Monthly Archives: August 2012

perspective (in two parts)

I cried my eyes out for the first three days of high school. I think my mind has shut most of the painful parts out, but I remember certain aspects of those early days so vividly, even twenty-four years later. I had registered for all of my classes well before the start of school, and my first period class was Art. Art was my favorite subject, and I planned to take four years of it, culminating in AP (Advanced Placement) Art which required submitting a portfolio on slides for review by a faceless committee somewhere. There were only six class periods in the day, so taking four years of Art meant that I had to forgo other electives like Band. The world can thank me for that decision. I might have been a somewhat decent pianist, but flutist extraordinaire I was not.
I walked into that first high school class of my life and saw not one single familiar face. Not only was this a classroom of complete strangers, but it only took me a few moments to realize that the course was not populated with future artists, but rather, with near high school dropouts trying to pad their schedules with classes they might have a slim chance of passing. Most were seniors, or seniors+ – I’m quite sure a few were pushing twenty. All were guys, and most were sporting Jon Bon Jovi look alike hairstyles. It was a sea of frizzy locks and teased bangs, chairs tipped back, boots on desk, pencils and paperwads flying through the air. I can only imagine what I looked like walking into that room. I’m quite sure I was clutching a Trapper Keeper and coordinating pencil box with graphite pencils and Koh-i-noor technical pens. There was no teacher in sight.
I took the only empty seat, right next to Bon Jovi Junior, who blew his bangs out of his face enough to take a long, slow look at me. The laughter began and the tardy bell rang. Several long minutes later the teacher walked into the room – not from the entry door that opened into the adjacent cafeteria, but from the back door that led to the outdoors. She stood in the doorway just long enough to extinguish her cigarette, and a few other smokers followed her into the room. They did not get tardy slips I noticed. I had been thoroughly warned about tardy slips at the end of eighth grade, and had nightmares of pink slips before I ever held my first paying job. I would have left my Trapper Keeper in my locker before I would have borne the shame of getting a tardy slip.
We did not actually do anything art related that class period. The teacher gave us a brief overview of the room and then rested her gaze upon the kiln in the corner. She told us it was off limits and that if misused it could blow the whole school up, or at the very least, the whole classroom. The Bon Jovites sat up a little straighter in their tipped back chairs at that idea. I was shaking so hard in my seat I knew it was visible. Those were the longest fifty minutes of my life. I say this after having birthed an 8.5 pound baby with no drugs. Longest fifty minutes ever.
Reuniting with my friends in age appropriate classes for the remainder of the day did little to erase my absolute terror of the morning. For the next two days it was more of the same. I cried and cried and cried about school. I hated it with every fiber of my fourteen year old body. I considered quitting art completely and pretend-playing my flute through the next four years. Even if it meant marching with said instrument. Even then. 
The weekend came, and then Monday, and maybe a few Mondays beyond. We began to do some drawing, and I poured myself into each project with gusto – if only to block out my surroundings. The thing is – I was good, and there were just a few of us that really were. I may have been the most straight laced fourteen year old who looked more like a twelve year old that these small town Kentucky wannabe glam metal rock stars had ever seen – but most people generally respect a person who can straight up draw. I started to garner a little respect in the room, and the teacher noticed as well – this was probably because I was the only one actually working on the assignments. And then a truly miraculous thing happened – at some point during that first semester my teacher didn’t show up for a few days. A week or two later a new teacher was there – and he just happened to be the art teacher that I had adored from my middle school days. I ended up having him as a teacher for seven years straight (minus those first few awkward weeks of high school), and I kicked some AP tail on that portfolio in the end. I like to imagine that the other teacher ran off with one of the third year seniors and eventually had children with fabulous eighties hair. I do know that the kiln never took down the school – I later found out it was defunct and couldn’t have exploded if we had tried. Just a little scare tactic to add to the utter terror of starting the first class of the first day of the first year of high school with an elective.
I will remember that lesson and relay it to my children for sure.
These memories all came flooding back this past week when my sister-in-law emailed me my niece’s latest two-point perspective from art class. She’s just started middle school (which I hope is not inducing the kind of stomach churning terror that the first few days of my high school career created for me). Perspective drawing was one of my favorite things to do – I loved the introduction to it in school, and the further work in college architecture classes. I even taught it for years at the college level. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, and some people just never really get it. But when it clicks, it clicks. I’m just amazed at how quickly it’s clicked for her.
This is her two-point perspective rendering / interpretation of a favorite board game. 

friday finds

This Friday finds me with some new fabric and a class scheduled in a few weeks.  Care to join me?  I’ve been excited about those apples ever since E’s friend picked them out for a lunch bag the girls made earlier this summer.  I’m even more excited about that ViewMaster fabric below.  How fun is that?  They don’t have a lot of it left, and it’s not coming around again so I was glad to pick up a little bit.  They currently have a back to school sale that ends today – on fabric and patterns – so E and I ran over last night to pick up some things.  I’m excited to try out some new projects and to get a jump start on my Christmas list – which means no finished products here for awhile…

This Friday also finds me a little torn between my wish for rain! but just when I want it.  That seems fair, right? The remnants of Isaac are churning up this way, and we had some fun things planned around the Gateway Cup this weekend.  Here’s hoping they can still get in some of the action, and we still get a lot of that rain that we so sorely need.
I hope this Friday finds you well.  If you’ve got anything fun on the radar for the holiday weekend, do share. 

(story)time: Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett, Illustrated by Jon Klassen

Here is where we sing our song of how much we love Jon Klassen.  We do.  Sing the song.  Every time we read this book.  The first time we read this book together – the girls and I – I shut the book at the end and exclaimed “I love Jon Klassen.”  We read the book the next night, then closed it shut and F exclaimed “We love Jon Klassen.”  Tonight at the dinner table we talked about him, and F asked each of us to raise our hand if we like him.  I don’t want to sell Mr. Barnett short, because this tale could not be any more wonderful.  Extra Yarn is another example of the perfect combination of words and images.  I wonder how this whole collaboration came about.  Did Mac write the story and then approach Jon?  How much of the story was altered once the illustrations began?  Did Jon jump up and down at the prospect of creating an ink drenched landscape of snow and sticks, dotted with smatterings of colorful knitting that looks fuzzy and warm enough to touch?  I know I would.  I would finish each image and do cartwheels at the very sight of it.  I almost do cartwheels when I read it.
Speaking of Jon Klassen, we also own the book both written and illustrated by him, I Want My Hat Back.  Also hilarious, and beautifully illustrated.  And a little twisted, but in just the way I like my children’s lit to twist.  There are lots of shifty eyes in this one.  No one meets your gaze. 
Oh dear, now I’ve gone and done it. I’m trying to link all the books in our bookbag to the author’s webpage (and not Amazon), and in the process I’ve discovered Jon Klassen’s blog. Completely sucked in.
We do not own House Held Up By Trees – also illustrated by Klassen, though I read it in the bookstore and thought about purchasing it.  The story seemed a little haunting for F, and I already had a stack of paperbacks for E so I put it back on the shelf.  But again, the images are so wonderful that I’m considering purchasing a copy and framing a couple of the pages.  Or just staring at them and wishing I could spend my days illustrating books like these.
Extra Yarn is a great book for kids ages two and up – both my girls are riveted to the story from beginning to end.  F’s heard it so much that she chants the words under her breath as I read it aloud.  Others that might like it – knitters, yarn bombers, sweater hoarders, as well as all those that like a good tale with greedy royalty undone by a simple girl with a pair of knitting needles.  Also a good book to read if you live somewhere that gets endless feet of snow in the winter.
I Want My Hat Back is a great read for all ages, and especially perfect for those friends that never take responsibility for any of their actions.  “Who me?!?”
What’s your favorite thing that Annabelle knits a sweater for?  E loves the truck’s sweater, F loves Mr. Pendleton.  I’m partial to Mr. Crabtree – although you’ll never find me standing out in a snowdrift in my skivvies.

Find these titles at your favorite local independent bookstore. Happy reading!