Sunday, January 25, 2015

Artist of the Week Wrap-Up: Edgar Degas

Not every week of class is productive in the sense that the kids take home some completed art. This week was one such "unproductive" week. We studied the French artist, Edgar Degas, through sketching from a live model (my daughter) and through making "action" sculpture using aluminum foil. As a backdrop to our sculpture, we also made our own scratch paper with crayons and black paint. The sculptures were fun but the kids got far more into the process than the end result. And the sketching afforded many opportunities to explain from drawing basics but the focus turned more to learning those basics than finishing a sketch. Such is the way sometimes in art class.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Why I wish the People of Walmart would go away

And I don't mean the actual people of Walmart. I mean the photo collection website, to which I will not link because I don't want to promote it in any way. And it's not just that site. It's every site that mocks people just going about their life, minding their own business, when some mean person with a camera decides he or she is better than that person and chooses to snap their photo to share and mock with the world wide web.

I'm not talking about mocking people for the publicly displayed choices they make through protest or performance art or whatever. (A certain Topeka church comes to mind). If someone is putting themselves purposefully out in public to make a statement, then by all means, mock away if you don't agree with them. But there are weird people in the world. And that's okay. There are people who don't fit the standard of beauty (or really come anywhere near the ballpark of it). And that's okay. If someone is just living their life, happy in their own little universe, who the hell has the right to whip out a phone, take a picture and subject them to the cruelty of the world? Leaving your house does not mean you are granting license to every a$$&ole out there to take your picture.

Carly Findlay was one such woman who found her face plastered on Reddit and mocked. Carly has two rare skin conditions. As a result, she looks like she is severely sun burned. Carly is a blogger so when her face was used in one of these mean memes, she fought back! And beautifully so. But Carly had a platform from which to launch her defense and a talent for words to help her "win the internet". What about the dude with the unfortunate haircut, the single mom who is going through hell right now and left the house in her shabby clothes to spend her last dollar on food for her kids, the war veteran who is covered in odd scars. Who will defend them?

Parents, teach your kids not to mock people. Friends, call out your buddy when they point, stare and laugh. Humans, start loving the other humans! It's the only way we're all going to make it on this big ball of dirt we're sharing.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Artist of the Week: Henri Matisse - January 26th & 28th

For the week of January 26th, the Artist of the Week is Henri Matisse, a French artist known for his use of color. Students will learn about his life, art techniques and the time and culture in which he lived. Students will then have the chance to try out some of the  art techniques of Matisse and the fauvist movement.

Monday, January 26th, 2:30 to 3:50  - FULL
Wednesday, January 28st, 2:30 to 3:50 - FOUR spaces available

Students will use bright colors to create their own Matisse-inspired aquarium still life, then get to experiment with "painting with scissors", just as Matisse did during his later years.

NOTE ON AGE RECOMMENDATIONS: My Age 6 - 9 classes are full with a waiting list for the semester and the age 10+ classes are empty. I am changing all my art classes to ages 6 - 10. The Monday and Wednesday classes will be the same curriculum as a result. As always, age limits are guidelines. You know your children better than I do. Focused five year olds are welcome as are pre-teens who want to learn and don't mind a class full of "little kids".

To register for this or any of my other classes, visit

For more information on terms and policies, visit

Monday, January 19, 2015

Craft Supplies Storage

Even with all the space I have in this house... and the, um, (cough, cough) dedicated craft room in the basement (cough), I still struggle to keep my craft supplies tidy and where I need them, when I need them. Just like everyone else. My homeschool room / office / art class studio is FULL of books, paint, brushes, paper and all the myriad other items I need to educate my two children and all my art and music students. It's not a place conducive to pearl jewelry supplies and all the tiny bits and baubles that go along with that.

Enter my antique sheet music cabinet. 

My darling daughter gave me a new bead organizer and beads for Christmas. I moved into the new organizer and tidied up my supplies, storing everything in this unused cabinet. I'm looking forward to a lot more organized design work ahead. 

The cabinet sits in my dining room. The craft room in the basement sits unused because I'm a social crafter. Even if someone isn't specifically crafting with me, I like to be near other people while I'm working. Having the supplies near where I hang out with family and friends already is ideal. The beautiful cabinet makes it easy to hide a potential cluttered mess in plain sight. 

Now, my yarn stash - that's a story for a different day. I'm still working on the ideal solution for that. Where do you store your main project supplies?

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Artist of the Week Wrap-Up: Katsushika Hokusai

As usual, we ran long in class. The two art projects we made both really turned out well. I started with the water color on the lanterns so it would have time to dry. We moved to "carving" the styrofoam sheets for our printing. Unfortunately, my brayer is lost in a box somewhere and I didn't get it replaced before class. A wood dowel and a short piece of PVC pipe worked just fine in a pinch. After finishing our prints, we took markers to the lanterns and started folding and taping. In between projects or while work was being done, we watched several videos on the life of Katsushika Hokusai, as well as on the woodblock printing technique. We discussed Japanese lantern festivals and the common practice of changing your name (A LOT) in Ancient Japan. Hokusai changed his name over 30 times in his life!

Friday, January 16, 2015

TBR Pile Challenge: Throne of Glass Read-Along

The TBR Pile Challenge I joined this year has a Real-Along every other month. This month, the selected book was Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas. 

1) Did you read The Assassin's Blade? If so, do you think it enhanced your reading of Throne of Glass? If you haven't, do you plan to go back and do so before continuing with the series?

I have not. I haven't read any of Maas's works before now. I am enjoying Throne of Glass though so I will at least add them to my "TBR" pile... because it wasn't already too big. 

2) Who do you think is behind the Champions murders?

Possessed dogs. I know... kind of silly and far fetched but the way the Champions have been mutilated and the fact that Dorian's "kennels" have been mentioned in an offhand way more than once up to this point. Whether Dorian is behind it or not, I'm not sure, but I think his dogs have something to do with it. 

3) Thus far, what are some of your favorite scenes from Throne of Glass?

All of them? Maas writes some beautiful imagery and great dialogue. 

4) Have you tried sticking to Sarah's pronunciations or did you make up your own way to say all these names

I glanced at them before I started and I'm close on some. The one key difference is the pronunciation of "wyrd". I believe Maas was referencing the Anglo-Saxon concept of fate or personal destiny. That "wyrd" is pronounced "weird". And I have friends whose last name is Wyrd and that's how they pronounce it as well.

5) Is this the first time you've read Throne of Glass? Were you like Andrea and Jessica and completely unsure as to why you waited so long to read it? Or, if you reread it for the Read Along, did your reading experience change from the first time?

First time I've read Sarah J. Maas at all. I'm really enjoying it though. 

6) Okay, let's just get into this: As of this moment, who are you more fond of--Chaol or Dorian?

Chaol, though I also think Calaena would make a fantastic queen. 

7) What do you think about Princess Nehemia and her friendship with Celaena? Are you a fan, or are you giving the princess a side-eye?

I'm a fan. I think that friendship will ultimately lead to the defeat of the king and a new era of peace for the world. 

8) How are we liking Nox? Do you think he'll end up as someone to count on in the future, or should we not trust him?

He seems okay, but Calaena's behavior toward him doesn't seem in keeping with her assassin nature. Actually, there is a lot of her behavior that seems contradictory at times. In the beginning, we're lead to believe she is nothing but a cold-blooded killing machine, but her "soft underbelly", as it were, showed more quickly than I think makes sense for someone trained to be so ruthless. Maybe something there relates back to the books before this that I haven't read. 

9) The writing! Are you loving Sarah's writing as much as I am? Because seriously--it is so gorgeous.

I am definitely enjoying the writing. 

10) Do you have any predictions for the rest of the book? Anyone finding out Lady Lillian's real identity? Betrayals? More friendships? (If you've already read the other half, skipping this one would probably be best. Ha.)  

I think Lady Kaltain will find out Calaena's identity and it will probably cost her her life. And I'm certain the other three Champions in the final four (because, let's be clear, Calaena will be in the final four) will find out who she is at some point leading up to the final battle. 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

A Peek Behind the Scenes

My dear friend, Melanie, over at The Knotty Elf, had a birthday last week. We most often are working on our handcrafts when we're spending time together so last Saturday, instead of JUST taking her out to lunch for her birthday, we also spent time shopping at Joann and taking pictures of our jewelry pieces for our respective Etsy stores.

We're still getting the hang of good pictures for online. We really want to take some outside, natural light pictures, but right now, the weather in Kansas City is just way too cold for spending any amount of time outdoors. So we got creative with some cardboard, white fabric and my Ott light and set up a light box. Melanie took some "process pictures" as we worked. Toward the end of our marathon session, I had my daughter pick up Melanie's camera to make sure Melanie was in some pictures too. This is what Melanie found when she checked all the pictures.

Yep.  My daughter.