Thursday, January 15, 2009

My other job....

Chris is in California right now - visiting family - working on his novel and poetry. The other day he left Maine for his 6:00 a.m flight out of Bangor. He wore, no doubt, his gloves, cap, wool coat, and LLBean flannel lined jeans...and a layer of thermals underneath. Eight hours later he was in L.A., stepping out of the airport into a balmy 86 degree temp. It must feel strange to, in eight hours time, experience an 86 degree shift. (It is pretty much zero, or below zero, at this point in downeast Maine.) He'll have to excuse my not feeling sorry for him having to endure that sweltering heat!

It has been a while since I last blogged. Time is always an issue it seems. In December I had taken some time off from work to get a few personal things in order, but now I am back at my full-time teaching job.

I love to teach - but admit that teaching full-time in a public school is a challenge. It is hard to balance being an artist with working set hours in a job that is highly demanding of a person physically and emotionally. Nonetheless, it is a career that I would choose over most others. I came into teaching as a second career, but I would say, a bit oblivious to the larger issues in the public education system.

My job consists of teaching art to approximately 150 students, pre-school through high school. I basically run ten different curriculums. Since I am an artist who enjoys dabbling in most any media, I am able to bring that experience to my students. We have an Earth Loom, classroom looms, a kiln and lots of clay, paint, awesome drawing materials, and lots of creativity all around. I am often inspired by what my students create and head home at the end of the day fired-up and ready to jump into my own projects.

The last two weeks at work have been extremely busy. Added to my usual classload and art class committments, this year I am a high school advisor, have to oversee portfolios and mentor a student for senior discovery. I have been busy with closing high school grades, portfolio sign-offs, and the biggie....a student art show.

I basically run two art shows each school year. The winter show is a selection of 35-50 student artworks at the local library. This is a great show - with top notch student work from all grades that I teach. We also have an opening reception and students, family and friends gather to socialize and graze on various culinary offerings (brownies and cookies). When I announce which students made it into the show - I have the students' full attention - each of them I know hoping they will be picked to participate. It is hard to see the disappointment on the faces of those who don't make it. Since I have limited space for the show - I am able to select only 2-4 artworks from each class. That is a difficult task for me!

The big art show, however, has a work from each student in the school. That show always falls on Projects' night in May. The students each pick their favorite piece to display. Then Chris and I spend hours mounting and hanging work for the one and a half hour display. At least the library art show hangs for a month or more.

So - I imagine my blogging and art production time will both be slowed as I get back into the swing of things at school. My mother arrives tonight from central Maine for a visit - and I am hoping that after her visit - I will find the energy and time to begin a new project. Or at least finish the weaving I began in December!

The artwork above is an illustration by one of my second graders. I read the class the book "McCawber the Painting Squirrel" and they created drawing inspired by the story. Notice the squirrel's and green - having been used as a paintbrush. Adorable!