And Now For Something Completely Different?

“When I was in school…..”

“When I was in school, my parents would have NEVER come to Varney to jump on the teacher.”

“When I was in school, we were allowed to have recess all through elementary, kindergarten through 8th grade.”

“When I was in school, I never knew my grade until the report card came home.”

“When I was in school, even the “bad” kids weren’t THIS bad.”

“When I was in school, it was very, VERY, different.”

Going into Education as a profession was one of my best decisions by far. After floundering in the Electrical Engineering program at UK, taking a random Art class (you know, to balance out the science/math heavy course load) set me on a path that has been been rewarding and, at times, frustrating. Now in my 6th year as an Art teacher, I really can’t see myself in any other field and I’ve never really tried to see myself as anything but “Ms. G.”

After what I saw today, I’m becoming more willing to broaden my outlook.

While looking through my Facebook news feed, I came across a friend’s post defending teachers. Her post was in response to a video posted by a student/student’s parent of a teacher at a local school jumping on to her class. Being a teacher, I was immediately interested. I read her statement, agreed with her, and proceeded to read the comments. Among the comments was a link to the video itself.
Normally, I wouldn’t view it. If it’s not Star Wars/Doctor Who/Bradley recommended, I don’t watch it – mainly because I know I’ll get upset. Knowing this video had to be of a teacher I am friends with, I wanted to see what had caused all the fuss. All the teachers I worked with at that school are great, love their kiddos, and go above and beyond the call of duty – this teacher is no exception!
The video, really audio, of the teacher calling her students out for not working, is not the worse thing I’ve ever heard. Based on the comments, some people heard a woman, in their opinion, unjustly addressing her students for their poor scores. I heard a woman frustrated at her class and trying to find something, anything, to motivate them.

I’ve been there and I sympathize.

Part of me wants to rail against the world judging this woman. This woman I know works long hours, dedicates so much of her own time to helping kids, and, like many of us, tries to instill some sense of self-motivation in our students. I also recognize that my righteous indignation won’t matter to those too ignorant to see beyond the “no one talks to my baby that way” attitude that teachers see more often than not.

Teachers are, in fact, people. They have breaking points, frustrations, and bad days like everyone else. Except, unlike other people, we are expected not to have those days. If we have a bad day, we are somehow bad teachers/people. If you don’t believe teachers feel that way themselves when a day goes south, you are talking to the wrong teacher….or a teacher who has given everything only to be disheartened.

When I was in school….

I love my job. I love working with students and seeing them grow as artists and as people. Seeing a kiddo get excited about learning – glob! – nothing beats that. It’s amazing to watch and be a part of.

Daily I worry that I have not hit the right balance between understanding and stern. Some days are harder than others, and I have, at times, mentioned to students that their lack of effort is how they earn the grade they get, whether it’s an A or a F is all on them.

It’s hard to see students not care as much as you do. It is frustrating to say the least. Add on to that the threats to your career by angry kids/parents, the constant fear of having what you do in school twisted or taken out of context, and the fact that the standard you are held to as a teacher is so high, yet we are one of the least respected professions. It feels like you are always on the defensive and I can be a bit much.

All it takes is one word and that is it. Pitchforks out, set the torches alight, off with their head – let’s not ask the real question: why aren’t we concerned about students willfully bombing a class and not being shamed by the fact that they were called out on it?! Another question to address is why, if you felt the teacher was in the wrong (an opinion you are entitled to of course), why post this video on a social media site? Why not take it to the school, talk to the teacher and administration, and deal with the issue instead of posting it without the context of what brought it on – because, let’s be honest, something did. Why are we okay with a student taping a teacher when that student is obviously in class AND does not seem to be paying attention at all?

No wonder she is frustrated! She’s trying to strike some chord with them, and a student is more concerned with taping her with the obvious intention of hurting her career. Granted, I could be wrong about the intent , but posting the video to a social media site doesn’t really seem like the most legit way to deal with the situation if you didn’t want to embarrass/professionally harm the teacher in question.

This incident is just the latest of several that have made me worry about my choice of profession – something I never thought I’d be concerned about. I worry not because I think I made the wrong choice or because I think I’m a bad teacher. Completely the opposite! I KNOW teaching is what I should be doing. I KNOW that I’m good at what I do, but I’m always willing to learn and grow in my profession. I KNOW that I mess up, but, in my work and in my personal life, I can admit to, and learn, from my mistakes and move forward. I KNOW I’m exactly where I need to be, doing what I need to do.

I would just like to do my job to the best of my ability without constantly stepping on eggshells.

I can’t make people like me. I can’t force students to work. All I hope is that, at the end of the day, I make a positive impact on my students’ lives. That is it – that makes it all worth while and why, despite my fears, I will teach.
I will do my absolute best, and give it all I’ve got. I will do this because it is totally worth it for those kiddos that get something from it.

“You know, when I was in school, my teachers didn’t worry about the same things I have to.”

As a student, I am so thankful for that.

Having the “Want To” – Being Home

Sadly, I think when people say “I’m going home,” others look at them as if to say “how sad.”  Through popular media, going home has come to represent the last move of one who has failed – at a career, in a relationship, in life.  Yes, after going home, learning a valuable lesson about what is important in their lives, these poor, broken, people are strong enough to leave again.  They go out into to the world and make the difference they were always meant to do. End scene.

That’s not why I wanted to come home. More

Staycation 2013: Natural Bridge


Balanced Rock
Natural Bridge Carved Face Natural Bridge Outlook Point Troll Under the Bridge Bridge Partners

These are some of our photos from today’s excursion to Natural Bridge. It’s only an hour away from Lexington and totally worth the trip. We made sure to inhale an entire pizza from Miguel’s to complete the experience. I’m worn out but will probably post more tomorrow.

Image

Birthday Brewery and Hope

Strange title but, let’s face it, my mind and the paths it takes when thinking are a little…well, strange.

Adam planned Dez’s b-day spectacular and it included a tour of West 6th Brewery in Lexington, KY.  Spending time with Dez and Adam, Brad and Sara, is always great but this part of the plan – the tour – was an unexpectedly fantastic thing.

After driving through the craziest St. Paddy’s day traffic, we finally arrived at the West 6th Brewery.  Once parked, it became clear to me that this place wasn’t what I had thought it would be: it was far more interesting, and wonderful, than I had hoped for.  The beer was great, seeing how the beer was made was interesting, but it was the people who worked there and their sense of community that really made the visit worth while.

Outside of West 6th

Outside of West 6th

More

Free Art Friday and Moore (See what I did there?)

Free Art Friday – the name describes the even perfectly.  As you may have noticed from Sara’s previous posts, the EE girls (and Brad) decided to participate.   The basic premise of Free Art Friday was to create artworks, display them around Lexington, and let anyone take them.  That’s right, your read correctly – artworks free for the taking!  It was a good, albeit rainy, day.  Fortunately for me I had the help of good friends (Joe and Jp) and the prospect of a sweet Art show by my friend Stevie Moore that night to get me through the 4 hour drive to Lexington and the process of putting up my work. More

Preview: Free Art Friday — Lexington, KY Edition

Attention Lexingtonians! The Errant Easel bloggers will be participating in Free Art Friday tomorrow, Friday July 13 right here in Lexington, KY. Along with other creators in town, we will post copies of our works (for free!) Friday morning in various locations.

Important notes:

These are original works that we want people to take home and enjoy or gift to those who would.

We will post the location of our work here on the Easel and at Facebook HQ for the event.

Check the Facebook page for the location of other free works submitted for your consideration.

If you have works you would like to send out into the world, join the FB group and spread the word.

If you take art, let us hear what you think on Facebook, Twitter, or here on the Easel.

Staci’s work will appear in the UK/South Limestone area, Dez will share her work at the Richmond Road Starbucks, and I will canvas the Woodland, Euclid and Rose Street areas. Hope you get some free art tomorrow!

A little jumpstart couldn’t hurt could it? An inventory of creativity as it now stands

If you know me, you probably know I’ve struggled with finishing the final requirement to complete my Master in Public Health. However, with an uncharacteristic flourish of initiative, I made the arrangements to participate in a Dissertation/Thesis Boot Camp sponsored by the Graduate School. Last week I number crunched for eight hours a day in a barren little dorm room at Patterson Hall. Yes, I am claiming that as a vacation. This week I am writing 8 to noon and working 1-9pm at the lab. I’m cheating a little bit as Monday was Memorial Day, but four twelve hour days must count for something, right?

Last week went so swimmingly and I was rather proud of myself with the progress I made stitching together my data set and the early attempts to analyze it. I merged datasets, recoded variables, negated skip patterns in the survey, and even began to characterize my sample population. And it was good. The holiday weekend came and went with guest appearances by Adventurer, Conqueror, King, Draw Something, and steaks. Tuesday came and I was ready for it: continuous and categorical variables of interest were estimated and luminous demographic tables were erected. My head buzzed with the tangle of influences on my dependent variable I was beginning to delineate. And it was good.

And then this morning happened. And it was fair at best. Our organic and rather arbitrary black fluffy alarm clock went off at an unspeakable hour and refused to be placated with food, treats, pets, hugs, entreaties, bargains, pleas and barring all of that a good deal of hateful shushing. I’m sitting at Boot Camp (if any military friends care to comment on the oxymoron, you are well justified) now and really can not get started on task at hand. So I am squeezing words onto this blog until the runaway reaction of word fusion takes off and I can actually focus on the real reason I am sitting in a dorm room with nothing but a desk, lofted bed, and window to keep me company when many adults my age are typically at work receiving compensation for their time.

I have really missed posting on this blog. No excuses, just haven’t made time for creative endeavors when I’ve had it to devote until recently. There have been a few highlights but mostly there have been a few day-to-day discoveries I didn’t realize would be so creative. In the main event, my friend Grace and I recently took a “Introduction to Home Brewing” class at the Lexington Beerworks. The information was very accessible and the class covered the basic Brew Day routine while maintaining a largely conversational air of informality. I highly recommend taking a class if you have ever been interested in home brew and there is one coming up on June 2. I am also lucky that Grace’s husband, a beer hobbiest, will let us use his equipment and be on hand for the “oh, hell” moments. We are going to start our first batch this weekend using a “summer ale” kit we will tweak with the addition of orange peel.  Our batch will debut around Independence Day if all goes well. Fingers crossed!

In day-to-day operations, I have found myself completely addicted to Draw Something, a free app where you cooperatively send your friends drawings back and forth to guess the prompt word. I never realized how much fun it could be to tailor a pictorial message to the recipient. It’s comforting that sketches are digital and go away, but it’s leading me to want to sketch things out more often in real life. It’s also really neat to see the way your friends choose to approach a drawing or represent things to you. My only criticism of the free app is that the words are limited and you soon start drawing the same things over and over. However, the full version is cheap and I’m told there are more words and colors to use. If I ever bother to upgrade, I’ll let you know.

I’ve been playing a really fun pen and paper RPG system called Adventurer, Conquerer, King run by my friend Sam. I’ve played in a few D&D 3.5 and higher edition games and one D20 modern campaign but really have never explored other systems. It was an adjustment at first to declare actions prior to rolling for initiative and to hinge on a truly narrative based style of playing but I think it’s kind of the perfect system for me because of the narrative and the necessity of table talk to get things done. Last week we rescued an ankylosaurus and stopped an evil sorcerer from raising his army through ritual sacrifice. Sam runs a great game and everyone who plays does their character justice, something I could do better than I have been so far. Any tips for a Ruinguard from inside the Mandate?

So I maintain that there is creativity present in my life. It’s just used sparingly and not in the form I expect when I get up in the morning. Like what my capstone data tells me in direct contradiction to my hypothesis, lol. But I guess many good things probably come that way, though. Maybe it’s just part of learning to love the incidental discoveries in addition to making good things happen. I think that’s what I’m going with today and hope it helps you out, too, if you need it. I hope you’ll wish me luck as I return back to the world of statistical software packages and data analysis. I should be back soon to report on upcoming challenges for D3Z, Staci, and myself here on the Easel.

Until then,

cryptotox

Profile of an Artist: Rebecca Wheat of Lily of the Valley

What a beautiful knitted hat!

Rebecca Wheat of Lily of the Valley

This week we will begin a recurring feature here at the Easel in which we sit down with new artist each session and pick their brains about their background, process, and future plans. I would like to introduce to you Rebecca Wheat of Lily of the Valley. A renaissance woman of the arts, Becca has explored and developed a broad range of skills including fiber arts (knitting, crocheting, weaving, spinning), textile arts (sewing, clothing design, handbag design, quilting, and costuming), underwater basket weaving (no really), painting (acrylic, oil, watercolor, pastel), drawing, graphic design, jewelry design, pottery, and pyrography (wood and gourds).

As a child, Becca began to draw as soon as she was able to hold a pencil. She was taught to sew and crochet at the age of five  and was making her own stuffed animals and dolls soon after. By middle school, she was making her own clothing and stitching her own self-designed embroidery.  Her creativity was recognized in school with scholarships to adult level watercolor painting classes and numerous arts awards along the way and by her parents who allowed her to paint all over her bedroom walls.

The piece of which Becca is most proud

Becca's Great Grandmother Martha Ellen Hisel

Her middle and high school art education was greatly influenced by Chris Pierce, an influential teacher from Berea College who supplemented her standard education with techniques including the lost wax casting of jewelry, granted her free reign with a darkroom and photographic equipment, and allowed her to do murals on the walls, pottery on and off the wheel, and lino-cutting. She entered Berea College and completed  her first year as a studio art major before ultimately completing her degree as an Agriculture major. Throughout college, Becca took several art courses, spent a summer designing a course with painter and instructor Neil DiTeresa, and worked three semesters with Fireside Weavers learning weaving, warping, reading drafts, and loom setup. 

After graduation, Becca spent a year working with Berea’s Famous Churchill Weavers where she collaborated with the design team and worked primarily as a flyshuttle weaver. She currently works for the Kentucky Department of Agriculture state veterinarian’s office in the equine programs where she is able to indulge in her (second) love of horses. In her spare time, Becca makes jewelry and accessories for sale. You can find her products on Etsy at Lily of the Valley. She describes her style as vintage inspired and her favorite materials are vintage chains and lockets that can be taken apart and reimagined as a new piece.

Lily of the Valley Bracelet
Lily of the Valley Bracelet

Becca describes her process as being somewhat tangential. She will develop an interest in particular themes which have historically included natural motifs such as oak leaves and flowers combined with vintage lockets and classic cameos and will ride out that creative wave until it is eclipsed by a new interest.

Becca participates in several festivals throughout the year and regularly mans a booth at the Downtown Lexington’s Artist’s Market with her friend Amanda Richie and the invaluable support of her boyfriend Matt. She also has a booth at The Bazaar, a unique gathering place and thrift store that benefits the Lexington Rescue Mission.

Her dream is to establish and run a Lexington Artist’s Co-op with permanent space that is used to benefit Lexington and its resident crafters and artisans. She imagines a permanent gallery space, as well as a gallery for featured artists.  Prerequisite room to frolic would allow dance classes and an in house coffee shop and artisan pizza café manned by Chef Matt. Until this dream comes to fruition, she pursues efforts to organize local artisans who vend online by establishing Artfire guilds for Kentucky state artisans and participating in Etsy teams.

Becca’s new and upcoming projects include developing jewelry designs featuring polymer clay and designing a maternity/postpartum friendly line of clothing for local children’s boutique Cradle Will Rock. She is also extremely interested in learning how to tattoo professionally. You can follow Becca’s journey through the arts on any of the following social media outlets:

http://kentuckylily.wordpress.com/

I want this hat!

Yes, she even dabbles in haberdashery!

http://www.facebook.com/lilyofthevalleyky

http://twitter.com/kentuckylily

You can shop online for Becca’s designs at http://www.etsy.com/shop/lilyofthevalleyky

The Errant Easel Attends the Woodland Art Fair 2011

It was a beautiful weekend for an Errant Easel outing, and we walked with our significant others and a few good friends to the park-turned-fairgrounds to explore the bustling and sprawling artists’ booths. I always genuinely enjoy going to this event. My spirit is never dampened by the crowds, the overzealous sun beating down, or even the humidity.

If you are not familiar with the Woodland Art Fair, there are 200 artists skilled in printmaking, photography, painting, drawing, papercutting, jewelry making, metalwork, sculpture, ceramics, leatherwork, knitting, weaving, quilting, woodwork, and even haberdashery (and that’s just the booths I remember seeing). Not only were the categories of art diverse and extensive, but there were also a variety of methods and materials of choice within each category. Take printmaking, for example. There were woodblock prints, etchings, silk screen, and computer generated prints in the very least.

I see something of myself in these prints

Girls with Bugs Collection

In addition to the the official Woodland Arts Fair, the rest of the Chevy Chase area takes advantage of the opportunity and transforms into additional street fair. These booths are as exciting to me as the official fair. My favorite booth, ran by Cricket Press, is found across the street at the Woodland Christian Church. Cricket Press creates and prints silkscreen posters to advertise music groups and community events. Personally, I am most partial to the original art prints they sell. Last year for my birthday, Brad custom matted and combined four of their prints into a frame to create what we affectionately call the “girls with bugs” set. This collection includes two girls with fireflies (The Collection and Lightening Bugs), a girl with cicadas (The Cicadas) and a girl with bees (The Bees). The cicada girl is my favorite owing to the far away look evidenced by the tilted chin but concealed by aviator goggles. The hum of cicadas seemed as loud as biplanes in the woods of my childhood. Each summer, my dad and I would collect vacated cicada shells to make locust bug stew, a recipe calling for different leaves, grasses, and flowers to be stirred with a broken broom handle in a five gallon dry wall bucket of pond water. I can still remember the smell after the requisite hours spent stewing in the sunlight.

Where the woods meet the sea

Girls with Creatures Collection

This year, I followed up with a “girls with creatures” collection comprised of The Foxes, The Rabbits, Girl in the Sea, and The Woodlands-Squirrels. Hey, I like what I like and what I like is being a girl with an interest in bugs and animals. There were quite a few other awesome art print options, but I couldn’t resist freckled girl with the octopus beehive hairdo. I also really enjoyed the personality of the foxes, rabbits and squirrels in the other prints. I like the use of blues and yellows throughout both groups of prints which (somewhat irrationally) reminds me of the bookshelves I have stuffed with vintage Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books.

If I had returned to the booth a second time, I, no doubt, would have also acquired the art print poster of the kids exploring the woods with a flash light entitled Haunted Woods. It has a really neat pulpy, adventure party feel to it that I really identify with. If you have a spot on your wall for any of these prints or you want to get me the best birthday present ever you should check out their website and Etsy shop. I can’t wait to see what they come up with next.

On the Easel

It occurred to me last night that there is so much zucchini in the world and not enough time for zucchini bread. In other words, I have before me so many raw materials and ideas but also a great difficulty in deciding where to start. While on vacation, I stocked up on some beautiful beads on sale to add to the hoard and returned home to a pack of clock parts in the mail from the great and bountiful land of eBay. I also have more squash and zucchini than I have freezer space thanks to my father’s garden. Every year, he sends me home with more produce than I can process (he provides so you know he cares). The zucchini comes with the expectation that it will be partially returned in the form of zucchini bread. After about 20 aliquots of shredded zucchini and four quart-sized aliquots of chunked zucchini for soups and pasta sauces, I still have half the zucchini and all the squash to go. Oh the squash… #farmworldproblems.

Pushing the (mountains of) squash aside for a moment, I wanted to write a quick preview of things to come on the Easel. Here our a few projects and features in the works:

On the personal Easel:
-A Growing Leaves Cowl designed by Meghan Macko in Old Lilac Baby Llama yarn
-Book Review of The Horns of Ruin by Tim Akers
-Steampunk and other Jewelry sets
-A character study of the Milner protagonist in my (theoretical) Steampunk novel
-A personal zucchini bread recipe And my experiments with modifying the recipe to support a healthier lifestyle

Collective Efforts and Features in the works here at The Errant Easel:
-An Errant Easel Excursion to the Woodland Arts Festival here in Lexington, KY
-A knit-along workshop in sock-making led by our resident expert D3Z
-A resin casting party for high through-put creativity
-The Errant Easel Book Club’s take on original Sherlock Holmes stories

Keep checking back for updates on these and other creative endeavors. Also, if you have any crafts, books, movies, or events you would like to read about here, please let us know in the comments! We would also love to review your work or event and spread word to our readers!

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