Saturday, May 26, 2012

Graduation speeches and careers...

I graduated with an MFA in Writing on May 18th, and I am so excited to have achieved this milestone.  Several years ago, a graduate degree was a dream I never thought I would achieve.  I never even considered the possibility that I could do it. It was a "wouldn't it be nice, but it's too much work/money/time" type of idea.  Then some big, personal stuff happened (which I won't go into here, except to say that something really bad happened in my son's life, and by extension in my life).  I suddenly realized that dreams will remain dreams if you don't TRY.  Yes, you may fail, but what if....

What if you SUCCEED?  That "what if..." is the question we all need to ask when we are too afraid, too tired, too poor, too whatever to TRY.  Your dream may be hard to achieve.  You may fail.  You may spend a ton of money that could have gone into something else.  But...WHAT IF YOU SUCCEED?  

In the past two years, I've managed to achieve several goals, some larger than others:
  • Moving out of my mom's house (although I am grateful for all of her help over the years, and even today).
  • Moving to New York City (well, at least very nearby).
  • Have my writing and art published.  (click HERE to see what, and where).
  • Continue to homeschool my son.
  • Pay down some debt.
  • Get hired to teach at the college level (I start in June!).
  • And lots more...
With that in mind, I want to share with you some speeches and talks that I find inspirational...

Adam Savage at Sarah Lawrence College, May 2012

Neil Gaiman at the University of the Arts, May 2012

   Elizabeth Gilbert's TED Talk

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


JP was first introduced to the artist Piet Mondrian by his fourth grade teacher - this was shortly before we began homeschooling.  JP loved Mondrian's straight lines and bold colors instantly!  He did Mondrianesque drawing after drawing for weeks!  A few years have gone by, and after seeing a few Mondrian posts in the homeschooler bloggersphere, I decide we would revisit our old artist friend.

After exploring some of the videos and links below, we did two projects based on Mondrian's art.  I just a few pieces of square drawing paper leftover from a previous project, so we used some of them for our Mondrian art.  

For our first project, we discussed Mondrian's use of line, and the fact that often his lines don't stretch across the entire surface of the picture.  They might cross here and there, but often the lines define specific areas which are further defined by the addition or lack of color.  If you explore the videos and link below, you will see that Mondrian often focuses in his later works on white, red, yellow, and blue, with primarily black lines...or no definite lines.  JP and I discussed how the black lines, or lack of them, would effect the colors and the focal point of the eye.  We also discussed using lines of different widths.  We talked about using white space to draw the eye to or from specific areas of the art.  I spread out our paper, colored pencil, crayons, pens, and pastels, and we set to work.
JP's drawing, pen on paper.

My drawing, pen on paper. I always do the projects with JP.
After doing pieces focusing on the bold primary colors, blacklines, and white space.  We looked at some Mondrian pieces that seem to focus on shades of a single color.  Then, we did the same!
JP's shades project, crayon and pen on paper.  He learned a big art lesson with this one - have a spare piece of paper handy in order to test your crayons and markers.  It helps to test them out to see if a) they really are the color they appear, and b) if two or more colors will look good together.

My shades project, crayon and pen on paper.

Here are number of Piet Mondrian resources from around the 'net:

Mondrian Trust - After choosing your viewing format, a new window should open. There are tabs on the bottom of the new window, including one for images. Each image is accompanied by a short description of the art, or of that time period in Mondrian's career.

To see some of Mondrian's most famous works, visit WebMuseum.  For a larger image, just click on each picture.

For younger kids, and an online art experience, try Enchanted Learning's free online Piet Mondrian coloring page.

Another fun, online acitivity: Mondrimat!

A video of Mondrian's art set to music:
Art History lecture from Full Sail University:
Mondrian for children video:

And, another Mondrian video:
Mondrian - Boogie Woogie man video:  

And, two online collections of Mondrian's art:
A brief New York Times article about Picasso and Mondrian paintings stolen in January, 2012 HERE.

Fancy an art based video game that combines Pac-Man with Mondrian's art? Try Pac-Mondrian!

A review of a Mondrian showing at the Busch-Reisinger Museum, Harvard University HERE.

Art Projects for Kids - projects for the young ones to do at home (or school) HERE.

Another great blog post about Piet Mondrian from The Tiger Chronicles blog (actually, two posts in the one link!): HERE.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Recent postcards and mail

I haven't been online much lately due to finishing up my graduate program - I graduate on May 18th! WooHoo! I'll have an MFA in Writing, with a concentration of poetry.  As many of you may know, I love snail mail, and participate in a postcard swap via Postcrossing.  See my previous Postcrossing posts HERE.

Here are the postcards, stamps, and a couple of birthday cards I received in the past few weeks:
From the Ukraine.

From my friend and her daughter...cute picture below was drawn on the back of the card. :)

From Russia.

Birthday card from my friend in California.

Birthday card from a penpal in Germany.