Thursday, October 24, 2013

2 Artists in Brazoria County, TX

Two Styles of Art Suitable for both Children and Adults

Children's art is so variable. There is the gentleness of the illustrations in Winnie the Pooh and the sharpness of the superhero comics. Each artist seems to have an identifiable style no matter what the images.

painting The Inchworm copyrighted by Jessica Phillips
© Jessica Phillips, The Inchworm

I have long admired the wall murals painted in children's bedrooms by Jessie Phillips. She may be my niece, but she is also very talented. One of my favorite picture of hers was painted on the bedroom wall of her daughter, then a newborn. I photographed the entire wall and cut pieces of the mural out of the image for use as clip art. These are some of my favorite clips, and I am very grateful for her permission to use them. Almost sadly, Jessie has moved into a larger house, leaving behind those fabulous murals. She has painted other murals on her new walls.

Recently I met another young artist, Josh Pittser. He paints superheros known, to date, only to his friends and family. He also paints insects at play.

When I saw the painting I call Bug Party, I knew I had to see it next to what I call The Inchworm.  Look at the caterpillar in each painting and compare them. Both are wonderful for kids.

a painting I call Bug Party; © Josh Pittser
Bug Party, © Joshua Pittser, signed as Josh Pittser

I eagerly await the advancement in the careers of both of these artists that will produce more of these imaginative works! I look forward to the prints that will eventually be available for sale. I may not have any kids to decorate for--even my grandchildren are growing up fast--but I want a few prints anyway.

Both of these young artists live in Brazoria County, TX. Each are painting part time as they work to help support their families and raise their children, but their busy lives do not stop them from painting when they can. Should you wish to contact either artist, email me and I will pass on the message.


Note: Names of the paintings are mine, not that of the artists. I think Jessie calls the caterpillar a bookworm. I do not know what Josh calls his painting. Both of these images are trimmed,  reduced, shadowed, and sharpened, etc.,  a bit from the original photos. I took the photos, so any problems with the images are due to my skills, not those of the artists. 

Use a Visual Meme to Create a Teachable Moment

Both of these images will stimulate a child's imagination, whether that child is pre-schooler or teenager. Whether you are the parent, teacher, or the babysitter, you can focus on and advance the child's skills of expression by asking the child to do an activity with the pictures. Here are some suggested activities. Don't worry about right answers, except for "hitting somewhere in the ball park" with the science focus; remember that the moment is for encouraging imagination and expression.
  • Ask questions about what is happening in the pictures.
  • Ask the child to write a story about one of the pictures. Later ask for a story about the other picture. Allow for flights of fancy that can be the beginnings of an appreciation for science fiction and/or fantasy.
  • Ask about the memes or symbolism in the images. Ask what the meme means personally. 
  • Ask the child to draw and color a similar image like the one that is his/her favorite of the two.
  • Ask which caterpillar the child would rather find when walking in the yard or woods. Ask where a real caterpillar can be found. Ask what kind of insects are shown in the two images. (You can make this a science focus, an artistic one, or a literary one--or a bit of all three.)
Note: Visit one of my websites, Valerie Coskrey's Classroom Tools and Ideas for more Teachable Moments. There is a whole page on encouraging students to write using visual memes--and more images to use.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

About Artisans, Antiques, Gifts, Collectables, and Refinished Furniture, Texas Style

Mertie's Button icon on the local
business directory of Coskrey Biz
 Visit my new blog Talking about This and That, the official blog of the resale/thrift shop Mertie's This and That in Brazoria, TX.

Well, it isn't really my blog, but I am managing it and writing it.

Donn's alternate Button icon
based on his street sign
One of my posts focused on renovating furniture. In this post, I report on my chat with a local artisan who refinishes furniture with a Texan style. In fact, he calls his shop Texas Attitude. Donn Correll turns junk finds into beautiful items. He not only refinishes furniture, he also crafts parts to replace damaged sections and to create that Texan look.

 If you want  to contact Donn about his furniture hobby, visit my website and send me an email.

This dresser with shelf is an example of Donn's work. How he altered the original is part of the blog post.
I hope you enjoy the articles. They reflect a new business that my husband and I have started to supplement our retirement funds. You can read more about this in Valerie's Memos, which will serve as a newsletter for our new company Coskrey Biz, at least for now.  There could be more articles to Valerie's Memos separate from a newsletter function, but as a newsletter, it works.

I used another blog as a newsletter once. To keep articles separate, I posted a newsletter listing in a Page. Took some extra work, but I wanted to know if a blog subscription list was more effective than a mailing list. Probably not, but until the mailing grows, it will suffice.

Bye for now.  ~Valerie

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Book Review: Haze by L.E. Modesitt, Jr.

Haze by L.E. Modesitt, Jr.

A Book Review by Valerie Cosrkey

A book suitable for a YA audience in content--easy-going, but interspersed with lively action; implicitly deeply philosophical; no obscenities, overt sex, or pathological-character action; and mild violence--Haze gently leads the reader to question the authority of a successful government's control over the lives of its citizens. It posits a near-Utopian society as the enemy of such a government. The main character is an enforcement agent with the rank of major who finds himself assigned to infiltrate and spy on the enemy culture.

The book reveals Agent Major Roget's character in a series of flashbacks to other missions he had accomplished on the home world of Earth. That is the bare bones of the story outline, but within this skeleton is fine storytelling that begins almost too gently to persuade one to finish the book until you realize that you really care about Roget and wonder what all the flashbacks are trying to tell you.

By the end of the book, and with no pedantic passages, you have had an education in democracy, political and governmental institutions, freedom vs. governance, and philosophy. However, the book is filled with wonderful 1-2 sentences of quotable remarks on these subjects, especially appreciated from a Humanist worldview. A discussion of this book in high school and college classes of history, government, and science would be enriching. There is much in the writing style, plot structure, themes and symbolism to make this book usefully instructive in a literature class. Yet the story itself is less than 200 pages long--just right for a mature YA audience. Like  Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea, this book is easily read but deceptively deep.

A short quotation from the beginning of pages of the book expresses a secondary theme of the book. In the first chapter Kuang says, Full freedom is another word for chaos and mob rule.
(©2009; A Tor Book, Tom Doherty Associates, LLC; New York, N.Y.; p. 18.) 

Throughout the book, there is a tension between freedom and government, with examples of different levels of freedom and different governments maintaining control. This tension is a strong theme, probably the primary theme.