Saturday, November 29, 2008

Math Curse by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith

What is this? A bonus post? Hmmm.

Happy Saturday. Saturdays are reserved for those rare times when I want to say something that has nothing to do with art.

I want to recommend a great book by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith called Math Curse. A boy’s teacher, Mrs. Fibonacci, suggests that “you can think of almost everything as a math problem.” When the boy wakes up the next morning, math is all around him. It’s in his morning routine, it’s at lunch, it’s in social studies, English, and P.E. classes. The boy just can’t escape the math curse!

There are references to math concepts that students won’t learn until middle school or high school but they’re subtle. For instance, though the math teacher’s name is Mrs. Fibonacci, it doesn’t matter that a third grader wouldn’t know what the Fibonacci Sequence is. I think this would be a great book to read to upper-elementary-level math students on the first day of class.

There is another book in this series, Science Verse, that I do not recommend for young students. Unlike Math Curse, when reading Science Verse it is important to understand the upper-level science concepts to find enjoyment in the book. If you read Science Verse to elementary school students, you would have to spend a lot of time explaining ideas.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

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My Current NaNoWriMo Word Count:

56140 / 60000 words. 94% done!
One more day to go!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Loara Standish

Happy Thanksgiving to those of you Americans! I’ve neglected the art lately, I know. Everything will go back to normal on Monday, when we move from November into the wonderful, much less stressful, December.

In celebration of Thanksgiving, I thought I’d share with you Loara Standish’s sampler. A sampler is a piece of embroidery that women used to make to show how skilled they were with a needle. I, for one, am glad we don’t have to do that anymore! It looks difficult!

Loara Standish was the daughter of Myles Standish. Myles Standish arrived in the New World on the Mayflower and signed the Mayflower compact. He then became the Military Captain of the colony at Plymouth.

To stitch her sampler, Loara Standish sat in her doorway where there was plenty of natural light. Remember, the colonists didn’t have electricity. Imagine having to stop working when dusk settled!

I think she did a lovely job.

Enjoy your holiday [or your Thursday : ) ]!

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My Current NaNoWriMo Word Count:

51167 / 60000 words. 85% done!

I adjusted my goal from 50,000 to 60,000!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

NaNoWriMo Winner!

And from the sludge that is her novel, she emerges, just north of the 50,000-word finish line.

She looks around, confused. "What day is it?" she asks.

"Why, it is Tuesday, November 25th."

"November 25th? It isn't time yet. No, no," she mumbles, disappearing back into the sludge. "It isn't time yet."

Yes! I have reached 50,000 words! And look at the pretty winner's badge!

Saturday, November 22, 2008


Just had to post my word count today. I wrote more than 5,000 words today which is more than I've ever written on a novel in one day. And I passed 44,000 words. Woo!

Last year at this time I had written only 35,182 words (70%). That's right. I was behind schedule last year on the 22nd. (Though I suppose it's only fair to note that Nov. 22, 2007 was Thanksgiving.)

This year I will finish well before Thanksgiving! 50K by Monday night!

44051 / 50000 words. 88% done!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Happy Birthday, Rene Magritte!

Today is the anniversary of Rene Magritte's birth. Wish him a happy birthday by learning about his life and art, creating your own Magritte masterpiece, or reading Dinner at Magritte's by Michael Garland!

Dinner at Magritte's by Michael Garland

Dinner at Magritte’s, by Michael Garland, is a great introduction to Surrealism, Rene Magritte, and Salvador Dali.

Pierre lives in the country outside of Paris. He is very bored because there are no other children to play with. One day he goes to visit his neighbor, Rene Magritte, and the evening is anything but boring!

While Pierre watches Magritte paint, Magritte teaches him about how he paints and why he paints the things he does. Pierre, Magritte, and Salvador Dali play croquet, eat dinner, and play charades. Sounds like an ordinary evening but nothing the Surrealists do is ordinary.

In the illustrations, you’ll notice pieces from paintings by Magritte and Dali. Every ordinary activity is shown in surrealistic glory. At one point, Pierre races through the rain as cats and dogs fall from the sky all around him. Later, Salvador Dali joins them for dinner which features flying fish soup with real flying fish.

You’ll discover something new and surprising in the illustrations every time you read this book. And you’ll want to read it over and over.

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My Current NaNoWriMo Word Count:

39030 / 50000 words. 78% done!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Create Your Own Magritte Masterpiece

Yesterday you learned about the Surrealist painter, Rene Magritte. The project I’m sharing with you today was inspired by his painting, The Dominion of Light. In The Dominion of Light, Magritte painted night and day in the same painting. He thought that including both night and day in one scene would give the viewer a nice surprise. I think he was right!

Supplies Needed:

Two photos of the same scene taken in different light
Glue stick

The pictures I chose I shown below. I printed my pictures onto plain white copy paper instead of photo paper. It’s easier to work with the pictures this way and it’s less expensive.
Look at your pictures and decide which pieces you want to use. I knew I wanted the walkway in my picture but it was buried under snow in the nighttime picture. I also liked the way the tree truck from the nighttime photo fit together with the colorful leaves in the daytime photo.

When you have decided what to keep, cut out your pieces. I recommend keeping one photo complete and adding piece from the other photo on top of it. You do not have to cut straight lines, like I did. Let your imagination guide you.
Lay your pieces where you want them. When you’re happy with your picture, glue down your pieces.
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My Current NaNoWriMo Word Count:

37516 / 50000 words. 75% done!
Another slow day yesterday.
I hit a roadblock but I think I’ve
fixed the problem. The write-in
tonight should help.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Rene Magritte

Rene Magritte was a Surrealist painter who was born in Belgium in 1898. He wanted people to look at ordinary things in different ways. He sometimes painted objects in places were they didn’t usually belong, like in Time Transfixed in which a train is coming out of a fireplace. Other times, Magritte confused the foreground (the things at the front of the painting) with the background, like in Blank Signature, The Large Family, and The Seducer.

Magritte did not enjoy school, and he knew he wanted to paint, so he went to the Academie dex Beaux-Arts in Brussels to study art. During this time, he worked to find his own style. He tried cubism and futurism (which I have not yet posted about) but neither would become his style. Instead, he painted in the Surrealist style.

He got married in 1922 and designed wallpaper and posters in order to make enough money to live.

Magritte was not a huge success right away. In 1927 he had a one-man show that did very poorly. Critics did not like his artwork.

He moved to Paris to work with other Surrealists. After three years in Paris he disliked the other Surrealists so much that he moved back to Brussels and burned everything that reminded him the Surrealists. He continued to paint in the Surrealist style and as the Surrealists became more popular, so did Magritte.

He experimented with other styles during his life, including Impressionism and a style he called Vache which poked fun of Fauvism. Magritte, still unhappy about the time he spent in Paris, disliked the French and wanted to annoy them by making fun of their art. He returned to Surrealism at the end of his life.

Magritte died in 1967.

Magritte is well-known for including men in bowler hats in his paintings. He often wore a bowler hat himself and, though you usually can’t see the men’s faces, these paintings are commonly thought of as self-portraits.

I especially like Magritte’s paintings of paintings, like this one and this one.

I should also mention that he created several paintings that included a picture of an object and a sentence that the object wasn't what it seemed to be. For example, he painted a picture of a pipe and the words “Ceci n’est pas une pipe,” which means “This is not a pipe.” He wanted to point out that the names we give things are completely random. Why is a pipe called a pipe? Couldn’t it just as easily have been called a snoolo or a dorbling?

Tomorrow I’ll show you how to make your own Magritte-inspired masterpiece. (I promise. It’s already ready to go.)

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My Current NaNoWriMo Word Count:

36631 / 50000 words. 73% done!
Tuesday’s NaNoWriMo Word Count:

33784 / 50000 words. 68% done!
Monday’s NaNoWriMo Word Count:

32867 / 50000 words. 66% done!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Counting with Wayne Thiebaud

I posted about Wayne Thiebaud (Tee-Bow) and his tasty food paintings awhile back. I also recommended using the National Gallery of Art's website to teach fractions with Thiebaud's paintings. Today’s book, Counting with Wayne Thiebaud by Susan Goldman Rubin, brings Thiebaud’s art to an even younger audience: those just beginning to count.

This board book makes counting to ten enjoyable and delicious as kids count pieces of pie, ice-cream clowns, candied apples, hot dogs, and many more treats, illustrated with Thiebaud’s paintings.

If you liked Susan Goldman Rubin’s Andy Warhol’s Colors, you’ll like Counting with Wayne Thiebaud, too.

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My Current NaNoWriMo Word Count:

25149 / 50000 words. 50% done!
Past the halfway point a little ahead
of schedule!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Kevin Collier

We'll get back to the American Regionalists on Monday. Today I want to share a great website with you instead.

Kevin Collier, an author and illustrator of children's books, has begun a blog that teaches you how to draw. It's really fantastic. Every post is a video teaching you to draw something new. You can learn to draw a whale, a mouse, and several other animals and objects. I especially like the video about how to draw glass.

Also, check out the art from some of his books (here and here).

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My Current NaNoWriMo Word Count:

23038 / 50000 words. 46% done!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Grant Wood

Yesterday you learned about Regionalism. Grant Wood was a Realist painter who is most famous for his paintings of the American Midwest, like American Gothic.

Wood was born in 1891 in Iowa. His father was a farmer and his mother was a teacher. After high school, he moved to Minnesota to learn how to work with wood and metal.

The next year, Wood decided to become a teacher. He studied for his teaching certificate at the University of Iowa. He also studied architecture and he painted.

In 1916, Wood went to the Art Institute of Chicago to study art.

He never finished any of his studies, but in 1919 he earned his teaching credentials by teaching in a school in Iowa. He taught middle school and high school art for 6 years and traveled to Europe during the summers. During these trips, Wood studied many European artists. It was during his travels that Wood learned to paint the ordinary as something special.

Wood set up his own studio in Iowa and began painting scenes of the American Midwest. He taught art classes at his studio. He also supported other local artists, musicians, and actors. He even let a local acting group put on performances in his studio.

Wood left his studio and began teaching art at the University of Iowa. Even though Grant Wood was a famous and well-liked artist at the time, many other teachers at the University of Iowa were upset that he hadn’t finished his own college education.

Grant eventually left the University of Iowa. He found a new studio and painted until his death in 1942.

Check out the Iowa state quarter that came out in 2004. Though Grant Wood had been dead for 62 years when the quarter was released, Iowa decided to use one of his designs on the back.

If you want to click through a lot of Grant Wood's art, check out this site which includes 74 of his paintings Notice how they look just a little too simple to be real. It’s almost like a dream version of the American Midwest.

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My Current NaNoWriMo Word Count:

21334 / 50000 words. 43% done!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

American Regionalism

In the 1930s, during the Great Depression, many Americans had a difficult time making enough money live. A lot of people lost money when the stock market crashed and many people were fired from their jobs. At this time, people were not very hopeful about the future.

The Regionalist art movement came about at the end of the 1920s. Instead of painting the world as dark, dirty, and hopeless, Regionalists painted hopeful scenes of the American Midwest. The paintings often showed hard working people who were making it through the depression. They gave people hope that the future would be better.

In Europe, abstract art was becoming popular at this time. Regionalists painted more realistic paintings instead. However, Regionalists cared more that the objects in their paintings were easy to recognize than that their paintings looked exactly like what could be seen in real life.

Regionalism fell out of popularity in the mid-1940s.

In the next few days, I’ll post about some of the better known Regionalists, beginning tomorrow with Grant Wood.

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My Current NaNoWriMo Word Count:

20048 / 50000 words. 40% done!
It was a slow day, but a little
progress is better than no progress.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Create Your Own Shimmer Painting

This project is a lot of fun and the result is an eye-catching, shimmery masterpiece. You actually don’t need any paint to create this “painting.”

Supplies Needed:

Aluminum Foil
White Glue
Tissue Paper
Cover your workspace. Ask an adult to cut a piece of aluminum foil for you. Pour a little water into your cup and add about the same amount of glue. Mix the glue and water together. You don’t need a lot of this mixture.

Use your paintbrush to spread a little of the glue mixture across a section of your aluminum foil. Tear off a strip of tissue paper and lay it over the glue. Press it down with your fingers.

Continue to paint on the glue and add strips of tissue paper until you’re happy with your artwork.
Spread another thin layer of the glue mixture over the tissue paper. Sprinkle glitter onto the “painting.”

You may also choose to add sequins to your masterpiece. You’ll want to use glue rather than the glue mixture to stick on the sequins.

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My Current NaNoWriMo Word Count:

19246 / 50000 words. 38% done!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Look What I Did with a Leaf! by Morteza E. Sohi

Welcome to Fantastic Nonfiction Friday!

Last fall, when the leaves began to change colors, I posted about Lois Ehlert’s Leaf Man and I showed you how to create your own leaf man. I also showed you how to press leaves between wax paper and suggested a few ways to use those pressed leaves.

Today’s book teaches you how to make animals out of leaves. It does a much better job than I could ever do. I recommend it highly.

Morteza E. Sohi’s Look What I Did with a Leaf does more than just show you how to create an elephant, a peacock, a fox, a frog, a rooster, and many more animals using leaves. This book also teaches about the life cycle of a leaf and includes a field guide to many types of leaves that are found throughout the United States.

When learning about the life cycle of a leaf, what kid wouldn’t love taking a leaf walk and creating his or her own leaf animal?

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12073 / 50000 words. 24% done!
I didn't write a single word yesterday...
But I'm still ahead of schedule going
into the second weekend!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Create Your Own Marbled Paper

Yesterday you learned that many paper marblers add size to water to make the water thicker. This allows the paint to float on the top. Rather than floating paint on water, today you’ll paint on shaving cream to make your own marbled paper.

Supplies Needed:

Foam Shaving Cream
Paper plate
Cover your work space. Ask an adult to spray a layer of shaving cream onto the paper plate. You want about a half an inch thick layer of shaving cream. Use your cardboard to level the layer of shaving cream.
Choose which colors to use. I used Crayola Kids Paint. You can use any kind of paint you want, but I wouldn’t recommend watercolors.

Paint on top of the shaving cream. Try not to press your brush into the shaving cream. It’s not important that your painting look nice. Just make sure you’ve included all the colors you want on your marbled paper.
Use the handle of your paint brush to swirl the colors together. You’ll need to wipe off the brush handle a few times because the shaving cream clings to it. This will cause the colors to mix together and get muddy.
When you’re happy with your swirled colors, press a piece of paper onto the shaving cream. If you don’t press down hard enough, the paper won’t pick up the paint evenly. It will look like the paper at the top of this picture:
When you press your paper onto the shaving cream, shaving cream will stick to it (of course). Use the clean side of your cardboard to scrape the shaving cream off of the paper. The paint will remain.
You can make two good prints from the same painted shaving cream.

I made prints with copy paper, construction paper, and posterboard. The paint stuck well to all three types of paper.

If you want to make larger sheets of marbled paper, layer the shaving cream onto a cookie sheet instead of a paper plate.

Write a letter to a pen pal on your marbled paper, create your own journal using marbled paper, or hang your marbled paper on you wall.

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My Current NaNoWriMo Word Count:

10544 / 50000 words. 21% done!
I’m pretty pleased with this word count.
Last year it took me 7 days to reach
10,000 words.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day

Whoever your choice may be, don't forget to vote, or remind the adults in your life to vote!

Paper Marbling

Marbled paper is created by floating ink on water. The inks can be blown or combed into patterns. Then, a sheet of paper is laid on top of the water and the ink leaves patterns on the paper. Marbled paper is sometimes used in books and as stationery. Like fingerprints, each sheet of marbled paper is unique.

By the 1100s, the Japanese were creating marbled papers. They used black and blue ink to make patterns that looked like smoke. The Japanese were very careful when they dropped the ink onto the water. They didn’t use combs to move the ink around so they wanted to be sure to drop it where they wanted it. They then blew across the water to make the smoky patterns.

In the 1400s, people in Turkey and Persia began creating marbled papers of their own. Their style was a little different, though. Ink floated on top of water but the Turks and Persians wanted to use many colors in their marbled papers. They added something called size to the water to make it thicker. This meant that they could float paint on the water. They then used combs to create patterns in the paint.
The art of marbling spread through Europe. By the 1600s, artists were marbling paper in England, Holland, Italy, France, and Germany. Most books included marbled paper but the bookbinders didn’t know how to make it. The artists who created the paper wanted to keep their techniques secret so they could keep selling their papers.
Bookbinders in England needed a lot of the marbled paper and it was the least expensive to buy it from Holland. They didn’t want to pay taxes on the paper though, so the Dutch used the marbled paper to wrap toys before shipping them to England. The bookbinders then flattened out the creased wrapping paper to use in their books.

In 1856 a paper marbler named Charles Woolnough wrote a book about paper marbling. It told all the secrets that paper marblers had kept to themselves for hundreds of years. They were very angry with Woolnough, but there was nothing they could do. Their secret was out.

Tomorrow, I’ll show you how to make your own marbled paper.

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My Current NaNoWriMo Word Count:

8720 / 50000 words. 17% done!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Master the Art of Reading

NaNoWriMo began well. I'd hoped to be a lot farther along, word-count-wise, by now, but I'm pretty happy with my weekend. It may seem it from today's post, but I won't forget about you this month.

I wrote a post earlier today but I don't want to put it up. I'm a little uncomfortable writing about artists who are still living. Tomorrow's post will lead to a fun and simple project on Wednesday, though, so stay tuned.

I do have something pretty cool to share with you today. I was at my local library on Saturday and I noticed some new reading posters decorating the walls. There are twelve posters in all and each features a different famous work of art. The paintings have been changed so that they include books. There is the Mona Lisa, reading a book with a smile. There is Seurat's Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte with books scattered across the lawn. And the subject of Edward Munch's The Scream is reading what must be a horror novel, judging by his expression.

Check out set 1 and set 2. I'm thinking of ordering them...

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My Current NaNoWriMo Word Count:

6756 / 50000 words. 14% done!