Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Frost & Fog

I have always had trouble taking creative photographs without an extraordinary event or location to act as a muse. That is one of the biggest differences between me and Cara. She can take the most amazing photos of things around the house or the neighborhood, while I need something to kick start my creativity. My favorite photos have always been taken during unique experiences; the fire hydrants from the summer, vacations, long walks at night in new neighborhoods. It's something I have known about myself since my college days when I would walk the streets looking for anything new to catch my eye. Considering this handicap of mine I am delighted when something unique happens in ordinary life because I know that it will lead to great images. While visiting my father-in-law in Redmond, UT this holiday weekend I wasn't planning any great photography expeditions since I thought I had long since tapped out any originality for photographs in that particular location. I was letting our dog Grace outside one morning when I noticed this thick fog surrounding me changing the normally familiar landscape into something new. I ran inside and grabbed my camera and took some amazing shots.

Fence Post




Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Stockings

This year I decided that the holiday season isn't busy or stressful enough, so I thought I'd make new stockings for my family. I got the first one completely done and the second one about halfway done when Ian realized they were too narrow and his hand wouldn't fit inside, so I had to re-make the ones I had already done plus the two I hadn't. Luckily I got them finished just in time:

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


A friend of mine who lives in Austria recently did a blog post about Krampus. Wikipedia explains Krampus breifly as "a mythical creature who accompanies St. Nicholas during the Christmas season, warning and punishing bad children, in contrast to St. Nicholas, who gives gifts to good children." As soon as I read her blog post a lesson plan began formulating in my head. I thought that telling the legend of Krampus to my students and having them draw a picture of what they thought he looked like would be a fun way to keep their attention the last day before Christmas break. I told the students the myth, had them draw a picture and then ended by showing them the following picture along with a video clip of a Krampus celebration.

Krampus and St. Nicholas.

I got some pretty interesting results. Remember that my students didn't have any idea what he looked like when they drew these. They just knew he accompanied St. Nick and punished bad children. Here are a few of my favorites:

In this depiction Krampus is delivering a bad kid to Santa. Apparently Santa seems good but is secretly the mastermind behind a Christmastime kidnapping ring.

Santa's younger brother, Shifty Claus, who looks slightly bitter that his older brother hogs all the fame.

I swear I didn't say anything about Krampus ripping anyone's head and limbs off and using them to decorate a Christmas tree.

Imagine if this guy showed up in your living room on Christmas Eve. You'd never do anything bad again because you'd be catatonic with fear for the rest of your life.

Gotta loved the triple ear piercing and Christmas tree necklace.

Maybe I should turn some of these over to our school psychologist.

The cutest Krampus that was turned in.

And last, but not least, this is probably the best mix of Austrian and American traditions that was turned in.

After the kids turned in their drawings I showed the video below. Thanks for the great idea Missy- the kids had a lot of fun!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Christmas Downtown

Just wanted to share a few photos Ian and I took while we were on a carriage ride downtown with Ian's parents and brother:

Brance and Dennis

Aven and Grandma

Aven meets Bob

Monday, November 22, 2010


Middle school kids get pretty excited for holidays and always want to have a project related to the nearest holiday in my art class. The last couple years I have had my painting kids do a cornucopia at Thanksgiving time that includes their favorite foods. It's always funny to see what they include. Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Tough Concepts

The most difficult concept that I teach in my 7th grade art classes is linear perspective. It's a very left-brain thing and a lot of kids who choose to take art are right-brainers who tend to struggle with subjects that fall on the left-brain side of life.

Some kids understand the basics with little or no problem:

And for some kids it just doesn't make sense no matter how I explain it or how many times I show them how it's done:

Friday, October 29, 2010

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween from my 8th and 9th grade painting class. Hope everyone has an amazingly fun weekend!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Skeleton's Halloween

Happy Halloween from my darling 7th graders who did such an amazing job drawing partying skeletons:

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Aven's Purse

Aven's been showing an increasing interest in imitating us lately. While hiking the other day she was carrying the small case we use for our video recorder in the crook of her arm like a purse. While I was out running errands I stopped at the craft store and picked up a few pieces of 9" x 12" felt and made Aven this cute little purse. She would still rather dig through the contents of my purse than play with this, but she'll have to make do.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Patrick Puppy

I was inspired by a friend to make a stuffed animal for Aven. I made her a lamb in July and had so much fun making it that I bought a pattern book. The puppy above is my first attempt from the book. I used dark gray fleece and once again used the exposed seam because I like the look. After stuffing the puppy I realized that I should have placed the eyes, nose, and mouth all higher than I did since it looks like he's about to do a face plant. Overall I am happy with the results and will be making something else from the same pattern book very soon.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Eyes Closed Eyes Open

One of my favorite days of the year with my 7th graders is the day we start learning about contour. We spend the whole period practicing Continuous Line Contour, which is just drawing without lifting your pencil up. It's a totally different drawing experience and can be challenging because there is no erasing or fixing mistakes and everything is connected. I have them start by drawing something with their eyes closed and then have them draw the same thing with their eyes open- all without lifting their pencils off the paper. I always love the results and the kids have a lot fun laughing at their own and each others drawings.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Illuminated Letter

I've been trying to come up with a fun calligraphy project for my 7th graders for awhile and I think I've got one:

Draw the first letter of your name and include designs in all empty spaces. All designs should be "double-lined" to leave think white lines between each space. I used a 2-ply bristol board.

Color with colored pencils. The coloring should be dark and thick so that no white shows through. This also known as the "velvet technique".

Paint over the entire drawing with black watercolor. I found that three or four coats worked well, any less and the white of the paper ended up looking gray and dull.

Carefully wipe the entire drawing with a damp rag to reveal the bright colored pencil underneath.

I thought the results were striking. Now all I need to do is try this with my 7th graders.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Friday, September 10, 2010

Gymnastics Meets Drawing

I'm a middle school art teacher and I love it. I laugh out loud several times a day. Middle school kids are just so quirky and full of surprises. This year is going to be a little bit challenging because I have my biggest classes in eight years of teaching. I used to cringe if I looked at my rolls and saw a class with more than 30 kids in it. This year my biggest class is 37 (so far). I was given the option of teaching a 7th period, which would have meant not having a conference period and staying an hour late everyday but also getting extra pay and having smaller classes. I couldn't fathom the idea of not picking Aven up from daycare until 4:30 or 4:45 and not getting home until 5:00 so I chose the larger classes. So far my big class seems like a pretty good group (knock on wood), but I am finding that navigating my classroom is pretty challenging with 37 kids and 37 backpacks, not to mention how big boys feet are in relation to their height at this age. I have found myself imagining what it would be like to do hand springs through the room to help students rather than tripping and squeezing through so many bodies. Everyday the voice of a colleague reciting his favorite saying about the public education system in Utah rings though my head "stack 'em deep and teach 'em cheap". Here's to a great, albeit crowded, year!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Weekend Wanderings

This Labor Day weekend we stayed close to home. Ian and I went wandering around Copperton and also visited the Bingham Canyon Mine for the first time in about 20 years. I think I got some fun photographs in the process:


Tire Guy

Chain Reaction

Ian's not the only person in this family that can take an artistic photograph of a fire hydrant.

Mirror Image

We also attended the Soldier Hollow Classic Sheepdog Championship and Splashdogs Event:

Walking After You


Fly Dog