Teaching Art by Stretching Imaginations

Last Thursday I was standing in the art room on the crazy flex day schedule trying to figure out which week it was, who was coming and at what point they where in the project at hand.  It was overwhelming to me.  Made me irritable actually.  I shouldn't be such an ingrate.  Seriously.  I see the entire student body 3 times in 2 weeks for at least 45 min, I think it's actually 50.  Monday-Wednesday is set in stone.  Thursday and Friday however there is an A, B, C schedule.  That is awesome for the kids to get that much art, music and PE in a week.  Some schools struggle with a once a week 30 min time slot.  So that's not the issue here. 

This is the issue.  Kids these days are giving too much time to activities after school.    Or in the car getting to these activities, some are their own and others are their siblings activities.  Heck, last week I clocked 70 something miles in carpooling and getting to after school stuff in one afternoon.  NUTSO!  And we just have 2 kids.  Not to mention the school day is packed with classwork that rarely involves creative exploration.  A kid the other day was so freaking excited that I allowed free-draw time WITH markers I thought he'd pee himself.    We aren't giving kids time to explore their imaginations.  Simply put.  I am guilty with my own kids.  So not pointing fingers out.
So then I had an idea....a rather Grinchly idea..bwaaahaaahaaaaaa.......ok not really.  But that movie is stuck in my head for whatever reason.  So there ya have it. 
1.  Kids these days know how to use an I-something better than me.  But ask them to use a pair of these and they cut the tips of their fingers off.  No really, a 1st grader literally cut the top tip of skin off her finger last week then proceeded to squeeze it to death allowing the blood to gush out at said cut.  It was awesome.  And circle cutting?  Let's just say circles to them are gumdrops to me.
 2.  Drawing to kids means using a mouse.  Or stylus if they are lucky.  Or even on the TV using the Wii-Draw or other contraption.  They know how to draw Mine Craft characters but ask them to draw a simple circle or even something imaginary of their own and they literally can not.  Like freak out mode I don't know what to draw.
3.   I can hardly look at this without wanting to cry.
4.  So if we can't manipulate the most basic of art materials, how can I even introduce these?

So I decided this.  Mon-Wednesday is regular planned instructional projects.  We are working in the theme, "Art Around the World".  These days I'll be introducing art from different cultures.  We'll be drawing, painting, sculpting, etc....using the National and State Standards as the base for all the lessons.

And then on flex days...we are going to play, get messy and use our imaginations.  No Mine Craft....no Star Wars....just kids.  Now, being the theme girl that I am and wanting to be sure this fits with proper instruction time used wisely we are basing each week on an Element or Principle of Design.  This week was line.  And we used this:
Yeah, art teachers have a bountiful supply of crap from people's basements they no longer can use.  I could knit my orange van a sweater with the amount of yarn in this art closet.  I do not lie.  And how many of you moms are daring enough to actually get out the glue, string and paper and make string art with your children?  Yeah, that's what I thought.  That's kinda why I love my job.  I get to introduce kids to all sorts of ways to make you Mommies nutty at home because their kid now wants to make a string art duckie using yarn. 

We as parents are so quick to buy the latest game for Nintendo or latest i-tune song for the ear bobs.  Those things don't make messes.  They keep the children entertained.  They give us a breather.  (been there, done that believe me!) I challenge you though, next time you're at a local business that sells craft supplies to buy your child a box of washable markers, a ream of white paper and a roll of masking tape.  It will keep them equally entertained.  Might be a tad messy.  But the magic that can come from that hour is worth every penny.  

So....if your kid has me, today in art we made string art at center 1.  We talked about lines and how the ball of yarn is one darn long line.  We also made "doodle art" at center 2.  Kids had no idea what that meant.  I said it meant drawing from your imagination and not really worrying about an end picture.  Just draw what you are feeling, or something you like to eat, or something you like to do.  Doodle.  Seriously?  I had to teach 5th graders what it means to doodle?  Yeah I just did that.  I can not wait to get to the end of the year to see how far we've stretched our imaginations out.  Hopefully farther than imaginable, right?


Weekends and Meltdowns

If you follow me on Instagram or FB then you already know about my meltdown.  On many levels Friday.  Just in case, let me bring you all up to speed.  So Thursday after school I buzzed off to the post office to ship my Ebay solds and an encaustic painting.  I started selling my kids clothes, shoes, and some of my stuff about 4 weeks ago on Ebay.  To date I've made about $500.  Yeah.  I like Ebay.  Wish I'd started this years ago when I was a Kelly's Kids freako buyer for my Mailey.  Anyhoo....I forgot US Postal doesn't have good boxes for art shipping.   I decided I'd just take the painting Friday after school.  Which meant  I left the painting in the van.  In the front seat.  All.  freaking.  day.  Friday.  Where the sun beamed in just right through the windshield as too warm the painting up.  I got into the van that afternoon glanced over and may have yelled an explicit.  Yeah. 

I went on to Pakmail but before entering decided I better peek.  Surely it was fine.  And, well, this is what it looked like.  So to answer ANY questions you ever had about an encaustic wax painting the main one being, "Can it melt?"  That answer would be YES.  Especially when left in a car in the direct sun for like 8 hours. 
I was able to scrape off the bad areas and make it pretty again Saturday afternoon.  It's wrapped and ready to ship.   Again.  This time in the coolness of my home until this afternoon.  Lesson learned.
Saturday am the alarm went off at my usual 6am for long runs.  I got up....and promptly went back to bed.  There is a breaking point for me I've decided in training.  And Saturday was it.  I knew my body needed to rest.  But then I woke at 8am and made these:
An art friend of mine posts photos of her doughnut creations all the time on instagram.  While at Michael's one day last week I decided to buy the pan and try it out!  I'm on a rather strict diet that includes no wheat....so the above doughnuts are gluten free.   Honestly I've found that anything made GF tastes better.  No really.  The entire family (including Lily) enjoyed the doughnuts...pretty sure they'll become a tradition in the Horne house.  Yeah!
Sunday rolled around and my body said, okay you can run now.  But not 14 miles please.  Instead I did 4.5 then walked about 2 with this friend. We giggled at our shadows here...I love the stilt legs and my pig tails!   It was  a perfect way to start our Sunday.  And what a glorious day.  We are having the sweetest weather here in Georgia.  With fall around the corner I am itching to pull out my corduroys and sweaters!


Yellow Daisies and Being Amazing

Last week I blogged about trusting instincts and using my creative gifts wholeheartedly.  This past week I was actually able to get into my studio 3 nights.  3 NIGHTS!!  What?  I know.  And run training runs, and fix dinner, and enjoy the family...you get the picture right?  You see, when there is balance there is more.  And not that I got into the studio and made a tent full of art, or enough cuffs to fit an army.  But more than I'd made the day before.  I've let go of the ideal of  more and decided to focus on the simple more. 
I know you are wondering why I made another painting just like last week's (which incidentally was probably 3 years old)...well after I posted that blog post 3 people contacted me and asked if that painting was for sale.  Yeah.  A true sign that I need to make MORE of that kind of painting. 
And although it is quite similar, I did change the words up to say, "be amazing."  I mean why not?  Be amazing that is.  I am most certain that no one wants to be boring, be ordinary or be normal.  Right?



I posted on instagram last night a new painting.  And then it sold.  Already.  I know.  I actually got into my studio and painted at night!  After last spring I really thought this teaching year was going to be disastrous.  In fact I was ready with a plan B should I have to quit teaching within the first 6 weeks.  I was NOT going to repeat last year's weekly doctor visits, constant pain, and basic unhappy life.  Nope.  I wasn't. 

But friends....yesterday I went up to the bookkeeper (my buddy and sounding board always at school) and told her Wednesday was my new happy day.  Because by Wednesday I was on cloud 9 with how good the students were being.  And my after school art classes....Oh my goodness.  Dreamy beyond dreamy.  And one class has 28.  I am insane.  But when 28 all want to be there and their parents are paying a nice fee, well it works pretty well.  For everyone.

My point to this post is that sometimes incredible can be found.  I don't want to jinx myself, but so far we are finding such a happy routine that it is allowing the incredible into our lives again.  Something we desperately needed.  Thanks for hanging in there with me.  Wait til you see what I have in store for the Holiday show season.  It's going to be so good!


Texture Cuff

Ahh...the weekends.  Very different for us right now without our William playing travel baseball.  I kinda miss it, the interactions with other humans and watching him play.  But man.....it was really nice having a weekend to do, well.....NOTHING.  Saturday morning I woke and got my 14 mile run over with before anyone was up.  It was perfect weather.  A little misty rain the entire time with the bottom falling out right at the end.   I tried the audio book and that was awesome.  2.5 hours flew by.  No really.   Here's proof I survived the longest run in the history of my 41 years.  This picture cracks me up.  I look like a bobble head!
 I'd jokingly put a box of Gluten Free pancake mix on the counter the night before and said to Billy, "You can make these for me tomorrow if you want."  (Just a little background, Billy is the pancake man.  He loves making them for all of us.  I bought the GF because I have to limit my wheat intake the rest of my life.  To be honest, everything GF I've eaten so far has tasted better than wheat products.  Even Billy agreed the pancakes were amazing.)  Seeing my man in the kitchen makes me all smitten with him again.  It's the little things when ya been together 22 years.

After a hot shower and a movie with William (We watched Oblivion which totally sucked.  I was like what?  What was that about again?   Don't waste your rental mola.) I headed on down to the studio for some art making.  I took an online class with Claudine Hellmuth this past month.  It was a month of techniques....a lot a techniques I have to add.  One stood out to me and so I trotted off to buy the supplies for it last Monday.  I mean what the heck....it's not like I don't have enough art supplies in my studio right?  It was called faux leather I think.  Using sticky back canvas and embossing powder.  And although I enjoyed the technique and it pushed my thinking, the stencils were a pain, expensive and limiting.  I made a bunch, which I'll sell.  But I kept thinking there has to be a better way......

So my wheels started spinning and I thought, can I use embossing powder on leather?  Why yes Jenni, you can.  And so this happened:

 And then these happened.
 And now I am kicking myself for the binge clean out where I got rid of all but these 8 leather cuffs.

I never got back into the studio to finish adding the metal stampings to the embossed cuffs.  Next weekend I hope to get back.  Mostly after the few hours in the studio I laid around the house.  Sunday was church and more laying around.  William and I Sunday rented another movie in which both of us fell asleep during.  Hilarious right?  Billy and Mailey just piddled all day while we snoozed.  William actually slept I think about 5 hours.  Football is kicking his booty.  Mine too obviously.  Haha...actually I'm pretty sure my napping was due to the 2nd week of school exhaustion and my running schedule. 

So....big week ahead.  Open House for me and the kids, Football Jamboree and more.  Oh and after school art classes start back this week too.  Pretty sure I won't be back here until next week.  So have an awesome creative week!


Penelope and School

I just wanted to pop in and say howdy folks!  And introduce you to Penelope.  A new character in my growing imaginary population.  There's a boy coming soon.  And he's quite dapper!  This is done in encaustic.  A wax painting technique that is growing in population.  I first learned this technique in an intense workshop with R&F Paints.  My buddy Valerie was already working in the wax but took the class with me too (she's really quite good at this wax stuff).  I fell in love with it immediately because of its woodcut look.  Having been a printing major in college the texture is something I am in love with.  And although I don't paint exclusively in this medium, I always have some wax on hand and get a hankerin' to mess around with it.  About once a year.  The funny thing is, every time I create a series in wax they all sell.  My acrylics I may have stashes of oldies, but ya know, never any wax ones.  Huh. 
So it turned out quite sweet.  And now the studio is all set to make more.  I've decided Sunday afternoon is going to be my studio time.  I think if I have it penciled in it'll help me stay motivated.  Speaking of motivation....this school year is going so well.  I mean, like.....insanely well.  I could cry right now thinking about it. 

Here's our routine:  Everyone is up and going by 6:15ish.  I get coffee going and piddle in the house (I am a night shower gal, always have been.  Definitely helps morning routines since my husband takes a 30 minute minimum shower).  We pack lunches, leash Lily and head to the bus stop by 7am (it used to stop at our house but now it doesn't).  I'm back home and headed to school by 7:30ish.  School clock-in for me is 8am.  I work until 2 normal days, afterschool art starts next week which will be until 4:00.  William has football everyday until 5:30.  At first I was like geesh....but now I love it because folks we are sitting down every night at the dinner table for dinner!!!  No more every night of the week running around to baseball practice and this and that.  Mailey has acting once a week at night, but that is nothing compared to our old life.  After dinner we all just lay around, do homework, watch TV.  Relax.  No stress.  No craziness.  Laundry is always done.  House is in order (speaking of house, I've designated Thursday afternoon to housekeeping so Saturday is free and house is clean!!)  I feel great.  I'm actually not exhausted.  In fact yesterday around 5PM Mailey and I trotted off to TJMaxx to do some clothes shopping for her.  We giggled and talked and bonded the entire time.  In fact, I told her I liked how much nicer she was treating me since school started.  She said yeah, it's because you're not embarrassing me anymore.  HA!  I will say my school day is much less stressful worrying about her. 

She's still adjusting to middle school.  Last week everyday it was "So when can we start homeschooling?"  And yesterday it was, "well, maybe I'll be okay now."  She's actually asked to be home schooled since she was in kindergarten.  I would love to have, but I love teaching too much!  So....8 days down.  172 to go.  Not that I'm counting or anything.  I'll be back later in the week with a new cuff I'm working on.  Fun times in the studio.


Trust Your Heart

Friday was my Mother's birthday.  We had a bunch of people over to celebrate and kick off the new school year.  It was yummy....yummy.  This is so random but I sometimes worry that all the good eating will end once our parents and grandparents are gone.  My generation and my kids are such suckers for convenience foods and eating out.  (that was totally off subject, but hey in real life I am so known to jump from convo to convo.)  Anyhoo, I gave my mother a painting for her birthday.  She had been wanting one of my bikes.  I had no idea what to go out and buy her so I just wrapped it up.  But felt rather stupid and guilty for giving her my art as a gift.  I've no idea why, but for some reason I feel like I am cheating by doing this.  I need to get over this because I've got a basement full of art and jewelry right now!  Who has a birthday coming up? 

After she opened it she asked me what I was working on.  "Nothing.  Absolutely nothing.  In fact, I've not painted much of anything in months.  It smells down there."  hahahha...No really people, this summer of rain plus unfinished basement=sneezy and sniffly Jenni.  Boo.  Not a fun creative environment.  But after this first week of school I was kinda excited about getting into the studio Friday afternoon.  I'd carved out the time.  The house was clean and guest ready.   Friday rolled around and the errand list was placed in my lap.  Urgh.  So while out running errands I stopped in Barnes and Noble.  There is nothing more inspiring to me than a cup of coffee, a pile of creative books and some quiet time.  I actually left with 4 new books which I'll share later on the blog. 

So why am I rambling about all this?  Because folks, when I pour myself into all those creative books and gorgeous Somerset magazines I realize that I have a true gift.  A perspective that is unique and not like anyone else.  Looking through pages and pages as well as having just finished with that Lila Rogers contest I realize that too many artists are trying to fit into a box.  I'm not that fond of boxes. Are you?

This morning I sat down and poured over my past work.  I'll admit my style has evolved.  What I am really good at is taking simple, sweet genre and making it speak to you.  Whether it's the words carved, the colors I use or the style....it speaks to people.  When I love it, I know it's right.  Today I told the family I am working in the studio, and since encaustics have a lovely smell of their own, the basement smell will be rather sweet.  Yep...I'm pulling out the wax.  When looking over all my work from the past honestly those pieces are my favorites.  And right now


1st Day of School

It's kinda grainy because I took it with my phone this am (should have pulled out the IOS)...but here they are.  8th and 6th graders.  Holy cheesecracker where did the time go?  Whaaaaa......  They both had a great day, I think.  Mailey got off the bus after 4:30 and was wound up about this and that and urgh this and that.  It was funny.  We used to have these discussions in the car on the way home together.  I guess now she has an entire bus ride to get all in a tissy and ready to explode for me!  William had football until 5:30.  He didn't say too much about the day.  He's asleep on the couch.  It's 7:30PM.  I guess it was a big day.

So whilst uploading some photos today I saw a file marked "!st day of school".  These 2 photos were in it:
Circa 2009...yes, William has always had tons of hair which he never wanted cut.  Until football came around this summer.  haha.  I think that bag was as big as Mailey all year long.  And we must have not started school in the 1st of August heat.  Kids are wearing jackets.  huh.  Oh and this was the "do not touch my hair Mom" phase for Mailey.  We've left that stage.  Thank goodness.  What is it with my kids and their hair?
Circa 2010....gracious alive Mailey that was some 1st day of school outfit.  Look at baby Lily in the background.  Awwww....  William was Mr. Sports shorts and a tee until last wear when he shot up and thinned out AND noticed the female species.  At least the hair is a tad better in this photo.  For both of them.  What fun looking at these photos.  Makes me want to go back and find them all.  Did I even take one last year? 

Well....we all survived today.  I even got in my training run tonight in this humidity.  And now I'm headed to the other couch to chillax with Lily and watch some HGTV.  Hope you guys had a great 1st day too! 


Putting The Hearts Out There

This is going to be one exciting week.   First, we start school tomorrow!  Well, we meet teachers and such tomorrow and officially start on Tuesday, but we start school tomorrow!!  Wow.  It's Mailey's first year of middle school.  A big transition for her since I've literally been with her at her school since Kindergarten.  I was a crazy volunteer Mom for K and 1st and then when we moved to Arbor Springs I started as the afterschool art teacher and then full-time art teacher.   Don't tell her I said this but I am kind of relieved to have the school to myself.  I LOVED having her at school with me, don't get me wrong, but it is time for her to move along.  The last eye rolling I got in class by her near about sent her little skinny butt to China to work in a laundry.  Just sayin'.  We've bonded in a different way over summer and I really think her not being with me at school all day will continue this new found relationship.  Of respect.  On both sides.
Moving along....William is trying out for middle school football!  No way.  No really.  I was like over my dead body are you trying out for football boy.  I lost that arm wrestling match and he's been at it for 3 weeks now.  I see a passion in him for this I've not seen in a very long time.  He's played so much baseball over the years that I worry he's a little burned out.  He came home so wound up the other morning after football training (these have been 7:30-9:30am practices BTW which he has been up and spry for) that I decided to be one of "those parents" and stayed for practice last Tuesday.  And well, I was kinda freaked out by how good he was.  Granted there are no pads or helmet, and it was just 2 hand touch scrimmages, but still....I saw a new side of him.  One of complete and utter joy and thrill for trying something new.  Dang I miss that feeling.
And lastly....I decided to go back to teaching again.  My certificate is in the holding cell position for renewal.  Perhaps this time next year a full-time position will be available.  But there is something exciting about starting a new year and we have a new principal.  Whom over the summer I had the chance to bond a little with and really like.  Plus I LOVE my team.  Seriously Staci (music) and Robin (PE) are two of the most amazing teachers I've ever met.  And they are just plain old awesome moms, Christians, friends and probably cooks too.  They are the package you want when you are the "Special Team".  Being an elementary school "Special Teacher" is not a cupcake job let me tell ya.  But being with them makes it very fun.  We balance each other very well. 

So I am putting it out there this week.  Lots of hearts will be expelling from my chimney.  Because as an elementary teacher that's kinda what happens.  These kids get under your skin and you just love them.  For who they are, stinky bodies and all (It's August...in Georgia...and we are starting school August 6th....which means playground time....need I say more?).  The job, despite my falling apart at the end of last school year, truly brings me joy.  I'll be back at the end of the week to give you a little report.  Now...I've gotta get to bed so I can get my boy to football in the am.  Later. 


Southern Circle Retreats

Well....registration is officially open for the 2nd Southern Circle Retreats!!  Head on over to our website for all the information you need to join us on this magical creative weekend retreat.
 The door is open for you.....won't you join us?

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