Monday, March 28, 2016

Spring Pop-Up Show


On May 1st, I'll be participating in the WeHa Artists Emporium Spring Pop-Up Show.  It's just a small 3-hour arts & crafts show with 6 artists showcasing goods in one of the member's house.  The one we did in December went very well, so we're going to try a Spring one.

I'm going to lower my sales expectations because people are more likely to shop before Christmas.  But, we figure, let's give Spring a go!  There are teacher gifts to buy and maybe people want to perk up their walls with something new and bright.  And, because it's in a house in a neighborhood, people just stroll on by.  It's very fun and casual.


So, in addition to working on getting my current book project ready to show editors  (the revision process is truly a marathon, my friends), I've been making smaller pieces of art to sell.

Our art hunt, Hidden Houses, will be the day before.  (April 30th if you're local.)  So I've made a few additional clay houses to sell.  And I'm working on some smaller paintings too.  I started with the cats (top picture.) and I liked how that turned out, so I did a version with houses.  Now I think I'll do one with birds.  I'm trying to come up with things that have a similar shape but vary in coloring.  Dogs?  No.  Maybe fish?

I've ordered some cards, prints, and books and I may make a few stuffed animals because they are cute and I have a TON of fabric in my basement.  :)  It's going to be a busy month!

In other news:
I hope you all had a HAPPY EASTER.  Magoo is 13 and is wise to the ways of the Easter Bunny so there was no basket this year.  I would have happily made him one and put the clues around the house, but he declined.  And that's fine with me.  Saves me a lot of work.  It's tough to make an Easter basket for a 13 yr old who can't eat sugar.

Thank you so much for stopping in!
Have a great day!


Monday, March 21, 2016

Romeo & Juliet

It is embarrassing to admit that I've lived here for 14 years and yesterday was the first time I saw a show at The Hartford Stage.  I took Magoo to see Romeo and Juliet.  At first I wasn't going to - I wasn't sure if he'd like it.  But I asked him if he wanted to see it and he said, "Sure."  So there it is.

It's a nice theater.  Not huge.  There's really not a bad seat in the house.  I have learned that when taking Magoo to a show, I have to get good seats or not bother at all.  Once I took him to see Peter Pan and we were so far back in the second balcony that you couldn't even see the actor's faces.  He doesn't even remember going to it, that's how detached he was.

So, good seats - check.

Hats off to the stage design.  It was impressive.


There was a rectangular pit in the middle of the stage that could be flat, or (as seen above) a table/alter could rise out of it.  Lower it down a bit - it's a bed.  Raise it higher - it's an archway.  The ONLY problem with the pit is that it was filled with gravel.  Oh, the crunching

I wonder if anyone ever said, "You know that pit is wicked awesome, Set Designer, but I can't hear anyone speak when they walk."  Perhaps they did and the designer didn't hear them because someone was walking across the gravel.

The mausoleum wall opened up (below) and a balcony protruded out.  Smooooth.  Although, having been on a high platform in a play - without handrails - and I can tell you, even small heights are a wee bit scary.  Whenever there was a scene up there and the actors were walking around, inside I was saying, "Yeeeeeee."




Magoo said he liked the performance, although we both agreed that we couldn't always understand what everyone was saying.  What I have learned when watching Shakespeare is that if the actor has a good handle on what they are saying, they can convey it clearly to the audience.  It's there in tone and in gesture.  And there were a lot of actors (the nurse, the friar, Romeo, and Capulet) that were very good - very clear. 

But, then there were some who'd deliver a monologue like a recitation of a foreign language.  I'd notice Magoo fiddling with his program during those bits.

All in all, I think we both enjoyed it.  Romeo and Juliet was not a play I was very familiar with. I knew the basics, but not a lot of the detail, so it was fun to see it all played out.

Thanks so much for stopping in.  I don't know about you, but we got a little snow last night.  I'm not pleased with it, but at least it's melting now.

Have a great week!
Julie

PS - I didn't take any of these photos.  They were all pulled from the internet and, I'm sure, are official Hartford Stage photos.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Character Development at Bowers Elementary


I am in the midst of a 3-Day Author Visit at a lovely school called Bowers Elementary.  Representatives from the school contacted me in the fall and asked if I could come and talk about character development.  At the time, I didn't have a character development program.  But, since that's a useful one to have on hand, I created it to debut at the school.

I talk about character analysis, voice, consistency, and character choices.  (Above) We are doing an exercise about Voice.  I've given the four student volunteers a paddle.  One side features Charlie Brown and the other side features Lucy.  Because Charlie Brown and Lucy are such different characters, the way they speak is also very different.  I post (and say) four different Peanuts quotes and the students have to decide - based on words alone, no context is given - if it's a Lucy line or Charlie Brown.

Whenever I try to teach students a lesson in a presentation, I always try to back it up with a game or a quiz.  For one thing, I want the students to participate in a presentation with me.  It's boring if it's just me going blah, blah, blah.  For another, it really helps cement the lesson.

After the presentation, I did workshops in the classroom.  For the Kindergartners, we focused on character analysis.  I wanted them to think about the difference between outside character traits and inside character traits.


I read LOST AND FOUND by Oliver Jeffers, then we talked about the character BOY.  For the inside part, I provided symbols they could use.  A lightbulb for smart.  A heart for caring.  A lion for brave.

For the second graders, we worked on character development and voice.  I had students create two characters with opposing character traits, e.g. a smart character and a dim character, or an energetic character and a lazy character.  Then we'd pull a scene suggestions from a bag (which adds a bit of fun to it) and write a scene thinking about the way a character would express themselves based on their character traits.  It was a tight 30 minutes for each session, but the kids did a great job.  (Below) I am acting out a student scene in which my character explodes.



Then we did some dignified classroom shots, but the silly faced ones are always more fun!


I have two more days at Bowers Elementary and I can't wait to go back.  The students were so kind, funny, and into it!  I had a blast.  And to top it off, I got an email when I got home saying that a teacher overheard two students talking about character traits as they walked to the bus.  Doesn't get much better than that!