Tag Archives: education

Teacher of the Year Awards Banquet.

This year made the third time at three different schools that I was selected Teacher of the Year by my peers. This morning was the breakfast banquet. Good times.

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More Color!

Last week we learned the Color Wheel using crenellated lines with markers and water. Now we sling some paint. Colorful times.

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Crenellated Color Wheel Lesson.

These are fourteen vibrant photographs of the new Color Wheel lesson I developed using crenellated lines. Glorious stuff.

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“So, is that a picture of love?”

paintinglesson-0021

I was using that painting this morning teaching second graders about abstract art. I explained that this is not illustration; we are not drawing planes or trains, dogs or frogs. We are just drawing designs with shapes and lines. One little girl raised her hand and asked…

“So, is that a picture of love?”

artroom

artroom 001

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Alphabets of Desire: The Words Get In The Way.

promethea20

promethea

(Promethea copyright DC Comics.)

Welcome to the third portion of the extended study of Alphabets of Desire by Todd Klein and Alan Moore, who also happen to be two of Promethea’s real parents. Our introduction has the full image and ordering information, this section has a knife.

These are Alan Moore’s next six sentences:

We are living in a code. We feel the apple resting in our palm, its weight, the waxen texture of its skin. We see the highlights rolling on its dimpled contours and the point at which leaf-green becomes lustrous red. Lifting it to our lips we catch its perfume, redolent of rural mornings, urban dinnertimes, our mother’s pastry and the way she had her hair. Our bite is audible, the crunch of tooth enamel in the crisp wet flesh, cell splitting violently from cell and a sweet aerosol of juice sprayed from the fissure as microscopic dew upon our taste buds. The familiar flavor is infused in our saliva, its initial sharpness rounding to a sumptuous curve there in the mouth’s dark privacy and rivulets of juice uncurl in sticky ribbons on our chins, but our experience of the apple can be only an experience of those words used to contain the raw phenomenon: red, green, sweet, crisp, round, and the way she had her hair.

Do you remember the last time something felt really good? Well, while you were actually experiencing it you weren’t putting it into words. Direct connections don’t have soundtracks. Or narration. Or storyboards.

The human brain gets trained to explain. That sack of meat in the skull is ideally suited to specific translation and categorization. Once it is schooled, it is too late.

The exquisite apple eating doesn’t happen to you. It just happens. In order for you to know what you went through, you need to use code. Identifying yourself with the bliss is a separation process. The words get in the way.

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Alphabets of Desire: An Introduction.

alphabetsofdesire

(Alphabets of Desire copyright Alan Moore and Todd Klein.)

Alan Moore is one of the loudest bulbs in the human lightshow. Todd Klein gets my vote for Best Comic Book Lettering of All Time.

Together, they are sublime.

The series of myths called Promethea has never been surpassed, and it was the first time I was exposed to the collaboration of these two masters. It is a spectacular tome of magick written by Alan Moore. Promethea was fleshed by the drawings of J.H. Williams III, the ink of Mick Gray, the colors of Jeremy Cox, and the lettering of Todd Klein.

(Promethea copyright DC Comics.)

Promethea completed her mission in 32 issues and quit while she was ahead. Still glowing with appreciation, I figured it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Then, yesterday, I stumbled upon a gem of equal brilliance. Two of her mad genius creators joined forces again last year for more. 

It is called Alphabets of Desire. That is a term spelled out by Austin Osman Spare himself. It is a poster, written by Alan Moore and lettered by Todd Klein. It is amazing.

I will be expanding each sentence of the piece here on the blog in the coming weeks. The words are deep and dense and hard to digest, so I would like to break them down and clarify the broth. For myself, and for you.

For now, I will leave you with the full story of the creation of Alphabets of Desire in Todd Klein’s own words. Click the link in his first paragraph to purchase a print for your very own, enjoy the photograph of Todd and Alan following his incredible tale, and tune in tomorrow for the first three sentences dissected.

This apple bites back.alphabetsofdesiredetail

Behind the scenes for the birth of a masterpiece, from Todd Klein’s blog:

I’m proud to announce the publication of ALPHABETS OF DESIRE, an 11 by 17 inch print, with newly written text by Alan Moore, design and lettering by me. This is the secret project that I’ve been working on for the last few months, and it’s now on sale exclusively on this website HERE. How did it come to be? You’re about to read the complete story.

I launched my website and blog on July 3rd of this year, and as part of it I included some items for sale: two prints I produced in the 1990s, the book I co-authored on lettering and coloring, some original lettering on overlays, and two music CDs. The first week sales were brisk, and I made enough to recover most of my setup costs for the site, so I was very pleased. The second week sales were pretty good, the third week so-so. By the middle of August, they’d trailed off to almost none. Obviously the old stuff had reached everyone who wanted it. I began to think about producing something new to sell. But, what? Another Lettering Sampler? I’d done that, and a variation didn’t seem likely to be a big success. Then the thought came: what if I asked one of the writers I work with to write something for me to letter? Call in a favor, so to speak. The most obvious choices were Neil Gaiman or Alan Moore, but Neil is always so busy, and usually gallivanting around the globe on promotional or signing tours. Alan seemed like the one to approach first. He’s usually home, he usually answers the phone when I call him. The worst that could happen was that he’d say no.

For anyone who doesn’t know, Alan Moore is one of the most acclaimed writiers in comics history, for titles such as WATCHMEN, V FOR VENDETTA, FROM HELL, PROMETHEA, and THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN. Alan and I have only met in person twice, the second time at his wedding to Melinda Gebbie this past May, photo above, but we’ve had a great working relationship for many years. Still, it took me a few weeks to get up the nerve to call him about writing something for me. I finally did in mid September, and his reaction was very encouraging. He thought it sounded like a great idea.

“You may have to call me a few times and remind me about it,” he said. He was busy working on his new novel and another project. But when I explained that I wanted something new to sell on my site, he volunteered, “If we both sign it, I’m sure it will do well.” That made me very happy indeed, as I wasn’t sure if he’d be willing to do that. I began to think this might actually work!

I’d told him about my Lettering Sampler print, and Alan asked, “Did you want something like that, with a lot of lettering styles, or…?”

“No,” I said. “Anything you want, really — a story, poem, fiction, non-fiction. Just something you think would look good hand-lettered. About a thousand words.”

“Right,” he said. “Perhaps something about letters and magic. Let me think on it.”

That night I told Ellen, “I believe he’s really going to write something for me!” I was over the moon.

I called Alan a few more times, as he’d suggested, to remind him. The third time, in early October, he surprised me by saying, “I’ve just started working on it,” and read me the first paragraph, the one that begins with “A is for Apple.” I thought it sounded wonderful.

“Can you get it to me by the end of October?” I asked. “I’d like to have it ready to sell in December, and that should give me enough time.” Alan said he should be able to do that.

About another week later, in mid October, my fax machine spit out a few pages.

From: Alan

Subject: Alphabets of Desire.

Memo: Hi, Todd. Here it is. A little earlier than anticipated and exactly a thousand words. Hope you like it. All the best. Alan

As I read through it, I began to smile and then laugh with amazement. It was perfect, much better than anything I’d imagined. I called him, and he said he’d just been reading it to Melinda. I told him how thrilled and pleased I was.

“What does Melinda think?” I asked.

“She’s on tenterhooks, waiting for the finish,” he said with his usual dry wit. I thanked him profusely and said I’d get to work.

So, now I had the text, and the rest was up to me. Over the next week I laid it out on an 11 by 17 inch piece of art paper. I knew I wanted a decorative title and credits at the top, and to begin, a large letter A. Putting an apple there was an obvious choice, and allowed me to enliven the text with a small bit of art that I later hand-painted red on each print. Around the outside, as I had mentioned to Alan, I thought a border using various old alphabets would look good. But rather than just random letters, I wanted them to say something. I drew elements from Alan’s text for that. I hasten to add that I didn’t translate them into other languages, just copied them out in other alphabets. So don’t email me about the Greek, please, I know it’s not Greek words. (But in old manuscripts from the middle ages, this sort of thing was sometimes done, so I think I have a precedent.) All those elements, the titles and border, I pencilled, then inked with my smallest-point technical drawing pen.

For the text itself, I chose a wedge-tipped Speedball dip-pen and thought I’d use my calligraphic style of lettering. That seemed the best way to go. It took several attempts to lay it all out in pencil before I was happy, then I went on to ink. I worked on it over several days, between other jobs. When I’d done the best I could, I scanned the result at high resolution, made small corrections where needed, and reversed the outer border so that the black letters became white letters on black.

It was time to order paper, and I found a good source online for that. I wanted something thicker than regular copy paper, but not so thick it’d be hard to roll, as I planned to ship the prints in mailing tubes. I settled on a 67 pound Bristol Vellum, and hoped it was the right choice, as I had to buy it sight unseen. Alan had agreed to sign 500 copies, but I bought 1000 sheets, to allow for printing damage and so on. I wanted to try to print them myself on my own 11 by 17 laser printer, but I wasn’t sure if that would work, as it doesn’t always handle large paper well. I might need to have it printed elsewhere.

The paper arrived, and it was just what I wanted, the perfect thickness, and an attractive cream color. I set up the art file and paper for printing, and gave it a go. Amazingly, my printer hardly messed up at all, I was able to print the entire run with barely a hiccup, though I did have to hand-feed each sheet into the printer.

Now I had the prints, and needed to color the apples, the big one at upper left, and a small part of the apple core at lower right. I found a cherry red acrylic ink that seemed right for the job, and spent parts of another few days painting apples. This proved very relaxing and therapeutic, though I kept thinking of that scene in Disney’s “Alice in Wonderland” where the cards are “painting the roses red,” and hoping I wasn’t ruining the whole project. In the end, I think the red works fine. Another day or two spent signing my name to the lower right with a wedge-tipped marker, and I was ready to send them to Alan.

This was the most nerve-racking part of the job. I packed the prints well, wrapping them in bubble-wrap, then in the original paper box, then in a larger box around that. I thought that would work, but if the prints were lost or damaged in transit to Alan, or worse yet, back to me after he’d signed them, I’d have to start over. I couldn’t afford the time to carry them to England myself, so shipping them was the only alternative. I sent them off, letting Alan know they were on the way.

I put off calling for almost two weeks, not wanting to bug him, but when I did call, Alan told me they’d arrived safely, he’d finished signing them, and would mail them back to me the following day. “I signed with a red Biro, thought that would look good,” he told me. Anything he wants, I thought to myself, anything at all. Another week and a few days went by, with me worrying, and then, finally, the package was here.

A little worse for the two trips, but when I opened it, the prints were fine, and oh, so delightfully added to in red Biro! All that remained was to write my press release, prepare some prints for mailing, write this blog entry, and then sit back and wait for orders.

I’m excited about this venture, the first time I’ve tried something quite like this. I have no idea how the print will sell or be received, but I’m hopeful. If it does well, perhaps I’ll do more. Egad, would that make me a publisher?! In a small way, yes, I suppose it would. Please don’t hold it against me, okay?

alanmooretoddklein

(Todd Klein and Alan Moore. Our heroes.)

Examination of text Part One.

Examination of text Part Two.

Examination of text Part Three.

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Sunday Mandala: Under Construction.

mandalasketches

As another school year comes to a close, my new gig at Broward College is about to blossom. In perfect synchronicity, I found some sketches by the umbrella to represent the new era beckoning ahead.

Onward!

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Save-It Saturday: Celebrated Summer.

rfindebted

(Herewith follows the last article I wrote for Upper Deck. As the school year wraps up and we head into another summer, it still tastes as sweet as ever.)

Rallying Cry: Celebrated Summer

By Rian Fike
9/18/2008

This has been quite an eventful summer on many levels.  World-class athletes from all over the world converged in China for the Beijing Olympics.  Political candidates here in America battled intensely in the midst of a thrilling presidential election.  Vs. System crowned a number of new champions, and one of them claimed ultimate victory with Squirrel Girl!

celebratedpic2

For me, personally, the summer of 2008 included a rather large change of venue.  My career has come full circle.  I began teaching art in 1983 at an elementary school in the inner city of Miami.  After five years, I was recruited to pioneer a Media Arts program in a middle school.  Eight years later, I transferred to an alternative high school for kids that had been excluded from their regular school for various reasons.  I taught there for thirteen years until budget cuts and high-stakes standardized testing eliminated the Art department. 

Now, I am back teaching at an elementary school, and I couldn’t be happier.  Young children are full of the pure inventive energy that is often sorely lacking in older human beings.  They explore new combinations, free of the doubtful cynicism that drags the creative spirit down into doldrums.  They are so very much alive.

Returning to the freshness of the grammar-school perspective has also brought a shining, glorious glow to Vs. System.  My classroom mantra for the year is “I feel great when I create!”. And I think it’s carried over into the Vs. System TCG, because this game has been flourishing when it comes to brilliant fan-based innovation and originality in competitive deckbuilding.

Obviously, I want to start with Squirrel Girl.  The furry little wonder has been doing some major damage with her cardboard incarnation, including the domination of Gen Con Indianapolis.  Thanks to Robert Rietze and his S.H.I.E.L.D. Simmer concoction, my favorite character in comics is a true champion. 

Let’s learn about the deck from the mad genius that created it, shall we?

The concept is to cook your opponent slowly (hence the word “simmer”) while having reinforcement and disruption.  In the late game you reinforce whenever possible, and when they swing their seven-drop you play Dangerous Liaison and say “Try again later on.”  In fact, Dangerous Liaison is the meat of the deck, and probably my favorite card in Marvel Universe.  If you read this then you deserve a cookie.

Dan Clark was running S.H.I.E.L.D. burn, and he always won on turn 5.  His deck is probably a much better version… but I like jank, so here’s mine with comments.

S.H.I.E.L.D. Simmer

Robert Rietze

2008 Gen Con Indianapolis Champion

 Characters

10 S.H.I.E.L.D. Agents Just ten… I know.
4 Speedball ◊ Penance, Painmonger He’s sexy, no?
1 Blizzard, Frosty Friend Because he wins games, ask anyone.
2 Life Model Decoy Great for dreaming with.
2 Wolverine, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. Growl.
2 Squirrel Girl Free guys are good.
1 Hank Pym ◊ Yellowjacket, Initiative Instructor Why not?  He’s a freaking Skrull, and I need at least one Skrull in a modern deck.

And that’s it for characters. 22 in total, which is all you need to simmer properly – since you have all the bouncing effects.

Mulligan condition = one S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent and or Penance.

Plot Twists
4 Origin Story  …amazing card.
3 Mobilize
1 Collect Them All
2 Blinding Rage
4 Savage Beatdown
4 Secret War It bounces and sets up Dangerous Liaison and Thunderbolts Mountain.
3 Dangerous Liaison The greatest card ever made.  It doesn’t target and keeps people from killing me.  Just ask the great Michael Barnes.
3 Invasion Plans Drawing cards is good with the low character count, and the agents kinda don’t do much.
3 Death of the Dream Either draw a card and replace your crap or get rid of Total Anarchy.

And…

ONE SUPERHUMAN REGISTRATION ACT! It wins games, but drawing multiples is bad… so just the one.

Locations
4 Birthing Chamber Obv.
3 Thunderbolts Mountain Draw a card, set up Penance, set up Blizzard on turn 3 to guarantee you don’t have to worry about big stuff.
3 S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier It would be four, but I only own three!

RFdangerousliasonWow.  Just wow.  After four and a half years of playing this game, I am still amazed at the crazed creativity and deep deviousness that can be captured in a single sixty-card construction.  I have been over and over that strategy in my head, and it amazes me every time.  Especially when I pinch myself and realize that Squirrel Girl actually swung for the win in the final match.  Don’t believe me?  I have proof.

Mad props go out to Shane “fatalsync” Wendell at www. vsrealms.com for the fabulous event coverage, especially the penultimate squirrelly smackdown that claimed the climactic crown.  It was a match for the ages, as the wonder known as John Hall could be seen flinging the wicked monkey madness of Gorilla Grodd and Secret Society.  John actually gained 30 endurance during the match, and recruited Doomsday on turn 7.  How did Squirrel Girl triumph against that?  Head over to the Realms and find out for yourself.

RFsquirrelgirl 

As you can see, the competitive environment has gone completely nuts over Squirrel Girl.  Tree rodents are flying across the tournament halls like white-hot Ping-Pong balls of pure power.  It’s a beautiful thing.

Vs. System has come to life, and the pulse of the creative spirit that pumps the blood can seen on a multitude of maniacal fan-based websites.  Chris Miller’s Lost Hemisphere is perhaps the most vibrant, and the other day he gave a magnificent shout-out to thirteen of this game’s staunch suppliers of inventive genius.  Included in that list is my personal favorite new source of Vs. System verbiage.  It’s called “Vs. Is Not Dead,” and it is the brainchild of Brian “Trader2699” Herman in Williamsburg, Virginia.  Recently, he too had a brush with the undeniable hotness of Squirrel Girl.

I love it when a plan comes together as much as the next person, especially when it comes to Vs. System.  Crafting and planning an intricate decklist/strategy is half the fun, but it’s also incredible to put that strategy into action. Unfortunately for the Injustice Gang handflood/burn deck, my plans went completely awry. I did not like the fact that missing Lex Luthor meant losing the game, and the deck never felt like it was going to “pop.”

So I scrapped it entirely the day before the BYOT tournament, and started over. When I got home from work, there was an unexpectedly early package containing a singles order I had placed earlier in the week. 3 S.H.I.E.L.D.  Helicarriers, encased neatly in sleeves and a top loader. I was so pleased that I decided to throw caution to the wind and play an Army deck for BYOT. The deck went through a couple of iterations, both while in written development and when I finally broke out the little 1-cost burners. What I ended up with was this…

RFspeedball

Brian’s decklist, tournament report, and ultimate triumph really got the blood pumping for this game that’s been going strong after all these years.  I applaud his efforts and enthusiastically anticipate many more opportunities to live out future Vs. System glories vicariously on his blog.  This summer has seen a blossoming, and the flowers get funkier every time.

The most heartwarming of these is found back on the continent of the Lost Hemisphere.  It has been the Summer of Love, in more ways than one.   I would like to take a moment to showcase a project that humbles my creative essence with its utter magnificence, while inspiring me to do greater things with my life and our game.  This is our moment, and Chris Miller’s words call us toward cardboard paradise.

celebratedpic3

There comes a time each year, a special time, after the rebirth of spring, with its bouncing baby bunnies and fragrant blossoms, but before the cool touch of autumn, with its kaleidoscope of leafy color and the gentle promise of snuggling by a warm, cozy fire. Yes, I’m talking about the heady, lazy, crazy days of summer. When a boy’s head turns to thoughts of baseball in vacant lots, swimming holes, and thick slices of watermelon, while young girls slip on their poodle skirts and skip down to the malt shoppe to listen to the juke box… hang on, I’m totally out of era, aren’t I…

One way or another, welcome to…

Lost Hemisphere’s Summer Of Love!

The concept: 32 decks, each a randomly assigned team-up, battle their way through a bracket to determine Vs. System’s happiest couple.

We randomly paired up 64 teams, rolling the dice to see what sort of wild and wacky team combinations we’d end up with. Clearly, we could have just slapped together the decks… but what if it wasn’t us doing most of the deckbuilding? What if it was celebrated deckbuilders and community luminaries?

The invitations went out, the community responded, and the shenanigans are ready to commence!

Behold! A veritable who’s who of dudes who we suckered into making decks for us!

Clifford “Captain_Comet” Parmeter, the most huggable podcast host ever, brings you Mask of Steel (Superman/Doom) and Knights Errant (Gotham Knights/Doom Patrol).

Miguel “CarlosTheDwarf” Rodriquez, the original VS blogger, brings you HK KO (Hellfire/Kree) and Green ’rine (Green Lantern Corps/X-Men).

Sean “BALDMAN” Marinelli, owner of the world’s largest forehead, brings you Crisis Knights (Marvel Knights/Crisis) and Shake ’n Bake (Morlocks/Secret Six).

Adam “Flashback81” Kirkby, the most puzzling man this side of North Haverbrook, brings you Pate de FOES IG-ras (Injustice Gang/Future Foes) and Dark(seid) City (Darkseids Elite/Brotherhood).

Squire “HomerJ” Kershner, jankmaster extreme, brings you ”Hi Everybody!” “Hi, Dr Spectrum!” (Inhumans/Squadron Supreme) and Titans United (Teen Titans/United Front).

Jason “Jaxxin” Hager, who likes yelling at Hulk on foil cards, brings you Stranger Danger (JSA/Nextwave) and Box Full of Evil (BPRD/Legionnaires).

Steve “Kamiza” Garrett, the U.K.’s man with the sexiest eyes, who can also pull off a roundhouse kick, brings you The Claw Society (Secret Society/Weapon X) and Family of One (Fantastic Four/X-Statix).

Brian “Kansashoops” Foley, American Maid’s favorite dork, brings you Adamantium Skrullmate (Checkmate/Skrull) and Psychopathic Reservists (Avengers/Sinister Syndicate).

Patrick “Majestic” Yapjoco, the winningest Yapjoco ever, brings you Crime Watch (Underworld/Crime Lords) and Wolvie Smash! (Warbound/S.H.I.E.L.D.).

Aaron “Onyxweapon” Mead, living the VS Life in the frozen North, brings you Task Force: Revenge (JLI/RevSq) and The Revenge of Tony Danza from His Tap Dance extravaganza (Fearsome 5/Outsiders).

Josh ”Runaway” Trujillo, the bravest blogger ever, brings you New Birds (New Gods/Birds of Prey) and Villain Potpourri (Villains United/Masters of Evil).

Talulah “Soshi Kenpachi” McGillicutty, who didn’t give me his real name in his email, brings you /r/ moar cards (Infinity Watch/Negative Zone) and On Public Urination (JLA/Thunderbolts)

David “CaptainSpud” Tierney, with the power of 10,000 potatoes, brings you Prime Qwardian Real Estate (League of Assassins/Antimatter) and Looney Bin (Arkham Inmates/Alpha Flight).

Rian “Stubarnes” Fike, the most psychedelic player in VS history, brings you Green Weakness (Emerald Enemies/Sentinels) and Hitler’s Wristwatch (Kang Council/Thule Society).

Paul “TheDerangedBear” Sung, renaming days of the week just for fun, brings you Warp Factor 9 (Heralds/SpeedForce) and Wild & Sticky (Spidey/WildPack).

Oh, and Pablo (“Eponymous’) laid claim to The Horse Conjurer  (Shadowpact/Horsemen), while I (“gdaybloke”) couldn’t resist the Rebellion in New Jersey  (Manhunters/Defenders).

RFlanterns

 
As a veteran of Vs. System history and histrionics, I must say that this tournament is unequalled in its sheer life-forced brilliance.  It breathes new hope into team affiliations and crazy combinations.  It gives us a bracket of beatdowns that will be extremely difficult to categorize, yet truly impossible to forget.  It is the Summer of Love indeed, and it will be celebrated forever.

Rian Fike is also known as stubarnes, and he is mad busy teaching little kids how to paint now that the school year has begun.  The celebrated summer lingers, while he marches forward into the future.  You can send him some ideas about how to manage his time and recharge his batteries at fullbodytransplant@dadeschools.net

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Weekly Wonder Word: I Love My Job.

DirtyJob

I do. I love my job. Teaching kids how to enjoy life with art? It doesn’t get any better than that. I am truly blessed.

So what did I do for the Wednesday Weekly Wonder Word? Same as always. I went to deviantart.com and searched for “I Love My Job”. That drawing was the best selection.

Natch.

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Thursday Thirteen: An Art Teacher’s Manifesto.

watchmen_classroom_by_biigurutwin

(Watchmen in the classroom, by biigurutwin.)

I like to reflect. When I sat down to write a Thursday Thirteen this week, I decided to list the things I strive to instill in my students. This is my revolution.

1. Creative Success. Each student will feel the specific joy that only comes from inventive accomplishment.

2. Expansive Ideas. Each student will think about the world in new ways.

3. Wide-eyed Wonder. Each student will be exposed to a view of life as an unfolding gift of infinite potential.

4. Unknown Connections. Each student will see everyday things from extraordinary angles.

5. Controlled Freedom. Each student will have fun with their art and their friends while maintaining appropriate personal discipline.

6. Underlying Principles. Each student will understand why I enjoy each project enough to teach it to them.

7. Unwavering Positivity. Each student will have at least one teacher who is always in a good mood.

8. Modern Myth. Each student will relate some part of the lesson to comic book superheroes.

9. Relative History. Each student will be able to understand the origins of the things they know and love.

10. Convex Consumerism. Each student will flip the script from consumer to creator – from audience to artist.

11. Trading-card Tickle. Each student will get one of my extra Vs. System cards at random as a reward for good behavior and trade them joyously with classmates.

12. Punctual Responsibility. Each student will have an art teacher who is  a model of consistency and is always exactly on time.

13. Unconditional Love. Each student will be valued and loved equally as a creative human being.

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High-pitched Squeals.

x-babies x-babies

“I wake up dreaming again.”

– Little Feat

I am done pinching myself. That card is real. The one deck archetype that I created all by myself, immortalized on official Vs. System cardboard. Life just keeps getting better for me. Being human in 2008 is simply exquisite.

One of the ways I maximize the human experience is a sort of deep reflection coupled with the urge to figure things out. So why do I like the X-Babies so much? I wonder.

x-baby

I think one of the main attractions to Chibi characters is the sense of vibrant color that youth infuses into the grey mental objectivity of adulthood. I don’t ever want to grow up.

x-babies

Kids retain an essential purity. People can be so cruel. They often grow increasingly ugly in attitude and perspective. Youngsters start fresh, and they represent the hope of remaining uncontaminated.

x-babies2

I also adore flying eyeballs, so I guess a certain quest for philosophical simplicity may be in play. I love to distill things down until they are a single point. Then, when I return to the complicated experience of humanity, it looks like a little child all over again.

atoms-001

That’s a photo of my classroom this morning, and it brings me to one more reason that I will always dig the X-Babies. Today I am teaching computer theory to second, third, and fourth graders. I explain how a silicon chip converts binary codes thanks to the ability of their individual atoms to be programmed to stay “on or off”. You can see the fabulous drawings that one class of seven-year-olds did scattered around the tables. Want another second grade artistic interpretation of the atomic-level workings of computer memory? Okay.

atoms-002

That, however, is not the thing that I feel every time I see the X-Babies bursting forth from their new Vs. System card.

When my son was four or five years old, I taught him about atoms. They are spinning bits of matter that are really made of energy, and there are no batteries inside. He figured out, in true X-Baby style, what that means.

“God is in the atoms!”, he said.

It was the best explanation I have heard, and I have been squealing like this ever since.

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President Obama, the Artist.

murphy4

My formal education was focused on Fine Arts, yet I consider every person an artist. No matter what you do or how you do it, you have your own sense of style.

But.  If we do not rescue the Arts at this turning point in our nation’s history, our cultural identity will be reduced to basic marketing and data processing. We will all still be artists, but we won’t be any good.

When it comes to the visual arts and Arts education, we are in trouble. The struggling economy combines with an emphasis on high-stakes standardized tests to strangle the creativity from our national voice. Arts programs and teachers are being cut from the system like blooming branches, leaving nothing but a bare trunk.

That is the main reason I focused all the energies I had on electing Barack Obama as President of the United States. After our completely exhausting, yet utterly satisfying victory, the new website change.gov was launched. I rushed over to see how the platform for the Arts contained in my first link had been preserved. Boy, was I in for a surprise.

Before I go any further, I would like to introduce the work of Michael Murphy, exhibited in the Blackridge Gallery at Georgia College & University. The magnificent drawing at the top of this post is his, and his wire sculpture knocks my socks off.  Mike was gracious enough to give me permission to host his stuff here, but you really need to visit his site to get the full effect. Again, that’s www.mmike.com. It will enrich your soul.

The swirling uncontrolled greed that George W. Bush and his cronies unleashed on our nation has depleted the resources necessary for the Arts to thrive in our schools. Barack Obama understands that “The Art Spirit” needs to have a home in education and in our culture as a whole. He clarified his position a bit more within an issues page on change.gov, and he actually admitted that he considers himself an artist!

Barack Obama’s Plan

Arts

Our nation’s creativity has filled the world’s libraries, museums, recital halls, movie houses, and marketplaces with works of genius. The arts embody the American spirit of self-definition. As the author of two best-selling books – Dreams from My Father and The Audacity of Hope – Barack Obama uniquely appreciates the role and value of creative expression.

At first I was conflicted. Whoever wrote “as the author of two best-selling books” should have known how crass and common that pitch would sound. When I calmed down enough to understand what it was trying to say (taking out the “best-selling” would help for me) I realized that basically…

Our new President Elect considers himself an artist. As should we all.

John Lee took that photograph. It was two years ago, as Barack the Artist was sharing his work with an appreciative audience during a book signing. His chosen medium has changed drastically in 24 months. He will now be molding the clay of the entire planet.

Of course the tiny blurb about the Arts on the new website is nothing substantial. It is still more than we have heard from anyone this close to the ability to enact real change. Combined with the call for feedback sitting one click away from it on the page, it is more than enough for me.

Our cries have been heard, and understood, and championed by a fellow creative soul. President Obama, we salute you. Artist to artist.

By Joe Raedle, right down here in Miami.

By schwa242 at deviantart.com.

By artumus-gonzo at deviantart.com.

By roberlan at deviantart.com.

Whatever your style, whatever your most important issue, make sure you click around on change.gov until you find something to add to the new national suggestion box. There is a new day rising for feedback between the government and its people. Be creative with it, and express yourself. We are all artists in our own way. And now we have a President who understands that.

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