Monday, August 31, 2015

Back to School/Back to Work



Last Wednesday, Magoo headed off to 7th grade!  Woo hoo!

He was ready to go back.  He is a boy that does well with structure - and try as I might - it's hard to put a lot of structure into a hot summer.  Don't get me wrong, he likes plenty of lazy time too, but he was ready to get back into some academic challenges, see his school friends, and get into a routine.

After three days, all is well.  He has a new bus driver. (The last one was like Otto from the Simpsons and that bus was crazy and always late.)  He seems to like his teachers so far, and he has his group of buddies that he sits with at lunch.  He's happy, so I'm happy.

I'm also happy that I can get back into a little work myself.






I wish I had an easier process of working through my picture book stories.  You should see the amount of sketch and dummy book work I do.  I may start out with writing, but until I start laying out the pages and fitting it into a 32-page book, I can't really make it work.  Then, when I do fit things in, I see what I have time for and what I don't.  Then, I start to see issues that I couldn't see before, so I have to re-draw.  It basically goes like this: draw it out, see a problem, think of a solution, draw it out.  Repeat.  Lots.

There doesn't appear to be a short-cut that saves me hours of drawing, but I'm happy to have the quiet and the time to do it.

What I'm not happy about is the heat.  Another 4-day heat way!  Whaaaaaat?  Whyyyyyyyy?
I love 65-80 degrees.  Give me endless Autumns and Springs.   Or central air.  Someday, maybe, I'll have central air and then I can enjoy staying cool inside all summer long.  Until then, my poor husband has to hear my whine about another 4-day heat wave.  Waaaaah.

The other thing that's got me a little stressed out these days is our poor kitty, Java.



She was fine Friday morning, but she didn't come for dinner on Friday evening which isn't like her at all.  She turned up in the basement, completely spooked, and was under my bed for the rest of the evening.  Basically, when she hasn't come out for a brief moment to eat, she's hiding somewhere.  Last night, my husband and I were happy to see her go outside.  She seemed calm enough, but then she didn't come back in after dark.  Mike found her hiding under the back porch where we couldn't get to her.  We were more than a little concerned about that.

But this morning she woke me up at 5:30 to come in and eat and now she's hiding out in the studio.

She seems to be moving around OK, and she's eating, so we don't know what the heck is wrong with her.  She may be having some kind of anxiety attack.  I'm not inclined to take her to the vet unless I absolutely have to, because getting into the carrier, riding in the car, and being examined is torture to her.  If it is anxiety, a trip to the vet will only make it worse. 

So we're riding it out and hoping she'll calm down and perk up.

And that's what's going on here.
Thanks so much for stopping in!
Hope all is well with you!



Monday, August 24, 2015

KIDS Finders Keepers

Yesterday was KIDS Finders Keepers.

"What's KIDS Finders Keepers?" you ask.

KIDS Finders Keepers is a painted rock hunt by the WeHa Artists Emporium, much like the one we did in December - only instead of professional artists painting the rocks, KIDS paint the rocks.  Also, kids hunt for the rocks.  It's a kid event.

We put the word out in June and put several how-to-paint-rocks tutorials on our Facebook Page.
We (Stefanie Marco and myself) even did a spot on the local news.  (I'll put the video at the end of this post.)
Then we collected rocks, hid them in a lovely park in town, and at 1pm the kids came.
If you hide them, they will come.

We had approximately 300 kid painted rocks to hide.
Photo by Phyllis Meredith
 Magoo was a fantastic help!  Here we are standing by the check-in table, welcoming the Finders.
Photo by Phyllis Meredith
75 Finders and their families lined up and were ready to go!
Photo by Phyllis Meredith
It's a big park, so it probably took the kids 30 - 45 minutes to really pour over all the paths and little sections.

Photo by Phyllis Meredith




 But in the end, there were lots of happy faces eager to show us the treasures they found.
And kids were really tickled to see other kids with the rocks that they had painted.  One mother wrote that it was teaching her son about how art can bring joy to people.  Isn't that awesome!?

Photo by Phyllis Meredith
 BIG THANKS to everyone who painted rocks and came out to the hunt.  Extra BIG THANKS to the lovely crew that helped set it all up.  It was a wonderful day.



Here's the link to the news clip from Channel 3 in Hartford.



Thanks so much for stopping in!
School starts on Wednesday.  I'll try to be a better blogger!
Have a great day!
Julie 






Friday, August 7, 2015

Captiva Island Vacation

We just got back from a lovely vacation on Captiva Island.  (It's right off of Fort Myers, Florida - just north of Sanibel Island.)



We stayed at a lovely resort called 'Tween Waters Inn.  When I first heard of it, I thought it was a place that catered to tween, so I thought Oh hey - Magoo might like this.  But it's actually called 'Tween Waters because it's situated between the Gulf of Mexico and another body of water called the Pine Island Sound.  I must admit, it was very nice to walk across the street and swim in the Gulf of Mexico.  Very nice, indeed.





It was actually unusually rough in the Gulf.  Normally, at this time of year, the winds come in off the Atlantic and hits the East coast of Florida.  For some reason, the winds were coming from the West, though.  It meant the snorkeling wasn't great.  But the waves were great fun.

We took a Sanibel Cruise Line boat ride up to Caya Coasta, which was a highlight of the trip.


  Our captain, Captain Jack, would stop the boat and tell us about the islands and the birds.  We found some dolphins who loved to jump in the boat's waves.




Then we dropped anchor off a remote island for some watersports.  We all enjoyed paddle boarding.


Another fun activity on Captiva was shell hunting.  This is our haul from day one.



By the third and fourth day, we were getting kind a picky.  The boys were actually really good about finding gorgeous conch shells, but they often had inhabitants.  (Most of the mollusks would recede into the shell.  I found one and I swear that sucker was coming out to fight me for it.  Don't worry, little guy.  We're not going to steal your home.)

Mike even found a shell with a hermit crab!



I spotted lots of cranes and pelicans...




.. and towards the end of the trip, when the water in the Gulf had calmed down, we enjoyed the occasional dolphin swim-by.


Twice we saw something that I will swear was a manatee.  Mike doubts me.  But it was big, smooth, fat, dark grey, and it did not resurface like a dolphin.  Dolphins popped up every 20 seconds or so.  These mysterious creatures were a one-spotting-and-then-gone kind of deal.  (Heh-hem ... Manatees.)

Our days were pretty simple: Breakfast, shell hunt, swim in the Gulf, lunch, some activity, dinner, swim in the Gulf, swim in the pool, retire for the evening.  We were even glad that it was overcast the first couple of days, because when the sun did come out - MAN OH MAN was it hot!  Still, if you got too hot, just jump into the Gulf.   (Oh and we used TONS of sunscreen.)

Our final night, Mike and I went out to admire the sunset.


It was a really fun, relaxing vacation.
And now we are happy to be back home with out kitty who missed us.

Hope you're all having a great summer so far!
Thanks so much for stopping in.




Monday, July 27, 2015

Be Our Guest LIVE! Well ... I taped it.

video

Magoo just finished a wonderful two-week theater camp in town.  As a former theater major, I'm pretty thrilled that he likes acting so much.  And the theater that he takes classes in  (Playhouse on Park) is only a couple blocks from our house and is so small, cute, and cool!

They just put on a showcase for the families.  Here's Magoo and some of the other students performing Be Our Guest from the musical, Beauty and the Beast.

Thanks for stopping in!
Julie

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Art Camp Week 2: Picture Book Party


 I was excited about Week 2 because it was a new theme.  (And it was my idea.)  I have SO MANY picture books and the illustration within them is so vast and awesome - I just wanted to do something with it.  And, of course, the fact that I write and illustrate picture books didn't hurt either.

We started the week off with The Simples Love a Picnic and the collage picnic ant project that I do at schools.  It was nice for me to start with something non-messy and something I've done many times before - although, to be fair, these kids are at the young end of the school spectrum.  Some of them will be going into Kindergarten in the fall.

All the kids loved Oliver Jeffer's The Incredible Book Eating Boy and had a great time making their own book eating children.


Mid-week, we busted out the watercolors and painted flying fish to go with the classic picture book Fish Is Fish by Leo Lionni.  (Lionni was one of my favorites growing up.)


 On Thursday, I read Klimt and His Cat by Berenice Capatti and I introduced the campers to Gustav Klimt, but I forgot my Klimt book!  D'oh!  It was OK because there were tons of pictures of his most famous works within the book.  Then we painted gold cats and decorated them with dots and rectangles of colors.


The final day was The Grouchy Ladybug day.  (An Eric Carle book.)  Of course the campers were all very familiar with Eric Carle.  I think they all had one or more of his books at home.  I had originally planned to have the campers paint one sheet of paper (to be used in the collage) each day as a warm-up, just like Eric Carle does.  But there were a lot of little ones in this group.  I didn't think they could the abstract nature of just painting a piece of paper without having clear instructions.

We did, however, manage to get one piece of paper painted after the Fish Is Fish project, and I did the rest.  Then on Friday, we put them altogether.


It was a big project, but they really did a fabulous job with it.


I had a great time at the Picture Book Party!  Next week: Asian Exploration!

Hope you're all having a great summer!
Thanks for stopping in!


Saturday, July 11, 2015

Art Camp, Week 1: Native American Wonders


First week of art camp at the West Hartford Art League is done.

I had a lovely group of twelve young ladies for Native American week, where I read Native American stories and all the art projects had a Native American connection.

(Above) There are three different classes in the Clubhouse Gallery at the Art League.  Two of those classes are in art rooms.  My classroom is in the gallery.  Here's what the set up looks like.

(Below)  A couple young artists pose with their Pattern Pots.
  

I read a story called Thirteen Moons on Turtle's Back, which is a collection of poems about the different seasons, and we did a wax resist/watercolor project where we painted turtles.

The wax resist crayon really helps the students keep the spaces separate, so they can mix the watercolors in small sections and not get a big oval of brown goop.


 Printmaking with kids this young (5 and 6 yr olds) is challenging.  It's a big project with a lot of instruction, a lot of set up, a steady neat hand, and a lot of clean up.  But I love printmaking and I love to give the students a nice range of projects throughout the week.  Besides, they always so a great job.


(Above) A student pulls a print.
(Below)  Finished projects.  Totem Pole Prints.



After all the work and mess of printmaking, I like to do something a little easier - collage.  Sure, there are small pieces of paper to cut and clean up, but it's nothing compared to printmaking.  We finished the week with a book called Beardream - a lengthy discussion on bears (the girls had a lot to say about them) - and a Pacific Northwest style bear collage.


It was a great week and I'll miss this lively group of girls.  (It's kinda nice for me to be around girls.  I have a boy and he has boy friends - so it's Nerf guns, video games, and Legos at my house.  And I love boys - but sometimes it's nice to be around some pink ruffled tu-tu's too.)

Three weeks to go!

Thanks so much for stopping in.
I hope you're having a lovely summer!
Julie

Thursday, July 9, 2015

DIY Kimono Slippers


It has been humid.  When it is humid the only cool place in the house is the basement.  Therefore, I decided to find a sewing project to do down there.  I was looking for a dress or skirt or something, but I came across these sweet kimono slippers on Pinterest.

Actually, I didn't come across these slippers - I made these slipper.  But I came across the pattern.  Here it is.

I think there are a few patterns out there and I read one lady made two pairs in an hour.  Kudos to you, magic sewing lady.  I'd say these took me closer to 90 minutes from "Hey, I'll make these kimono slippers" - to - finished.

I used cotton for the insides and nice IKEA canvas for the outside, and they're great for sporting around the house and not getting floor-dirt all over my feet.  :) 

So if you're feeling crafty and have some fabric and some time - give them a go!