Friday, February 28, 2014

29 Faces Art Challenge #26-28

I can't even begin to explain how much I have enjoyed the 29 Faces Art Challenge from Ayala Art! It has given me inspiration to practice drawing faces way more often than I would have without a "goal" to work toward. And my children have enjoyed it as well!

Face #26

Watercolor, watercolor pencils, oil pastel and acrylic.

Face #27

I drew this one mainly for the facial expression. I am trying to get better at conveying different emotions in my drawings.

Face #28

This is from my 10-year-old son, when told he could draw an animal face. : )

Face #29? 

My daughter is still working on this one. Hopefully, I can post it over the weekend!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

29 Faces Art Challenge #24 & 25

Making progress on the 29 Faces Art Challenge!

Face #24
Another "guess who?"

I drew this one for Asmic from Amazing and Amusing and her husband. Our two families have a standing joke with sending one another faces of this particular person or pictures of us in front of statues of him.

For better or for worse, the shadow of this man has loomed over almost every city that I have lived in as an adult. And in one city, he literally loomed over us.: ) Growing up, my parents equated him with Satan. And I distinctly remember the irony I felt years later when watching old Soviet movies from the 50's and 60's with Russian friends where he and his followers were the "good guys". 

Anyway, I tried to capture both the harshness and colorfulness of his life with this quick portrait. 

Face #25

Inspired by a book I found in the library called "Zeichnen Lab", this is a silly animal portrait. I painted a watercolor blob and then drew the first animal that came to mind. 

Saturday, February 22, 2014

29 Faces Art Challenge #20-23

Well, the clock is ticking on our 29 Faces Art Challenge. We have until next Friday to complete all of our faces. Will we make it? I don't know, but we'll sure have had a lot of fun trying!!

Face #20

Guess who?  Although men's faces are usually difficult for me to draw, this one was relatively easy. Could it be that the reason is because I've seen this face for most of my life? (Only in pictures, of course!)

Face #21

I told you I'd return to Nefertiti at some point.: )  I like this one much better than my previous attempt, but maybe I'm just more comfortable with this style.

Here is my 10-year-old son's work:

Face #22

Ironman, I believe.

Face #23 

And a knight!

I'm also sharing on Sunday Sketches at Blue Chair Diary Illustrations!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Spreading Godly Play throughout the world

I love seeing Godly Play spread to other parts of the world, and it's been a joy to me to be a small part of seeing it introduced to the Russian-speaking world.

Two of the ladies, Anastasia and Asmic,  who attended our Core Training in Minsk last October have now given an introductory seminar (Taster Day/ Kennenlernen Tag) in Moscow. 

Please read all about it on Asmic's blog, Amazing and Amusing

The beautiful faces of the people learning to mentor children will definitely encourage you! 

I was also encouraged to see pictures of men at the seminar. The majority of GP storytellers are women, but as Berryman writes in The Spiritual Guidance of Children, he and Thea intended from the beginning for both genders to be involved in mentoring children. It is definitely not a given in Russian culture (and especially in the evangelical church culture there) that men are going to be working with children.  I applaud these guys for their work and for being open to something new. 

I am also thrilled for Anastasia and Asmic for being able to pass on their knowledge and experience. May God bless their work and a whole generation of children through it!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

29 Faces Art Challenge # 14 - 19

Here we are back again with the 29 Faces Art Challenge from Ayala Art! As I predicted, our posting slowed down after the winter school holidays, but we've been drawing nevertheless. In fact, I think we might even have more than 29 faces at the end of February.: )

Face #14
"Mystery" - I have no idea what she is looking at, but it makes her smile. Watercolor and chalk pastel. 

Face #15
Ayala encourages us to draw anything with a "face", so I chose to draw an owl. Like the picture above, it is watercolor with chalk pastel.

Face #16
My children and I attended an art exhibit called "Manga Mucha Mystery" that explored how the Art Nouveau artist Alphonse Mucha influenced Manga and pop culture. My kids got to attend a Manga workshop, and I sat with friends sketching the pictures in the exhibition. You can see the Manga influence in this portrait I did below. I used a picture and changed the woman's features enough to make it original.: ) I used watercolor and watercolor pencils.

Face #17
A Manga drawing. I thought up the interesting headdress after some of studying Mucha's pictures. 

Face #18 
My 10-year-old son is back with the following portraits of Dad and Mom.: )

Face #19

I'm also posting this on Sunday Sketches. I just discovered Alexandra's blog. She is an amazing self-taught artist with an inspiring life story. It reminds me to pay even closer attention to the children in my care. Hope you will check out her blog and work!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Godly Play with Alzheimer's Patients

I recently became aware of Lois Howard's work with Alzheimer's patients and Godly Play in Lexington, Kentucky. In a fascinating article on the Key Resources website, Lois tells about her experiences and offers advice to those who wish to work with seniors. Lois has been a Godly Play storyteller for 25 years, and you can tell this by the wisdom and love that radiates from her writing. 

Here Lois tells the Parable of the Good Shepherd using
3-D figures to make it easier for her audience to see.
(All photos used with permission from Lois Howard.)

Part 1 of the article describes the path that led Lois to working with Alzheimer's patients after years of working with children. Be sure to read Part 2 of the article (which I missed the first time!), because it is a treasure chest of information on how to actually start working with seniors:

  • a list of the Godly Play stories that she tells annually and that seem particularly effective
  • adaptations to the stories
  • advice for getting started
  • ideas for Response Time

Bingo is a beloved activity for Response Time.
I find some of the adaptations that Lois makes particularly helpful. If you are familiar with Godly Play, you know that one of the hallmarks of the methodology is for the storyteller to keep his/her eyes on the story materials rather than making eye contact with the listeners. Lois wrote me, however, that she intentionally makes eye contact with her seniors, and started doing so after telling a story and looking up to find that all of her listeners had fallen asleep!

She also uses three-dimensional figures for the parables (rather than the traditional flat wooden figures) to make it easier for the seniors to see them. Also, she suggests using colored figures for the desert stories, so that there is a contrast with the sand. 

Response Time can also be rather untraditional with seniors. Because of difficulties with fine motor skills and taking into account the interest of the seniors themselves, Lois often sings or plays bingo with them. I have not yet had the opportunity to have a Response Time with my seniors, so this gives me some ideas.  

The most important part of any Godly Play ministry, connecting with others and sharing God's love. 
My favorite part of the article is when Lois lists the reasons and motivation for ministry with Alzheimer's patients, which can be applicable to all seniors living in care facilities, whether they suffer from dementia or not. At the top of the list is "to be a loving, accepting presence to people who are often forgotten".  Sounds a lot like Jesus to me. 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Godly Play with Toddlers

I am often asked by preschool teachers and parents if it is possible to do Godly Play with toddlers. The answer to that question is a resounding "yes"! That having been said, certain adjustments have to made in order to respect the child's developmental stage.

Godly Play, in the form that I write about on this blog, is for children "ages 3-99" to quote Jerome and Thea Berryman, who developed Godly Play. Toddlers, however, are at a completely different stage of developmental that is driven by a physical curiosity to discover the world through the five senses. Because of this, the emphasis on "getting ready" is completely different with the toddler. The toddler is, in her developmentally specific way, already "ready" - ready to see, hear, feel, smell and taste anything in his path. And asking a toddler to get ready in any other way is impossible for the child. 

Because of this, toddlers hear the story and "wonder" about it at the same time. (For a more detailed  explanation of Wondering in Godly Play, see this article.) They wonder in the physical sense by touching the materials, and it is important to let them do this. Whereas with children ages 3 and up, we ask them to refrain from touching the materials until the story is over, the Storyteller actually allows and encourages a group of toddlers to touch everything during the story. As a result, I personally think that a group of only toddlers and younger babies works best. Having a mixed group of toddlers and older children could be a potential disaster, because the older children would be distracted and might find it unfair that the little ones can touch everything. 

For the Response Time, it is wise to choose one activity for the toddlers. Too many choices can overwhelm children at that age. I would also try to have a Co-teacher if the group is larger than 2-3 toddlers. 

My Godly Play mentor, Ulrike Labuhn, has written a book in German about "theologizing" with toddlers, having tested  her theories with preschool teachers and toddlers at a preschool in Potsdam. Her book is called,  Der Neugier der Kleinsten Raum Geben: Kinder fragen nach Gott und der Welt (Making Room for the Curiosity of Toddlers: Children ask about God and the World) , and you can read more about her ideas here. What I have learned about Godly Play with toddlers comes from her. 

If any of you are working with toddlers, please leave a comment or link below. We'd love to learn from your experience!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

29 Faces Art Challenge Faces #10-13

Yesterday, my kids and I visited a museum near the Schloss Charlottenburg (Charlottenburg Palace). We took a stroll on the palace grounds and dropped into the bookshop to browse. There I was reminded of one of the fascinating women who lived in this palace, Queen Luise of Prussia

Face # 10 

I love allowing myself to be inspired by Berlin's history, so I decided to sketch Luise this morning. I painted her as sort of a transparent ghost-like figure with the Schloss and the East German TV Tower in the background. These architechtural components represent the old and the new and I pose the question of what Luise herself might have thought of Berlin today. Would she have found it intriguing and exciting as I do, or would she find the changes difficult? 

To make the background, I gessoed the paper with a palette knife. Then, I pressed B/W pictures of the palace and TV Tower into the gesso and cut through the still wet paint with with the palette knife, giving it a distressed look. Afterwards, I painted the surface yellow.

For Luise's face, I used charcoal and chalk pastels.

Faces #11 & 12

My daughter, age 8, did both of these studies. Although the man looks a lot like it could be her Dad, she says they are both fantasy faces. 

Face #12

My son, age 10, painted Cyclops from the X-men. I love the foreshortened hand swinging for a punch. : )

Visit all the 29 Faces artists here!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

29 Faces Art Challenge Faces #6-9

Continuing the 29 Faces Art Challenge hosted by Ayala Art, here are the latest:

Face #6

I live in the city where the famed Bust of Nefertiti makes its home, and I have a bit of an obsession with her. The bust is one of the most beautiful works of art I have ever seen, and makes me want to really know what the woman in real life was like. She has such a serene, but mysterious look on her face. Completely in control, but somehow benevolent . . .

That having been said, I am not satisfied with this piece. I don't feel that I made the two mediums, acrylic paint and oil pastel, work well together. Also, I don't feel that I "said" anything new about her. But I am showing this piece anyway, because I feel it is important to be able to give ourselves the permission not to like a finished work.

Nefertiti is a subject that I often return to - I've done studies of her with everything from charcoal to collage- and I am sure that I will return again to her during this art challenge.:)

Face #7

This is my 8-year-old daughter's "pioneer girl", as she calls her. She finds Little House on the Prairie and pretty much anything that happened in the 19th century fascinating, but this is the first time I can remember her drawing something in this genre.

Faces #8-9

My 10-year-old son's obsession is with Marvel comics. That explains the two faces below.: )

Thanks again for all of the comments and encouragement! Constructive criticism is also welcome!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Teaching the Christian Language System vs. Christianese

In Godly Play circles, we speak a lot about teaching children the classical, Christian language system. Indeed Jerome Berryman refers to "speaking Christian" in his book, The Spiritual Guidance of Children, as learning a second language. 

For many, the idea of teaching children a religious language is offensive. It certainly was for me. I was raised in the U.S. where the evangelical church had developed its own subculture language in the 80's and 90's, to the point where people raised outside of these circles had no longer had any idea what the church people were talking about when they came into contact with them. When I became immersed in a secular society, I had to unlearn this "Christianese" in order to be able to communicate things about my faith in a way that people could actually begin to understand. (To read more about "Christianese", see this informative article by Intervarsity Evangelism.)

So when I started hearing about a Christian language system as a part of Godly Play, I was skeptical. So were some of my colleagues who were coming from a missional viewpoint. They wanted to know why -  if we were attempting to communicate things about our faith in a way that unchurched people could relate to - we would then be doing exactly the opposite with children.

Godly Play uses the medium of play in order to develop the linguistic skills needed
to express faith.

For a long time, I stumbled with that question. But now I think I can better explain the difference between the subculture "Christianese" and the language system that is taught in Godly Play. Berryman writes that language itself is like a gateway. When we can name things, it empowers us as human beings. Children and adults have spiritual experiences and we need to be able to name them. Godly Play teaches children how to give a name to and describe these abstract religious experiences, concepts, and truths through play and creativity. We empower children to do much of the naming themselves, rather than prescribing specific names for specific things.

Yes, in Godly Play we do teach names for specific historical objects, i.e. the ark of the covenant, or people. But we don't, for instance, give a specific interpretation for parables, which can mean a myriad of different things to different people. And we don't define specific spiritual experiences with "churchy" terms. Instead, we allow the children to name them by combining vocabulary from their everyday experiences with the vocabulary from Scripture. 

Making art as a means of  expressing spiritual thoughts and reflecting on existential boundaries.

"Christianese", on the other hand, often evolves out of a desire to fit in. Many times, the terms are coined from a certain leader or pastor, which eventually filter their way down to the children in the congregation. It also results from not knowing any people outside of the church, which is a definite problem if we are bringing children up to be salt and light in the world.

"Christianese" can also be divisive by fostering an "us vs. them" mentality, due to the fact that it highlights the differences between people inside and outside of the church. But the "classical, Christian language system" seeks to name and express the ways in which God interacts with us. 

Teaching a child to speak "Christian" is a gift that will serve to guide her or him for the whole journey of life, whereas "Christianese" will hinder.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

29 Faces Art Challenge Faces # 3-5

My two children and I participating in Ayala Art's 29 Faces Art Challenge. My kids have jumped in with gusto, drawing so many faces that I can't possibly put them all on the blog. So far, it's been a good exercise for me not only in coming up with new projects, but also in letting go of some of my perfectionism. 

Here are today's offerings:

Face #3

For this one, I stained my background with the morning's leftover coffee. Then, I sketched the face with a terracotta Conte crayon pencil. Next, I added some color with watercolor, and finally I drew in the details with chalk pastels. 

I find it difficult to draw men in general, and I noticed some of the other participants voiced this as well.  I wonder why that is?

If you know our family in real life, you might have an inkling who this man might be.:)  It captures his essence, although I think there is something Dostoyevsky-esque in the portrait as well. 

Face #4 

This manga-like drawing is from my 10-year-old son. He did this with gouache and chalk pastels. 

Face #5

My 8-year-old daughter drew this face from her imagination. She actually draws faces quite often, and has of late been fascinated with people wearing glasses.

Thank you to everyone who has encouraged us and taken the time to comment! This might be the most fun link-up I have ever participated in!

Monday, February 3, 2014

"The Great Pearl" with Seniors Part 2

On Sunday, I co-led a worship service at one of our local retirement centers that we visit with Serve the City and our after-school clubs. As the "sermon" I told the Godly Play story, the "Parable of the Great Pearl". About 25 seniors were in attendance. 

This was my second time to lead a worship service with these seniors, and it went much smoother this time. For one thing, the seniors knew a wee bit more of what to expect. And we learned some things from our last experience that helped us this time around.

When working with a larger group of seniors, poor eyesight and hearing are often an issue. To help with the former problem, we enlarged the materials to make them better seen. (You can read about how I made the materials for the story here.) Last time, we told the story on a table of normal height rather than on the floor. However, this also proved too difficult for the seniors to see well. This time, we stacked two layers of folded tables on top of one another to make an in-between height, which you can see in the picture below. 

This made a huge difference, and the seniors were much more engaged during the story than lat time around.

To help with impaired hearing, I use a microphone to tell the stories. Last time, I had a wireless lapel mic. However, when I packed it this time to take with me to the retirement home, I neglected to check and make sure a battery was in the lapel set. With no battery and no way to get one on a Sunday morning, I ended up using a handheld mic and putting it down when I needed to move the figures. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise, because it slowed down the action even more for the seniors, so that they could follow along even more. 

Another interesting situation arose beforehand, when a staff member and I realized that the pearls would not be seen against a white tablecloth. The same staff member had the idea to cut out some circles out of brown felt to put underneath the pearls to make them stand out. Problem solved. 

At least two of the seniors participated in the Wondering at the beginning of the parable when I asked what the brown felt pieces (that represent the houses) could be. One lady said, "A picture frame," and another said, "An open door."

This time around, to give the seniors a chance to gather their thoughts, we had the pianist play an instrumental piece between the Parable and the Wondering. The ergotherapist and I had agreed beforehand to allow more time between the questions to see if it helped the residents to thin more about the story. This, however, seemed to irritate and confuse the residents. One elderly lady graciously suggested that I should give them something to read so that she could give an expected answer. I gently told her that there was no expectation for anyone to answer out loud and that the questions were simply meant to help us ponder the story more and grower closer to God. After that, the others seemed to relax more. 

Afterwards, the ergotherapist and I decided to start trying the Godly Play stories with a smaller group once a month. Making the enlarged materials for the worship services is quite a lot of work and I realistically can't do it more than 4 times a year. But with a smaller group, we could sit around a table and I could use the smaller materials. 

We'll definitely give it a try, and I'll bring my daughter along as well! 

Sunday, February 2, 2014

29 Faces Art Challenge Faces # 1 & 2

When I look through my sketch books, there seem to be two things that I unconsciously draw most often: trees and faces.

In my search to find inspiration for sketching, I came across the "29 Faces Art Challenge" hosted by Ayala Art. In honor of leap year, you are challenged to draw 29 faces during the month of February. The rules are simple: you draw any kind of face or facial feature, be it animal or human, and with any type of medium. Exactly the kind of challenge that I need.: )  While I have no illusions that I will actually be able to draw 29 faces, I'll have fun trying and stretch myself in the process.

Face # 1

For those interested in the creative process, I'll share how I ended up with this lovely lady. This is a mixed media work with watercolor, charcoal and chalk pastels. I seem unable to work with just one medium.: ) 

First, I started with a watercolor wash of red and yellow. Then, I add some sea salt in various places to create a crystal sort of effect.

Then, I sketched a woman from an internet photo, which I modified to avoid any potential copyright issues.

Next, I transferred the basic outline of my sketch into my spiral-bound sketchbook using a simple technique that I will share in a later post. I then began to fill in face, neck and shoulders with a brown watercolor wash. I added skin tones, hair and details with a charcoal pencil and chalk pastels. 

My 10-year-old son, who participated in "Sketchy Sunday" with me, also got excited about the project and made a quick self-portrait. It was awesome to see him looking in the mirror at himself and then sketching. Maybe between the two of us, we'll get 29 faces!

Face #2

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Still Sketching

So far, I've been able to run with my creative goals this year to sketch or make art at least 3 times a week. Last year, the Artsy Ants really helped me with their weekly challenge called "Sketchy Sunday", but since they are not hosting it this year, I needed to find something else.  Recently, I stumbled onto "The Sketchbook Challenge" on the blog of the same name. 

This month's theme is "Sketching with Collage". Inspired by some of the ideas on their blog, I came up with this piece on winter trees.  The background is a purple and yellow watercolor wash, and the snow is modeling paste with white acrylic paint. The trees are sewn into the paper using a tapestry needle and embroidery floss. 

I've also been Zentangling with Erin at The Bright Owl. It's a great stress reliever at the end of a busy day. 

And dear Jack Hamm of Drawing the Head & Figure has continued to mentor me as well. Been practicing drawing elbows and things . . . 

I have also been crocheting and knitting. My first scarf ever turned out well. That is, until my daughter decided to use it as a jumprope and ripped a huge hole in the middle.: )

I also made this winter headband that she has been using as a neck cowl. You can find the free pattern by Ruby Faye here

The only one of my creative goals that I haven't been able to work on is the text for the children's book. I have to figure out how to make time for that. We have winter holidays from school this week, so maybe I will get to it soon! 

Or maybe I just have too many creative goals for this stage of life.: )