Saturday, April 18, 2015

The Aftermath of a Library Book Sale

I've composed at least four blog posts in my head over the past two weeks, and even have photos to go with them, but they've never made their way to the computer.  But here I am finally.  Hello! 

I turned 42 since I last checked in, and had an overnight birthday getaway with my husband while my mother watched the girls.  I've also been to the dentist, nursed a six-year-old back to health, taken my kids to their first theater production, cooked about twelve dinners, driven to my kids' school and back about fourteen times, attended a couple of gymnastics classes for the kindergarten set, hung out with teenagers at my church's Youth Group, went to a Book Club meeting, met with my Living Stones friends, and attended a Vacation Bible School planning meeting.

So, yeah, not much going on around here...

What I really need to tell you about today, though, is the latest library book sale.  I go to at least four of these sales each year, if not more.  I have boxes and shelves of books that I haven't even gotten to yet from previous sales, but I just can't stop myself from going.  I can't stand to think of what might be there that I might miss!

Today's sale was the one that I consider the best of all the ones in our county--the Media Free Library Book Sale.  I usually go on Sunday and enjoy half-price, but I went on full price Saturday--ouch!   Here's the loot I came away with, though--well worth full price, at $2 apiece.
I don't always find so many art-y books at the library book sales, especially not collage and mixed-media titles.  And acrylic painting!  And book binding!  Pretty remarkable finds today.  I actually already have a copy of Collage Playground; stay tuned, since it might end up in a giveaway soon!
I've been searching out images from the 1940s and 1950s lately, so I jumped at the chance to buy a stack of past issues of Good Old Days and Looking Back magazines. 
I couldn't see inside because of the way they were bound up, and there aren't as many illustrations as I had hoped, but there are a couple of fun features in each magazine from the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, including:

Some great photos--
Vintage comic strips--
Old advertisements--
Cartoons from the era--
Fashion notes--
Even sheet music of popular songs of the times--
There should be a thing or two in there I can use in my projects.

Aside from art-y books, I purchased these other titles:
I've got some big-time reading to do!

While I leisurely perused the sale, my husband took the girls to make their purchases, and you can see the aftermath of their library book sale experience in the family room:
If it's true that you can never have too any books, then my family is living proof!

Friday, April 3, 2015

Introducing Kids to ATC Art

Artist Trading Cards (ATCs) are a fun way to get kids creating and sharing art with a wide audience, and Rose Chislom has created an online community via Facebook to encourage children to get involved in trading ATCs around the country and around the world.
Rose's Facebook community, called All About the Kids Art ATC, is a closed group, but easy to join if you have children in your life who might have fun creating, sharing, and receiving art.  She has multiple themes running at a time in order to appeal to lots of different kids.  When I got involved just a couple of weeks ago, I was fortunate to encounter a My Little Pony theme, which happens to be my girls' VERY favorite cartoon, and the subject of most all of their drawing and art-making these days.
Other themes include Superheroes, particular letters of the alphabet, Mine Craft, Star Wars, fairies, postage stamps, and family--truly something for everyone!
The only "rule" for ATCs is the size requirement:  2-1/2 by 3-1/2 inches.  They can be drawn, painted, colored, photographs, fabric, whatever.  Children of all ages participate.
Most of the events appear to be 3 for 3:  create and send in three ATCs, and you will receive three ATCs (from all different child artists) in return.  Rose collects all of the contributions, and organizes them to send back out to participants, which ensures that your child will receive something equivalent to what they have sent in.  (Have you ever participated in those chain letter things with your children, making sure that you follow all of the directions to a T, for "sticker club" and the like, only to have your child receive NOTHING in return?  Happily, this exchange is set up to avoid that kind of disappointment.)
If your child creates ATCs that are not part of the established swaps, you can post their art on the Facebook page, and see if anyone wants to do an individual trade.
For those of you who would like your child to participate, you can find All About the Kids Art ATC on Facebook and address any questions to Rose.  I think it is such a fun project that she has created, and a great way to give your kids a wider audience for their art!

** All of the My Little Pony art in this post was created
by my own children, for their first ATC swap.**

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Library Surfing

Some people bodysurf.  Some people kitesurf.  Some people windsurf.

Some people channel surf.  Some people web surf.

I like to library surf!

My county has 29 libraries within its borders, and I can order any book I want from their online catalog to be picked up at my nearest branch.  Instead of relying on that service, though, I like to go to the other branches, further away and less familiar to me.

When I go to one of these unexplored branches, I sometimes walk up and down the aisles, looking at book spines and titles that catch my eye, pulling books from the shelf to see the cover or flip through the pages.

This is library surfing.

I trace this strange pastime back to one of my friends from middle and high school.  Her mother was an English teacher, and when I would go to her house, I would see her mom's reading nook. She kept a stack of library books there on all sorts of different subjects.  She might have a pile of books that covered topics as diverse as architecture, birds, English history, and trains.  She had books about subjects that I would never dream would interest her.  But they awaited her there, where she could pick them up for some in-depth study, or just to glance through for some tidbits of information or interesting pictures.  I used to think to myself that when I grew up, I would do the same thing.  (I guess it didn't occur to me that I didn't really need to be a grown up to do that!)  And now that's what I do...wander the library aisles and check out whatever books catch my attention. 
This last time, walking back and forth in the stacks of a library a couple towns over, I ended up with a pile of books whose titles include:
  • Mathematics Minus Fear:  I feel certain that I need not fear mathematics or assume any longer that I am hopeless when it comes to anything related to this topic.  It's probably telling that I haven't picked up this book from my library basket to peruse yet!
  • My Name is Jason.  Mine too.  Our story.  Our way:  This is such a fun and quirky book, marketed to teenagers.  It is the story of two best friends, a black poet and a white artist, both named Jason, who try to make their way in the world, living together in New York City.  The pages are a super-fun eclectic mix of art, photographs, and poetry. 
  • The Painter's Eye:  Learning to Look at Contemporary American Art:  This book explores the common vocabulary of art we can learn in order to discuss what makes a painting work and what the artist is trying to communicate.  This book helps you at that very moment you stop in front of a piece of modern art and say, "I don't get it.  What's that supposed to be?" or, "Geez, I could do that!"  I am hoping that, as an artist, I can build a vocabulary for getting past our initial reactions that are often shallow critiques to discover why a particular painting is hanging on a museum or gallery wall.
Any book with peeks inside artists' studios is a winner with me!  This is Willem de Kooning at work.


Here is Helen Frankenthaler.  The book has photos of several other artists at work in their studio spaces.


Is there more to this painting than a row of five hot dogs?  This book will help me figure out
how to talk about a work of art like this one.


Made in Japan, by Jean-Michel Basquiat
How can an art observer see this piece with a responsive eye? 
The Painter's Eye addresses this question.
  • Sketching Outdoors in Spring:  'Tis the season!  Time to get outside and enjoy the fresh air and sunshine (it's coming soon, right?).  This book will give me some inspiration to head outside with pencil and sketchbook, and not make things so difficult that I don't even try.
  • Queen Victoria's Sketchbook:  I didn't realize what an accomplished artist Queen Victoria was within the pages of her private sketchbook.  This book shares her art instruction as a child, as well as her growth as an artist, and how she incorporated it into her life as queen.  If she can rule an empire and keep her creative and artistic spirit alive, then I think we can make time for it in our own busy lives, too!
Queen Victoria took her most successful drawings from albums she kept when she was
in Scotland, and pasted them into bound books on large pages.


She and her family traveled incognito among the common people, and Queen Victoria
would make sketches of the local costume.


In this picture, which (if my calculations are correct) Victoria made at age 13, she
records the first game of charades she observed at a large house party.
  • 52 Small Changes:  One Year to  Happier, Healthier You:  I love to give myself To Do lists, and this book plays right into that.  Most are supremely do-able, and many are already underway in my life (drink more water, drink less soda, get enough sleep, that sort of thing).
  • Crafting Calm: Projects and Practices for Creativity and Contemplation:  Prayer flags, treasure maps, visual journals, shrines, prayer cards, wisdom dolls, collage mandalas....what's not to love?!
I don't think I would have found any of these books if I had relied on the online catalog or the shelves of my own nearby branch! 

In case you've never tried library surfing yourself, I thought I would share this unusual pastime that I've been enjoying for a few years now.  It keeps me surrounded by books (my favorite thing!) and constantly learning (another favorite thing!). 

I always tell my girls, "It's a good day when you learn something new!"