Catching up

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I can’t believe how fast this year is going. We are already a week away from midterms. The Barrett-Jackson car show, the Phoenix Open, and the Arabian Horse Show have come and gone. It’s getting ready to be spring, and we’ve only just had our first rain of the year. Probably one of the more perfect times in our corner of the desert, and what people fall in love with when they come for a visit. Especially with the kind of winter everyone has been suffering through this year! Polar vortex indeed.

Chicago, I love you. But I’m so glad I’m not there right now.

It makes me glad to be here, but at the same time the snowbirds glory in our 80° February, what they don’t realize is that even for us, it’s unseasonably warm – and dry. It harkens to a tough year ahead for fire season, drought, habitat loss, and stress on wildlife. Not to mention a scorching May – September. I’m trying not to think of that now, and just revel in the glory of living someplace snow-and-windchill free.

salt margaritas

I feel a blog re-vamp coming on (again), so look for some changes coming up. While I have loved using WordPress.org, and having the customization freedom it offers, I am frustrated by the fact that when I read through some of my posts, half the time the pictures don’t show up (WTF?). And the whole hosting situation is a pain in the rear. So I’m looking to move the whole operation over to another web hosting site, hopefully with lots of improvements.

I’m taking Austin Kleon‘s advice from STEAL LIKE AN ARTIST, and stealing ideas for how to make this site better. Austin sends out occasional newsletters with a quick update on his projects, along with links to interesting things he’s found on the internet recently. Alex Yeske from Dreams + Jeans blogs beautiful pictures and product recommendations. I really like how both of these bloggers give a succinct post, paired with images, and suggestions from around the web, and hope to implement their best practices here. 

I’d also like to make to make this site better for YOU, my readers. Any comments? Suggestions on improvements? I’d love to hear them in the comments section below.

Here are some recent photos:

My work wall before a re-do
my new workspace, ready for inspiration
a typography sketch
this is from my life drawing class.
I draw naked people.
one of the best things about Arizona: sunsets.
my chickens decided to lay their eggs in the compost pile.
more typography practice
another sunset :)
juniper, our new puppy, likes to hang out with Keira while she eats.
wax barbie molds I’m working on for a sculpture project.
me, posing in sculpture class – trying to figure out how to pose Barbie for my sculpture. Suffering for your art means sometimes exposing your true dorkiness.
barbie parts, a tree, and a desk…hmmm, what will it be? Stay tuned.
My #1 Monkey, winning a soccer game. Love the color combo.
I told him his Polish was showing :)
My #2 Monkey, hogging my spot. That’s ok. No matter how big they get, I still like to watch them sleep.
a birthday present for my sister-in-law. I’ve been really inspired by a uk artist found here: http://lexwilson.co.uk/
My first non-school exhibition
pretty mama Chroicoragh ♡
A reader came to visit. She’d never seen Gypsy Horses in person, and we had a great time playing with the girls. Thanks, Jordan!

 

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Thanks

So, I’m sure you’ve noticed a huge gap in posts. I mean, of course you have, because you’re a regular reader and you love my wit, and you can’t WAIT until you see a new post from me!

Kind of like how I am with The Hermitage, Dreams + Jeans, and Fine Art Tips.

A lot has been going on. I have been taking 17 credit hours this semester, and I can’t remember the last time I’ve worked so hard and been so happy in that work. I’m telling you right now: If you’ve been in a slump, or maybe want to advance in your career but lack of a degree is holding you back; GO TO SCHOOL, even if it’s just one class at a time.

journey

There’s nothing that will revive you more than feeding your brain. It’s the perfect time in the economy, too. Things are starting to bounce back, but it’s slow going and business is still slow enough that if you wanted to, you could squeeze in a morning or evening class. Some of them are scheduled to only meet once a week, if that’s all you can commit. There are loads of scholarships available, and enrollment is down, so they WANT you to go to school.

But assuming you can afford one class per semester – maybe two – what would you take? What has always piqued your interest? Ancient Egypt? Art History 101- Prehistoric to the Gothic, or World History to 1500.

king tut

What have you always wondered more about? How to really use Excel, so you can go up a paygrade at work? CIS 105 or Excel Level I.

Or, have you always wondered why rocks look like this? Take Geology 101! I liked it so much I took 102 as well.

sandstone

Why don’t you do something for you? You’ve always wanted to try painting. Remember how much you loved watching Bob Ross? I recommend taking Color Theory first. It’s been a challenge, but a good one!

Think about it.

Besides school, we’ve had a few birthdays

IMG_5997

IMG_6667 - Version 2

and lost our two best friends :(

Butter (aka Best Dog in the World) was 13, and Pepper (2nd Best Dog in the World) was 12. They passed away within a month of each other.

butter and pepper

Our new girl, Juniper, was a birthday surprise, and missed meeting Pepper by two days, but kept Butter company for the last month. She’s adorable, and smart, and keeps us all on our toes.

Juniper

The horses have gotten hairy. They got a post-Halloween treat.

horses eating pumpkin

Keira is still for sale. It’s strange, I think she must be waiting for the perfect home. I’ve had several people interested in her, and a few offers, but they all fell through for various reasons. All she needs is time and attention. She’s super smart and sweet, and responds well to training (see video on her page). I’m so surprised she hasn’t sold yet, because she’s pretty close to perfect. But that’s just my opinion ;)

keira

I gave my first class lecture

lecture ARH101

and we’ve had some rain.

IMG_7123
my Land Art installation, titled “Direction”

Coming up, I’ve got a post on a popular author, a round-up of my projects for the semester, an out-of-town writing conference (so exciting!), and after Christmas, I get to go visit my family. Please continue to keep my sister-in-law and our parents in your thoughts. This is our first holiday without John, and he is greatly missed.

john & chris

Here and now, it’s holiday time in the desert, cool and crisp in the morning, sunny in the afternoon.

I’m thankful for it all – my family, our health & home, the opportunities we have.

And to you, for taking the time to visit.

smiley face, rocks

Much love,

Heidi

If you’d like to do more online browsing, please stop by my friends’ sites:

Pb Crazy

r. mccormack writes

taysteele.com

strategicbongo

TracyJoyCreative

Back to School

Here’s a picture of me, my first week back to school, after a 22-year-break:

negative space drawing

I’ve been fortunate enough to have been a stay-at-home mom for 16 years, and a few years ago, went back to work part-time to help out with things like grocery money. Weird thing about teenage boys is, they like to eat. I enjoyed my job slinging magazines at the grocery store, and my other part-time job, driving delivery lunches for a couple of really awesome caterers. But the work was hard on my back, and I kept thinking…what’s next? Am I going to be lugging 20-lb bundles of Vanity Fair down to the checkstand when I’m 60?

So I started looking for a “real” job. Something that might earn me more money, maybe some benefits, and something I might be proud of. Not that I wasn’t proud of the way I lined up and categorized the magazine aisle, but I think you know what I mean.

And after perusing all of the jobs listings that seemed of interest to me, I realized: I can’t do any of them. As much as I would love to get into a marketing job (literary agent, maybe?), design, or editing, I have no experience or job training – other than keeping two boys and a husband in relatively clean clothes and lasagne for the past twenty years.

So, what could I do? Work part time for the rest of my life? Go back to retail or waitressing? Real Estate?

Luckily the timing worked out right, and back to school I went.

negative space drawing

I’ve had more than a few people tell me that I would make a good teacher.

Growing up with an ĂĽber-feminist mother in the 1970s, in the days when there were only 3 major professions a woman was expected to aspire to were: secretary, nurse, and teacher, and having my mom always telling me that I could be ANYTHING, and that I should never settle for status quo, the idea of being a teacher never appealed to me. (Well, besides the office supplies, and being able to write on a chalkboard.) But it just seemed so unglamorous. Besides, I was going to be a movie star, remember?

When I began to look at what I really enjoyed it occurred to me that I really do like to teach things to people. And I’ve always loved art, have also always wanted to learn more about art and how to be a better artist. And whenever I did try to imagine myself as a teacher, I thought I would love to be an art teacher.

my son with our class's Paolo Soleri windbells
my son with our class’s Paolo Soleri windbells

When my youngest son was in elementary school, I offered to be the classroom volunteer for the Art Masterpiece program. As part of the program, volunteers were invited to attend free classes at the Phoenix Art Museum. Then we got all sorts of ideas for lessons and how to integrate them into the classroom. We could even tour the museum for free, and ask all sorts of questions to the Art Librarian. Over the next couple of years we made Paolo Soleri-inspired windbells, Lichtenstein-style portraits, and charcoal drawings of the desert. I couldn’t believe how much I loved it. And while the idea of volunteering in the classroom (usually for some sort of party) typically made me cringe, I couldn’t wait to get in there with those kids and talk about art.

pop art
Lichtenstein’s Girl With Hair Ribbon, and a 3rd-grader’s self pop art self portrait

The most surreal part of starting college again was that the day before my very first day of school, my dad called – that 2:30 AM call that no one wants – to tell me my brother had died. I’d been on the phone with family, crying for 24 hours, and then I’m putting on a backpack and carrying a sack lunch. It was all too weird.

what am I doing here?

The first few weeks of school, my brain and my heart fought between being excited and happy, or heartbroken and crying. More than once, I had to excuse myself from class because it was just too much. But I felt him, every step of the way. My brother had gone back to school in his 30’s and received his degree in music education. He is part of the reason I decided to give it a try.

I learned so much my first semester: How I’m in LOVE with art history; how I get all science-nerd-fangirl over geology stuff; how, even though I’m a rockstar computer whiz when it comes to blogging, I don’t know sh*t about Excel (my only B!), how I get way in over my head for simple design assignments, and while I’m decent at drawing, I still have a long way to go.

Krusty Krab
This was a “candy box” design assignment. I made The Krusty Krab. Yes, folks, this is college. :D

Even my summer school classes, English 102 and Public Speaking – which I thought would be a breeze – challenged me in ways I never expected.

Look for more about my school adventures in the future. It’s certainly an overwhelming change of pace, going from full time mom to full time student, especially as an older -excuse me – non-traditional student, but it feels good. I have always loved to learn, and maybe I’m at the right time in my life where I’m able to appreciate the lessons. Wish me luck.

Look for Images from my first semester in the next post: Back to School: Projects