Collaborating With My Kid

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On a recent trip to Michigan to visit my parents that included my husband, daughter, son, and one of my step-daughters, we found ourselves attending my cousin’s college graduation party. It was just a simple outdoor gathering with a barbecue style buffet spread.

While there, there was an item made available to the gathered guests and children that caught my ever-artistic daughter’s eye:

Sidewalk chalk.

She proceeded to grab the bucket of chalk and set to work doodling on the cement driveway.

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This eventually led to her working on a detailed picture of one of her favorite things to draw:

Her “Mushies”.

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Being the huge Alice in Wonderland fanatic that she is, she loves mushrooms, and she loves to draw colorful and creative pictures of whatever toadstools her imagination can work up; among other things, of course. She has a very vivid imagination.

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So there she was down on her knees, diligently working on her chalky cement creation while other party-goers were slowly packing up and heading out one by one. The party was coming to an end, and my husband and parents were trying to hurry my daughter along so that we could leave soon ourselves.

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My child, however, takes after her mother in that she’s not only an artist, but a perfectionist as well, and walking away from an unfinished work of art just isn’t an option for her. I understand this incessant need to finish a masterpiece while others may not.

In a crunch for time, however, I bent down and asked, “Would you like me to help?”

She responded with a relieved “yes,” and we proceeded to finish the creation together that she had started herself.

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Now, in the artistic world, one does not simply allow other people to dip their hands into one’s creative cookie jar. This is especially true with me and my daughter, considering how seriously we take each project that we set our minds to. There has to be complete trust in another person’s artistic abilities to even consider allowing them to touch your own masterpiece.

My daughter and I share a bond that goes deeper than just mother and child, though. We share an artistic bond, in that we have almost the exact same sense of artistic style, imagination, and ability. We have complete trust in one another artistically, and often times, we’ll find ourselves working together or running ideas by each other on any given project.

We collaborate well, and we complement each other quite nicely. It means a lot to me that I’m the only one on this earth that she trusts enough to touch her work. This goes both ways.

We recently worked together on a project to rework a beat up old gun rack that had been kicking around the thrift store for almost a year into a sword rack for my step-son. My husband screwed a wooden plaque on the front for us, and I painted the whole thing black. I had intended to paint some sort of Asian dragon design on it, but I asked my daughter if she would be willing to do it instead, because I knew it would turn out just as well if she did it.

And it did.

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I look forward to collaborating on many more future projects with my kiddo. As a matter of fact, we’re wracking our brains even now trying to come up with something amazing that we can work on together. I have a few ideas. You’ll have to stick around if you want to see what we come up with.

I told her yesterday that I was throwing her out of my art class. Not because I don’t love her, of course, but because she’s just way too advanced. Then I decided to let her stay, but only as my assistant. I think that would be a much better arrangement, don’t you?

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Wheye

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This is my 16 year old daughter’s latest creation that I thought I’d share. It amazes me what she can do already at 16, and I can only imagine what jaw dropping stuff she’ll bust out with another 5 years down the road.

She named her creation “Wheye”, because as she so aptly put it, “I have a lot of questions for this crazy world and it inspired me.”

Good job, Amber. Eye love it!

I’m very proud of you.

A Ray of Artshine

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So, after wracking my brain to come up with a fun, low budget idea for my art class tomorrow, I came up with this. My mom made something similar many years ago and I sort of stole her idea.

You simply cut paper plates in half and paint them whatever color you like. Once they dry, hot glue them in a circular fan pattern. Then paint an uncut paper plate and hot glue it in the center. You can draw or paint a face on the center plate if you like, or leave it plain. Then attach a piece of yarn to the back and you have a super cute and creative wall decoration.

Not only was it an inexpensive project because the paints only cost 57 cents a bottle at Wal Mart, and the only other materials needed are paper plates and glue, but it’s also a great lesson in color mixing for the kids. I intend to supply them with only the primary colors plus white and black, and they will need to mix them to create oranges or purples or whatever colors they decide on.

Hopefully they’ll have fun with it.

Woulda, Shoulda, Coulda

Daily Prompt: Regrets, I’ve Had a Few

What’s your biggest regret? How would your life have been different if you’d made another decision?

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As far as regrets go, I have many. Most of the major ones were brought to light in my previous post: Reflections of a Life Wasted. So, my regrets aren’t any great secret…anymore.

I probably wouldn’t be able to pick just one and call it my biggest, so I think I’ll just pick one of the earliest and touch on that. It’s a pretty big regret as far as my life’s direction is concerned, though.

You see, I have a talent. My mother has the same talent, and that talent has now been passed down to my daughter as well.

We’re not singers. Truth be told, I can’t carry a tune in a bucket. I can see people around me visibly cringe when I belt out the words to whatever the praise and worship team is playing in church on Sundays. Yeah, it’s pretty bad. I don’t think I’ve ever heard my mother sing out loud, and my daughter has a decent singing voice, but like her dear old mom, she’s totally tone deaf.

We’re not musicians, either. I played the clarinet for about 2 weeks in middle school and dropped out. I barely spent enough time at it to learn Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. My daughter “tinkers” with the guitar, but that hasn’t turned into anything serious.  She’s learned bits and pieces of a few simpler songs from Youtube. I tried my hand at Jingle Bells on my step daughter’s keyboard once, because she’s a total piano prodigy and makes it look so easy. I can assure you, though, that it isn’t. Not for me, anyway. I failed miserably. Never even made it past “Jingle all the way.”

No, our talent is solely artistic. We can draw, paint, craft, and create like there’s no tomorrow. We’re full of imagination, all 3 of us, and our ideas flow like spiked punch at a Junior Prom. Projects that my mother did over the years always amazed me, and at 16, my daughter is as talented as I am, possibly even more. Here is a sampling of some of my daughter’s projects:

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Yep. We’re those crafty, creative do-it yourself types. Anyone I know can come to me and say, “I need an idea for this,” and I’ll have several almost instantly. It just comes naturally to me.

I exceled in all of my art classes throughout my entire school career. My peers would always marvel at my creations. I remember working on an undersea perspective scene in colored pencil at one point during my senior year.  I had some free time in history class one day, so I got out my pencils and did some work on it. I remember the entire class gathering around me ‘oooing’ and ‘ahhing’ as I worked. I even received several offers from people to buy that piece.

When my friends, peers, and co-workers would discover that I had artistic skill, they would always come to me for favors and with job requests. I’ve been the go-to ‘art girl’ in every circle that I’ve traveled in. At the factory I worked in fresh out of high school, a co-worker hired me to do a pencil drawing of her mother. I was asked to do some wacky “over the hill” pictures to hang up for our Supervisor’s birthday. I also designed the front of our March of Dimes Walk America Team T-shirts for one of the many years that our group participated.

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The requests still pour in quite often. My husband’s office assistant paid me to do some posters for her to use in a skit that she was doing for the kids at her church. People at my church have come to me with project requests, such as signs that I was asked to make to promote our daycare. I did some signs for a friend for her skit, and I even reworked some pieces of an old desk that I found into paintings to hang in our youth room:

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Now, don’t think I’m complaining. I love art, and I love doing projects for people. I just started teaching my own small art class at the co-op that our homeschooled kids attend, and I really enjoy it. If I could just get the kids in my class to enjoy art as much as I do and take the projects a little more seriously, it would be like a dream come true. Their lack of enthusiasm reminds me of myself at a young age…

Which finally leads me to one of my biggest regrets; that I never cared enough when I was young to make a career stem from my talent. I had opportunities, of course. I entered a scholarship contest once in which they picked 3 lucky students out of 300 to receive a free ride through Kendall College of Art and Design. I certainly wasn’t chosen. The 3 that were picked that day, well, amazing would have been an understatement when describing their talents.

So, I walked away full of self-pity, convinced that I didn’t even have skill enough to turn my talent into a career. I did and still do have skill, of course, but it wasn’t the level of skill that those “winners” had. So, I just simply gave up.

There were other scholarships out there that I could have gone after, and other ways I could have made it into college to pursue a career in the art field, but I just didn’t have the ambition after that. I had allowed doubt and discouragement to creep into my head and replace my vision and focus. Now, my lack of ambition in youth has turned into regret as I find myself pushing 40.

Had I just applied myself at the time in my life when it was most crucial, I believe now that I could have gone places with my gift. I could have made a decent career for myself. I could be helping support my family financially better than I am. I could be proud of myself and have something to show for my talent, other than a bunch of artsy favors done for friends and miscellaneous craft projects around my house.

I can’t go back and change it, though, so there’s no use crying over wasted skill.  I’ll just pour the knowledge that I’ve picked up over the years into teaching my art class, and hope that at least some of those kids will have the focus and ambition to further their careers and never give up.

There’s a good lesson for my art students, right?

Don’t be a quitter, kids. It will catch up with you, someday.

In the form of regret.

Bathroom Tour

I wracked my brain today trying to come up with a good topic to write on since the daily prompt didn’t really appeal to me.

After careful thought and consideration, I decided to just keep it simple.

So, I’m going to take you, my adoring one and a half fans, on a virtual tour of my bathroom.

And right about now you’re thinking, “Your bathroom? Why would anybody want to see your bathroom?”

Well thanks for asking!

About a year and a half ago, I decided to turn one of my boring bathrooms into an aquarium! That’s right! An aquarium!

It was a 2 week project. I hand painted several different varieties of fish, including seahorses, a Jellyfish, a sea turtle, a crab, a ray, and more! I really enjoyed doing it and was even a little sad when the project was finally finished.

So without further ado, I bring you:

My bathroom.

Enjoy!

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Gamer/Blogger/Artist

Daily Prompt: On the Edge

We all have things as need to do to keep an even keel — blogging, exercising, reading, cooking. What’s yours?

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There are 3 activities that keep me grounded and help take the focus off of my OCD. I sometimes get so immersed in these things that I’ll spend hours involved in them, and will even forget to do routine things, like have lunch or dinner. However, I figure skipping a meal is a pretty fair exchange for an activity that keeps me from giving in to, or even thinking about ritualistic behaviors.

First of all, I have a seemingly endless imagination and love to indulge in a good online role playing game from time to time. I’ve found that lately though, since I’ve discovered the thrill of writing and spend an infinite amount of time on my blog, my hours spent gaming have greatly dwindled. Truth be told, I haven’t logged into the game I like to play in weeks. I still love it, however, and consider myself to be somewhat of a “gaming geek.”

I used to be big into World of Warcraft, but woke up to reality one day to realize that the game had taken over my life, even more so than my OCD. I couldn’t even go places without limiting my time away from home because I “had to be back to raid.” I had all but sold my soul to a high end raiding guild. I had to have the best gear for my character, the most raid points to obtain that gear, all of the top achievements, etc. It wasn’t just an outlet for me at that point, it had become an addiction. I had to put down the staff, and back away from the mage. I haven’t been back since.

My current gaming drug of choice is Forsaken World. It’s free, there are no raids, and I can play at my leisure. I have to admit that I did spend a few dollars to obtain the most amazing mount EVER, though. I just had to have her. Her name is Princess, and she’s a pink Alpaca, with a tiara, and bows, and bells, and I adore her. She’s just a whole load of awesome.

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Anyway, writing happens to be the second activity that keeps my mind and hands busy so that my OCD won’t. I never really knew that I could write until I did a short stint as Media Director and contributing writer for a friend’s bridal magazine. Everyone loved my articles, and I was instantly hooked on the art of writing from that point on. I was a little devastated when the job fell through, simply because I enjoyed the writing aspect of it so much. I started to pour my creative juices into this blog, though, so now my inner author is satiated once again.

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Last but not least, I’m also a creator. An “Arteest”. I love to make something out of seemingly nothing; words on a blank page, a picture brought to life on paper, a fresh coat of paint completely changing the appearance of something that wasn’t very vibrant or noticeable before. Any new way that I can create, shape, mold, or change an object into something that it wasn’t before pleases me immensely.

I weeded through my portfolio files for a sampling of my artwork to share with you. I selected a project that’s one of my personal favorites.

In the city I live in, football is HUGE. We have Florida Gator fans, Jacksonville Jaguar fans, NCAA college team fans, you name it; the crowd here loves it. So, I was commissioned by a local football buff to turn a black panther coffee table into a Jaguar table, in honor of the Jacksonville Jaguars. There’s a sheet of thick, rounded glass that fits over the top of this sculpted base to create a flat surface. It’s a cool little table, really. I’m sorry that I don’t have a beginning picture of the panther that it was, since I hadn’t really thought to take one before I dove right into the project. Here, however, is the work in progress, and the finished product. Enjoy!

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Procrastinate? Me? Yeah, Right.

Daily Prompt: Procrastination

What have you been putting off doing? Why?

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I really tend NOT to procrastinate at all if I can help it.

Getting stuff out of the way is a nice little side effect of having OCD. The anxiety that I feel when something’s hanging over my head waiting to be done, weighing on my mind, worrying me, and stealing my focus away from more important things is…well…just not worth it. I feel much freer if I just get things done as soon as possible.

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Now, I’m a yes person. The letters N and O really aren’t that hard to pronounce when put together, but for whatever reason, my tongue, lips, and vocal cords have the hardest time working these 2 letters into an audible, spoken word.

So, there have been times (not many though), when I’ve agreed to do something out of habit, and after I’ve had a chance to really sit and think it over, have simply decided not to, for whatever reason; lack of time, lack of resources…sometimes, even a lack of desire. In my mind, though, a task that I’ve changed my mind about doing is much different than just plain putting it off. I really do try my best to be true to my word, however. I really like being someone that people can depend on. It makes me feel good.

Right now I can honestly say that there are only 2 things on my plate that I should do, but just haven’t yet.

One is finishing this:

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This guy has been sitting unfinished inside my drawing tablet in the closet for a while now. I hate to leave a project unfinished. I’ll always work on one until it’s completed before moving on to the next. It’s just how I am. Putting my focus into too many projects at a time just feels chaotic to me. My daughter is the exact opposite, but just as artistic as I am. Her room is currently littered with half-finished projects.

I really should finish it, and I’d like to finish it, but my mom asked for her Collie Concepts book back ages ago, which rendered me unable to finish the drawing unless I had a picture to work from. In theory, though, I could go to the local public library about a mile away (if that) and check the book out and go from there. I suppose I’ve just been too lazy to follow through this time around.

Secondly, I need to type up an outline to present at the upcoming orientation for the high school art class that I’m going to be teaching once a week at the co-op that our kids attend. An outline that covers classroom rules, how I intend to grade, what the class will entail, a semester project list, etc.

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I haven’t done this yet because my absent minded husband (who will be teaching Geometry and Chemistry 4 hours a week this year) conveniently misplaced the notes that we had from the teachers meeting that explained exactly what information we should include in our outlines. I have some of what needs to be covered committed to memory, as you can see, just not all of it. If there’s anything I hate just as much as not finishing a project that I’ve started, or not getting a task out of the way a.s.a.p., it’s trying to “wing it.” I’m an information person. I need things spelled out for me, sometimes in detail. I don’t want vague. I can’t work with vague.

Eventually though, and soon because orientation is in 8 days, I’ll just have to suck it up and do the best I can with the information that I remember, and hopefully it will turn out to be sufficient.

What a great way to gain students and prove that I’ll be a competent teacher, huh?

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