This is the most recent lady painting I've completed.  I'm beginning to find a groove with this process and am ready to take it to the next level.  What?  I mean, I'm ready to take ownership of the process and start adding more "Jenni" to the composition. 
Of course the nest is a sure sign that I'm finding a groove.  Did you know one of the first paintings I completed in adulthood is of a giant nest?  It hangs in our home as a reminder of where I began this artsy journey.  I could critique Rebecca to death....but don't want to ruin the post.  I'm sure you see the akwardnesses too.  It's a part of the learning and expanding my vocabulary as a painter.  The awkward stage.  Like butterflies in the tummy 1st date kinda stuff going on here.  The fact that I'm even sharing this entire process on the blog is a vulnerable thing to do.  I mean really......little birds, campers and trucks to this does seem a bit off track.    But I am loving the change and the freedom to just paint.

I have no art shows on the horizon so a little time spent on something new is just what my creative soul needed.  I've also got some jewelry ideas floating around.  Maybe I'll explore this avenue too!



Sometimes I think that my brain is works in a very unique special way.  Or annoying way.  Either one. Yep.  Recently I described my brain to a friend as one that is always thinking in layers.  Always in motion.  Always thinking ahead....sometimes thinking behind.  I prefer ahead and am getting better about that.
Today I was wandering around the art room trying to stay focused on the kids when I started to notice uniqueness and beauty in quite ordinary objects.
We often associate beauty with a landscape, a human or even a work of art.  There's an ideal for beauty.  A definition.  The tools we use to make the art tend to get dirty, dingy and old.  Not what one would label "beautiful".  This elementary art teacher found some beauty in the simplest of objects today.  And decided to capture them with an iphone.
Just little reminders for later that when the world seems ugly, there's always something beautiful to be seen.

Oh the beautiful layers in this room. You keep me excited about making art and teaching art.


Disney World 2014

Last week was our annual winter break.  I love that our county school system places this week off in the winter.  We may start school a week earlier than those around us, but I love the time off in the winter months to spend quality time with my family before the hustle and bustle of Spring hits.
We started going to Disney during Winter Break 3 years ago.  It's a great time to go because it's never too hot!  This year since William made the Northgate High School baseball team he and Billy weren't able to go with us.  We kinda knew this when we booked the trip but decided to book anyways with the thought that I'd take Mailey and a friend instead.  Luckily the Mom was able to go too!!  Maddie and Mailey met on the school bus this year.  Turns out she lives around the corner from us.  But since Mailey went to school with me, and not where she was districted to attend, we never knew this.  She is the sweetest child I am SO GLAD Mailey has become friends with.  As a parent you pray that your child will be drawn to children that have similar family stories.  And this one is a keeper!  Her Mom Lauren and I got to know each other pretty well over the trip too.  She's one of the most sincere and kind-spirited people I've met.  I'm pretty sure God had a plan to put her into my life as much as he put Maddie in Mailey's.
Pooh is Mailey's favorite....this photo proves that one is never too old to show this affection towards a childhood love.  He just kept hugging on her after she told him he was her favorite character. I was crying of course.  Because moments like these are priceless.  I am ever thankful that I have this child in my life to bring constant surprising joy to our family.  She really is a gift.
Mailey turned 12 while we were there.  We celebrated her special day at the Magic Kingdom.  Not a bad way to spend it right?  Riding roller coasters and of course Peter Pan.  And getting her photo made with Cinderella.

It was strangely a very easy trip without long waits or crowds.  It rained, but we never got wet because we were always on a ride or eating (lots of eating).   We were there Wednesday to Sunday....and were able to go to Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios and Epcot with ease.  Maybe we just planned it right and were always at the park opposite the crowds.  I'm not sure.  I just know that it was one of the best trips we've had to Disney yet!  I really wasn't ready to come home.  I am ever thankful for our "Disney Fairy" Rene who helps make these magical trips possible.
Yep...the balloon girl let me hold them.  And yep.  There is an art to holding these things!   Well.....we are back to school Monday am.  I'm ready to get back into the routine quite honestly.  I've got some fun stuff to teach.  And new adventures to get into.  These sweet memories of  5 days away with Mailey will forever be imprinted on my heart.  I look forward to our next magical trip already.


Play Ball!!

Today was our son William's first High School baseball game.  I don't talk much about my boy here on the blog.  He's crazy artistic, but doesn't tend to "hang" with me in the studio and at workshops like Mailey Grace.  So you see and hear about her more.  But he is my little man.  I love this boy so much it hurts!!  And today, good grief I was a nervous nelly.  Really.   Like double over freako stomach flutterby's!!  It's so hard to believe that 11 years ago he sat on a bench in the dugout crying because he didn't want anyone looking at him!  I seriously need to find that photo.  We've come a long way since then let's just say.
So here's the deal.  William is actually only in the 8th grade.  But for some insane reason 8th graders are allowed to try out for high school ball.  It's crazy what we Mommas have done to get the boys to the high school for workouts and tryouts.  Thank GOODNESS I have a sweet Momma getting William to Northgate 5 days a week from the middle school and rushing him to the high school for me!  He couldn't have tried out otherwise.
 Is that a sweet photo above or what?  I think his name is Chase.  We are still learning names and numbers.
William was the starting catcher.  Crazy cool.  He's a super star in this position.  Today we played a local rival McIntosh in a double header.  Unfortunately they outplayed us.  It was painful.  We are not used to that kinda beating.  William had his share of mistakes.  But dadghum....he's 14 years old.  This is the largest field he's ever played on.  Like ever.  Did you know that high school fields are as big as the major league fields?  So for a catcher that's kinda big deal.  Home plate to 2nd is further than he's thrown.    Heck to all the bases is further!  But he did good.

I can't wait to see what happens for number 12.  As parents we are very low-key and low-stress about his ball playing.  We tell him we are always proud of him...even in the worst of circumstances.  He has a natural talent given to him from God.  It's true.  I can hardly talk about it for fear of it being taken away.  I am forever thankful we have been given this son to raise.  And that his character, spirit and passion for the greatest game on earth resonate throughout his bones.  I am proud to call him my number 12.  Always.


Icemagedeon 2014

Tuesday around lunch we got the word that school would be canceled due to an impending ice storm heading our way.  Our school system doesn't play around with its kiddos, school buses and bad weather.  Thank goodness they don't because we woke to a blanket of ice Wednesday morning.
A few blog posts ago I wrote about how Atlanta was blanketed with snow.  Snow we weren't really prepared for.   The timing of the entrance of the this great snow was the real cause of the chaos for our great southern city. Honestly, in early January there was a threat that never came.  They say if you cry wolf enough eventually people won't listen.  Well, let's just say that this go around the city listened to the cry of the wolf.  Stayed home.  Stocked up on stuff like meat, candles and firewood and waited.  Luckily this storm hit in the night while we all were asleep. 

The nature of an ice storm is different than a snow storm anywhere in the world I think.  With snow there's sledding and giddy children and hot cocoa all around.  With ice storms, especially in the land of great pine trees there's no exiting the house for fear of being speared by the great pine!  Literally our neighborhood looks like a tiny tornado hit it.  Power outages plagued our great city.   Luckily we just lost power as we were headed to bed Wednesday evening and it was back on within a few hours.  Heck...Wal-mart closed it's doors in Newnan!  What?  It was that bad.  So here's pictorial of how our great ice days went at the Horne house.  I hope you guys all stayed safe a snug wherever you were.  
 Ebay listing and napping....I make the most perfect chocolate chip cookie (my favorite food group ya know)
 Even Animal was coated in ICE~!

 Then Thursday morning we woke to a blanket of SNOW!
Lawrence who usually loves a good walk wanted nothing to do with this stuff.
We got lots of this done.  And Olympic watching.  I'm a little addicted to the Olympics this year.  I wonder if there's a way to stream it here at school?  hmmmm...  
By the afternoon the sun was shining and the snow/ice was melting!  It was like a crazy waterfall from the heavy ice melting from the trees.
I took a 2.5 mile walk to check out the neighborhood and found this.  The snow melting away in a perfect heart shape.  Love that.
And finally....after 2 days of Olympic watching and cookie making and other baking I got into my studio and started her:
I've yet to name her.  It'll come to me.  Once she's all complete.  Well...it's Valentine's Day.  In all complete honesty as a teacher I really hate this day.  Worse than the day after Halloween.  So I am breathing deep and preparing for the storm of sugar high children coming my way.  Wish me luck....I'lls ee you guys back next week!


The Path

It seems like yesterday that big decisions were made in my life.  Where to go to college, who to marry, when to have kids, when to move, etc. Yes.  Time is traveling at a pace faster than I ever imagined when I was my children's age.  Back then it seemed an eternity before Christmas rolled back around.  I often wonder if my parents had the same struggles with money, with friendships, with balancing, working, parenting, life.  I've never asked them these questions.  I might not want the answer.

Right now we as a family are shifting again.  Our son enters high school next year.  He's already made the high school baseball team as an 8th grader.  I know, what?  But it happens here.  We are embracing this life with more confidence than other stages in our life for some reason.  Perhaps we are finally doing a better job of balancing work and home. Letting go of my desire to be a money making artist and shifting to full-time teaching has removed an unbelievable amount of stress. The kids being more independent has also altered our lifestyle.  It's a delicate combination of it all. Honestly.  I love our little life right now.  And although I have my days where after being in the van 4.5 hours in one afternoon getting everyone where they need to be I think "what the hell?".... I find myself  quickly calming down and refocusing.  The old me woulda had a hissy fit and yelled at everyone.  This me just said, "I'm getting in the hot tub.  Who's joining me?"  Really, in the end it's the Momma I want to be and need to be for them. 

This is my path.  My one chance to be the most amazing Mother, Wife and Friend.  I find joy in this path. And although I may trip every once-in-awhile, find that it's an amazing path laid perfectly just for me to navigate.


Sara Series

Well folks....this is becoming dreamy.  Really.  Never did I think I could do this.  In fact, I remember after Billy and I married I attempted to paint a portrait of myself in my wedding gown.  Ok...stop the cheese-ball jokes.  I loved my dress and I am a southern belle ya know.  We have "Bridal portraits" made in our fancy wedding dresses before we wed.  It's a thing.  But I really wanted a painted version.  Yeah...that didn't work out so well for me and I ended up tossing it out eventually.
Painting strangers is still the best way to practice.  I've got amazing new head shots of Mailey I might try this weekend.  Or if we get another snow day or two.  Yeah...they are predicting ice and snow coming our way.  Great.  We've already missed 6 days of school since January for weather/cold/snow/ice!
Sara is painted on an old cabinet door.  Awhile back I found at our local Habitat store these cabinet panels for $2 each.  No lie!  I loved the recess and angle of this.  Perfect for my little ladies.  I intend to work magic on the edge tonight.  I am thinking a quote about nature and motherhood?  Oh and these lips are better.  Next I'm going to attempt a blonde hair.  Baby steps.  Sara might get some texture or enhancement to her white gown.  It's all learning curve!


Inspired by Botticeli

While attending Auburn University I had the opportunity to take lots of art history classes.  I couldn't get enough honestly.  In fact, I bet there are enough art history classes on my transcript that I could've been a dual major in printmaking and art history.  9 classes at least under the belt....all of which I made high A's in (toot...toot).  Sitting in the dark theater with images of our rich cultural history projecting screen after screen is what motivated me to continue down the path of being an artist. 

And this artist was one of my very favorites:
 Oh Botticelli.  Your dreamy skin tones and eloquent hands...you had me at first slide.
This week in Studying Under the Masters our artist inspiration is Botticelli.  Yummy.  I know, I'm weird.  His work has truly inspired me to seek the artist deep inside me I know I can be.  I've used the whimsical crutch.  I have.  Deep down I've always wanted to paint figures, not necessarily realistic ones.  But rather images that reflect the joy I receive from knowing people. 

Here's my progress with yesterday's painting:

If you read my post from earlier in the week then you saw my first attempt at a figure Saturday night.  Since then, I've watched another artist's technique which made a light bulb turn on.  I can't wait to try another tomorrow!  This is so exciting for me.  I truly was feeling a tad lost and quite honestly bored with my current work.  This.....this is bringing back the joy to my paintbrush.  In fact....I painted this one during school sitting at different tables with the kids.  They were all like, "OH MY GOSH Mrs. Horne.  Where did you learn to do that?"  My response...."Can you believe this is all new to me?  And that by practicing I'm getting better and better?"  What an amazing lesson to teach these kids.

Since I wasn't sure how any of this was going to turn out the ones I done here at school were literally painted on this surface:
Yep.  This is good old fashioned cardboard.  It came out of the IKEA boxes that held Mailey's new bed.  I knew it'd come in handy one day for something special.  I've got to work on lips.  They started great with the drawing...but slowly got pursed a bit too tight.  She looks persnickety.  I love that I've taken lots of photos of the process.  I can totally see where the lips lost their luster.  Next time I'll attempt a smile!!

So...are you trying anything new lately with your paint brush?  I hope so.  It's a lovely feeling.


The Art of Practice

Do you ever just feel like trying something completely different/new with your art?  I do.  In fact, usually this shift in my work means something new and amazing is coming.  This is the feeling I got before deciding to paint bikes and trucks.  It's what got me started painting to begin with.  A deep need resonating throughout my bones to just paint.
Proof that there is an ugly....ugly stage to all paintings.  Matisse started all his paintings with a charcoal sketch.  I started my composition this way and loved it.  I love the smudges and lines it leaves behind.  I usually use a black primed canvas but this time had Home Depot tint my primer gray to create a softer base.  I am loving the way all my work in translating with the gray instead of black base.  And by canvas I mean wood.  I always paint on wood.  I am not a lover of the canvas texture.  Or "boinginess" of canvas.

I'm taking the class led by Jeanne Oliver called Studying Under the Masters.  I'm still percolating  some ideas from week one.  We are already on week 4 by the way!  Good thing I have a year to look back at the material because this is good stuff I tell ya.  The figures in Matisse's work have been kinda haunting me.  I had a little time to fast forward through this weeks videos and it turns out this week is Botticelli.  Oh sweet cream filled donuts he is a favorite.  His portraits are dreamy.  So now I am more inspired to paint figures!

I'm also peeking in at Christy Tomlinson's She Art class.  That girl will get you inspired to do all sorts of things you didn't know you needed to even be inspired about!  So Saturday I decided to get into the studio and first clean it up.  It was a ridiculous mess!  And then I grabbed a board, primed it, and just started.
To my little eyes she is beautiful.  She is tender, and sweet and just perfect.  I know figures and angels and this sort of subject are kinda saturating the artsy market right now.  And I didn't want my figure to look anything like theirs.  It's funny.  I tell my students in class that a brushstroke is kinda like your handwriting.  Everyone's is different and unique to the person holding the brush. 
And even though she was brought to life from an idea sparked by Matisse and a She Art class, she has my signature.
In one of the videos tonight Jeanne talks about gaining perspective as an artist.  And that sometimes it's okay to just paint for you.  I think right now during this transition period I'm doing just that.  I don't think anyone would really want to buy this painting anyways.  That wasn't my mindset when I was painting it.  I just knew I wanted to paint.  Truth be told I lost complete track of time and lost myself in the studio.  I haven't felt this kind of joy for painting in a very long time.   It's not really about selling art right now.  It's about exploring and pushing myself as an artist.  Stepping into the haven't painted part of my sketchbook because I thought I wasn't good enough.  When you become labeled "whimsical painter" it's sometimes hard to get out of that box.  I love the quote in the workshop tonight.  It read, "If you hear a voice within you say you can not paint.  Then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced."  -van Gogh

How true.  I silenced that puppy up pretty good Saturday evening.  Looking forward to my next date with the brush this weekend.


Snow Boots and Flip Flops

So unless you live under a rock you've heard about the great Snow Storm that hit Atlanta.  It was awesome.  4 days out of school.  5 days before my van could make it up and out of the driveway (This was only after I shoveled the freaking mountain and threw 4 boxes of rock salt on it.  Yes, we stock up on things like rock salt in the south for homemade ice cream making.  Funny story sideline about that.... one year we wanted to make ice cream for 4th of July and couldn't find rock salt anywhere. It was hilarious!  So since then we have on hand a minimum of 3 boxes.  Luckily for me I had those rations in the pantry to sprinkle on my shaded, steep, 2" thick icey driveway Friday!)  Anyhoo...we hunkered down in the house.  We did a bunch of nothing.  NOTHING.  Nothing.  Like really.  Nothing.  Our house got dirty.  My children didn't bathe.  We threw meals together at will.  It was awesome.  Hubby had to work each day.  From the bed.  With at least one dog helping.  I watched movies.  Lots of movies.  I became sore from laying on the couch.  And doing nothing.  It was awesome.  Have I mentioned that yet?  

I've often given thought to what I would do with extra time off.  I imagined creating painting after painting.  Perhaps inventing a new line of amaze-balls jewelry.  Heck...maybe even read a blog post or two.  Or read one of the books piling up by my bed.  Perhaps work on William's room.  But the snow had me mesmerized.  We went outside for hours to play, walk and sled.  Then we'd come in and hit the couch or bed.  Saturday I started to panic about the state of our house.  Especially since we were having a Super Bowl Partay/Birthday for William.  So the house got clean.  I think the kids finally bathed.  And I restocked the bare cupboards.   Oh and William tried out for the High School Baseball team and MADE IT!!  More on that later.  

So it's Monday.  February 3rd.  And I am wearing these on my feet.  Pretty funny if ya ask me.  Because a week ago my feet looked like the above photo.  Oh the difference a week makes when you live in the south.  So... off to teach some munchkins about Russian Art.  I just hope they remember where we left off.  Because my mind is still a little bit slushy.  :)

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