A Memorial to Sharon Webb Brown forum: Lessons from Sharon

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Oct 29, 2016 12:59 PM CST
Name: Arlene
Grantville, GA
August 2013

Like the Great Roasted Hot Dog Humanities Event. I've told you about it before. Briefly -
Took the class outside, roasted hot dogs on a stick and after eating we drew stick figures on rocks with the burnt end of the sticks, what did they learn? The natural chemistry between the greasy hot dogs, the branch of a tree that became the stick holding the hot dog, and the heat that turned the end of the stick into charcoal - all worked together to provide the graphite that early man used to record the picture symbols on the walls of ancient caves - which tell us about the cultures of thousands of years ago. Eureka, we figured out where the black lines of cave art came from and why they still remain to this day.

The grease + the black burned stick + cave walls made of various stony composites + constant temp and environment within the cave = preserved artifacts that remain over a vast number of years. So what areas were covered by that picnic out in the woods?

Chemistry, science, environment, writing/art forms - and I really didn't have to teach a thing, they figured it all out themselves. You did the same kind of thing, and those students will long remember those lessons. And that's teaching outside the box - but it works and when I had to get permission from admin to take the students outside for the lesson that day, I simply told them we were going on a nature walk to compare woods that grew there to the woods that had grown in ancient times. It was a humanities class after all and I didn't lie. We did find that some wood didn't burn very well. Smiling
Oct 29, 2016 1:01 PM CST
Name: Arlene
Grantville, GA
August 2013

I do see negative people in colors, Mary, and you are right, mostly raw umbers and charcoal grays with blacks and browns and if they are angry or unbearably loud then deep orange and bright red. Most of the time after awhile and if they continue with their negativity, then they become clouds of gray and quite unnoticeable anymore.

The color thing doesn't really have anything to do with physical appearance or what one is wearing, it has to do mostly with personality and attitude and words that come from them. When I was little and when Dad came home from the war, I was told to 'be seen but not heard' - so I had many very quiet years. I was mostly around adults during that early time, so I observed a lot and in observing, everybody became a color to me. And I was the quiet little girl in the corner who never said a word. Color me gray like a mouse.

'O look at the pretty little girl over there, I'm hungry, Charlie, let's get our plates and fill them up.'
'Well aren't you just the sweetest little thing, could you just carry this dirty plate back to the kitchen for me, now that's a good girl.'
'Come here and let me see the ruffles on your dress, now ain't you got the best Mommy,' she said as she lifted the skirt of my dress above my head to inspect the stitching of the eyelet ruffles. 'You better not get this dress dirty, girl, your mommy ain't goin' to want to do them ruffles up everday.'
'O, I didn't see you, you need to move outta th' way so people don't have to step around you. You're gonna get hurt just standin' there,' she said with a shove.

And I never ever said a word.
I think the only time I talked during those years it was to my grandmother and Aunt Bett and my grandfather in the confines of my home or theirs when nobody else was around. This, after 3 years of being the golden child. So people became colors to me. I was an observer from the dark gray corner, the colorless one nobody noticed very much and all I could see and hear were the colors flying around me - all because Dad told me to be seen but not heard.

So we don't know where people come from, students especially, and we don't really know what influences formed their minds and personalities. We can't change them so we learn patience and tolerance and we learn how to best deal with it. I think colors became my way to deal with people.

So I was a little gray mouse in the corner for a lot of years and never showed any of my color except when with one of the 3 adults I mentioned up there. Lucky for me their influence and encouragement gave me the strength I needed to leave the little mouse in the corner as I grew up. So as dedicated teachers we try to take those little mice from the corner and the roaring lions from their den and we try to reach a good balance with them so that they can learn in their own ways and become the cool kats they should be in real life. Cool kats aren't overbearing and aren't silent and do much better than the quiet mice and the roaring lions in society.

I don't know why I wrote all that. Duh.
Oct 29, 2016 1:04 PM CST
Name: Arlene
Grantville, GA
August 2016

Photos can be a part of overall art education, but real life is much better. Now if a person is wanting to be an artist, I say take your own photos and use them to improve paintings; and most of the other trained art teachers say the same thing.

My students had photo portfolios as a part of the supplementary material they used through the class. I was fortunate enough to also teach a photography class to the upper classes, so it was all a part of the whole. But I never encouraged photos unless they were trying to paint something they had no way of seeing. Painting from your own photos makes a lot more sense.

It was difficult for my students to have ever seen a flower vendor on the streets of San Francisco, yet I had been there and had seen them so I made copies of the photos I had for those who had no idea what I was talking about. But they did their own paintings even then, and did not try to copy the photos. Copying photos is what copiers are for. Smiling

There are a lot of photographers who claim that if somebody paints a photo they took - without permission - that is plagiarism and I think so too. It's the same as stealing someone's work and signing your name to it. But if it's your own photo, then fine, it's all a part of the learning process.

The problem is that it is still copying and if it is to be displayed, legally you are to credit that photographer in the show. Most shows will not take copied work. Even if you enter a show with a painting you did from your own photo, then you are supposed to say that too, but sometimes those rules slip through the cracks.

But in learning, it is a good way to see things, particularly if you've never seen that particular 'thing'. My point is that photos are good to look at in order to see the contrast or texture or detail, but not to copy it exactly as it is. I know nothing about orchids and if I were to paint one I'd have to look at dozens of pictures to see the shape, form, petals, texture, color - all those things, but then I'd take those things and my own picture. There is a big difference.
Reference material; that's what I called photos when teaching art. Good for showing form and shapes, textures, colors etc. and learning ways and techniques to recreate those things.

I would say, 'how many colors are in a tree trunk?' Most would say one, brown; then we'd go outside to take a look and truly depending on the tree and the light, there are dozens of colors in one tree trunk. Same with leaves. So it's fine to have photos for reference especially on a dark winter day when there are no green trees and the snow is on the ground.
Oct 29, 2016 1:06 PM CST
Name: Arlene
Grantville, GA
A continuation of the lesson

You know, if you take portions of a picture and paint that little portion within its own setting, then that's creative and a great learning experience. And if you are a botanical artist and need perfect renderings of perfect plants for your job, then that's a whole nother ballgame. So you are right, Lance. And you are also right about the Last Supper and all those paintings that were done mostly in the 14th century that are Biblical. Those Renaissance artists used their friends for models. No photography in those days. And lots of realism, although the background in the Mona Lisa is totally unrealistic because it is imaginary.

Another thing to think about, Lance, is you are talking about Realism, almost Photo-Realism, which is just what it says, picture perfect. But it's not always good to judge an artist by how well he copies reality. There are other forms of excellent art. Abstract Realism comes to mind. And again you can make a realistic painting abstract by simply changing the color. Paint Margaret's Blue Moon in shades of orange and yellow - no longer Margaret's photo, is it? Still it's realistic, but abstracted by the artist. Something to think about. And take Margaret's Blue Moon again and use it as a background for a old broken haunted house and you have realism again, but slightly different. All artists's ways of making what they take from a photo their own.

Lots of ways to be artistic without actually copying every single thing, and it isn't good to think the ability to copy realism makes for a good artist. I can teach you to grid and with the grid, you will be able to paint whatever you see. Sorta like paint by number. But that's a technical technique, nothing talented about it, really. Because you would forever have to use a grid for any painting.
Oct 29, 2016 1:09 PM CST
Name: Arlene
Grantville, GA
August 26, 2013
There are some colors that aren't used in certain places because colors and color combinations are known to create emotional reactions. Sometimes the emotional reactions are negative, all this is from a study and not my words:

Yellow: Cheerful sunny yellow is an attention getter. While it is considered an optimistic color, people lose their tempers more often in yellow rooms, and babies will cry more. It is the most difficult color for the eye to take in, so it can be overpowering if overused. Yellow enhances concentration, hence its use for legal pads. It also speeds metabolism. (Yellow is not used in hospital rooms nor in psychiatric offices.)

Green: Currently the most popular decorating color, green symbolizes nature. It is the easiest color on the eye and can improve vision. It is a calming, refreshing color. People waiting to appear on TV sit in "green rooms" to relax. Hospitals often use green because it relaxes patients.

Blue: The color of the sky and the ocean, blue is one of the most popular colors. It causes the opposite reaction as red. Peaceful, tranquil blue causes the body to produce calming chemicals, so it is often used in bedrooms. Blue can also be cold and depressing. Fashion consultants recommend wearing blue to job interviews because it symbolizes loyalty. People are more productive in blue rooms. Studies show weightlifters are able to handle heavier weights in blue gyms.

Red: The most emotionally intense color, red stimulates a faster heartbeat and breathing. It is also the color of love. Red clothing gets noticed and makes the wearer appear heavier. Since it is an extreme color, red clothing might not help people in negotiations or confrontations. Red cars are popular targets for thieves. In decorating, red is usually used as an accent. Decorators say that red furniture should be perfect since it will attract attention.

Purple: The color of royalty, purple connotes luxury, wealth, and sophistication. It is also feminine and romantic. However, because it is rare in nature, purple can appear artificial.

Brown: Solid, reliable brown is the color of earth and is abundant in nature. Light brown implies genuineness while dark brown is similar to wood or leather. Brown can also be sad and wistful. Men are more apt to say brown is one of their favorite colors.

White: Brides wear white to symbolize innocence and purity. White reflects light and is considered a summer color. White is popular in decorating and in fashion because it is light, neutral, and goes with everything. However, white shows dirt and is therefore more difficult to keep clean than other colors. Doctors and nurses wear white to imply sterility.

Black: Black is the color of authority and power. It is popular in fashion because it makes people appear thinner. It is also stylish and timeless. Black also implies submission.

Most of that comes from the color synopsis at this site:

Colors mostly cause reactions that can be active or passive or neutral - as in BLAH! I don't do blah very well.

So in a house, RED raises the room's energy level, pumps the adrenaline.

YELLOW is cheerful and joyful in a room, but it also in large amounts makes people frustrated and angry. Babies tend to cry more in a yellow room and people lose their tempers. Psychiatrists have done studies particularly involving yellow.

BLUE in a room brings down blood pressure and slows the heart rate. Too pale and it becomes chilly.

GREEN is comfortable, relaxing, calms people down.

PURPLE is dramatic, but if it is pastel, it works a little like blue does, and calms.

ORANGE is exciting and energetic, great for an exercise room, but not a room for concentrated thought.

All that is from a decorating site, but also done from a study.

So color plays a big part in our lives, unless of course we are color blind. Google: colors and emotions or colors and mood. It's all interesting reading. Main theory is that it can influence how we feel and if we live within a certain frame of color most of the time, it can play a part in our overall mood.

How's that for a golden Monday morning?
Oct 29, 2016 1:43 PM CST
Name: Arlene
Grantville, GA
September 2013

Funny, it just occurs to me that over the years I've always watched for goldenrod. It truly must be my favorite lifetime flower. Should have named Sunshine 'Goldenrod'. But then everybody would call her Goldy and I'd be reminded of the giant older woman who rustled when she walked down the aisle of church in her huge heavy gaudy brocade dress that reminded me of a sofa and draperies and she screeched when she talked. Her name was Goldy. I was about 6 or 7 when I told her for the hundredth time that I had a name and it wasn't 'Move over, little girl.' Her skirts touched chairs on both sides of the aisle as she walked down it. Ugh.

"What did she say to me, Susan, what did this girl say to me?"

And Ninna said, "Just ask her, Goldy, ask her what she said. She has ears and can hear, you know. And she'll tell you the same thing she's already told you many times. She has a name."

And Goldy stomped on down the aisle.

Guess she thought children should neither be seen nor heard.


Yes, I did write an article about Goldy. The problem with her - and she appeared in several of those old articles - is that she didn't dress much with respect for God or anybody, she just wanted to be seen. And she liked attention, so the dresses she wore were big and very very full skirted and in big, loud colors so she fully covered the entire aisle where she stood. The dresses were usually heavy brocade fabric, which served to make them even bigger; she had no children that I remember, and didn't like them much obviously but she did like to be seen and heard. The bigger, the better for Goldy. If she didn't like the preacher, she'd get up in the middle of his sermon and rustle her way out of a pew and down the aisle, groaning loudly and complaining of something - too hot or too cold or too whatever. I don't remember ever seeing her happy nor do I remember seeing her smile.

Looking back I can feel very sorry for her, I don't think she ever had any friends.
[Last edited Oct 29, 2016 1:44 PM CST]
Quote | Post #1222257 (6)
Oct 29, 2016 1:57 PM CST
Name: Arlene
Grantville, GA
September 2013

This could be fun, I stole it from Facebook:

Grab the book nearest you.
Turn to page 52.
Count down to the 5th sentence, then write that sentence here.
No need to give any other info about the book, only write the 5th complete sentence on p.52.

"Or maybe the little ones are lucky enough to get as far as the kitchen table with the rest of the mail --hopefully not on top of a radiator or near the woodstove; even the heated house itself is anything but inviting to a seed--and then into a drawer, perhaps."
Nov 3, 2016 7:59 PM CST
Name: Arlene
Grantville, GA
When asked what she meant by Creative Listening

"Usually listening creatively is to listen outside the normal parameters. Listen outside the box instead of forming your own opinion or the opinion the majority would use.

Most of the time our listening ability is colored by one thing or another: what people say, popular opinion, that kind of thing. But if you listen creatively, you'll really open yourself up to that person who is talking and won't just jump right in and state your usual standard answer. You will for sure hear what she wants you to hear, what she needs you to hear.

It also widens your horizons, gains more friends, helps you to better understand what often lies beneath the surface."
Nov 3, 2016 8:03 PM CST
Name: Arlene
Grantville, GA
I think all our Spotlight quotes inspire our thoughts and how the words apply to our individual life experiences, just as quotes should do.

We are all blessed, truly blessed in many ways and I know we are all most thankful for those blessings.

I count my greatest blessings like this:

I have two wonderful, joyful, amazing children, the very best 12 year old grandson, wonderful son in law, dearly beloved and beautiful daughter in law and they truly love me.

On the outside closest edges of my life are my brother and his entire family who drove the 400 miles across the state to come to Ashley's wedding . . . including my brother's beautiful 8 year old granddaughter and 2 teen aged grandsons. Three SUVs full. True love brought them here.

The only health event I ever had till January '15 was polio in the late 1940s. It is because of polio I know all I ever learned about KY's native plants. I was paralyzed from the waist down, but following braces and my grandmother's own kind of years of therapy (climbing that mountain until I could climb with no more help) and most importantly, all that help from God, I've never even limped. As I age, my legs are weakening, but that's just fine. I'm old enough now, done almost all the things I was ever supposed to do, I think, and have climbed all the mountains I ever needed to climb.

And then there was the best career ever for me, and the Creative Spirit that has kept me writing and painting all my life. That includes 37+ years of teaching those very subjects I loved so much myself. God given abilities. They brought me thousands of students; so many of them grew up to become friends . . . about 2000 that I still occasionally hear from, living all over the US now and some who are only 3 years younger than I am . . . now those who live closest come help me clean my flower beds, mow my grass, help me with not even a phone call request from me. And when I hug and thank them so much, Penny speaks for all of them when she says, "Don't thank me, Ms. Brown. Don't thank any of us. You made us believe we had some value. You taught us that life was beautiful, worth living and that we all could contribute well to it and be thankful for it. You taught our hearts." But they still get my heartfelt thanks and gratitude through my actions or through the written words that we share or the phone calls I still occasionally get and they feel it. Love, thanks, gratitude.

Next and likely the most important, are the last 10 years I've successfully spent mostly alone except for the 3 years my daughter lived with me, she in her part of the house and me in mine.

And that includes surviving a heart attack, followed days later by minutes of flatline and the months of cardio/polio therapy that followed. And now, here I am 18 months following the heart event, working hours, weeks, months helping create my daughter's wedding. I've had a rough 2 days following the wedding now, but today I ran the vacuum through my too big house and worked in one side flower garden with Sunshine, my dog, right beside me. I think she might be glued to me for the rest of my forever, great dog.

So in my own way, I am so truly blessed, 73+ years of blessings and thanks and with the most gracious gratitude I can give. And every day when I stand outside among all the old historic plants I brought from my mountain, rain or shine, ice or snow, even hailstorms don't exclude me from doggy walks, you better believe I turn my eyes to Heaven . . . just as my grandmother taught me . . . and I say my most heart felt Thank You to My Creator. Sometimes that makes me so joyful I feel like dancing.

And I would if I could, even when sleet freezes my eyes shut. So very thankful, grateful, for all my life's blessings.

On second thought, there is a boatload of wisdom throughout this thread. Maybe you would like to read it yourself.

Mar 8, 2019 4:20 PM CST
Name: Vicki
North Carolina
I'll tell you something, as we age, we need to gain strength. We need to accumulate it because along the way we find ourselves bearing burdens alone and some so heavy we think we are not strong enough for it; so we really need to get stronger even as our bodies slowly grow a little weaker.
NATIONAL GARDENING ASSOCIATION Purslane & Portulaca ~ Garden Art

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