Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Calder Inspired Wire Drawings


I have wanted to do this lesson for a long time! After weeks of drawing exercises using sighting, guidelines and crosshairs, I wanted to provide my Art One students with an opportunity to use line in a whimsical, playful way.

I pulled together some online resources, including a slideshow from the Whitney Museum and a youtube video of Calder performing his circus, as an introduction. Next, I had students brainstorm a list of people or animals in motion. Then, I introduced and demonstrated gesture drawing. We grabbed some drawing boards, conte crayon and manila paper and headed to the hallway so we could spread out.

In groups of four, students took turns modeling some of the actions they brainstormed earlier in class. I encouraged students to think of lines beyond stick figures. After the first drawing, I gave them advice to look at how the model's shoulders were in relationship to the hips and to take note of the direction of feet.

We had just enough time left in class (a double, 88 minute period) to return to the room and debrief. I asked how gesture drawing could apply to developing their sculpture. Many saw the connection and had a great starting point the next class when they began to flesh out and develop their own ideas.

Students liked the idea of making a "sculpture" but when it came to the actual construction, I was met with some resistance. Instead of having 30 students crowd around a wire demonstration, I found a simple video tutorial. This way, I was able to give individual instruction to those that needed it and let other use the video as a starting point for their own exploration. At that point, I gave students a two to three foot piece of stove pipe wire and a run down of how to use the tools before allowing them to practice making connections and bends.

There was a bunch of complaining that building with wire was too difficult. I honestly think that physically using their fingers and having to plan where connections would be, was the difficulty. There was no formula to follow and that was tough for some kids to get over. I really pushed students to think for themselves and experiment.

For the final sculpture students used more pliable, silver wire ( 18 gauge? I can't remember) I also provided some white and yellow, thin wire, copper wire, buttons and electrical tape. In the end, I am proud of what my students accomplished. I am proud that many pushed themselves outside of their comfort zones and tried something new with many successful products.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Fantastic Fall

I can not believe that we are already two weeks into our second term. I've really been neglecting my blog!

I have to say, I feel like this has been my best school year yet. Seven years in and I finally feel like I know what I am doing! But, I didn't start the school year feeling so great. Most summers I have time to at least outline our pacing from September to December. This year, between buying the house and family time/ gatherings, I hardly looked at the curriculum. Amazingly, I eased back into it, like riding a bike.

Here is a blurry version of my class working on a still life drawing after attempting the same still life from a verbal description, as a part of a series of pre-instruction drawings. The series concluded with our District Determined Measure drawing. The DDM "test" will be administered again in late January and I hope that there will be some measurable growth.

First term we focused on contour line drawing, engaging the right brain, measuring and sighting techniques. We concluded the term with Calder inspired wire drawings to reinforce line as a descriptive element. Now into term two, we are working with value to describe form and eventually space. Check back for future posts! (hopefully)

Things are been pretty busy this school year:

From the end of September through the beginning of November, I had my triptych exhibited in a show called Beyond the Classroom. All the work displayed was from local, south shore art educators.

I also reached a career goal, attaining Professional Status! Basically it is the same idea of tenure. I have worked for three years and one day in the same school system! 

I was asked last minute to chaperone a field trip to the Museum of Fine Arts with a couple of English Language Learning history classes. It was very rewarding. A few of the students I had had the year before and it was really gratifying to listen to them converse in English about some of the pieces. Above is one of my favorites from the American wing.

The following weekend was Columbus Day weekend, so we took advantage of the extra day and headed up north for some rest and relaxation. We did get some exercise hiking up to the top of Mount Tom. I was pleasantly surprised when we reached the top and my boyfriend got down on one knee and proposed! There was not a sole around the hour hike up, but moments after the proposal, someone had spied us, asking if we had just gotten engaged (had we? did I even say yes?) and offered to take our picture. It was a gorgeous and memorable morning for sure!

While still on cloud nine, we started our first house project the next weekend, stripping wallpaper. Needless to say, we are still working and hope to finish painting over the Thanksgiving break.

Never a dull moment!
Winter is shaping up to be pretty busy.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

From Grand Cayman to Long Island: August

I seem to have spent a good amount of time on islands this summer!
I began the month of August on the island of Grand Cayman. It was probably my favorite port of the cruise.

For a few bucks, we hopped a taxi right at the port and went to a beach club where we rented chairs and an umbrella. The buckets of beers were a bit on the expensive side, but Mom and I chocked that up to a YOLO moment. (yes, I really used that in a sentence.)  The sun was hot, the water was a blue I had never seen before and it was really refreshing. We spent a good amount of the day there, but decided to pack it in a couple hours before our ship was set to sail. And we left in the nick of time as it started to downpour when we got in the taxi! So much for shopping...

After warming up in the hot tub and promptly taking a nap, the skies cleared and left us with this beautiful view from our cabin.

The last day of the cruise, I finally opened the book I brought, listened to music, and caught some more rays on deck. We had a lovely final dinner with our table mates, and all received a special dessert from our waiter; Carnival's signature melting cake AND a side of cheese cake that when eaten together melted in your mouth with a coffee/hazelnut taste. We celebrated Mom's birthday too. After dinner, walking the deck, we caught an awesome lightening show. It went on for about twenty minutes, at a safe distance, and I know Mom was pretty excited, saying that it was something she always wanted to see.

We took it easy upon returning to Florida, taking a couple of day trips and working around the house. I even made dinner a few nights!

Of course there is always beer involved when I travel. I researched Florida breweries one night and came across the Dunedin Brewery, the oldest craft brewery in Florida. Dunedin is a pretty cool spot that I have never really explored, so Mom and I started the day at the Art center, taking in some local artist's work and a few other shows there, and ended the day at the Brewery for lunch. It was a cool spot that I will definitely go back to!

Another day we took a road trip and I saw parts of Florida I have never seen before. We drove about an hour and a half north of Clearwater, taking back roads all the way to Micanopy. They call it the town that time forgot. Just look at that picture! The main street was full of antiques stores, even the shops themselves were once the general store, a house, a barn. We had lunch at the one little sandwich and ice cream shop and poked around. I would have bought so many pieces of furniture at the first place we stopped. It was clean and uncluttered and everything was clearly labeled with approximate dates and prices. There was a fireplace gate in the shape of a peacock, a heavy, heavy gargoyle door knocker, a beautiful, tall solid wood dresser complete with a mirror and drawers that locked with a skeleton key, painted owl bookends and a mid century round dining room table. Nothing I could fit in a suitcase, thats for sure. 

I was pretty anxious to get home to my new house though. I had unpacking and settling in to do, not to mention some hanging out by my new pool while I could. Amongst all the hard work though, we had the chance to go out and enjoy, a couple of times. 

We had breakfast, complete with my favorite Bloody Mary's, at Deep Ellum in Allston.

And took the train into Harvard Square another afternoon for lunch at Charlie's and some back to school record and clothes shopping. We could even walk to the train from our new house!

I snapped this photo on an after dinner walk one evening. I still can't believe this is my neighborhood and that we are still so close to Boston. I can't wait to set up my easel!

At the end of August, we drove to New London, CT and took the ferry over to Long Island for the first of my nine cousins' wedding. We had a great weekend full of family and reminiscing. I was really thankful to spend time together and to make some new memories.

There was a photo booth available to guests that had props. My brother of course brought them to the dance floor. My uncle also caught this great shot of my Nana and her sister. I love it!

We were able to beat the Labor Day traffic, coming home Sunday afternoon. Monday we spent getting ready for the work week and it's been full steam ahead ever since. 

Monday, September 1, 2014

Best Summer on Record.

As we returned to our city last night, it seemed hot and tired.
The same lethargy could be felt today as I did errands.
Its almost as if the here and there and everywhere-s of the city's summers hit at once, as well as the anticipation of the start of school tomorrow, the day after for the kids.
I am already prepared for the pleasantries of my co-workers with their "how was your summer-s?" and "are you ready for the new school year-s?"

I have to say, the summer of 2014 was probably the best summer on record.
And I am not the slightest bit ready for the new year.

I started out painting on Nantucket, an island thirty- two miles off shore, for two and a half weeks.
Followed by packing up as much as I could of our second apartment, in anticipation of the last move for at least for the next thirty years.
Afterwards, leaving for a Caribbean cruise and a week in Florida with my immediate family, as the other half of my family moved what was left of my packed belongings into our new home.
(What kind of lottery did I hit to have such an awesome family!?)
And finally I was home for another two and half weeks before traveling to Long Island for the first wedding of one of my nine cousins!

I wasn't looking forward to what this year brought as I turned 30 in the Spring. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine what the summer held for me.
I am nervous for the new school year to start, as I haven't had much time to plan with all that fun, and will be teaching two courses I have never taught before.
But, I am excited for the challenge as I enter my first year as a "tenured" teacher.

Thank you to everyone who made this summer possible. I look forward to hosting you in our new house!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

7.31, 7.30, 7.29

I cannot believe that three weeks ago I was in Roatan, Honduras! It was a beautiful and relaxing day, despite some cloudy skies and down pours to start. 

view from our cabin before anchoring

Carnival basically built a beach, as far as I know, at the port. Unless you take an excursion through the cruise ship, I'm not sure how safe this port is in reality. You can walk or take the sky ride right from the dock to Mahogany Bay. We walked through the shops and well manicured "jungle" before hitting the little beach club comprised of a few bars, a restaurant and loads of beach chairs.

Thats the Carnival Legend from our seats on the beach!

And once the sun and the crowds came out.

It really was pretty gorgeous. I brought some color pencils with me and attempted to sketch from the beach, but nothing could do this justice. The water was clear and comfortable. We were in pretty often as it was hot! On the walk back, I bought a necklace and mahogany earrings from a local vender.

The day before, my mom and I went cave tubing in Belize. I did not bring my camera, so I don't have any photos... Unfortunately, there was a lot of waiting that day. We waited for the tender boat for what felt like over an hour. Then the tender took about fifteen minutes. Then we were herded into groups for our excursions and waited for a bus. The bus took us about forty five minutes west. Once we were there, we geared up in life vests, helmets with head lamps and tubes. We then trekked about twenty minutes into the jungle before linking tubes and floating down the river. 

I totally just stole these from my mom. Although I did take them on her camera. Thanks mom!

Check out those palms! We were seriously in a jungle. This was the second bus of the day. It was a manual in order to take us up and over a steep hill to the base camp.  
I have to say, after tubing, this is where I had the best nachos, ever. I know I had to wait for what felt like forever to get there, but I actually watched them make my nachos! There was another forty five minutes back, but I had a nice nap and at the end of the day, knew I had a very unique experience. 

The day before Belize, I dragged my family on an excursion I selected. This brought us to a museum called Discover Mexico and to a national park called Chankanaab in Cozumel, Mexico. 

Our tour guide, Ruy, was very knowledgeable. He led us through Discover Mexico, allowing us to take in the artistry from multiple generations, as well the "to scale" landmarks throughout history. 

detail of the Tree of Life, clay

I loved the artwork! 
I also may have freaked out by all the fish near us, but snorkeling at the park was awesome.

Our ticket included lunch at Discover Mexico. We watched a woman hand press the corn tortillas! I must have missed the explanation of sauces at the end of the buffet line though.

The green salsa was so hot, I think my eyeballs were sweating! (But soooo good)

Here we are in Cozumel! The Three Generations. 

did you read the beginning of the cruise, 7.27?

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

"Best of the Town" Painting Entry

Alright folks, I need your opinion.
I plan to enter a show hosted by our local Art Association. You can enter up to three pieces, each with a fee, in the juried show. You can also enter what I am calling here, the "Best of the Town" show, but the same painting can not be in both. Some of my favorite pieces of the last year deal with the subject matter of our town and I would like to enter one. But I can't decide! Help me out and leave a comment about which one I should enter.

Black's Creek, 5"x7" Oil on Canvas 
From Above, 5"x7" Oil on Canvas
Also worth noting, I am not married to the names. I almost can see these as companion pieces, but I don't have time to make them more harmonious. Plus I can only enter one.
Another note, I snapped these pics with my iPhone in the natural and artificial light of my new studio, aka our extra bedroom.

Your input is appreciated!


Packing for any vacation is a bit of a daunting task for me. Sometimes just getting ready for work, I will put on three different shirts and change my shoes five times before I am comfortable and happy. Why? I don't know. We joke that I should have a "swear jar," but instead of putting a quarter in every time I cuss, I should give every time I change my outfit. Needless to say, packing for two and a half weeks where I would need formal wear, casual dress, beach attire and comfortable excursion clothes, took a while, not to mention we were moving!

I arrived in the Tampa area mid- week and had a few days to relax with family. My nana and I had some time at Clearwater Beach before a typical summer thunderstorm rolled in, and my mom and I had a lovely evening of mani- pedis and dinner out. We even caught at Red Sox game at Tropicana Field. (of course we lost) By Sunday evening, this was the view of Tampa from the back of the Carnival Legend. 

About two hours later, the cruise ship had to squeeze under the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. I've driven over it. Its really high!

But the tail of the ship only had about twelve feet of clearance!

Worst part of the Day: I don't think there was much of a negative the first day! Other than there being tons of people on deck and in the pools as we set sail. But then, there are literally thousands of people on board.

Best part of the Day: Immediately being catered to. Oh that sounds so snobby! But I think that service is part of the cruising culture and it was pretty amazing how quickly waiters made themselves available, even learning your name and using it when asking about the next round of drinks.