African Masks [Children’s Art]

My son is all better and back in school, but I must say, I was in kiddie art heaven last Thursday while I waited to meet with his teacher to collect the assignments he missed.  The school held its annual art fair and though I didn’t see everything, what I did see was pretty impressive.

I’m in the throes of midterm grading, so I’m just going to share the colorful masks done by my son and his peers in Mrs. Trott’s 5th-6th grade (combined) class.

They all started with a basic mask and added touches that express their personalities.

I love every one of these masks!

The students have been learning about the continent of Africa–its landforms, peoples, histories, and cultures–so I’m sure this was a fun exercise to complement their lessons.

Well, I’m back to grading.  I’ll be back eventually with pics of some of the other art.

Happy Monday!

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Photography: Taking Shots and Finding the Right Challenge

Last month I attempted Fat Mum Slim’s Photo-a-Day.  I completed the challenge a few times and thought it would encourage me to get a little creativity in each day.  Unfortunately, the timing was wrong. The semester was beginning and the weather was strange.

I captured about nine days before the possibility of capturing a photo every day in January slipped away.  I gave up when I realized I was pretty much  just “taking shots” and not actually “crafting” or “creating” anything.  Here’s what I did capture as part of the challenge.

Day 1: Favorite ColorPurple, of course.  An ornament on my Aunt Elaine’s Christmas tree.

Day 1: Favorite Color

Day 1: Favorite Color

Day 2: Delicious–Avocado.  My favorite fruit. Yum!

Day 2: Delicious

Day 2: Delicious

Day 3: Circle–The circular ironwork on a mailbox.  I know it’s more a nautilus, but you get the point. 😀

Day 3: Circle

Day 3: Circle

Day 4: Animal–Ferret.  Say “hello” to Gnash! He’s kind of a ham–or maybe just curious about the camera.

Day 4: Animal

Day 4: Animal

Day 5: A Favorite Thing–Books! A tiny sneak peek at the books in our home library or the reason why I can’t be a minimalist.

Day 5: A Favorite Thing

Day 5: A Favorite Thing

Day 6: Me–A Selfie.  I’m not into selfies, so I played around with the pic.  A bit cheeky, eh?

Day 6: Me!

Day 6: Me!

This is me too!  Same photo. Different manipulation.

Day 6: Me!

Day 6: Me!

Day 7: Time–Quotes in my planner on time.  It was such a coincidence that the quotes in my planner coincided with the theme for the day! I had to capture it.

Day 7: Time

Day 7: Time

Day 8: A Wall–This is a part of the inspiration wall in my office on campus.  It has quotes, beautiful images from friends and students, photos of family members, sunflowers, cards, and so much more. Eye and soul candy to get me through the challenging days.

Day 8: A Wall

Day 8: A Wall

Day 9: Mail–Beautiful postage from Senegal that I’d planned to use in a project and postcards and a letter with vintage postage that were “adorning” my desk.

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Day 9: Mail

Day 12: Leaf–I captured the leaf photo late one windy evening.  Bronze leaves against the black sky.

Day 12: Leaf

Day 12: Leaf

I found it boring, so I altered it. This “shows” the wind.

Day 12: Leaf

Day 12: Leaf

I “failed” at photo-a-day, but some good came from this failure.  It freed me to have some photo fun at the New Orleans Botanical Gardens (I’ll share that adventure another time).  (And) through this exercise, I learned that I want a more intentional photo challenge, one that is about more than a photo and a theme.

Thanks to Alice’s Grand Adventures, I found The Dogwood 52 Week Challenge.  This challenge is manageable during the busy academic year: it removes the pressure to capture a photo every day based on a specific theme, and it’s about stretching and growing as a photographer.  The assignments are “in one of three categories: storytelling, technical, artistic impression.”  The good news is that even though we’re seven weeks into the year, I’m not late! The challenge is designed to begin at any time; it’s up to the individual photographer.

So…I’m in!

I’m looking forward to sharing the challenge with you each week.

Microblog Mondays: He Restores My Soul

My little one is sick for the fourth time this season, so when I woke up this morning, worried and stressed, I needed a simple and familiar scripture to start the day. I opened the Bible App and the “Verse of the Day” provided the first few verses of Psalm 23–just what I needed to help the little one get through the day.

“He Leads Me Beside Peaceful Streams,” Wheeler Lake, Huntsville, Alabama.

The Lord is my shepherd;
I have all that I need.
He lets me rest in green meadows;
He leads me beside peaceful streams.
He renews my strength.
Psalm 23:1-3a NLT

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Photo Walk: Praying with Trees

I had to take a walk today.  I had to get out of my office and soak in the sun and rid myself of some of the ugliness that had been clawing at my soul.

The last few weeks have been bad. Not because everything has gone wrong and life has been topsy-turvy, but in soul-killing ways.  I’ve been dealing with too many people who simply aren’t nice and it was making me physically tired.  Like, I-want-to-sleep-to-not-deal-with-people tired.

The “everydayness” of the pettiness and meanness and slights were taking a toll.  No matter how well I let things “roll off my back,” when the assaults are hard, fast, and consistent, tiny slights feel like boulders. They aren’t so easy to roll away.  They just sort of pile up and impede my ability to “move on” or not take things “to heart.”

I found it difficult to shake the mood that was gripping me and dragging me to a dark, dark place. I had to do something, so I “escaped” for a bit.

I didn’t take my camera. I didn’t plan to take photos.  (I had my phone with me out of habit and for security).  I just needed to walk and talk with God for a moment. I needed him to “right” my perspective and reset my mood.  I needed him to expel from my spirit the foulness that was intent on sullying my soul.

After a few steps,  I looked up.

The trees were communing and basking in the warmth of this so-called winter and playing against the clear blue sky.

I paused.

I took a deep, cleansing breath.

I listened.

I allowed God’s Spirit to bathe me and exorcise the yuckiness.

And fill me with good things–things that are lovely, pure, right, and true.

I’m light and airy and my gratitude is floating in the wind, dancing with the trees.

 

 

Microblog Mondays: “I Will No Longer Hide in the Shadows”

Need Meets Love and Compassion

“I Will Be The Place Where Need Is Met with Love and Compassion”

If Trump does no other good, we must acknowledge that the reality of his presidency has awakened a slumbering nation.  Many finally realize that we can no longer resist in silence and leave the fate of our nation in the hands of elected officials, many of whom for too long have served their own political interests and agendas and have paid attention to their constituents only when it was time to collect votes.

"I Speak for the Trees Too."

“I Speak for the Trees Too.”

I am particularly proud of the way one of my nieces, Tiffany, has “awakened” and is [re]claiming her voice. She has been wearing out her boots marching and standing up for human rights and against oppression since the day Trump took office.  On that “fateful” day, she responded to her peers who claimed to be taking a social media hiatus to avoid the political talk and conversations.  In a post that I’m sure set their teeth on edge she called them out of their stupor and demanded that they finally see her and her struggle as a Black woman.

I’m glad that many of you can take a social media hiatus, avoid Facebook for the day and disengage from political conversations. I’m glad that you can “take a break” from all of the hate and negativity that you feel you are seeing. I don’t have that luxury.

I cannot take off my skin.
I cannot un-know what it feels like to have white men tell me that they’ve “never had a black girl suck their d*** before.”
I cannot go back and ask all the things I wanted to know in science classes dominated by men who made me feel inferior, insignificant and ignored.
I cannot forget the fear of being followed and harassed for miles on the highway and being spoken to in demeaning ways by men in grocery stores who thought that they had every right to behave that way.

I will march and I will raise my voice. I will face fear and the pain of the things that have shaped my heart and kept me silent and left me afraid. I will not ignore and turn my back to hate. I will look hate directly in the eye and say, “no more.”

Brokenness mends best out in the daylight, and I will no longer hide in the shadows.

Tiffany marched again this weekend, this time in the 11th Annual Moral March in Raleigh, North Carolina, coordinated by the NC NAACP.   “Big” sister Erin–one year older–who is also socially conscious, marched with her. They were interviewed by WRAL News.

With Erin at the Moral March in Raleigh, North Carolina--being interviewed by WRAL

With Erin at the Moral March in Raleigh, North Carolina–being interviewed by WRAL

Tiffany is about more than the march. She realizes real change takes more than getting her boots dirty.  While there are things happening in the political arena that we can’t ignore, there are crises in people’s personal lives that need immediate attention, so she’s doing what she can to make life better for others.  This year she’s participating in the Make-a-Wish Trailblaze Challenge to “raise funds and grant wishes for children with life threatening medical conditions.”  It is her goal to “enrich their lives with hope, strength, and joy.”

Travel and Protest: In the airport standing up for immigrants and against the travel ban

Travel and Protest: In the airport standing up for immigrants and against the travel ban.

Thank you for coming out of the shadows, Tiffany.  The world needs you!

March on…

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Bear Carries Sunflowers, or More Children’s Book Illustration Postcards

From the Big Book of Bear and Hedgehog, Ingrid & Dieter Schubert

From the Big Book of Bear and Hedgehog, Ingrid & Dieter Schubert

Should we be concerned that the first thing I noticed about this postcard is the sunflowers that form part of the bouquet Bear is hiding? My obsession with sunflowers has hit an all new high.

The cute card, featuring two animals hiding gifts behind their backs, was sent for the Book Lovers Congregate Children’s Book Illustration Postcards Swap #12.  Sammoning (Netherlands) sent the postcard and admitted that she joined BLC “just to participate” in children’s book illustration swaps! How cool is that?  She’s fortunate enough to live near a bookstore that sells “beautiful illustrated postcards with typical Dutch characters like Miffy and also more unique and current stories.”

The postcard illustration comes from The Big Book of Bear and Hedgehog, which is actually a compilation of four books of the duo’s adventures written by husband and wife team Ingrid and Dieter Schubert.  The bear is described in reviews as “clumsy and rather silly,” and the hedgehog as “cheeky.”  They were introduced to Dutch children’s literature in 1998 and have continued to line the shelves of children all over the world.

For Children’s Book Illustration Postcards Swap #12 (public), Mollypop (USA) sent this sweet postcard of a little girl with her teddy bear (because she knows I like teddy bears). The illustration is by Alice May Cook (1876-1958), a Scottish painter and illustrator.

Alice M. Cook from Blackie's Children's Annual

Alice M. Cook from Blackie’s Children’s Annual

The image is from Blackie’s Children’s Annuals, which were published by Blackie and Son Limited, a publishing house in Glasgow, Scotland (1891-1991). According to the Abe Books website, children’s books were published in periodicals and distributed weekly or monthly.  At the end of the year, the best stories were collected, bound, and released just in time for Christmas gifting.

You can find a selection of Cook images here.  Though limited, the collection demonstrates the range of her art.  Unfortunately, I found very little about the illustrator and even less about this postcard in particular.

Swaps #13 haven’t made their way to me from Israel yet, but good news–both postcards for swap #14 arrived today! Look for those here soon.

Until next time…

Enjoy!