Monday, May 22, 2017

The Folk Artist

I became a folk artist by default during the summer of my senior year in college. Student teaching would not commence unless I satisfied a single remaining academic credit hour. Sister Mary Lois O.P., esteemed professor and formidable ruling chair of the art department at the Catholic college I attended suggested an independent study agreement to fulfill my obligation. We met in early June, contracted, and went our separate ways. The path I took entertained a glorious summer of beaches, boyfriends, and bars - my last as a single, non-working girl.

On or about the first of August the party was over. I had two (2) weeks to produce a compendium of two (2) month's "Craft Work in America" research and two (2) representative studio originals. What followed was a desperate around-the-clock whirlwind of designing, fabric prep and constructing. I recruited help from mother and two sympathetic sisters, paying the latter to hook and stitch with me on an awkward little rug and a wall banner of many primitive patches. Grabbing sides, we'd feverishly attack, hoping to meet in the middle by the moment the clock struck midnight on Portfolio Day.

On that morning I slunk into Sister's office, laid the goodies on her desk and inwardly cowered in fear. "I don't think she's gonna buy this stuff!"

But I was wrong.

"Ohhh," Sister breathed, radiating an approving smile, "Folk Art!" I picked myself up off the floor, scrambled to recover and solemnly muttered, "Yes, Sister." (blessmefatherforIhavelied....a lot!) "I have indeed chosen Folk Art as my independent study topic."

Folk Art, they say, is characterized by its unschooled nature. It disregards the niceties of tedious things like formal/informal balance and spatial relationships, yet it still manages to please. Forgiving many things, it is, apparently, friendly to those in a hurry, to those in need of lessons in honesty, and to those suffering guilt wrought by a procrastinating nature. The genre also fondly welcomes those who simply enjoy immortalizing the creatures with whom they share their laps and the pillows on their beds. It is a means of expression that has, indeed, been forgiving and friendly to me. And today, many decades beyond our first awkward encounter, I enjoy being friendly right back to it!

Friday, May 5, 2017

Win 20 Books From Dover Publications!

Esteemed children's author, Emilie Buchwald, states, "Children are made readers on the laps of their parents." I'd expand that sentiment to include grandparents! My fondest "heaven on earth" moments find me rocking away, a cherub or two upon my lap, eyes glued to volumes shared. Fairy tale fiction, puzzles and poems, how-to, heroes, and history.....heeding Dr. Suess: "The more that you read, the more things you will know!"

I'm delighted to offer you a chance to win a collection of 20 books ($135 value) to share with the little ones in your life. Enter the Dover publication GRAND give away by clicking here before midnight on June 30, 2017. The winner will be notified by email on July 5, 2017 and also posted at GRAND magazine. 

Can't wait that long to see if you've won? Enjoy immediate savings of 25% on over 10,000 books when you visit Dover Publications today. Use code WJAG at checkout before September 30, 2017. I think you'll like the vast range of topics covering crafting, coloring, drawing, writing, reading, cooking, magic, and puzzles. A rich summer of "grandma-and-me" fun awaits within the pages of these books! (Reminds me of philosopher Voltaire: "Let us read, and let us dance; these two amusements will never do harm to the world!")

Since our founding in 1941, we’ve built our reputation by offering remarkable products at amazing prices. Everyone in the Dover family wants you to be delighted with your purchase. When you shop at Dover, you may do so with complete confidence. We stand behind every product we sell with our unconditional guarantee.
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Early Literacy – Why It’s So Important

It is critical to help young children be ready for school by working with them to develop early literacy and learning skills.  Because strong reading skills form the basis for learning in all subjects, it is important to identify those who struggle with reading as early as possible. Children who have been read to at home come to school with important early literacy skills.  They are prepared to learn to read and write. Children who have not had many experiences listening to books read aloud or talking about books typically start school with poor early literacy skills.

This is a sponsored post by Dover publications.

Monday, May 1, 2017


The stroke of a brush, a flourish of glitter, or a generous dollop of glue are often able solvers of life's little day-to-day dilemmas. For those that defy solution, try a crafty grandkid's finger on the control button of a spray paint can! Problems? Now you see them, now you don't!

Six year old Brielle was excited to participate in the annual Art Show sponsored by her elementary school. Kids were invited to submit an original piece - their own work - for judging by family, friends, and other students. Bree's idea was to create a cardboard sculpture of her beloved kitty, Hudson. We exchanged a knowing wink; there'd be spray paint involved, and she's had plenty of practice at grandma's! (Moms and dads, generally, are not fans of turning kids loose at home, armed with cans of "Fire Engine Red" or "Knock 'Em Dead Purple!")

And, since this grandma has never met a cardboard box or wrapping paper tube she didn't deem worthy of saving, Bree was able to pick and chose feline body parts from an ample basement stash. She liked a pair of giant wiggle eyes and a pink foam heart, too. From there, it was back home, to the kitchen table, to get busy!

Pointy ears, cardboard legs, cotton ball paws, and a generous sweep of glitter had Hudson's mirror image glowing with glossy glamour atop a generously applied orange coat. With a swish of his pipe cleaner-pom pom tail, he was ready to go!

Patiently waiting in line to register, this pair purred with anticipation!

Hudson had an assigned number and a place on the judging tables along with 158 other entries! Here he is, standing proudly on his cotton ball paws in the K-2nd grade division!

Art patrons milled about the crowded gym, admiring, commenting, voting....moms, dads, siblings - and grandparents. Lots of grandparents! - some "attending" from miles away, viewing the show via FaceTime, others taken directly by hand, proudly steered to wrinkly-cornered paintings, wobbly-stacked sculptures...."Here it is, grandma! You can vote for me!" We exchanged fond, indulgent smiles, those other grandmas and I. It's secret "Grandparent Code," you know - our own are always cutest, always best, but we graciously celebrate one another too, fellow travelers on the same road, savoring the status we've earned along the way.

And no, Hudson didn't return home adorned in best-of-show splendor. Some days, there are more ways to win than just the obvious ones.....