Cursive handwriting…an art of the past?

I’ve always been in awe of illuminated manuscripts and beautiful script.

JesseTree Illuminated Manuscript

stone.tifI think that cursive handwriting is an aesthetic that will be sorely missed if it goes the way of the past.  A frustration, I’m sure, for anyone who lacked fine motor skills in life; keyboarding would have been a benefit to many.  However, there’s a particular kind of nostalgia that comes with the practice of handwriting/penmanship/cursive…both positive and negative. The discussion is a current one where education is concerned.  I just thought I’d reflect on my own practice of cursive as it relates to my schooling and life.

I learned to print first, but very soon after, learned cursive.  This is a note written in 1964.  I was in grade three. (the poem…dumb!)

Cell December29 cursive handwriting 006

 

In grades five and six, we were required to own an old-school fountain pen and had our own ink well stored in the top corner of our desk.  We were given lessons on how to maintain our pens, how to blot our writing as we went along and generally, how to form our letters in a very controlled manner.  I wrote many reports and stories using this tool and in looking through my little stack this afternoon, think there is something very beautiful about the predictable text.

 

??????????In University, I didn’t have access to a typewriter for the first couple of years and so I wrote out my papers in a sort of calligraphy.  I always felt slightly at a disadvantage to people who had more money.  I understand how students feel when they don’t have access to computers at home.

??????????When I boarded with Larry and Nina in the city,  I used Nina’s typewriter.  What a world of difference that made!  When I am a guest teacher with students in today’s schools, they always marvel at my stories about learning keyboarding on a typewriter…how they were used…changing ribbons…back spacing and making corrections.  These are stories of a not-so-distant past.

??????????At some point, my non-slanted cursive became slanted.  I don’t know what that’s about?  It felt like it was somehow aligned with the moment when I took my maiden name back.  At this point, text became a part of my art and even appeared on my walls.

P1050785Christmas Card 2Mueller Art Folder 012I think that cursive handwriting carries a great deal of our personality and when I receive cards or letters in the post, I immediately recognize and respond to the writing on the front of the envelope.  My heart still skips a beat when I encounter a note or something written inside the front cover of a book and the script is in my mother’s handwriting.

Cursive is beautiful.  I hope that it isn’t lost to us.

Mom's writing

 

This morning, I lit a candle.

The day has been filled with Christmas light.

DSC_1791I got up early this morning…Max and I did a before-the-sun-came-up walk.  On the circle, Christmas lights on houses and in trees still dazzled the snow-sprinkled morning.  A cold bite to the air, I pulled my hood up and we made our way into day, leaving our footprints behind, the first in fresh snow.

The magic continued.  As is usual, it was possible to hear one good classical tune on CKUA on my drive to the church, where upon my entrance, I was greeted by the familiar voices and smiles of old friends.  After a short morning prayer, I decided to light a candle.  It is the feast day of the Holy Family and I couldn’t stop thinking about my family…Dad, Mom…my brothers and sister and my children.  Mom would have me light that candle and say a prayer and acknowledge, with gratitude, the blessings of this season and my life, and so I did.

Social media enjoys its fair share of cynicism about God, Jesus and ‘religion’.  While somewhat accepting of ‘spirituality’ and spewing a constant blast of Rumi quotes, many people generally dismiss the power of belief and embrace the power of ‘I’, ‘me’, ‘now’, ‘manifestation’, ‘selfie’, and ‘self-gratification’ instead.  I’m not here to knock all of that and all of them, but I’m here to proclaim just how powerful faith is for me.  I felt as though when I lit that candle, a tidal wave of love spilled over me.  I experienced ‘God-be-with-you’ in the truest sense.  I am grateful for the grace and power of the divine within me.

I’m a big one for family history, studying my maternal and paternal lineages intensely for the past five years. The Liturgy of the Word was filled with family history today…stories of hope and amazement.

The Mass was filled with blessings of every kind. Deacon Greg shared a heartfelt homily that touched me deeply.  Sometimes personal narratives just have a way of reaching into the soul and healing something.  Greg’s stories of faith, family, struggle and joy were so meaningful and so relevant.  I cherish my family deeply and I’m so grateful for their love and support always.  Each member of my family, whether they be in Lethbridge, Raymond, Magrath, Ottawa, Halifax, Comox or Calgary, is light to me.

During Offertory, we sang the Little Drummer Boy.  Today’s version, with some percussion, sent chills up my spine because I felt as though Mom was sitting right beside me.  This carol was always her favourite and my spirit lit up at the first tap of the drum.

Three baptisms…Isaac, Ethan and Noelle.  What’s not to absolutely love about baptisms?  The children from the congregation gathered, wearing their new Christmas outfits, excited to celebrate in the welcoming of three new infants into our community.  Ethan and Noelle appeared to be twins, looking so fragile and sleeping so soundly.  Father Cristino gently blessed their small round heads with water and there was barely a peep from either of the wee angels.  Isaac was fully immersed and his back stiffened at contact with the water, when all at the same time, he let out a cry.  Wrapped up in a cozy blanket, Daddy held him close and he was quickly consoled.  The congregation was invited to applaud our welcome and our excitement for this beautiful event.  That small candle continued to light up my heart.

The Consecration at the celebration of the Holy Eucharist left me gobsmacked.  My readers might have to look up the term in their urban dictionaries.  I just could not find a term that would suit this moment better.  Gobsmacked, it is!

This day has been a very special day for me because of its beginning.  The snow continues to flutter gently to the ground.  My daughter came by and shared a meal of beef barley soup.  We snuggled.  Max played whizzo outside and flew through the snow…again.  The light has long since left the sky.  The Christmas tree lights are once again plugged in.  While the sky is very dark, it feels as though I am lit up.  I am grateful.  I am happy.

 

Finding Grace Moors

Dad described the Bernardo’s file on Grace and Alice, sparse, and it is.  Their brother, John, had traveled with the Annie Macpherson organization when he was only 13.  While not at the beginning of the sad movement of children for indentured service to Canada, Australia and other countries, it was early, in 1889.

Grampa always spoke of his Dad and Grand Dad helping orphaned children and it does appear that John, after two placements and a number of years, accompanied two other groups of children with the organization, one time traveling with a friend (21), Arthur Wheeler.  Arthur separated from John and traveled, instead, to Toronto and my research has turned up nothing but dead ends where he is concerned.

S.S. Parisian John Moors and Arthur WheelerHmmm….this story is not about John, but about Grace.  Alice is still a bit of a mystery.  On John’s papers I learned of two placements for a Miss Moore, 39 Duke Street, Hamilton and 61 Robinson Street.

P1150648On the recent acquisition of information, dated July 24, 1892, I learn that Grace is a domestic at Dundurn Castle…

Dundurn Castle, Hamilton, 1910

and then, later, a servant with Mrs. Counsell of 11 Herkimer Street in Hamilton, Ontario.

DSC_1778Regarding all of these placements, I feel tremendous gratitude.  In our study of the British Home Children, our group refers to domestics and servants in these positions as the ‘lucky ones’.  First of all, Grace was twenty years old.  If you look at the list of immigrants above, some of these children were as young as four and six.  Some were emigrated without their parent’s knowledge.  As my research and understanding opens up, I realize that I need to be grateful, however repulsed by the stories of so many others.  I’ve just finished a book, a gift from my father, Laying the Children’s Ghosts to Rest: Canada’s Home Children in the West by Sean Arthur Joyce.  These and other books, as well as the dedicated work of such individuals as Lori Oschefski, Sandra Joyce and Karen Mahoney with the  British Home Children Advocacy &  Research Association have brought to light, bit by bit, a part of Canadian history that needs to be acknowledged and taught in schools.

??????????Grace is found in Dundurn Castle in Hamilton.  By 1892, the residents were no longer the famous Sir Allan MacNab,  his second wife, Mary and their children.  I am trying to locate names of the families (likely relatives) who continued to live in this famous tourist location.

What’s interesting about such placements of domestics is that very little is written about their responsibilities or circumstances in the history books.  These were the people who toiled for the comforts of the fortunate and yet it is difficult, in the rural placements especially, to ever find them on the census records.  Few narratives endure.  My father teases me and says that I can invent their stories, but you see, I will never write anything unless it is based on fact.

Last night, I found a post written by Nancy, a freelance journalist and biographer on a quest to visit and write about all 266 National Historic sites in Ontario.  Her blog, Silcox, provides for some insight into Grace’s story, in a post titled Upstairs/Downstairs: What the Butler saw at Dundurn Castle.  An awesome post.  See also, the Toronto Sun’s article…Ontario’s Downtown Abbey: Visiting Hamilton’s Dundurn Castle.

Nancy writes about her tour, led by Bridget…

“The Servants’ Quarters
Ironically, the low, odoriferous and dark basement where the MacNab’s complement of servants worked was surely cozier than the cavernous rooms above. It was no doubt tempting for the MacNab children to go below. “But they were forbidden to enter the servants’ quarters” Bridget says.

In an effort to keep staff “hanky-panky” at bay, females slept in the servants’ quarters; males bunked down in one of the outbuildings. Woolen sox were advised between November and April!

At least 10 staff kept Dundurn humming: the omnipotent butler, a cook and her kitchen staff, footmen, maids, carriage drivers, and grounds-keeping staff. “They worked 7 days a week, sometimes 18 hours a day with little pay,” says Bridget. Most were Irish immigrants, fleeing famine and starvation in “the Old Country.”

Treating the Servants “Too Well”
“But in most cases Dundurn’s servants were better off, working in much better living conditions than most of the working class in other domestic positions,” our excellent tour guide offers. “People criticized Alan MacNab for treating his servants too well.” She points out the painted wooden floors, windows and wallpaper throughout the servants’ quarters as testament to his enlightenment.

In addition to 3 meals a day, and a roof over their heads, each of Dundurn’s servants got 3 glasses of ale daily. “But the cook, especially if she was valued, had unlimited ale. They wanted to keep her happy!” suggests Bridget.

The large kitchen is the centre of Dundurn’s servant’s quarters. A massive wood-burning stove, with various doors and cubbies covers most of the kitchen wall. “The word ‘range’ comes from the notion that a whole range of foods, cooked at different temperatures, and for different lengths of time could be handled by these cook stoves,” says Bridget.

She now points to a row of bells on the wall of the kitchen. “Each of them rings in a different tone. One tone was for the cook; another for the butler; another for the footmen. Staff soon learned what ring was for them.” A series of smaller rooms give clues to the never-ending chores of a 19th century servant. Bridget’s tour takes us past the candle-making room, the laundry, the brewery, the wine cellar, the root cellar, the food storage room and one devoted solely to luggage.

“After all, when the MacNabs went to visit, it was by carriage and took a long time. So they needed to pack many clothes for at least a week or more.” Ladies’ maids handled all clothes preparation and packing.

The dish-washing room was the domain of the scullery maid. She rested at the lowest rung of the servant pecking order. “The word ‘scullery’ refers to sculling, the movement of water,” informs Bridget. “Scullery maids washed, dried and put away dishes 12 hours a day. And if a late formal diner was held, she didn’t go to bed until the last dish was done.”

Of these circumstances, Bernardo’s records support both the location and the reality for Grace.

DSC_1779My quest for information will continue, but I wanted to touch, just briefly, on Mrs. Counsell of 11 Herkimer Street.  I find 18 year old E.M. Counsell, clerk for the Merchant’s Bank, living at 11 Herkimer Street and so, as the 1891 Hamilton census would suggest, Edward was living with his parents, Charles M. Counsell and Charlotte E. Counsell at the time, listed as a 17 year old.

Hamilton Directory 1892-1893 E. M. CounsellAt the bottom of their records, it is evident that Charles and Charlotte have, in 1891, three domestics, John and Maggie Thompson and Tillie Hammond.  Grace would have followed behind them, although she does not appear on the 1901 census because she was living at home with her father, John Moors and family, immigrated 1898, many years after his own son, John.

1891 Census HamiltonI find Charlotte widowed on the 1901 census (Charles death certificate reading 1900) and she lives in Hamilton for the remainder of her life until May 9, 1923.  So, this is the Mrs. Counsell who had as her domestic, Grace Moors.

Charlotte Elrington Leith Counsell

Charlotte Elrington Leith Counsell

And this is her home at 11 Herkimer, as it appears today.

11 Herkimer Street where Grace worked for Mrs. CounsellAmazing what worlds are opened up with a few pieces of information.  As I watch The Midwives of Netflix or read my current list of books, I can not help but appreciate more and more the resilience of my ancestors for their struggles and their determination.  I am proud to be a descendent, on my mother’s side, of the Acadians and on my father’s side, of the east side Londoners.  I anticipate learning more as I continue my research.

The second address, 61 Robinson Street, will be described in a new post.

Grace Moors 61 Robinson Street, Hamilton, Domestic

About a Rumble

A quick post before Max and I head out.  The light fades so quickly these days.  Last night I attended my first rumble at the Rumble House.  Some of you remember when I announced on my blog, the closure of Gorilla House and my last live art battle.  Well, the next project to bust wide open after much love and effort on the part of a lot of people, is the Rumble House.  Located at 1136 8th Ave, SW, the soft opening (whatever that is) occurred last week, Wednesday, to be followed, I guess, by the ‘hard opening’ last night.

This photo…taken by someone else.

Rumble House 2I decided to GOOGLE the word Rumble and paint whatever came up. Rumble, League of Legend’s mechanical menace came slightly ahead of WWE’s Royal Rumble .  It’s as simple as that.  I do not develop caricatures or work in any form of animation.  The only two times I have ever tackled such subjects have been at the Gorilla House and now, the Rumble House.  These have been places of exploration, so why not?  Master Chief was the last subject I took on of this nature.

Master ChiefThe TRUE excitement of the evening was re-connecting with friends who paint.  The hugs were contagious.  I treasure the connection, the stories and the creative energy that abounds during these experiences.  Nice to connect again with painting buddies, Belinda Fireman and Jennifer Stinson!

Last night’s painting, Rumble, was picked up at auction by a fan’s father.  Wisdom, thanks for visiting me throughout the evening and giving me the encouragement to keep going.  You don’t know how wonderful it is to receive the insights of our guests throughout the two hour painting frenzy.  Thanks, Aaron! (and forward me a fantastic photo of your son that I can include here, please)

Of Rumble’s Lore, I learned…

“Even amongst yordles, Rumble was always the runt of the litter. As such, he was used to being bullied. In order to survive, he had to be scrappier and more resourceful than his peers. He developed a quick temper and a reputation for getting even, no matter who crossed him. This made him something of a loner, but he didn’t mind. He liked to tinker, preferring the company of gadgets, and he could usually be found rummaging through the junkyard. He showed great potential as a mechanic. His teachers recommended him for enrollment at the Yordle Academy of Science and Progress in Piltover, where he may very well have become one of Heimerdinger’s esteemed proteges, but Rumble refused to go. He believed that Heimerdinger and his associates were ”sellouts,” trading superior yordle technology to humans for nothing more than a pat on the head while yordles remained the butt of their jokes. When a group of human graduates from the Yordle Academy sailed to Bandle City to visit the place where their mentor was born and raised, Rumble couldn’t resist the temptation to see them face-to-face (so to speak). He only intended to get a good look at the humans, but four hours and several choice words later, he returned home bruised and bloodied with an earful about how he was an embarrassment to ”enlightened” yordles like Heimerdinger. The next morning he left Bandle City without a word, and wasn’t seen again for months. When he returned, he was at the helm of a clanking, mechanized monstrosity. He marched it to the center of town amidst dumbfounded onlookers and there announced that he would join the League of Legends to show the world what yordle-tech was really capable of, without hiding behind a foreign banner.”

Here is the painting…

?????????? DSC_1774Here are the people…

?????????? ?????????? ???????????????????? DSC_1753 It was good to be back.

 

Festive Art

As much as the elementary art curriculum focuses on giving the students a wide variety of art making experiences…reflection, depiction, composition and expression, it is natural to be drawn toward the reasons for the seasons and to create images based on selected thematic happenings.  Of course, Advent, Christmas and winter provide for some of these opportunities.

I’ve seen variations of this Division II lesson, taught throughout the school district.  Its success lies in the contrast between cool and warm colours.

warm-cool-shades

The subject matter (trees/hands/cars/ornaments) can also vary.  The activity below demonstrates the most expressive qualities.  There is evidence that, although the teacher provided some limits regarding subject matter, the students were really in the drivers’ seats.

P1090419 P1090415 P1090413 These are a few examples of the warm/cool thing I found displayed in different schools.  In the example below, the selected media was coloured marker…one could also use oil pastel or paint pucks paint pucks.  These require skill where painting/drawing up against clean edges is involved.  Required materials; white bond paper for pencil crayon/marker, ruler and pencil.  Draw a triangular tree shape first, with emphasis on it filling a large space.  Do not cave to the temptation to template the trees for the students because the variety of height, width and size will create some excitement in your overall display.  Where possible, encourage the students’ unique interpretation.  Draw intersecting lines from one edge of the paper to another.  Don’t create shapes that are unrealistically small, depending on the media you’ve chosen.  I’m always into big and bold.

DSC_1496 DSC_1497Recently, while guest teaching, a class at St. Isabella School was in the midst of creating these pieces for an Advent celebration and will later bring them home to parents as Christmas gifts.

I enjoyed this approach because it offered experimentation with a variety of media.  Before I arrived on the scene, the students had coloured regular photocopy paper with Mr. Sketch markers in patterns and designs, either cool or warm colours. Whether this media is applied to coffee filters or regular paper, the colours will melt into one another with the addition of water.  They are also easy to clean off of desks with a regular wipe if you haven’t already created laminated place mats for this purpose.

Mr. SketchHoles were punched into the top of a water bottle, and when the pieces were completely coloured, they were sprinkled with water. Once dried, these were transformed into three coniferous trees

DSC_1633DSC_1638A teacher can release a bit of control, as she or he feels comfortable.  For example, for predictable tree size and shape results, you can draw this cut template on the back of standard white print paper before. An option would be to have the students flip the paper over and draw out their own tree designs before cutting.  Guaranteed, more funky and less pretty!

I had the students tape their heavy weight paper to their desk tops with masking tape.  For this activity, a paper with no tooth is preferred.  When paper accepts water, it bubbles or expands.  As it dries, if attached to a surface with tape, it will shrink again and flatten.

DSC_1636I showed the grade four students a Youtube video that demonstrates how artists use wet-on-wet technique in their watercolour paintings.

In a room without a sink, this is all you need to have. Before the water was used, I quickly walked around the desk pods and pulled a sponge filled with water across each of the compositions.  The students had already placed their palettes of paint pucks on a paper towel in the center of one of the desks.  If the student used warm colours for their trees, then they chose cool colours for their background palette.  If the student used cool colours for their trees, then they chose warm colours for their backgrounds.  As well, each desk pod had a single container with a small amount of water to dip into as they pulled the pigment into their composition.  It was suggested that using the lightest colour first would be a good plan so that the dark colour would not impact all of the other areas too quickly.

DSC_1645I talked to the students about how, at the horizon…where the sky meets the mountains/land, you typically see the lightest colours of blue.  As you look up into the deep sky, that is where you see the darkest blues.

Have the students choose their colours for their palettes (paper towel sheet) and ask them to put a wee drip of water on each puck to soften the pigment.  Included in their clean up, have the students dump their containers of water into the bucket and place their brushes bristle down in the water at the same time.

DSC_1637 After the activity, ask students to use a dry paper towel to wipe off their puck and place them side by side in order to dry separately. Art students need to participate in studio clean up from the very beginning of their education.

DSC_1643Recess!  And the backgrounds dry.  Don’t remove the tape from the desks until they are completely dry.  Have something planned for after recess that takes the students away from their desks and in their gathering space.

DSC_1642 DSC_1641Once the backgrounds are completely dry, the students cut out their trees, draw embellishments with silver and gold metallic sharpies, and arrange on their backgrounds, with glue sticks.

DSC_1649DSC_1654 DSC_1657DSC_1653One or two early finishers can prepare some papers in brown green and black, to be used for the trunks of the trees.

DSC_1650DSC_1646This is where I left the scene of the art extravaganza.  Next day…some printmaking as students used the butt end of their pencils, dipped into white acrylic paint, to create a peaceful snow flake thing.  This is a very step by step explanation, but I thought some of you might wish to try these out, if not this year, then next.  Thank you to the grade four teachers of St. Isabella, for letting me participate in this festive adventure.

DSC_1647

 

A Mostly Full Moon

The past week at Frank’s Flats,  Max and I have encountered winter…the biting cold of it, but also the slushy warmth of winter’s low sun on the horizon.  It’s difficult to hold on to just how beautiful it is and how different from the lazy late evenings of summer.

Long shadows cast over the sea of white, where even blades of dried grass become giants stretched out on blue violet snow.  Each evening, the colours of things are subject to the sorts of clouds that celebrate the last rays of day and then melt into a pool of cerulean, ultramarine and lavender.

I dawdled at the beginning of our hike last night, snapping photographs of animal prints mostly.  Max kept running ahead and then bounding back, trying to distract me from the wonder of the light on the expanse of the pond.

DSC_1546

DSC_1542

DSC_1536

DSC_1547We set out on our hike too late last night and I had left my coyote-stick back at the car.  Sure enough, Max became agitated and, picking up a scent, began his fast, snout-to-the-ground zzzzz back and forth and back and forth along the fence. Then, FREEZE!  He stood utterly still in his tracks.  I stayed utterly still in my tracks.  And there, nose to nose, but separated from us by the fence, a large male stared intensely at us.  And as if tagged, Max woke from his stillness and barked madly.  As the coyote loped away from the fence…two meters…then five…then ten, I couldn’t help but take note of its beauty.

Grateful that he had a healthy thick coat and bright intent eyes and carried lots of weight for the challenges that lie ahead, I shouted out to Max.  COME!  MAX, COME!  Like a bullet, he flew through the snow banks and followed me as I attempted to walk in a steady and calm manner.  (I’ve let these animals see my fear before, only to be stalked for long distances by several coyotes.)  When Max did his about-face to charge the fence once again, our buddy had already turned himself around to follow us…but with the appearance, once again, of this loud herding monster of mine, the coyote headed into the scrub and disappeared.

DSC_1553My experiences of Frank’s Flats often bring to mind Barbara Kingsolver’s novel, Prodigal Summer, where the reader encounters “three stories of human love within a larger tapestry of lives inhabiting the forested mountains and struggling small farms of southern Appalachia. At the heart of these intertwined narratives is a den of coyotes that have recently migrated into the region. A reclusive wildlife biologist, watches the forest from her outpost in an isolated mountain cabin.”

Books like this one remind why I love Frank’s Flats so much and wish to be a steward of this small, but engaging ecosystem.

Tonight, the very same location was bathed in a soft blue light and until the sun set, the landscape flattened out.  Truly looking INTO the sky, it has been an every-evening- occurrence to see a hugely animated world of winged figures, flying in close formation, one formation after another and heading in the very same direction…ducks and geese…more and more ducks…making the journey that agitates everything within them. What a truly amazing sight!

Leaving Frank’s Flats, the sky to the west.

DSC_1567The moon on the eastern horizon, as I pulled off of the highway and steered home looked something like this…almost full…pink…and swimming behind blue cloud.

Veiled Moon Photograph by P-M Heden, TWAN

Veiled Moon: Photograph by P-M Heden, TWAN

Once pulled up to my front drive, she was a pure and bright golden ball in the darkening sky.  Tomorrow night sees the December full moon.  I wonder what beauty nature will hold for me as I greet another day.

Mothers, tonight, hold your children.  They are beautiful.  They are your own.  You are blessed.

 

 

 

 

Whoever said…

“Social media is our ruination.”

Think again.

I was blessed some time ago to receive a private message from a student who is now grown up and wears a beard…someone who has lived some life.  I hadn’t heard a word from him for years, but these words, like magic, appeared.  If these were the last words I was to read on this earth, I would be blessed enough.  But, it seems that again and again, I am graced by these experiences.  And it is, I’m certain, because I live in a time when the words can be communicated.  I know how grateful I remain, as a 59 year old woman, for my teachers.

This is what he said…

“Ms. Moors, I wanted to send you a message saying thank you for all of the lessons and knowledge that you passed on to me. I started classes in Lethbridge this fall and I still use the “outline” for essays and papers that you taught me in grade 9. That has helped me so much and I can only imagine that it will continue to assist me throughout my life. You also facilitated a love of reading in me and I can not express my appreciation to you for that. I hope all is well with you and that you are healthy and happy. Thank you again for everything.”

DSC_1531

The Barr Brothers: Even the Darkness Has Arms

I was holding my breath

When the tightrope walker slipped into the moon glow
Saying all my children, follow me
MAYBE IT’S TIME TO GO

You can be cruel when you’re wise
You can be wise when you’re blue
And baby, if I have
Then I have for you

Bribing the jury to keep me in jail
Singing tea for the tiller man
And although I lie fantastically
This woman knows of my history
IT’S A MIRACLE I CAN SEE

You can be wrong when you’re right
Even when you’re right on cue
And if I die tonight
Then I die for you

All I know is they call me son
Great grandson and grandson
Great uncles and some relatives
That judge what I have done

Gonna make it right by you
Even if it’s all I do
And if it’s all I do
Then I do it for you

People have raised a whole lotta hell
About the water in the windmill
And although I stab chaotically
IT HURTS NO ONE BUT ME

EVEN THE DARKNESS HAS ARMS
But they ain’t got you
And baby, I have it
And I have you, too

 

 

Have you ever seen a red bird?

That’s a question I asked Grade Two this morning and there were only three students who had seen Cardinals and they were delighted to tell their stories; two of the three had seen Cardinals on television.  The most interesting story was the one told by a wee boy about going on a trip to see Grampa and in the wilderness (his word) they saw four red birds.  I told the story of seeing Cardinals in Belleville, Ontario when I went there to visit my father.  Someone talked about those kind of birds having Mohawks on the top of their heads.  And then this guy came up.

Angry BirdsI’m going to tell you the truth…I found today’s idea on Pinterest.  YIPPEE!  Inspired by illustrator, Charlie Harper, many variations of this same activity can be found and managed, with, I hope, a focus on unique interpretations of the theme.  Here in Calgary, these children would not be as familiar with Cardinals as they would be with Northern Flickers and Magpies.  I think these activities could be suited for local birds as well. But today, I was into the red.

I wanted to manipulate the compositions to teach EMPHASIS and so the red was a pop of colour in an otherwise muted background.

Materials: Blue 18 x 24 construction paper with tooth.  White chalk for foggy fuzzy edges of background trees, White tempera, large bristle brushes, flat, two sheets of red poster board cut into small squares….two sheets enough for 23 students.

First, the students had depiction time.  I talked to them about how the Cardinals that we created were going to be like cartoons of birds.  Every single bird would look different depending on a lot of factors.  To begin with, we would practice drawing shapes…the body being a raindrop shape with the Cardinal’s Mohawk feathers on the top.  “Try big wide raindrop shapes and thin ones.  Try big and small.”  This little sketch was borrowed from one variation of this art lesson, found at Art On My Hand.

Angry Bird DepictionsThe eyes will be oogie boogie eyes that pop out past the bird’s body.  The legs…”Try long, short and bent. How can you make the bird look like it’s flying? How can we show wings? The beak is like a diamond shape and then just draw a line through the middle.”

Our drawing practice looked like this.

DSC_1459 DSC_1458 DSC_1457After sketching for a while and exploring all sorts of possibilities, out came the large blue paper.  I demonstrated how to press chalk and make dark lines and then showed how to move it and press on it to create light marks.  I touched the top of my paper and the bottom, on a vertical, to show how large the background trees needed to be.  I asked if any of the students had been outdoors recently when we had wind and snow and fog.  Lots of stories there! :0)  “What did the trees look like?”

“Our foreground tree…the one the closest to us…is more detailed.  We see more when something is close to us.  I can see your noses right now, but….when you are out on the playground, I can’t. We will paint the tree that’s close to us. What do we call a tree’s body? (trunk) What about its arms? Where are its legs? (limbs, branches? and their legs are underground) What about its fingers? toes? (It’s fingers are twigs. branches?) Expression and Composition time…with one short pause to remind the class not to SCRUB, but to STROKE. Here is what their trees looked like.  Off you go!  Recess!  PUT ON YOUR SNOW PANTS!

DSC_1447 DSC_1448Ti DSC_1449After recess, not much had to be said…a factory of Cardinal makers nested at their desks and the room was an industrious hush.  Absolutely amazing stuff as they created, invented, problem solved.  We all agreed that the tools we needed from the bins were scissors, glue sticks and thin black markers.  The fat ones were just too tricky.

This is what they created.

DSC_1463 ?????????? ?????????? DSC_1473 ?????????? DSC_1470 DSC_1469 DSC_1468 DSC_1467 DSC_1466 DSC_1465 DSC_1464

 

?????????? ?????????? ?????????? DSC_1479 ?????????? DSC_1481 ?????????? ??????????Thank you, Grade Two, for an amazing day at Our Lady Of the Evergreens School