Welcome to my blog! I am so excited to share my art and adventures as an administrator with others. Thank you for making the time to view my blog and giving me your input.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy 2008 to everyone! Feliz ano nuevo! Here are a couple of pages from my latest journal. I actually made these 2 pages about 2 weeks ago, before the turn of events in Gaza. It is very alarming to me what is going on there between the Israelis and Palestinians, specifically Hamas. I hope a cease fire will truly take place and actually hold between the 2 groups. My hopes for the new year:

1. Peace throughout the Middle East
2. Tolerance towards all
3. Rejoice in what makes us all unique
4. Enjoy more time with my family and friends
5. To not take myself too seriously
6. Make more time for creating art and gardening

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

1 of my favorite artists, Mychal Montes! Mychal's father, Alfredo, is 1 of my closest and dearest friends. Like me, Alfredo is an Assistant Principal, and before becoming administrators, we taught together for many years. Mychal is a very, very talented artist. Last year, he made me a book and his illustrations and love of color really floored me! His dad sent me a photo of Mychal's latest piece, which is below, and I KNEW it had to be posted on my blog! Lately, Mychal's free time is largely taken up with band practice (he is in his high school's band), but I hope he won't put down his paint brushes any time soon! Great work, Mychal!

2 more pages from my latest journal. I have made my journal into a retrospect of 2008 and these pages talk about how much Frida Kahlo has influenced my art and me for the last 22 years. I LOVED the exhibit at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) that I visited back in August. How I got my husband to go to the exhibit is a real mystery, but I think buying the tickets in advance did the trick! Speaking of things I LOVE:

1) The Gipsy Kings are coming to town, today and tomorrow; they will be performing at the Conga Room (a new LA venue for shows - YES!)

2) Someone from Spain is looking at my blog - Hola! La familia de mi mama es de Espana! La familia de mi abuela es de Bilbao! Feliz ano nuevo! Quiero regresar a espana un dia pronto!

3) Someone/s from 2 cities in Northern California, San Francisco and San Rafael, checked out my blog. It is NO surprise that San Francisco is my favorite place on the planet, but San Rafael is very, very nice to visit. I got a chance to spend some time in San Rafael a few years ago. 1 of my closest and oldest friends, Cam, was the Chief of Police of San Rafael for several years. Next time you visit my blog, say "hi"!

Monday, December 29, 2008

I have been lusting for the Peter Beard journal collection since I found out the book was going to be published! Here are a few pages (above and below) from the book.

The book is actually 2 volumes! My husband got me this wonderful and inspiring gift for Christmas! Yesterday, I spent several hours pouring over the 2 books. However, as inspirational a gift as it is, the most special gift I received was from my younger brother, Michael. Next time I post, I will show off his gift! The next 3 shots are of my latest book.

These 2 pages (above) are the opening pages of my book. I made this book in Kelly's "Reclaimed: An Artist's Altered Book" class, back in early December. Check out Kelly's blog to see some of her wonderful work, http://www.kellykilmer.blogspot.com/. It is the first time in almost a year I have worked in a book. I made a deal with myself after I made this book: this book is going to be finished by the time I go back to work, in 2 weeks! We shall see... but, I am up to the challenge.

I really liked working on these 2 pages! I like the idea of the Janus-faced character, since it seems like most of our lives are spent with 2 faces, our public and private.

These last 2 pages are actually the last pages in my book. I figured if I could get the first and last pages completed, the rest of the book would unfold itself to me. And it has! I am at about the half-way point with my book! I keep working in different places each time I pick it up.

As promised, here are some shots from Christmas 2008. This is a full shot of the tree.

Another shot of our tree. A different angle and a glimpse of our iron sun which greets you as soon as you walk into our home. The sun has had a place in every one of our homes.

Each year, I put up 2 trees in our home. I usually decorate this little tree with hearts, to get ready for Valentine's Day, my favorite holiday of the year!

Speaking of the kids, I put up their stockings at our place. At the last minute, my sister said she wanted to host Christmas dinner at her place, so the stockings went with us! The slinky was in Isaac's stocking.

This slinky was the highlight of the evening. Here's Michael "playing" with our great-nephew, Isaac. My brother and I are Mother and Father Goose with all the kids! We had a ball playing with all the kids, but I must confess: I was beat when we got through!

Isabella eating a candy cane and probably getting some on my brother, Michael.

My nephew, Josh, who was home for the holidays, me, and my little great-niece, Isabella.

Christmas 2008. . . a shot of my hubby and our niece, Francesca, in front of the tree.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas to all! It was a truly magical, exhausting, and wonderful day today. Here is a shot of our tree. So many memories are on the tree - every ornament has its own story. I am getting ready to call it a day. I will post some more photos from Christmas tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

To get us into that holiday spirit... "It's a Wonderful Life". And yes, Blanche, it sure is! Happy holidays to all!

It is Christmas Eve and I have had some type of stomach bug for the last few days that is really going nuts! I am on vacation for the next 3 weeks and I am working hard to NOT be sick this vacation. Last year, I spent 2 of my 3 weeks sick with a nasty virus! Not to be undone by my stomach, I have been working hard in my studio, getting it organized and pared down. Thank you to everyone who has shown in an interest in my art, blog, and collage packs this past year! The response has been overwhelming! I still have 3 packs left - 2 Latin and 1 Asian themed collage packs that have a little of everything in them, including a rubber stamp/s, silk ribbons, decorative paper, and colored and black and white images, and other ephemera. For more information, email me at millan0206@yahoo.com. The camelias above are from my garden. We have 5 camelia bushes and the cool weather is driving them into overtime! The blooms are spectacular! Peonies are my favorite flowers, but camelias look so much like them, that it makes it easier to wait until April when the peonies are back in bloom! This was a nice little break, but it is time to get back to wrapping the last of the gifts! Tomorrow and over the next few days, I will be baking (something I limit myself to once a year!). I am really into the Christmas spirit now!

Monday, December 15, 2008

A view of my garden, before the crazy rain started! Fall is my favorite season of the year and looking at all the beautiful colors that the leaves take on is quite inspiring to me.

I scooped up these acorns off the ground over the weekend and put them on the patio table in the photo above. Look at all the detail these nuts have. And of course, the squirrels just LOVE our front yard and all the trees they can nibble off! On another note, 4 more days until Christmas vacation... to say I am looking forward to having some time off is an understatement. Beautiful moments like the ones above remind me that I must slow down. They remind me of my days of studying literature and not having a care in the world, of reading and teaching Emily Dickinson:
"Because I could not stop for Death"
Emily Dickinson
Because I could not stop for Death-
He kindly stopped for me-
The Carriage held but just Ourselves-
And Immortality.
We slowly drove - He knew no haste
And I had put away
My labor and my leisure too,
For His Civility-
We passed the School, where Children strove
At Recess - in the Ring-
We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain-
We passed the Setting Sun-
Or rather - He passed us-
The Dews drew quivering and chill-
For only Gossamer, my Gown-
My Tippet - only Tulle-
We paused before a House that seemed
A Swelling of the Ground-
The Roof was scarcely visible-
The Cornice - in the Ground-
Since then - 'tis Centuries - and yet
Feels shorter than the Day
I first surmised the Horses' Heads
Were toward Eternity-

Thursday, December 11, 2008

This is 1 of my favorite paintings, by Chicano artist, George Yepes. It is called "La pistola y el corazon" and appears on 1 of Los Lobos' album covers. Today, I got a little break from work. I attended an all-day workshop at the Gene Autry Museum that had to do with the arts in education. I really enjoyed the workshop and skipped lunch to attend the "Bold Caballeros y Noble Bandidas" exhibit that is currently running until May 2009. Here is the link for more information: http://www.autrynationalcenter.org/. It is a really terrific show and it covers several categories such as film, el dia de los muertos, art, and the Mexican Revolution. The painting above, and other of Yepes' work, are displayed in the exhibit. Before I left the museum, I snuck into the gift shop for what I thought would be a 'quick' visit. I spent an hour-and-a-half in the store and bought some cards and a couple of really cool Frida pens that are going to be stocking stuffers! I am such a paper whore! Anything paper, cards, wrapping paper, handmade paper, etc., I have to have my hands on it! Sometimes, just touching the paper is all I need! I can get my fix from just feeling the textures. A friend of mine from work is trying to score some Indian paper for me. A couple of years ago, I bought some Indian papers that are called "firecracker paper" and now, I have just a couple of scraps left from the original paper I purchased. My friend is Indian and has hit every Indian store in the Southland in her quest to locate this paper! Now, that is dedication! Yesterday, she told me she is ready to ask her family back in India, to be on the hunt for it! That is pretty cool...

Monday, December 8, 2008

A final post for tonight, because afterall, I can't be blogging and watching videos all night! I AM a responsible assistant principal!! I LOVE this video, because afterall, even world crusaders such as U2 and a super A.P. like me (!), have to have some fun sometime...

Today was a very crazy day. In fact, Friday was the hardest day I have had as an administrator. It was non-stop, from the moment I got to work until the end of my day, which ended @ 6:30 p.m. Today was a little better, but we had a shooting and I ran another lock-down for about an hour while the police investigated. Still, I can honestly say that I LOVE my job and the day I feel differently, will be a sign to maybe do something else. I took this picture a few months ago @ the Huntington Museum, 1 of my favorite spots on the planet. The tree speaks volumes to me about the need to just be still sometimes... Art and gardening force me to be more patient and sometimes, even if it is for just a moment, to really, really take in the beauty of that moment.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

This is another version of "Miss Sarajevo". I actually got a chance to see U2 perform this version live in Los Angeles, during the "Vertigo" tour, 3 years ago. My sister, niece, and I went to the concert and had a great time. And although U2 is an incredibly talented rock band with a lot of punk still in them, they are SO much more than that. Bono continues to bring to the forefront world issues such as poverty, AIDS, and countries such as the United States "forgiving the debts" of 3rd world countries who will never be able to pay off such exorbitant debts. Although Bono is not Luciano, he does a really terrific job of singing in Italian. When U2 was starting out back when they were young teens in school, Bono was given the nickname, "bonovox", Latin for "good voice", and he sures lives up to it in this beautiful version of "Miss Sarajevo". The introduction, the song, the ending with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (30 Articles in total), make this song an especially appropriate and to-the-moment for the political landscape around the world. As bleak as things look right now on an economic front in this country, we are still able to enjoy our freedom, something too many take for granted. And after 20 plus years, I still feel honored to be a member of Amnesty International.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Another of L.K.'s challenges - "A Day of Sharing Song". I posted "Miss Sarajevo" on my blog awhile ago, but felt it was perfect for today's challenge. Every time I hear this song, I am moved by its passion, beauty, and message. So much so, that I felt it needed to be posted again. Here are the lyrics:

"Miss Sarajevo"
Is there a time for keeping your distance
A time to turn your eyes away
Is there a time for keeping your head down
For getting on with your day

Is there a time for kohl and lipstick
A time for cutting hair
Is there a time for high street shopping
To find the right dress to wear

Here she comes
Heads turn around
Here she comes
To take her crown

Is there a time to run for cover
A time for kiss and tell
Is there a time for different colours
Different names you find it hard to spell

Is there a time for first communion
A time for East 17
Is there a time to turn to Mecca
Is there time to be a beauty queen

Here she comes
Beauty plays the clown
Here she comes
Surreal in her crown

Dici che il fiume
Trova la via al mare
E come il fiume
Giungerai a me
Oltre i confini
E le terre assetate
Dici che come fiume
Come fiume...
L'amore giungera
E non so piu pregare
E nell' amore non su piu sperare
E quell'amore non su piu aspettare

You say that the river
finds the way to the sea
and like the river
you will come to me
beyond the borders
and the dry lands
You say that like a river
like a river...
the love will come
the love...
And I don't know how to pray anymore
and in love I don't know how to hope anymore
(End of translation)

Is there a time for tying ribbons
A time for Christmas trees
Is there a time for laying tables
And the night is set to freeze

Perfection - my favorite band, U2 and Luciano Pavarotti...

Sunday, November 30, 2008

It was really wonderful to be off for 4 days! I got a chance to spend almost all of my time with my family. We had a really nice Thanksgiving, although Mom was very much missed at the table Thursday night. On Friday, my family had its annual golf tournament, in memory of my niece, Katie, whose foundation just keeps growing each year and does so many terrific things for many folks. This year, there were over 130 golfers and the banquet room where we had dinner was wall-t0-wall with guests. Thanksgiving is an especially important and special time of year in my family. It reminds all of us about what is important in life: our health, family, and friends, and by God's good graces, we are able to enjoy another year of all that is dear to us. In between dinner and the tournament, I managed to do more "spring cleaning" and put our Christmas tree up, stockings and all! Putting the tree up during Thanksgiving weekend is a tradition in our household, just like hosting Christmas dinner is. I am contemplating having a few of my closest girlfriends over for a holiday luncheon so that we can get together (very, very long overdue!). If I do this, I think I am going to have to plan fast and squeeze in a day there mid-December. We shall see... I am SO grateful for so many blessings: my health, job, the many friends I have (too many to mention, but who are ALWAYS willing to lend a hand), family, and my dear husband. Every day, I make sure to tell Mike how lucky I am to have him and how each day for the last 29 years, has been a gift. When I get a breather, I am going to make some new art. In the meantime, I am going to keep making mail art like the piece above.
Group 1 is made up of text and patterned stamps. Group 2 consists of mostly faces and some bird and butterfly stamps.
I have been cleaning like crazy for the last few days and am itching to get rid of more of my art supplies. Not only do I not have the huge house like I did in the past, but with my crazy work schedule, it doesn't leave me too much time to do anything else, especially make art. So, I am selling off some of my rubber stamp collection. I am selling these stamps in groups. Some of the stamps are new and others are gently used. I take very, very good care of my supplies, so even the gently used have only been minimally used. The price is $30.00 for the 1st group and $50.00 for the 2nd one, including shipping. The 1st group consists of 2 new and 14 used stamps. Group 2 consists of 1o new and 9 used stamps; this group has larger sized stamps and is well worth the price. These would make a great gift for that artistic friend. Also, I still have a few of my collage packs left. If you are interested, drop me a note @ millan0206@yahoo.com.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Today was an incredibly tough day! So, I decided to write about some things that are dear to me: sunrises and poetry. Yesterday, L.K. Ludwig, http://www.gryphonsfeather.typepad.com/, challenged all of us to write about poetry and add a photo, so here is my contribution to her "Shared Words" challenge. The photo is from 1 of my visits to Hawaii. I took this photo from the balcony of our hotel room, right as the sun was about to rise. The island is Kauai. It was a spectacular moment that I am sure I didn't fully capture in this shot. The following poem is 1 of my favorites, if not favorite, poem:
"Nothing Gold Can Stay"
Robert Frost
Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf,
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day
Nothing gold can stay.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

During the Veteran's Day weekend, we got away and went to San Diego for the long, holiday weekend. Because I have been working a lot of extra hours that include evenings and Saturdays lately, I have managed to accumulate several "comp" days, so for Veteran's Day weekend, I got a 4-day weekend! I have NEVER worked so hard in my life for these "comp" days! Growing up, every free moment I had, I was at the beach. To say I LOVE water is truly underestimating my love of the beach and ocean. While staying in San Diego, we stayed at a resort, with the bay literally in our backyard. The first couple of days, the weather was gorgeous, but our last day, it turned quite windy and cloudy. I took these shots right after breakfast, before the skies turned dark. Then, my husband and I drove into 'old San Diego' and explored the shops in the area. In my next post, I will share some of my finds...

Thursday, November 6, 2008

What a historical, wonderful, and magical moment Tuesday night was! My husband and I were whooping it up all evening! I LOVE this background, "Change Can Happen". If there are folks out there who doubt how they CAN change the world for the better, what an inspiration Barack Obama is to so many people all over the world. All of us have the power to make this world a better one. No more excuses! One of the most important aspects of this election is that it encouraged people from all walks of life to go out and vote. And for those who have felt alienated and disenfranchised by the political process over the years, their voices were heard, and those voices were loud! Congratulations, President Obama and Vice President, Biden! As Sam Cooke once said, "A change is gonna come."

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Today is a very important and historical day. Whatever you party affiliation is, go out and vote if you haven't already done so. No matter what problems our country is facing today or how much I disagree with the politics of our current administration, I will NEVER give up my right to vote! Our country is still a great one for many, many reasons. All of us are very fortunate that we are able to exercise our right to vote in free elections and that we can enjoy freedom of speech.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

El dia de los muertos is 1 of my favorite holidays, right behind Valentine's Day. As always, there is NEVER enough hours in a day. I started working on some dia de los muertos artwork, and although I started several coffins over a month ago, I only managed to get 2 of the 6 completed before today. So, the other 4 will be a little late! Anyway, here are 2 of the pieces I did complete. I bought several plain, wooden boxes and made them coffins, then I decorated the top part (the lid) of the coffin. Inside each box is a clay calavera that depicts that person to the t! I bought the calaveras at the Folk Tree, http://www.folktree.com/, then once the coffins were finished, I glued the calaveras into their new homes. Because I haven't finished the other 4 coffins, I won't give it away and say who got the first 2 or who will be getting the others!
Feliz dia de los muertos, the Day of the Dead. On November 2, the Day of the Dead is celebrated in Mexico. It is the day that we commemorate and celebrate the lives of family members and friends who have died. We celebrate their lives with altars, flowers, their favorite foods, pumpkin seeds, candles, and mementos from their lives. There are several places around town today that are offering wonderful activities for adults and children. Here are 3 of my favorite places to visit on a dia de los muertos:
1. Self-Help Graphics, in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles
3802 E. Cesar Chavez Avenue, Los Angeles
2. The Folk Tree, in Pasadena
217 S. Fair Oaks, Pasadena
3. Olvera Street, in downtown Los Angeles
845 N. Alameda Street, Los Angeles
Best thing about all 3: the price. All are free! There are wonderful, nearby places to grab a pan dulce and champurrado or cup of coffee, at Olvera Street and Self-Help Graphics, or lunch, at El Mercado, which is on 1st Street, in the center of Boyle Heights. I have been sick all weekend with a stupid cold and I know if I felt 100%, I would be heading to Olvera Street right now.

I spent all day cleaning and sorting all of my art supplies and ephemera. Now that we live in a smaller house, I really feel all the extra stuff we have, particularly what the things in my studio. So, slowly, I am getting rid of anything I don't use. I have made-up 10 collage packs; 5 of the packs have a Latin theme to them. The others are 2 Asian, 1 India, 1 birds, and 1 old-fashioned packs. The packs include collage colored images, decorative papers, stickers, ribbons, found objects, and a rubber stamp that coincides with the theme. These packets are pretty stuffed! I am selling each pack for $45, which includes shipping. If you are interested in purchasing a packet or have any questions, please email me at millan0206@yahoo.com. Thanks.

Friday, October 31, 2008

It has been an incredibly busy 2 weeks at work! Unfortunately, that hasn't left me a lot of time to blog or make new art! However, I have been most fortunate to be able to combine the art with work. In the last couple of weeks, I have taught in 3 different classes at school. I was a guest artist in 3 art classes, so I had the students create dia de los muertos ATC's. Here are some of the artist trading cards I created as samples. Some of these ATC's have now found new homes. Anyway, both the students and I had a ball and last week, the student evaluations came in for a new class we are offering this year called "Art Matters" and the #1 comment from the 4 classes was that the best part of the 10 week course was having me teach in their classes as the guest artist! How do I feel about that?! I am on cloud 9 and feel great about kicking ass in the classroom again!

Next semester, I will be teaching 2 days a week in 1 of the "Art Matters" classes. At the beginning of this year, it was my intention to teach every day in 1 of the classes, but at the last minute, the schedule was changed and another teacher got the class. I can't say enough how excited I am about teaching again, even if it just a couple of days a week. Until I die, I will continue to say, "I am a teacher first and I will always be a teacher."

Thursday, October 23, 2008

I am SO looking forward to this week being over. The last 2 days have been filled with a lot of professional bullshit, but because I have so much more going for me than just my job and the title that goes along with it, I am going to focus on 1 of my favorite days of the year: el dia de los muertos, which is November 2.

I have had el dia de los muertos fever since the beginning of October. So, last week, I headed over to 1 of my favorite, favorite, favorite places, the Folk Tree, in Pasadena. The Folk Tree and I have been joined at the hip for the last 20 plus years.

Because I was in the Folk Tree on a week day, I had the store all to myself. I spent an hour-and-a-half going through the entire store, oohing and ahhing!
Not only did I get a chance to take in all of the store's beautiful displays, Rocky Behr, the owner, let me photograph the dia de los muertos gallery show.

Rocky is 1 of my favorite people - I really love her! It is hard to believe how long we have known each other! She told me she is going to be 80 this coming year! That is SO hard to believe because she has the spirit of a young woman. When we met, I was a new teacher - I had just a couple of years of teaching experience under my belt. It is harder to believe that I am in my 25th year of being an educator.

Anyway, out came my camera! And so, here are some of my favorite shots. I think this is 1 of the best shows the Folk Tree has ever put on. When I need a shot of artistic inspiration, this is the place I go. And, I am never disappointed! For more information on the Folk Tree, check out my blog's links. It is 1 of my most beloved places! Thank you, Rocky! I love you!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I have NEVER been as busy as I have been the last 3 weeks! But no matter how busy I am, I try very hard to take a moment to appreciate the beauty all around us. For the last several years, fall has been my favorite season. I SO love fall's colors, the various shades of reds, golds, and greens that are so prominently displayed. Fall puts on a magnificent show each year. And what better place to really appreciate that show than in my front yard, the arroyo, here in Pasadena? Oh, the arroyo! My camera is always with me. I have a small, digital Kodak camera that is usually in my handbag. If I am not carrying a purse, then, because my camera is so small and compact, I just put it in my pocket and off we go. Last week, while driving around town and running a quick errand at the local Whole Foods market, I came across these beauties that are in the photos below. They really showcase the best part of fall. The photo above is from a grapevine that I spotted in Santa Barbara, on my recent trip.

A display of pumpkins at Whole Foods. Take a look at those details.

Another display showcasing miniature pumpkins, squash, and Indian corn.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Last word ... if you get an opportunity to visit Santa Barbara for a day or weekend, you must check out 2 wonderful exhibits at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. The drawing to the right is from the "Picasso on Paper: Drawings and Prints from the Permanent Collection (1899-1967)". This exhibit runs until December 7, 2008.

If you are interested in photography, then the "Ten: Gifts of SBMA Photo Futures" exhibit is not to be missed! This exhibit runs until December 21, 2008. For more information, go to the Santa Barbara Museum of Art link on my blog or to http://sbmuseart.org/.