Organic Shapes: Grade Three

Yes!  Grade threes spoke to me about organic shapes.  Will they remember tomorrow?  I don’t know.  But, for today, they really did delve into the concept.

“Organic shapes are associated with things from the natural world, like plants and animals. The circles and squares that make up this sculpture are geometric shapes.”

There was paint left over from yesterday…black and white.  I grabbed bright red paper to use as a ground for today’s paintings.

Last evening, my son James came over to the house after work and created a huge bowl of Hummus, using my friend Carla’s recipe.  After we had our sit down dinner and the dishes were done, I headed out to drive James home.  While we journeyed I asked him what he thought would make a great subject for great three Halloween paintings…witches, cats or bats?  His suggestion was ghosts.  He rated, by difficulty, the four subjects and in the end, I agreed.  4. Witches 3. Cats 2. Bats 1. Ghosts  Ghosts would allow for creative interpretation, free flow, but would help me teach some basic design concepts and techniques.

I knew that I wanted to accomplish some successful design pieces in a very short time, so the focus could not be so much on Reflection and Depiction, but on Composition and Expression.

The class was so intensely involved in the art making that I had to stare in disbelief as it seemed I was in a bee hive.  Every student was geared up to accomplish wonderful things and the engagement was other-worldly.  It was silent.  I felt so happy.

I have a couple of suggestions if my readers were to, at any point, paint ghosts with kids.  First of all, have my readers ever had their mother dress them up in a bed sheet as a ghost at any point, for the purpose of trick-o’-treating?  Two eyes cut out.  No mouth…no nose. It’s tricky to get around!  I told the kids the story at the beginning of my lesson and they laughed an laughed.  I shared about how hot it was in the inside of the sheet as I breathed in and out, in and out. I told them about tripping as my feet stepped onto the front of the sheet.  I explained about the pillow case I was carrying, being difficult to access to collect candy at my neighbour’s doors.  I could tell by their faces that they could relate.

I drew a symbol for an octopus on the white board.  We thought about how the shape of a ghost symbol would be different.  I had them try to picture the sheet over my head.  Could they tell where the head was?  How?  What shape would it be?  The shoulders?  and then….why would the bottom of the ghost be so organic?  We talked about Casper the friendly ghost and the fact that he had legs and arms like we do.

Other words for ghosts that came up…spirits and specter.

Parameters for the composition.  Include at least seven ghost-like organic shapes.  At least three of these need to go off of an edge.  Try to include three larger ghost-forms and the rest, smaller.

I demonstrated how to use a paper towel as a place mat…sliding it along to the place where paint would be applied to an edge.  I showed them the difference between painting over an edge and painting up to an edge.

Given a small piece of chalk, the students moved into their composing.  I really didn’t want to impose too many restrictions on how they handled their darkness, only saying that I would like to see repeating lines and that the black outline around each specter should not touch the white shrouds.  Off to the races!

For the purpose of painting with tempera paints, always have a box of white chalk handy.  It takes all of the ‘preciousness’ of drawing away and becomes very free-flowing, with opportunities to change minds several times.

img_20161026_103427img_20161026_103439img_20161026_103453img_20161026_103504img_20161026_103728img_20161026_103419

Starting with the dark if the artist finds that all of the buckets of white are gone…

img_20161026_103259

Second colour…

img_20161026_113236img_20161026_111624img_20161026_111510img_20161026_111459img_20161026_111442

After drying…those little ghost faces were added with sharpies.  No noses required.  I enjoyed the creative solutions to the dark.  A beautiful morning!  Deb, thank you for your class!

img_20161026_122128img_20161026_122009

Something amazing happened.  As I stepped into the staff room, at the end of the morning, I learned that employees of UPS were visiting the school and making rounds at other schools, serving special coffees and cupcakes, in order to let educators in the community know how much their work is appreciated.  A heart felt message was delivered during the lunch break that left teachers feeling affirmed and happy.  It was a lovely gesture and a great end to my morning guest teaching.  I had a white chocolate latte.  YUM!

Thank you, UPS!

img_20161026_130742img_20161026_130755

For the Birds

I am spending quiet times at the pond, given that Max is injured.  He’s at the end of the umbilical leash, quiet, but cranky about my dawdling at the pond’s edge and making only one circle of the water…stopping frequently to gaze at various species.

I’m learning to use my camera bit by bit, but really have a lot to learn.  Honestly, the most amazing things I’ve seen recently are rarely photographed because I’m either too slow or I really don’t care.  I get wrapped up in the moment.

I’m learning how much light has to do with photography.  I always knew it…light and, more importantly, dark are essential to painting and the establishment of contrast, but to photography, even more so.  I think there needs to be a degree of drama and also narrative in a good photograph.  I dawdle so much because I’m looking for those sorts of stories.

I’ve been watching the American Coots a lot lately, just because of the shear numbers of them at Frank’s Flats.  Here’s Audubon’s version offered up by the Toronto Public Library.

aud-plate-239 Toronto Public Library American Coot Audubon, John James, 1785-1851I haven’t taken a single photograph of the coots, but I’m very caught up in the drama that surrounds these strangely disproportionate birds.  They are constantly picking fights with other water fowl, same species or not.  Wild chases erupt most times when they are around.  Also, they get extremely amorous, sticking their beaks into the water and fanning out their rear feathers, all the while, shaking their butts.  Most amazing, are their young!  Long strings of eight, nine and ten ducklings following mamas and then day after day…fewer and fewer in number; likely good pickings for crows, magpies and other like-spirited birds.  But the most amazing is the physical appearance of the baby coots!

Rob English of Birds Calgary took this photograph in July of 2011. What’s NOT to love about these goofy red headed little guys?

Photo Credit: Rob English Birds Calgary 2011

Photo Credit: Rob English Birds Calgary 2011

I don’t even know what these birds are called…just a sec…I’ll look.  Uh huh…a Savannah Sparrow, or as Audubon would have us know it, a Savannah Finch.

Savanah Finch_090706110723 AudubonMy capture this evening…

©Kathleen Moors  Photo Credit Please

©Kathleen Moors Photo Credit Please

and…more animated, but perhaps less focused (and heck if I know).  These are so petite and so delicate…it makes me wonder about the complexity of my Father-Jesus-Spirit God that these creatures are so ‘wonderfully’ made.

©Kathleen Moors Photo Credit Please

©Kathleen Moors Photo Credit Please

I checked in on Mr. and Mrs. Osprey.  I have no idea how to accomplish a photograph of a bird in flight, but if ever there is one that should be properly captured flying, it is an osprey.  The male has been such a diligent partner and I have seen him feed mama daily.  I’m getting the feeling that she has wee ones because today her behaviour at the nest was very different.  Or, perhaps she just found a fish dropped in front of her.  Not certain.  These photographs are always taken a great distance away and I’m not getting the best quality as a result.  I find that photos early in the morning, while aiming west, are the best.  I’m so grateful that I have had opportunity to watch this nesting from the very first stick that was dragged across the width of all lanes on 22X.

Osprey by Audubon: Toronto Public Library

Osprey by Audubon: Toronto Public Library

©Kathleen Moors

©Kathleen Moors

Dad was a long way off, but always faithful to his duties.  Bare tree branches were filled with crows and magpies.  They frequently hang out with him, as they like to have such a great fisherman as their very best friend.

©Kathleen Moors

©Kathleen Moors

http://columbiawireless.ca/?fb_ref=Default

This guy…some type of hawk and his buddies find lamp posts to perch upon, no matter how busy the neighbouring road or high way.  At a moment’s notice, they dive down and I’ve seen them carrying all sorts of rodents.  He was marching about in the tall grass at one point.  I’m not certain his specific variety, but I wouldn’t be messing with those talons, if I was a mouse.  This character seems to have a thing for numbers. I think this may be a Harlan’s Red-Tailed Hawk, but my Dad will confirm once he checks out this post. (Hmmm…thinking it’s a Swainson’s Hawk…YUPPER!  Forget everything I said about a Red-Tailed Hawk!)  John James Audubon referred to the Swainson’s Hawk as being a Common Buzzard.

Swainson's Hawk (common buzzard)

Audubon: Harlan's Red-Tailed Hawk

Audubon: Harlan’s Red-Tailed Hawk

©Kathleen Moors

©Kathleen Moors

Kath's Canon June 19, 2015 Garden Frank's Flats Birds Super 3s 145

©Kathleen Moors

Hmmm…I was going to bash out tile tonight and it’s already eight in the evening.  The spaghetti squash is done.  It’s time for me to get going. (Nah…one more!)

I met up with this guy at one location and stood quite a distance away.  His antics stepping in and around the water were fabulous, but of course, I was watching and not shooting.  A very fuzzy capture of a Black Crowned Night Heron.

Audubon: Black Crowned Night Heron

Audubon: Black Crowned Night Heron

©Kathleen Moors

©Kathleen Moors

In the meantime, in the neighbourhood, the magpies squawk at the feral cats…the sparrows continue their romance in the vent across from my kitchen window,  the robins go bob bob bob along, tugging long worms out of the grass after every rainfall and one beautiful song bird visits a large back yard tree on the alley every morning. I delight in nature…in what grows.  I am grateful that I am able to enjoy such wonders.

Lectio Divina: “Look Into My Eyes”

Taking Pause

The writer’s intentions are not necessarily the only interpretation we can bring to music…sometimes the lyrics mean something else all together.  That’s why music is so interesting…music channels so much for us and is so universal, while at the same time, so very special to our own individual response.

Bryan Adams: Everything I Do

Look into my eyes, you will see
What you mean to me
Search your heart, search your soul
And when you find me there you’ll search no more

Don’t tell me it’s not worth tryin’ for
You can’t tell me it’s not worth dyin’ for
You know it’s true
Everything I do, I do it for you

Look into your heart, you will find
There’s nothin’ there to hide
Take me as I am, take my life
I would give it all, I would sacrifice

Don’t tell me it’s not worth fightin’ for
I can’t help it, there’s nothin’ I want more
You know it’s true
Everything I do, I do it for you
Oh yeah

There’s no love, like your love
And no other, could give more love
There’s nowhere, unless you’re there
All the time, all the way, yeah

Look into your heart, baby

Oh, you can’t tell me it’s not worth tryin’ for
I can’t help it, there’s nothin’ I want more
Yeah, I would fight for you, I’d lie for you
Walk the wire for you, yeah I’d die for you

You know it’s true
Everything I do, oh, I do it for you

Everything I do, darling
And we’ll see it through
Oh we’ll see it through
Oh yeah

Yeah!

Look into your heart
You can’t tell me it ain’t worth dying for
Oh yeah

I’ll be there, yeah
I’ll walk the wire
Oh, yeah

I’m going all the way, all the way, yeah

Observations and Lessons While Staining a Fence

Tools of the Trade

Observe closely the 500 and the 501 at the bottom of my cans of Behr Premium Deck, Fence & Siding Weatherproofing Wood Finish…notice the words Transparent on the can to the left and Wood-Toned on the can to the right!  Sigh.  A recommendation…before beginning a paint or stain project, check your can labels.  No harm done!  Because I hadn’t tinted my stains, the store will take the ‘opened’ can back.  I didn’t so much as dip my brush into the can before I noticed the warm red tint to the wood-toned stain compared to the relatively yellowish tint to the transparent product.  (Just thought I’d mention this for any and all stainers out there!)  The fence, deck and bench have been successfully completed and it all looks wonderful!

A few observations…the sparrows that pooped on the deck yesterday, will also poop on it today…and likely tomorrow, as well.  Try to get your backyard staining done in the shortest number of days possible!  In my case, I worked for five mornings straight…this allowed for the bird population to do its ‘dirty’ again and again, making my morning clean-up an integral part of my staining event.  Something to think about.

Spider webs and balls of WHAT?  Ok, I remember loving the story, Charlotte’s Web by E.B.White.  Did any of my readers enjoy that book as much as I did?  In fact, one of the reasons I loved teaching Grade five at one point was so that I could read that novel again to a class of students…just so that I could cry again, at the ending.

As I stained the fence, I kept wiping away the balls of fuzz (egg cases) that were tucked into the hidden corners of the fence boards.  As I wiped, I thought about Charlotte and her babies.

Another observation…I saw the drips of former staining events.  My recommendation is that while staining, keep going back and lightly blending in the drips that just a short while before had been transparent (if you chose transparent stain) because given a little bit of drying time, these will look like this!

Drips

 Something else I thought about while staining, was whether or not I wanted to do each individual board from top to bottom and bob up and down continually or tackle the job like this?  In the end, I settled on this approach because for the lower half, I moved my work stool along and avoided the wear and tear on my knees. 

It’s interesting how doing repetitive work of any kind becomes a total meditation and how much the mind really DOES wander.  I kept trying to bring my mind back to prayer and then after a time, these senseless worries and thoughts would creep in. 

Next, I hope to write about the time I shared with my daughter yesterday afternoon.  We canned a nice batch of salsa together.  Chopping thirty cups of tomatoes is similar to staining fence boards.  I’ll explain in another post.  For now, I’m off to oil my feast table with tung oil.

Top Half Only...