Tuesday, September 12, 2017


Sometimes your life changes in huge seismic ways... Sometimes change creeps into your life and slowly you become a different person.

A few years ago I feel in love with blogging. I loved reading blogs. I loved writing blogs. It was a beautiful time. Then came twitter. Then came Instagram. Then Facebook.

Then came the day I realized it was all just too much!

I was struggling to keep up my digital presence. My digital world had me looking really good. I was able to teach rock star lessons, take my kids amazing places, cook wonderful food, serve on every committee and do it all. The truth was I was spending A LOT of time making it look that way. Meanwhile my kids were growing up, quickly, and I was hooked to a computer or my phone for most of it.

Truth is, I have only one chance to be their mom and I was missing it! I was stressed out about doing the right things, posting the right things and I was addicted to making sure I knew everything.

I would feel myself getting stressed so I would quit everything cold turkey. No Facebook. No Instagram. No Feedly. No Twitter... and that would feel great but it would only last for so long. Like many addicts I found I couldn't just "check real quick" without getting sucked back into the constant need for info-tainment.

This summer I read a book called "Present over Perfect" by Shauna Niequist and it spoke to my heart in a way not many books have. It helped me see what I had been feeling for a while. The world is FULL of stuff. You have to choose the stuff that works for you. The stuff that makes you happy and fills your world. It is okay to set parameters... and to live by them.

I have realized that I do enjoy being a part of the amazing online community of art educators but that I need balance between being online and being present in my life. So... my posts and photos may be sporadic. They might not be perfectly edited and professionally photographed but they will be me. They will be me sharing the things I love without the pressure of perfection and during the time I have allotted for them. I am sure it will be a learning adventure but here we go.     -Jen

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Some great advice

One of the guys who works with my husband was telling me about this artist he loves by the name of HR Giger. He was sharing how he had created all these images for some of his favorite movies.  Honestly I had never heard of him but sci-fi art isn't anything I have spent much time researching.

Today I took some time to look him up. He is a really interesting man and he creates some artwork I know some of my students would LOVE. You can find more about him by visiting his website. There was one piece from his website I knew I had to share. It is an example of a letter that his agent wrote to a person wanting advice. Here it is quoted directly from his website.

"Dear Aspiring Artist:

Here is my advice. Think of it as a five-year plan:

Take whatever courses you find the most interesting.

Study closely the work of the Old Masters.

Stop making art that originates only from your own imagination.

Stay with one technique until you perfect it.

On any given day, always be in the middle of reading a book. When you finish one, start the next. Fiction, nonfiction, biographies, autobiographies, history, science, psychology, or how to build a kite. Anything but go easy on the comic books.

Buy and read the first 6 pages of newspaper every day and also the editorial commentaries. Skip the entertainment section. Su Doku is fine. Do the crossword puzzle. 

Fill up a sketchbook every month with pen or pencil drawings of the world around you, not from your imagination.

Buy a book on figure drawing. It's the only art book you will ever need.

Until you can draw an accurate portrait of someone, you don’t know how to draw.

Stay away from the airbrush. You'll never master it, hardly anyone ever has.

Visit every museum in your city. Often, until you have seen everything in it. Every kind of museum. Not only the art museums but, of course, those as well.

Forget about contemporary art by living artists, at least for the next few years.

Stay away from most art galleries. Go to art auctions. That's where the real action is.

Learn to play chess.

Take a business course.

Talk to you mother or father at least once a week.

Stop going to the movies until you have rented and seen every film on this list.http://www.time.com/time/2005/100movies/the_complete_list.html

Do not watch television unless it’s the news or documentaries.

Do not use an Ipod. No video games, either.

Learn a foreign language.

Learn to cook.

Spend 8 hours in a hospital emergency room.

Save up money so you can travel to a foreign country within the next five years.

Do not litter.

Avoid politically correct people.

Vote in every election or never dare to utter a political opinion. You are not entitled to one.

Buy a digital camera and take photos every day.

If you see nothing interesting to photograph, you will never be a good artist. Keep only one photo of every ten you take. Delete the rest. It will force you to learn how to edit the garbage from your life, to make choices, to recognize what has real value and what is superficial.

Visit an old age home.

Listen to classical music and jazz. If you are unable to appreciate it at least as much as contemporary music, you lack the sensitivity to develop into an artist of any real depth.

Go to the ballet. Classical or Modern, it doesn't matter. It will teach you to appreciate physical grace and the relationship between sound and movement.

Wake up every morning no later than 8 AM, regardless of what time you went to sleep.

Learn to play a musical instrument.

Learn to swim.

Keep your word.

Never explain your art. People who ask you to do so are idiots. 

Never explain yourself. Better yet, never do anything that will, later, require you to explain yourself or to say you're sorry.

Always use spell check.

Stop aspiring and start doing.

This will keep you very busy but it can't be helped.

In my opinion, this is how you might, possibly, have a shot at becoming a good artist. 
Hope this helps,
Les Barany"

Such great advice.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Emotional Emoji's

My 5th graders were finishing up a lesson on color when we decided to review shapes, lines and colors with this fun project. I had them select an emoji they loved. They they had to choose a color(s) that would reflect the same emotion. Finally they had to select lines that showed their emotion. We put all the parts together and finished them with oil pastels. I love them!






Silently Scared


You can check out more over at our Artsonia site. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Wild Color Wild Life

Earlier this year my 6th graders spent some time working on drawing animals. They focused on using shapes to sketch. They had to plan for and use a color theory. They also had to select and research an animals to share, demonstrating their personal voice. They were pretty fun to see all finished.

For most of them this was the first time we had done a whole project with tempera. I was pretty impressed with their blending and color mixing.

You can check out more at our Artsonia site. 

Don't tell anyone but the freedom in this cow painting just makes me soooo happy! It might just be my favorite.  

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Frank Lloyd Wright

During the NATA conference in McCook I was lucky enough to tour Nebraska's only Frank Lloyd Wright house. It was amazing. I have been fascinated by FLW since I read the book "Loving Frank" by Nancy Horan but touring this house and seeing his genius in person was breath taking.

Fast forward to my 5th graders shape assignment. We studied geometric shapes and created FLW inspired "windows."
On your planning sheet, design your window using geometric shapes.

tape overhead to planning sheet

use permanent black maker to create the "lead" lines.
(I am in love with Office Max brand permanent makers - see top photo)
flip up overhead and add a bit of color (colored glass)

trace square onto black construction paper

cut out square - be neat and careful

tape your "glass" on the "window frame"

You can check out more of my students finished projects over at our Artsonia site. 

Cleaning up...

So we found out that sometime this year our district is getting new computers (it is time...) so pardon me while I clean up my files and share old pictures.

At the end of last school year my 5th graders were finishing up their perspective projects
(exploding names with shapes and patterns)
I had them create collaborative tape murals in perspective using blue painters tape and old milk posters. They were a blast to make and the kids had a great time working together. 

(here's an un-cropped one so you can see the size)