Wednesday, March 30, 2011

My new summer Goal

Today I created an artist business card. I picked a simple black and white design and used an image of one of my pencil sketches. The sketch is one of the "bedroom" painting sketches which I thought was more interesting than an image of the actual painting. It looks okay......I will show it to Darrin and see what he thinks. I like the idea of having a career business card, although I am not sure which contact info I wanted to include. I am still unsure about this blog too, but as of now its included.

At one of the conferences, a teacher asked me if I had a card, and thats what got me thinking. Why not? Its just a quick way to give out contact info to anyone I befriend that is a teacher, artist, professor, friend, colleague, etc. I am also thinking about my summer goals. What will happen if I put my personal quest in art as my summer priority? My De Kooning book is inspiring (still reading this huge book!) as well as the personal artist seminars I attended. I even got to thinking about last summer's goal of doing the triathlons and how that is technically off the bucket list now, and this summer needs a new goal. So, ART it is! How exciting! The other summer goals include things like royals games, float trips, and afternoons at the pool, hehhe. Lets see how productive I end up being.

I might do one triathlon May 15th in St. Genevieve, Mo. It would be a nice road trip for Darrin and I and its one hour away from Elephant Rock State Park. I think I will just keep this triathlon low key and a personal solo goal rather than inviting all of friends and family to join me. One other note, LIfe is good! I truly love life right now! Thanks to Darrin and loving friends and family for making it that way :) and happy birthday to my bros!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Education Factory

After the No Child Left Behind legislation in public schools, education became a national debate. I learned a lot about this legislation and the events leading up to it in a couple of my Master's degree courses. Part of the cause is the comparison of student test scores to student test scores from other countries. Of course, we want our kids to score the highest. But why? If we score average, or just below average compared to China in math, or compared to Europe in language arts, how directly does that hurt the lives of our citizens? I am not saying to give up, I am just saying before we fight for something, lets figure out why we should.

On another note, My developing thought is this: When discussing the failures of public education in the U.S. lets look at our history. We have come a long way since the little red schoolhouse haven't we? I think the advances we have made can also be our pitfalls. For instance, every citizen in America is now required to get an education. Whether a child wants to or not, and whether their parents want them to or not, every kid will attend school until they reach 17 years of age. Not just the wealthy, or the educated, every kid. To accommodate our growing population we have public school transportation, public free meals for half our kids, and a huge growth in the profession of teaching. Teachers are required to have a bachelors degree (and now a masters degree) yet our credibility is under scrutiny. Why? Because we produce crap, supposedly. The way I see it, though, the crap is a result of the growth and expansion of education along with the growth of population. We teach hundreds of kids daily. If I tried to have a five minute conversation with each kid that I will see on Monday it would be impossible under the current system. On Monday I will see 102 kids. On Tuesday I will see 56 kids that I did not see the day before. I think the answer lies in the numbers. It is as simple as that. A thorough education will be more individualized, more attention, more conversation, more one on one time for growth. Here is my analogy: Our current education system is a massive factory. Students are pushed through at rapid speed on an assembly line. Teachers dump knowledge on each student as they pass through on the conveyor belt of public education, half of that knowledge spills off and falls to the floor because it is too much too fast, with no time to stop and think. We don't know the students and they don't know us. Teachers work that assembly line and get exhausted. Kids are bored. Overall, what we produce in that factory is CHEAP. Blame the teachers? I don't think so at all. Blame our current public education system? YES. So………when can I set up that little red schoolhouse again? I would love to teach and mentor the same 12 kids every day. Kids that want to be there, feel privileged to get an education, and have time to learn.

Big Ideas from Seattle

I said I would blog more about what I learned in Seattle and here it is.

1. My first session: How to Get Hired in Higher Education. This session was focused solely on the application process and how to conduct yourself through the extremely intense screenings that universities put educators through. Personally, I am still bouncing around ideas about what it would be like to teach a college course and which kinds of courses I would be interested in. I have not decided to pursue a Phd so this session was a little interesting, but not needed at this point in my career.

2. Fashion Design for High School, and 3. - - both very fun and things I hope to implement.

4. talking to my roommate Clare for the weekend, I learned a lot from her. She recommended a few things: the movie Beautiful Losers, a teachers blog who teaches with experimentation (I think), and some info about some Art programs and institutes in San Francisco.

5. Being an Artist while Teaching. I went to about 3 sessions on this topic. It's a popular topic for art teachers (most session rooms were filled to standing room only). We love art, live art, yet have no energy, after teaching 200 kids every day, to make our own art. I have been lucky enough to make about 3 projects this entire year. I have ideas though about creating a studio, keeping project ideas stored in writing, etc etc. I also realized if I am not an artist myself I would not know how to help students pursue the same career.

6. Robert Root-Bernstein. The absolute highlight of the weekend! This man has spent years researching how scientists have used artistic experimentation and art processes within their research. The list of examples was never ending, and fascinating. I wore my hand out writing as many notes as I could, and I am waiting for his book to arrive in the mail. I think his research will affect my teaching more than any other of the big ideas. More on him later and his book is called Sparks of Genius: The 13 Thinking Tools……

7. 4 elementary lessons I can teach: robot printmaking, Islands using google earth, architecture design and floorplans, and pinch pot fish. I already have 3rd graders making the pinch pot fish. They are adorable!

8. Dr. Rex Jung. Not as remarkable as the other keynote speaker, but worth following up on as well. Jung researched what parts of the brain are active during the creative process. It's very interesting that to be creative, you have to be less inhibited. A person with frontal dementia has less inhibition because their frontal lobe is not telling them to be careful, to stay out of trouble, or that they should not do something. Basically they are crazy, and to be creative you also have to be a little crazy. Hehe, an interesting research finding. So how do you measure creativity? Give people creative tests. Then appoint judges to decide which response to the tests are the most creative ideas, and after he described the testing it sounded measured, accurate, and fun! Jung's research is fascinating, but he had not yet figured out what to do with the research, especially in the classroom.

9.Quiet. You Have The Right to Remain Silent. Ohhhhhhh how I love a quiet classroom!

10. Are Blogs the New Sketchbook? I am realizing that many truly advanced art programs include blogs, websites, and online showing of student artwork. Many high schools teach kids how to describe their own artwork by having them post their descriptions online. Of course! That's what an artist would do too. I checked out a few and they are underdeveloped of course, since they are a graded assignment and not a professional career, but there must be many many things a student can learn about sharing their creative process and their ideas online.

11. How to Get Published. Awesome session! What I learned from the people at this session will help my career so much. I am ready to work extra hours each week submitting articles, lessons, and ideas to magazines etc.

Well, a long post, but I wanted to cover some of the best sessions I attended at National Convention. Enjoy!

Chicks in Movies

So I am looking out the glass doors at our snow covered back yard and it's very pretty. The farmer's almanac said we would have a blizzard this weekend, the weather forecast said chance of snow with no accumulation, and in actuality we have about 3 inches.

Darrin and I spent the weekend at home mostly and going to bed early. Yesterday we took mom and Tim to Menards and bought tons of spring flowers to plant around the house. We picked out house paint colors as well as deck stains and lawn furniture. Once home Darrin made some amazing Tortilla soup and we rented The Fighter on tv. The Fighter is a great movie! Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, and Amy Adams. You would not know Amy Adams is in the movie of course by looking at the cover or reading the info on tv. I have a thing about chicks in movies, especially in "man" movies. If the man movie does not have any chicks at all then I find it completely uninteresting. Well, some are a little interesting but just add one girl to the cast and that's all I need to help me through. In The Fighter, I asked "I wonder who the chick is going to be?" Darrin of course cracked a joke that nobody cares, and I was truly thrilled when Amy Adams showed up on screen in an eighties halter top, daisy dukes, and taking no crap from anybody. Another great part of The Fighter was the soundtrack and eighties clothing – just hilarious at points. The absence of cell phones (Amy wrote her number down on a napkin for Mark) and the general feel of the eighties made me want to go back! Haha. Next movie on the list? Sucker Punch. I hate scifi but this movie is full of hot chicks kicking butt J Maybe it will motivate me to jog on the treadmill and do some pushups.

Friday, March 25, 2011

revisiting my purpose....

I love this blog. I wish I had comments and knew that people were reading it. During my high points and my low points I like being able to write and share. It feels great.

When I started this blog (if you read the very first entry) it was to reveal myself in an open and honest way to the people that I love and care about. It was also to just have fun. Now here is my problem: I am feeling constrained by invisible ties. There is such a pressure to not reveal your personal life, or to not reveal your professional life. With internet of course we all know that personal and professional lives are moving closer and closer together - whether people want that to happen or not. What do I want? I want to be myself!! I dont think there should be any problem with me having a personal life in current society, and that personal life is viewable in our current society. Thanks to facebook, blogs, personal or career websites, etc you can look a person up and learn tons of things about them! You can look up my school website and learn about my school as well. I have no problem with that, but FEAR is constraining me.

I want to blog about relationships, teaching, health and fitness, art trends, education, but not in some vague way. I want to write about my personal experiences and thoughts. If I cant do that, then I can not be myself and I can not be honest. I will be thrilled when internet freedom becomes a new addition to our list of freedoms...........then I might feel safe. Until then, should my blog be privatized? Maybe then I can just write write write without having to constantly censor what I am "thinking."

Seattle Washington

Seattle was gorgeous. I feel alive, nourished, and intelligent. I have a million things I want to blog about. I journaled, kept notes, have read books, so many ideas!!! I also made friends with three wonderful girls that I shared a room with in my hostel. I will tell some of the small high lights of the trip in this post, and get into big ideas in other posts.
The gals that I roomed with: Kate from England, Clare and Rachel from San Francisco. Kate is a lawyer visiting her son that works in the States. Clare and Rachel are both art teachers who were also attending the conference in Seattle. All the gals were funloving and we had a great night out in Seattle our last night, eating Vietnamese and visiting a martini bar.
The weather was great, I walked everywhere, I loved the monorail, the space needle viewing deck, and Olympic Sculpture park. Pike Place fish market was not as good as my childhood memories, it is very covered and a single aisle strip with no direct view of the ocean or docks. I remember it being much better 20 years ago.
I did not get to leave Seattle and visit the National Park, bummer! Not enough time and too many good conference topics that I did not want to miss. I also took some wise advice about enjoying it with someone special and spending a quality amount of time there.
I broke my suitcase handle and the wheel fell off - time for new luggage.
At one point during my arrival, I was surrounded by middle aged art teachers. They were loud, anxious, and stressed about our poor shuttle service. Thats what happens I guess when you put thousands of women together trying to go to the same place. On the shuttle with 7 of them, I realized this was not the crowd I wanted to surround myself with during the trip. Thank god for rachel, clare, and kate!
The hostel was OUTSTANDING. If you are scared of hostels, its because you dont know what they are and have not been to one. I sat in the hot tub each night, the place was spotless and had an awesome free breakfast, internet room, game room, etc etc. A hostel is a combination of a dorm, bed and breakfast, and even hotel amenities, all with a group of friendly people that are taking good care of their neighbors.
Olympic National Park is now on my bucket list: Just look up a photo of second beach, or the waterfalls inside the park.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Art Conference #1

Look at two of my neat art pieces from the Art Conference (Springfield). The metal rose was made from construction metal and barbed wire. The ceramic tiles were created with high quality glaze and strings for texture. I made both of these examples in workshops on Friday evening. They were back to back, then I rushed off to the "Life" drawing at Brick City in Springfield. All in all, Friday was the best day of the conference. Thursday's two art sessions were fun, especially to see clay printmaking and plaster. Saturday was kind of a boring end compared to Friday so I left early and headed home before lunch. I was exhausted! I slept for 13 hours on Sat night!
I think it would be great to paint ceramic tiles in my painting class! What a neat way to incorporate some clay in with painting. Adding clay printmaking is also an option. Personally, I have a lot of ideas that I can not only teach, but experiment with myself. I was already planning to use the rest of my red clay for tiles and painting, which I would like to give a few away as gifts. The conference also taught me some broader ideas for helping build my district art department and ways to show student work online. The future is bright :) I have the most incredible opportunity to expand some of those ideas in Seattle and ask questions. Only a few days left.........