/projects.  For example, while it may SEEM to make sense to have everyone painting on the same day (after all, the brushes and paints are already out), it's really a BAD idea.  Your drying rack will be full with no place to put the wet work after a few classes.  So mix up your day with some grade levels painting and others using dry media that don't require the drying space.  Same thing goes for sculptural work.  If everyone is building something 3-D at the same time, where will you put them?  Mix it up!
  • Second, remember that not everyone who paints needs to use a brush that needs to be washed. Paint with old sponge bits, Q-tips, cardboard scraps, cotton balls, and other things that can be tossed in the trash.  Or, if everyone needs to use a brush, put just one color or color family on each table, with brushes that stay with them.  Limit the color choices for the kids to use, or rotate them to different tables.  Brush washing only has to be done when all classes using the paint are done.  And then, make sure the kids wipe the excess paint off the brush and put them into a soaking bucket.
  • Maintain a sense of humor.  Spills happen.  But, when the kindergarten students were using liquid watercolors to paint over their crayon pumpkin drawings, I should have thought to put the cups of paint into little trays (I like those little flat black dishes from TV dinners) on each table.  Then, when the paint got knocked over, as it did on 3 tables out of 5, the paint would have gone into the tray, instead of all over the table, and none would have been wasted.  Duh!  I guess I was a little rusty and forgot to do this!
Please note - I do realize my day of subbing was not 'typical'.  Most people do not leave plans for a sub that include four totally different painting projects, each using completely different paints, plus one collage project incorporating sequins and jewels.  But my sub knows me, and knows that I'm  willing and capable, and much prefer this to showing videos all day.  (Yuck.)  At the end of the day, the drying artwork was organized, the paintbrushes were clean (not by me; some early finishing 5th graders volunteered and did exactly what I asked), the tables were clean, and I think the art teacher was satisfied and appreciative.
At the Spa State Park, Saratoga Springs NY

Wow.  I'm tired out from reading what I've written, so I'll show you a few fall photos, and sign off.  In a day or two, I'll be able to share two fun projects done by my DragonWing Art students!  In the meantime, this is enough, I hope, to convince you I'm still blogging. 
 Above and the two pics below are the Betar Walkway/Bikeway along the Hudson River, just a few miles from my home.  The river is just to the left of me in these three photos.  That's hubs in the green jacket.  He evidently doesn't realize that I've stopped to take pictures (which I think I do about every 20 steps).

And a little 'wildlife' along the walkway...

Friday, October 10, 2014

The comment surprise!

It used to be common to find lots of comments on my blog (or on other blogs), especially in the days after a new post was written.  Nowadays, not so much.  I can look at my blog stats and know that I still have plenty of visitors, but many people no longer take the time to leave a comment.    I think there's a few reasons.
First, many people (but not me) do their blog reading on their phones.  Leaving a comment = a pain in the neck.
Second, there's the fact that people seem to like things to happen instantly.  Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, whatever you use - these things are so much more instant than taking the time to read through a sometimes long blog post, and then write a thoughtful response, and finally to copy the 'captcha' letters/numbers in order to post your comment.  Too much effort?
Sometimes the visitors to a blog have just hopped there by way of a Pinterest pin and do not even read the post.
But sometimes, a blog comment can really pay off.   Perhaps you'll get involved in an interesting discussion.  Perhaps you'll learn something new.  Perhaps you'll get a new idea.  Or, perhaps... just perhaps... you'll win a prize.  That's what happened to me recently!
Ironically, when I left a comment back in September on Art Room Blog, it was because I had something to say.  I knew there was a contest, but honestly, I think I would have left the comment anyhow, because, well, that's just me.  But last week the blogger contacted me and told me I had won a prize.  You can see in the photo above exactly what I won!!!  This blog hosts a contest EVERY MONTH.  That means if you leave a comment on the contest, the odds of winning sooner or later are pretty good.  This month she's giving away a set of awesome-looking pan pastels.  But you have to actually SAY something in your comment.  Each month she asks a question. - This month's question asks "What is your focus when writing lesson plans?"  (Follow the link; she goes into more detail than that in her question.) 

Meanwhile, maybe you are wondering what I'm going to do with my $50 gift card to Jerry's Artarama?  Well, it's already been spent, and I'm beyond excited waiting for the day my package shows up.  Because I decided to make an investment in something that will be useful to me for a LONG time.  
I added a little of my own money to the gift card, and have ordered this 18" paper cutter!! Hallelujah!  

I have always liked big paper - but sometimes I do need to cut it (for example, cutting 18"x24" paper into an 18" squares, or cutting strips for a project, or whatever).  Since I retired two years ago, having access to the paper cutter is the thing I have missed most (besides the kids).  Sometimes, when I need to cut a lot of paper for a workshop I'm teaching, or my private students, I have driven the 30 miles to my old classroom to 'borrow' the cutter for an hour.  But obviously, this is a distraction to the teacher in the classroom, and it makes a simple project into a whole day effort.  Putting the stuff I want to cut into the car, driving the 30 miles, lugging the giant paper through a crowded parking lot, down hallways and up stairs, trying to find a place to work in a busy crowded classroom, and then repeating the whole process in reverse.  UGH.  Sometimes, I have tried cutting the paper using a sewing tool, my rotary cutter (the singularly most dangerous piece of equipment that I own).  But the paper always slips, and I end up wasting more than I cut, plus I am waiting for the day that this evil tool decides to slice off the top of one of my fingers and I have to rush to the ER cradling the missing part of my finger.  It terrifies me.

So the package has shipped, and in a few days, on my doorstep, I will have my VERY OWN 18" paper cutter!  I want to give a huge THANK YOU to Mrs. Darter at Art Room Blog.  And while I don't want to appear greedy, I'm sure you will see me writing more comments in the future! 

I'm sure that some of you readers have stuck with me to the end of this post hoping that I am offering a prize drawing too, but... not this time.  But stick with me, readers, because I've done it before and it will certainly happen again!  Until then, happy commenting!