March 7, 2011 Comments Off on perfection

Conference week this week.  One down, three to go.  C’s ELP teacher this afternoon shared this bit of his philosophy:

Perfection is always right in front of you, but you can’t catch it.

I think I’m going to give the kid a copy of Plato’s Dialogues for his birthday, since that guy thought pretty much the same thing.


6th grade art

March 4, 2011 Comments Off on 6th grade art

“So, C, what’s on the agenda for today?” I asked over breakfast.

“Hm.  Not much.  Band.  Art.”

“How’s art going?”

“It’s OK.  But I think art should be about drawing and stuff.  Not about [air quotes] meeting grade level expectations.”


cartoon advice

February 28, 2011 Comments Off on cartoon advice

On the way to the ER, C suggests, apropos of not very much, that “if you’re ever in a cartoon and you run off a cliff?  Just don’t look down.  You’ll be fine.”

Like I said, this drive to the hospital was pretty relaxed.

marbled paper

February 12, 2011 Comments Off on marbled paper

Fellow local parents will know that the one thing that has p*ssed us off more than anything is that, in an otherwise superb local school district, art has occasionally been taught by taking points off for coloring outside the lines or leaving white space on pages.  I once told C that if he ever brought home a bad grade for coloring outside the lines, we’d go out for ice cream.

This strikes close to home, because I teach in a sort of artsy field, albeit one that’s heavy on “applied.”  Especially in a college town that’s heavy, heavy into the sciences, art gets short shrift, and our students often come to college without ever having done a charcoal drawing, or a watercolor.

So when O came home the other day saying they’d been doing marbled paper, I was a bit nonplussed.  This sounded more like “craft” to me–follow directions, glue the popsicle sticks in the right place, and get graded on how much glue you spilled, right?  Wrong.  “We’re doing them to explore color theory.”  Whoa, wait a minute.  That’s pretty awesome.  The traditional way of “exploring” color theory is to do a color wheel, showing how one color blends into another, and seeing the mathematical relationships between colors and their complements.  All very scientific, but without much in the way of intuition, which is what color is really all about.  A lot of architects who went to Bauhaus-inspired schools did these endlessly in their first year.  A quick shout out to those of us who went through a Beaux-Arts structure instead and did a year of (admittedly wretched) watercolors instead?

Anyway, the teacher showed them how to marble paper using chalk and water–the dust floats, and the surface tension makes patterns out of the various colors.  You dip the paper in to a couple of colors, and you get these incredibly lush, complex patterns as a result.

So, if you’re playing with color theory, you get to see what happens not when you blend colors, but when colors work together. This is a tough thing for designers to learn (I’m terrible at it), but what an awesome way to play around with this a little bit and see what happens when, say, orange, green, and black are all in the same palette.

And, of course, when you mix all of them together, you don’t get brown, you get something much more interesting.  The proof that this exercise worked?  O can’t stop talking about it, and wants to try it at home.  I’m slightly in awe of the teacher that came up with this…

dinner conversation

January 23, 2011 Comments Off on dinner conversation

C:  “Spaghetti and meatballs are pretty good.”

Me:  “I thought you’d like them.  They seem like a C kind of dish.”

C:  “Did you ever wonder how Darth Vader can talk and breathe at the same time?”

Me:  “Not really, but now I kind of do.”

knowing what’s in there

January 8, 2011 Comments Off on knowing what’s in there

So the other day I said something to C about how glad I was that he’d tried some new stuff this past week.  He demurred, as he does, and said it wasn’t that bad.  “The tomato sauce was easy, Dad,” he said, “because I helped make it.  I knew what was in it.”

So we’ll try to quietly build on that.  I don’t think it would work with, say anchovy sauce, or sweetbreads.  But having the two of them in the kitchen, in addition to being a world of fun, maybe expands some horizons?   Both asked for lasagna tomorrow, totally from left field, so I’ll get the girl to help make a Bolognese today, and we’ll chill it overnight.  It’s always better that way, and then the boy can help throw it together tomorrow afternoon.

Leftovers tonight.  We’ve got a fridge full of fried chicken and macaroni and cheese, and if that’s all there Monday I’m just going to eat it.

cookie philosophy

January 3, 2011 Comments Off on cookie philosophy

As we’re eating the still-warm chocolate chips, O and C debate hot versus room temperature cookies.  O:  “H and I disagree about this.  She says hot cookies are always better.  But what about frosted?  Hot frosting is just disgusting.”

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