playing at work

Just because I haven’t posted anything for a while doesn’t mean that I have been idle on the creative front.  Yes I know I was intending to post daily over the school holidays but what with noisy builder’s electric saws whining away and then the bashing of hammers as they replace the cladding part of my house, and the wonderful distraction of my two grandchildren, well, it just didn’t happen and what is more, I have NOT been beating myself up over it.   But since returning to work . . . I have been playing as part of my work.

It’s been rather more than just doodling in meetings (it helps me focus) because I’m working with a wonderful teacher in a class of 12 and 13 year olds creating individual journals about their developing personal identity.  The class teacher is working on an inquiry about careers based on their strengths and skills and I am augmenting that focus by having them uncover at their personal qualities and eventually, setting some goals.

The planning incorporates several areas of the curriculum: the Arts, PE & Health and Literacy.  I am excited beyond measure!  One of the resources I am using is Violette Clark’s Teen Dream Journal DVD and her book Journal Bliss . . . they’re so user-friendly for teachers!

This afternoon I played around with three very simple versions of the same page, complete on the left and incomplete on the right so the students can see how they are developed.  I’ve used just basic script, circles and lines.   I kept to the KISS principle . . .  Keep It Simple Sweetheart!  The letters for the heading for the first spread are cut out of squares and rectangles of magazine pages . . . a technique I will show them tomorrow.  The heading on the second spread, in Big Fat Letters, was demonstrated last week.

Adding circles and dots to text.

I wanted to show the students that the addition of circles and dots to their writing (on the left) makes a big difference to the overall appearance of the text.

Personal Qualities

This time I want to introduce the students to ‘the piano test’ which I first used in a class about two years ago. We were working on some visual presentations and to have the students critique their own work I had them prop it up on a piano and take four big steps back to view it. This page lacks definition and I’m hoping that is what the students will tell me.

Gone dotty

Again I wanted to show the effect of using simple shapes, lines and dots, and the power of a border . . . this one is just a wiggly line. I also left my pencil markings in the circles so that the students can see that just a little planning is helpful!

Any feedback is welcome as eventually, I’m hoping to come up with a resource for teachers of any skill level on art.

a travelling journal

This morning I found out that I had won the opportunity to make an entry in a travelling journal.  Quinn McDonald over at QuinnCreative is celebrating 1,500 blog posts!  I’m in awe of that tally.  She posts daily, has great insight, provides on a variety of topics and creative endeavours, and what’s more, she responds to people who comment.  It’s one of the blogs I check in on daily.

So there’s Quinn, a model of consistency when it comes to her blog . . . and here’s me with my sporadic posts.   I bet she’s no less busy than me, in fact I bet the only difference is that she’s got different priorities and probably a tad better organised.

My priorities are fine, family and friends first and work after that – I guess I’m in there too somewhere but where?  I think I need myself up the list and make myself more visible!

Spring is definitely here which is a good time for new beginnings mmm?

And what have I been noticing?  This, I pass by this sign on a regular basis and had to stop and take a photo.

Baby OpenI can see nothing right with this sign.  It is on the end wall of a small grocery shop, the wall itself has been painted as if it belonged on a pre-school or crèche although I can’t see one near by.  There are big advertisements posted for grocery specials in the shop . . . and this!

The figures look happy and excited as they follow the arrows, but the sign points in the other direction!  Why?  A ‘Shop Open’ sign I can understand but ‘Baby Open’?  And no, I haven’t been playing with the photo.  What is it all about?

I guess it would be simple enough to go into the shop and ask if they know, but sometimes puzzlement is a delicious feeling to hold on to.  It makes me smile.

taking lessons from the wise – 1

I’ve had grand-daughters here for 4 days – so what did I learn?the boucey logExpensive play equipment is not needed when the river and the tides leave it for free.

Dust is something else to draw in and so are salty windows.

If you need to see outside and the windows are opaque with salt spray, go outside.  Easy!  And don’t waste time washing them before a storm!

Walking on the beach, running up and down sand dunes is more fun than hanging washing, although it has to be done.

The day has begun so don’t waste it wondering what to do – just go and do it.

4-year-olds wake up happy unless they are unwell.

Apparently I have more lines from smiling than frowning.  4-year-old logic says that means I’m happy a lot.

Occupied shells smell bad – don’t take them home.

Always take a bag to the beach for the treasures you’ll find . . . pockets are not big enough although it does make you edit what you’ll keep.

Winter weather doesn’t matter if you can keep warm. bare feet again!

Cold feet are okay and to be expected if you paddle in the winter, and of course you should!

It makes no difference to a child if no housework is done . . . as long as it doesn’t lead to food poisoning.

If it has to be done, vacuuming, or anything else, is more fun if you have some music playing while you do it.

Disappearing into a good book is learned young and its to be recommended at any time of the day . . . or night.

If you’re 7 and find a piece of wood shaped like a pterodactyl’s head, you don’t think twice about bringing it back from the beach and making it into one.decorating the wings

A little sister can help, especially if you let her know what to do.  “Draw anything you like between the blue line and the green line, okay?”

Flying PteradactylMy house seemed very quiet and empty this morning.

And no, I am not going to do the dusting, wash windows or vacuum . . . I’m going for a walk along the beach while the sun is shining.

I think I am finally learning how to prioritise.

 

a significant change of pace

I have done nothing but day-job work all week, arriving home happily tired and usually with some professional reading.  I know it will settle down but in the meantime the poor bear didn’t get mended, very little of my grand-daughter’s cardigan got knitted and I didn’t open my little Moleskine all week, not to mention the brocade quilt!  I’ve been productive and busy so why give myself a hard time about it?  I know I am not Superwoman, don’t want to be Superwoman, never aspired to be superwoman, in fact the whole concept of a superwoman stinks!  Ah, I feel better now that I’ve given her a small ‘s’ which is all that particular friend of my inner critic deserves!

Starting work full-time after a year’s part-time work and 3 months of being unemployed has been quite a shift – albeit an energising and intellectually stimulating one.

With winter coming on I start each day with a 20 km drive through the countryside just after sunrise and reverse the trip at sundown – I don’t even mind the smell of the occasional truck full of sheep as they remind me of sheep being driven down the road past my father’s shop when I was a kid – I’m immediately transported back and can hear the sound of their feet on the macadam, the dogs barking.   Smells are so evocative aren’t they?

Monday and Friday, as I leave the beach behind for the week, I leave even earlier when it is still dark and arrive home with the sun just setting beyond the horizon of the sea.  There is something I find truly wonderful about leaving a sleeping town in the early hours of the morning – I love that sense of adventure and new beginnings that it engenders.

The day job.  I have absolutely wonderful colleagues – knowledgable, generous, hard-working, humourous, caring – and a job that requires us to be endlessly creative in how support people to solve the difficulties that face them each day.   I just love a challenge and think perhaps creative problem solving is my strength – I just wish I was as adept when it comes to my own!  Maybe I am . . . when you’re so close in, sometimes it’s hard to be both objective and yet free in your thinking.

On Friday (yes you North Americans, it’s a perfect, calm, sunny autumn Saturday morning here), I attended a day of strategic planning – more wonderful colleagues meeting up with a clear focus – and had some reading to do about goal setting to overcome the discrepancy between the current situation or conditions and what was desirable.  I came upon the words CONSTRUCTIVE DISCONTENT.  Fantastic descriptor don’t you think?

I’ve never considered discontent or criticism to be necessarily negative although many do – to me it’s simply a signal that change is needed.  The trouble is, when I read a phrase that resonates such as ‘constructive discontent’ it rambles around in my mind and I start thinking and thinking and thinking and . . . you know what I mean?  I need to DO something with this!

So while I haven’t been terribly creative in the evenings, my days are endlessly challenging and satisfying.  Lucky me!

Lucky me this morning too – a plunger (French press) of coffee, return to bed, laptop, favourite blogs, washing on, sunshine pouring in – and to top it off I have a fresh new copy of Cloth Paper Scissors that was delivered to my mailbox!!!

I’m one very happy woman!Walking to the beachAnd with this just 2 minutes from my front door?  Blessed in the extreme.  Of course life throws up challenges which I sometimes struggle to keep in proportion, but . . . life is so good.

Now, what to do, what to do. . . .?  The library have found a copy of Jill Berry’s Personal Geographies on interloan for me, my machine is calling, I want to call some friends and . . . I think I need more than just a weekend!

I got snail mail!

Yesterday afternoon, as I walked on the beach I found a piece of driftwood as black as pitch that looked for all the world like a crow’s head.  Now one of the blogs I read on a regular basis is Violette’s Creative Juice – and Violette has a special place in her heart for crows.  Crow

So there I was, wandering back from the beach with my crow, thinking about Violette and her love for crows, I checked the mail and YAY!  Violette had sent me her Teen Dream Journal DVD – lucky, lucky me!  I am probably the only person in New Zealand to have one!! Mail

In my job I work with students at risk of failure due to learning and/or behaviour difficulties and self-esteem is a big issue – I mean, if you don’t believe in yourself you’re not going to make optimum progress (at any age).  This DVD is so jam-packed full of material designed with increasing self-esteem in mind and I can’t wait to use it!  It’s school holidays now so I have to be patient – and that’s not a strength I have when enthusiasm strikes.

I’ve watched from the point of view of a teacher who perhaps doesn’t have much experience in art but knows that kids love to experiment and express themselves.  There are enough wonderfully clear demonstrations, explanations, PDF materials and templates for even the most cautious student and teacher to create something unique that reflects their thoughts and feelings.

I can’t wait to use the DVD with teachers and students and I’m certainly recommending it very highly to a friend who works in an alternative school.    Actually, if you’re new to art journaling at any age, it’s a terrific resource.  Get Violette’s book Journal Bliss as well and you’re on your way!