Saturday, March 31, 2012

Ali Croc in the Swamp - Toddler Art Project

I often feel like a coloring page is an incomplete activity to offer little ones, so I try to embellish them with something - like adding craft sticks for skis, or cotton balls for bunny tails. This one is along those lines. It is also a good project for a mixed age group as older kids can do most of the prep on their own.

Ali Croc in the Swamp

Age: 18 Months - 10 Years (younger ones need more prep & supervision)

Time: 10 min (+ Prep)

Theme: Alligators & Crocodiles

Books: An Extraordinary Egg by Leo Lionni, Lyle, Lyle Crocodile by Bernard Waber, Mama Don’t Allow by Thatcher Herd, If You Are Happy & You Know It Jungle Edition by James Warhola

Green (or white) construction paper
Copy paper and printer
Crayons/Colored Pencils/Markers
Adults / Big Kids get to use Scissors & Pinking Sheers

Prep: Make Ali Crocs (or just a sample/template if you are working with bigger kids – they can trace and cut their own): Fold your construction paper in quarters long way like an M. Make a light outline using the folded edge as the creatures back. (If you position your sketch to the edges 1 sheet will yield 4 Ali Crocs.) You can free hand your Ali Croc or if you search “Fold Up Animals” you can find a template. Cut out the creature – use pinking sheers for the mouth to make a toothy grin!

Find and print a swampy home to color. I found ours at

Activity: Each child gets an Ali Croc, a swamp and crayons/pencils/markers. Color the creature and color his home.  Add some friends in the pond. Take him for a swim. Have fun!

Notes/Tips: If you just ‘print’ a page from a website it will have the web address at the bottom, but if you right click and copy the picture then paste it into a Word Document then print that it won’t. You can also resize pictures this way.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

My New Hat - Toddler Art Project

My New Hat

Age: 18 Months - 5 Years (younger ones need more supervision)

Time: 10 min (+ Prep)

Theme: Hats

Books: 12 Hats for Lena by Karen Katz, Jennie’s Hat by Ezra Jack Keats

Big Paper (12 x 18)
Card Stock Weight Paper
Crayons / Markers / Colored Pencils
Adults get to use Scissors and a Stapler

Prep: Cut the Card Stock into pieces about 4” x 6” (for the front of the hat). They can be left rectangular or shaped along the top similar to the front of a tiara or crown. Cut the ‘big’ paper into long strips 2-1/2” wide.  

Activity: Each child gets a pre-cut ‘front’ for their hat and crayons / Markers / Colored Pencils. Make it colorful. Add shapes, letters, trace hands; there is no wrong way to decorate it! When you are done, put your drawing tools away and have an adult help put it together.

Adult Assembly: Measure the 2-1/2” wide paper to the child’s head. It will NOT be long enough – but do not panic! The ‘gap’ is made up by the piece that the kids have colored. Staple them together to create a ring that can be worn.

Notes/Tips: Staple so that the tines of the staple point out so that little foreheads don’t get scratched. If you forget and do them the other way, cover the tines with a small piece of masking tape. Large index cards are an easy pre-cut alternative to cardstock in this project. Pinking sheers are a simple way to make paper look fancy. This project can be made ‘big kid friendly’ by adding ‘big kid supplies’ such as ribbon, feathers, stickers, beads, etc.  

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Today She Turns 2!

The Birthday Girl
I am in awe! So much happens in the the first two years...
Just look how she has grown!

1st Photo Ever (thanks Erin!)

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Ephemerality - Starring my NJ Mermaid!!!!

Mr. All-In-Time (aka my Sweet Sig-Other) has been composing again, and for his newest piece Ephemerality he decided to use photos of the mermaid I carved in the sand in the accompanying video.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Letters to a Home Town "A Pie for Pi Day" (with a recipe for Maple Apple Pie)

It was recently noted that I had not yet shared any recipes on my blog, so I went in search of a Maple one in honor of the season. What I found was this Letter from almost exactly 2 years ago - A pie for Pi day!

A Pie for Pi Day

  I didn’t even know it was a holiday until a few years ago. Unless you are a bit of a nerd, there is a good chance that you have overlooked it too; March 14th is Pi Day (aka π Day).
            For those who could use a refresher, Pi is a mathematical (and physical) constant representative of the ratio of the circumference to the diameter of a circle. Numerically it is equal to 3.14159265358979323846……. For most math, science and engineering calculations, 3.14159 is close enough. For purposes of celebration, 3.14 or March 14th is perfect! (A bonus: It also happens to be Einstein’s birthday.)
So what does one do in celebration of Pi Day? Well, make and eat pies of course! Pies come in all kinds: cherry, rhubarb, mincemeat, pecan, shepherd’s, key lime, peach, and don’t forget pizza pie! Everyone has a favorite.
Our current household favorite is a Maple Apple Pie. A concoction inspired by a late night pregnancy craving, this pie is a conglomeration of multiple recipes referenced but not followed.
In honor of the Pi day just passed, and maple sugaring season in full swing, here is an approximation of how it is made, (editorial comments included).
Maple Apple Pie (9”)
1 stick Butter
¼ c Maple Syrup
1-1/4 c Flour
Mix it all up, make it into a ball and set in a cool place.
(I have heard that if you are partial to a flaky crust then the butter should still be hard. I let the butter get soft because I don’t have an electric mixer it makes my life easier.)
5 or 6 Medium sized Apples (I am partial to Macintosh)
1/4c Maple Syrup
½ tsp Vanilla
1 tsp Cinnamon (if you’re like me and aren’t very good at shaking an even coating - mix with 1 tsp Sugar)
Peel and slice the apples and put them in a big bowl. (Keep in mind that how many you need is directly proportional to how many slices eaten as you cut.)  Mix together Maple Syrup and Vanilla pour it over the apples. Toss it all around until apples are completely coated. Set aside and pull out the ball ‘o crust.
 Roll out ½ the dough for the bottom crust and put it a 9” pie pan. (Stir the apples and syrup again any time you think of it)  Dump about half of the apples into the crust, dust with a light coating of cinnamon (and sugar), then add the rest of the apples and dust them with the remaining cinnamon. Roll out the rest of the dough and make a top crust (I make lattice crusts because solid ones always rip when I try to put them on – and because lattice crusts look cool). Bake at 350˚ for about 25 min. (until the crust turns golden).
Happy belated Pi Day!   
            I hope this letter has found you and yours in good spirits and good health. Until I write again…

Hidden in a Field of Green (card) - Toddler Art Project

Hidden in a Field of Green

Age: 18 Months - 5 Years (younger ones need more supervision)

Time: 10 min (+ Prep)

Theme: St Patrick’s Day, Imaginary Friends, Lucky Clovers

Books: Good Luck Bear by Greg Foley, Nobody by Liz Rosenberg  

Assorted green paper
Copy paper and printer
Crayons/Colored Pencils/Markers
Glue Sticks
Adults get to use Scissors 

Prep: Cut out lots of green hearts 1” or smaller. Find a fairy or leprechaun image to use as your imaginary friend. I choose this one Instead of just printing out the page, copy the image and paste it into a word document. To make a card change the page orientation to landscape, resize and position the image in the lower right corner – then just fold the printed sheet.

Activity: Each child gets a printed card and crayons/pencils/markers. Make it colorful! When done, trade the coloring tools for a glue stick and lots of green hearts. Help the fairy (leprechaun) hide in a field of green. Make shamrocks by pointing 3 hearts together and lucky ones with 4!

Notes/Tips: In Word, if you format the picture as ‘Behind Text’ it will allow you to move it freely around the page. Heavier paper makes a sturdier card – but be aware of your printer capabilities.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Owl Love You ('Til the End of Time) - Toddler Art Project

Owl Love You (‘Til the End of Time)

Age: 18 Months - 5 Years (younger ones need more supervision)

Time: 10 - 15 min (+ Prep)

Theme: Owls

Books: Owl Babies by Martin Waddell, The Odd Egg by Emily Gravett, Owl Moon by Jane Yolen

Construction Paper
Toilet Paper Tube(s)
Glue Sticks
Reinforcement Labels (little donut shaped stickers used to reinforce pages in ring binders)
Adults get to use Scissors or Pinking Sheers

Prep: From assorted color construction paper cut a wing pair (fold paper then cut a 2” leaf shape leaving the fold side intact), a chest plate (1” loosely shaped triangle) and a beak (>1/2” triangle).

Activity: Each child gets pre-cut wings, chest plate, beak, (2) reinforcement labels, a glue stick and a TP tube. To make the owl’s horns (adult or big kid with guidance) gently press the top of the TP roll in and down so that the side ‘folds’, rotate and push the other side in too. Glue the wings, chest plate and beak into place. Add the labels for eyes. Take your owl out for a test flight!

Notes/Tips: If working with older kids, you can give this project a ‘big kid flair’ by covering the tubes with decorative paper cut to about 4-1/2 x 7 (different brands have slightly different sized tubes). Reinforcement Labels can be found at most office supply stores. I find them to be a great substitute for googly-eyes which can be a choking hazard with very young tots. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A Good Day in the Sun

First you feed the chickens...

Then you be a chicken...

And when you are done it will have been a good day in the sun!

Monday, March 12, 2012

I Spy Window Art - Toddler Art Project

I Spy Window Art

Age: 18 Months - 5 Years (younger ones need more supervision)

Time: 15-20 min (+ Prep)

Theme: Open

Books: Any of the I Spy series

Contact Paper (sticky clear stuff)
Transparency Paper
Assorted scraps of paper, yarn, tissue, sequins, spangles, foam pieces, etc
Adults get to use Colored Masking Tape and Scissors 

Prep: Cut (1) piece of contact paper per child slightly larger than the sheet of transparency paper (so if 8-1/2 x 11 then 9 x 12 etc). Remove the paper backing. Using tabs of masking tape, secure the contact paper to the table sticky side up.

Activity: Each child gets to decorate the contact paper, covering it with items of their choosing. When they are finished, an adult can assist with placing the transparency paper over their design to seal it in.

Finishing: (Can be done by just an adult or older kids can help) Trim the excess contact paper so that it is flush with the transparency. ‘Edge’ the entire design with colored masking tape folded over the sides. This will both create a frame and further secure the items inside.

Notes/Tips: It is a lot easier if you can set this project up in advance of the kids coming to the work space. Choose age appropriate items to go inside (no spangles for the wee ones). Distributing the little items on a paper plate will save on a ton of clean-up!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Doodling with Van Gogh

I do this thing that we jokingly call 'Karartke' where I embellish a classic - In this case a Van Gogh, with a character of my own. I have done art activities similar to this with middle school age kids with wonderful results. I don't have documentation of any of them though - just my own.

The Rabbit...

She gazed into the silk lined trunk then turned to me with a perplexed look. “I understand the rabbit, and the top hat,” she said, “but why the shoe horn?”
I hesitated. The rabbit had come from the back shelf of a second hand store, grumpy, old and stuck in his ways. I had repeatedly attempted to bribe him with treats in an effort to gain his cooperation. Instead of raising his spirits and gaining his favor, my actions had yielded only an irritable, uncooperative, and grossly obese rabbit. The shoe horn was the only way I’d found to get him in and out of the hat.
“Magicians wear tight shoes.” I stated.
“Oh.” She replied with a nod, and clicked the latches of the trunk closed.

Cloudy Day Fun - Toddler Art Project

We did this project at the library today. It is so exciting to see them make the connection between the stories and the art!

Cloudy Day Fun

Age: 18 Months - 5 Years (younger ones need more supervision)

Time: 10 min (+ Prep)

Theme: Clouds

Books: It Looked Like Spilt Milk by Charles G Shaw, The Police Cloud by Christoph Niemann

Copy Paper
Crepe Paper Streamers
Glue Stick(s)
Adults get to use Scissors and a Hole Punch

Prep: Folding an 8-1/2 x 11 paper in half then cut out a cloud shape. Be sure to leave a little of the folded edge intact (see pic). Cut streamer pieces 6” – 12” long (3+ per kid). You can punch a hole in the top center of the cloud in advance too if you want.

Activity: Each child gets a pre-cut cloud, 3+ pieces of steamer and a glue stick. Open the cloud and glue streamers so that they will hang from the bottom of the cloud. Next glue the cloud closed like a sandwich. Add a string through the hole for hanging.

Notes/Tips: This activity can be made longer by letting the kids color faces on their clouds. We used blue streamers but a rainbow would look great too!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Letters to a Home Town - "What is a CSA?"

Today it felt like spring so under the guise of putting up fliers for the CSA, we headed for the park. "What is a CSA?" you ask. Read on...

Mixing Work With Play

What is a CSA?
(Letter Circa June 2010)

A CSA in my neighborhood?! I stared wide eyed at the flier stapled to the pole by the train station stairs. I glanced up to be sure I had gotten off at the right stop. ‘Fresh from the farm organic produce’ the flier touted. My mouth salivated at the prospect.

Mine is not exactly the kind of neighborhood that you would expect a CSA to be forming. We don’t have a farmers market (though there are about 50 in NYC) or a health food store.  There is no coffee shop offering organic fair trade coffee and live jazz every Saturday night. It is a working class neighborhood where people get their morning coffee at the corner bodega and come home at night with no wish greater than to kick off their shoes and watch a little TV. Don’t get me wrong. I really like the area I live in. It just doesn’t have the same offerings as can be found in some other areas of NYC.

CSA is an acronym for Community Supported Agriculture. How it works is that members pay a farm in advance for shares of a seasons produce, then receive deliveries of fresh product throughout that season. In some ways it is a lot like having a big garden; you can’t be picky. You get what is in season. If it is a bumper year for cucumbers, you get to make pickles. 

One of the most challenging things about getting enough people together in an area to form a designated CSA delivery point for a farm is that becoming a member is an investment. CSAs are based on a shared risk and reward system. Money is paid to the farm at the beginning of the season with no guarantee beyond an unspecified quantity and variety of produce delivered weekly. For families accustomed to budgeting their groceries by the week, investing in produce months in advance is an unfamiliar and sometimes difficult concept to fathom. Then there is always the (not so) simple matter of having the money to invest. 

With a creative cook and an adventurous pallet in the house, we knew we wanted in. With a little fund shuffling, we’ve found a way. Beyond the promise of fresh fruits and vegetables, joining a CSA gives us the opportunity to support something we believe in; small farms and local businesses. A portion of our groceries this summer and well into the fall will be coming from a farm less than 200 miles away. This may sound far, but then consider, much of the produce at our local grocery stores comes from Florida, California, Mexico and Peru. Tomatoes that have traveled 1,000 miles get road weary.

Peas, beans, mixed greens and strawberries are all expected in the first week’s delivery. I’ve heard there are sometimes ‘surprises’ so I am hoping for asparagus too. I am sure that there will be times when I am soliciting recipes for whatever arrives, but it will be worth it. I’ve never made pickles before.

I hope this letter has found you and yours in good spirits and good health. Until I write again…

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

My Pet Lizard - Toddler Art Project

We made this project during Story Time at the library today and it was a great success! Some of the kids even let me take a picture of their lizards 'meeting' the ones we read about!

My Pet Lizard
Age: 18 Months - 5 Years (younger ones need more supervision)
Time: 10 min (+ Prep)
Theme: Lizards
Books: The Mixed-Up Chameleon by Eric Carle, A Color of His Own by Leo Lionni   

Heavy Paper (Something that feels about the weight of a manila office folder)
Bendy Straws
Adults get to use Scissors and a Stapler

Prep: trace and cut out the lizards. If you are prepping for a lot of kids and cutting out a zillion lizard shapes sounds insane, then outline the lizards in marker and cut out a ‘loose’ shape around them. If cutting the lizards you can get 4/page, if a loose outline then just 3/page.

Activity: Each child gets a pre-cut lizard and crayons. Decorate, draw, scribble, make it colorful! When done, have an adult help attach the short side of the bendy straw to the lizard’s belly with the stapler (2 staples works best).

Notes/Tips: By using bendy straws the lizard can be manipulated like a puppet up and around landscapes (like the couch or a shoulder). It can also be held against the glass of a window and made to look like it is climbing on its own!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Letters to a Home Town "A Cow in Queens"

For those who don't know, my 'Letters' are published in a small weekly newspaper called the Gouverneur Tribune Press. Gouverneur NY is about as rural as you can get in comparison to NYC where I live now. As a rule they have a lot more in common than most people think, but every once in a while... Well... Read on... (First published September '07)

Thompson Farm Barnyard From the Hill Nov 2011

A Cow In Queens

It wasn’t front page news but it warranted as much space as this column in most of the major NYC papers, some even included a picture and a map! It was note worthy enough story that the following day a few people asked me if I had seen it and one even cut a clipping for me. What was the story about? A cow got out.
Cows do that; they get out some times. Never in my life did I imagine such an event would be news worthy! In my experience, when a cow gets out you just chase her back in again. If she isn’t yours you get in touch with whoever she belongs to and help them get her back in again. In the unlikely event you don’t know who she belongs to; you corral her then call around to see who is missing a cow. There is no drama, no news coverage, and certainly no calls to 911. Yes, this bovine prompted people to call 911, over half a dozen of them!
The news reporting on this story was a delight! The New York Daily News reported that she was captured “After leading authorities on a 49-minute chase…”, included a quote from the Police Commissioner “The cow is in custody.” and a first person account from the twelve year old who’s yard she was captured in “I was sort of scared because it could have hurt somebody.”
There is only speculation as to the ownership of Queeny Maxine. (Some reports called her Queeny while others Maxine. I have combined the two to prevent any confusion as to if I might be writing about a different cow on the loose here in NYC). No one came forward to claim her. Her picture may as well have been on the side of a milk carton for as many eyes as fell upon her image. Someone must have recognized her! Cows aren’t cheap! Why on earth would no-one claim her?!?! It is actually pretty easy to figure out why; everyone prefers a story to have a happy ending.
It is most likely that Queeny Maxine got loose from one of the 75 plus live animal markets in NYC. These are legal licensed markets and many slaughter on premises. No one wants to be read the headline “Captured Cow Returned to Slaughter”, it is anticlimactic to say the least. Reclaiming her would have meant at best, bad press, and at worst riotous vegetarians, neither of which is a positive for her former owner. It is better to take the loss in silence than risk the alternatives. The ending that has befallen Queeny Maxine is more newsworthy anyway; the escapee is headed to live out her years on a 175 acre no-kill sanctuary; a sort of health spa retreat for runaway cows. This is one of those times when I have to admit, in some ways NYC is nothing like Gouverneur!
I hope this letter has found you and yours in good spirits and good health. Until I write again…

Monday, March 5, 2012

Shake, Rattle & (TP) Roll - Toddler Art Project

We made these at the library a while back. They are one of the first instruments my daughter will grab to play and have survived amazingly well considering. Parent Bonus: they are loud enough to play but quiet enough to tolerate even in the car!

Shake, Rattle & (TP) Roll

Age: 18 Months - 5 Years (younger ones need more supervision)

Time: 15 - 20 min (+ Prep)

Theme: Drums

Books: Jungle Drums by Graeme Base, Be Quiet Mike by Leslie Patricelli   

Copy Paper 20lb
Toilet Paper Tube(s)
Crayons/Colored Pencils/Markers
Bells, metal buttons, any string-able things that make noise when they clank together
Pipe Cleaner(s)
Glue Sticks
Adults get to use Scissors and a Hole Punch

Prep: Cut paper rectangles large enough to cover the outside of the toilet paper tubes about 4-1/2 x 7 (different brands have slightly different sized tubes) and cut pipe cleaners in half.

Activity: Each child gets a pre-cut sheet of paper, and things to color with. Decorate, draw, scribble, make your marks! Then trade in the crayons/markers/pencils for a glue stick and a TP tube. Glue the paper around the tube then (adult) punch 2 holes at the top across from each other. Choose a few bells, buttons, etc (3-5 should do it) and string them onto the pipe cleaner. With adult help, poke the ends of the pipe cleaner  through the holes into the tube so they meet inside then (adult) twist them together. Make some noise!

Notes/Tips: The not-so-fuzzy pipe cleaners work better for this project.  Be sure to twist the ends of the pipe cleaner together inside the tube – this keeps the wire ends away from the play area so that they don’t poke are not easily opened by little fingers.  

Making Stamps from Egg Cartons - Technique for preschool and older

When working with kids within a wide age span sometimes it is hard to find something that everyone will want to - and is able to do. This technique is a great solution to just such a conundrum!

Egg Carton Stamps

Age: 3 Years and up (prep required for younger ones, older kids can do it themselves)

Time: 10 – 40 min (depending on age)

Theme: Open ended – this is a technique that can be used for any theme

Books: Open ended

Styrofoam Egg carton tops or produce trays (one tray/carton should be enough for two or more kids) 
Stamp Pads (assorted colors) – or in a pinch tempera paint works but is a lot messier 
Paper to print on
Adults & big kids get to use Scissors

Prep: Cut out flat pieces from the egg carton lid. They can be big or small. The most important part is that they are smooth and flat.

Activity: Each child gets a few pieces of foam to make stamps, a pencil to ‘carve’ with and paper to print on. Stamp pads can be shared.

Using the pencil ‘carve’ the desired design into the foam. This should be deep enough to create a clear impression but not so deep that it cuts through to the other side. With the stamp pad, ‘Ink’ the design, and then press firmly onto the paper. Lift the stamp and ta-da! A print!

Notes/Tips: Simple designs work best- and details can be added to the prints with colored pencils afterwards. Remember that a print is a mirror image – this is especially important when writing words! 

Suggested Projects: For little ones art is more about the ‘Ah-Ha’ than the finished product. Simply the discovery each time they lift their stamp makes it fun for them. For older kids I suggest to try one of these projects: Make matching greeting cards and wrapping paper, create an Artist’s Mark to be stamped on future artworks, design a set of stamps and create a series (ex: flowers and bugs for a spring series), or create their name in hieroglyphs  

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Be they Villains or Heroes?

My elder daughter (10) took a little time to check out my blog today. Her feedback: "There should be more pictures of me." So in an effort to please, here is one of my recent favorites. She is the one in the middle.

Be they Villains or Heroes it matters not - they are my family and I love them!

What is art good for?

I recently had the honor of being on a panel of Arts Educators for an event sponsored by  Free Arts NYC, an arts program that I have been involved with for several years. The theme of the evening was “What is Art Good For?” In preparation I asked a number of friends if they felt that art is necessary for a society to function, and what would a world without art be like...  Below is a sampling of the responses I got. Creative people rock!
P.S. I would love to hear more responses! Feel free to comment - How does art change the way you see the world?

Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time. ~Thomas Merton

If I go too long without making something, whether artistic, as in letterpress, or just graphic like photos or even a PowerPoint, or physical, like refinishing a chair or dresser, I get a little weird and need to have an expressive outlet.

….We're hard-wired for creative expression and art makes us feel good.

A life without art is like a world with no color.Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life. ~Pablo Picasso

Art helps us express the entire spectrum of the human experience.  It also allows us to transcend, and thereby transform, the very same.

Art can also validate a person in some ways, whether she/he creates it as a form of expression of themselves, or whether they purchase and display it, to demonstrate their appreciation for it, or even to let it arouse inspiration or be therapeutic.

...It opens doors. If we take away art it does more than close doors in their removes the possibility of a doorway at all.

Dreams are art, what are dreams good for?

Art began in the caves with hand prints and charcoal a species we've been making art for hundreds of thousands of it must be good for something! Any Neanderthal knows that.

Before there was civilization as we define it, cave dwellers decorated their walls. We call these drawings art. Who knows what the artists called it? Maybe merely a diary of their days.

Consider the greater pleasure and aesthetic appeal of a tidy row of corn versus a "scattered seed" planting method. Art encompasses order. There is beauty in that, yes?

Ellen Dissanayake … talks about the concept of "making special", and this is something that (mostly) only human have always done, and it is the source of art in society.

Without art the Earth is just Eh.

Ellen Dissanayake has a book called "What is art for"… After scads of research and thoughtful examination of data she ends the book with a line that shoots through your body like lightning... to paraphrase from rusty neurons: societies where the value of art is not primary, there is violence.

Refer to Article 1, section 8 of the U.S. Constitution, where it states that one of Congress's responsibilities is to "promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts". If our founding fathers felt it was necessary, it should be good enough for all Americans.

...."does life copy art or does art copy life".....of course the suave, but still dodgy answer is BOTH, but if life does copy art, then we need art for that model-- though art isn't just a projection, but a reflection, and a fantasy, and a realization, and a communication.

In a world that has standard measurements for all accomplishments there should always be a place for a student to think outside the box.

Art is typically a "safe space" for society to address it's ills… satire and spectacle.

I think art is necessary for society to function because ART IS ACTIVISM and as such, art helps to advance our culture and societal interests by introducing us to new ideas and ways of understanding.

Art, essentially is the lubrication that allows personal wants and interpersonal differences/needs/norms to slide/ride/rub together without harm.

Art is necessary as food for the soul as air is for the body, for the expression of our perception of the world is versed aesthetically through it!

If all else fails let’s not forget that it is just plain fun.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Chicken Whisper'

As most of you know, we have chickens. The primary reason this is noteworthy is because we live in NYC. They are more pets than production animals, but none the less today I was thrilled - we got 3 eggs from our 4 bantam hens! The best day yet since their winter Lay-cation.

Friday, March 2, 2012

NJ Mermaid

Maybe it is because it is still new to me having grown up up inland, but I love drawing in the sand then watching the waves wash it away. It feels like a collaboration between the earth, the ocean and me...

Thank you Dan for documenting <3

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Lorax & Truffula Tree Puppet Set - Toddler Art Project

Tomorrow is Dr. Seuss' Birthday so we will be reading some of his books at Story Time. With the movie opening tomorrow, images of the Lorax are all over the place. I thought the kids might like to have a Lorax and a Truffula Tree of their own to play with, so I came up with this project.

Lorax and Truffula Tree Puppet Set

Age: 18 Months - 5 Years (younger ones need more supervision)

Time: 15 min (+ Prep)

Theme: Dr. Seuss

Books: The Lorax

Construction Paper (orange or brown, yellow, and whatever color)
Craft (popsicle) sticks
Glue Sticks
Adults get to use Scissors

Prep: Cut out Lorax bodies from the orange/brown paper, mustaches from the yellow and a truffula tops from whatever color you choose (see picture below). By folding a full sheet in quarters like an M you should be able to make 8 bodies per sheet. All are cut with the fold at the top.

Activity: Each child gets a body, a mustache, a truffula top, 2 sticks, 2-4 feathers and a glue stick.

For the Lorax: Put glue on the ‘inside’ of his body, then fold over the stick. Glue his mustache on his face. The dual fold can be set a little askew to make the mustache look bigger or the top layer can be left loose to give it a 3D effect.

For the Tree: Put glue on the inside of the tree top then fold over the stick. Glue 2-4 feathers on for truffula tufts.

Notes/Tips: Having the pieces twofold so they wrap around the stick isn’t essential, but it makes them more durable for play.

Letters to a Home Town "60 Years"

When I asked for recommendations of past Letters Home to post, this was the first one suggested. It is vintage, December 2006. A lot has changed in that time, most pertinent to this Letter, both of my Grandparents have since passed away. I miss them.

60 Years

This month marked Clinton and Sally Thompson, my Grandparent's, 60th Wedding Anniversary. Echoing my kid's sentiment, I have to admit my first thought was 'Wow! They ARE really old' followed by a sense of awe. Sixty years is a long time! It feels like it is going to take me that long to pay off my student loans, but it also seems like I've been paying them forever (obviously I do not have a clear grasp on how long sixty years is).
            Sixty years is ten times as long as I have been married and nearly six times as long as the average marriage will last in this country. Sixty years is twelve times my daughter's age and about four and a half times my son's. Sixty years is a lifetime of knowing that, no matter what, they each have the other at their side.
            My grandparents' have never struck me as a tender, romantic couple. They have always been more… well… functional. For me, growing up in a generation that largely feels that romance has been kidnapped and held for ransom by greeting card companies, these are far from words of criticism. Grandma does the dishes and Grandpa dries and put them away. Grandpa makes maple syrup and Grandma makes it into sugarcakes and cream. They are partners, coworkers, allies: a fine team of horses pulling a plow; not a fancy sleigh with bells on the harness.
In the little room just outside my grandparent's bedroom there are pictures. One is of my Grandpa standing in the snow with a wide smile, a picture from about 60 years ago. Ask Grandma about that picture and you might uncover, dare I say, a tone of romance. I've heard it! Looking at that photo of Grandpa in black and white, Grandma has told me of the color of his eyes so vividly that I could see the color shining back at me.
In the movie "The Princess Bride" there is a scene where Buttercup, the maiden, and Westley, the farm boy, realize that they are in love. Buttercup asks him to fetch things, and to each request he replies "As you wish" and does so un-begrudgingly. Their eyes meet when he fetches her a pitcher and the narrator declares it "true love". In my minds eye, my Grandfather is that farm boy. He has always gone to fetch the mail, milk from the barn or vegetables from the garden. He has always done so un-begrudgingly, sometimes even handing them off along with a soft kiss on Grandma's cheek. It is a show of tenderness. If they were Buttercup and Wesley sixty years later, the narrator would still declare it "true love".
Every couple is different, and what works for one may not work for another. When I look at my Grandparent's relationship I do not so much look for guidance as inspiration. Congratulations Grandma and Grandpa. I am in awe!
             I hope this letter has found you and yours in good spirits and good health. Until I write again…

                                                   Clinton and Sally Thompson circa 1987