Goodbye Summer- Hello New School Year!

We are saying goodbye to another summer. Last summer of my son’s tweens, as he’s turning 13 tomorrow. Last school year was incredibly busy, and quite stressful for us with intense extra curricular activities. But the summer was sweet (but short).
We hiked,played with friends and visited new places in our state. We made lovely memories.

 

 

IMG_3919

Colorado National Monument

 

IMG_3921

Rocky Mountain National Park

IMG_3920

Golden Gate Canyon State Park

This week we have started school at home and at the homeschool program my kids attended for many years now. D. started grade 8 and C. started grade 5.

This school year at home will be different for us as D. will take all of his core subjects at the program and I will support and supplement at home, which is completely new, as it used to be the other way around. He wanted to take Algebra and Physical Science and I wanted to make sure that he gets the best possible instruction. I don’t mind these, but they are not my favorites. He also takes English there, US History and STEAM. His classes are twice a week.

C. still goes once a week to the program taking English, Colorado History, Science and Coding there, most of her school is done at home.

Both kids continue to sing with Young Voices of Colorado, D. is now in advanced male choir and considers Music Theory Exam in the end of the school year. C. is in second level of training choirs.

Both are still doing karate with D. being a junior black belt and C.- solid green.

At home my goal for this year is taking a calm approach (1st week was a failure in that term) . We are trying out Book Shark Curriculum for Language Arts and Science/History. Singapore math for C., D. is doing Saxon for the first time in the program (we used to do Singapore with him). We continue doing our Russian lessons, and D. is taking Spanish in addition to that. He is very excited.

My plate is full with my illustration work  and the commitments I made for volunteering at children’s choir.

It will be a very very busy year. I do miss the early grades and the lovely slow days we had.  But I also welcome the challenge of having a full schedule and measure our time to do both work and play. I hope we can spend enough time in nature, will have more read-alouds as a family.

 

Here’s to 2018-2019 school year, out 10th year of homeschooling.

Advertisements

BOOK REVIEW: Everyday Watercolor by Jenna Rainey

Watercolor is such a tricky medium to work with, but also so rewording. It takes a while to figure it out and a right instruction is invaluable. The new book by illustrator Jenna Rainey  –Everyday Watercolor is an excellent starter or a refresh course for anyone who wants to paint with watercolor.

9780399579721

The book is literally meant to be used every day, with lessons for 31 days of the month. It provides material for a consistent practice, introducing new skill every single day. Each activity builds on the previous one. The book starts with introduction and continues on to week 1 – Technique, where we learn how to handle watercolor , select colors and getting a feel of the brush. Week 2 is Form, Perspective and Light, followed by Complex Shapes in section 3. Value, volume and depth as well as application are discussed in Sections 4 and 5. Each day has an exercise that includes detailed steps and palettes for the proposed work. The book is very easy to follow and gradual buildup of skills helps with confidence.

I absolutely recommend this book to anyone who always wanted to try watercolor, but was afraid to do it. I definitely recommend it as a fun daily practice or a refresher course too. 5 stars.

I received this book via in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

BOOK REVIEW: Color Index XL by Jim Krause

What can be handier for traditional or digital artist than a set palette. I myself found limited palette exercises incredibly helpful both while working digitally and with traditional media.  Color Index XL– the new book by author and graphic designer Jim Krause is an invaluable source of just that- a collection of over 1000 color palettes.

9780399579783

The book begins with a quick introduction into color theory and proceeds to list the palettes. The book doesn’t require any specific method to use the palettes, but they are grouped into three sections (of about 360 some combinations). First section deals with warmer palettes that lean toward warm colors (orange, red and yellow), second section is all about color combinations with a variety of hues, and the third section is dedicated to combinations of cooler hues. Each color palette includes 5 colors and both RGB and CMYK formulae are provided.  Each page includes dark, light, muted and bright version. See a quick flip through on my instagram

This book is incredibly handy resource for anyone working with colors, I am deeply appreciative of all the hard work that went into it and will surely refer to this book on a daily basis. 5 stars and a must have.

 

I received this book vial Blogging for Books in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

Book Review: Foundations of Drawing by Al Gury

As an artist I am always on the lookout for comprehensive guides to drawing and painting. I love learning from the experts and Al Gury, chairman of the painting department at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia is just the man to get this kind of advice from. His newest book is Foundations of Drawing: A practical guide to art history, tools, techniques and styles. 

9780307987181

The book is probably the most comprehensive guide I have come across so far. It is split into five sections. First section talks in depth about history of drawing. Part two reviews materials, I greatly appreciated the meticulousness here, some materials I was really curious about, but found hardly mentioned in my previous studies. Part three discusses essential drawing skills with a large discussion on composition, which was probably my most favorite part of the book – so clear and valuable it was to me. Part 4 discussed the esthetics and various styles. Part five focused on a few drawing demonstrations- still life, interior and human form, again with some interesting bits of art history.

Overall impression: Wonderful addition to my collection, tons of valuable information to go through and ponder. I think this book will be most interesting for someone who is serious about drawing and art history, there are no immediate instructions and how tos, I see it more as a very detailed drawing encyclopedia. Probably best suited for adult artists due to the amount of information. 5 stars.

I received this book via Blogging for Books in exchange for a fair and unbiased review

Goodbye November +Advent Calendar

November is over. And thank goodness. Somehow it turned out to be so much more stressful than I was hoping it would be. There were quite a few shocks close to heart and there were and are a lot of things to ponder and re-evaluate.

What have we been up to:

-Lots of field trips: We went to Denver Art Museum and saw Glory of Venice and Japanese Fashion Exhibits. We went to Denver Museum of Nature and Science and saw Extreme Mammals exhibit, as well as Mummies (D. loved it so much, C. on the other hand hated it, “too many dead bodies”, I must say it was interesting but I didn’t enjoy it as much for the same reason). We went and listened to an awesome Drums of the World performance by Colorado Symphony. Even got to do Mannequin Challenge with them. We took a tour around Denver Center for the Performance Arts. D. and I did it once when he was in the first grade, but we had an awesome guide this time around and, since I am so much more in touch with my artistic side now, I achieved new levels of appreciation for the backstage workers, designers and craftsmen.

15304471_10209808535228071_6757791266911877418_o

-The weather was fickle, with winds, first snow and some icy rain. But plenty of sunny days too.  We were busy with extracurriculars too- both kids had a dress rehearsal for the choir concert (C. can’t wait to debut, I unfortunately will have to chaperone and watch her from the backstage instead of the audience), both participated in karate tournament. C. did extremely well, was brave and endured long waits. D. did well too, but he also got hurt, not seriously but enough for me to consider taking him to the ER. He was ok in the end, very thankful for that.

-Also thankful for friends that we were finally able to have over for dinner, thankful for everyone being overall okay and even husbands medical concern isn’t serious and very treatable.

-We have two intense weeks ahead of us, two concerts for each of the kids, tournament training at karate, I will most likely cancel our mid-year testing, I don’t think kids will handle 4 hours and then a long rehearsal all in the same day. We all need rest.

-As usual I have made an advent calendar for kids, they ask for it and really look forward to simple activities we do. The list is pretty much the same as last year, the only thing I added is “grant each other’s wish” (with a reminder to keep it realistic and kind)

15259271_10209823305357315_8082494464116066669_o

Kids read a lot in November: D’s favorite was “Marvels” by Brian Selznick and C. loved Grace Lin’s “Starry River of the Sky”. I am hoping to do a little book advent as well as the one with the activities we’ll see how it goes.

Hopefully, December is kind to all of us

September Round Up + First Week of October

September flew by and first week of October is also gone.

What was our September like?

-We were quite busy with school and extracurricular activities. After we settled in the routine our tempo picked up a little bit. Both kids had their MAPS testing, still awaiting the results, but  I am confident they did well. Both kids had their camps at choir. D. also participated in Songs of Holocaust event with his choir. Both got through the first bad cold (I got it too, ugh).  There were a couple of outings- we went to the Ice Core Lab and learned about Antarctic Ice and the process of getting it, it was very interesting, we got to go to the lab itself, the temperature was very low, kids got to learn first hand what it must be like to do a work of getting the ice from Antarctica.

We also went to Denver Botanic Gardens, which we try to do every year around the same time (many thanks to our friends for taking us along). The flowers and trees were absolutely beautiful and all of us got to sketch a little right there in the gardens.

dsc_0502-collage

Fall is truly here now, especially comparing the the first week of September with it’s “still summer” warmth.

-First week of October was very special for us as we had dear friends visiting. It also coincided with our first break this school year.  We went to the mountains and saw some first snowflakes and to Colorado Springs to the Garden of the Gods. It was absolutely lovely to have them over and we are truly thankful they came to visit.

dsc_1374-collage

-I am working more and more on my art, I had some good things happen in September and I hope October is even better. Etsy shop is coming soon too.

 

What were my kids reading:

This list runs from beginning of school and through the month of September. I only count new books, something they haven’t read before. But as usual there were tons of re-reads.

D. read:

Fiction: Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt, King Arthur and His Knights by Howard Pye, Matilda by Roald Dahl

Non Fiction: How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming by Mike Brown, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by Bryan Mealer and William Kamkwamba

Russian: Скифы в Остроконечных Шапках С. Фингарет, Каштанка и другие рассказы А.П. Чехов, М. Горбовцев “Мишкино Детство”

slide1

C. read:

Ollie’s Odyssey by William Joyce, The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate, The Magic Finger by Roald Dahl, Primates by Jim Ottaviani and Maris Wicks, A Nest for Celeste by Henry Cole, The Fantastic Flying Journey by Gerald Durrell

In Russian:Сельма Лагерлёф “Путешествие Нильса с дикими гусями”,  “В Лесу” М.С. Соколов-Микитов

slide2

 

Overall, the month of September was good to us, let’s hope October will be even better.

 

 

 

BOOK REVIEW: The Drawing Lesson by Mark Crilley

I enjoyed Mark Crilley‘s previous work The Realism Challenge and found his lessons clear and straightforward. I was excited to see his new work and in such an interesting format- a graphic novel called The Drawing Lesson. My children were especially excited for this one, as they are huge fans of graphic novels and they love to draw. As a self-taught artist I can appreciate the advice about the basics.

9780385346337

The book focuses on the importance of a mentor in the life of an aspiring artist. The story is about a boy named David who encounters a woman artist in the park. David admires Becky’s art and begs her to teach him. Each chapter introduces a concept and gives the idea for practice. Both characters are funny (my kids laughed so much at poor Becky being annoyed by eager to learn David). And as David’s drawing progresses, so does his friendship with Becky. The final chapter and Epilogue were quite touching. Each chapter gives very basic but at the same time very useful advice about how to get this or that part of the drawing right. There are 11 chapters, my kids were done reading it in one sitting and grabbed their sketchbooks right away.

Overall impression: I think this book is a great tool for introducing the basics to the young people as well as adults that want to learn how to draw but don’t know where to start. Some aspects of the story (introducing yourself to a stranger just because they draw well and especially barging into their houses) irked me a bit, but didn’t bother my kids at all. They paid all the attention to the advice about drawing. My children enjoyed the format of the graphic novel very much. 5 stars.

I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.