YouTube and Math….

Yes, it’s true what the kids say – I can turn anything into math, including cool YouTube videos….Every now and then I try to inject something “feel good” into math class, just because it’s cool – it makes me nuts that we’ve lost the idea of learning for the pure enjoyment of learning. Hence this video, which I saw as a link last night on Facebook (and I immediately sent it along!).

Sorry – I just can’t seem to embed it in the blog….
Where the hell is Matt?

This is such a nice, “feel good” video. Dancing is a universal language, and it fits in with what I am reading, The World in Six Songs by Daniel Levitin, “How the Musical Brain Created Human Nature.” Music, song and dance have been with us as evolutionary elements, and we are now coming to realize that with research.

The World in Six Songs explains, at least in part, the evolution of music and brains over tens of thousands of years and across the six inhabited continents. Music, I argue, is not simply a distraction or a pastime, but a core element of our identity as a species, an activity that paced the way for more complex behaviors such as language, large-scale cooperative undertakings, and the passing down of important information from one generation to the next.” (p. 3)

So imagine how disappointed I was to discover that the video is a complete fake….but still valuable nevertheless to math class. Mathematics underlies all of the computer-related, graphics/video game design careers. You may not be able to DO the math, but you should understand how it makes everything else work. If you want the really big bucks in a career, develop the programs that will allow others to develop video games and more. Think of the skills you need to alter photographs and create videos….

All part of trying to get my at-risk students to realize that there is value to mathematics…..

The World in Six Songs – from Amazon

Sunday Sampler

Slower week, but I am still being productive. I love getting caught up with the blogs I follow, as I don’t always have time for my morning ritual before leaving for school. So I thought I would share some of the great stuff I have been viewing.

If you are not following El Milagro Studio, you need to pop over there. Anne does the most amazing collage. I know I never understood the appeal of collage until I started following Anne’s art work. Collage to me was very poorly done school projects. So NOT the case with Anne – the textures and colors are pretty spectacular! By the way, Anne, I have a few more textured items – and do you want an old pure wool sweater for felting? I have finally decided to give up my high school sweater – after I take off my letter for band.

I’ve started following Seth Apter and The Altered Page. More amazing collage, but today’s post had a review of a Maya Lin exhibit, she of Vietnam Memorial fame. The texture and movement in her architectural pieces is phenomenal. Here’s a sample:

I have been following Jane Dunnewold of Complex Cloth fame on her daily journal to photograph her surroundings. I have become very attuned to the juxtaposition of red and green around us from her work this year. The photography is both provocative and evocative. Here’s a sample:
I LOVE Purple Missus. What she is doing with and to fabric constantly blows my mind. Rusting, dyeing, paints, glue – you name it and nothing is safe. I HAVE to buy her book – Stitching the Textured Surface – it is on my MUST-HAVE list. This is one of my absolute favorite pics:

I’m hooked on Twitter, even though I’ve been absent for the last month. I try to always check the daily Historical Tweets – way too much fun!

Hopefully the school year will continue to be a great one. Two more weeks in this first quarter marking period – hard to believe this is week 8 of the school year. Stay healthy and busy – that’s my motto!

In Progress –

This is where I started about 6 weeks ago, with the desire to just do half-square triangles and then see what developed. The sewing was mindless at first, just following the lines on the paper, which is what I wanted – mindless – and I wanted to use my first hand-dyes. I lay out a beginning design on the wall, and it really started reading “heat.” Once the half-squares were together (and the lesson learned there is the press open, not to one side….) I decided to add a totally different batik to tone down the heat.

This weekend I got the last of the borders on, and now it is ready for quilting – and I have some ideas for some gold threads…once I get it sandwiched and basic line quilting done – just to see what a problem it’s going to be getting through a lot of the fabric corners. Here it is:

I am quite pleased, for something that was just a way to cure some boredom – looks great and learned a lot! I’m hoping to get more done this week on the new strips – ready for a lay-out, and a new bowl to wrap while watching TV. Have to do school work tonight, but then I should be ready for the week….for some fun!

Photoshop Friday

Good week at school, and I was able to sew each night this week. That’s got to be a first!! I was ahead enough in planning and marking papers that I didn’t have to do anything – and what I did I bribed myself with treats to get it done. I do want to continue this weekend, but there is serious bribery ahead for me – quizzes to grade and papers to update. Plus an order of operations game to make….

In the meantime I decided to play with one of the shapes I have downloaded in my Photoshop. I’d used a couple earlier, and I enjoyed what I have been able to do with them This time it was more a lesson for myself in layering and shadows. What’s on the left is the original shape – a decent doodle, which by the time I was done gave me ideas for my own doodles….

This is my first attempt with the shadows and gradients. I save all my layers, and then I can turn them on and off at will, if I want to try something new.
Delicate, fragile, to my mind very Asian….the small pic really doesn’t do the vibrancy and justice. Here’s the second layer:
Lots of texture to this one, a totally different take on the same shape. There is a lot of manipulation of shadows in this one, just to see what they will do. Again, way more detail in the larger one than here.

I was staring at this for some time, intrigued with the center shape that is quite visible. So I went to my brushes, figuring I could add a tree….and then more brushes….and finally I have this year’s Christmas card……
Productive evening of learning, good week at school, great momentum, a weekend ahead with a trip to a fiber gathering in St. David, lunch at the Copper Queen in Bisbee, and more sewing….will try for pics!

At Last!!

Finally! At last! I have had a great couple of days! It’s so good to feel healthy again. Progress reports were due on Friday, so I was able to leave school with very little to do. I went to Stripper’s Club on Saturday morning at my local quilt shop. Stripper’s Club was a hoot – a new quilt each month made solely from 2 and 1/2 inch strips. This one is very forest-y – hence the name “Into the Woods.” I have never worked with a set of Bali Pops before, so it looks like even more fun.

I got home and had lunch and a nap – but still had the bulk of the day ahead of me. I knew I wanted to start on the new quilt, but I have a bunch of projects going on that I needed to work on. So I told myself, no new quilt until I get more done on my Desert Heat piece. Well, let me tell you….

…by Saturday bedtime I had taken apart my Sunrise piece and started taking the quilting out in order to incorporate some changes suggested by my arts group. I had wrapped a lot of clothesline to create a Christmas fabric bowl, I was ready to put final borders on the Heat piece, and I had almost 40 strips sewn into 2-strip sets.

I think I’ve stumbled on a new way of working – literally have a bunch of things that can be done at the same time, especially if I don’t have to change the color of thread! Momentum continued on Sunday. I did my lesson plans for Monday, opted to not score papers (and I’m here to tell you everything is already done for the week!), and continued to sew. All the borders are on Desert Heat, and it looks fabulous. All the strips are now in groups of two, and I have several groups of four together. But I also had to tell myself, no more sewing until I finally hemmed my new brown pants. Which I did (only took 6 weeks), AND ironed them, and continued sewing.

It is so good to finally feel healthy again. Monday was a good day at school, I got everything done, didn’t bring anything home from school, got a few more four-strip sections together, and finished wrapping the bowl. Today I was incredibly productive, with lesson plans done for the week, ALL papers marked, quiz created for Friday, and ready to do a new set of progress reports.

I was so organized I left early for the bus…..big mistake. On days I take the bus, I need to take a later bus. Why is it teens feel they have to be loud and full of foul language when they’re on public transportation? The bus was pack and LOUD. Definitely a later bus – I am committed to trying to lower my carbon footprint this year.

New NCIS tonight, and in the meantime, I have some strip sets calling my name! Pics will follow….

Playing Around on a Thursday….

I wanted to play with Photoshop this afternoon, as it has been a crazy week, had a half day today, went to lunch with hubby, and finally felt healthy AND relaxed for the first time in several weeks. So I started with a piece of marbled fabric in a stone pattern. I then went looking for one of my pics from the Tucson Botanical Gardens, as I wanted to work on texture as part of my Garden Fantasy series. The pic below is the original.
This is it cropped. It’s a little out of focus, and sharpening didn’t seem to help, so I started looking at basic shadow adjustments.
I like the way the background just faded away, and the flowers took on a nice light and delicate pink. Then I started thinking about adding the marbled fabric as a new background. Here’s the first attempt, with the background the original colors.
It’s a little dark, but I do like the way the veining in the stone pattern shows up in the background. Here’s the second, after I changed the colors of the marbled fabric to some blues. Very misty, very Asian – to my way of thinking.
These next are all playing around with the order of the layers, to see what I get for different effects.
I like the lighter background – I want to play with this one some more.
What you can’t see in this one unless you click and REALLY look with the additional texture in the veining that makes it look like it is raised off the paper. It also looks to have water droplets on it, which is kinda cool!
On second thought, the “droplets” are distracting – may have to “erase” them. Fun to play again – amazing how much you can do when you feel good!

Open to suggestions!

Monday Marketing – Yeah!

I had a couple of questions about one of the denim pieces posted yesterday. This is a piece of white denim, about 9 x 12 inches, marbled in a stone pattern and quilted heavily. It’s a very organic design, and I wanted the quilting to reflect that. The piece is available on the website – and, hey – I’m willing to bargain….

Just got home from our monthly art group – we had a great time! I didn’t want to go, as I was having problems with lesson plans for tomorrow (like the computer ate the finished copy and I had to redo everything), but since I’m the organizer, I felt I should be there….

We had a really good time! Lots of new show-and-tell. I brought a piece that has had me stumped with no Wow factor. Showed it, got feedback – everyone loved the marbled fabric – very serene – the suggestion was to change the color of the border and then the blues within the piece would pop. Perfect!

We have decided to do our first show together. One of the high-end shopping centers has their annual art fair in November, and with the 5 of us, we can split the fees and make it very do-able for all of us. Next month we are meeting at the home of our clay artist to talk about how we need to price our work. So this week I have a lot of planning to do to get the paperwork in and get everyone with a list of things to do prior to October.

We also had our jewelry artist, who is also an accountant by day, talk about some of the nitty-gritty of setting up your business. For the time being, we will be working under her business license until our other artists make some decisions about the directions they want to go in marketing. This way we can all see just how “happy” we are doing this type of show.

I feel like the momentum is back – but I know, since Thursday is a half day, that I will be spending all afternoon at school getting caught up for this week, so I can have the weekend free for ART!

Sunday Sampler

It’s Sunday, the end of one week, and yet it’s the start of another – Sundays during the school year are spent doing lesson plans and marking papers – I’m usually too tired to do anything on a Saturday but relax and sleep. Housework? Not on the agenda…..hardly ever…..

I’ve been trying to think of something earth-shattering – or at least exciting – to write about, but nothing comes to mind. I haven’t hemmed pants yet (only three weeks since cutting them), done any sewing or handwash – I’ve been spending most of my time sleeping, trying to get rid of whatever has hit me yet again.

I need to look at some of the work we have created, so I think I’ll just load up some eye candy….

Really scrumptious white denim as the base.

More denim…
Denim again…
Red silk….

Work in Progress Wednesday

So since school has started, I have been lamenting the lack of art time – happens every new school year. Given being sick and the death of my mother, it has been all I can do to focus in on what has to happen at work, and basically forget about art. I’ve decided I have to let those feelings go – not just because there’s not much I can do about it, but because the school year is my “work in progress.”

I love what I am doing – teaching algebra to kids who have never had any success in mathematics at all, especially in middle school. This is my creative role for the next few years, until I retire. Then my creativity can go in another direction. So I have decided no more whining about lack of art time. I get to be very creative in a totally different manner each school day. The kids are desperate for knowledge, although in many cases they would be the last to admit that fact. Yet we do these small celebrations each day to recognize their learning. Trying to find yet another way to explain the same topic is a challenge I love. I even enjoy the paper work (but not on the nights like tonight when there are over 300 papers awaiting me) because I get to see who’s getting it and who is still having problems.

So there – I’ll do what art I can, when I can, and not stress. In the meantime, here’s a continuation of Desert Heat: I added the batik border because it was so different, and it toned down the “heat” of the piece. As I completed the center square, the piece really seemed to be radiating too much fire, and the blues in these small strips helped tone everything down to a bearable (but dry…) heat.

Now I started on the next border – rearranging my half-square triangles into another pattern. Once the top and bottom are added on, there will be a larger border around it, and then I’ll figure on the quilting – going to be interesting trying to sew through some of those thick seams….

Now it’s paper time….

In Memoriam – My Mother

Betty Lemke Macfarlane, February 10, 1927 – August 23, 2009. My mother was a woman before her time. She was the first in her family to go to college – Albany Teachers College in Albany, New York, now the State University at Albany. She taught in Speculator, New York until she married my father, Eugene, home from the Merchant Marines and World War II. Her mother-in-law, my Nana, lived with the family, so she was able to be a working mother before that was the norm for women. She formed close relationships with teachers she worked with that lasted for many years (Lorraine Chudomelka, Geraldine Nicholson, Mary Maxwell, Jim Gallagher, Tom Benton, just to name a few.) She moved from teaching at Stratford Elementary (now Sam Yellin Elementary after the long-time sheriff) to Pine Hill, New Jersey, where she taught sixth grade.

Her parents, Arthur and Dorothy Jones of Brewster, New York, were caretakers at Morefar, the Starr estate. Her father died when my mother was in her twenties – a remembrance of the kitchen in Staten Island when she got the news. When we were little, we would take the train to Brewster to visit her mother, sister Dorothy, and my cousin Bonnie. There were visits to the hen house and the “main house,” especially to swim in the pool – a real extravagance at the time.

She followed my father in his insurance jobs, from living at “tirty-tree fif avnoo” in Manhatten to Staten Island to Stratford, New Jersey, to Glens Falls, New York, to Northfield, Vermont, to Middletown, Ohio. When my father died suddenly at 48, she returned to Vermont to teach, where she reconnected with an old family friend, Peter Macfarlane. A year later she remarried, returned to Brewster, and then retired with Peter to the Outer Banks.My mother knitted as a hobby. Everyone in the family always had sweaters of every design and color. In later years she turned to embroidery (finishing some of the pieces I started and let slide), cross stitch, and quilting. She was known for her whole cloth quilts, and we made a quilt together – I appliqued and she quilted. In later years she read voraciously until her eyesight started to fail because of cataracts.

She would visit family in Arizona and Texas, and as she got more into genealogy, she and niece Bonnie would uncover new (old) relatives, and she would visit them. She made a surprise trip to Vermont where I was teaching to come to opening night of “Peter Pan,” the first musical I did with 80 middle school students. She traveled to Australia and Europe (many times), finding family in Scotland, and missing relatives in England. She visited Hawaii, a favorite, having been there first when I started my teaching career on Maui.

Rest in peace.

Top Ten Tuesday – CHINA!!!

Me on the Great Wall of China! This was 31 years ago this October – I went with a group of 20 Americans as part of the US-China People’s Friendship Association. I was there for a month, starting in Hong Kong, where we needed summer clothes, to Beijing, where we needed parkas! It was an amazing month. This was several months before Carter normalized relations with China, so in many cases we were the first Westerners the Chinese had seen.

This all came about when I was in Walgreen’s last weekend, and I asked about converting slides to a CD. I had asked about three years ago and it was like $2 for each slide. Now it was $5.99 for 24 slides. So I picked through some of my older China slides – the really good ones are packed somewhere…..So for Top Ten Tuesday, here’s my first 10 slides of China.

Throughout our visits, we were treated to all kinds of performing arts, mostly by students. Here’s a group of gymnasts performing for us. The kids were so poised and centered on stage.

I bought several yeards of silk and wanted to buy some of the “double-sided embroideries”, but I couldn’t afford them. The bottom frame is of fish, and it doesn’t matter which side you look at, you can’t see a back. The back piece is an incredible needlepoint – such detail and small stitches!

At the Children’s Palaces, which were after-school daycare centers, students were learning and practicing needlepoint.

Also at the Children’s Palace were beginning, intermediate, and advanced orchestras.

We spent time at the Ming Tombs, and I have better pics tucked away. Autumn in the northern part of China was just like New England. You can’t see our fairly modern tour buses, but we always saw hand-operated carts and LOADS of bicycles! Wait till you see my picture of the traffic jam of bikes.

There are these wonderful stone statues leading up to the Ming tombs.

Guilin is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful spots on earth, These are just two photos, and yes, the river was really low. We were able to sail on the river only to a point, and then had to take a bus back to our hotel. Amazingly beautiful place.

And finally, the Great Wall again. I started up, as you can see from the top pic, in my parka, and by the time I had walked about a mile up, I was stripping off jackets and sweaters and scarves!

Monday Marketing….I don’t think so….

This is a piece that sold on Ebay a number of months ago. As I recall it was a silk, and it reminded me of clouds. I do need to pull the photo out and try doing some manipulating with it. There are some intriguing lines in this piece.

As for marketing, probably not going to happen this week, except for putting some of the digital quilt designs up on Cafe Press. We had a great marketing group meeting last week, and I thought I’d include some of the work from our group of artists.

Brenda is a really wonderful weaver. She is working on what she calls saddle rugs, but I don’t have any pics. Her scarves are so soft, and they use some antique lace patterns as the design.

Yvonna continues to explore texture and form with her clay. She just comes up with the most amazing shapes.

School is back – great first day with the kids. I am trying to eke out time each day to at least sew, and save whatever marketing I can do for the weekends. I do want to explore Tara Reed’s site on art licensing…looks very interesting!

More Digital Marbling!

Cool, huh?!?!?

Sunday Sampler – Fun with Photoshop!

So I didn’t get to Photoshop on Friday – SORE from stairs at school, and generally tired after the first few days back, but boy, did I have fun today! The pineapple block on the left was my starting point for today, in designing a quilt. WAAAYYYY back in 1996, after we had been marbling about 2 years, I knew I wanted to design quilts with marbled fabric, and using Photoshop (obviously a very early version) I wanted to be able to put the designs on t-shirts. Try as I might for MANY years, I just couldn’t seem to get the hang of “pasting” fabrics, let alone creating a grid to work on. Those days are gone – I did it! I took the block on the left and did several iterations of it to change colors:

Here’s my first quilt design – I know there’s loads of room for improvement, but this is a good start.

Not content with that playing around, I went back to the photo from Thursday’s blog to see what I could do with that one. The first is the original, the second is “underpainting,” one of the filters. The third is totally different – the watercolor effect. It really changes the meaning of the image. I am quite partial to the second – reminds of the line from the sone “Evergreen” from “The Way We Were” – mysty water colored memories….

Now to finish up emails and get wardrobe set for the first week with kiddoes!

Thursday Thoughts – The New School Year

Another really cool piece from the past – a lot of these art pieces that went up on Ebay were left over from commissions. This piece always reminds me of a misty morning. I probably should try something else with it, so I will work on this one tomorrow, with Photoshop.

School started yesterday – just the teachers in for meetings. I spent today getting ready for ninth grade orientation tomorrow. And once I again I face the same conflict every year at this time – how can I maintain the momentum from all the summer art work? Yesterday I was so tired, I had no energy to sew after dinner. Now, rationally I know that’s to be expected the first week or so back, because I have to get re-energized with the school year and get the body attuned to the new schedule. But still, every year the momentum just fades……

I do enjoy blogging, and I want to maintain at least 5 entries a week. Blogging really helps me process what’s going on in my life, as well as the original purpose – to keep a record of my creativity. I had a blast at our arts meeting on Monday – we all seemed to mesh really well as a group of diverse artists – lots of dialogue about how we do what we do, and what we would like from the group – keeping us motivated. There’s momentum, again.

I am hoping the monthly meetings will help me work on projects for each time we get together. September has the gem show and a chance to look for new goodies, with some of the group. I want to work on the bamboo piece and look for more “dirt-ish” stone to embellish the base.

It all comes down to getting over the end-of-the-day slump and get busy during the evenings. I am surprised – and pleased – that so far I am not overwhelmed by preparation. I have so many things prepared from last year, that now I can actually work at presenting material in a much more interactive manner – which is a goal for this year.

So I guess it’s just a matter of time……

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