Thursday, January 31, 2008

A few new Etsy items

I completed a handful of bottlecap necklaces last week and have listed a few in my Etsy shop tonight. I'm trying to get to some more new things in order to earn some money to take my daughter to visit an exhibit of Roman art this spring. She studied Greek and Roman history last year, and of course I teach art, so I want to see the companion exhibit of Ghiberti's door panels. So, in a shameless appeal for your patronage, if you see something you like, don't hesitate to buy it--lol! Blessings to you and yours and may you not have the tons of snow that we have! --L

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

And the Winners Are...

Winners? Was I having a contest? No, just the results of what pieces of art are favored by my 9-11th grade students.

The favorite painting, with most of the "votes", was Paul Delaroche's The Execution of Lady Jane Grey. (You can click on the images for larger versions--it's worth it!)

This one was a fvorite because of the drama and realism of the scene. The students responded to the emotions of the people in the image and how the artist created a highly dramatic moment through the use of light.

The second favorite was Albrecht Durer's Knight, Death and the Devil.

They liked this one because the knight is not afraid of death and represents how we do not need to be afraid when we live in Christ. They also liked the symbolism of the different elements (the armor as the armor of God, the faithful dog trotting at the knight's heels, etc.).

Another favorite was Vincent van Gogh's The Potato Eaters.

The student who chose this piece liked how the artist created the atmostphere through use of color and value, as well as the rough brushwork, which added to the roughness of the scene.

The final favorite was another van Gogh, Starry Night.

This student also like van Gogh's brushstrokes and how they created movement and rhythm.

I enjoyed reading their responses and discovering which pieces they liked and why. It is always interesting to me to find out what people like about a painting because many times they see things that I didn't notice. What's your favorite painting/piece of art? I'd love for you to share by leaving a quick note in the comment section. And don't forget to tell why, too. Have a blessed day!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Mona Lisa, Mona Lisa, men have named you...

In case you were wondering who she really is, check out the latest.

I shocked my art students last year when I confessed that I don't particularly care for this painting. When I started analyzing it I realized that portraiture isn't my favorite type of painting; I prefer storytelling and allegory pieces and landscapes. Here's a favorite by Raphael, called Allegory, The Knight's Dream.

This painting, The Execution of Lady Jane Grey, by Paul Delaroche, was a favorite in art class this year. The "Mona Lisa incident" led to a great discussion about how we can separate opinion from objectively looking at art. In other words the Mona Lisa is a great painting because of Leonardo's incredible techniques of sfumato and chiaroscuro, and not because everyone likes it. Truthfully, to try to label a piece of art as a great piece or a masterpiece simply as a reflection of our taste is kind of dangerous. What if I'm a critic with a newspaper column and I don't like yellow? Does that suddenly mean that Mondrian's Broadway Boogie Woogie should be dismissed? Or van Gogh's Night at the Cafe (either version)? In labelling great art we need to rise above the level of opinion and talk in terms of composition, meaning, style, color, etc. Or, if we do want to dwell in the realm of opinion, to recognize it and talk in that vein.

And in that vein, we also talked about developing their own likes and dislikes in art, and how those tastes may differ from their teacher--none of which affects whether or not the Mona Lisa is a great painting. So, if you like something that the critics don't, it doesn't mean you're in the wrong. It's okay to like 19th-Century French Academic art and the Impressionists at the same time. I think it's a good idea, though, to give it a little thought and discover what it is you like about each--it makes art more interesting. On our last test I asked the students to tell me their favorite painting that we've looked at this year and to explain why, which was fun. (Side note: be aware that clicking on the art links may lead to images that contain some painted nudity--art is that way. I try to always keep this a family-friendly blog, but it's hard to monitor every image that will come up when clicking on a clearinghouse sort-of database for these artists, so I'm giving you a heads-up.)

And here's another tidbit. Technically it's not correct to call Leonardo da Vinci by just "da Vinci". That part refers to where he is from. I don't call my friend in Canada "of Hamilton." Instead I call her Dianne, and we should refer to Leonardo as (are you ready for this) Leonardo. (Especially posted for William Kloss.) Of course, then there's Caravaggio, who did go by a name that refers to where he is from because his real name was Michelangelo Merisi and he presumably didn't want to be confused with the other fellow, Michelangelo Buonarroti--you know, the Sistine Chapel fellow. Isn't art fun. :-)

Friday, January 04, 2008

What Ho! Start the Year with a Laugh

A friend posted this wonderful link to Jeeves and Wooster read aloud. The kids and I are great fans, so we want to share this link with you, too. Click here for some great humour.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

The Safety Officer Speaks, or, Never Play With Fire

Getting down to brass tacks today, I finally finished vacuuming the after-Christmas rearranging and changing, etc. In the last couple days I have safely stowed the ornaments, the putting away of which revealed the pitiful state of the bookshelf and surrounding piles. And so that had to be dealt with. How could I have so many books that I still haven't read? I pulled them all out, stuck them in a basket by the bed and cleaned the area. Once the books were back into a satisfactory state, I finished the vacuuming, which included curtains, lamp shades and the fan blades above the table. (After finishing lunch, thank you so much mom!) By then I had the vacuum so close to the kitchen that I finally remembered a task that keeps catching my eye, just not at the right moment--the dusty state of my kitchen curtain. Having completed that task my eye fell on the refrigerator.

Ah yes, the refrigerator. Did you know that you have to clean the underside of your refrigerator periodically? Especially if you have A) pets, B) a very dusty house, C) a lint-source very near, or D) children. Hmm, we fit all of these qualifications, so we try to clean this under-fridge space at least once a year, but preferably twice. But we didn't always know about this important cleaning chore, which brings up the subtitle of this post.

Once upon a time, in a house far, far away (okay, really only about 10 miles away) there lived a mostly young couple with a brand-new baby. Oh, and cats--three cats. The happy, unknowing couple had lived in this little yellow house for about 6 years, all of them with the cats, when one day mommy and baby went to visit grandma in another town. Poppa was planning to go away for the weekend on an important fishing trip with clients from work, but as things so often go, something else came up and he didn't make it on the trip. Instead, he went home to the little yellow house. When he came in the door, after petting the cats, he immediately noticed a bad smell. A terrible, something-is-catching-on-fire smell, and a scary electricity-gone-bad sort-of-sound. All of it coming from the kitchen. And those lights--they never came out from under the refrigerator before! Quickly Poppa raced over, unplugged the fridge and grabbed whatever was handy to put out the potential fire. Blessedly, cutting the electrical current was all that was needed and no fire ensued. Poppa spent some time moving the fridge and suveying the damage (yup, we needed a new fridge), then opening windows to air out the house. At which point mommy and baby arrived home. They were surprised to see Poppa, but boy were they happy to have a home!

Of all the things my mom taught me to clean, she never mentioned this one. Years worth of cat hair had collected underneath and caused all the problem. To some of you, this may seem like a no-brainer, but I once had a college roommate who couldn't change a light bulb--we all have our failings. Truthfully, I just never thought about it. Fast forward to today, when I thought to clean this so-convenient-to-get-to-space. Here's a pic of some of the fun.
Mind you, this is after I'd already vacuumed quite a bunch, so what you see here is just a little bit of the lint. The whole space underneath was full of this stuff and we just cleaned it about seven months ago or so. Go ahead--if you haven't cleaned yours, go take a look. Should I tell you here that if you haven't cleaned your fridge bottom lately and you're thinking you should, please, please, please! UNPLUG IT first! The power won't be off long enough to cause any problems, but crispy friends are never a good thing. And be prepared--you may have to come up with some creative options for cleaning--see my stick with a paper towel for swiping the really-hard-to-get-to-spots? I'm not, btw, going to recommend you undo any screws or bolts without consulting someone who knows more about these things because you never know what may come loose if you do, but please do the best you can.

And while I was thinking back to our almost fire so long ago, I realized that it was exactly one year ago today that the ground wire from the street to our house burnt out and shot 220 through our home, killing some appliances and starting a near-fire in our basement. Remember that a power strip is just a way to add more outlets for your convenience. A small surge protector keeps the electricity flow even to whatever items are plugged into it, but it does not protect against any kind of catastrophic event. If you have a major surge, those little things can blow-up/melt-down and start a fire. Keep the areas around them clean. BTW, they don't protect your computer, either. If you want to make sure your computer is safe through that kind of event, you want it plugged into something more substantial. When I left my graphics job (ten years ago this spring!) I bought a major battery back-up unit that has saved my computer twice: once when lightning struck our home and came in through the phone line, and last winter through the 220 episode. This little back-up unit died over Christmas (I probably should have replaced it sooner) and I almost went with a heavy-duty-looking surge strip, until I asked for help. The guy said to not be fooled; even the big-looking surge protectors aren't enough in a catastrophic event. Well, since we've lived through two, so I'm not taking any chances.

Oh, and don't play with matches either! The safety officer has spoken.

PS--I don't know why the pics came out with the strange white spaces. I've tried adjusting and re-exporting, but it's not helping. It's late and I haven't read any of those books, so we're just living with it. But, if you have any tips on how to fix it, please share--they really look dorky...

The Twenty-Third Psalm

The God of love my shepherd is,
And he that doth me feed;
While he is mine, and I am his,
What can I want or need?

He leads me to the tender grass,
Where I both feed and rest;
Then to the streams that gently pass;
In both I have the best.

Or if I stray, he doth convert
And bring my mind in frame;
And all this not for my desert,
But for his holy name.

Yea, in death's shady black abode
Well may I walk, not fear:
For thou art with me; and thy rod
To guide, thy staff to bear.

Nay, thou dost make me sit and dine,
Even in my enemies' sight:
My head with oil, my cup with wine
runs over day and night.

Surely thy sweet and wondrous love
Shall measure all my days;
And as it never shall remove,
So neither shall my praise.

--George Herbert