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Sunday, December 9, 2018

The student art show

At the end of the semester we hang our annual juried student art show in the dining hall for one night only. I have the task of narrowing down to 25 works, something from my 72 students. Each of the four art teachers has 25 student works in a 100 work exhibition. I madly try to cut mattes for the chosen works late into the evening before the event.
When I shared pictures of this on social media I got a lot of love from fellow art teachers. They know the routine! We turn a sows ear into a silk purse and we make timid artists feel grand.
The music and the English department collaborated so we have a variety of performances and poetry readings through out the evening.

The work is hung on temporary walls transforming the usually busy cafeteria into a gallery.


I really am proud of the department and have total respect for my colleagues. They are passionate professionals and we work very well together. It has been a great year so far.



Gellatly, guest judge, with the art department
Here closes the books on another semester. Time sure does fly!

Class act

This has been a week of many, many, art shows... before I forget, even a mini one of my own.
I  was pleased to exhibit a sampling of my teacher portraits last Tuesday night.
Sold one too! (thank you Jay!)
Added charcoal portrait of Jose, a maintenance staff genius at work

Raul liked his colors

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Inspiring teachers

 The Science teachers at the school where I work bring their passion to life in the service of education. I am painting a few of them as a "class act" series. These works are all acrylic on found papers, done in a day or two. There is more... but here is Mr. Moore!
Mr. Moore really should have a TV channel. If only every teacher were as inspiring. He has the constant rapt attention of his pupils. Everyday it is safe to say that he rocks their world in the garden, the kitchen and the lab. He is a magician,... miraculous and marvelous.
Mr. Moore and the middle school garden

Dr Nagel has to share classrooms so I most often see her in the hallways or paths between rooms with her arms full of petri dishes and a microscope. Her love of being outdoors is the inspiration of our new school tree map. When I first arrived, eight years ago, she gave me a tour of the grounds and the names of several iconic new trees entered my vocabulary, such as the Bismark, the Buttonwood, and the Gumbo limbo/Tourist tree.
Dr. Nagel between classes and worlds

Dr. Llinas at the coral tank
Dr. Llinas is the one who nudges the school to higher levels of environmental stewardship. He has us cleaning beaches, composting in the dining hall and even recycling our dry erase markers, and truly...way more initiatives are to his credit than I could list here. His coral lab has half a dozen tanks bubbling with marine life. I often go there with antsy art students to calm them down... and inspire them.
The other Science teachers are just as crazy great. One brings her dog to work and has a room filled with medical illustrations drawn by students. She teaches us yoga after school in there. Another science teacher brings his giant tortoise for my students to draw, (i.e.:live action drawing), and he tags snakes found in the courtyard. He built a butterfly garden and once he and his students released a rehabilitated falcon on our football field. 

These teachers make my working day pretty supurb.
#100favFloridathings  #MyColleagues

Saturday, November 24, 2018

I ask my students to be curioius and kind


Four or five times a day I hear students call out, “Ms. Strauss, How do I make skin color?” 
I have to patiently ask them to look again, look harder, and be more descriptive… What color they are looking for? Then, I must convince them that they will need at least 4 or 5 variations of the pigment to do the form justice…. Flesh tones are the hardest to match and they vary under different artificial and natural lighting options. My students should cultivate a curious attitude when studying skin.
It is hard for them to believe that I don’t have the hues pre-packaged like everything else in their lives. It seems like only yesterday, during the civil rights movement, that Crayola changed their “flesh” colored crayon’s name to “peach”. When did they remove their “Indian red” crayon from the market? No. Now we have to work more and look harder.
We can be afraid of what we do not know and that goes for mixing skin tones as well as for welcoming peoples from different regions of the world with varying pigments in their skin tone.
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Friday, November 23, 2018

Still Time for a Holiday Pet Portrait!

I started 2018,"The year of the Dog", painting peoples pets. It is a lot of fun and I am always game to do more. I am pretty fast and charge about $2 per square inch- working small. Let me know what you want and send me a couple pictures to work from.
Here is one just finished. Between the time the commission was proposed and the time I delivered, the big black cat had passed away and a new kitten had arrived in his place. I thought this caught them both.
see the brush for scale


Put inspiration on your shopping list

If you are out on a BLACK Friday shopping spree, think of this awesome gift idea.

When I was young, like 5 or 6,  my mother filled a gift box full of office supplies and that gift kept my sister and occupied for months. Then she went to Filene's basement and filled a box with hats. We played with those hats until they tore apart. My sister went on to perform on the stage and I created small galleries in the neighborhood. We were able to play and express ourselves with quality materials. The boxes still stand out, decades later, as the best gifts I ever got. They implied imagination and provoked a creative investigation that continues to fill my days with wonder today! Get art supplies, office supplies, hats and shoes from goodwill, hardware from the hardware store, or anything that serves as an ingredient and not the whole kit. Too many gifts are closed end projects. Give the gift of inspiration! It is perfect for almost anyone.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

A Gratitude Attitude

I am very grateful for the things and people I have in my life right now. When I take the time to list them, I shift my naturally pessimistic mind to a more grateful outlook.
letterpress
Having gratitude in your heart makes you feel better about life. It is an amazing practice. I have used it through divorce, raising teenagers, moving to a new city and more challenging times I can think of. It really works. If today everyone practices gratitude, we will shift the planet towards peace. I believe it. What are you thankful for?