Something Blue

‘Tis the season of Fall weddings and various celebrations abound.
That has nothing to do with what I made. I guess since what I made is predominantly blue….well, I’ve never claimed my mind to be a one tracked kind of place.
It’s been a while, but recently I’ve been inspired to do work that I am interested in or excited about. Don’t miss understand, I love my job teaching, but, at the end of the day, I miss working on my own ideas. Trying to guide between 25-32 students to find their creative voice and to be successful in their work is tiring to say the least. By the end of the day, I really just want to sit down, stare at a wall, and hope my cat doesn’t try to smother me.

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She’s tried before….

The last few weeks have been pretty great though, despite the constant frustration of feeling like you are doing your best, trying to do the right thing, and it just not working out.

Why can’t it just work out?!

Finally, after much thought, I’ve decided to try and make myself follow the advice of the amazing Jim Foose (Robert Foose to those who want to look up this amazing artist, teacher, and friend of mine) and treat my art making as a job. A job where I set my hours and expectations, but a job none the less. So, looking in my box of shirts I’ve planned on using as parts of mixed media pieces, I cut out a printed TARDIS and got to work.

I didn’t plan the composition so much as I just played with the materials. Starting off, I reduced the size of the TARDIS (realizing not everyone may know what the TARDIS is, it’s the Doctor’s mode of transportation in Doctor Who. The acronym stands for Time And Relative Dimension In Space) and cut it apart. I then arranged the pieces slightly apart, adhering them to the canvas with paint. I then just kept layering colors on top. The result thus far is this:
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This is a bit further away from the start of the project which looked like….
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I like where this is going, but I’m looking to add some text to the background as a final detail.

It’s just nice to be “working” again.

I Used To Be Nervy…

But ice changed that.

My time as an employee of Bath County Schools was pretty amazing.  I worked with some wonderful educators, great kiddos, and made fantastic friends.  It is also a timed marred with sickness, accidents, and the downfall of my personal life…but, you know, stuff happens.
Anyhoo….

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A Little Glimmer of Awesome!

I write a lot on here about the hard part of everything I find difficult or don’t understand – which is A LOT. Relationships, adjusting, work issues, artistic adventures – you name it and I have probably written about it. While I truly try to show as many sides of the issue(s) as possible, I tend to work through the negative.

I’ll just go ahead and blame that on the family philosophy of pessimism. Totally not JUST me….totally not…

Anyways, some light in a bit of the funk is in order, especially on this particularly cruddy day (weather wise – it is a mess out there).

I have had some amazing moments as a teacher lately. Moments where you say to yourself, “and that’s why it is worth it.” Today, I had a whole class that was like a dream. A “one in a million class periods” kind of class. Kids were excited about Art and working on their own. No whining about how they couldn’t do this, or why is he/she doing that, just Art. Kiddos were drawing and challenging themselves, others were watching me draw.Then – and this is the best part – they started asking questions, trying different approaches to their own work, and drawing for others.

How flippin’ great was that moment?! It was pretty flippin’ great!

If only every class could be that free form…at least it happened once.
And, if I have any say in it, it will happen again!

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

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

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It’s been a while…

Shirt I'm using for new artwork

Well, it’s been quite a while since I’ve sat down to write or do anything beyond go to school, teach, coach, come home, but I’m trying to get back on track.  Hopefully, if I can get my mind to where I want to be my life will get back to where I want it to be (I hope that makes sense to you reader…sometimes I believe I’m making perfect sense when really, I’m not).  But I’m getting off topic….

I really want to work with the idea of using t-shirts as a base for paintings that don’t reflect my family or friends, like most of my art does.  I’m starting off with a Darth Vader shirt with the words “The Empire Wants You” written in red across the front.  My goal is to use gesso to attach the shirt to a piece of plywood (instead of canvas) and then paint a scene around it based on the t-shirt used.  Now, this isn’t a one-off deal – I have many t-shirts that I can use for some pretty neat paintings.  Yes, I have a confession to make: I’m a t-shirt junkie.

I LOVE fun t-shirts.  Comic shirts, Star Wars shirts, Monty Python shirts, University of Kentucky shirts, movie shirts – I LOVE LOVE LOVE them.  I wear them under my “work” shirts (aka: button up).  Being an Art teacher, I get a little leeway.  It also doesn’t hurt that the most awesome principal ever, Mark Leet, is a Star Wars fan and doesn’t think my Boba Fett hoodie is a problem.  ANYWAYS….

I’m using the t-shirts that I know I need to clean out of my closet BUT can’t really give away.  I’m sorry to those of you who wait knowing I’ll eventually clean out my closet – I’M KEEPING THEM ALL!!!! hahahahahahaha!

This is ONE of my shirts

Sorry.  That wasn’t very mature.  I’m just excited about this new project – a new start on something.  Now, despite my depression about things beyond my control, I haven’t been completely out of the loop or trapped in my Dark Hole of Questioning My Future.”  Besides time with family, friends, and good, quality time with Doug, I’ve been coaching a 6th grade boys basketball team AND patiently waiting for The Muppets.

If you are not aware that there is a new Muppet movie out there in the world – THERE IS A NEW MUPPET MOVIEOUT NOW!!!

To be Amy Adams in this film....*sigh*

It is a blast!  Written by Jason Segel (who also stars as Gary) and Nicholas Stoller, the movie is, in brief, about a young Muppet Walter who, with his brother Gary and Gary’s girlfriend Mary, go to L.A., discover an evil plot to destroy the Muppet studios, and help round-up the original Muppet lineup to do a telethon to save the studios.  There are many cameos (Jack Black’s is awesome but Dave Grohl’s is my favorite) and the story is very self-aware.  I love the fact that while the film acknowledges that the Muppets are popular with an older generation (the now 30 year olds of while I’m included) and that television is not as wholesome as it once was, it shows that funny is funny.  The Muppets are FUNNY and this movie is well worth the watch for ANY generation.  It would probably be great for as many younger children to watch it as well.  Still, that’s only my opinion and while I’m not an expert….it’s the Muppets! (PS: Chris Cooper is AWESOME as the villain)

Thank you all for your patience and understanding with the lack of posting on my part.  I’m trying to swim out of my pool of self-pity and doing some art for myself and not for teaching or the hallways (Christmas decorations for the main hallway is KILLING ME!) is my life saver.  Still, I appreciate the support of my family, friends, and Doug.  No matter what, I know I’m loved and at the end of the day, that’s good enough for me – and more than I ever expect.

Now, GO WATCH THE MUPPETS and if you see Jason Segel out there somewhere in the world please tell him Staci Gilliam said “hi.”

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