Sep 24, 2014

I am An American Made FInalist! And I need your VOTE!!!!

WOW..what a year! I applied for the Martha Stewart American Made contest and I AM A FINALIST!

 It is currently people's choice time and I am begging everyone to go to my nomination page and VOTE for me! You can vote 6 times a day until October 13. I would LOVE to win $10,000 towards my business and I would love to meet Martha Stewart! So please VOTE and spread the WORD! Hit the Link HERE

Aug 27, 2014

Design Conversation #63 Teaching from the Edge

Come see how great my first day of school went with my introduction to Photography! Taking it to the edge....not jumping off of it! ha!

Aug 26, 2014

Who's That Lady in the Front of Room


I try to think about this every year:What am I going to do to make a really good impression to my students on the first day of school? In my fantasy world, I see my students telling their parents all about how excited they are about their art class, and that awesome teacher that they can't wait to see again. You know, as they are eating their dinner all together as a family, and the Dad at the end of the table asked his child, "Well, how was your first day at School ?". Guess that sounds very Ward Cleaver of me. But that was me, and we were asked that question every year.  I'm sure as we got older and into our high school years, the answer got shorter and more of a grunt than a sentence. A good teacher puts herself/himself in the student's point of view. People ask me, How do you look so young ?  I think its because I am always in the spirit of the high school kid. So what motivates the High school kid these days? My first day I teach only one class (guess its good to be the chair for something) , which is Photography 1. I think right away to go to instagram and the selfie. So I'm having my students look at a power point full of my photographs that I have posted in either facebook or instagram that I feel show something about me. Some are obvious and others are more abstract. They will have to pick and choose photographs to use to respond to a number of questions. including "which photo is a fib?" Leading to a compiled list of a successful narrative selfie. I've included photos of me in various stages of my life: youngster on vacation, graduate with my Dad, punk rocker at the Marble Bar, on my latest travels and antics with my friends; along with views of my desk, studio, sweatshop, and screaming blueberry pancake man. And then I will have my students sum me up; tell what they think makes me tick!  Hope it works. I will actually be talking about this lesson and its results on Sept 2, for the design conversations at the Wind Space. Wish me luck! Happy Back to School!




Aug 24, 2014

Look who is "American Made"

Martha Stewart - American Made 2014 - Nominee Badge

I saw this last year and had been kicking myself for not doing it. Luckily it happened again this year. I loved the questions. Hoping my DIY punk attitude came out in the question "What does American Made mean to you". Check out my profile and pass the word about jennyjen and her Birdy birds! Comments are welcomed ! 

Aug 22, 2014

Here we Go..... School Year 27!

We are off and running! Or should I say, we are going to laugh and have as much fun as we possible can this school year! This is going to be my mantra for this 27th. year of teaching. This is my first goal for this year. The closer I get to retirement the more I'm going to teach the way and what I want! Luckily it all gels with  the rigorous,creative and relevant art curriculum of Baltimore County. Another year for me to work on establishing the artist community in my classroom that contain enthusiastic, open minded, critical and creative thinking, cooperative and pleasurable beings! I tell my department that you need to train your students into being the people you want to spend time with! A huge challenge for the high school beast...but it is doable! My other goal is to keep an updated blog...yes Again I am going to try this! If I figure out how to make time work for me, this could work! I have so much to tell you about my amazing summer and all of the places I went to along with my best craft show ever! So I promise to be back with more post! OK, back to planning! Cheers!

Mar 26, 2014

jennyjen spring schedule!

Here it very busy, but very exciting spring show schedule!

Its starts out this Friday night @ the Artisan Gallery for the NAEA conference in San Diego ..I will have my new pencil cases and tool rolls....and what ever else I can fit in my suitcase!

Sunday April 13 I will be at the BEST Spring Show Ever! at the Union Mill

I will be at Flower Mart in Baltimore's Mt. Vernon square May 2 and 3

Art Star in Philly May 10 & 11

And then I will be at Art Outside , that is around the Druid Hill Park Reservoir, Sunday, May 18
Fingers Crossed that I get into Artscape! Which may be my only summer show.  Come by any of these shows and say hello!

The Cluster Cuse of a Year

So here we are, 26 March 2014 and I have not posted as I promised, for more than a month. My school year is going down as one of my worst. With over size classes full of personalities, IEP's, and massive neediness and a studio class that is still working its way to some place, I'm not sure where. Load on more work and expectations and paper work, SLO's and yet another survey I'm suppose to complete in my spare time. Somehow I decided to take a night off from sweatshop duties and grading sketchbooks and planning and placed myself in front of my neglected computer and blog for me to pour out a little of my soul with out screaming for help and crying myself to sleep. I am so over worked that I can't put in the needed time in the sweatshop and I'm so tired by the "take, Take, Take" that feel like I cannot do any job properly with the needed attention both require.  Can;t let up on the jennyjen42 business because I am still growing my business so that I have something to go to once I retire to, and I have to stick it in for 3 more years to get all of the benefits and pension I have worked so hard to receive. I'm in my on catch 22 hell. So I'm trying not to drink myself to death or write too many complaints or often thought that are on my head on facebook or on this blog. I miss my dad more than anything because he would know what to say to make all of this feel better. HE would give me the strength to carry on. I have great family, my loving husband, my peers who are going through the same ordeal..but sadly have even more years to teach till retirement is at hand. we are all fantasizing about how it was, even just last year, and of better places to be and other careers. What has happened to the teaching profession? When did become so fucking hard? OK, enough of that...that felt good but I must stick this out and find a better attitude. I'm hoping I will find it Friday as I fly out to San Diego for the NAEA Conference! I'm looking forward to the west coast! Even bought myself a new spring dress! I will be presenting with my teaching buddies about teaching beyond the classroom. How we get our students to participate in the real art world! The shitty part about this is that I have not been able to do any of this this year! But here's hoping I will get some needed energy! 

Feb 10, 2014

Finding Peace in the Water

I have been an avid swimmer most of my life! We were brought up as close to the water that we possibly could for a suburban family in Baltimore County. We had a Donald the duck vinyl pool that had a metal frame and corners made of metal that you could sit on. We would put the sliding board up to it so that we could make a big splash!

We moved on to a pool membership at Rollingwood Pool which we went to as much as we could. This would lead our Dad into being very creative on those days that he had lots of work to do around the house while we begged him to take us to the pool. Out favorite is the "individual swimming pool". Dad told us to each go get a large trash bag and bring it to the back yard. In our bathing suits we would climb into the trash bag for him to come fill it up with cold water from the hose! Not much you could do but hold up the sides of the bag and cool off!

When I went to college I was so excited about the swimming pool at Burdick Hall. You could swim every night after 7 until 10 except Tuesday nights. I took a life saving class for a gym credit to be int he pool during the day and then actually join the swim team my senior year that turned into me playing water polo in the spring! Things I did even disguised as a punk rocker. Little did my punk rock friends know what I was doing in my afternoons.

Now its the YMCA and my weekly mile swims. My goal is to make that 2-3 miles a week. I get rewarded with some solitary time in the sauna to get rid of my day at school. All stress goes away and I can enjoy my evenings after that. I think this year, it will be my heart saving routine that I need to stick to. If you do it more then 22 times, it turn into a habit! Lets hope it does!

Feb 5, 2014

Donald E. McBrien, school pupil services director

Donald E. McBrien, school pupil services director 

This is a wonderful obit for my Dad that included many of his professional accolades!

Feb 2, 2014

Putting it All Together

Today is pack up day and take to Gallery 788 for this week's opening on Thursday!

Feb 1, 2014

29, 30 January 2014 Self-Portraits

30 January 2014

I have to admit that this one is one of my favorite ones. 

29JAnuary 2014
The day my Dad died. This one was the hardest one to do and I'm not very convinced that this is the best idea for this. In the future I may revise this somehow. 

My Final Funaday Self Portrait

I'm glad I did this funaday project of a self portrait every day. Quite proud of myself for sticking with it and actually creating 31 self portraits in one month. Little did I know what an emotional month this was going to be This project helped me get through it. Count on me doing it again next year! 

Jan 30, 2014

My Dad My Hero

Yesterday, my Dad passed away. He lost his battle, but fought a good fight. We all got to say our last words to him and we got to tell him what an amazing Dad he was to us.  I am an extremely lucky girl! Extremely lucky. To have a Dad so supportive, so loving, so full of laughs and good times who was supportive and full of good advice. He loved his family, especially his children and grand children. He figured out how to give us a good playful life, even if he couldn’t afford it. I just recently realized how he was my first exposure to the “Do It Yourself World"! We had an attic with a tent to play in, a basement with an actual swing to swing on, an ice rink in the back yard to skate on, a crow’s nest and a tree house to climb up and play in. Plenty of  swimming pools, a swing set,a sand box,  a sliding board and a see saw. A sliding board that eventually turned into how we got from the wooded dirt hill behind our house to our back yard.  A swimming pool that evolved from a Donald the duck vinyl pool to individual swimming pools (Dad’s invention where we each got a large trash bag to stand in and filled with water!) to our summers at Rollingwood Swimming Pool. Vacations to the beach, to Canada in  a rented Winnepego, across country with a pop up tent camper, to Williamsburg and Florida! We had a house full of Dave Brubeck, Carpenters and sesame street music.  Bedtime stories that always had us in the woods  on cold windy nights.  Our favorite dinners included cooking hot dogs on the end of long sticks in the fireplace, and then there was breakfast for dinner! Once I became a teacher with a teacher salary, I realized why we had these dinners!
             My Dad was a teacher who turned into a guidance counselor who advanced to being a supervisor of Guidance for Baltimore County Schools. We were brought up with visits to his schools and offices. I got to see him a lot when I went to Towson State. Usually to get some more money for my art supplies. And if I played my cards right, I would get to meet him for lunch out with his Guidance Department. Many conversations about the public school system and its ups and downs occurred during these lunches. We heard these conversations a lot over dinner as well. Somehow, all of that snuck into my psyche. I never thought I would be a teacher, even though playing a teacher as a kid was one of my favorite games to play (course my stuff animals were perfect students, who could have topped that job?).

 I was going to be an artist. I was going to have some sort of career, in which I could make something, be artistic and challenge my creativity. I got accepted into both Towson State University and Maryland Institute, College of Art and I was determined to go where I wanted to go. Dad decided that we would talk about this decision at a Colts Football game. We had 2 season tickets in which Dad got to go  every game and take one of us. It was my turn to go, armed with a thermos of hot chocolate and a blanket , we drove to Dad’s parking Spot on Hopkins’s Campus and walked down 33rd Street to Memorial Stadium with no mention of school. Just the “isn’t this great Jennifer? Think about it if you go to Towson, we could go to their football games! I replied back with “or you could continue to take me to the Colts games”. He saw he wasn’t getting anywhere with this logic so we settled with Towson because of the cost with an agreement that if I really wanted to go to MICA I would wait until my Junior year. My first lesson in manipulated compromise. A technique I use today for my classroom management
I ended up going to Towson for all four years, majoring in Fine Arts with a concentration in Painting. He let me do that. Knowing full well that my art was not going to make me a wealthy woman, but a woman of poverty. He would try to encourage me to take an education class, but I refused.  I graduated and worked my retail jobs for a while. Even moved out of the house and tried to make it on my own. Poverty and unchallenged jobs started to get to me, and the bills and student loan payments started to come in. I ended up getting that teaching certification and here I am, year 27 into my art teaching career. I can actually retire in 3 years and do what I intended to do in the first place: make art, run my own diy business and share my happy birdies all around the world!  I will miss you Dad so much. I will miss your “That’s Wonderful Jennifer” I will truly miss that! 
But I have this confession about death that always gotten me through. Such a loss. As a child I always felt that once someone close to you dies, that they are with you, looking over your shoulder, checking out what you are doing and making sure you are ok. I confess to talking to my grandparents on many occasions. And I know my Dad is here right now, looking over me, giving me the strength to move on and live my life the way he intended me to live it:  Live life to its fullest, take risks, learn from your mistakes and never let anyone nor anything take you down!  And most of all do what you have to do to BE HAPPY.

Jan 27, 2014

24, 25, 26 and 27 Jan 2014 Portraits

24 January 2014
Went swimming after school on this day to be the only person in the pool with a rapping life guard! This lasted during my first half mile that I swam. The second half became full of children and senior citizens. 

25 January 2014
I wish I could have taken my Dad to Scotland before he became so ill. He would have loved to have taken us kids. We would have been singing sounds and reenacting scenes from the sound of music (even though we would have been in Scotland). 

26 January 2014
Actually we cleaned the entire house, went grocery shopping and made a very healthy dinner for friends all day.....I actually did this on 27 January 2014 in the sweatshop. This is my first freehand machine stitched self portrait! 

27 January2014
I also did this on the 27th. Just a quick sketch on wood of me and my lucy-fur! My shadows and underfoot on these very cold days nights!

Jan 25, 2014

Portraits 22 & 23

These next two portraits are all about my frustrations with my teaching job. They both portray the insane expectations and amount of work put on us as teachers, that keep increasing without additional time nor money, and how powerless I feel. I'm wondering if there is a happy teacher out there anywhere.

Portrait 22 is titled " Why did I read my School email Today" or ""Why do I feel like every teacher is being punished because supervisors didn't have the balls to get rid of bad teachers" or" How many more jobs are you going to add to my job without giving me anymore money"...Oh I could keep on....

Portrait 23 "the area of decision" 

Jan 22, 2014

Portraits 20 & 21

So I decided to take a vacation of sorts from observing my real self, and thought for this beautiful snowy weather to put myself in a different place, of a different time as a different person. Or where I wouldn't mind escaping to. The first one is taken from this photo:
This is a photo of me and my friend Missy form 1983, I think, taken by Stuart Stein for one of his paintings.  And then I found a great interior shot from a 1963 Interior Design magazine I had found in an antique shop many years ago. Did a little bit of photoshop and here we are: 

And then I saw this ad for this furniture company that reminded me of that famous photo of the Abstract Expressionist group of the New York school . I had always dreamed of being part of an artist group that had some influence on the art I put myself in their happy group!