September Sketchbookery

Happy September, everyone! Someone told me yesterday that September is the new January, which makes sense to me. New notebooks and pencils. New shoes. A new season on its way (hooray, Autumn!!!).  And if you’re a teacher like me, new classes with new students. A fresh new start!

This past summer I also plunged into a new hobby, which I look forward to continuing as a respite from long school days, adjuncting at night, the constant research and reading required of an English teacher, as well as those mountains of papers to grade:

sketching and watercoloring.

Thanks to Mary Ann Moss, over at Dispatch from LA, I splashed around with paints and water and a bunch of different inks and pens all summer long. Each morning I enjoyed another segment of her online course “Sketchbookery,” happily sketching and coloring spoons, shells, heirloom tomatoes, marbles, trees, toes (don’t ask).  Even poor Edith Piaf got a turn.  Letting loose under Mary Ann’s tutelage also reaffirmed a few lessons much more important than the accuracy of my fledgling artistry:

  1. Playing and having fun clears the head and feeds the soul. Play and have fun daily!
  2. Laugh at yourself.  Then laugh at yourself some more.
  3. It’s okay to make a mess. In fact, making a big splashy mess is quite fun.
  4. Color outside the lines. Unabashedly. Wildly. Frequently.
  5. Keep your eyes open to catch all those simple joys and beauties around you.

Repeat.

So off I go to begin the new school year with over 100 freshmen, sophomores, and seniors. I will be teaching a freshman course called Leadership, Honors American Literature to my sophomores, and Honors World Literature to the seniors. Lots of challenges, as well as moments to look forward to, ahead.  And lots of breaks to breathe, rest, and sketch and color it all.

I hope you also make lots of time for yourself this September to rest, play, and take some time to look around.

Here’s a peek at some of my sketchbookery:

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Enjoying my balcony garden as summer fades

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A Summer Sunday

I have a confession to make. I am not a fan of Sundays. (Were you expecting a juicier, saucier admission?) During the school year, I awaken on a Sunday morning and immediately think of the million and one things I want to squeeze into the day ahead before heading back to work on Monday, things I probably should have already gotten to during the workweek or at least part of Saturday–you know, three loads of laundry, a Crock-Pot of chili, a full week of celery chopped, pile of bills, at least one power walk, vacuuming, five classes worth of essays to grade, finish writing a book of poems, iron my shirts, read the Times front to back, watch every single football game being televised, go to a football game, watch Masterpiece Mystery, write a novel, read a novel … well, you get the idea. Never enough time. And poor, innocent Sunday seems to rub that in my face, though I know she means no harm.

Now, part of me is being hyperbolic, of course. I am a teacher. I enjoy freedom-filled Sundays all summer long. I load my time with what I want, when I want it.  I have sacrificed a lot of material and financial comforts to follow my dream of teaching, but I reap every single reward this special vocation offers. I am grateful that I have always inherently enjoyed simple pleasures and that I know how to live comfortably and within my means. And I have also lived enough and seen enough to know that all of the  blessings in my life make me wealthier than any man or woman on the Forbes list.

But I digress…back to Sundays. This Sunday. Today. Simply spectacular! My sister and I are together again for a week of shenanigans on our annual summer vacation at the Jersey Shore. We have vacationed here since we were tiny girls, playing Charlie’s Angels with cap guns, smashing around in bumper cars, licking ice cream cones, and sharing stories of what we were going to be when we grew up. We return because this place connects us. Its roots grow deep.

Anyway, nothing earth-shattering, just simple and restful, like Sundays are meant to be, I suppose. Soul-filling. I sketched. She sipped a special coffee. We laughed and chatted, people-watching from our balcony a few yards from the boardwalk. She napped. I plunged into the most beautiful coffee table book entitled The Sea and daydreamed of manning a lighthouse in the middle of the Irish Sea or re-cruising the Alaskan fjords. We savored a delicious caprese salad (including cucumber slices and garlic stuffed olives) composed with the freshest of ingredients from my visit to my friends’ garden the other day. She bought two original paintings at the art show on the boardwalk. I ballooned with joy as she excitedly recounted her conversation with the artist. And we ended the day in the best way possible, perhaps the only way, when you’re down here on vacation…a twirl of soft serve ice cream. Dipped in rainbow sprinkles, of course.

Sunday, I may just be discovering your wonderfulness after all.

Small caprese

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Two original paintings (on aluminum) by New York artist Kevin Liang

Small The Sea

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