Connection with Joy
He came running up to me as he entered the playground. "Miss Jeanseau! Miss Jeanseau! I have something for you! " "What is it?", I asked.
"I have some extra crayons for you!" "Why are you giving me crayons?" He looks at me, questioning, "because you are the Art teacher!" Still bewildered by my question he reaches deep into the pocket of his coat. There is a lot in there. Out flies a wrapper from a snack bar from yesterday, another full bar for today. A jumble of treasures, he has a hard time finding what he has for me. Then he hands me two unwrapped beautiful crayons. Or half crayons. One Teal and one Ocre. Such a beautiful treasure. I hold the precious gift and look at it, my favorite colors. He does some more searching as he had more...then gives up and runs off to play. The entire moment passes in 2 minutes but fills my heart and soul for the day.
He is a little one I've known since preschool. Creativity coming from every fiber of his being. Creativity that makes it hard to stay on task, to finish a task or even start one. He is a swirl of smiles, big eyes, and a tornado of paper, and what ever great idea passes by. Projects in art class are rarely finished, but he also takes the lesson and expands it into places I would have never thought of. Last year most projects become creatures with blood and powerful weapons...weapons that weren't going to hurt but that were just really cool. This year the distraction seems even bigger. He is in his own world and rarely knows what the class is doing. His grin just keeps going though and he is happy in the conversations and tornado around his desk.
What do we do with such a student? Do we punish and control? Do we medicate? Teach him to organize and ignore the wind that is distracting him today? And if we do what do we loose? Do we loose the joy of two beautiful crayons? Do we loose the next great invention, creation or hope for things not yet discovered? As a teacher I want to build fences that keep a child safe, but they can also see through so that they can wonder what is beyond. I want to guide and suggest but allow for discovery that surprises us both. And as the child learns the boundaries and if they have the fire of creativity and curiosity nothing will stop them. Except maybe the chair that they have been told to sit in.
I've been open for 2 months now and each weekend I wonder how it will be. Will I get enough art time? Will I sell anything? As Sunday comes and goes I have time to reflect. throughthe conversations that I've had over the weekend that feel like a gift. The beautiful thing about being an introvert is that we hate small talk and conversations are important. We cherish them and remember them. We listen to them replay and think about the person attached to them.
This past weekend I met another fellow art educator and had a connecting conversation over art pedagogy and the importance of teaching critical thinking through the arts. I visited with a couple of Monmouth business people about students being back and how the energy downtown is changing. I hung my art at Crush wine bar and treated myself to their amazing fish tacos. One of the themes I've been noticing are the amount of recent transplants to the area. New friends that have just moved here in the last couple of years. Often they've moved because of tragedy else where and needing a place of rest and safety. I'm so happy to live in a town like that. I came here with that a part of my story as well.
As Sunday is here again I feel myself deeply grateful. Grateful for the community that I chose to move to, grateful for the people here that have been kind and welcoming, grateful for the patrons that are supporting the gallery and grateful to have a gallery of art to nurture and share with my neighbors and community.
Art is a language, and I'm grateful to be able to share this language with Monmouth and my community through out the valley.
The Red Poppy Studio and Gallery
In the last couple of years I have begun to ask, what is next? The years of raising my three girls is closing, I've been teaching close to 30 years...what do I love, and where do I want to expand? I've been looking at little galleries and art shops for years, soaking in what works and what doesn't. My eyes are often drawn to for rent signs in sweet little downtown locations. A place that embraces community, sophisticated art that is still accessible, and art that enters the daily life and celebrates it.
As I moved to Monmouth I discovered a little spot right downtown and around the corner from a wine bar, I noticed I kept driving by. It is dark purple grey with dirty red around the windows. A metal awning that shades the western light that fills the space. I finally called to ask price and details. It would be a stretch for just a studio space, but that call opened up ideas and possibilities that kept me awake and fueled my love of possibility.
The owner eased the rent for the first month which gave me some time to get organized and start creating. I've always dreamed of being an installation artist...creating this space is another creative act and I am having so much fun. It is beginning to come into focus as I weed through the ideas.
The Red Poppy will be a studio that celebrates the diverisity and beauty of the Pacific Northwest's people and land. It will be a place filled with joy and community. It will have sophisticated beautiful work and also celebrate the maker and hands that make true craft. As a student of Portland College of Arts and Craft I have a deep love of making and believe in the blurring the lines between "Fine Art and Craft". The Red Poppy will have hand crafted jewelry, fiber art, ceramics, painting in all the mediums, wood working and all the making in between. There will be both a gallery space that highlights a few works each month, and an area that will be more gift oriented with small things.
As part of living in a small town and being an educator there will also be art kits personally designed and created to help my community to make the step to create and learn to start making. These kits will have small zines of lessons to get started and I also hope to eventually connect these with online lessons.
Yes! All of this is a lot and it will not happen all at once. I am inviting artists slowly and as I know them and their work. One of the biggest lessons I have learned over the last couple of years is to wait, wait to be givien the next step, the next gift, the next direction. I'm leaning into this next space and energized by what it can and will become.
The Red Poppy's grand opening will be August 6th, 2022
it's located at 111 Warren st. in Monmouth, Or.
For the summer it is open Friday-Sunday 12-5
or by appointment.
Plans! Are you trying to get summer planned? Yes I am doing classes! Yes I am taking private students! For the camps this year I am partnering with Ash Creek Art Center. Here is the link... https://www.ashcreekarts.org.
I am excited to partner with them as they have a lovely space in Independence-- just 15 minutes from South Salem and 20 minutes to West Salem. They are a group that believes in arts equity which means everyone can have access to quality arts education. That said there will be a choose your own payment scale for camp this year. This is due to donations, grants and memberships for Ash Creek Art Center.
Being that this is a group of volunteers registration isn't quite set up yet on their site but it is coming! If you are interested in one of the camps please let me know and I'll put you on my list and let you know when registration is set up on their site.
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Spring and Summer Classes!
They have to take art. They are not artists or necessarily interested in art. They may see art as drawing or crafting or making things, and they have not done any of that since elementary school and then only maybe. Instead of first considering the scope and sequence of lessons, what if we step back and ask a broader question of “how do we make this course relevant and full of meaning for our students?” Asking the question of engagement first, will help us to see our students in their lived experiences, rather than coming to them with a supposed agenda for them to consume and produce “check-box” products.
In this approach we can still scaffold the elements of art, the principles of design and our favorite holiday gifts. But we can also broaden our instruction to aesthetics, to visual literacy as communication, and the relevance of art history. Taking this approach to teaching also helps keep the teacher excited and engaged as we learn to flex and build lessons and learn from our students. We can create a classroom that is guided by strong intention brought by the teacher and meaning and fluidity that is brought by the students. Are we willing to trust our students as we ask them to trust our teaching?
This is what it might look like in my classroom as I build my lessons, consider scope and sequence and allow my students to bring their voice to the lesson. I want to introduce my students to clay, this is my medium that I need to check off my standards list. I want them to understand the process of working with clay, forming the clay, additive and subtractive processes, and final glazing. We only have time for one or two clay projects within the semester of an overview class. I look at my standards list and want them to be able to understand the art historical timeline of clay work, be able to consider reflective practice and use the language of the elements of art. There is already so much, how do I also add meaning to the project? This unsteady scaffold of expectations will stabilize as I ask my students to enter into this process with me, the responsibility for learning is not all on the teacher.
My first step as an instructor is to research projects, past and present, that might allow me to explore a broad range of clay techniques. As I research I save images to a slide show, I save all of them and will edit later. These images will help the students see the broad range of possibilities and begin to perk their interest. I include work from a nearby gallery to show them their community and what is happening in our city. I look at modern work, craft and historical pieces and some work I might not like, but may draw in a student or two. The project that I choose needs to be a blank canvas. I chose a handbuilt cup. Students will learn techniques of how to roll a slab, and use a template. They will learn how to score and adhere one piece of clay to another. They will learn to mold and form the clay. They will learn to play with the medium and respond to the creative process.
A “cup” is frot with problems and the students' standard for a cup is a mass produced thing that they purchase at a big box store. We need to get past this. I use the language of form rather than cup. I cut the slabs for the circumference quickly and unevenly. I have examples of “art cups' ' not drinking cups. I introduce the word “vessel”. We explore the idea of what it holds on its surface and how it can be transformed. I want the students to also learn to mold the clay from the clay body. I show them samples and demonstrate how to push out a face on the side of the form. A face has all sorts of perfection traps as well, so where do we go? We go to the whimsical, fantastical or animal. I ask the students to create this vessel into some sort of animal reference. We explore the possibilities and what are the subtleties between a pig face and a cow face. I demonstrate techniques with my own cup, keeping standards high and reminding them that craftsmanship matters. We have lots of laughter. I ask the students to get to know their clay and hold their initial ideas loosely. Working with clay is a relationship and we have to go slow enough to notice and respond as we work. We add textures and build up and out of the clay vessel. This simple little cup begins to transform into language, self expression and a source of pride for the student. They are finding thier own ways to meaning within the parameters of this simple project.
In creating a rubric for this project I look at the standards again, alongside what my goals are for creating meaning. I ask the students to first self evaluate and check their own boxes for the project. It is clear and simple. Did you create a cup? Did you use additive and subtractive methods? Did you form a face? Did you add texture? In this overview class, their grade is not based on amazing creativity and skill level. There is always a student of two that will stand out and has natural skill or interest. They do not automatically get an A, often the creative student may have a hard time staying within the parameters and not want to create the simple cup! Throughout the lessons I have posed bigger meaning making questions, but ultimately it is up to the student, where they took the project. The second part of the rubric will speak to those questions. Did they take a risk in their creating? This helps evaluate a class with broad ability and meets each student where they are at...they need to push themselves to the next step. Did they show courage in their creating? Did they show persistence? These questions push our students to be responsible for their own learning and speak to STEM and critical thinking. It gives them a place to pause and be honest with themselves and with the teacher if they showed up. It allows the shy nervous student to take a small step and the bold confident student to dig deeper. As I read through the self evaluation it gives me a moment with each student to see them engaging with how they showed up, encourage them where they need it and to call out B.S where I see it.
As we move to glazing, students are having fun and learning that the art room is a safe space. They are learning to trust me for clear instructions and demonstrations. And they are learning that I have high expectations for their engagement and participation, not just in the task they have been given, but in participating in the process and relationship of learning. They have taken the clay, built a cup and have found a medium that can hold more than just water. We have had fun with metaphors, meaning and imagination. And a few have fallen in love with art and the joy of possibility.
How could it only be a year?
I noticed some foundational cracks around me just about a year ago. But being 50 years old I've seen them before and have a personal foundation in a God that has walked many rough roads with me before. My theology expanded and grew in directions this year for which institutional frameworks are much too limiting for.
When the foundation fails everything fails with it. My family and I watched it all dismantle and crumble this year. But after the storm it is interesting to see what remains.
My youngest daughter and I are now back in Salem, the home I moved to when I was 12 and seem to continue to return to. I've discovered a root system here that was a truer foundation, with people, trees and place that have welcomed me home.
This fall I'll be working at Queen of Peace and Blanchet, a place where this protestant has found a rich and beautiful view of God and been able to embrace the lessons of Mary that were thrown out in the religious structures I grew up in.
I've continued to draw and finding mixed media a good place for my mixed emotions of this last year. This is one of the first summers I haven't run summer camps and I'm enjoying oodles of travel with my daughters. My oldest and I drove to Carmel and I spent three days soaking up art and conversation. My youngest and I traveled to New York and Virginia learning, art, and history. After reading "Ninth Street Women" this spring it was wonderful to tromp the streets of Chelsea and the West Village". Discovering the missing women of the Modern Art movement has been enriching. Not sure I'll finish the 800 page book, but what I have read has greatly expanded my understanding of art, modern art and the roots of feminism.
My third trip was this weekend and all three of my daughters accompanied me to Montana and the homestead of my maternal grandfather. Log cabins, piles of rust and history, and family that have our knees, noses and laughter. Driving home along the east side of Washington and down into the Gorge, I am awestruck that I get to live here. Here in the midst of the desert that is beautiful and stark and that flows into the valley that is lush with green and trees and water.
This is where I live and where I paint. This landscape holds my stories and our stories. The stretched out flat desolate land where tumble weeds roll across the road, the powerful flow of the Columbia, the ancient cliffs of the gorge and the rolling grass seed hills of the valley. These images are language for me that are truer than words.
Some artists paint to make art, or make a pretty picture or to render an image of nature. I paint to think, pray and speak. Colors, forms and line communicate so much better than words for me. My art is my voice and my heart and grounded in technique and discipline that I'm always working on.
I'm not an extroverted artist personality that shows off the magic of art technique on YouTube or Instagram. Though to be honest at times it feels that would be easier....I'm an introverted artist that speaks through her paintings, using the images and metaphor of nature and color.
This is what I know. It is simple without "tags" or "links" or "boomarangs". It is my life.
Thanks for joining me.
and yes more current updates are on Instagram @Julie_Jeanseau
Classes and Parties!
Currently I am offering workshop style classes through our local art store The Art Dept. here in Salem. For now classes are offered via Zoom, so they are also accessible wherever you are living!!
I often get asked if I do "those painting parties"....well yes I do but not many. I just did this little party for my sister in law.
If you are interested in a party I charge
75$ and then 12$ per person with a minimum charge of 100$ in total.
The project time is around 2 hours. I need access to the space for set up 30 minutes prior. I do all the set up and clean up.
You provide tables, table coverings, chairs and your friends...
Contact me at email@example.com
I am a teacher, a mom and an artist. I have my BA in Arts Education from U of Oregon and my MS in Curriculum and Instruction from Portland State. I've been teaching for 25 plus years in a variety of settings. Teaching private lessons, in community centers and as a classroom teacher. This has given me a wide view of teaching art and what it does for our lives and our students. I have found creating to be a place that we can all meet, find our humanity and surrender to process.