Hello Tigers! It is a rainy day here in South Florida so I decided to stay in today and concentrate on art. I am all caught up with my school work so my mind is free to create.
When I was unpacking a few weeks ago, I came across a box of photos. I spent hours looking through the box enjoying reminiscing my past. I smiled to myself when I came across of photo of my son when he was a teenager wearing his jean jacket leaning up against an old barn door. It was always one of my favorite photos of him so today I decided to sketch that photo. I got out my pencils and pastels and I began the drawing. I am half way through the sketch but I need to take a break. Sometimes, stepping away from your work is necessary because you get too involved and you can't see mistakes. So, I shall stop now and make lunch. I will write to all of you tonight. Have a great day, Ms. B.
So, what does your teacher do on a Saturday? Let me tell you...I woke up at 6 and had coffee and finished reading an art book about Kazimir Malevch. Then I got my sewing machine out to make two pillows for my living room...then took a long bike ride on my really cute powder blue bike. I finally ended up at LA Fitness and I took a great Pilates class. Now, it's laundry, grocery shopping, cleaning, a little studying for my class and then meeting friends at 6! It sounds mundane to teenagers but I feel that every day of my life is beautiful because I wake up and with a thankful and grateful heart, and that makes it beautiful. Try it...trust me...if you wake up and say all the things that you are thankful for, it will change your entire attitude and then eventually change your entire day. I promise you, I will never steer you wrong. Love, Ms. B.
Hello Tigers. Today is Friday so I put this day aside for painting. I know...I went to the beach this morning with my friends' little girl, but my friend had a Dr.'s appointment and needed help. So, here's is what I accomplished today. I am building up the painting. I have to be honest with you, I'm not as patient as I use to be when using watercolor! It is an arduous process of layering the paint, and this is a very large painting. I am losing patience and I need to stop. Watercolor use to be my favorite medium to work in but now I prefer only oils. The only reason that I even worked in watercolors is because of the convenience of the paint. When working with oils, you must have space, ventilation and an area that is safe. You can't drop oil paint on a wood floor or carpet. Well, I am off to meet my friends for dinner down in Fort Lauderdale. I had a great day so far...it will only get better with good friends and great food. Love you guys, Ms. B.
Well, here I sit at Starbucks, staring at my skinny vanilla latte, thinking, "What should I write about this morning"? I took a sip of my coffee (deep in thought) when a man looked at me and asked me if I was doing work on the computer. I told him no, I was off for the summer...I'm a teacher. Of course the next question that follows is, "Where do you teach"?
Every time that I say, Blanche Ely High School, I get the same reaction: Wow, you teach at Ely, that's a tough school? Yes! I teach at Ely and it is the best job that I have ever had...with the greatest kids that I have ever had the honor & privilege to teach!
People often ask me, "How do you do it? How do you get over 300 high school kids a day in oversized classes to listen to you"? I can answer that question in just one word: RELATIONSHIPS.
Rules without relationships don't work. If someone doesn't respect you or doesn't think you are worthy enough to be respected or simply doesn't like you, why would they listen to you? It is all about building relationships. Of course, there is also dedication, the ability to command an audience, talent, passion, and the knowledge of ones' subject matter, but a teacher can have all of those qualities but if she does not build good relationships with her students she will have problems with discipline, I guarantee.
Kids don't learn from people they don't like, it's a fact. You can be the smartest person in the world...but that won't make you a good teacher, either!
So how does a teacher build relationships? Is it the box of granola bars in her desk for anyone who is hungry. Or the endless pocket of change for the vending machine? Is it giving up planning time, lunch or opening the room before and after school for your students? No...it helps, but it is not the answer. I believe that kids KNOW if you are sincere, if you like them and if you truly care. Kids can tell...trust me.
Teaching and learning should be a joy! What would the world be like if every child had an adult who would tell them every day how special they are? That they can do great things and be great if they just do their best! Can you only imagine?
So...why do you think I point out to you guys every day all the beautiful qualities that I see in you? I tell you just in case you didn't notice yourself and just in case no one ever took the time to notice how special you are. Sometimes it takes just one person in your life that believes in you to change things around! You all can do whatever in life you want to do if you just set the goal and do what it takes to make it happen. I'll be here cheering you on all the way.
Hopefully, one day you will come back to see me like so many of my former students and say to me, "Thanks, Ms. B., you made a difference in my life. You made me feel like I was somebody...you told me I was great and when you said that I believed you and guess what Ms. B....I have a great life.I wanted to come back and show you what I did with my life. Thank you for believing in me".
Another refill of coffee and I'm off to live a glorious day! I love you guys, Ms. B.
Do you remember the earlier photo that I took of my studio space all nice and neat...well, look at it now! I had to add another table to make more room. I now have five paintings going all at the same time. I've been told that I am a little ADHD...do you think??? But just like I told you in class, when you have this in your personality, make it work for you. What can be your greatest weakness in life can turn out to be your greatest strength. But be careful because it goes both ways. Your greatest strength can turn into your greatest weakness. I have to go...it's Wednesday night and church starts in 4 minutes...my conscience is telling me to turn my iPad off and pay attention. love, Ms. B.
Watching a bird was way more work than I anticipated! He poops when he flies around...his cage is messy....his food falls all over the place...he stole one of my earrings and I can't find it any where....he lands on my head and I'm afraid he will poop there...and he flew onto my keyboard and tore off the letter "z"! His mommy comes home tonight...thank goodness....
Hello, Tigers! This evening after I finished at the art gallery I decided to go over to the Bonnet House Museum to walk in the gardens. I took my sketch book with me, but I never ended up drawing. I just quietly walked the paths of the beautiful tropical gardens. I love to escape alone and just walk quietly. I use to do this as a child all the time in the woods behind my house in Pennsylvania.
The Bonnet House is a historical museum that sits on 35 acres located right by A1A and Sunrise Blvd. Most people don't even know that it exists. It is a haven for artists, musicians and writers to come and be creative. Today I saw many artists painting and drawing in the gardens...but I felt like walking and thinking.
As I walked along the paths I thought about my 'path of life'. At times in life, I feel that I am on the right path going exactly in the right direction while other times I lose sight of the path and feel lost. I know that I am lost and off my path of life, when the journey becomes arduous and I feel weak. I feel as though my walk is plodding and heavy...the scenery becomes dull and unfulfilling.
Once I come to the realization that I have veered off my path of life I quickly look for an opening of light ahead...it's usually right around the bend, but you have to look for it. The light and the opening is usually where you find the path. Then I hop back on the path and continue moving forward.
So today as I walked along the paths of the gardens at the Bonnet House I gave much thought to where I am going in life. I contemplated quietly if I was on the right path. I always know that I am when I feel happiness and peace. Today was full of happiness and peace.
I am going to paint tonight. I will write tomorrow. Thank you all for all the emails. I love you guys. My personal email is attached to the contact page of this site. Love, Ms. B.
Good morning Tigers! I wanted to show you a photo of one of my best friends standing next to a watercolor painting that I painted for her. The colors in the painting are a little more vibrant that what you see here, but I wanted you to see ways you can use your talent; by giving your art as a gift. My friend Kimberly admired a similar painting that I made at my place and she commented that it would look great in her house. So I made a mental note of that and when her birthday came around, I blessed her with this painting!
If there is someone special in my life, I don't want to just go to the mall and buy them something meaningless for their birthday. Instead, if I care or love someone, I will spend weeks and at times months painting them something special.
In my opinion, when you spend this much time on a gift you pour your heart, soul and thoughts into the gift. You are giving your friend a 'little piece of you'. Something that your mind & hands created special for just them.
To most people, if is priceless and special. I now have the reputation amongst my good friends as being kind, generous and thoughtful. So consider using your talent to bless someone close to you. I bet they light up and feel very special when they see all the time, thought and effort you put into their gift. Have a great day. I am off to the art gallery in Fort Lauderdale today. Love, Ms. B.
Master of Fine Arts in Creativity (MFA)
Institute for Advanced Professional Programs
As an aesthetic education teacher, my first thoughts are: how can one 'teach' creativity (it is innate, meaning you are born with it) and if you teach creativity, how would you actually measure/assess if the learner 'learned' it? It is way out there for my cerebral (but creative) brain to comprehend.
But, as I always do, I started thinking. Entrepreneurs create businesses. Entrepreneurs are not necessarily painters, dancers or musicians but they create non the less. They must be creative and think critically in order to achieve success.
Most people believe that if you are an artist, most likely you will not be good at business. Artists are notoriously known for being all over they place intellectually. passionately,emotinally...lack of focus...procrastinators....starting many things but finishing none...etc. On the other hand, if you are a business minded person you most likely are regimented, organized, logical and sequential in your thinking.
So, what if we teach kids to do both? Think creatively and critically. I try to do this (as all conscientious teacher do), but to get a degree in this is fascinating. One can now possibly major in the Fine Arts undergraduate and then pursue a graduate degree in 'Creativity'. I will copy and paste the description of the degree from one of the universities that offers it. It reads as follows:
You have a gratifying artistic pursuit and dream of dedicating your life to it. But transforming your talent into a venture that pays the bills isn’t as easy as it sounds. If you’re looking for a way to creatively pursue your passion and earn a living, consider our new Master of Fine Arts in Creativity.
No More Starving Artists
Traditional MFA programs focus on perfecting a single area of artistic study. Our new MFA in Creativity is designed to be unique: it blends art, creativity, and entrepreneurship in a way that will prepare you to have a regular, sustainable income.
During this program, you will:
Well, it is something to think about. I just wanted to teach you what I learned today. Once a teacher...always a teacher.
You are probably wondering..." does all Ms. B. think about is teaching? It's still summer for goodness sake! Go to the beach and stop thinking about school." I can't help it, I am an obsessed teacher. I told my old friend in NYC that at one point I wanted to step away from teaching to just paint. Not because I don't like teaching, but because when I am teaching it is all that I think about. Having said that, instead of going to the beach today, I decided to stop by 'Trash 2 Treasure' to see if there is anything interesting for our classroom..
So, if you ever wondered where I get all that 'stuff' in the art room, let me tell you! I belong to this recycling center! Trash 2 Treasure is a non-profit organization that has a mission to locate clean, re-usable materials and redistribute these items as valuable educational and artistic resources.
I have belong to this center for years. I renewed my membership as soon as I started teaching at Ely. By contributing nominal yearly dues, I am able to come to the recycling center and take as much as I want-as many times as I want, for my classroom. Individuals and businesses donate their unwanted items by donating them to this center in hopes that creative artists and educator will put them to good use. The video below gives you a little glimpse of the center. Maybe you would like to go...it is open to everyone! Ask me about it at school and I will explain further. Love you guys, Ms. B.
Good morning Tigers! Last night I finally finished this book. It was really good and I learned so much information about Da Vinci and his painting of the Mona Lisa. I have so much more information to pass on to you about this captivating painting. Every body knows her smile, but very few of us know her story.
Last semester you guys asked me, "Ms. B., what is so special about that painting." That question sparked many discussions in class, including the on going discussion of how art is valued and priced.
So, the teacher that I am...always learning...I also wanted to know who this woman was, why one of the most revered artist in history wanted to paint her and why her smile enchants us still.
The book was part biography, history and a little memoir. Tonight I will give more detail as to what I gleaned from reading the book. I am off to the recycling center in Fort Lauderdale to look for treasures for our classroom. I will post photos of this really cool place and the great people who volunteer there. Have a blessed day! Love, Ms. B.
Hello everyone! Here is my new studio space here in Florida. I am currently working on three paintings; two watercolors paintings and a painting of an African woman painted in acrylic on paper. I painted the background but my intentions are to finish the piece in a collage manner. I am cutting up old watercolor paintings that I discarded and I am gluing it all on top of the paint in order to create her African clothing. I am hoping that this piece conveys all the elements of art that I taught you in class. I am striving to achieve interesting composition, color, form, design, and texture! The mood that I would like to convey in this piece is of a woman who is "strong, beautiful and proud"! I will keep you posted on my progress. It's a glorious day...do something special today. Paint, read, write in your journals or get out there and exercise! Don't waste your day! Love, Ms.B.
For months now I have been following the city of Detroit's bankruptcy case. The city is in financial ruin and is filing for bankruptcy. To make this very simple...when one files for bankruptcy, they must first liquidate all assets in order to make a good faith effort to pay off all debtors.
Well, the city has an extensive collection of masterpieces in their museum, 'Detroit Institute of Arts'. The collection consists of Van Gogh's, Degas, Monet, Rivera's murals, Bruegel, just to name a few!
Therefore, the question has been raised in court, "should the city sell off all their art/masterpieces in order to pay off their debt prior to filing bankruptcy?" Hmmm...it is a complicated matter.
Remember my lectures & writings to you on how art is priced? We discussed who determines the price of masterpieces. Well, it has just been done in Detroit. An art investment firm, hired to determine the price of the city's art collection for the bankruptcy case, has determined that the museum's pieces are worth between 2.8 billion and 4.6 billion!
I find those numbers fascinating. How can you be hired to do a job and have your estimate have a range difference of 1.8 billion? Then there is another issue that they have to deal with and that is...you can estimate the value of the art, but will they actually get that at auction?
Remember I told you in class and in an earlier post that the price of art is a price determined between the buyer and the seller. So, if the art investment firm put a price tag of 24 million on a Van Gogh, that doesn't necessary mean that it will get that much at auction. Then again, it might get 30 million. The price of art in complicated and arbitrary to say the least.
Let's see what happens with the city of Detroit. This is a fascinating story for the art world. So far, my stand on the issue is that the city should not be stripped of its culture. But then again, there are many people who will not have pensions if the city goes bankrupt. It is complicated to say the least. I will continue following the story with great anticipation of the outcome. This is going to be a great discussion to have in class. Take care, Tigers. Love, Ms. B.
Hello, Tigers! All of you know that one of my favorite songs is John legend's, "All of Me". I play it too much in art class and I was thrilled when Isaiah sang it to me during 6th block last semester. I posted it on an earlier blog, go back and listen to him sing.
John legend's song is the #1 single hit song right now in this country. He is at the top of his game; he is wealthy, famous, and just recently married a super model. Can it get any better than that? So, if you asked John legend, what is your definition of success...or what is the secret to happiness...what do you think he would say?
Listen to his speech. He says the same thing that I tell you daily at school and in almost every post I write. Below, I will write a segment of his speech, but I want you all to listen for yourself. I might be a teacher older than most of your parents, but I am wise beyond years when it comes to intrinsic values of life...John and I agree on the secret to happiness, following your passion, following your creative & artistic passion, and also on how good things come out of pain and disappointment in life. Finally, just yesterday I, wrote about meeting the other famous songwriter and how he also feels that just like John says in his speech, "when you look back at your years here on earth, life and happiness will be more defined by the quality of your relationships, not the quantity. You will get much more joy out of the depth not breadth of your relationships" the exact thought that the other older songwriter, Vance conveyed to me. In his speech Legend says:
"The reason that I am here, the reason that I have had such a wonderful journey so far, is that I found love. Yes, love. We were all made to love and I found that we live our best lives, we are at our most successful, not simply because we are smarter, not simply because we hustle harder, not because we become millionaires more quickly...the key to happiness is opening your mind and your heart to love. Spending your time doing things that you love with people you love..."
John Legend 2014
In the speech, John goes on to speak of his father and how his father taught him this:
"My father's definition of success is that it is not measured in money or material things but it is measured in love and joy and the lives you are able to touch...and the lives you are able to help...this is success."
EVERYTHING that I try to tell you about life and happiness is all in John's speech! If I was asked to write a commencement speech, I would have approached the speech exactly the way John did...he's brilliant!
Maybe you will listen to a famous singer....listen to the speech and contemplate the message. It is my earnest desire that all my students move on to live happy and healthy lives in academics, art & culture and in love. Learn and implement the life lessons that others have discovered before you. Don't waste time trying to figure out things that others have already figured out through their own pain and suffering. Spare yourselves the heartaches, why re-invent the wheel?
Have a great day. Love, Ms. B.
My favorite song below. The woman in the video is John's real wife. Enjoy.
Remember back when?
Hello Tigers! I am still unpacking boxes at my new apartment and I came across a box of old school photos. I chuckled to myself because I made all those aprons on my (at the time) new sewing machine. You guys use to fight over which ones you got....drove me crazy! We took the photo to show off all of you wearing the aprons. So much fun teaching you guys! Of course I wasted a couple hours looking through all the photos of my 31 year career. If I had it to do all over again, I would still be a teacher. The world may not place value on this career, but I was born to do this! Love you guys, Ms. B.
I am an art educator and a professional artist. I write this blog to guide my students in (SEL) social, emotional, and academic development. S.E.L. is the District of Columbia Public School's priority because we believe that we must educate the whole child.
Yale National Initiative
2017-DCPS Standing Ovation recognition Highly Effective Teaching
DCPS Capital Commitment
This work by Donna Bonavia is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at www.msbonavia.com.