Tag Archive | paint

Tingles!

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No matter what holiday you are celebrating this time of year, it probably involves gifts, lovingly selected and purchased, or homemade.  Personally, I don’t think it so much matters what a person receives. Truly, it is being remembered, and in many cases, appreciated. I received many of those types of gifts from children and families this past week. I love every single gift, either homemade or purchased. I really enjoyed the kind notes and seasonal greetings. Holiday cards featuring photos of the children are especially delightful! I’m looking forward to writing out thank you notes and passing on my own thoughts of gratefulness and New Year greetings in return. 

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As I opened the gifts and admired each one and noted the particulars in a special Christmas notebook I keep, one card that featured dictation from a child created an unexpected stir in my soul. First of all, I appreciate that this child’s mother took the time to record her little girl’s personal and meaningful message. The content was an unexpected gift. Before I reveal Isla’s message, I need to share some backstory. 

Several weeks ago, the children and I mixed up a special palette featuring paints that would represent the colors of the monarch caterpillar and butterfly. While the children used the monarch palette to create pictures of the monarch caterpillar and its metamorphosis, the paints were used to create pictures featuring other subjects, which was just fine.

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At one point, I was looking for new inspiration to create an entirely new palette to add to our existing tray of colors when another teacher and I noticed a consistent theme in one of our artist’s paintings: dragons. Shazam! Here was the inspiration I was looking for.

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With Asa the dragon painter as our lead and using paint chips from Home Depot, we created a new palette that could be used in painting dragons and other beasts, mythical or real. Asa’s personal contribution was “smoke blue.”

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Now artists had a choice in creating their own palette from our monarch or dragon palettes.

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Now I want to share the rest of the story. Isla loves to paint at the easel in our Outdoor Atelier, which she does just about each and every day that she is in school. Her paintings fill the page, are full of detail and usually are accompanied by very creative stories.

So it was no great surprise that her holiday note mentioned her appreciation of painting. Or, that she said “I like your house,” perhaps meaning the art cottage or even the pepper tree, since she wrote a story about how I sleep and eat in the tree. (Another wonderful gift, a story dictated to another teacher featuring my nights spent in The Garden Classroom.) 

But the most delightful point made in her note was, “I want you to teach me how to make dragonfly colors.” This took my breath away. I loved that she seemed to be acknowledging the presence of our monarch and dragon colors. Not only that, she made a personal request and reveled her own knowledge about other possibilities. Tingles!

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I will be perfectly frank, and admit I am very thankful and relieved that I will be having a two week break/vacation. But at the same time…I am very excited about getting back to school and meeting with Isla. I will be armed with questions about dragonflies and my supply of paint chips.

Wishing all of you, a very happy and healthy 2014!

With Joy,

 Francie 

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Fall is Here! Or is it?

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After spending my childhood in San Diego and a few other mild climates, I spent three years in the Midwest and discovered and truly experienced the four seasons. It was during this time living in the tri-state area of Iowa, Illinois, and Wisconsin that I fell in love with the beauty of autumn.  (Winter: not so much.) 

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I came back to Southern California, first to Los Angeles where my husband attended graduate school and finally back to San Diego in 1981. I remember how dismayed I was by the annual presence of the Santa Ana winds and the accompanied fire threats. While living in the Midwest, during the same period, the air would be chilling and the leaves turning beautiful colors. It made sense that all the stores were filled with clothing featuring layers and wool. Trips to the pumpkin patch involved REAL pumpkin patches on farms out in the country. Celebrating fall in Southern California seemed so artificial and out of touch to me. 

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The traditional approach to teaching in the 1980’s and early 90’s when I returned to the classroom involved using “themes” so our topics would be “apples” and “fall leaves” in September and October. It didn’t make sense to me, so I didn’t do it. I do remember taking a class on a field trip to San Clemente Canyon off 52 where giant, native sycamores grow and drop their dry, yellow and brown leaves starting in November. It was a genuine fall experience that filled our senses with sound, texture and smell.

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Since those days, I have learned to appreciate that Southern California does experience a change of season that goes beyond the threat of wildfires. Although much more subtle than what I experienced in the Midwest, the climate does cool and changes can be observed.

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One simple observation may be a new phenomenon not available when I was growing up. Just like the jacaranda trees (whose purple flowers herald spring) liquid amber trees have been planted everywhere and we can all witness the change of seasons throughout the year. We at Hanna are so lucky to have a small grove available right on our block! If you take a close peek, you will see some leaves where the edges are turning a reddish brown and others have turned a beautiful yellow. Each day as I walk by, I pick up the yellow leaves that have dropped on the ground. Even the leaves on our very own grape vine found along the fence separating the lower and Garden Classroom are changing colors due to the shortened hours of each day.

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These leaves, along with some small pumpkins, and a pomegranate that I received as a gift served as the inspiration for our “fall pallet” that was mixed by the children.  Besides being a tangible concept of autumn, the beautiful jewel tones of the paints is another way for the children to connect with nature and appreciate all the earth has to offer.

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Yes, we can all take the drive to our local mountains to pick some apples or gather acorns (which I do!) but I like looking for the small signs in the trees or even in our own backyards, where the tomato plants are starting to wither (this is one great advantage of living in San Diego) and a new crop of “winter vegetables” can be planted.

Meanwhile, I have to go outside and water, Santa Ana winds are coming. Sigh…