White on Black

Pride!

We gathered a small group together a few weeks ago and enjoyed the latest fun addition to the Zentangle world – white designs on black paper. The tiles came at the end of a long session, when our eyes were just beginning to get tired and our hands had barely begun to protest all of the concentrated focus. Ah, but what a beautiful outcome! We’re happy tanglers.

White pens on black tiles - another satisfying tangled pathway!

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“Hey, Teach!”

We learned some new patterns then stopped to work on illustrated letters for a while.

Teaching and learning comes in a variety of flavors. Whether I’m working in a classroom with twenty five students who were all born within eight months of each other, teaching to a small group of friends who’ve gathered in a clubhouse at their adult living community, or sitting with a single student, the process is essentially the same. I’ll share something that I’ve learned that you’ll enjoy and in your practice of the skill, technique, or project, I’ll learn from you.

At its core, teaching is sharing knowledge. It’s a level of communication that we relish because it feeds our curiosity and our desire to know each other better. For artists, it’s much like peeling the layers of an onion. Each layer exposes another way to express creativity and each different media sparks new ideas for making marks on our world.

I chose teaching early, and started practicing on dollies propped up in lawn chairs outside in the summertime before moving up to my first horn students when I was in high school. Skills honed in motherhood and scout troops for my daughters and their friends led to serious study of the art/craft/science of teaching. Through my years in education I’ve enjoyed a variety of settings and age groups – everything from kindergarten artists to sixth grade band students learning how to play their first musical instrument. Topics I’ve shared have included all traditional school content as well as special forays into mediation and conflict resolution, teaching adults how to shelter instruction for second language learners, and lots of fun side trips into topics of interest.

Jenn's Craft-Savvy shop is a great setting for classes. Here, she works on a creation of her own.

Practices like Zentangle seem to find us at just the right time in our lives. I have a thriving choice-based art classroom at school, a principal who supports professional development, and enough time and resources to travel from Washington to Massachusetts to add Zentangle’s certification to my bag of tricks.

I’ve tucked Zentangle into the media offerings for my elementary students at school and have been amazed at the quality of children’s work with the techniques that Maria and Rick shared. I also have a busy schedule of adult Zentangle classes, both with small groups in a variety of settings as well as with some enthusiastic students I met through Jennifer’s Craft-Savvy shop in Gig Harbor, WA. I love seeing how my students work with line and pattern. Art is a good nest for me.

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Happy birthing day, new website!

Welcome, welcome!  I’ve been contemplating an art-related website for some time. There are so many facets of the art world that I love – it’s an easy choice. I have played with art tools for as long as I can remember. Crayons were early faves and I admit to racing heartbeats when I open a new box of 120 colors to this day. Watercolor is a favorite medium, too, and I delight in painting the wildflowers that grow in the woods around my house.  (Yes, I know that Scotch Broom is a noxious weed but it’s yellow flower are gorgeous in the spring before we attack and obliterate them…) Our rainfall is plentiful during the winter so springtime is prime flower watching time for me.

Then there’s the fun of tearing different textures of paper, gathering ephemera, and putting together collages. Some of them find their way into encaustic worlds, too, with the application of hot beeswax. I use pen and ink to draw a variety of subjects and mix wider, differently shaped calligraphy pens with even more inks to work on illuminated letters. Weaving assemblages on to driftwood and found objects, a little bit of quilting, and a life-long sewing hobby all find their way into my small corner studio.

Another important part of my art world is Zentangles®. I found the intriguing little designs, learned all I could about them on my own, then traveled to Massachusetts to take the training necessary to be certified to teach others about the art form. I teach classes and private lessons to adults in a couple of different settings, continue to hone my own skills, and smile when my students catch the Zentangle bug.

And the best part of all? I get to spend my days as an elementary art teacher. The art studio at our school is set up with seven distinct media areas. Following the tenets of a pedagogy called TAB – Teaching for Artistic Behavior – children design their own projects, choose media appropriate to their ideas, and create to their art’s content. We have such fun.

On my to do list are lots of projects. I’ll share some of them here. I’m so pleased you’ve joined me.

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