My boyfriend’s mom asked if I could draw an eagle carrying a set of scales to promote a social gathering for legal professionals. I like it when people give me unique ideas for things I wouldn’t usually draw.
I recently hosted my very first Second Saturday workshop, Draw Like Keith Haring, at Art Enables in Washington, DC. Art Enables is a gallery and vocational arts program dedicated to creating opportunities for artists with disabilities to make, market, and earn income from their original artwork. Learn more about the workshop.
An art teacher friend of mine gave me the excellent idea of creating Keith Haring-style stencils for participants to trace. The simplicity and affordability of this activity make it perfect for artists of all ages and skill levels.
Getting Started To create my stencils, I drew various arms, legs, heads, and torsos on brightly colored cardstock paper. For added variety, I made several Haring-style dog, cat, mouse, and person heads. After cutting out the many pieces, I used metal brads (from Amazon) to assemble my stencils. Each stencil was approximately 10″ tall after assembly.
Workshop Setup I stocked each table at the workshop with the following:
Let’s Make Some Art As guests arrived for the workshop, I showed each of them the instructional PDF and went over the process. Each participant followed these steps to create their own Keith Haring masterpiece:
Recently I finished painting this special watercolor of a Marguerite Daisy. The Marguerite is the official flower of P.E.O. International (Philanthropic Education Organization). The official P.E.O. slogan is, “Women helping women reach for the stars.”
Three years ago, a Maryland chapter of P.E.O. awarded me a grant so I could pay for books during graduate school. Even though my employer was covering tuition, money was too tight for me to cover the remaining fees and overpriced college textbooks.
Although I felt embarrassed applying for a grant when I already had a full-tuition rebate, it was no time to be shy. I was still swimming in undergraduate debt plus the crippling general expenses of being a live human in her 20s. Because I worked in the education field at the time, a master’s degree appeared to be a life raft to higher income status. With dreams of someday being able to afford adulthood, I quit waffling and applied.
The P.E.O. members that I met were very kind and understanding. They saw a young woman making ends meet, but who still needed a boost. I was very clear to mention that I just needed some help with books and fees. The grant they gave me was enough to cover books and fees for the remainder of my schooling.
After I graduated with my M.S. in Marketing Management, I was invited to become a member of the local chapter that funded my grant. We meet regularly and work together to find ways that we can support other women. When we award a new grant or scholarship to a deserving woman, I feel like we are helping her reach the stratosphere!
At a luncheon later this month, we will raffle off my painting and the proceeds will fund our grants and scholarships for women. It feels good to give back in some kind of way, since P.E.O. generously offered me a hand when I was struggling financially. When you’re facing hard times with money and someone lifts that burden for you, the feeling is indescribable.
My dream is that someday, community colleges and public universities will be tuition-free to attend… or at least accurately price-adjusted based on merit and/or financial need (we all know the FAFSA is complete B.S.). I think there are a lot of hardworking people out there who are experiencing pushback when what they should be receiving is the support to complete their degree.
I hope we sell enough raffle tickets to give a generous scholarship to a fellow hardworking woman. I will feel so proud!
The Choptank River Lighthouse stained glass panel that I designed and built has now reached permanent display status. It is finally in the home it was designed for, next to that awesome glittery sink and under a skylight.
Nicolas T., a Horticulture student at my work, came up with the idea for an herbal tea product during an entrepreneurship class. Over the past 12 months our department has watched his idea rapidly develop, culminating in a product launch at the campus food co-op last week.
Taking off on his initial product idea, Nicolas grew Tulsi, Skullcap, and other ingredients for his tea blend in the UMD Community Learning Garden. He then navigated the bureaucracy of both the University AND state food safety laws to create a market-ready product: Terrapin Tea. If you have ever worked for a state-run organization, then you understand what a significant feat of tenacity and perseverance this is.
In addition to his pursuit of product viability, Nicolas harvested tea seven days a week, worked full-time at an off-site internship, dehydrated and packaged tea leaves at the Maryland Food Co-op, and still made the Dean’s List.
In exchange for some of said product, Nicolas asked me to design his Terrapin Tea logo. When his product launched at the Maryland Food Co-op on campus last week, I jumped at the opportunity to take some photos.
My co-worker, Heather, wrote a very engaging article about the entire process. I highly encourage a read! The rest of the photos I took are available on Flickr.
Nicolas (right) describing his product to Larisa and Amy.
Yesterday I finished this watercolor painting in memory of my pet Uromastyx, Liz Lemon. Liz passed away on January 20, 2018. She was one cool reptile and an excellent roommate; I miss her dearly. My apartment is not the same without Big Liz in her desert habitat, lounging under a heat lamp and gazing through the window at other, less spectacular animals. Painting this portrait helped me get through the doldrums of the past week or so without her.
“Art is not a handicraft, it is the transmission of feeling the artist has experienced.”
– Leo Tolstoy
Last Saturday, January 20, my beloved Uromastyx lizard passed away. Liz Lemon was one of my favorite subjects to photograph, and the original mascot of this blog. I named her after one of my favorite Tina Fey characters.
Just a few of the many things about Liz that I will dearly miss:
harvesting lettuces, carrots, and marigolds for her from the UMD Community Learning Garden
making videos of her scarfing down lettuce, while playing the Jurassic Park theme in the background
watching her chill on her reptile ramp, or hang her big belly between two hollowed-out log tunnels
the way she would eat matchstick carrots dipped in vitamin goo out of my hand
her happy lizard smize (smile with lips + eyes = smizing)
when she was too heavy for her original reptile hammock and accidentally pulled it down, and her subsequent refusal to trust the newer, more durable hammock
the way she would hang out at the end of her habitat closest to me when I would work from home
her hobby of chasing moths and Swiffer dusters which dared to venture too close
how she loved to bask by the window and watch the happenings in the yard
I was not her original owner, but I place her age at around 10 years (maybe more). I inherited Liz in 2010 from a fellow student at Salisbury University. Since that time, every time I got a new job or a raise I would build up Liz’s habitat. She was part of the reason that I became a gardener; Liz was a vegetarian and I enjoyed growing food for her. I called her my “big girl” because of that Uromastyx pot belly!
Fortunately, my sister Kelly was visiting for the weekend and provided Liz with a presidential motorcade in her black Lincoln sedan back to my parents’ house. There Liz received a proper burial in a beautiful red cookie tin that came from one of my favorite students at work. To me, this was preferable to burying Liz in the yard of my current apartment. I feared that her sensitive reptilian soul would be stuck hearing my upstairs landlord abuse people over the phone for the rest of eternity.
There isn’t much this week that can diminish my sadness over losing Liz. She was my buddy and a delightfully silent roommate for almost eight years. I had hoped that we would have several more years together and maybe I would buy a house for myself that she could live in rent-free.
Liz saw nearly all of my 20s and witnessed my various victories and setbacks. Her empty tank is a tear-inducing sight. But if I can someday provide another Uromastyx with a loving home, I will be happy to do it in her memory.
At Numi Yoga on November 3, I am leading a mixed-media mandala workshop. To prepare for this workshop, I have painted several mandalas and observed the history of these hypnotic images. Altogether this has been a new experience for me, and now I can’t stop drawing these! No two are alike.
The Sanskrit word “mandala” is loosely translated to mean “circle.” Hindus were one of the first people to use the mandala spiritually, but the mandalas that most individuals find familiar are ones made by Buddhists. In many cultures, the circle represents infinity, but a mandala represents more than simple geometry. Mandalas represent the infinite universe, and wholeness within one’s self.
The owner of Numi Yoga, Kelsey, and I brainstormed together for a painting party image that would reflect the restorative qualities of yoga. Not only is the mandala tranquil, but relatively easy as an art project. I want people to relax during this art experience!
The creation of a mandala can have significant meaning for any individual, especially those who enjoy meditation. For me, any type of painting or drawing activity is meditative. The purpose of our mandala-making at Numi Yoga will be relaxation paired with the fulfillment of learning a new skill. It will be an experience not to miss.
Recently I had the opportunity to tag along with my co-worker, Ken Ingram, and his Landscape Design and Implementation students as they went on a field trip to The Hotel at the University of Maryland (UMD). It had been a very long time since I went on a field trip; in my opinion, it was a blast.
The Hotel at UMD is in the final stages of development, and one of Ken’s former students, Buddy Hipp, oversaw the planning and installation of native landscaping on the property. Because The Hotel is conveniently located just across the street from campus, Buddy contacted Ken to offer current students the opportunity to walk over from Jull Hall for a landscaping tour.
Our experience exploring the new building, admiring the recently-installed trees and shrubs, and hearing about Buddy’s experience as the landscaping project lead was very informative. It is obvious that he enjoys his work as a project manager for Ashton Manor Environmental, a company with a focus on sustainable landscaping. To me, it sounds like an ideal job.
I took numerous photos and Buddy graciously agreed to be interviewed for a quick Alumni Spotlight video (see below). If you would like to learn more, here is a news item that I wrote for our website at work.