A Dead Flat Frog.

There will be no photos directly relating to the title of this post.

You’re welcome.

:-)

My Mom and I have started walking in the mornings again. This is the time of year when we always start walking, and we make a valiant effort until it gets Really Hot. And then we quit walking until there’s a chill in the air. But this year, we have a couple extra ladies in the Clarksville Walking Committee, so I’m hoping we stick it out a bit longer due to the incentive of extra company!

Not meaning to be gory or anything, but the other day, while walking on the gravel road, I noticed a Dead Flat Frog. Whenever I see one, it is absolutely necessary to point it out and mention that there is a Dead Flat Frog, thanks to a little girl I met about twenty years ago. Many moons ago, I volunteered to teach a 4-H Cloverbuds group during our homeschool support group meetings, and found myself trying to round up and contain a small mob of five through seven year-olds in about a 10′ x 10′ space at the end of a hallway. It was rather challenging. I found that the best thing to do was arrange everybody in a circle, which was about two kids deep in most places. (It got a little complicated when we had to color or draw.) And in that circle, EVERY SINGLE CHILD had something they wanted to tell me before we got started with our lesson. It was quite interesting, actually, and sometimes we even had a few minutes left at the end to do some 4-H stuff!

:-)

At one Cloverbud meeting, five year-old Meagan, who was (and most likely still is)
full of energy and excitement, could not wait to tell me what was new with her that week…

“Miss Kim! Miss Kim! Miss Kim! I saw a DEAD FLAT FROG!”

Evidently, a poor amphibian had met its demise in her
driveway,and with the help of moving vehicles and the
warmth of the sun, had become a Dead Flat Frog.

I wasn’t quite sure how to show the proper amount of excitement about Meagan’s discovery, but one thing I knew… She had been spending enough time out-of-doors to be observant of nature. She had time to poke around, look for rocks, ponder insects, get her hands and knees dirty, and discover the Dead Flat Frog. And that’s important for kids. Probably for us grown-ups too. 19th century educator Charlotte Mason wrote much about the importance of time out-of-doors, where children can experience nature first hand, and she encouraged families to do this on a daily basis, and then to grab a journal and draw what they saw or jot down notes about the day’s expedition.

So… as you look forward to the lazy days of Summer, plan to go outside…

Herbs

… Get up close and personal with nature…

Bug

… Spend some quiet moments with your sketchbook…

Draw

… And take a bit of nature back with you for later…

Journal

… Just maybe not any Dead Flat Frogs.

January Journaling…

Hello Folks! I just realized that we’ve come to the end of January! Boy, did this month really fly! Even though this has been a busy month, the new year has actually gotten off to a good start, and I feel like I might be catching up on some things around here. The Christmas decorations are all packed away in new matching clear plastic bins (Hooray for the new Dollar General just down the road from us!), ten year’s worth of reenacting clothing from various centuries has been washed, ironed, and folded, and the utility closet has been thoroughly cleaned. I’ve even had a chance to work some more on this year’s art journal. Here’s a peek into the “January” pages…

JanuaryJournal

I used one of the Bare Books for this year’s journal, divvied up the pages to about 4 per month, and added some tabs so I could easily find my place throughout the year. I’m not sure how the tabs will hold up over an entire year, but they are a fun addition! (Thanks, Martha!)

The tree sketch was a simple line drawing exercise… The crabapple is my favorite tree in our yard, and I think it’s been here since our first year in our home. I wanted to capture the movement of the twisty, tangly trunk in simple lines for this first sketch, instead of being super detailed about it. These pages  also include a quote, and a poem, and a prosy little bit about the snow we’ve had this month. For more January journaling ideas, follow this link… Or for February, head here instead! Or, for all the art journaling posts, scroll down and click on the “Art Journaling” category in the sidebar!

Something I noticed from my original January Journaling page… the Doodle of the Month for January  was “Snowflakes.” And I doodled snowflakes all over that page. But all those snowflakes had a major flaw. Silly me… Snowflakes have 6 sides, not 8! They really should look more like this…

JanuaryJournal - Version 2

I drew the mittens from “out of my head.” Don’t you just love mittens strung together? I was *ahem* 20 years old before I knew WHY mittens came on strings. Here in Delaware, where snow is not usually a huge part of our winter, we snipped those strings as soon as a new pair of mittens came home from the store. I honestly thought it was part of how they were packaged. Then I got married, moved to upstate New York with my new Hubby, and got a job working at a nursery school. And guess what? There’s a reason for those strings, and I think preschool teachers in snowy regions must be the most appreciative people in the world FOR those mitten strings! All the little children in that school kept their mittens strung through the two arms of their coats, so when they put on their coat the mittens were dangling from the sleeves, just waiting for their little hands! No missing mittens! No wondering whose mittens were whose! Amazing!

I tried to get a little bit of shading and texture on the mittens…
…maybe you can see it if I crop the photo…

JanuaryJournal - Version 3

I tried to think of the mitten as a “round-ish” object, and darkened the color around the edges to give it a bit of depth. And then took a good look at a knitted sweater to see what the texture looked like… Knitting sort of looks like little “V’s,” so I used a darker blue colored pencil and made a bunch of rows of V’s, sort of following the contour of the mitten. It took less time than I thought it would to add that little bit of texture. And I think it made the mittens look just a little  bit warmer.

:-)

Something else I’m doing with my art journal this year is adding in little thoughts about habits I’d like to establish or goals I’d like to accomplish. I do have a “written” journal where all that daily stuff gets recorded, but sometimes things get lost in there amongst all the wordage, so tucking goals in my art journal makes them stand out a little more. The little boxes with “#2″ and “#3″ written in them are actually mini summaries of a really great blog series I recently discovered… Click on the picture below to visit Daniele’s 52 Ways for More Serenity in Life and HomeShe’s adding a new tip each Monday, and they’ve been a great encouragement to me so far this year! Go visit if you get a chance! (Daniele writes much more graciously to her readers than I do to myself… I need some “tough love!”) :-D

JanuaryJournal - Version 5

How about you? Anybody doing some Art Journaling?

We’d LOVE to see it!

Merry Early Christmas… Or Late?

Hello folks! I was hoping to get the December Art Journaling page up early this month, but due to computer issues, I haven’t been able to scan things from home. So… here is my early Christmas present to the families that are using the art journaling pages! (Though I wish it could have been much earlier!) Enjoy!

DecemberJournalPage

Only two more months missing…
…Hoping to get them up soon!

Thanks for being so patient!

To Hurry or Not to Hurry…

I received an e-mail that I’ve been getting every Friday for quite a few months. It’s an e-mail I’ve thought about responding to, but never quite pulled myself together enough to sit still and work on it. Every week, Illustration Friday sends out an e-mail with a topic to illustrate in whatever medium you choose. It sounded like a really neat exercise to do… right there next to “Daily Painting”… so I signed up for the e-mails. And every week I’ve read the e-mail, thought about how it could be illustrated, and promptly filed those thoughts in the back of my head. But not this past Friday. I think I was still dealing with jet lag, and sitting still to doodle was pure therapy. My next-to-last math lesson is late, but I got the sketch finished. And even before they sent out the next topic! This week’s Illustration Friday topic is “Hurry!” and it is based on the quote…

All things will be clear and distinct to the man who
does not hurry; haste is blind and improvident.

~ Titus Livius ~

The quote is the antithesis to the topic, so I figured that I could go either way… To Hurry or Not to Hurry… if I claimed artistic liberty. So I pulled out an older papercutting design of mine and turned it into an ink & wash sketch… I’m going to try to link it in their “Pen and Ink” category.

Be still and know that I am God.
Psalm 46:10

Traditionally, Ink & Wash sketches are done with India ink, water, brushes, and dip pens with a variety of nibs. It can be a little messy, and take a little time…

But I tried out some new materials with this sketch…

One of my favorite new materials to use (at least new to me) is General’s Sketch & Wash pencil. It’s a graphite pencil with a nice charcoal gray line, but with just a dab of water, the lines can become an ink wash! It’s super portable, much less messy than India Ink, and if you’re sketching out and about, you can wait until you get home to add the water! This is a GREAT material for nature-sketching kids!

And my brand-new absolute favorite art supply is the Micro Pigma BRUSH pen! I’ve used the Micron Pigma pens for years in place of technical pens that have to be carefully cleaned and maintained, but had never tried out their Brush pen. I bought one recently, and it’s incredibly awesome. The point is extremely fine, but with a smidge of pressure, you can vary the width of the stroke…

Very cool. It helps me work a bit looser and heavier, since I tend to lean toward very fine, precise lines. And “loose and heavy” definitely helps in the therapy area for uptight artists. Waaay more relaxing. The Micro Pigma BRUSH would be a good material for older kids to use… they run around $3 a pen, so share them with kids old enough to understand not to put too much pressure on the brush/nib. I think it might squash easily under the control of a heavy-handed six year-old. I’d definitely recommend it for the “Twelve and Above” crowd, unless you have a very careful younger artist.

Happy Sketching!

In other news: Our oldest daughter Jordan is blogging about our California trip, and our young friend Kati did a post on our youngest daughter Kate’s Etsy Shop! If you get a chance, go check them out! You might even win something!

November Art Journaling Ideas…

Three years ago (Really, has it been that long ago?) I started posting Art Journaling Ideas every month, and somewhere around mid-year, life must have gotten a bit crazy, because the last one I posted was June’s! A few weeks ago, those old posts were resurrected on Pinterest, and we’ve had quite a few e-mails asking where the other half of the year was! I pulled out the file, and found that November still needed some work, so on our way to church and back I finished it up, and it’s ready to post…

We actually started the art journaling project back in the late 1990’s, and the children of several online friends tested out the journal ideas and sent me their drawings! I was originally going to organize all these into a book… and still may someday put it together into an easily downloadable ebook… but for the time being, you can find all the art journaling posts HERE or by clicking on the “Art Journaling” category on the right sidebar!

I could only find one submission for November…

~ Joseph C., Age 7 ~

(Joseph’s probably married by now!)

Below are the September and October Journal Pages…
…July and August need a LOT of work, so hopefully next summer!

December is coming soon!

Here’s September’s page…

And October’s…

P.S. You know how I’m always saying
“Practice, Practice, Practice”
when it comes to drawing?

Look at the difference between my November drawings
(done today)
and my September and October drawings.
(done over ten years ago!)

Draw lines, young man, many lines;
from memory or from nature -
it is in this way you will become a good artist.
~ Jean Auguste Ingres, to the young Edgar Degas ~ 

June Journal Ideas!

With only three days to go in June, I’m FINALLY getting this month’s art journaling page up! Forgive the tardiness… this is definitely going to be a long-term project, as I’ve not had much time to devote to adding extra art journaling commentary! (And I’m running into a few of the old monthly pages that weren’t completely finished, so adding drawings and ideas is necessary before posting!)

One idea mentioned below that we did quite often throughout our years of homeschooling was making small journals for special activities. Believe it or not, having a small journal to use for just a week at camp or for the summer only makes a big difference in your attitude toward journaling! Our girls had art journals that they worked in over long periods of time, but over time, pulling out those journals can become monotonous. Having something new to work in can be fun, but you can also vary the type of entries. Some ideas that are interesting “breaks” from the norm:

Reading Response Journal (Be Laura Ingalls as you read your way through the Big Woods)

Nature Journaling (While on a hike, record your observations of flora and fauna)

Historical Journal (Keep a journal specifically for living history activities… Write in first person!)

Science Journal (Record details about experiments during a science unit study)

Camp or Trip Journal (Write each day about where you’ve been, and what you’ve seen)

Field Trip Journal (Keep a special journal just for writing about field trips)

You get the idea! The main thought behind this is to keep it small if it’s a short-term journal. It’s easy to carry with you, not intimidating, and easier to stay focused on a specific type of writing or artwork. We used to make our little journals by folding paper in half and stapling on a construction paper cover, but the opportunities are endless now… check out the scrapbooking section of your craft store for ready-made tiny journals!

And here’s June’s Idea Page!

A Time to Plant…

Yesterday, Mom & I made our first trip to the greenhouses. Well, actually Mom beat me to it by a couple of visits, but it was my first official trip of the season. We went to two local nurseries, and this was what I came home with…

Now to get it potted and looking pretty! I’ll be so glad to see something living at my back door! It’s always nice to get the entry ways looking welcoming. That’s one of my most difficult homemaking tasks, since for some reason I’m just not an “outdoors” person. I like the outdoors… but I’m perfectly happy puttering around inside and sometimes forget to even poke my head out all day long!

Amazingly enough, it is still just the first week of May, and I’ve got the May Journaling Ideas page all ready to post… so without further ado…

 


April Showers…

I think it’s supposed to rain again today. I keep reminding myself that “April showers bring May flowers.” We’ve had quite the dreary beginning to this month! However, yesterday the Crab Apple began to show some blooms, and today it’s nearly completely opened. I took a picture, just in case the predicted storms later today knock them off. We call the Crab Apple tree “Dad’s Topiary,” because of the trim job he gave it a couple of years back. It was very bushy, and difficult to mow around, so one day we girls came home to a beautiful Crab Apple Topiary. It was a bit of a shock initially, but I love how the new trim job showed off the twisted trunk! (Dad also made a topiary out of Jo’s pine tree next to the garden, and that tree STILL looks rather interesting!)

The Crab Apple tree has just the perfect setting… right in a little nook in front of the barn. For years it served not only for decoration, but for goat containment. The door just to the left leads into the goat shed, and as a few of you know, we used to have four goats. (Only April, our noisy little alarm clock goat is still with us.) And as some of you may know, goats are good at escaping. They even sometimes escaped, and then let the horse prisoners that lived next door out as well. However, we foiled them with the Crab Apple tree. As soon as they would sneak out of the barn door, the four of them would spy the Crab Apple and forget all about the wonders of the great beyond. They would eat themselves sick, and we could walk right up and get them one by one and put them back behind bars. Very convenient. My only issue with the Crab Apple, is that it’s a flowering Crab Apple, and the fruits are tiny… maybe cherry size? I’d really like to get an old-fashioned Crab Apple, with actual Crab Apple sized fruits so we can make Crab Apple Jelly.

And now, with no furthur ado, here are April’s Art Journaling Ideas! It’s not quite the middle of the month, so I’m not too late!