Sunday, November 29, 2015

Creation's Ensemble

Geese play bass on the pond
Birds of the air an intermittent  soprano
The wind sings melody 
Percussion rises from the ocean waves

The rustle of the leaves
Creaking of the trees
Roaring water breaks over the rocks

One day my heart will tune to 
The majestic songs that all creation sings
In honor to the King!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Finding the Cure

Each year I tell the story of the first Thanksgiving at Plymouth to my art students when I introduce art projects related to Thanksgiving.  The story bears repeating.  The pilgrims landed in Plymouth in the year of 1620. It was  later in the year than they had anticipated and they landed  farther north.  That first winter, a little more than half of the company died from disease.
First Grade Mayflower

 And of these in the time of most distress, there was but six or seven sound [healthy] persons who, to their great commendations be it spoken, spared no pains, night or day, but with abundance of toil  and hazard of their own health, fetched them wood, made them fires, dressed [prepared] them meat, made their beds, washed their loathsome clothes, clothed and unclothed them; in a word, did all the homely and necessary offices for them which dainty and queasy stomachs cannot endure to hear named; and all this willingly and cheerfully, without any grudging in the least, showing herein their true love unto their friends and brethren. A rare example and worthy to be remembered
William Bradford Plymouth Plantation excerpts

After that bitter winter of the body and soul, God providentially sent Samoset who spoke English and he introduced them to Squanto who spoke even better English.  Apart from these men it is unlikely that any of the settlers would have survived.  They were able to make a harvest that year and they were better situated. 

That year at the time of harvest they had a three day feast to which they invited the American Indians.  I really do not know what the celebration was like.  I doubt they fixed Aunt Martha's famous gelatin salad with little marshmallows and I don't think they argued whether it should be dressing or stuffing at the table.  There wasn't football or the Macy's parade.  

One thing I think they did have that is really lacking from our celebration is genuine gratitude.  If half of the people that took a journey with you died from disease and starvation, then I think that you personally might realize the benefits of having food to eat, especially if it was enough to feast on for three days.  In our culture whining and carping is a national past time.  We have an abundance of everything and we critique every morsel that enters our mouth cavity.  

Let the one who is wise heed these things and ponder the loving deeds of the LORD.

I am not going to bore you with the things which I have to be grateful for, but I am going to ask you to really consider what should be on your own list.  I have a friend who is very sick.  I know two men who are without a job.  I know two people who just lost their mothers.  I know folks who  deal every day with the pain of divorce or the unfaithfulness of their spouse.  I know people who suffer year in and year out with mental illness.  I pass homeless people most weeks. I know personally children who have already lived through a little bit of hell on earth. everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

We are dying emotionally, spiritually and even physically because of our cynicism to the amazing, wonderful, tremendous abundance that we have.  Many of our social ills would disappear if we were just a grateful people.

 Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Day Star

I usually text my husband before I head for home after work.  He texted back and told me to enjoy the drive.  I decided that I would look for things along the way that would help me to see the beauty in my ride home.
Last night we had quite a bit of rain so today the sunlight seemed to be shining brightly as though everything had been thoroughly washed.  There are still some russet red leaves on the trees and some shiny yellow ones as well.  The pines are peaking through more now in areas where most of the leaves have fallen.

The temperature was nearing perfection on the way home.  I had my window down and it was extremely comfortable.  I love open stretches of road where it  is straight and there is not a car in sight.

This barn is probably going to become the subject of my next painting.  I have been wanting to capture a shot of it for awhile now.  It is sitting a little ways down an incline from an old white farm house that is boarded up.  This kind of place is what my earthly dreams are made of. 

As I traveled home I thought about how the bright sunlight is really starlight. Every day our day star, the sun, bathes us in a heavenly light.  We have become so accustomed to the sun that we hardly ever think of it in its' proper terms.  The King James Bible refers to Jesus as our Day Star.

We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts...

I long for the true Day Star and want Him to shine upon me now and forever. 

November Trees, Pears, George Rodrigue's Blue Dog and Turkeys

The idea for these trees come from  We used charcoal to draw the moon and to shadow the sky gray.  The trees, bats and owls are black oil pastel. Some of the smaller branches are done with charcoal as well.  We discussed value, negative and positive space, and gradation.  This was a fourth grade project.  


The 5th grade did these oil pastel pears.  Angela Anderson has a tutorial for this project in acrylic.

We did this in one 45 minute class. Today my art class was once again "Art on a Cart" and I needed a project that used materials that could be easily transported.  I think that doing them in paint would have produced a nicer product but I still like the results. 

The second graders did a guided drawing of George Rodrique's Blue Dog.  We drew with pencil and then used sharpie to trace around our lines.  We colored the whole dog with crayon and drew a line of horizon.  The background was added and then we painted the dog with blue tempura.  
This is the tutorial that I used as a guide.  I find Kathy Barbro's website to be really helpful.

These are turkeys from third grade.  We talked about using bright colors and patterns.  The turkeys were not meant to be realistic but to be fun.  Most of the students seemed to really enjoy creating the patterns for the feathers.  They used markers and crayons for the feathers.  The turkeys bodies are painted with brown tempura.  

Saturday, November 14, 2015


The leaves are just about gone from the trees.  A few bright leaves cling tenaciously.
Friday afternoon, evening though I am a bit weary from my week, I am still willing to ramble about a bit before heading home.  I've wanted to take a picture of this old truck for weeks. I pulled into a side road so I could get a shot.

I stopped by the Dollar General and found some heavily discounted fall items.  I found this lovely jar that has a place for a tea light candle. I really love it.  I paid $1.87 for it. 
I live in the country and it is where I really belong.  I never tire of seeing hay fields, cows, wooded areas, streams, country homes and barns.  
I went outside to check the eggs and to clean out our little chicken coop. We only have four laying hens now and I found two eggs.  I picked the last of the tomatoes because we are supposed to have freezing temperatures tonight.  I plucked some of lemon thyme, some rosemary and a few sprigs of lavender. The okra is pretty much gone and there was one last little pumpkin in the spent garden. The trees are almost bare so the squirrel's nest are visible again.
Squirrel's Nests

Herbs, Eggs and Tomatoes

I disturbed a rabbit by the back fence as I walked around the yard. One little bird sang a goodnight song while a sliver of moon shone over the tree tops.  I piddled in the yard, bringing in the last of the house plants from the front porch.  My sweater was covered in hay from working with the chickens and my old Chacos had some undetermined substance on the bottoms.  I kicked my shoes off and warmed up supper.  I put on the tea kettle and lit some candles.  

... make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you,

Steaming cup of tea
My life is for the most part, not very exciting, but I enjoy the small things. I enjoy being outside and observing the things that seem insignificant. To me they are not insignificant.  I like to live peaceably and quiet. I am satisfied in my Father's world and with my lot in life.

   ...for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.

But godliness with contentment is great gain.

Last little pitiful pumpkin- will end up in the compost pile

Aspargus Fern  saved from the freezing temperature now setting on the dining room table.  

Friday, November 13, 2015

Scarecrows and Pumpkins

Second grade drew these scarecrows. We have relegated the scarecrow to being just an adorable fall decoration, so as a class we discussed the origins of the scarecrow and how the thrifty farmer would use his old worn old things and maybe even an old feed sack for the head. I think that the art can be better, the more facts that we have about our subject matter.  I also threw in a smattering of knowledge about the super smartness of crows.   I personally doubt that a crow would be frightened by a scarecrow for any length of time. Maybe the farmer only needed the scarecrow until the seed germinated and was established as plant in the ground. I like giving as much background information as I can but still leaving the bulk of the time to do art.

I did a short lesson on making the skin color.  I only had dark brown so we mixed it with white, a little yellow, a bit of red to achieve our skin tone.  The scarecrows were painted in tempura.  I try to get them to evenly brush out their paint.  Many of the students think that more is better when in reality this paint works much better if all of the lumps and bumps are smoothed out.  After the pictures dried we used permanent marker to outline some of the detail.  We added some crows in the sky and then we chalked the backgrounds.

For the second graders, this lesson achieved what I call the "magic moment".  It was neither too hard that they were frustrated or too easy and that they were bored.  Every student was fully engaged and their behavior was close to perfect.
Third grade drew these pumpkins.  We discussed perspective and that things closer appear larger and that we only draw the parts that we can see.  We used tempura paint for the pumpkins and then they added a shadow with some gray watercolor.  We wet our paper and did a watercolor wash above the pumpkins.  I asked them to outline the tops of the pumpkins with crayon so that the crayon would block the water color from bleeding into their pumpkins.