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


Our Three Eaglets

Given our daily morning visits to Duke Farm’s LIVE EAGLE CAM, the grade ones have been keeping a daily journal of the events at the nest. I’m starting to get nervous.  As soft white-grey down gradually is replaced by dark grey feathers, and soon black feathers, I get concerned that something might happen to one of the juveniles.  In fact, I suppose we’ve been fortunate so far that nothing bad has happened due to a predator’s attack or such as that.  The little guys are starting to beetle around their nest and I have no idea how the adults keep catastrophe from happening in the form of a nose dive to a sad ending.

The students and I have shared a bit about this sort of thing.  I think I said, “Boys and girls, what will happen if something bad happens at the nest?”  One boy responded, “Miss Moors, I’ve seen a couple of rabbits squashed by cars.  I’ll be OK.”

“So what do you think could happen that would be sad on our live cam?”

“Maybe a predator will attack.”

“Maybe a baby will fall out.”

“Maybe something will happen to the Mom or the Dad.”

Smart kids!

Regardless of their promised resilience…I am soon going to end our project and morning viewing.  So far, we’ve seen live fish dropped into the nest…two breakfasts of turtles (the turtle shells still lying vacant in the soft grass of the nest…and today my students noticed a frog’s leg sticking out of one of the eaglet’s beak.  The children have learned that eagles have lots of whitewash in their poop and it very regularly shoots out…the scientists keeping records for the Live Cam call it ‘shot’, not poop.  Good thing to learn!

I considered making a slide show of the following images taken from their journals, but really, they are so very sweet, you may want to pause and read.  Through the eyes and hearts of wee ones!

A recent log from the Duke’s Farm Live Eagle Cam…

Update 4/15/2014
For viewers, please note that as the chicks mature and become more independent in the nest the adult will not be inside the nest bowl as much as they where a week ago (most activity from the adults will either be feeding or sheltering chicks from rain). The adults still stay close to the nest in neighboring trees to keep an eye of the chicks and potential threats.

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Meeting Max Licht at the Gorilla House

Recently I’ve been thinking about the number of amazing individuals I have met at the Gorilla House.  This is a place where art boings creative spirits, one against another.  Before I typed ‘boings’, I typed ‘slams’…then I was thinking we sort of ‘rub up against’ one another, but that doesn’t work either.  Don’t really know how to describe it, but we more than ‘meet’ one another…that’s for sure!  Mayhaps this is where the term ‘connection’ comes in…the Gorilla House is a house of connection!  On Wednesday evenings, I shake my head as I head for home.  The artists…the visitors…every individual provides for a truly unique sort of community building.

As Max stepped up to the front, during the auction portion of the evening, he was introduced and I remember shouting out, “Max?”  Lindsay looked over at me and said…”He gets that all the time.”  I told her that my beautiful border collie is named Max…she openly laughed and said, “Oh…I guess that’s a first!”  We laughed together.  As I looked at the piece he then raised up to auction, I wanted it to be mine.

My Max set strategically close to one of my Covenant pieces.

My Max set strategically close to one of my Covenant pieces.

Max and Lindsay were visiting from Victoria.  I only wish that I had captured a photograph of Lindsay’s work! Thank you for your courage and your belief, Lindsay! Both Lindsay and Max were just super open to the Gorilla House experience and gratefully, I was able to purchase Max’s gouache illustration at auction! I recommend that my readers take a look at illustrations by Max Licht here.  I am so over-the-top thrilled to own this piece, titled The scale of the problem; there are no words.  Thanks for visiting us, you two, and please stop by again!

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The Scale of the Problem, poorly photographed by Kathleen Moors, painted by Max Licht

The Scale of the Problem, poorly photographed by Kathleen Moors, painted by Max Licht

Discovering Tim O’Brien

View From My Window

The Christmas tree is lit up this morning and the world is beautiful and white.  I’ve enjoyed my coffee in the quiet.  Last night was late; rum and eggnog, the smell of nutmeg, the tree ornaments hung with care on the tree.  This morning, the adult children sleep and I enjoy the quiet and some reading.  It’s a perfect day for pancakes and bacon, absolutely perfect.

While the house was quiet, I visited Tim O’Brien’s website and looked closely at the details of his portraits.  It is a wonderful thing to be able to pour over his blog entries and to realize the research required to arrive at such polished work.  Also, I enjoyed watching the film centered on the creation of the Krampus…seeing the exploration of a single piece from its original concept.  If my readers follow this process and then read O’Brien’s perceptions, after watching his own video, it is an amazing thing to discover that truly, an artist gets ‘lost’ in the creation of great works.  The process of creating is many-layered and ‘magical’.  An example of his work is the Young Lincoln below, borrowed from here.  I highly recommend reading this post as it captures the research and the process, as well as provides a close-up detail of the work.

Tim O’Brien’s Young Lincoln

I have such an appreciation for the technique that O’Brien uses and can’t help but recognize an affinity with  Attila Richard Lukacs portraits. It appears that there is a distinctive difference in the brush work, with Lukac’s being more fluid, but the intensity and clarity of images by both artist feels, for me, similar.  I want to be clear that Attila Richard Lukacs has explored a variety of things including polaroids and a collection of abstract works, so I am making reference to a specific body of his work.

Attila Richard Lukacs

Attila Richard Lukacs image collected from here.

While Lukac’s work has been deemed controversial, I also think that Tim O’Brien’s work certainly invites a conversation.  While the viewer may get completely drawn into the highly technical work, there is also an edge to the work that can not be denied.  I’m not certain with either Lukac’s or O’Brien’s work, which of these attractions is stronger.  It’s a ‘chicken or the egg’ kind of experience.

Suffice it to say, I treasure a day that begins with beautiful things…a tree, snow and art.