Sunday, August 14, 2011

Lesson 81: Everyone is an Artist

Miss me?  I betcha did.  It's been a week between posts, I know.  I got some of your e-mails, but I didn't respond.  No, I wasn't on some fantastic get away vacation.  I was home tending the Lamp Post.  I had a couple of things cooking this week, but I made it up to you with this nice picture movie set to Enrique Iglesias's I Like It.  The movie shows some of my favorite art projects of my children Natalie, Ellen, and Sam.

One of the things that was keeping me busy was Operation Clean Sweep--a hard core clean up of the house at the end of summer.  I go through the place with a vengeance several times a year, but it is the end of the summer when it gets hit the hardest.  My poor house takes some wear and tear with all five of us home all summer long.  Everything felt sticky and grimy and I couldn't stand it one more minute.  I put posters around the house warning everyone when it was about to begin.  "If it is not nailed down or seems to no longer have any value, kiss it goodbye!"  An issuance such as this strikes the fear of God in any child and mine run for their rooms clutching their favorite belongings.  I did an area of the house a day for a solid week, saving The Lamp Post for very last.  I just finished it two hours ago and so here I sit in the gleam of my defingerprinted computer screen, inhaling the lingering scent of Murphy's Oil Soap.

Another reason for my delay is that I was suffering from yet another loss on a personal level.  I broke my camera.  Killed it actually.  Death by drowning.  Accidental of course, but she took a float down some creek in Cook's Forest a couple of weeks ago.  If you are wondering, cameras do float.  Trust me.  Don't test it for yourself or your good friend will die.  How did it happen, you ask?  How did a woman of my fortitude become so careless with a piece of equipment she held so dear?  Let me spell it for you in three little letters:  S-A-M.  

 This is the last photo I took on my Panasonic Lumix camera--a darn good machine that came through for me time after time for three years.  We were at the Ranger Station in Cook's Forest and Sam was hanging on a bridge.  I loved the look of the creek behind him and stopped for a moment along the creek bank to snag a couple of shots.  I was looking through my view finder when I saw the long dark object fly into the gap you see in his shirt under his right arm pit.  It was a wasp.  I big black one.  I saw his face change from that look you see there, to surprise, to agony, all in about three seconds.  I knew Sam suffered his first bee sting and I knew it was a humdinger of a sting--I guess we could call that a buzzdinger.

I've been very honest on this blog about the often volatile relationship between my son and I.  I love my boy with all of my heart, but I'll be the first to admit he's been a challenge to raise, far harder than both of my girls. My actions should prove to you that I am, in fact, a good mother who loves her only son dearly, no matter how you may have interpreted some of my past posts.  In order to come to Sam's rescue I had to drop my camera and make a run for it.  I set it on the edge of the creek bank and hoped for the best, while I took off after Sam, who in turn, tried to flee the pain at top speed.  Try chasing a four year old in pain wearing a pair of flip flops.  As I took off, out of the corner of my eye, I thought I saw my camera take a tumble down the bank.  I managed to catch Sam, rip off his shirt, and put him in a barrel hold to take him down to the creek bank to slap some Pennsylvania creek mud on the welt.  That sucker was the size of a half dollar within 30 seconds.  While Sam howled, I did a quick survey of the grassy area and found no camera.  I scrunched my eyes tight and turned to face the creek.  I slowly opened one eye to see what I had hoped I wouldn't see---my Lumix floating away.

I waded out and managed to save her in time to save the camera card.  My pictures from the trip were not ruined.  Poor Lumix was demoralized--I shook her and opened every door and window, exposing every hidden little crevice she had.  I blow dried her, put her in a bag of rice, and set her on my air conditioner to dry out for two weeks, never losing the hope that she would become an Internet legend and survive the fall.  All the wishing in the world didn't work--no luck.  She was gone.

The Niagara Falls pictures from my last blog were actually taken with Ellen's little camera, a hot pink number--called a Cool Pix, kind of designed for kids.  Not a bad camera for a hundred bucker from Wal-Mart.  I highly recommend it for the casual photographer.  I tried to make due with this camera for a week or two, but it just wasn't the same.  I missed the feel of my big lens and all of the neat settings I could use.  I knew I needed to bite the bullet and get another one.

Pictured here is my old friend the Lumix with my new camera I named Pinocchio because his nose grows (I'm a girl who likes her close ups).  I put them nose to nose for a bit so they could talk to one another.  I heard Lumix say to Pinocchio--Good luck, she'll love you, but she'll be hard on you.  I wasn't offended because that is how I am with all of my things.  I use what I love to death.  I run holes through my Asics and I still have my favorite Edinboro t-shirt from 1990, albeit bleach stained and worn thin with age.  (Did you hear that?  That is my sister calling What Not To Wear to do a clothes closet intervention).  Sorry, Sis.  The sneakers and t-shirts are staying.  Readers, remind me to wear them to the next family get together just to get her goat.  Again Slovenians, Karen really doesn't have a goat.  If you knew her, she's not the goat type.  It just means I am playfully trying to provoke her.  I do that every once in awhile.

I always dreamed of being an artist, but God didn't give me too much talent with a paintbrush, so it didn't work out.  My hopes were also dashed when I grew to be 5'8" by sixth grade, so I had to X "Olympic Gymnast" and "Pairs Figure Skater" off my list too.  But God did give me the ability to write and instilled a love of photography in me.  Pairing my two loves on this blog is a way I can share my form of art with you.

This past school year, I worked with my friend and colleague Jan on the elementary art shows in our school district.  Jan saves the best pieces from all of her students all year long and displays them at the end of the year in the evening, so families can share the beauty and innocence of childrens' art work.  My students and I helped out by adding "living history docents" who dressed in period attire and were able to tell visitors the high points of a particular art period.

Pictured here is Ellen dressed as one of the Greeks.  I had to choose her for that period because there were just plain too many nude sculptures for a kid to be assigned that art period for independent research.  She did just fine with Mother Eloise in a chair pulled up next to her at the computer.  It took a little convincing for a couple of the boys to wear knickers and tights like the artists of the Renaissance, but they came through for me. Bribe a sixth grader with "pre-show pizza party" and you can get them to do just about anything.

The shows were quite a success, but as with anything, it was not the big event that meant the most.  It was the journey I took to get there.  I love art, but I am no connoisseur, that's for sure.  I had to do a crash course in art history on a long weekend before I could plan lessons for my students.  Here is some of what I learned:

This is a Picasso, and it resembles me after a hard day with Sam.

This is DiVinci's The Last Supper--a beauty to last through the ages.

This is Van Gogh's Starry night, which is Ellen's favorite painting.

This is "Black Square" by a Russian named Malevich.  For real.

This is an Andy Warhol.  The kids love this type of art.

This is a Monet, titled Sunrise.  That's Eloise in the boat.  Peaceful.

This is a Jackson Pollock.  He's the paint splatter guy.

This is a Sam LaFuria on a little number he titled The Worm Woke Up the Cat.  The kind and good preschool teachers are nice enough to write on the titles the children give to their pieces of art.  Thankfully this is just one in a series of three.  You will see the other two on the picture movie.  One is titled "A Frog Riding a Helicopter" and the other is creatively called "A Cow Mooing."  Don't flood me with telephone calls with purchase offers through.  These are keepers.  All mine.

This is Natalie's finest 3-D art project--her birdhouse from Wood Manufacturing.  We have the most well fed birds on our street.  She feeds them every single day.

And this little beauty is an Eloise Hawking original--one I captured on Pinocchio's maiden voyage on August 11th.  I was near water and I made sure I hung the strap around my neck.  I didn't doctor this at all.  The sky really looked like this Thursday evening.  This, my friends, is what a quality camera can capture for you.  I was as happy as Sam was with that splash when I pressed the view back button.

It doesn't matter if you make a birdhouse, mold some clay, paint a picture or snap one.  What matters is that you take a moment to see the beauty in something.  I don't care if the composition isn't quite right on the photo or if it needs to be darkened. All I care about is that I like it.  My artist friend Jan taught me one of the most important lessons I've learned so far:  Everyone is an artist.  It's just that simple.  Now get busy and go find your art and don't be afraid to share it with others.

Until next time,


bowse216 said...

Natalies birdhouse is a solid one- that girl can sure pound nails and straight too!!!!

Anonymous said...

that picture of sam on the rocks

wow, awesome photo there

- Ben