Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Vengeful Veggies

We try to teach our kids good table manners, but any of you with little ones know this is a struggle. Lots of reminding, encouragement, correction. Do it over again. And again. And again. Slowly, they catch themselves with their elbows on the table or realize how awful they sound while telling the day's events to Dad through a mouthful of mashed potatoes.

One of the things we encourage our kids to do is not say bad things about the food or pull ugly faces if they don't like what they're eating. I discovered this creates some repressed emotions that can come out in funny ways!

Our youngest didn't care for the corn chowder I served at lunch today. Later he drew some pictures in his free of vegetables. At first they were pretty benign.
Here's an apple, banana, blueberry, and onion....all congenial looking chaps. Over on the right is a carrot - with a big bite out of him! Looks like he's not happy about it either.

Then things started developing a bit.
Mr potato looks like he's fainted, and Mr SoupCan obviously isn't pleased with his lot in life. And then my boy's true feelings about his lunch came out.
Yes, this one needed interpretation from the artist. A watermelon and a blueberry are loading rotten onions into a machine that will hurl them at....? the chef? other foods? Notice the Swiss Cheese guillotine on top of the onion-tossing gizmo. Definitely some pent-up thoughts about our veggies in here!

These drawings made me laugh so hard - even if the little guy wasn't fond of what I made for lunch. We're working on that, day by day. But for now, I think I need to keep these. Maybe I'll transfer them to an apron as a reminder to me to make "happy food." 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

40 artists in a one-stall garage

What would you do with a warm, sticky summer morning? How about inviting 40 art students, all armed with wet paintbrushes, into your garage? Sound crazy? Exhausting? This month I've had the privilege of teaching two back to back art classes - yes, all in my little one-stall garage. It's a tight squeeze, but we can fit 20 students in at one time. We work around the wood pile, the chest freezer, and a couple work benches. A floor fan or two help relieve the Southern humidity. An occasional burst of wind blows our projects helter-skelter, sending up squeals and scampering feet. The garbage truck rumbles by. It's a challenge teaching 20 students at once, compounded by the fact that they range in age from preschoolers all the way up to adults. Yes, there are challenges and it's very exhausting, but the joy in seeing what their creative minds can do overcomes all that!

The biggest challenge has been obtaining supplies on a budget - a very tight budget. Most art classes offered in our city or through the parks/rec department are around $100/student for elementary aged kids. Ouch. I wanted to provide a similar experience that wouldn't break a family's bank. So I charged just $10 - and determined to provide supplies within that range. Yes, a challenge!

We're using lots of recycled materials - cereal boxes, brown paper bags, newspapers, scrap yarn, twigs, borrowed brushes. I asked each student to bring the bare minimum: a pencil and scissors. I purchased Sharpies, gel pens, glue sticks, various papers, and paint (turns out to be too much paint!).

my own kids willing test out some of my ideas

Up until now, I've only taught drawing. But after doing that with about 100 students, I was ready for a new challenge. Recently I've rediscovered the joy of painting and mixing media. The projects demonstrated by That Artist Woman helped shape the direction for this class, too. Here's an example of last week's project - mixed media owls with woven eyes.
All of our classes have been focusing on creating pattern and textures. The goal is to introduce new techniques that the students can  use in their own creations. I try to keep the projects simple enough for little hands (with help from Moms), yet offer enough creative freedom to challenge older kids. So far the results have been great! 

There's one class remaining - I'm still concocting our lesson plan, but so far I know it will involve cereal boxes and color theory. And popscicles.....looks like it'll be another hot August day!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Trinity Rolls

One of my favorite dinner rolls to make are cute little knots - we call them Trinity Rolls because we usually have them with our Saturday night Sabbath Feasts. With a bit of homemade jam or cinnamon honey butter, these are a delightful way to ring in the Lord's Day!

My eight year old son mixed the dough - his first attempt at bread dough! This recipe makes a lovely smooth dough, almost silk-like. Kneading it by hand is a pleasure! We let his dough rise in the fridge overnight, and in the morning I tied them into knots and let them rise a second time at room temperature. I'm learning to not rush the second rise - we like our rolls light and fluffy!

Since there are a lot of bare walls in my kitchen, I thought I'd illustrate some of our family's favorite recipes to frame. My daughter is illustrating some of her favorite recipes, too!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Recycled Denim

Three active little boys can burn through jeans like nothing! The knees are the first to wear out, at which point I cut them off into shorts. For some reason, I saved all those cut off leg pieces, along with other jeans that had worn out. This is what they turned into - a huge map of the USA! This covers the top of our queen-sized bed.

Here's how I did it: I used a poster of the USA and enlarged it 150% state by state. Then came the painstaking process. Cut out all 50 states, trace them onto Heat-N-Bond, iron onto the wrong side of the denim, and then cut each state out again. Heat-N-Bond is a miracle. Everything is ironed onto heavy twill, waiting for some messy free-motion quilting around each state! That will be my favorite part - I have some fun ideas for the oceans, too.

Wedding wrap up

The last 2 weeks of July were eclipsed with wedding preparations - I was asked to help decorate a wedding and reception hall, for over 300 guests! The bride's family had a ton of great ideas, and I was glad to help them bring them to life! It was a very eclectic, bohemian, woodsy wedding....lots of burlap, lace, twigs, glass votives of all sorts. Here's a quick glimpse (of course I forgot my camera! Photos were taken by Ahna Beth Photography - like her logo? I designed that too!)