Monday, December 17, 2012

Snow~Day #1, Hello Kitty and EGGS!

My first snowday of this school year! Under a blanket of snow, today was actually... somber. This day off created an opportunity to reflect on the recent tragedy in the elementary school in CT. As an elementary school teacher, I can not fathom something so horrific.  My students are children... innocent, wonderful, loving, funny, caring... children. As today started, I felt like I wanted to do something for them. Something that said 'I love you guys'. Well it came in the shape of 'Hello Kitty' mittens - what can I say?! Tomorrow the 6th graders hold an auction. Twice a year the class holds this event. All year long the students earn tickets for various things, behaviors, grades, etc. The teachers donate items and the students use their tickets to cash in on the donated goods. Many of these students 'buy' items as holiday gifts for their families. I made this pair of mittens to donate to their auction.
My chickens finally started laying EGGS! Wa-hoo. The first eggs are always so much fun because they are so little. Omelet anyone?

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Irish Blessing and 'The Starry Knight'

We held a small and lovely service for my mother-in-law on Thanksgiving morning - just family. It was quite fitting to celebrate her life on Thanksgiving as her life focus was about providing and caring for others. We shared stories and memories at the dinner table - it was a good way to process her passing. On one card we received was this Irish Blessing... I think it is lovely: "May the blessings of love be on you, live with you and all around you. May it be your shelter in the storming hours, and your warming fire when chill winds blow. May love make soft your path, that your steps never falter, and wide your path, that friends may always walk beside you. May love shine out of the soul of you like a welcoming light so that when others speak your name, it will be to say here is one whose heart has never cared too little." ... and I'll add, may you always feel loved.

I'm finishing up my painting 'The Starry Knight' - hope to load it onto Etsy this weekend. I'll also be finishing the first draft of my Chicken Mitten pattern. I basically need 2x the amount of time I have in a day! Have fun.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Life, Life Beyond, and a Christmas cactus

I have been awake for hours. My mother-in-law passed away yesterday evening. This was not unexpected, and as they say... her time had come. For hours I have been thinking of all that I learned from her about cooking, organic gardening, canning and how to burp a baby. She taught me to vote for who and what you believe in, even when you know they won't win. My mother-in-law was an opinionated woman, but she never criticized me, seriously - not once. She was a very intelligent, hard working, joyous and generous person who devoted herself to others. Truly a great role model for me and others, and a 'salt of the earth' woman. I will miss her deeply.
As life will have it, for a couple of weeks I have been gearing up to do a post in honor of my father, he passed away four years ago. At the time, my co-workers gave me the absolute-most-gigantic Christmas cactus there ever was. Seriously, this plant took your breath away when you looked at it. It was a great visual diversion at the time. Though my father passed away in mid-December, for the past four years this wonderful plant has bloomed like there was no tomorrow starting in early November. I love this plant. It is so big, colorful, over the top, and says 'I AM IN THE ROOM RIGHT HERE' - that for a few weeks each year now... at the time of being THANKFUL... I get to be reminded of him and SEE/feel his presence. His presence was indeed great in many ways and always filled a room, though I don't think he'd go for that much pink.
My love to all.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

NC Wyeth - Robin Hood and Maid Marion ... and burning brush

Robin Hood and Maid Marion, original painting by NC Wyeth

copy of original
Every autumn I work with my students and staff to create a mural for the school. I feel this is a great way to show our learning community working together to make great things happen. This year I invited parents and community members to join in. I love the colors of this year's mural (see older posts for other murals). I chose to do an illustration by NC Wyeth as a way to acknowledge the students who will be writing and illustrating their own stories over the course of the school year: 2nd, 3rd, and 6th graders. These students will illustrate in art class with me and ultimately have their creation printed as a hardcover book! All in all a very exciting project. I am anxious to share my knowledge of illustration with my students.

We finally burned the brush piles in the lower field. These piles have been building for a couple years, and it's nice to have them gone. 

Monday, October 8, 2012

... who's your llama?

A day off from school is a day in my studio. I finally got my new Epson printer hooked up. Now I can start adding prints of my artwork to my Etsy shop - wahoo!  ... Which pieces of art to choose? I always go for the slightly quirky and silly. I am currently painting a small work entitled "The Starry Knight" - see what I mean? And I  wonder if my Etsy shop 'identity' will hold together or suffer by adding artwork. Mittens, knitting patterns and art prints are sort of an odd grouping. I'll give it a go and see what happens. Happy autumn! (this llama illustration is from my collection of attempts for a local fair poster contest - it was submitted without the words...)

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Carrots and Chicken Mittens

Chicken Mittens 
Carrots from my garden
I designed a new pair of mittens - CHICKENS! Using US size 9 needles and a double strand of Cascade 220, the body was a quick knit. I think I'll try them in another color set. These look like Rhode Island Reds!

My garden is done for the season. I dug up my carrots in the rain yesterday. Digging carrots is fun. We had a stir fry last night with fresh carrots - they are so sweet! I will plant garlic in a few weeks and then dream of next summer.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Art Room, 'Mindset'

School's in session and it looks to be a great year ahead. The students have settled in quickly and are eager to create artwork.  I spent several days cleaning and rearranging my classroom before school started. I love the new traffic flow. This year I'm promoting my room as 'the quiet zone' - and it's working, mostly. It is hard for the students to work quietly while sitting on cafeteria benches...
I'm feeling like I work for the coolest school district. We have each been given a copy of Mindset by Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D. I find this book to be truly inspirational. I'm not done with it yet, but the big idea is that with the right mindset we can all learn how to fulfill our potential - and coach our students to reach theirs. We also read Inevitable over the summer. This book introduced us to the concept of 'mass customized learning' - essentially each learner learns at their own rate and in their own way. With technology and creative planning, we can uniquely educate each and every student and help them become life long learners. We are doing our part to be the best teachers we can be in this age of change!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Back to school... chickens and 7th Graders

It's been a good summer - lots of time in my studio for painting and designing knitting patterns. I just published a new Fingerless Mitten  knitting pattern. This pattern comes with Fancy Appliques to add on the mittens. The appliques took a while to test knit - I am happy with the results. These include leaves, flowers, butterflies and a lady bug.

Back to school this week! I've rearranged my art room, and I can't wait to try it out. I swapped my desktop computer for a laptop - just think of all the room I will now have on my desk! I also created a 'focus' area with some new tables. Everywhere I turn I find little reminders of my students. Why, even my chickens - who have grown so much this summer! -  remind me of my 7th Graders. They like to do everything together - no wandering from the pack for long. They like you nearby - but they will pretend to ignore you, and they'll eat just about anything!
It feels like it's going to be a great school year... let the classes begin!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Burnt Island Scientific Illustration

Five days of drawing, examining, painting, and EATING! My week on Burnt Island was an intensive one. We worked in several mediums, both indoors and out. Carolyn Nichols was our talented illustration/art teacher. Elaine Jones was our science teacher. I highly recommend these courses for Maine teachers.
our 'classroom'

Here are some of my sketches and experiments. There was a wonderful book on Beatrix Potter that I also used for inspiration - I love her work.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Visual Arts Teacher ~ summer time behind the scenes...

an art teacher's kitchen sink in summer

I'm working on several paintings right now which is such a luxury ... no, not a luxury, it's essential. I am enjoying this time immensely. When I need a studio break, I slip into the role of 'Summer Time Art Teacher' which translates to restoring Elmer's glue bottles. Did you know that I could probably sculpt an Elmer's Glue bottle with my eyes closed in the dark - a scary thought.
Next week I'll be heading off to Burnt Island for a week of Scientific Illustration through the Department of Marine Resources - I can't wait!
Here's another summer time pic. We have been in 'this old house' for 22 years and we are siding the LAST WALL! - WAHOOO! When you are capable and hardworking you do the work yourself... it just takes a while...
Fingerless Monkey Mitten Pattern ~ Snow Day Artist Design
Fingerless Monkey Mitten Pattern is almost ready to go! This pattern will be available soon in my Etsy Shop, Ravelry, and Craftsy.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Old Hallowell Day - Visual Meditation

'OHD - Visual Meditation'
Here is my painting for the Harlow Gallery's Summer Member's Show. The Harlow is celebrating along with the city of Hallowell as the lovely and inspiring city turns 250 years old! 

I took the route of being inspired by 'Old Hallowell Day' - can you SEE the 'OHD' in my piece? 

The opening is Friday July 6th, 5-8pm - see you there!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Poppyville, and Girls in the Coop

Poppyville - my flower garden
Though I had to replant much of my vegetable garden - THANK YOU for having all the seeds I needed Johnny's Seeds! (the first planting must have rotted then vanished without a trace after the flooding we got over a month ago - those were NOT Johnny's Seeds), my flower garden is thriving. It is once again looking like something Dr. Seuss would dream up.

Wanda, Fonda, Cindy, and Mindy - interchangeable names
My Barred Rock chicks are out of their cardboard box and in the coop.

My studio is cleaned up and I have been working on a watercolor I will call 'Visual Meditation - OHD' - for the Harlow Gallery's summer member's show. The 'OHD' stands for Old Hallowell Days. I'll post the piece when it is done.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Father's Day

Me and my Dad, 1962 door at Mrs. Havemeyer's swimming pool, Irvington, NY 
Happy Father's Day - to everyone. It has been a beautiful day here in Maine. We had strawberry shortcake for breakfast - to celebrate Father's Day.
I spent the day cleaning my studio and checking in on the baby chicks I got a few days ago. The 4 Barred Rock chicks spent the first two nights in my studio, I moved them to the coop yesterday. 
School is out for the summer! - just a bit more cleaning and I'll be ready to paint!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Time to weed ...

Where did my sculpture go? ... time to weed the yard!
It's the end of May and my world is GREEN. Everywhere I look it is green - such is life in New England. The garden is in and there are 2 weeks left to school. I am cleaning my studio ('when in doubt, throw it out!') in preparation for a fun and productive summer.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Twin Day, Cat In The Hat

Robbi & Genevieve 
Twin Day at school!
We DO know how to have FUN at school!
The Librarian and I were dominoes!!

School is flying by with just 5 weeks left until summer
break - and so much to do!

"Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple." - Dr. Seuss

Cat and The Hat and Me!

The NESCBWI conference last month was wonderful. Much to ponder over!

Friday, April 20, 2012

NESCBWI, Springfield, MA

                                                            I am at the NESCBWI annual conference. This year it's in Springfield, MA. This is home to the Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden - yeah, I had fun there today!

'A Whole New World' - G.Keller 2012

Here is my poster for the conference contest. I decided (actually family members convinced me) to go with this illustration. This year's theme is "A Whole New World". I have a full weekend of workshops ahead of me and I'm psyched.

here's the 'real' building... what's with the clocks?

I even have a cool view out my 10th floor window!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

NESCBWI Conference Illustrations, Fingerless Monkey Mittens

GM Keller, 2012
March was a very busy month with National Board certification work, student art shows, and working on my portfolio.
GM Keller, 2012

The New England chapter of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators annual conference is April 20-22. Here are my two takes for this year's theme: A Whole New World. (They aren't quite done).

Here are mittens I donated to this year's 'Fun Fair' at school. They are a simple variation on my fingerless pattern.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Snowe Day.... and Snow Day #3

First week back after vacation and we have a Snow Day! My throne awaits, I'll be painting today. Bread is rising in the oven.

Olympia Snowe announced her retirement yesterday. I basically can't stand politics. It deeply bothers me that our country, which was founded on such profound and open minded principles, has become this two-sided mud flinging, debased, rooster fight. Our thinking has not advanced. We have lost sight of our objective(s). That said, Olympia has been a truly great politician. Perhaps she is not really 'retiring' and has other plans? Only time will tell.