There is a seat at my table for you

Watercolor Tree Painting

Over the last few months life has been shook up. It started with a rattle and then the quake began. If you had asked me back in December what 2020 would be like, I would have never guessed this. But the reality is that none of us would have foretold our spring to look like it did.

And for our family, while we have had some tough bouts, we have weathered the storms really well. I don’t say that lightly as I know there are so many out there who have lost family members and friends, who have lost livelihoods, who have lost faith.

I feel incredibly privileged that during these last few months I have been able to be at home with my family. We have been tucked away in our safe little boat while the storm has raged around us.

But being safe in our boat has not blinded us to the plight of others. If anything, we are more aware of those around us that don’t have any boat at all. And it’s because of that knowledge that I can’t just sit on the deck of my boat and tan myself and pretend that things are just going to get better.

As a teacher, I struggled through the spring trying to connect with students. So much of what I do as an art teacher on a daily basis is emotional. It’s connections. It’s face to face feedback and prodding and pushing students outside of their comfort zones. Many people think that teaching art is just lots of “fun” while we “just cut paper and color.” The reality is that much of what I do is forcing students to look at life from a different perspective. It’s challenging students to rethink everything they have been taught to believe about life and color and situations and draw/reflect on actual observation, not what they “think they see.”

Not having real interactions with students for the last 12 weeks of the spring semester left me feeling off and out of touch as I could see from the glimpse of their faces on zoom meetings that my students were struggling and hurting.

And these struggles and hurts didn’t just go away when they turned in their last assignment and called the school year over. Over the last few weeks I’ve seen students voice hurts and fears and frustrations. And I don’t have any platitudes. I don’t have any answers.

I’ve been listening.

I’ve been learning.

I’ve been loving.

That’s all I can do. As a teacher, I am struggling right now trying to figure out my place, my voice, and my role in not just the Black Lives Matter movement but the Pride movement as well. I live in a community that is staunchly conservative and quite vocally Republican. I am listening for words of affirmation, love and support for BLM and Pride, but the silence is deafening. And I am broken because of it.

So here is my promise to my students, my family, my community:

There is a seat at my table for you.
Not just any seat, but a reserved seat of honor with your name on the card.

There is seat at my table for you.
Whether you are privileged or under-privileged.
Whether you are white or a person of color.
Whether you are straight or LGBTQIA+.
Whether you are liberal or conservative.

No matter the label.
No matter how much space you take up physically, emotionally or mentally.
No matter if you bring a dish to share or come empty handed.

There is a place for you.

You are wanted.
You are valuable.
You are loved.


I know that in the past I have been too busy getting things done and focused on the next contest or goal. But I promise you this.

No more.

From this day forward, your heart, your peace, and your life are my priority.

With much love,

Emily

Here is a time lapse of the watercolor tree painting seen above. I was going to draw the tree, but I found this amazing cut file on Etsy and bought it as it was perfect. May you remember that we need all of the colors on the color wheel to fully enjoy life.

Time lapse tree stencil painting

Watercolor Painting for Hip Surgery Recovery

I had hip surgery a little over a month ago. Not a replacement.. I’m not that old yet! But the recovery has still been slow and steady with lots and lots of time just laying down and sitting reclined.

After surgery, at home in the CPM machine.

During these very slow days, I found that I LOVE watercolor painting! I had previously watched a few tutorials by Let’s Make Art and had even purchased a few of the kits for my daughters, but I had never taken that time to play with watercolors myself. Well, since I had a lot of time on my hands, I decided to see what I could learn.

And I FELL IN LOVE. 🙂 As an art teacher, I dabble in a lot of things and know the basics of pretty much all of the medias. My knowledge is an inch deep and a mile wide as my goal is to introduce my students to as many different types and styles as possible. In the past, when asked about my favorite media, I have always said printmaking. This is where I am most comfortable and my foundation of experience is about a 1/2 mile deep. But, ask me today, and it’s watercolor. It might change tomorrow as I am truly one of those constantly learning, constantly exploring and constantly pushing back my boundaries kind of person. However, my current obsession is watercolor.

My first Let’s Make Art tutorials were chosen because of the easy outline and the free video explaining all of the steps. The iris video was so easy to follow. I made a couple as thank you cards for people that had sent meals after my surgery. That was fun to be able to give something back. I think I made 8 irises before moving on. I then tried out the cardinal.. and ended up painting probably 10 or more cardinals for friends!

And then came the trucks! Oh wow. So many people wanted the truck with the tree. I think I painted 20 of these! But what I loved was that I could take the information taught in one video and easily apply it to something totally different! For the truck, I found different trucks that I wanted to paint, so I took the instructions and adapted as I went. What was fun is that none looked the same, even when I painted the same truck over and over, each painting was just a little different!

And then it kind of snowballed. I painted eight Christmas Baby Yodas, six VW Bugs with presents and four longhorns.

A dozen flower options….

Five cat and dog paintings.

Two houses

A menagerie of farm animals

And a boat.

And that’s not all! As I finished the semester with my students after spending a couple of weeks at home, I challenged them to try a new art medium and to finish work! Its hard to complain to the teacher about having to finish 10 projects over four months when the teacher has painted more than 50 paintings in a month! 🙂

And because I have enjoyed painting so much, my husband bought me the real Let’s Make Art supplies for Christmas! Previously I was using the Prang pan watercolors that I have in my classroom for art 1 students. Not the best quality paints, but are clearly not bad. However, OH MY. The Dr. Ph. Martin’s paints, the good brushes and the butcher tray palette have rocked my world! I’ve always pushed for my advanced art students to have quality supplies, but I’ve just settled for the lower priced stuff for myself. No more!

Dang, just look at the comparison of colors! The cardinal on the left is with the pan watercolors and the cardinal on the right is with the Dr. Ph. Martin’s watercolors. Same paper.

What’s up next? Well.. I painted this sea turtle for Doug with my new paints and a few friends have asked for one as well, so I guess a few sea turtles. Then I’m on to an abstract landscape and couple of commission pieces.

I’ve loved painting and have truly enjoyed gifting so many pieces of my heart to people. So, I’m going to just keep on painting and learning and playing and creating.

And how is the hip? Well, physical therapy three times a week has me walking around the house without any crutches, so I’m making progress. My goal is to go back to school on Jan 6 without crutches….

And in case anyone is wondering, nope, there is no kickback for me in sharing my new found love of Let’s Make Art! But hey, Sarah Cray, if you want to send me some paints to play with…I’m here for you. 🙂

My Blue Phase?

 

I don’t know why I like to create pieces in blue of little girls with wide open happy expressions. I guess because it doesn’t seem like the natural choice? Maybe I need therapy! 

Anyway, I created this today. I like it.Image

It’s marker on watercolor paper. I love the mix of the two elements. Watercolor paper is NOT the natural choice for Copic markers! But I truly love how the strokes come through the tooth of the watercolor paper. I realize that some may not appreciate my choice, but that’s okay. I like it! 🙂