Monday, March 30, 2009

Creative Thinking

Recently, I finished reading a book co-authored by a friend of mine, Susie Monday. Susie has been teaching art for over thirty years. She now concentrates on fiber art and teaches at her home studio. She and Susan Marcus wrote New World Kids, The Parents' Guide to Creative Thinking.

This book is not only for parents, but teachers and grandparents. Its premise is that we all and especially parents, with aid from grandparents, need to teach and nurture creative thinking. The book addresses how to determine a child's strengths and then has ideas, exercises, and experiments to cultivate them. This book is worth much more than its $14.95 selling price. For more information visit New World Kids. From the web-site, be sure to link to the blog that has additional information and resources.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Wonders of Mother Earth

Even though we did not find masses of wildflowers in Death Valley, we did see vivid colors in the mountains and some interesting crystalline salt formations. As I always tell my students, nature is the best color teacher. Just look a the wonderful colors seen at the Artist's Palette as we approached it.

Then around two more bends in the road and we got closer! The colors are amazing! Be sure to click on these photos for a bigger view.

More interesting rock formations with subtler colors were close by.

Next we went to the Devil's Golf Course, where Ali danced among the rough, crystalline salt peaks.

I had to take some close-ups for inspiration.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Searching for Wildflowers

Our trip in AZ, CA, and NV in search of wildflowers started at our home in Green Valley, which is just south of Tucson, AZ. On our first day, we traveled mostly east to Yuma, AZ. We began seeing wildflowers as soon as we left Yuma heading north. We first saw a vibrant show of wildflowers in a valley between the Chocolate and Castle Dome Mountains. Yes, the chocolate Mountains were a beautiful chocolate color.

These small violet flowers were all along both sides of the road. I kept making Ali stop to take more pictures, especially because violet is my favorite color.

The orange flowers below are globe mallows. This is the most flowers I have seen on one plant. The ones that grow near our home have about a tenth of the flowers this plant had. Since globe mallow is one of the flowers I am planning to add to the Desert Beauties Quilt Series, finding plants with such an abundance of blooms was a blessing.

In this area, we also saw ocotillos which had red leaves instead of green ones. Not all of them were red, but quite a few. All the ocotillo that grow near our home have green leaves. I wonder if the red has something to do with the soil.

Then onto Death Valley. The ranger there told us that they were not having a good year for wildflowers. We did see some; but, not nearly as many we saw outside of Yuma! I have DH Ali, our tour guide, to thank for putting Yuma on our itinerary. Check out some of the beauties we did see in Death Valley.

Ali has always put the pictures we have taken on our journeys into slide shows. We have over 65 carousels of slides. Last year, he went digital. He combines our photos with text and music to make wonderful displays of our travels. Check out the title slide he made for this trip using three of the photos I took.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Little Red School's Showcase

As promised, I am reporting on the showcase of the work created by Will Chapman and my students at the Little Red School last Friday. Parents were invited as guests to celebrate the artistic achievements of their children. It was a grand affair with cookies and beverages served to all.

The festivities began with Will presenting a wonderful description of the workshops we taught, both of which were sponsored by Young Audiences of Santa Cruz County (YASSC). Their "mission is to help make the arts an essential part of young people's education." This is only ONE of the many educational and cultural opportunities they provide to the children of Santa Cruz County.

Below are the displays of my second and third grade students' mask wall hangings, depicting persona that represented on the of the six characteristics we should all strive to portray: trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, and citizenship. Next to each wall hanging was a artist/title card with the colorful names of their creations:
  • The Peaceful Puppy
  • The Dragon of Trustworthiness
  • The Respectful Pig
  • Horse of Honesty
  • Iron Man, Who Cares About Other People
  • Peaceful Sun and ‘Colorful Heart of Respect
Will Clipman's students actually made masks that were molded to their faces and then painted and decorated to represent mythical persona that also portrayed one or more of the six characteristics that count. The names of their masks were just as colorful as my students. In addition, they also wrote poems about their creations. Several of them read their poems during the showcase.

I really enjoyed my artist in residence at the Little Red School. The children were a delight. For example, when I told my kindergarten and first graders that they would be walk around the room displaying their belts, they all pranced around the classroom and then posed in various modeling positions. When they got on the stage in the multi-purpose room in the afternoon, they were more subdued. Here is a picture of a first grader wearing her belt followed by a picture of me working with two kindergarten students. Many of them finished their belts early, so they strung bead necklaces.

The last picture is some of the audience at the showcase. The front row is the kindergarten class. They were very quiet and serious during the presentations. Afterwards, many of them hugged me and said they would miss me. I will miss them also. They were all very special.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Spring Has Sprung In Arizona

I know it is hard to believe for all of you who live in other parts of the country; but, spring has come to Arizona. Yesterday on my walk, I saw that the lupine have sprung up and that the Santa Rita Prickly Pears are getting new cactus pads. The birds are singing and the quail have returned looking for nesting places. Several danced in front of Tasha (my cat) yesterday in our backyard. Tasha was mesmerized. She just laid there and watched them prance in three feet in front of her.

Speaking of flowers, last week I finished another desert flower quilt square. It is the sundrop, which grows in gardens here. Below is a picture I took several years ago of the sundrop in our backyard followed by the finished quilt square.

The background is actually violet; but, for some reason it came out blue in this photo. Do you think it needs any more flowers?

Tomorrow is my last day as an artist in residence (AIR) at the Little Red School. The other AIR, Will Clipman, and I are hosting a showcase of our students' work tomorrow at 2:00 PM. I will post pictures next week, because DH Ali (short for Alarich) is taking me to Death Valley to see the desert in bloom. He only promised to do this 33 years ago. Better late, than never!!! We leave Saturday morning. I am sure to get a lot of inspiration photos for more Desert Beauties.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Be Careful What You Wish For!!!

You ask, what have I been doing since I last blogged? I spent the second half of December and all of January working on two pieces that I submitted to a juried exhibition organized by the Art Cloth Network, of which I am a member. The show is titled Unexpected Pattern: Quake.

Artist Statement for Fear of Others:

Fear of Others causes fault lines between races, religions, countries, etc. When faced with fears erupting from UNKNOWN differences, physical and emotional boundaries are erected in the form of fences, camps, gated communities, and barrios, which violate the openness upon which this country was founded. Why do we not, instead, learn about and celebrate these distinctive differences?

Artist Statement for Fault Lines:

Having lived in California most of my life, I have experienced the forces along fault lines which alter patterns in the landscape both vertically and laterally. Fault Lines was created to explore the unexpected patterns that result when a richly decorated piece of cloth is ripped apart and partially mended with the strips shifted up and down from their original positions.

I have also spent time since September on fulfilling my dream of having my own teaching studio. I believe the first step is to teaching fiber arts on a regular basis. This will enable me to achieve my goal of encouraging students of any age to learn to develop their creativity in a supportive atmosphere by giving them the knowledge and tools to express their thoughts/feelings or to tell a story.

Consequently, in January I gave a lecture on Art Cloth at Tubac Center of the Arts which initiated a series of workshops at several different venues in the Tucson area. I have taught the following courses since the beginning of February:
  • Landscape Quilting
  • Silk Paper Wall Hanging
  • Introduction to Art Cloth using fabric paints
  • Creating Stamps and Stencils for Art Cloth
Three of these classes are new ones for me. As a result I have spent time writing curriculum and student booklets; preparing samples; packing supplies and schlepping them to each venue. All the work is worth it. Even though I am very busy, I am enjoying each of my courses. My students have learned new techniques and have stretched in their creative endeavors.

Also in February, I started an artist in residence at the Little Red School just outside of Nogales, AZ. I have five hours with each of four classes; kindergarten through third grade. The kindergarten and first graders are making fabric belts and the second and third graders are creating fabric wall hangings of masks of persona who exhibit one or more of the Six Pillars of Character: Trustworthiness, Respect, Responsibility, Fairness, Caring, and Citizenship.

Another artist in residence, Will Clipman, is working with older students. They will be creating actual masks and writing poems about their persona. Will is also a musician whose work has been nominated for a Grammies many times. The kids are wonderful and they have been very creative. On Friday, March 13, 2009, Will and my students will have a showcase of their work.