Tag Archives: community

It’s All Good

Spirits lifted.

I wish it weren’t so, but there are days that drift by when I don’t notice anything in particular that will fill my sails with wind. My Dad entered hospice care two weeks before school ended in May; it’s been a difficult summer for my family. This week I went back to in-service at my school and, truthfully, I was not emotionally ready to give up my summer, even though this summer has not been one of excitement or much happiness. Although it is great to see my colleagues, it’s been hard to get back in the swing of things. By the end of the week, however, I started noticing little things that caused my heart to skip and smile. It was a pleasant surprise to get four quiet shout-outs all within a few days of each other.

I try my best to daily practice these things: Always have integrity. Always work hard. Always be thankful. Always look for the silver lining. If I practice these things over and over, I’ve found that things usually work out.

Becoming a blogger has been a wonderful experience in many ways, but my favorite way is the online community that is forming around me. Blogging is making me more vocal. It is helping me to be brave. It is holding me accountable. The community of people who are willing to help each other and share encouraging words is the best part. It’s so easy to make someone feel good by simply “liking” their blog post. It’s affirming and encouraging and I love to receive those little nods of approval. WordPress sends me a notice every time someone “likes” or begins to “follow” my blog. Links to other’s blogs are included with these notifications and it is fun to check out who liked what I wrote. As of this writing, I have 75 followers and 24 Twitter followers; this equals 99! (Who will be number 100?) This is so encouraging to me! Thank you so much everyone. I feel connected to you.

Because of blogging, I want to share four little examples of how I was encouraged this week:


I received an email from the NAEA (National Art Educators Association) congratulating me that my proposal called Blogging in the Art Classroom, had been accepted for inclusion for the 2013 NAEA National Convention in Fort Worth, Texas! I was told that they received a record number of highly competitive presentation proposals this year and they accepted just over 1,000 of them! Without giving it all away, I will tell you that last spring I developed an art project for my high school students that required them to make a blog and keep it for fourteen days. It involved photography and poetry and was met by enthusiasm from both the students and my school. If you are a teacher planning on attending the Fort Worth NAEA convention, please sign up for my session!!!


When I went to the WDS 2012 conference in Portland this past June, one of my roomies at the Hostelling International Northwest Portland Hostel was a young woman, unbelievably who attended high school just across town from where I currently live in Dallas. She now lives in Germany, however. She’s involved in the arts, teaches yoga and is about to embark on a new adventure with her husband. We became quick friends and shared our blogs with one another. She read my post a few weeks ago about my Dad and felt my charcoal drawings would compliment an article she was writing for her blog. She asked my permission to use these drawings and I happily agreed. You can read her post called “On The Farm” here where her beautiful poetry and my drawings are featured.


Quillan and Angela found my blog article, En Plein Air in the Plain Air and marked the “like” symbol at the bottom of my post. When I was notified of their “like”, I went to their “pun intended” blog, Toemail and found their blog to be hilariously about toes. “. . . making the world a better place, one foot at a time” reads their tagline. This creative team accepts pictures of feet and toes to post on their site and there are many wonderful examples sent in from people all over the world. I decided to submit some photos of my own feet from several years ago after I underwent foot surgery. After they received my submissions, and with my permission, they chose to post my photos and a link to my blog on their blog! You must click on this link and look at these photos of my feet! They’re funny, if I do say so myself! Paying it forward is the name of the game in blogging and in doing so the world becomes a little bit smaller and community grows.


Last night, about 8 pm, I received a phone call from a new teacher friend in Taiwan! Originally she read my post about ISR (International Schools Review), found my email address on my blog and wrote me. Unbelievably, my new friend is from Texas (like me) but now teaches internationally and we’ve been emailing back and forth, sharing our life experiences and encouraging one another. I’m so happy that I wrote that blog post because by doing so I’ve made a new friend. We’re critiquing each other’s resumes as we head into the international hiring season this fall and we’re practicing talking on Skype. Although we met online, I can’t wait to meet her on land one of these days.

Have you ever thought about blogging? The way it was explained to me was that once you determine your unique interest and curiosity, the entire world is a captive audience. That’s big, my friend. By sharing yourself and your interests, you will benefit others simply by being YOU. You have so much value. What the world needs now is YOU. Consider it. I’m glad I did.

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A Global Commodity

Art and pork bellies.

One hundred thirty eight years ago, in 1874, a group of artists gathered in Paris to show their artwork to the public inside a former photographer’s studio. Many of these artists had been rejected by the Salon, the royally sanctioned French institution that determined if artwork was acceptable, satisfactory and superior. The influence of the Salon was absolutely undisputed, and for an artist to exhibit in their space meant their artwork was excellent. The artist was almost fully guaranteed to be successful. After being rejected from showing their work at the Salon, several artists set up their own exhibition and the public ridicule commenced. Not only were their paintings thought of as crudely rendered, they had disregarded the element of line and changed the color of objects and landscapes from the appearance of reality! (Can you imagine!!) According to the historical critique, The Exhibition of the Revoltes, written by Emile Cardon for La Presse, the artists’ “scribblings” both sickened and disgusted. One can imagine how horrible these paintings must have looked to have received such a disparaging description. How embarrassing, right? Didn’t these artists know how horrible their work was? Why on earth would they go to such measures to invite criticism? Often, contemporary art is described in this way. You may be surprised to learn that these rebellious, seemingly untalented artists, who refused to accept the jurors’ assessment, are none other than some of the 21st century’s most beloved artists:  Monet, Degas, Cezanne and Renoir.

Throughout history, it is not uncommon for the public to disregard the cutting edge artwork being produced and exhibited in the current culture. We’ve all known incidences in which people say, when walking through a gallery or museum, “My kindergartner could have done that.”

But the fact is . . . they didn’t.

In The History of Impressionism, author, John Rewald says, “It requires tremendous courage and limitless faith to overcome such adversities…” He goes on to say, “How hard it must be for the timid, and even for the self-confident and ambitious, for the poor, and even for the rich, to stand up under constant derision without being paralyzed in their creative efforts!”

Over the past month, I’ve attended three contemporary art fairs. The first one was the Dallas Art Fair, where I live, and the other two were in New York: Pulse and Frieze, which are both international in scope. Granted, some of what I saw bewildered even me, a professional, contemporary artist who has been making and exhibiting art for 30 years. Yet, I was truly inspired by most pieces I saw. As a working artist, I know the dedication and courage it takes to both produce the work and then to put it on public display. My skin has become thick enough that negative commentary about my work bounces off, for the most part.

The courage that is necessary to produce and exhibit a piece of artwork is not dissimilar to the courage needed to break out of the routine life many of us find ourselves in. When people become brave enough to mold their lives in an unconventional way, whether through travel or career, many people are quick to condemn. Life is short. Do what your heart is leading you to do. Be brave. Do it. There may be many who condemn, but surprisingly, you are sure to find a community that will support you. And once you become brave enough to start forming words to verbally express what you are considering, you will begin to hear the applause from your fans and well-wishers.

Build it and they will come.

In this excellent episode on 60 Minutes, Morley Safer describes the current, contemporary art scene, as it relates to international art fairs and the global economy.  It is well worth your time to watch.

It is encouraging to hear that when our world economy suffers, contemporary art is thriving. Please watch and tell me how you’ve been brave!

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