Skull or Day of the Dead

SkullRecently I have reconnected with a student from my earlier days as an art teacher.  And, I do mean early!  Maybe 25 or more years ago was the last time I saw him. What a surprise to find that he had earned his master degree in theater arts and is still living near by.

Teachers have an odd job. They rarely see the final product of their work.   During the school year, we see sparks of possibilities in every student.  Students graduate, and we don’t keep in touch but with a few. We’re left wondering “whatever happened to…”  “Did he (or she) use the talents that were so apparent?” The ones that struggle, that work the hardest, always leave a mark on our hearts.

So soon I’ll have some answers.  The student, that is now a man, asked me via email to submit a  piece for a Day of the Dead show in our town’s new historical societies’ building.  A show that he is curating.  When we meet at the show,  I’ll get to here about his journey from my classroom to now.  What an adventure it must have been!

Skull or Day of the Dead

Survival for Illustration Friday

survivalThis was a rather easy theme to do this time as I’ve been preparing digital art lessons for my high school students.  We’ll be creating robots using PhotoShop and their cell phone cameras.  The plan is for them to go around our campus taking photos that will be used as the backdrop for their battle scenes.  I introduced the idea before we left for Spring Break so they’d have plenty of time to play out scenes in their imagination.  I’ve got a great group of kids this years, a lot of talent.  It’ll be interesting to see what they come up with as we proceed with this project.

Survival for Illustration Friday

Nativity Revisited

nativityrevistedLast night I was invited by a dear friend, Mrs. Moore, to Black Nativity Revisited put on by the Allen Temple Baptist Church in Oakland. I had a little problem with the “revisited” in the title. Why was it there? Isn’t it the reason for the season? However, as the night progressed, it became so important.

I left late in the dark to a crowded freeway headed to a part of Oakland I didn’t know. When I stopped for a red light, a homeless man appeared out of the darkness right up at my car window with a palms together begging. I was taken aback and tried to explained through my tightly shut window and locked door that I couldn’t reach my purse, didn’t have any cash in my pockets. I just couldn’t help him. There were cars lined up behind me. I didn’t have time for this, I thought.  I was going to be late. As the light turned green, he signaled he understood and backed away into the night.

When I finally reached the church, I was greeted warmly and let in to the performance held in the sanctuary. I couldn’t completely settle down to enjoy the jubilant  performance. The beggars face haunted me on and off throughout performance of the Christmas story.  I revisit the Nativity story every year. It doesn’t change. I do it to honor and celebrate this glorious gift from God. But on this night, it changed for me.

During the performance last night the phrase “no room at the inn” was spoken and sung I don’t know how many times . It’s repetition, though, called upon me to rethink about the beggar I had just left on the street. Had I not just refused him entrance into my life? Why didn’t I roll down my window? Why didn’t I make the extra effort to reach for a couple of dollars? Why didn’t I just stop, let the cars behind me wait, and give something to this man in need. Some would try to ease my conscious by saying I was a woman traveling alone at night. But I didn’t feel threaten. He didn’t approach me in hostile way, made no movements that indicated I should be weary. He just want some help. I turned him away like the inn keepers in Bethlehem. I had no room for him.

I read somewhere, long ago, that the people who come into your life which  you find most frustrating or disturb your day to day existence, are there to teach you something; most likely something about yourself. Last night that beggar came knocking on my door, and like the inn keepers in Bethlehem on that most holiest of nights, I turned him away. The inn keepers, that turned Mary and Joseph away, missed being there when a miracle occurred. They missed  seeing Emmanuel, Jesus, Son of God, Comforter and Prince of Peace. What had I missed by not giving a minute two more to a beggar?

Or, maybe, I didn’t miss out.  Maybe I got to play a part in the retelling of the nativity story.   For the beggar reminded me to keep my inn open. To remember that we all are walking miracles brought into this world to give it something special of ourselves. I revisited the nativity. I learned I am part of the nativity; that I live it everyday. Last night I was an inn keeper. Today I might be a shepherd, tomorrow one of the three kings. That the next person I meet might have lesson for me. Whatever part I play, giver or receiver, I must keep my heart open and greet everyone as though they might hold a message I need to hear. And sometimes, slow learner that I am, I might have to be revisited again and again to get the point.

Merry Christmas to all, and may you be open to the miracles that surround you.

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Jungle Nymph for IF’s Spirit.

junglenymphHere in the Bay Area, we just finished one of our coldest weeks ever.  Those living in the east, probably think of us as wimps. I’ll admit it, but even so, we all probably begin to fantasize about warmer climates when we’re chilled to the bone. And even though, we can’t travel to the heat of a jungle paradise, our imaginations can take us there in spirit.

Science now confirms that what you think your body feels.  Strong memories can be felt by the body.  It can’t determine the source of the minds reaction. It can only follow.  So let your reveries take you to your favorite warm climate and bask in the virtual sun of your own creation. Stave off the cold for just a little while.

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Tension for Illustration Friday

Tension

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tension? Let me tell you about tension.

Graduation angst is all over the faces of my high school seniors.  Like deer caught in the headlights, they see the near future rushing towards them, and it is finally hitting them that life is about to change.  They’re experiencing the tension of leaving that safe forest of daily school routine and taking those tentative steps of crossing the highway of life into adult hood. Being part of the lucky class of 2013 might be adding to the tension.

The piece above is actually my example for my students final art project.  The theme is facades, and they have all the PhotoShop skills they’ve gained this year to use to make their pieces.  I’m excited to see what their interpretations will become.

I’m finding that I really like working in pencil, and then scanning that drawing into Photoshop.  Sometime I begin directly in PhotoShop, but after teaching how to use the program all day, I really miss the feel of traditional media. To be able to combine the two is so freeing as I can manipulate my drawings endless with no fear of corrupting the original.

Tension for Illustration Friday

Wild for Illustration Friday

Arrow

It’s April, and the world is in bloom. I’ve spent the weekend working in my backyard garden trying to get it back in order after it’s been neglected for so long.  Winter in California is a holiday compare to other parts of the country , but still it can be cold and wet.  During the winter, my garden is best experienced from behind a window in a warm and cozy room.  The sunshine this weekend,however, demanded an extended stay outside.  So I shot myself outside and hunkered down to do  some serious weeding and trimming.  A rototiller rejuvenated raised beds with a health dose of organic matter, or in more earthy terms, cow manure. The wild hinter lands are less a jungle and my winter, white skin has the beginning , if not a summer tan, at least a spring one.

Wild for Illustration Friday