Tuesday, January 20, 2009

New Bridge and Our First Winter Snow

Wooooo-Hooo! It's been a long wait but overnight it began to snow. At five thirty a.m. I looked out the window, and there appeared to be over an inch of snow. By 7:00 a.m., there was at least two inches. It's continues to snow... our area could get as much as three or four inches... another big wooo-hooo~!

It's below freezing temperatures, so I'm expecting that even by tomorrow, the snow will still be with us. I'm more excited for the kids in our area than myself. The last significant snowfall we had was years ago... and an overnight dusting a couple of months ago.

This month, kindergartners are painting a snowman scene with tempera paint, and first graders are painting a polar bear scene... also using white tempera paint. This is a convenient arrangement, as I have the kinders before the first graders, so I can leave out the plastic disposable cups with white paint out for the next class. Here's a tip to save money in the classroom: I get the disposable cups from the cafeteria... before the kids can toss them in the trash I collect them in a dish basin. Then, with about 150-200 cups, I carry them to my classroom, and as soon as students leave the building, I wash them. It's my contribution to reusing and recycling of plastic.

When I asked a group of kindergartners to raise their hands if they had ever built a snowman, nearly all of them raised their hands... an unexpected response as we really haven't had much snow during the past five or six years. How could they have built a snowman, I wondered.

When I repeated this story to my friend and her daughter, they reminded me that we'd had enough snow to build a snowman the last time it snowed, but it had to be done late at night because it was gone by end of the next day. Okay, so I missed that one. I don't build snowmen in the dark anymore.

Things have been warming up pretty good in my classroom, though. Second grade students have finished their warm hues painting... actually, an oil pastel and watercolor resist. The various suns and star-like images are hung throughout the school.

Some kids added facial features to their sun image, as this student (above) is doing here. Oil pastels are not tricky to work with... they are a leap above crayons when comparing quality of color and blend-ability. Oh, but I do love crayons, the marks they can make on a paper, as well as their clean convenience, however, oil pastels can spread like butter. Despite that oil pastels can be messy, they certainly do leave vibrant colors on the paper, and allow for a variety of applications. You can draw with oil pastels in much the same manner as with crayons, but you can also develop a painting style with them by blending the colors with your finger or with a paper towel or wax paper.

After they drew their sun/star image, they had to continue radiation-like lines or shapes that filled their paper, all the way to the edges. Only warm hues were used because that was our focus in this lesson. Black watercolor was the final treatment. The reds, oranges, and yellows just popped right off the page!

Sometimes art teachers will model a painting or drawing before students paint to show them how it's done. There are times when we don't like to model a particular drawing or design because we don't want to encourage copying... we'd like them to rely on their own imaginations. In this case, I did model a sun image to show them the steps of watercolor resist. However, the results of their own work surpass the one I did by a long shot. The one above and this one below are two examples that stand out as being spectacular!

Yesterday, though it was cold at 48 degrees, Alyson, Marlene and I walked to the new bridge. We are now calling it "Our New Bridge"... we walked across it for the first time since the road/bridge crew started working on it in August of 2008. It's less than half of a mile from our homes, but it's a very hilly walk... good for the legs and heart.

You can see in this photo (above) that the concrete 'floor' is completed, as well as one metal rail (on the right). Close-up below, and the only construction vehicle is this great shovel at one end of the bridge. Further back is a port-a-potty, a huge box, and a few odds and ends of materials. For the most part, the bridge looks completed. The bridge builder happened to be there, and he answered our questions. He told us our bridge cost a million dollars...! That's taxpayer's money at work. I'm not even going to get into the discussion the three of us had about that. I have no idea why we needed such a grand bridge out here in the country, but it may have something to do with future expectations for the area. I'll have to look into that.

We love our new bridge, and plan to continue taking walks from time to time for our own good health and friendship. Can't wait for it to open up to traffic, possibly by early May.

Speaking of new bridges, I am so excited that it snowed today for one reason: it's Inauguration Day! That means I can watch the event on TV... had we been in school I would probably have missed it because I had my tv removed back in December. I didn't feel that I needed a tv when I much rather would have the space it occupied for other more practical things, like storage space. So it was removed.


I know some of you are chuckling about our miniscule snow fall, especially if you live up north and east, and you Canada folks... but here in North Carolina, we love our little snowfalls. It feels like a real winter when we get snow, unlike those fake winters where it just gets cold and rainy.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Koopa's Painting has been hung!

Happy New Year to anyone who has stayed around and kept me on their lists despite the fact that I haven't written an entry in over a month!!! And thank you to all those who have sent emails ... I've been absent, but only regarding blogging, and I suppose if I were a true blogger, I'd be posting every day. I had time off from school, and a long list of things to do. I stayed focused and got most everything done I had set out to do this week.
I wanted to show you something very special, something that many of you will remember from our AOL Journals time, when a certain little turtle named Koopa painted an abstract painting for me. If you are new to this blog, here's a quick recap:

Koopa, of Turtlekiss.com, and his owner Kira, made a painting for me after I had entered a contest and was one of the winners. Koopa actually did all the painting himself. Kira set up the canvas with the colors I chose, and turned Koopa loose. Here is a link to some videos that Kira has made of Koopa at work and play.
This is the part that Kira did, using words I had sent her that she worked into the painting in order to add the colors I asked for.

Then she put Koopa onto the canvas. He walked, or should I say, ran across the turtle-safe (non-toxic) tempera paint like it was wet mud .

The final result is called "Ponderings," to remind me of our pond which was (sadly)filled in two years ago. But in this beautiful abstract, Kira and Koopa have captured the feeling of our koi pond. I will always remember our pond when I see this painting, and I'll never forget the adorable box turtle who added his unique paint strokes and style.
I didn't know where I wanted to hang this lovely addition to our home, an original masterpiece which I will always treasure. It would get lost in the darkness of our living room walls (barnboard, rustic style). It would look very small in our bedroom, and no one would see it but us. But in my drawing room. Hmmm, now there was a possibility.

So, today I hung the painting right over my drawing table. Finally! Kira has probably given up on me, but I have to tell you that over the Christmas holidays I used my vacation time to reflect, to ponder, to rearrange, and to clean. It was more than physical cleaning that took place... I took a good long look at the 'vessel' inside, and saw the light still shining there. But that could easily be another journal entry.

Now, after I had hung Koopa's painting, it was then that I noticed the similarity between Koopa/Kira's, and one I had done using melted crayons about ten years ago. I call it Lightfall, Third Series. Possibly no one else will notice the similarities unless I put them side by side, which I haven't done yet. I'll do that another day and compare them in a blog entry to sharpen my critiqueing skills.
BTW, Kira has retired Koopa from painting following a recent illness, but she continues to paint using her understanding of color theory and her own unique (personal) style. You might wish to visit her website at http://turtlekiss.wordpress.com/ to learn more about Kira's colorful abstracts and the story of Koopa's life as an artist.